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Showers and flowers: DC Entertainment comic-book solicitations for April 2010

It’s hard to describe the attitude I bring to each new batch of DC solicitations. Naturally, I use them to figure a comics budget for the particular month; but beyond that I do try to see what interests me, what I might want to try, and (in rare cases) what might make me drop a title. At their core the solicits are advertisements, so I react to them on that surface level.

Being a nitpicky snot, though, I also find myself taking a more cynical look at the solicits -- like, they’re just ads, not part of the creative experience; so their puffery can be picked apart mercilessly. I try not to be too harsh, though, because they are just ads, and not to be taken that seriously.

Therefore, a sentence like

The effects that the already classic Blackest Night will have on the DC Universe will be felt for years to come and this issue not only sets the stage for the new ongoing biweekly DC Universe book Brightest Day, but also the next exciting era of the DC Universe!

can’t really fit into a larger context, even though it alludes to one. That sentence is designed to sell Brightest Day #0, and beyond that it’s non-binding. After all, if current conventional wisdom is remotely accurate, the “effects [to be] felt for years to come” will only be noticeable to those of us who’ve been following DC for the past five years; and likewise the “next exciting era of the DC Universe” may well refer to the kind of benign square-one setup which any new reader would reasonably expect. It’s like a monster-truck-rally announcer flacking for a dog show: “Puppies! PUPPIES!! PUPPIES!!!

Sometimes a solicit’s goal is to spin bad news and/or unsettling stories into must-reads. The stories have to end happily at some point -- even if that point is pretty far off -- because these characters need to be sustainable. However, the happy ending is never telegraphed, at least not in the solicits themselves. Accordingly, reading the solicits for Green Arrow and The Rise Of Arsenal makes me weary. Eventually, DC will use Arsenal in stories where his prosthetic arm will be just another detail. Likewise, DC will tell Green Arrow stories which don’t mention that time he was a fugitive. This theory that tragedy equals drama is fool’s gold, and I’m hoping that the “Rise And Fall” storyline is one of its last gasps.

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GREEN LANTERN

Anyway. With Blackest Night over, DC has been hyping the next Green Lantern storyline as another Next Big Thing, which of course it is not. How could it be? I’m sure it will be an enjoyable Green Lantern story, because Geoff Johns has done some of the best work of his career during his GL tenure. It can’t be much more than that -- and let’s be honest, it doesn’t need to be more than that -- because it can’t possibly be bigger than Blackest Night. For one thing, if my guess about “one of the strangest beings from Green Lantern’s past” proves true, then Itty will figure prominently in the story....

The Blackest Night Director’s Cut special looks like a good deal -- 80 pages for $5.99, presumably covering the entire miniseries -- but it’s also the kind of thing you’d expect to see in the collected edition.

Also, Green Lantern Corps #47 goes extra-sized for $3.99, but with no corresponding co-feature. Next month, probably.

BATMAN

I thought Tony Daniel was only supposed to be on Batman for six issues, but Batman #698 is his seventh. Maybe Daniel’s staying until #699? Oh, and as for “what’s going on with the Riddler,” it looks like he’s starting to remember Batman’s secret identity.

Recently I saw a trailer for the upcoming Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan movie Cop Out. It looked reasonably funny, and although I probably wouldn’t remember much about it a week after seeing it, I probably wouldn’t mind seeing it. I was pleasantly surprised to realize it was directed by Kevin Smith, whose name alone used to be enough to get me into the theater. I say all that to note that Cop Out looks like a decent movie, independent of the fact that Mr. Smith directed it. Batman: The Widening Gyre, which wraps up in April, still sounds like a muddled mess of a story, and the fact that Mr. Smith wrote it still makes me think it’s the ill-advised collision of Chasing Amy and his favorite superhero.

She may not be leaving the book just yet, but two issues of Detective Comics without Batwoman start with April’s #864.  The substitute is a story wrapping up ancillary Battle For The Cowl threads; plus the Question co-feature continues. That’s not a bad strategy for a fill-in situation. In terms of bringing in new readers, though, it does seem directed narrowly at people who a) were waiting for those Arkham Asylum threads to be resolved and b) hadn’t already been reading Detective.

I’m guessing that the “Manhunter” co-feature will end in May’s Streets Of Gotham #12. For that matter, I’ll speculate that all of the “Batman Reborn” books were plotted initially with 12-issue arcs. That would make ‘em easier to collect, but it would also provide built-in stopping points if DC decided to pull the plug just before Bruce Wayne returned. However, Streets of Gotham* will have had at least four issues’ worth of fill-ins -- not written by Paul Dini and therefore not advancing his storylines -- so I wonder if that has automatically extended its run.

