Time for the monthly look at DC’s periodicals ... now that Superman Earth One has killed the periodical market, anyway....
YOU SAY GOODBYE, I SAY HELLO
A few high-profile creative-team shuffles will be resolved in February’s issues. The Peter Tomasi/Patrick Gleason Era of Batman And Robin begins in February, and new writers Chris Roberson and Phil Hester will flesh out J. Michael Straczynski’s plots for Superman and Wonder Woman.
Obviously all three books are going through some transition (to say the least) following the departure of a high-profile writer; and obviously the transitions speak to the relentless demands of the periodical market. DC needs to publish Superman and Wonder Woman every month, because quite simply they’re cornerstones of its superhero line. Conversely, DC could have cancelled Batman and Robin after Grant Morrison’s departure, but I suppose that would have provided a more definite jumping-off point than Morrison’s own transit to the new Batman Incorporated. (I still think Streets Of Gotham is on its way out, mostly because the Hush-oriented story it has been telling will be wrapped up by the spring.)
With Straczynski, though, DC is in more of a bind. It had been selling Superman and Wonder Woman based on the writer’s reputation and the daringly different directions he had planned for the characters. This, of course, is nothing new: Geoff Johns’ success with Green Lantern is probably the apex of this “let me, Your Favorite Writer, tell you how awesome Character X is” strategy. Thus, in the best of all possible worlds, not only would JMS’ presence have rocketed Superman and Wonder Woman to their rightful places atop the sales charts, he would also have cultivated a new generation of loyal Superman and Wonder Woman readers who’d keep buying the titles long after he left.
To be sure, that may still happen -- but it probably won’t happen to the extent DC would have liked. I plan to keep buying Superman and Wonder Woman, mainly because I like the characters. (I’m also curious to see how the WW arc plays out.) Still, in part because bringing in the new writers has seemed rather ad hoc, I can see where the books will look like damaged goods for the rest of the JMS-directed storylines. Essentially, it means a few more months of waiting to hear who the next high-profile Superman and Wonder Woman writers will be, and what daringly different directions they’ll have in mind.
ON THE OTHER HAND
The new Batwoman title, officially debuting in February after this month’s zero issue, has less of a problem dealing with the loss of writer Greg Rucka. I like Rucka a lot, both as a writer and as a creative individual, and I understand why he’s not participating in Batwoman. Nevertheless, I’m glad to see J.H. Williams III and Amy Reeder -- two of my favorite artists -- involved in the new book.
HERE IT IS, YOUR MOMENT OF PETTINESS
Speaking of publishing books every month, I note that DC plans to publish Flash #11 on schedule in February, despite the current issue (#6) being eight weeks late.
BECAUSE HIS ERUDITE PERIOD APPEARS TO HAVE PASSED
This week we learned that January’s Steel one-shot, February’s Outsiders #37, March’s Justice League of America #55, and April’s Superboy #6 -- plus at least one other unnamed title, probably to be published in May -- will feature Doomsday, an especially brutish symbol of ‘90s superhero excess.
Naturally, DC is treating this like a big deal, but to me it sounds like World War Hulk without all the subtlety -- namely because Doomsday himself is pretty much the Hulk without all the subtlety. Given the books involved, I suspect the storyline will track the creature’s “revenge” against as many of Team Superman as he can find: Steel in his one-shot, the Eradicator in Outsiders, probably Supergirl in JLA, and Superboy. (The Cyborg Superman is, as of this writing, presumed dead after a fight with Alpha Lantern Boodika.)
Anyway, you have to think that each issue will feature Doomsday stomping around, shredding whatever’s in the way, growling menacingly all the while. I kind of hope the extended storyline doesn’t get more complicated than that, because DC never does well with “serious” attempts to show the Real Cost Of Heroism. In fact, I almost wish DC would use Doomsday as an in-story mechanism for canceling books -- going from low-selling title to low-selling title, beating up the main characters, and maybe juicing sales enough to warrant a revival. He could even have a chirpy sidekick and a sultry love interest like George Clooney in Up In The Air.
(I’ve thought about that too much, haven’t I...?)
HOORAY FOR CROSSOVERS
Other major character-specific Events on the horizon include “Flashpoint,” which looks initially like an alternate-future situation; and “War of the Green Lanterns,” which seems to involve a schism among the four Earthling Lanterns. I would try to find previous storylines with superficial similarities, but I think the statute of limitations has run on whatever I might have dug up. Ironically, heading into the Summer of Green Lantern, “Flashpoint” sounds like the event best-suited to expand into other DC titles -- at least, those not otherwise occupied with Doomsday.
In addition to the Image-y stylings of artist Brett Booth, Justice League’s “Rise of Eclipso” arc brings back memories of the early 1990s -- specifically, Summer 1992's Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover. TDW remains the only crossover for which I bought all the issues (it ran through various Annuals), and honestly, it was a pretty good one. Still, statute of limitations, yadda yadda yadda, let’s see what James Robinson and Booth do with it. As far as I am concerned, Eclipso doesn’t fight the JLA enough.
On a smaller scale, I’m intrigued by February’s intertitle crossovers, Red Robin/Teen Titans and Doom Patrol/Secret Six, because neither sounds especially forced or profit-minded. I read DP and S6 already, so I’m looking forward to that one; but now I am genuinely curious to see which Robin stays with the Titans.
LEAVING SO SOON?
I thought I had heard about the DC Universe Online game having a tie-in comic, but I didn’t think it would be 26 biweekly issues. Since I have no spare time to play videogames, especially MMO games, this will have no bearing on me buying the game. Therefore, strictly in terms of story, I wonder how this will be different from, say, Trinity or Justice, in the sense that it will be a general-interest superhero story involving the A-list characters. I’m all for such general-interest kinds of stories, but 26 issues seems a bit long, especially for a tie-in.
Hard to believe that the other 26-issue series, Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost, will be starting their final acts in February. JL:GL has been paced better than BD, but then again it only has the one plot to advance.
The final issue of DC Universe Legacies will concern Infinite Crisis, and it will come out almost six years after Max Lord killed Blue Beetle. That’s as good a place to stop as any, I suppose. Still, a lot’s happened in those six years, and I wonder if Len Wein and company couldn’t have spent an extra couple of issues bringing the story up to date.
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Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?