We aging superhero fans have a reputation for being stuck in the past, but I'm looking back at what I wrote last year about Comic-Con, and … well, 2008 looks a whole lot more exciting by comparison.
Last year, DC announced Neil Gaiman's Batman story, Flash: Rebirth, new spotlights on the Milestone and Red Circle characters, the revamped Supergirl (which helped set up the "New Krypton" mega-arc), and a Zatanna ongoing series. While we're still waiting on Zatanna, I think it's safe to say the rest have each been pretty important to DC in one way or another.
This year, though? Pretty quiet. Oh sure, there were new Flash and Justice Society titles announced, plus the integration of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents into the DC lineup and Astro City going monthly. These are all noteworthy, and I do not mean to diminish any of them. I'm just saying that overall, they don't make as big of a splash. I thought DC's Comic-Con news would overshadow last week's October solicitations, and it kinda didn't.
Therefore, let's try to sort it all out.
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The October tally of Blackest Night titles continues the pattern of taking the first week off and giving readers one "core" book and one tie-in every week thereafter. That's not a bad strategy -- personally, I think it's a manageable number of titles, and the off-week helps build anticipation.
10/14: Green Lantern Corps #41 ($2.99), BN: Batman #3 ($2.99)10/21: BN #4 ($3.99), BN: Superman #3 ($2.99)10/28: Green Lantern #47 ($2.99), BN: Titans #3 (#2.99)
By the way, it's pretty gutsy of our anonymous solicits writer to proclaim Blackest Night a "best-selling epic" before the sales figures for its first month are in.
Although Steve Englehart wroter her and Walt Simonson drew her first, I'll always associate Silver St. Cloud -- my all-time favorite Bat-girlfriend -- with the late Marshall Rogers. Englehart and Rogers brought back Silver for 2005's Dark Detective miniseries, and there was talk of a sequel. Accordingly, after Rogers' death I figured there would be no more Silver stories ... but here's Kevin Smith, bringing her into the Widening Gyre miniseries. I'll probably give it a look, but my expectations aren't very high.
October marks the end of Judd Winick and Mark Bagley's four issues on Batman, and the start of Tony Daniel's six. I'm glad to learn that Winick will be coming back after that.
October also ushers in the new Azrael ongoing series, at last filling the void which the cancellation of Az 1.0 left in all our hearts back in the spring of 2003. I'm not sure why DC thought it needed to wait five months between the end of the Death's Dark Knight miniseries and the start of this ongoing. Maybe it didn't want to take anything away from the Batgirl rollout…? However, I do approve of using the Batman and Detective Annuals as its lead-ins. That way, folks like me who are still on the fence have a couple of opportunities to make up our minds. (Actually, that wouldn't have been a bad idea for the Batgirl rollout.)
Oh, and since he's now working for the Lord, who else sees an Azrael/Spectre team-up not too far down the road?
Speaking of long waits, apparently the Arkham Reborn miniseries will finally allow DC to rebuild Arkham according to the twenty-year-old Grant Morrison/Dave McKean graphic novel. Naturally, this is not a good thing, at least not for Arkham's staff and residents. Unless Batman and Robin show up at some point to set things straight, it may not be a good thing for this reader either.
I'm glad to see Doug Moench and Kelley Jones together again (on the Batman: Unseen miniseries). It's not clear from the solicit which Batman they're using, but judging by the costume, Jones' style, and what looks like a 2007 date next to Jones' signature, I'd say Bruce.
I suppose the "death of Red Robin," mentioned in the solicit for issue #5 but spoiling the end of Red Robin #4, is another example of how the future can market to the past.
Indeed, thanks to the Superman books, our Mr. Drake is all over the October solicits. He's in the first issue of the latest World's Finest miniseries, and he teams up once again with Superboy in Adventure Comics #3. I presume the "secrets that could destroy [Tim and Conner's] friendship" (in Adventure) have to do with Tim's scary-obsessive "mad scientist" phase….
Building World's Finest around unusual pairings sounds like a fun idea, but it also sounds like the kind of thing which could wait until it's collected. While I normally don't like DC revealing plot details two or three months ahead of time, in this case that might help me decide whether to wait. As for issue #1, Tim Drake met Chris Kent back when Chris was significantly younger, so now I wonder whether Chris's unusual aging has made him older than Tim. Should be an interesting "mentor/mentee" relationship.
FOR GREAT JUSTICE
The "seismic rift" mentioned in connection with October's Justice Society #32 no doubt leads into the launch of JSA: All Stars, announced at San Diego. According to All Stars writer Matthew Sturges, the split has to do with training the newer Justice Socialites. Naturally, I was afraid it would be another "we need to be proactive" type of thing, and was wondering how DC would manage that in light of Cry For Justice. Instead, All Stars sounds more like the old Justice League Task Force, or even the "Detroit League." Mind you, it only sounds like those things -- I'm guessing the execution will be significantly different.
The big Justice League-related news out of San Diego was the upcoming recruitment of Mon-El, Donna "I Had A Codename Once" Troy, and the new Batman to the post-Cry For Justice League. Again, since these changes don't appear to be reflected in the October solicits, it's reasonable to think they'll probably wait until CFJ wraps up in January.
Meanwhile, over in October's CFJ #4, someone needs to tell Green Lantern that torture doesn't work. Maybe he thought Taxi to the Dark Side was about Apokolips...?
The Final Crisis Aftermath books wrap up in October. Good thing Legion Of 3 Worlds finished first.
This probably has nothing to do with the merits of the issue, but I keep reading the solicitation for The Mighty #9 and thinking that the "literally" refers not only to "got something cooking," but also to "really give Alpha a hand." Like, what could Gabriel cook which would literally give Alpha a hand?
