An Overview of DC Comics in May 2014
DC Comics in May: an overview. This is similar to the last article I did on this albeit with a few different things here and there and a major peppering in of my own opinions on things.
This is probably the best news I’ve heard all day. I identify as an extremely progressive, left-wing person but even so, the message/point behind this comic was a really ham-fisted attempt at bringing leftist politics to the readers/pulling in the non-white, non-straight crowd. Secret Six will always be one of my favorite runs in comics but in this writer’s opinion, Gail Simone has lost all ability to incorporate subtlety into her work. The messages and the rhetoric are delivered with the subtlety of a hammer smashing one of your fingers. The message behind The Movement was important sure, but you don’t build the plot around the message. The story should not come second to the politics. This is where people like Dennis O’ Neil got it right with Green Lantern/Green Arrow and The Question. Sure he wasn’t subtle at all, but the messages were built around the story. Dennis came up with cool stories and incorporated social and political messages into them, not vice versa. Another thing that book got right was using established characters instead of brand-new ones. I’m all for brand-new people but they should be introduced and tested elsewhere rather than going in blind. The art wasn’t anything special either. Needless to say, I hope Gail Simone takes a good hard look at her own work, realizes what she did (in my opinion) wrong, re-evaluates her technique, and attempts something similar albeit with an improved ability. There’s always room for progression as a writer.
The Bat-Line gets battier
The Batman line of books is killer this month. DC has a huge over-saturation of Batman-books as it is, but in all honesty, they are some of the coolest comics on the market. You’ve got Scott Snyder rolling into the last chapter of Zero Year, where Batman squares off with the Riddler in a post-apocalyptic, overgrown Gotham City. Then you’ve got Snyder and most of the main bat-crew doing Batman Eternal, where in the weekly’s second month you’ve got the atrociousness that is Red Robin in the new 52 finally getting some justice done for him, the Row family getting more screen time, freaking ETRIGAN THE RHYMING DEMON, a gang war, and the newly returning Stephanie Brown being central to the plot. And then you’ve got Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s Detective Comics, which if their run on The Flash was any indication, expect killer art all around and the best title pages. Batman and continues with Frankenstein popping up this month, and then you’ve got relatively solid stuff in Batwoman and from what I’ve heard, Harley Quinn (not a fan of it myself). This is a good time for Bat-fans indeed. Although, I’ve got to say, Secret Origin #2 is marketing itself as redundancy, by giving us another goddamn Batman-origin that we’ve seen a hundred times over. DC, stop it with the Batman origins please.
In addition to Batman Eternal entering its second month, Futures End debuts its first 4 issues this month and already it sounds like it’s going to be a wild ride for DC. First issue starts off with a bang too and never lets up. A time-traveling Terry McGinnis Batman (finally!) going back to the past to save the future, a Justice League member dying, the Wildstorm characters doing something/being relevant to the universe at hand, and more. This is the game-changer to watch in the coming months. You’ve also got one of the best writing teams in the new 52, with Jurgens, Giffen, Azzarello, and Lemire, all of whom have radically different writing styles, so at least it’ll be interesting. Also, one of my favorite artists, Ryan Sook, is doing all 52 covers. All 52 for a weekly. That is commitment. Be on the lookout for this one.
Multiple Justice Leagues, and it is glorious
The Justice League franchise seems like it’s going to be extremely strong coming out of Forever Evil. In the main book, you’ve got Justice League Lex gathering a new member in the form of Power Ring, previously my favorite Crime Syndicate member, and now the heroic Jessica Cruz. It’ll be interesting to see the dichotomy between a hero and an evil ring that talks down to its wearer. And then you’ve got Lemire’s Justice League United, where they fight a semi-obscure villain from DC’s past known as The Unimaginable, who according to Comicvine, has only appeared in 12 issues before. Kudos goes to Lemire for taking bolder choices with what to do for this book, and Mike McKone’s cover looks like a beautiful piece of pop-art from decades past. Hopefully his interior pages look exactly like that sort of pulpy, sci-fi look of the cover. Additionally, as a reader you have Justice League Dark continuing under the helm of DeMatteis, one of the few writers at DC currently who gets magic on more than just a Final Fantasy-scale, and the funniest league book since the old run on International, Justice League 3000. Now is a great time to be a league fan.
Green Arrow keeps getting the tightest covers
Favorite cover this month. Sorrentino’s and Maiolo’s design sensibilities are rocking. Just look at the motif that it’s following. At the bottom of the page you’ve got the clan symbol, the clan name, and the attributes of the clan. On the left you’ve got a sidebar with the name of the story arc, the chapter number, and the name of the chapter. And then you’ve got the green-centric color, accentuating the stark black-and-white of Oliver and the three people in the background all while looking visually appealing all on its own. More covers should be this informative and eye-catching but for the most part they aren’t. Also, this is the conclusion to the Outsiders War arc and the solicitation makes it so things sound intense. Count Vertigo coming back, conclusions to the war itself, etc. A lot is going to happen here. Get hyped.
Death of Superman 2: Doomsday Harder
Now I know all of the writers involved in the project said this wasn’t going to be a Death of Superman-redux but I can’t help but be skeptical, as it seems to clearly be an homage to that era of Superman. Those doubts are further justified when DC (and Marvel) are both notorious for rehashing elements of old stories and presenting them as brand new. I also don’t trust Scott Lobdell as a writer to give me a powerful story and helm this project with even Soule and Pak at his side. I’d say you could easily skip this and wait for Johns and Romita Jr.’s Superman in June and you’d be starting off fine. Sorry DC, but you did not catch this reader with this one, and I feel just a tad bit sorry for anyone wanting to buy another damn Doomsday story.
Vertigo is making one of the strongest comebacks after a bit of a dry spell with the cancellation of Hellblazer. You have a number of strong ongoings, the returns of American Vampire and The Wake, with its badass second-half premise (post-apocalyptic action horror flick? Sounds like it), killer artists in the forms of Rafael Albuquerque and Sean Murphy, and a Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol omnibus. That’s right, a DOOM PATROL OMNIBUS. Granted, it probably won’t be very affordable but this is one of the best runs in DC Comics history, and it reads much better in a single sitting than as a trade. I highly recommend you pick this one up as soon as possible. I also wanted to mention Hinterkind, Federal Bureau of Physics, and Coffin Hill all as decent ongoing books that deserve a look. Vertigo’s comeback into the playing field as a purveyor of the darker, alternative books is one of the best things DC is doing right at this point.
Quite a few of the covers coming out this month look ugly as hell, as if no effort was put into them. You’ll see the ones I’m talking about in the images above. I find this sort of inexcusable because people/marketers tend to forgot that a good cover can just as easily sell a book as its title or the creators listed on it. The covers shown above do not make me want to buy any of them. At least let the interior artist do the covers because that can be really misleading as to what the book looks like.
Aquaman expands his kingdom
Aquaman is really making a splash (bad pun intended) in the DC Universe, showing up in Aquaman, Aquaman and the Others, and even getting Swamp Thing for an appearance. After Geoff Johns’ run on the main title, and some excellent stories coming out of that to boot, I can see why DC would want to aggressively market Aquaman’s character. Presumably, the inevitable Justice League movie will feature the character too so it’s even more reason to push the character across titles and eventually into the mainstream media. Adding to all of this, Geoff Johns has another big Aquaman story lined up in Justice League called “Rise of the Seven Seas” and will expand on the mythos of the seven kingdoms of Atlantis. Be on the lookout for all of the great Aquaman-centric stuff in the coming future.