Monday, April 17, 2017

DC's July previews reviewed

This is the first round of solicitations to be released since the shuttering of Comics Alliance, and thus the first time in a while I've had to wonder a) where I could find and read DC or Marvel comics solicitations and b) where I should link to them, since I am no site that runs them is paying me money to write for them anymore. I'm going to go with CBR, I guess, as that's where I ended up reading them.


AQUAMAN #26
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art and cover by STJEPAN SEJIC
...
“UNDERWORLD” part two! Enraged by rumors of Arthur’s survival in the slums of Atlantis, the ruthless King Rath orders the use of ancient Atlantean techno-magic to track down the Aquaman at all costs! But the ex-king Arthur can’t hide for long when his fate collides with that of a mysterious young woman on the run from Rath’s own secret police. Her name: Dolphin.
On sale JULY 19 • 32 pg, FC • $3.99 US • EACH RATED T


It's interesting to see DC's Aquaman design seemingly slowly starting to evolve back into what it was during Peter David's early '90s, left hand-less run on the book, after it took so many years to restore him to his original design, seemingly to make the character look a bit more like Jason Momoa.

It's also interesting to see Dolphin finally appearing in Aquaman; she was added to the Aquaman cast during David's run, and sort of hung around awkwardly after David's (too) sudden departure from the book. But that was, what, three or four Aquaman #1s ago...?

Anyway, artist Stjepan Sejic's version looks a lot different than creator Jay Scott Pike's 1968 version:


Aw, poor Graham Nolan, being forced to draw the dumber, modern versions of the Bane* and Batman costumes...

I'm still looking forward to his return to Bat-comics, along with writer (and his old Detective Comics partner), Chuck Dixon in this upcoming Bane: Conquest series.


BATGIRL: STEPHANIE BROWN VOL. 1 TP
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER • Art by LEE GARBETT, TREVOR SCOTT, PERE PEREZ and others
Cover by STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU
Stephanie Brown is Batgirl—and now, she must learn to balance school and crime-fighting or face the wrath of Barbara Gordon! With guest appearances from Batman and Robin and villains like Man-Bat and Scarecrow, Batgirl steps up to the mantle! Plus, Batgirl must stop a nanovirus that will turn the citizens of Gotham City into mindless techno-zombies! Collects BATGIRL #1-12.
On sale AUGUST 16 • 296 pg, FC, $29.99 US


I missed this series when it was being published serially, as I was so embittered at the time about how badly DC handled their Batgirl Cassandra Cain character around the time of Infinite Crisis and "One Year Later" (they basically forgot she existed, and then gave her a heel turn in the pages of Robin that seemed to have been written and/or edited by folks who had never read any of her previous appearances before, and then various writers spent a handful of stories bunglingly attempting to fix those mistakes). I became newly curious about it while re-reading the recent collections of the early chunk of the first Batgirl monthly, however.

I'll definitely read this, but I'm still wavering over whether I should buy it or not. Anyone wanna weight in on this important decision that will be facing me this summer...?


That looks like a remarkably easy puzzle for the World's Greatest Detective to be wasting his time on. It's The Joker, Batman, and that piece goes right there!


Aw, look at how cute Riley Rossmo's Scarface is...!


BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT VOL. 2 TP
Written by ALAN GRANT
Art by NORM BREYFOGLE, JOE STATON, STEVE MITCHELL, BRET BLEVINS, MIKE MANLEY, VINCE GIARRANO and others
Cover by BRIAN STELFREEZE
Follow Bruce Wayne through Gotham City’s underworld, a crazed carnival, the streets of London and even into the deep, dark recesses of the Batman’s mind in these 1990s stories! Collects BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #13-24 and BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT ANNUAL #1. In stories that tie into the “Knightquest” epic, Jean-Paul Valley, formerly known as Azrael, takes over as Batman to battle Scarecrow and more!
On sale AUGUST 30 • 352 pg, FC, $29.99 US


That's a lot of great Batman artists right there! Let's see, this marks a particularly awkward period in Shadow of The Bat, as it was transitioning from being a showcase title for the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle creative team to being Just Another Batman Book (Albeit It One Written By Alan Grant), and, during these issues, the Batmen literally change from Bruce Wayne to Jean-Paul Valley; the the end of the third story arc he's wearing his clawed armor with the gauntlet-mounted machine guns that shoot little bat-symbol shaped darts.