I will not speculate on any connection between the "sudden rash of [Amazonian] pregnancies" (in Wonder Woman #37) and Achilles becoming the Amazons' new ruler.
Kind of surprised to see two of my favorite artists, Walt Simonson and John Paul Leon, on Vigilante #11, a book I wouldn't normally go out of my way to read.
Very glad to see that, as Kurt Busiek announced at Comic-Con, Astro City will effectively be coming out monthly starting on September 30 with the Astra two-parter. It's welcome news in part because (as JK pointed out earlier in the week) more Busiek is always good. More importantly, though, in the man's own words, "I can [once again] handle a large and sustained workload without my fatigue issues knocking me out for a week or two at a time the way it used to, and I've been able to write the kind of material Astro City needs to feature." Glad you're feeling better, Kurt!
If it's been ten years since the last regular issue of Astro City, that must make the producers of Planetary #27 feel better. The first issue was cover-dated April 1999, and issue #26 had a cover date of December 2006. That's a wait of just three years between issues, but Planetary didn't pass the time with miniseries and specials like Astro City did.
I tend to enjoy House Of Mystery on its own terms, but the October issues look like thinly-veiled cross-promotions of other Vertigo books. Jeff "Sweet Tooth" Lemire contributes to issue #18, and it even sounds like the characters themselves from books like Hellblazer, Madame Xanadu, and the upcoming I, Zombie will be incorporated into the HoM Annual. Clever!
Speaking of Madame Xanadu, I'd make a "Mad Men" joke about the plot of issue #16, but it sounds about ten years too early.
According to Lambiek.net, Unknown Soldier #13's artist Pat Masioni "won international fame [in 2005] with the publication of a comic book in two parts on the  war between the Hutu's and the Tutsi's in Rwanda." He now lives in Paris, having fled his native Congo because of his "fierce anti-government cartoons." I don't doubt that the events of his life have given Masioni a unique perspective on the events which inform each issue of Unknown Soldier, and I'm already eager to see what he brings to the book. As if that weren't enough, however, just Google him and you'll see he's also fantastically talented. These two issues should look great, and I can't wait to see them.
NOT ON THE FAST TRACK?
Since the new All Flash and Kid Flash series were announced at Comic-Con, I was a little surprised to realize that there was no new plain-old-Flash ongoing series solicited in October. Flash: Rebirth #6 is scheduled for September 30, and Barry appears in October's issue of The Brave and the Bold. However, from the above-linked article it almost sounds like DC is waiting until the Blackest Night: Flash miniseries has finished. That makes some sense, I suppose, but it would push a new ongoing to January or February, almost a year after Rebirth and about eighteen months since Barry's return in Final Crisis.
It's also interesting to me that the Flash Vs. The Rogues paperback is essentially seven stories from the beating heart of the Silver Age, but it's being marketed (here, at least) as a Rogues' Revenge tie-in. Not, "these are what people think of when they think of Barry Allen," not "watch out for these guys in the new Flash series," but "hey, remember Final Crisis?"
I've heard good things about Black Lightning Year One and Winter Men, so I'm glad to see those collections on the schedule.
Also glad to see a new edition of the Monster Society Of Evil serial. The cheapest one I saw on eBay was $125.00.
While I don't know that Peter Milligan's take on Shade The Changing Man was as much of a hit for Vertigo in the '90s as, say, Sandman or Doom Patrol, it had a comparable 70-issue run. Accordingly, it might be enticing enough to new readers that it all gets reprinted.
Apart from the awkward title, Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents Vol. 1 looks like fun. It also features some excellent art by the likes of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Joe Staton, Dick Dillin, and Jim Starlin.
There will always be a part of me which argues for the original infinite Multiverse, especially since it greatly simplified the use of each new corporate acquisition. The Fawcett characters got Earth-S, the Quality characters Earth-X, and the Charlton characters got the blink-and-you-miss-it Earth-4. As a practical matter, this held true for the Red Circle and Milestone lines in the '90s: with each getting its own imprint, separate from DC's main superhero line, each was effectively "walled off." Thus, when the Milestone characters crossed over with the Superman books in 1994, it was clear that each group had its own Earth.
Now, of course, each "new" set of characters gets incorporated into the greater DC line, presumably to make interaction with the more established DC folk that much easier. However, I think DC must be careful to maintain these characters' relationships among their original peer groups. Put another way, the Milestone characters were created at least in part to interact with each other, not with Steel and Superman. I've been enjoying the Milestone/DC pairings in The Brave and the Bold, but I'm eager to see (for example) a new Static/Rocket story.
All this is to say that I'm looking forward to DC's new THUNDER Agents stories. Since it's essentially a team concept (solo spinoffs notwithstanding), the Agents will be harder to split up, and that should mean a greater fidelity to the original concept.
This is not meant to come across like a segregationist concern-troll. There are some fun THUNDER/DC stories waiting to be told. One subplot from the Deluxe Comics days (and possibly earlier) had the super-speedster Lightning aging prematurely each time he used his powers, so naturally I'd want to see how he feels about the Speed-Force-fueled Flashes. Since both basically share the same schtick, I'd enjoy a NoMan/Doctor Bedlam fight, and I'd similarly welcome a Menthor/Mento team-up. (In fact, in another Deluxe Comics story, the super-strong Dynamo found himself fighting crime in a familiar red-and-blue caped outfit, complete with lawyer-satisfying "8" insignia). It'll also be interesting to see how the United Nations of Earth-DC handles both Checkmate and this "new" super-group.
Still, it'd be nice if there was an Earth-T out there, where these characters wouldn't have to compete with everyone else.
Man, that 1/6 Catwoman figure must be an engineering marvel, considering how top-heavy it looks. Seriously, DC, would it kill you to show more of Catwoman in that green and purple number with the cape?
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Anyway, that's what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?