This month’s look at DC’s immediate future is going to be a little more concise than usual, because I am dealing with a summer cold which refuses to go away (and it has nothing to do with Comic-Con, to boot). If the Lord had visited a plague of mucous unto Pharaoh, it would have been something like this.
Anyway, in the wake of Comic-Con, DC has released its October solicits to remind us that all those ideas for movies and TV shows have to come from somewhere. Speaking of which, October is also the month when Flash and Arrow return to The CW, and when Supergirl debuts on CBS. Accordingly, I was expecting a little more tie-in product, but I guess that will have to wait.
The biggest news -- at least in terms of reader commitment -- comes once more from the Bat-office, in the form of the new six-month weekly miniseries Batman And Robin Eternal. Following up structurally, if not quite thematically, on 2014-15's Batman Eternal, apparently it will deal with the repercussions of a case from the Dick-as-Robin days, and also it will bring back Cassandra Cain. The old case is advertised as “the most disturbing of their crimefighting career,” so yay for that. Presumably it’s “most disturbing to that point,” because by himself the Joker has probably committed a half-dozen fairly disturbing capers.
I see that the present-day portion of issue #1's cover includes only Dick, Red Robin, Bluebird, and Red Hood, thereby omitting current Batman Jim Gordon and current Robin Damian Wayne, which is a little ironic for a comic called Batman And Robin Eternal. I’m sure they’ll be along soon.
The “Darkseid War” storyline spills out of Justice League and into its own line of special issues in October. The specials come out two per week for three weeks after JL #45, and I presume they’ll each deal with the New God-style power bequeathed to various Leaguers by the events of JL #44. Thus, whatever happens in issue 44 will last into the Leaguers’ downtime, which means that the story must take that downtime into account. I don’t have a problem with giving “Darkseid War” this sort of big-event treatment, but in that context it seems like it may end up being more of a digression.
Still, maybe that downtime is also designed to account for what seems like three different narrative tracks running through the superhero line. The main track features T-Shirt Superman and Mecha Batman, Justice League belongs to the second, and Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America is off on its own. It’s nothing new for DC to offer alternative versions of its characters -- these solicits include at least five different versions of Superman, each distinct in costume and/or abilities -- but I’m hoping everything will be reconciled eventually.
Fortunately, there’s Justice League United, reinvented nicely with a rotating cast written by Jeff Parker. Even if it’s just a shameless way to get Vandal Savage back into the spotlight ahead of Legends of Tomorrow, I can’t argue with a Justice League team fighting alongside DC’s greatest war-comics characters. It’s the kind of shared-universe exploration the League has done so well.
Three Convergence spinoffs debut in October: Superman: Lois & Clark, Telos, and Titans Hunt. From what the solicits tell us, L&C seems to take place on another Earth, which is neither the pre-Flashpoint DC-Earth nor the current version. At least, I can’t imagine that DC is going to reintroduce an older version of Lois & Clark (and their 9-year-old) to the current DC-Earth. Still, it would bring a whole new dimension (no pun intended) to the “Clark Kent Exposed” arc running through the main Super-titles. Since Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks produced one of the better-received Convergence tie-ins, expectations for this one should be high.
Not so much, I’m afraid, for Telos. If you’ve ever wanted DC to have its own Silver Surfer, here you go. Otherwise, though, Telos was one of the weaker elements of Convergence -- the Silver Surfer origin didn’t help -- and while I thought Convergence had its moments, in the end Telos turned out to be a big bag of nothing special.
Finally, Titans Hunt seems designed expressly to bring the original generation of Silver Age sidekicks -- minus Wally West, which is either a tremendous oversight or a plot point -- into the revised and compressed DC timeline. (The cover is an homage to Justice League of America issue 100 (August 1972), which kicked off an arc reintroducing the Seven Soldiers of Victory.) Unlike the other two, it’s a 12-issue miniseries, which seems rather short-sighted. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read about the further adventures of the current versions of Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, Roy Harper, and Wally West? Considering that each of those characters has been retooled over the past few years, such that they’re not particularly well-suited to teaming up with the others, I have the feeling this is going to be a bittersweet look at what might have been, not a grand gesture towards rewriting the timeline. If it were the latter, I think DC would give this a bit more fanfare.