The first issue collected within is Breyfogle's last on Shadow, "The Nobody," and then there's two issues of Staton before the new "regular" artist Bret Blevins takes over, although Vince Giarrano was a round a lot then, too. These issues feature both JPV on the streets of Gotham, and the temporarily wheelchair-bound Bruce Wayne and Alfred looking fro the kidnapped Shondra Kinsolving in England. They also feature the introduction of minor recurring Batman villain The Tally Man (basically a hitman who dresses super-fancy) and English superhero The Hood, who Grant Morrison would repurpose and use fairly extensively during his run on the Bat-books, specifically when his Batman and Robin gave way to Batman, Inc (The Hood was one of the English Batmen).

While the JPV comics mostly don't hold up so great today, Giarrano drew a particularly good rendition of the character, as his hart was so very pointy.

That annual, by the way, is the "Bloodlines" tie-in, introducing "New Blood" Joe Public, a patriotic-themed superhero who could "borrow" strength from those around him. I hated his design at the time, but it seems less stupid to me now that I am a more mellow adult. Very minor Gotham vigilante Pagan also appears in that story; I wonder how she would play to a modern, 21st century comics audience as, if I recall her two or three appearances correctly, she was a feminist who punched male criminals who preyed upon women in the face. That was her particular beat. Her brown costume featured a the circle and cross symbol for female over one eye.


BATMAN ’66/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1
Written by LEE ALLRED
Art and cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
In pursuit of the time-traveling criminal known as Universo, the super-powered kids from the 30th century travel back to the 1960s to enlist the aid of the “greatest teen superhero ever”—Robin, the Boy Wonder! But Batman’s hard-boiled nemesis Egghead has stolen one of their unattended time bubbles and taken off to the Legion’s own time period. Looks like Batman has to head to the far-flung future with one group of heroes while Robin stays in the swinging sixties with another. Holy time-travel paradox!
One-shot • On sale JULY 19 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED E


This is quite literally the first time in my entire life I am actually excited about the release of a Legion of Super-Heroes comic book.


DARK DAYS: THE CASTING #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER and JAMES TYNION IV
Art by JIM LEE, ANDY KUBERT, JOHN ROMITA JR. and others
Cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
...
The Joker’s surprise attack threatens to lay waste to all of Batman’s carefully laid plans. Will the Dark Knight be able to regain the trust of his closest allies, Green Lantern and Duke, and prevent the forces of darkness from consuming the DC Universe?! Will Hawkman’s warning stop our heroes from peering into the abyss?
The great comics event of summer 2017 is on its way, courtesy of superstar writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV with art by a master class of comics artists: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.!
ONE-SHOT • On sale JULY 12 • 40 pg, FC, card-stock cover, $4.99 US • RATED T+


I feel a little anxious for Scott Snyder here, as I'm afraid he's stepping up, and stepping into, some real Geoff Johns-ian territory, and I'd hate to see him spend all his street cred on what could very well end up being a deeply stupid comic book, depending on whether or not this is the event that finally deals with all that Watchmen business or not (Is that what the various metallurgy sub-titles refer to? Is Batman forging a giant smiley face button or something?).


DEADMAN BY KELLEY JONES: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION TP
Written by MIKE BARON
Art by KELLEY JONES, VINCE GIARRANO, TONY DEZUNIGA and PABLO MARCOS
Cover by KELLEY JONES
Deadman has gone from supernatural hero to insane spirit of evil, and with a tide of demons threatening humanity, his true power can only be unlocked if he faces the secret within him that has driven him mad. Collects DEADMAN: LOVE AFTER DEATH #1-2 and DEADMAN: EXORCISM #1-2, plus stories from ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #618-621 and 623-626.
On sale AUGUST 30 • 272 pg, FC, $24.99 US


Ha, check it out: The only creator consistent to all of the comics collected herein is writer Mike Baron, and yet it is artist Kelley Jones whose name is in the title. Shouldn't this then be Deadman By Mike Baron, or at least Deadman By Mike Baron and Kelley Jones? (I would also accept Deadman By Mike Baron, Kelley Jones and Pals). These comics are all pretty great, particularly Love After Death (which I just re-read) and Exorcism. The Action Comics story is Jones-less for large swathes, and not thus not as spectacularly, weirdly drawn as the other bits, but it does feature both President Ronald Reagan, First Lady Nancy Reagan and I want to say Gorbachev, with Deadman and a demon hopping in and out of their bodies.

If the focus of this book was Jones' Deadman vs. Baron's, it would also include that story arc from Dough Moench and Jones' run on Batman where Deadman teams up with Batman to fight Incan mummies...those issues had cool glow-in-the-dark covers.


