Time once again for the monthly ritual of parsing DC's solicitations. This batch is special, not because it's the first of a new year. (That would require the calendar to mean something to superhero comics, like it does at least superficially to TV and movies.) No, January '10 finds DC's superhero books taking a break from Blackest Night to … pretty much continue the same amount of Blackest Night coverage.
Anyway, grab your wallet and fire up your spreadsheet, because it's a decent month regardless.
While the actual BN miniseries may be taking January off, I have to say I am really looking forward to Hal vs. Black Lantern Spectre in Green Lantern #50. That sort of plot is, in a nutshell, one good example of why I read superhero comics.
As for Green Lantern Corps … well, three months into Blackest Night it doesn't seem like GLC is doing much beyond "collateral damage." Issue #44 hawking Red Lantern Guy sounds like more of the same, with soap opera substituting for larger plot moves. I am certainly not the world's biggest Geoff Johns fan, but his intricate Green Lantern plotting has made me want to revisit everything from Rebirth forward, including Hal/Spectre's last appearance in JSA. Green Lantern Corps is continuity-heavy in a way which focuses more on character dynamics and is a little more overwhelming.
Here, as always, is the tote board. Counting Secret Six #13, which concludes the story begun in Suicide Squad #67, there are fourteen BN-related titles, same as in December. For the most part, the eight "zombie" titles -- two per week -- take the place of the regular-series issues into which BN tied (and which were promoted by the variously-colored rings). The only regular-series issue which does tie into BN (however indirectly) is Secret Six, which kind-of takes the place of BN proper.
1/6: BN: Wonder Woman #2, Weird Western Tales #71, Suicide Squad #671/13: BN: Flash #2, Catwoman #83, Power Of Shazam! #48, Secret Six #131/20: GLC #44, Phantom Stranger #42, Starman #811/27: GL #50, BN: JSA #2, Atom & Hawkman #46, Question #37
Speaking of those long-canceled titles, I still think the idea is pretty clever, but I'm having trouble seeing what they promote in the long term. There's the Suicide Squad/Secret Six two-parter, and obviously there's an opportunity to flood sales charts with BN tie-ins. Maybe there will be some cross-promotion in the books themselves, leading readers of the Question issue into Detective Comics, etc.
Also, while I don't feel compelled to get all the zombie issues, I am looking forward to Ryan Sook on Atom & Hawkman, Don Kramer and Michael Babinski on Power Of Shazam!, Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz returning to The Question, and of course James Robinson and John Ostrander back on Starman and Suicide Squad.
ODDS AND ENDS
Batman & Robin #6 is currently on the schedule for November 4, which means it'll be a two-and-a-half month wait ('til January 27) to see the tasty goodness of Cameron Stewart's work on B & R #7. Guest-stars the Knight, the Squire, and Batwoman sweeten the deal; and Batman (the old one, looks like) apparently returns the favor in Detective #861.
I don't know if it's convinced me to buy the issue, but I like the solicitation for REBELS #12. It lays out the plot and sets an appropriate mood without spoiling anything or engaging in hyperbole.
It doesn't feel right saying this, because I am a big George Pérez fan; but I don't think he was a good choice to do covers for The Authority #18 and WildCATS #19. The characters just don't look like themselves.
That's a nice-looking head sculpt on the Robin figure in the Detective Comics Box Set, but I think the body is a repainted version of "College Robin" from the New Teen Titans series. I'm guessing the Batman is likewise a new head (and/or cape) on the existing Silver Age Batman figure's body. Might still get this set, though.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
Dan DiDio and Philip Tan -- has someone already called them the "Dan 'N' Tan Show?" -- take over Outsiders with January's #26, and Joe Casey is the new Superman/Batman writer (with Ardian Syaf drawing) as of issue #68. Now, it's obvious why DC wants to keep publishing Superman/Batman, especially in light of the changes in the regular Superman and Batman books. I have to wonder, though, why Outsiders is so important that DC's Executive Editor will be writing it himself (to say nothing of having Tan draw it). Does the world cry out that loudly for more Geo-Force?
Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul leave Adventure Comics with #6; The Mighty is cancelled with issue #12; and it looks like Lana Lang's death is Supergirl #49's big draw.
Felicia D. Henderson returns to writing Teen Titans after apparently just taking a break for the Blackest Night tie-ins. The issue finds the Titans headed for the Milestone-centric city of Dakota, so that should be fun.
Joe The Barbarian is this month's only first issue, and for $1.00, too!
Lots of good collections coming in February, but let's start with Batman: King Tut's Tomb. It's an excellent story (written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir) with great art (by Jose Luís García-López and Kevin Nowlan), and rather than "reintroducing" the '60s-TV-show villain King Tut, it repurposes the name quite well. The older reprints feature García-López' art on Batman team-ups with Hawkman and Scalphunter, and a story featuring the Joker; so a good package all around, and a bargain at $14.99.
The second Hitman paperback gets a new printing, which is good for me because I missed it the first time around.
Make up your own "instant gratification" joke about the final Planetary hardcover being scheduled.
Not sure how the Origins paperback will read as a collection, considering it's a bunch of two-page origin stories meant as bite-sized backup features. Still, there's some nice work here, and I suppose it's a showcase for an unusual format.
