Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52's first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.
Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Ahem. Away we go...!
One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)
Similarly, Flash features the return of Captain Cold and probably some other members of the Rogues’ Gallery, so I presume we’ll hear about their various dealings with the Scarlet Speedster. Now, I don’t expect either of these books to make explicit references to particular Silver Age stories, because I think DC still wants to avoid alienating new readers with (what may be to them) arcane Easter eggs. Regardless, it’s comforting to know that these characters are getting at least some of their history back. (I would like to see an organizational chart explaining the jurisdictions of the main League, the JLI, and JL Dark, though....)
THIS AND THAT
Between OMAC and the Challengers of the Unknown’s Ace turning into a giant monster, I hope Dan DiDio isn’t thinking that’s his new sweet spot. (That and Jack Kirby references, of course -- OMAC #7 gives us the new Evil Factory.)
It may be the longtime fan in me, but it’s hard not to think DC has some line-wide crossover planned for the New-52's first anniversary. (The cynic in me thinks that’s why nothing has been cancelled yet.) While I’m on the fence about such a move’s artistic merits, I applaud the crossovers between I, Vampire and Justice League Dark. Given the former’s setup, it makes perfect sense that the latter would be involved. It’d also be nice to see more acknowledgment that various insidious events are threatening the larger DC universe -- the vampire war, the stealthy alien invasions of Grifter and Voodoo, and the hinted connections among Frankenstein and OMAC and Superboy, Teen Titans, and Legion Lost.
I’ve liked Chip Kidd’s design work, including his showcases of Batman memorabilia, so I’m curious to see how that translates into writing Batman: Death By Design. With his clean, uncomplicated approach, Dave Taylor is a good match for this project, because he’s versatile enough to handle what I expect will be a wide range of styles. He also did one of the World’s Finest miniseries about ten years ago, and he drew a pretty good Batman in that.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
New creative teams abound: Joe Harris comes in for Gail Simone as Firestorm’s co-writer, while co-writer Ethan Van Sciver draws issue #7 in place of Yildray Cinar. Ann Nocenti and Harvey Tolibao are your new Green Arrow writer and artist. James Bonny joins Tony Daniel as Hawkman’s co-writer. Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens write, and Jurgens pencils, Superman. After Sterling Gates’ departure, Rob Liefeld flies solo on Hawk & Dove. Paul Jenkins takes over writing Stormwatch from Paul Cornell (who then becomes free to write his own Saucer Country series, which looks quite good); Marc Bernardin takes over writing Static Shock; and Tom DeFalco is the new Legion Lost writer.
Also, Gene Ha fills in for Jim Lee on Justice League #7. Fine by me!
DC Universe Online Legends wraps up in March with issue #26, and as late as it may be for me, I am somewhat tempted to check it out. Essentially it’s an alternate take on the pre-New-52 status quo, which makes me feel oddly nostalgic. (Also concluding in March are October’s trio of 6-issue miniseries, Huntress, My Greatest Adventure, and Legion: Secret Origin.)
A couple of weeks back I wondered if there weren’t a new Night Force in the works, and what do you know? March brings another Night Force miniseries, courtesy of co-creator Marv Wolfman and appropriately-moody artist Tom Mandrake. I’m a little surprised that the solicitation just assumes everyone knows about Wolfman and the late Gene Colan’s team of supernaturally-oriented investigators.
Okay, I like THUNDER Agents pretty well, and I’m planning on getting all of the new miniseries -- but why start a two-part backup story featuring one of the more obscure Agents in the next-to-last issue of what may be your final miniseries?
The first four New-52 collections are solicited here, although they come out in May. While I know it’s not unusual to have a small gap between the last issue collected and the current issue on the stands, I like that readers who want to jump aboard with the monthly issues need only find (at most) three single issues to get caught up.
Alternatively, it’s entirely possible to see the New-52 collections as cousins to the superhero line’s original graphic novels (e.g., Luthor, Joker, and the “Earth One” books), with these first four kicking off an every-six-months schedule. If I were completely new to the superhero line, or otherwise didn’t want to commit to the weekly grind, that could be a fairly reasonable schedule.
Having “lived through” the “No Man’s Land” storyline back in 1999, I’ve not been that eager to revisit it. Therefore, the timing of these new paperback editions must be right. “NML” may even read better in big collections; because as effective as it was to watch Gotham abandoned and rebuilt in real time over the course of a calendar year, the experience surely becomes more attractive if it goes by more quickly.
I’m also glad that DC will be reprinting all of the “Knightfall/KnightQuest/KnightsEnd” saga in hefty paperback form. Like “NML” (which obviously took its format from the earlier events), these stories were serialized a week or two at a time, and played out over about eighteen months. In light of Bane’s upcoming star turn, it’s much easier to understand why DC is reprinting “Knightfall” again, but these remain some pretty entertaining comics regardless. Similarly, the “Venom” arc from Legends of the Dark Knight laid the groundwork for Batman’s eventual nemesis, but it stood on its own for at least a couple of years as well.
Although I seem to be saying this a lot more than I expected to, thanks DC for continuing the Archives line, this time with a new Green Lantern Archives volume. I was glad to get the first six, and I’ll be glad to see no. 7. Similarly, I’m glad to see the second volume of Secret Society Of Super-Villains solicited. The uneven tale of miscreants (and Captain Comet) operating on the margins of the Multiverse remains, with all its flaws, a fine example of DC’s superhero books in the 1970s. Plus, if my chronology is correct, it wraps up with the JLA arc which helped inspire Identity Crisis.
Speaking of the Multiverse, don’t get me wrong -- it’s great that DC is collecting All-Star Squadron, the ‘80s series featuring Earth-Two’s Golden Agers fighting the Axis and other wartime bad guys. However, I do wish it was coming out in color, like those ‘70s Justice Society paperbacks from a few years back. Regardless, if the solicitation is accurate as to the issues collected, SPASS vol. 1 should include the five-part JLA/JSA crossover which bounces from the ‘80s to World War II to the Cuban Missile Crisis and involves three parallel Earths. Never could keep that one straight....
Finally, my stat-nerd heart is warmed by the thought of a Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude collection, and I bet yours is too.
* * *
Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?