DEATHSTROKE #21
Written by CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
Art by DIOGENES NEVES
Cover by RYAN SOOK
...
“DEFIANCE” part one! A new day has dawned for Deathstroke. Having emerged from the Speed Force a changed man, Slade Wilson takes aim at living a better life—a life in service of justice. But when the world refuses to accept the new Deathstroke, Slade recruits a group of young heroes to join him including including former Teen Titans, Kid Flash and Power Girl, his children, Rose and Jericho, and the bombastic Terra! But has Slade truly shed his villainous past? And what other shadowy forces are working against him? Find out as Deathstroke’s bold new direction begins here!
On sale JULY 5 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+


Well this is...unexpected. That color scheme doesn't really work for Deathstroke, even if its definitely a better color scheme than orange and blue. I would have loved to see what all those jokers look like if they were forced to wear orange and blue versions of their costumes, instead of the more tasteful black and white. You know what also doesn't work for 'Stroke? A cape. Yeesh.


GOTHAM ACADEMY: SECOND SEMESTER #11
Written by BRENDEN FLETCHER, BECKY CLOONAN and KARL KERSCHL
Art by ADAM ARCHER, MSASSYK and SANDRA HOPE
Cover by KARL KERSCHL
“The Ballad of Olive Silverlock” part three! A terrible revelation sends Maps on a quest for answers at Wayne Manor! With Two-Face hot on their trail, Maps and Damian Wayne must work together to stop Olive’s rampage of destruction across Gotham City.
On sale JULY 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Damian's few interactions with Maps have been a real highlight of Gotham Academy's relatively short life. I would personally be pretty okay if this book were replaced on the schedule with Damian and Maps or maybe Maps, Girl Wonder featuring Robin...


HARLEY’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK HC
Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by JOHN TIMMS, AMANDA CONNER, MAURICET, NEAL ADAMS, DAVE JOHNSON, JOSEPH MICHAEL LINSNER, WILLIAM TUCCI and SIMON BISLEY
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
It’s the sensational team-up series in which Harley meets (and annoys) DC’s greatest heroes and villains! Harley meets up with Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Lobo and more! But can she keep up with beings of this caliber? Collects HARLEY’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK #1-6.
On sale AUGUST 2 • 256 pg, FC, $29.99 US


Now I can't remember if I read the Zatanna issue or not, which leads me to assume that, if I did, it must not have been that good, as I have no memory of it all. The Wonder Woman issue was a little iffy, as was the Green Lantern one, but otherwise these are all pretty solid, and head, shoulders and torso above the regular Harley Quinn monthly. I'll definitely flip through this, if only to see how they address the apparent nudity of the Simon Bisley-drawn Lobo team-up issue, which they handled terribly in the single issue that was just published. Maybe by the time the trade hits they will have figured out a better way to deal with it, including maybe just leaving Lobo's dogs testicles visible, rather than hidden under a slapped-on clip-art red flag...?


JUSTICE LEAGUE #24
Written by BRYAN HITCH
Art by FERNANDO PASARIN and OCLAIR ALBERT
Cover by BRYAN HITCH
...
“AFTERLIVES” part three! Our heroes’ mission into the afterlife goes horribly wrong when the Demons Three trap the Justice League in a hellish realm where they’re haunted and tortured by the ghosts of fallen heroes, dead villains and innocent civilians whose lives they failed to save.
On sale JULY 5 • 32 pg, $2.99 US • FC, RATED T


This synopsis is kind of interesting in that I don't know if or how many fallen heroes there actually are to use in the post-Flashpoint, seven-year-old, Golden Age-less DC Universe.


SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #15
Written by KEITH GIFFEN and J.M. DeMATTEIS
Art by DALE EAGLESHAM
Backup story art by JAN DUURSEMA
Cover by CARLOS D’ANDA
Variant cover by JILL THOMPSON
We finally catch up to the migrating monsters—and their destination is even more horrifying than anyone imagined! But before the gang can act, Scrappy-Doo and his pack of smart mutts show up with a heck of a grudge against Scooby. It’s two threats for the price of one! And, in the backup story, Scrappy strikes again—and someone pays the ultimate price!
On sale JULY 12 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T


Jill Thompson, Jan Duursema and Dale Eaglesham? Man, this single issue will manage to waste the talent of a lot of skilled artists that DC could (and should) be better employing elsewhere in their line.


SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #28
Written by SHOLLY FISCH
Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
The gang uncovers a tale of their great-great-grandparents (and grand-dog!) in the old West. When monstrous rumors bring the Weirdness Wagon to town, will they find a fearsome beast, or just come face-to-scarred-face with the lawman Jonah Hex?
On sale JULY 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E


Ha, using the gang's ancestors in a cowboy-era team-up with Jonah Hex sounds like a fun way to use that character and not involve time travel. Hopefully that's not actually their great-great-grandparents on the cover though, as they just look the exact same; I would wanna see a few subtle differences, like a big Wild Bill-style mustache on Fred's great-great-grandfather, old-timey spectacles on Velma's ancestor and so on.


