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Grumpy Old Fan | DC in September is un-‘eventful’

by  in Comic News Comment
Grumpy Old Fan | DC in September is un-‘eventful’

Every September of the New 52 featured some unifying motif. DC Comics’ line-wide relaunch kicked off in September 2011 and got “zero issues” — issues numbered zero, that is — in September 2012. The next two years promoted particular events, with September 2013’s Villains Month tying into Forever Evil, and Futures End one-shots taking over September 2014. Both times, 3D lenticular covers sweetened the deal.

This September, however, there’s no big event or other scheme to goose DC’s market share. Instead, it’s just the fourth month of the new status quo, and the only cover enhancements are some Green Lantern guest appearances.

DC GOES TO HAL

Look, I understand that Hal Jordan, the Silver Age’s main Green Lantern, is considered the biggest ring-slinger of them all; but as Caleb points out, it’s not his 75th anniversary. 2014 was Hal’s 55th, and his compadre Barry Allen will celebrate his 60th next year. Instead, it’s the 75th anniversary of Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, who appears on exactly two variant covers this month. Although one is the variant cover of Green Lantern, Alan himself stars in Earth 2: Society, which a) didn’t get a GL variant and b) has its Flash on the cover. And sure, the Action Comics cover includes favorite Corpsmen like Arisia and Kilowog, but DC could really have opened up the emerald floodgates and featured Lanterns from Arkiss Chummuck to Gallius Zed across its variant covers. Oh ,well. Like my granny always said, they didn’t ask me …

ODDS AND ENDS

Based on its initial solicits, which made it sound like a retread of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s first JLA arc, I have not had the highest expectations for Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America. However, this week’s first issue was pretty good, wrapping some dire consequences around a big super-fight and holding off on introducing the real threat. In its way, Hitch’s JLA is as dedicated to the traditional high-stakes Justice League setup as the Geoff Johns-written Justice League has been. Right now the two books are competing with each other, and fortunately I think we readers will reap the benefits.

I’m not sure which detail of the Bombshells solicit is more disturbing: the image of “Mera, Queen of Atlanta,” or the hint that the series is ripping off Superman: Red Son.

Two bombshells (as it were) went off in the final panel of this week’s Secret Six #3. One was at the heart of the book’s setup (and, indeed, the original Secret Six setup), and the other involved the fate of a longtime DC character not seen since the second term of George W. Bush. (Incidentally, that character would’ve been my choice for the “long-awaited” appearance teased in Justice League United.) This particular version of Secret Six started off a little too arch and mysterious, but Issue 3 was a nice return to form, and if Issue 6 lives up to its solicitation hype, the series is about to get really entertaining.

The promise of “saving the future” in the Batman Beyond solicit got me thinking (again) about how DC used Futures End as a massive bit of stealth marketing for that series. Naturally, once DC revealed that one would follow the other, it wasn’t hard to imagine a pretty clear connection between them. Just as naturally, though, it’s almost impossible to justify Futures End in hindsight as much of anything but a lead-in to BB. That said, I am really hoping for some Futures End closure in the pages of its successor.

The “Godkiller” arc in Deathstroke reminds me, however superficially, of the “Godbomb” arc in Thor. While both involve eye patch-wearing protagonists, “Godkiller” ends in September, probably without appearances from Young Deathstroke, Old Deathstroke or Galactus. (That does look a lot like the Big G on the Flash variant, though.)

TEAM-UPS

Speaking of everyone’s favorite one-eyed assassin, Deathstroke guest-stars in Robin; the Mirror Master returns in Justice League 3001; Wonder Woman shows up in Section 8 and Wonder Girl fights Doomed; Zatanna meets Bizarro; Mecha-Batman takes on Red Hood and Arsenal in their title; Booster Gold and Bat-Mite team up; Batgirl appears in We Are Robin and looks likely for Grayson; and Lobo and Sinestro guest-star in each other’s books. Also, in You Asked For It news, Wally West returns to Flash and Donna Troy is still a part of Wonder Woman.

DICK AND CLARK

It may be hard to imagine today, but from the ‘50s into the ‘80s Superman and Robin (Dick Grayson) interacted pretty regularly as part of the Batman/Superman team-ups in World’s Finest Comics. (Counting the Superman radio show, the partnership went back even further.) For the past 30-odd years, though, team-ups between Nightwing and Supes have been on the rare side. That’s why I’m glad to see one coming up in the Grayson Annual.