Sam Kieth has been drawing a lot of Batman lately, hasn’t he? There was that Batman versus werewolves story a while back, there’s the Arkham Asylum special solicited for April, and there’s the conclusion of his Batman Confidential arc.

POTPOURRI

Both Action Comics and Last Stand Of New Krypton ship twice in April, with Adventure Comics and Supergirl also in the mix -- so here’s the schedule:

4/7: LSONK #24/14: Action #888, Adventure #104/21: Supergirl #524/28: Action #889, LSONK #3, Superman #699

I also note that April 14's Adventure features “Superman, Supergirl, and Brainiac 5 against Brainiac,” although the next week's Supergirl is all about the Girl of Steel’s first meeting with Brainy. There are a few ways to make sense of this sequence, of course; but it’s still a little distracting.

“The Dastardly Death of the Rogues” sounds very Silver Age-y, which surely was Geoff Johns’ intent for his new Flash #1. Guys like me get mocked for our nostalgic tendencies, but whether it is brilliant or just blunt, I can’t turn down Geoff Johns doing Cary Bates.  (And speaking of Silver Age nostalgia, very glad to see a JLA/JSA team-up in the pages of Justice League #44.)

I wasn’t planning to read much of the “First Wave” books beyond the core miniseries, but the fact that Doc Savage will be written by Paul Malmont has me intrigued. His Chinatown Death-Cloud Peril was a well-received pulp pastiche, and just the news of his Doc Savage work makes me want to track it down.

Not sure about the new Spirit series, though; primarily because I think the Spirit works best without having to share anyone else’s universe. Regardless, Mark Schultz is a fine writer, and the idea of a Spirit: Black And White backup is eminently appropriate. Still, where’s the Shadow in all of these pulp homages?

Whenever Dan Jurgens leaves Booster Gold -- and it probably won’t be with April’s #31, although the solicit sounds like the time is nigh -- you’d think he’d give incoming writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis at least a tiny window to introduce their trademark wackiness. Dealing with his sister’s “true fate,” as the solicit for #31 suggests, doesn’t seem to allow for that. However, Giffen and DeMatteis write April’s The Authority: The Lost Year #8, and I imagine that can’t be a seamless shift in tone.

Yet another reason to read R.E.B.E.L.S.: so I can figure out where Starfire’s adventures with the team fit into her time with the Titans and the JLA.

There’s going to be a new Warlord? For cripes’ sake, must everyone rip off Captain America?

It seemed pretty clear to me from the last issue of Madame Xanadu that “Mr. Jones” was a certain extraterrestrial detective, so I’m glad to see he’ll be sticking around for a few issues.

Having just read last week’s excellent Human Target collection, I’m not saying you shouldn’t sample the first issue of Peter Milligan and Edvin Biukovic’s miniseries for $1.00 on April 21. However, you can also read it right here.

LOOKING GOOD

Yay, Cliff Chiang drawing Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and Zatanna! Straczynski’s Brave and the Bold is improving steadily, but I’d buy April’s issue #33 prety much regardless of who wrote it.

Don Kramer and Michael Babinski, who did such good work on the JSA Vs. Kobra miniseries, draw Outsiders #29. They’re not enough to get me to try the book, but their detail-oriented work is certainly a dramatic shift from Philip Tan’s style.

Last month I wondered what Nicola Scott (and ace inker Doug Hazlewood) were doing if they weren’t drawing Secret Six. Well, here they are on Wonder Woman #43, but it looks like only for the one issue. Hope they get back to a regular gig soon.

I imagine the Adam Hughes coffee-table book will include his early covers for Justice League America as well as his more cheesecake-y work. On balance, though, there’s a lot more cheesecake.

COLLECTIONS

The Imaginary Stories: Batman And Robin volume lists at least one story from Batman #300, but that issue is an alternate-future Earth-1 story, where a white-templed Bruce is still Batman and a middle-aged Dick is still Robin. It’s not a bad story, but it’s not part of the classic “Dynamic Duo II” setup.

Not sure why DC is now reprinting Codename: Knockout, although the Amanda Conner art may have something to do with it. The series ran for about two years, so there may be more paperbacks on the way.

Good to see a new printing of Stuck Rubber Baby; and it’s always good to have more classic Bob Kanigher/Joe Kubert reprints. Looks like the Viking Prince hardcover includes his team-up with Sgt. Rock, because why not?

THREE DIMENSIONS

Although someone has probably already made the “actual size!” joke about the Michael Keaton Batman bust, it is kinda nice to see him getting some recognition. His performance was a highlight of the Tim Burton movies.

I don’t mind Wonder Woman breaking chains as part of her “DC Chronicles” statue, but the leg irons are a bit much.

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Well, that’s what jumped out at me this month. What looks good to you?

* [Dini skipped at least one issue of Gotham City Sirens too, but I dropped the book so I don’t know if there have been others.]

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