Speaking of the timeline, Batman Beyond issue 5 sounds a lot like the penultimate installment of the series’ first arc, and I’m hoping it too adopts a more conventional setup. On the other hand, after the finale of Futures End, I could totally see DC putting out one six-issue arc after another, each ending with Future Tim Drake resetting the timeline to a slightly different, but no less nihilistic, version of Brother Eye’s domination. It’d be like Gilligan’s Island with killer super-cyborgs.
The solicit for New Suicide Squad issue 13 mentions “the enigmatic Vic Sage,” reminding me once again that DC has been trying to get the Question off the ground for the past two years. He was a shadowy figure in “Trinity War,” he was part of the “Trinity of Sin” that got its own short-lived series, and now he’s an unknown quantity in Suicide Squad. If that’s what finally does it, great; but otherwise, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
PAIRS AND SPARES
With Justice League 3001 issue 5 promising a new 31st Century Batman, prepare yourself for lots of meta remarks. I doubt Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis would pass up an opportunity to satirize the Bat-books.
I don’t read either series, so I can’t tell you how effective it is, but writer Cullen Bunn linking his series Lobo and Sinestro seems very appropriate. DC has more outer-space series than I would have expected (Lobo, Sinestro, Omega Men, the two Green Lantern series) and while space is a big place, having the characters bump into one another isn’t really a bad thing.
Elsewhere in Sinestro news, him meeting Black Adam in Sinestro issue 16 is a match made in Geoff Johns heaven. They’re both two anti-heroes groomed by Johns to enjoy their current popularity. Plus, they can share tips about maintaining their distinctive looks.
THIS AND THAT
Poor Prez started off as an ongoing series, got downgraded to a 12-issue miniseries pretty quickly, and now with these solicits is officially a six-issue miniseries. Even The Green Team got eight issues (although I think its collection was cancelled). The one issue I’ve seen was very good, so enjoy it while you can.
Wonder Woman ‘77 gets another Special, which means the digital-first editions should be appearing fairly soon. I’m especially looking forward to Cheetah 1977.
It took Damian Wayne several months and a trip to Apokolips to come back from the dead, and now the solicit for Robin, Son Of Batman issue 5 has his mom back as well. I suppose we’ll see how difficult her revival turned out to be.
The first “Truth” arc is over, but the new status quo for Superman is still in place, and a new set of stories begins in October. Last month I said I’d be happy (and surprised) if things were back to normal by October, because while I have been enjoying the stories which have come out of the unmasking, I trusted the Super-teams to bring everything home in a satisfying manner. Looking at October’s array of issues, though, it seems like there are only so many good stories you can do about a powerless, “exposed” Superman before it becomes an exercise in frustration. I mean, at some point DC is going to restore the powers, the costume, and the secret identity, because I imagine that’s a big part of why people enjoy Superman. Until then, though, having a constant refrain of “what’s happening? This would be easier with my powers,” etc., risks getting old quickly. Again, I trust Pak & Kuder, Yang & Romita, et al., but I hope they can pull it off.
The Batman Illustrated By Neal Adams Omnibus looks like an insane doorstop of a book, showcasing the classic O’Neil/Adams stories as well as the fever-dream Batman: Odyssey. If you’re an Adams completist and you haven’t gotten the separate volumes, this is probably a good value. Otherwise, I’d get the three original volumes and skip Odyssey -- best to remember Adams in more coherent times.
This month’s obscure collection is the Phantom Stranger paperback, collecting Kupperberg’s ‘80s work on the character. It includes the Mike Mignola-drawn miniseries and a boatload of stories from Action Comics Weekly, and it might be at odds with the character’s current incarnation, but that’s probably for the best.
I’m glad DC is reprinting the Superman Adventures stories from the late ‘90s. They’re fun standalone tales tied into the animated series, and I presume they’re coming out again because the Batman Adventures books have been successful. For that matter, these stories originally appeared when the comics were gearing up for Electro-Superman, so it’s only fitting that they come back when Supes is going through yet another shakeup.
Finally, Kevin O’Neill gets a Gallery Edition for the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen miniseries. I have the Absolute Editions for the first two miniseries, each of which came with a separate volume for Alan Moore’s super-detailed scripts. I suppose this book is the artistic counterpart to those tomes.