WILDSTORM: A CELEBRATION OF 25 YEARS HC
Written by BRANDON CHOI, J. SCOTT CAMPBELL, WARREN ELLIS, CHRISTOS GAGE and others
Art by JIM LEE, SCOTT WILLIAMS, J. SCOTT CAMPBELL, BRYAN HITCH, PAUL NEARY, DUSTIN NGUYEN, BRETT BOOTH and others
Cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
In 1992 Jim Lee changed the course of comics history with the founding of WildStorm Productions, which would revolutionize the business and launch the careers of so many top creators. Now, the WS crew is back to celebrate 25 years of WildStorm with new short stories of the imprint’s greatest heroes by their classic creative teams, including WildC.A.T.s by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee; the Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch; Gen13 by J. Scott Campbell; WildCats by Christos Gage and Dustin Nguyen; Backlash by Brett Booth, and more!
This new hardcover also includes a massive pinup gallery featuring new art by WS alumni including John Cassaday, Tim Sale, Adam Hughes, Carlos D’Anda, Adam Warren, Tony Harris, Lee Bermejo, Ryan Benjamin, Neil Googe, Fiona Staples, Cully Hamner and more, plus behind-the-scenes material that will blow your mind, and epic reprints of some of WildStorm’s greatest stories! This new hardcover is a must-have for old fans and new readers alike!
On sale AUGUST 23 • 240 pg, FC, $29.99 US


"Changed the course of comics history"...? That's laying it on a bit thick, isn't it? Wracking my brain to think of ways in which the WildStorm corner of Image Comics moved the needle at all, I'm having some trouble here. I guess it helped launch the career of prolific variant cover artist J. Scott Campbell? And maybe Bryan Hitch? Ellis' decision to step away from The Authority allowed the promising writer Mark Millar to get a blast of limelight that pretty much ruined his ability to write coherent comic books while boosting his career into a stratospheric trajectory.

Um...that's all I got.

I guess it's nice that DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee is celebrating a lot of the worthy creators who have worked on WildStorm comics over the years here, but from where I'm currently sitting, it's very difficult (well, impossible) to disentangle some industry-wide impact that the founding of WildStorm had that was distinct from the rest of Image at the time of its founding, and it really seems like DC purchased WildStorm as a roundabout way to get Jim Lee to start drawing comics for them. Jim Lee pencils seem like the most valuable thing DC got from that particular deal; the WildStorm catalog of characters and "universe" has otherwise been something of an albatross around the neck of the publisher.


WONDER GIRL: ADVENTURES OF A TEEN TITAN TP
Written by ROBERT KANIGHER, BRUNO PREMIANI, JOHN BYRNE and others
Art by ROSS ANDRU, BOB HANEY, NEAL ADAMS, JOHN BYRNE and others
Cover by NICOLA SCOTT and DOUG HAZLEWOOD
The adventures of Wonder Girl are collected for the first time! These stories include appearances by Wonder Woman, the Teen Titans and more from the pages of WONDER WOMAN #105 (1959), THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #60, TEEN TITANS #22, ADVENTURE COMICS #461, WONDER WOMAN #105 and 113, WONDER WOMAN: DONNA TROY #1 and WONDER GIRL #1.
On sale AUGUST 30 • 168 pg, FC, $14.99 US


This is a super-weird looking collection. The Cassandra Sandsmark version is on the cover, but this looks like it will have more Donna Troy than Cassie in it...and maybe even a little of original Wonder Girl Diana.


*Actually, I've been told that's Nolan's own redesign of Bane's costume. I prefer the original one from the '90s, but then, I am old. 

2 comments:

Lee Lemon said...

Wildstorm also gave DC Alan Moore's ABC Imprint...

CalvinPitt said...

On the Batgirl trade; The first year is OK. I think the second year is stronger, because Miller spends the first year doing the sort of standard "new hero has to prove all the doubters wrong," stories. Which does make sense given Stephanie Brown's history of having everyone question her competence, and it gives us some interesting interaction between her and Damian. But it still feels like the writer trying to justify her becoming Batgirl. Also, around issue #8, there was a crossover with the Christopher Yost/Marcus To Red Robin series, which it doesn't appear they included in the trade.

By the second half of the series, Miller settles into more "she's Batgirl now, here she is having adventures as Batgirl," which I enjoyed more. Plus that second year has some issues drawn by Dustin Nguyen.