NEXT UP, MARK WAID WRITES “DARE”

While the Mecha-Batman arc rolls on through September, apparently the “Truth” storyline will only be running for four issues in each of the Super-titles (Action Comics, Superman, Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman). That’s 16 issues, but compressed into four months it seems like a change this big should last a little longer. Maybe it will (an arc called “Consequences” seems like a no-brainer), but you never know. The cover of Action Comics isn’t much help, either: It features Supes back in costume, but it’s his New 52 costume (the one without the Romita modifications) and it’s balanced out by the Superman cover showing the new T-shirt ensemble. Either way, “Truth” has been pretty engaging so far. However long it lasts, I think it will be worth it.

As for the Mecha-Batman arc, September sort-of puts Bruce Wayne back in the spotlight. Batman features a flashback to the origin of Mr. Bloom, and the Batman Annual catches up with present-day Bruce.  I am also much more on board with this arc than I would have thought.

COLLECTIONS

This month’s solicits include collections of the Convergence stories, with a hardcover for the core miniseries and two paperbacks for each of the four weeks’ worth of retro comics. The main miniseries had its faults — not least of which was an ending which seemed to suggest the exact opposite of what its writer apparently intended — but overall I was entertained. The tie-ins were also mostly good, although based on what I bought and enjoyed I’d probably feel comfortable skipping Zero Hour Book One and Infinite Earths Book One. For my money the best stories were in Zero Hour Book Two (especially Steel, Supergirl and Green Lantern) and Flashpoint Book One (The Question, Superman, Nightwing/Oracle). Jeff Parker’s contributions were also standouts, especially Shazam! (drawn by Doc Shaner) and Hawkman (drawn by Tim Truman and Sam Alcatena), but there’s something to recommend in each of the books.

The lesser Batman mega-arcs continue to be collected, as October brings the first volumes of The Road to No Man’s Land and War Games. Note that the latter involves a particularly dark chapter in the saga of Stephanie Brown, so it may only be of interest to readers who want to relive one of the grimmer periods in Bat-history. Balance that out with a new edition of the first Birds of Prey stories, which collects the specials and miniseries that earned Black Canary and Oracle their own ongoing title.

Elsewhere, the world will not want for yet more Bat-reprints, as Two-Face gets a greatest-hits volume, Catwoman gets a 75th-anniversary tome, and the animated-series adaptations earn a third volume. Since the earliest adventures of the man himself are being collected into an Omnibus, I wonder if that means the end of the Chronicles paperback reprints. Flash, Green Lantern and Justice League all got similar treatment, and their Chronicles and Showcase Presents volumes seem to have dried up.

The Blackest Night Unwrapped book interests me because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Ivan Reis’ raw pencils. That’s nobody’s fault but mine, I suppose. However, I do think this book might have had more general appeal a few years ago, when Geoff Johns was still writing Green Lantern and Rainbow Corps fever was maybe a little higher.

I was confused initially by the solicit for Justice League: A League of One, because I always remember that story incorrectly. I keep thinking it’s the Elseworlds story where most of the men on Earth die (except Superman and Lex Luthor, of course) and the League goes all-female as a result — but that’s Justice League: Act of God. By contrast, League of One shows Wonder Woman taking down each of her colleagues so they won’t die in battle later. As one of my favorite radio-show hosts would say, I haven’t read it, but I hear it’s very good.

The current volume of Astro City has been killing it month in and month out, and the two collections solicited this round include some of the real highlights. Private Lives features the sweetest little old robot-mechanic you’ll ever want to meet, along with the unforgettable legacy of Starbright; while Lovers Quarrel examines the familiar “crusading couple” trope — think old-school Green Arrow and Black Canary, or Hawkeye and Mockingbird — as the heroes start to deal with their own mortality. If you don’t have ‘em, get ‘em.

Finally, in a fortunate bit of synchronicity, The Sandman: Overture concludes in September, just in time for its collection to come out in November — and on a Tuesday, too! However, it’s too late for the final Annotated Sandman volume, set for the previous week in November. I smell a supplement coming in 2016 …

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