Hardcover Jack Kirby reprints (this time with Joe Simon) continue with The Newsboy Legion Volume 1. I'm guessing there will be a Volume 2, but I'm not sure how much material there is for it. According to GCD, Don Cameron and Joe Kubert produced some Newsboy Legion stories which were signed "Simon & Kirby" -- this one, for example -- so I wonder if those will be included under some kind of loophole. (I also wonder if the Newsboys are getting more attention now that the Guardian's profile has been raised. Probably not.)
More Kirby work appears in the Kobra: Resurrection paperback, a collection of early Kobra stories, Checkmate's "Castling" arc, and the "Faces Of Evil" special which grafted an unhappy ending on the latter. To me it seems like a primer on Kobra for anyone currently reading the JSA Vs. Kobra miniseries, but I did like that Checkmate story.
And speaking of old DC characters given new life via James Robinson, Sinister House's hostess -- coming soon to Showcase Presents Secrets Of Sinister House -- went on to be Starman's Charity O'Dare, who also had a significant role in Trinity.
Kind of surprised to see the Wonder Woman Archives (Vol. 6), because I had thought the Archives program was being phased out. Not sure if I'd rather have them replaced with a Wonder Woman Chronicles series. I would wonder if the Archives' higher price is meant to discourage impressionable youngsters from stumbling onto Marston & Peter's work; but I read the Fleisher Wonder Woman Encyclopedia in third grade and as far as I can tell, it didn't warp my mind.
After looking at January's roster of titles, I noticed that I'd be buying almost twice as many books on January 27 as I would any other week of the month. Apart from all the Blackest Night tie-ins and assorted miniseries, this is pretty much what I'd be getting regardless.
January 6 (5 issues): Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2, Doom Patrol #6, Suicide Squad #67, Superman: World Of New Krypton #11, and Warlord #10.
January 13 (7 issues): Action Comics #885, Batman #695, Blackest Night: The Flash #2, Booster Gold #28, Power Of Shazam! #48, Secret Six #17, and The Unwritten #9.
January 20 (7 issues): Batman: Streets Of Gotham #8, The Brave And The Bold #31, Green Lantern Corps #44, Joe The Barbarian #1, Justice League Of America #41, Starman #81, and Supergirl #49.
January 27 (13 issues): Astro City: The Dark Age Book 4 #1, Atom And Hawkman #46, Batman And Robin #7, Detective Comics #861, Green Lantern #50, Justice League: Cry For Justice #6, Madame Xanadu #19, The Question #37, Superman #696, Unknown Soldier #16, Victorian Undead #3, Wonder Woman #40, and World's Finest #4.
At first I thought DC was back-loading its schedule for some reason, maybe to provide a cushion for late books. However, looking at the overall schedule, everything seems pretty balanced. January 6 and 20 see 13 DCU titles each, and January 13 and 27 have 14 each. Vertigo ships four titles each week, Johnny DC ships two on each of the first two weeks and one on each of the next two, and WildStorm ships two on the 6th, three on the 13th, and four each on the 20th and 27th:
1/6 (21 total): DCU = 13, JDC = 2, WS = 2, Vertigo = 41/13 (23 total): DCU = 14, JDC = 2, WS = 3, Vertigo = 41/20 (22 total): DCU = 13, JDC = 1, WS = 4, Vertigo = 41/27 (23 total): DCU = 14, JDC = 1, WS = 4, Vertigo = 4
Therefore, it may just be the way my buying habits fall (there are a lot of miniseries on the 27th), but has this happened to anyone else?
Yesterday's Justice League of America #38, the first from new creative team James Robinson, Mark Bagley, and Rob Hunter, featured some spoilers for the Justice League: Cry For Justice miniseries, which is now set to wrap up in February. As if that weren't enough, January's JLA #41, the first with the new League roster, is set to come out a week before JL: CFJ #6. I know it's not like they could do fill-ins until March, but still -- logistics seems to have gotten in the way of storytelling.
Based on half the team being "promoted" to the Justice League, it may be time for me to drop Titans. Two years or so ago, when the title was first announced under writer Judd Winick, I thought it could be DC's answer to the classic Defenders setup: a non-team where members drop in and out as circumstances warrant, and which is held together pretty much on personal relationships alone. No "first line of defense," no "training the next generation," no specialized mission statement -- just old friends getting together every now and then. Of course, it didn't turn out that way, and the book went through a number of writers and artists before Dick, Donna, Vic, and Kory left for the JLA.
Ironically, under Deathstroke's leadership, the book could turn into a whoever-shows-up situation, with him, Red Arrow, and maybe Wally West being the only constants. I'm reluctant to predict who'll be in the book because I have a feeling that a number of characters will be coming back to life as a result of Blackest Night. Regardless, though, that would put the burden more on the creative team than on the characters, and I'm just not confident that anyone at DC knows what to do with Titans if that generation of Silver Age sidekicks isn't involved. Granted, a book about the Old New Teen Titans always has the potential to slide into nostalgia and self-referentiality, but it might be better simply to cancel the book until Dick, Donna, et al., can participate in it again. If it turns out they can't, well … that'd be okay too.
* * *
Anyway, that's what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?