This unfortunate confluence of monthly solicitations and Comic-Con must be unavoidable. For the past week or so we DC fans have been bombarded with announcements which have little to do with October’s comics. Here’s a new Static series, there’s David Finch’s new Dark Knight series, peeking out over here is the new THUNDER Agents series, and to top things off, have a clue-filled Brightest Day poster.
Now here are the October solicits ... but by the time you read this, DC may well have started rolling out the stuff it had been holding for Comic-Con.
But hey -- on to the task at hand!
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AGENT OF ...
Speaking of that Brightest Day poster, the cover of Green Lantern Corps #53 offers a big clue as to whose golden shield that is.
BACK FOR MORE CASH
Two books with which I have on-again, off-again relationships are Teen Titans and Justice Society. Right now I’m off both, but October’s issues might change that.
I have mixed feelings about the new Teen Titans creative team. On one hand I love Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood ... but on the other I’m not really excited about new regular writer J.T. Krul. Since issue #88 (really? wow!) promises 40 pages of Scott & Hazlewood, I’ll probably give it a chance.
Over in Justice Society of America, though, Marc Guggenheim’s plans sound pretty fascinating. Usually -- and understandably -- the JSA comes across a lot like the Justice League, only with some esoteric difference in jurisdiction and/or mission. Emphasizing the “society” part, however, sounds significantly different, even from the days when Justice League International was its own Vatican-like political entity. Moreover, having the Justice Society take responsibility for an entire city carves out a unique niche in DC’s superhero landscape, and helps insure that the JSA’s future adventures will be distinctive, whether they’re in the JSA books or not. Plus, you know, Scott Kolins on art doesn’t hurt.
The art for Bruce Wayne -- The Road Home: Outsiders is by “TBD”?!? And so is the art for the Halloween Special?? Oh boy.
IF I KNEW YOU WERE COMING...
I can’t figure the timing of Untold Tales Of Blackest Night, because it’s the kind of thing I’d have expected to find collected in one of the BN tie-in books. Now I’m wondering what DC will pair with it in the inevitable collection. Probably the Ragman special, since it seems to be coming out of left field too. And wow, it wasn't all bad, but was Victorian Undead really that well-received that it merits a follow-up?
I do like the just-in-time-for-the-holidays scheduling of the Green Lantern Omnibus. I have all the pertinent Archives volumes, though, so don’t worry about getting me one. As for the Superman: Secret Origin hardcover on December 1, I’ll believe it when I see issue #6.
Calling the Berni Wrightson Hidden Treasures story “legendary” made me feel even more out of the loop than usual, since I was really not aware of it until these solicits. Apparently it’s been kicking around the DC offices for a while, judging by these 2009 blog posts from inker Kevin Nowlan.
All these Road Home one-shots say “victory lap” to me ... like it’s an open question whether November’s Bat-line will include Batman And Robin, Red Robin, Streets of Gotham, and/or Gotham City Sirens. Right now I’d give 5-to-3 odds that those titles will be back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s for just one last issue. (In fact, although it’s not marked as such, the solicit for Azrael #13 sure sounds pretty final.)
This is not to say that Dick and Damian are necessarily going anywhere -- Dick appears to have a future as the Justice League’s Batman, and Damian likewise has business with Supergirl (Superman/Batman #77 looks fun) and the Teen Titans. My cynical impulses would say that Bruce Wayne’s plans will mirror Steve Rogers’ -- intentionally or not -- and he’ll hold off on stepping back into the lead role. Maybe Grant Morrison will send him into the future, a la Brane Taylor, the Batman of 3054.
Otherwise, I’m really looking forward to the Knight & Squire miniseries. Morrison has done a fine job updating this particular ‘50s concept, and I’m sure Paul Cornell will expand nicely upon that foundation.
And while I’ve got odds (and Cornell) on the brain, I’ll give 8-to-1 that Action Comics #894 finds Death cracking wise about Blackest Night.
ODDS AND ENDS
Tom Derenick’s pencils are hit-or-miss for me, but I do like Stuart Moore and Fabian Nicieza, so I’ll probably end up checking out the JLA/The 99 special.
Considering the twice-weekly Bruce Wayne -- The Road Home, Red, and DC Comics Presents specials, October is full-to-bursting with themes. I don’t envy the poor soul (pun intended) who’s a fan of all three. I am curious about the DCCP 96-pages-for-$7.99 format, though: stapled, squarebound, or some odd combination? I am a huge format nerd....
Fables reaches issue #100 and Justice League of America vol. 2 hits issue #50. These two events have little to do with one another, but I feel compelled to mention them. I am sorry to see Billy Batson and Batman: The Brave and the Bold canceled, though.
LOVE, DC STYLE
Finally, don’t ask why -- I’m not exactly sure myself -- but I have a real hankering for DC to put together a nice-looking greatest-hits-style volume of old romance comics. Marvel has gotten decent mileage out of its old romance books, not least because many of ‘em featured Jack Kirby artwork; but still. Currently I own a thin paperback called Truer Than True Romance (bought, as it happens, at the 2001 San Diego Comic-Con), which mashes up the original art with writer Jeanne Martinet’s satirical dialogue. Still, a new collection wouldn’t have to go the so-bad-it’s-good route. Among all those old comics, I bet there are a few which still have at least nominal artistic merit. If not, maybe at least do a Showcase Presents.
The real issue, though, is DC’s use of its back catalog. Honestly, when I look through the Marvel solicits, I tend to go straight to the bottom to see what old comics are being collected. I am much more interested in a new volume of Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks or Essential Avengers than I am in current issues of those series. A big part of that is catching up with the old stories, and a slightly smaller part is nostalgia, but even without those factors I just appreciate the convenience and economy of a book. Curiosity drives my interest in ‘60s and ‘70s Marvel, and curiosity similarly drives my interest in the more obscure corners of DC’s publishing history. Royalty issues may still prevent DC from reprinting a significant part of its back issues, but surely they wouldn’t be much of a problem for the romance comics.
Instead, I suspect DC wants its collections to complement the monthly issues whenever possible, and on one level I can’t argue with that. However, DC must recognize that its collections can reach more of the general public than its single issues ever will. Truer Than True Romance was published by Watson-Guptill, so it didn’t boast the DC bullet, and I would be surprised if it sold very many copies through the Direct Market. (Frankly, I’d be surprised if it sold very many copies in the general bookstore market.) Nevertheless, it tells me that somebody thought there was a market for this stuff, and maybe for the original stories as well. For decades DC published a lot of non-superhero comics anthologies, but outside of the occasional Showcase Presents, it doesn’t seem that interested in bringing samplers of those old series back into the spotlight. I’m not asking for a full-blown revival, I’d just like to see the waters tested every now and then.
And with that, I’m off to read the copy of 1980's Mysteries In Space reprint collection I just bought at the comics shop today....