Good grief, it’s not even Halloween and I have to think about the first DC comics of 2011? Even trying to pronounce that number makes my tongue stumble -- I keep wanting to say “twenty-eleven” and it sounds like something made-up. Worse, I keep wanting to say twenty-leven, like a common hillbilly.
Nevertheless, I do like DC’s cover gimmick for January Two Thousand Eleven. The white backgrounds and big logos remind me of Superman #701's minimalist cover, and that isn’t a bad thing. The cumulative effect of the style’s uniformity is also more effective than the last time DC emphasized the logos, back in (cover-date) February 2002. The light, open design is also a lot more cheery than January 2009's black-background “Faces Of Evil.”
Still, we’re more interested in what’s between the covers, are we not?
JUST A TASTE
Right off I am pretty impressed with the selection of one-shots at the top of the solicits. The Starman/Congorilla special sounds very fun, especially with Rex the Wonder Dog involved. I’m curious to see what the Shazam! special does with Billy and Mary Batson, and I’m always glad for new John Henry Irons stories. The Wonder Girl special doesn’t interest me that much, but it doesn’t seem entirely about her anyway. Although most of these specials appear to tie into regular books (Justice League, Titans, and Teen Titans), they sound good enough on their own merits.
And then there’s Weird Worlds, the miniseries which revives another venerable DC title. Actually, this reminds me more of recent two-feature books like Countdown To Adventure and Tales of the Unexpected which tied loosely into big-event miniseries. From what I understand, the original Weird Worlds ran 10 issues (1972-74) and featured Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptations (continuing from the Tarzan comic) and Howard Chaykin’s “Ironwolf.” Therefore, the new miniseries’ Lobo serial doesn’t seem entirely out of place. The other features look intriguing enough, and I am always a sucker for anthologies.
I’m a fan of “globetrotting” Batman stories, so in addition to Batman Inc.’s world tour, I’m looking forward to Batman: Europa. DC is clearly selling the art more than the story, and I am not really arguing with that; but I have always enjoyed seeing Batman adapting to different cultures and geographies.
The other Bat-books look relatively routine -- not that they look bad, mind you; just that they're standard Batman fare -- although the Detective Comics solicitation reminds me that it’s been home to some of the more innovative and/or memorable Bat-creative teams. That’s some significant pressure on Scott Snyder and Jock, lumping them in with the likes of Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, and Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III; but I think they’re up to the challenge.
Very glad to see Batman Beyond become an ongoing series, especially since I kinda-sorta thought it would happen when the miniseries was announced back in the spring. I still hope it will take place on Earth-12, and that it’ll have the chance to forge its own future, separate from both the main-line DC-Earth and the DC-Animated continuity.
After just the first issue of Knight & Squire, I’m already ready to meet Hank, the duo’s American butler ... but while I’m waiting, where is the January issue of David Finch’s Dark Knight title?
The solicits for both Gotham City Sirens and Streets Of Gotham sound like they’re winding down as ongoing series. Yes, I know I said a few months back that all of the post-Battle For The Cowl Bat-titles might be taking victory laps in light of Bruce’s return -- but really, I think these two books are headed down the homestretch. “House of Hush” only has one more installment (in February’s issue #20), and if Catwoman accepts Zatanna’s offer, that could bring GCS to a reasonable stopping point, perhaps also in February. Either way, I won’t be surprised.
“S” AND “L”
Lex Luthor is branching out in January, taking on the Joker in Action Comics and the Secret Six in their own book. I for one welcome a Luthor who’s as much a ubiquitous, singular, malevolent force in the DC universe as Doctor Doom is in Marvel’s. Much of my happiness with Paul Cornell’s take on the character comes from the lack of consistency which had been plaguing Luthor. It seemed like ever since the evil genius of the Earth-One days was melded with the post-Crisis tycoon, Luthor was all over the place in terms of being a credible threat. Here’s hoping that whenever Luthor surrenders the Action spotlight, he remains as scarily determined as he is now.
I’ve liked Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle’s work on Supergirl well enough, but considering that their tenure spent most of its time with the “New Krypton” status quo, I think a fresh start with Nick Spencer and Bernard Chang is just what the title needs. Besides, if Spencer’s not going to be writing that “Jimmy Olsen” backup in Action Comics, he might as well be on another ongoing Super-title. So I say welcome aboard!, Messrs. Spencer and Chang; and maybe you’ll get me to try THUNDER Agents too.
REPRINTS AND COLLECTIONS
And speaking of the Acronymical Avengers, I notice that the THUNDER Agents Archives solicited herein reprints that old Deluxe Comics series I enjoyed back in the ‘80s. Honestly, I didn’t see that one coming. I may even have to get December’s DC Comics Presents reprint to see how the old stuff compares. Fair warning, though, for anyone buying Archives Vol. 7: I seem to remember it ending on a cliffhanger.
The old Legends of the DC Universe title will be seeing new life in two of January’s DC Comics Presents reprints. Together the Superman -- Sole Survivor and Atom collections will reprint eight fairly decent issues of the old anthology; and we’ll find out if those stories (most of which were set in the Silver Age) are truly timeless.
Isn’t this is the second time a color paperback of the ‘80s Suicide Squad has been solicited? I’m pretty sure it’s the third attempt to collect these early issues, whether in color or Showcase Presents black-and-white. In any event, I’m not ready to believe that DC has worked out its difficulties reprinting this series until I’m actually holding the thing in my grubby hands.
ODDS AND ENDS
If I were reading Emerald Warriors, I would guess from the solicit for issue #6 that Guy Gardner’s secret arrangement with Atrocitus figures into the plot of Green Lantern #62. For budgetary and other reasons, I am hoping I won’t have to have followed GL:EW to appreciate that part of GL #62.
Even with my apparently-irrational affection for James Robinson and Mark Bagley’s Justice League of America, I must admit it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. However, between the Crime Syndicate, the Tangent Universe, Dark Supergirl, and a villain called the Omega Man, the solicitation for JLA #53 sounds very promising.
Not to sound ungrateful for either the Young Justice cartoon or this spinoff series, but I do wonder why it needs a zero issue. Maybe because it only features the “original” YJ’ers (who, except for Superboy, were the prototypical Teen Titans back in Brave and Bold vol. 1 #54). Anyway, I liked Mike Norton’s work on Atom and Green Arrow, so YJ has that going for it.
As for Norton’s predecessor on Green Arrow, it’s always good to see Cliff Chiang in action, and I’m really looking forward to his issue of Zatanna.
Somehow I missed Jill Thompson’s original Little Endless Storybook, so I’m eager to see it and the new Delirium’s Party. Hopefully they’re suitable for my toddler.
THE LAST OF FIRST WAVE
Finally, it’s not that First Wave was a particularly bad idea. Putting classic pulp heroes like Doc Savage and the Avenger together with similarly-themed characters like Batman, the Blackhawks, and the Spirit made a certain amount of sense. Instead, I would say the idea has been let down by the execution, and specifically by the book’s delays. Only issue #1 has shipped on time, and that was back at the beginning of March. Going by my own records, issue #2 was five weeks late and issues #3 and #4 were each 12 weeks late. Issue #5 is supposed to come out in three weeks, but then (assuming issue #6 ships on time, on January 26) whoever still cares will have to wait almost three months more for the conclusion. Maybe it’s just me, not having enough time to re-read each issue whenever a new one was on the horizon; but I am finding it harder to get excited about the miniseries the longer I have to wait.
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Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?