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Rite of spring: DC Comics Solicitations for May 2009

by  in Comic News Comment
Rite of spring:  DC Comics Solicitations for May 2009

There’s a good deal of setup in the May solicitations. Battle for the Cowl wraps up, but it already feels like a foregone conclusion. Blackest Night #0 arrives for Free Comic Book Day, although BN won’t start for at least another month (and there’s no issue of Green Lantern solicited for May, either). It all combines to make May sound rather uneventful, because the real action has yet to begin. Now, that may not be entirely fair to the comics themselves, but it makes talking about their hype that much more difficult.

Nevertheless…

COMICS ACTION WEEKLY

In a minute I’m going to rant about Battle for the Cowl and its ancillary miniseries. First, though, I’m excited about the end of Trinity. The free time will be nice, of course, but regardless, it’s been a fun series. I’ve called it “one-stop superhero shopping,” and for me that’s been a big part of its appeal. One small group (including a platoon of backup artists) has produced, week after week, a new chapter in a singular, wide-ranging, and solid story.

While that doesn’t seem like much to ask, contrast Trinity with the patchwork storytelling which has become the norm for big-event superhero comics. Battle for the Cowl wraps up in May, but thanks to the miracle of solicitations I can look now at every ad for every issue of each participating miniseries. You’ve got the regular BFTC, the affiliated specials, and the somewhat tangential Oracle and Azrael miniseries. I know the company line is basically “buy what you want”; but actually, DC, it would have been easier for both of us if you had figured out how to serialize all (or most) of these stories in the regular Batman family of titles, which I already buy and which I will buy again once this stuff is over. (I would also have accepted something like the “Deathtrap” storyline, since for whatever reason I already buy Titans.) Sure, you can say that Batman’s not in these issues, but Superman’s not going to be in either of the main Super-books, and Captain America went a while without featuring someone calling himself Captain America….

Yeah, yeah, I know; all these miniseries help make life easier for the collected-editions people. Never mind.

NOT SO FINAL AFTER ALL

Speaking of which, I don’t remember asking for Final Crisis follow-up miniseries which start a year after the original FC began. If they were biweekly, they’d be easier to take; but no — at this rate, there will still be new Final Crisis books on the stands into October. Is this just so the last two Legion of Three Worlds issues won’t feel lonely?

I’m serious: I have no interest in the Human Flame or the Tattooed Man, and I’m finding it hard to get excited even about Nemesis or the Super Young Team. Actually, a Super Young Team miniseries written by Joe Casey and drawn by Chriscross is pretty appealing, but why not just call it that? As it is now, you know it’ll just look like Final Dance Crisis on the cover.

RANT-FREE BATMAN

I am looking forward to the Batman In Barcelona special, because I like both Mark Waid and the globetrotting Batman. The latter brings back fond memories of the ‘70s and ‘80s; and when was the last time Waid wrote a solo Batman story?

Sounds like Cat-Man and Bane are the ones headed for Gotham in Secret Six #9. Between Cat-Man’s denial about his superheroic tendencies, and Bane’s own twisted relationship to the Darknight Detective, it should be another fun issue.

BOOSTED

Booster Gold appears twice (in two weeks) in May, thanks to a “team-up” with Magog in The Brave and the Bold #23. Since that B&B issue is produced by Booster’s regular team of Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund, and sounds like an ordinary issue of Booster’s own book, it makes me wonder why it isn’t in Booster’s own book. Probably because #23 will be the first issue since last week’s #22, and might be the last issue for a while.

(By the way, if Booster doesn’t save the lives of those four Cold-War-era astronauts, will they be changed by cosmic rays into something more than merely human?)*

I JUST LIKE THE PICTURES

Except for ChrisCross’s flashback-oriented issue last month, Justice League has tended to be drawn either by Ed Benes or someone with a very similar style. Therefore, I’m a little surprised to see Rags Morales drawing JLA #33. Hourman showed me that Morales could draw a fine Justice League, although more recently he couldn’t quite keep to a monthly schedule with Nightwing. Still, here’s hoping that JLA stops rotating artists quite so frequently.

House Of Mystery #13 sounds like quite the artistic sampler, what with Neal Adams, Sergio Aragones, and Eric Powell. Doesn’t seem to be part of any ongoing storyline, either, so it should be the proverbial good jumping-on point (or jumping-off, but I’m feeling optimistic).

I JUST READ THE ARTICLES

While it’s nothing new to have a screenwriter try his or her hand at comic books, it’s kind of odd to think that Gerry Conway, who was such a force at both DC and Marvel in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, can now play both the “comics veteran” and “TV cred” cards. Even so, I don’t know how well this prepares him for an Animal Man miniseries.

I had dropped The Spirit after Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones left, but I may have to pick up issue #29 to see how Dean Motter and Paul Rivoche treat the character. Honestly, I’m surprised the title has hung on this long after Darwyn Cooke’s departure.

WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?

Power Girl finally gets on the schedule, as does the next Astro City miniseries.

POTPOURRI

If, as the solicits suggest, the new-look Superman books will each follow particular characters through separate storylines, will they still have the triangle numbers? Also, who had World Of New Krypton #3 in the “Superman struggles with his conscience” pool?

Storming Paradise presents its penultimate issue, six months after the last one came out.

I suppose The Unwritten is a sort of response to all those (me included) who have wondered over the years why nobody tried to adapt Harry Potter to comics. Of course it goes further than that, which makes it sound pretty interesting. I wouldn’t have expected it to be an ongoing series, because you’d think it’d have a definite endpoint; but 40 pages for $1.00 is hard to pass up.

COLLECTIONS

Brian Cronin has already noted this, but it’s worth repeating: pretty much everything in the Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? hardcover also appears in the latest edition of the DC Universe Stories Of Alan Moore paperback.

Still, the WHTTMOT? hardcover does have that extra-fine Brian Bolland cover, with Julius Schwartz front and center. Apparently Julie was on the cover of Action Comics #583 as well, along with then-DC President Jenette Kahn and the longtime “Swanderson” team of penciller Curt Swan and inker Murphy Anderson.

It wouldn’t have been good marketing, I know, but I really wished the Black Casebook collection had come with a simple black cover. It was good enough for Prince and Spinal Tap….

The Secret Origins story reprinted in the Flash: The Human Race paperback is the Grant Morrison/Mike Parobeck retelling of “Flash Of Two Worlds,” which of course would have been a natural fit for the FOTW hardcover, but I guess it would also have been rather confusing. By the way, the Rogues’ Revenge hardcover is also 144 pages, but for $20.00 less. Maybe it costs DC more to reprint all that Infantino art?

Very glad to see the Hitman and Sleeper collections coming back.

The latest Showcase Presents Green Lantern stops right before the classic Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams run begins. I hope that doesn’t mean the series will stop, because the next Showcase volume should get into the backups in Flash which bridged the five-year gap between issues 89 and 90 of the ongoing GL title.

I’m a little disappointed that the Tales From The Phantom Zone paperback doesn’t include Steve Gerber’s Phantom Zone miniseries, or the final issue of DC Comics Presents (where the Zoners meet Mr. Mxyzptlk, with apocalyptic results). Maybe a Volume 2 will include it, along with the 3-parter from Action Comics #471-73 (May-July 1977) where Faora and her fellow prisoners take over the world.

Even with seven extra pages in the first issue, and 17 pages for covers, the first Trinity paperback looks like it has some pages to spare for additional features. I wish the solicit had said more about that.

I’m sure there are a number of witty remarks to be made from the title The Absolute Death, but I’m just not up to it right now.

* * *

Anyway, that’s what jumped out at me this time. What looks good to you?

* [Yes, I know Dan Jurgens has already produced a DC parody of the Fantastic Four, and this probably isn’t another attempt.]

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