Funnybook Babylon

April 20, 2010

Stay Positive: Chris Looks at DC’s July Solicitations

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 9:27 pm

Reader, my two most recent posts have been spiteful missives directed at funnybooks. Most of the other things I’ve been working on are critical of comics as well. I do not wish to simply curse the darkness, so when I looked at yesterday’s DC Solicitations, I struggled mightily not to focus on the negative. So here are some nice things DC will be doing in July, assuming they do not change things and make these books returnable:

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Batman #701 (Grant Morrison & Tony Daniel)
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4
(Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart)
Batman & Robin #14 (Grant Morrison & Frazier Irving)
Joe the Barbarian #7 (Grant Morrison & Sean Murphy) – Who could imagine, I’m excited for a GMo QUAD-LASER in July! And he’s collaborating with two of his Seven Soldiers running buddies! And Sean Murphy, who is killing it on Joe! And Tony Daniel, who is… uh… providing a narrative consistency with “Batman R.I.P.”! I feel pity for David’s annotatin’ arm come July, but am otherwise unabashedly excited for the barrage of Morrison Batmanalia coming this summer.

Sparta: USA #5 (David Lapham & Johnny Timmons) – Like The Beast Must Die over on Mindless Ones, I’m distracted by Johnny Timmons’s overly photo-referenced art in Sparta. But like TMBD, I’m powering through it to follow Lapham. It’s getting to the point that stiff photoreferenced work is just this era’s Thing You Must Endure, like muddy proto-Vertigo coloring and the awkward introduction of computer coloring and lettering. How many otherwise enjoyable comics were marred by grotesque lensflares, ridiculous character-specific fonts, and panel upon panel awash with different concentrations of brown and purple? Many! And yet comics soldiered on. One day, this too shall pass.


Demo v2 #6 (Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan)
DMZ #55 (Brian Wood & Andrea Mutti)
DV8: Gods & Monsters #4 (Brian Wood & Rebekah Isaacs)
Northlanders #30 (Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli) – I’m behind on all of Wood’s projects since I buy almost exclusively trades these days, and their stand-alone nature keeps me from wanting/needing to peek at a friend’s copy to “stay current”, but man, what a workhorse. Plus, it seems like Wood is single-handedly attempting to create a gender balance at DC — yes, I know Andrea Mutti is a dude — with his collaborators. This isn’t to suggest any sort of “affirmative action” action, they’re all great choices for the books. Check out that Fiona Staples cover — if I’m not careful, Wood and company might convince me to buy a Wildstorm Universe comic!

Brightest Day: The Atom Special #1 (Jeff Lemire & Mahmud Asrar) – This has all the hallmarks of trouble; an up-and-comer is slotted in writing a side book for a big event. DC’s squandered the talents of otherwise enjoyable writers like Sean McKeever, Jason Aaron, Ivan Brandon and others on editorially-dictated books that peter out in the shadow of Big Events. But giving actual comics people a shot at working in the DCU is something I’ve been craving for awhile, and I’m holding out hope that Lemire will be given the room to quietly work his charms on Ray Palmer, free of too many magic wishing rings or crazy ex-wives. Stranger things have happened; it wasn’t so long ago that we somehow got improbably long runs of a Dylan Horrocks Batgirl and a Jon Lewis Robin. I wish Lemire’s Atom wasn’t relegated to a backup in the nineteenth Legion of Super Heroes revamp of the decade, but this is not a perfect world.

Doom Patrol #12 (Keith Giffen, Matthew Clark & Ron Randall) – I imagine it isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but after a somewhat rocky start and a brief flirtation with plastic rings, Giffen and Clark have found their groove. It’s probably not everyone’s thing — your love for meta-commentary involving Oolong Island, Ambush Bug and Danny the Street is almost certainly less than mine — but I hope this iteration of Doom Patrol breaks the streak of ever shorter series (87, 22, 18…) for “the World’s Strangest Heroes”. If not just to prove Jeph Loeb wrong, then to get more of Clark’s adorable Cheeks:


jlgenlost-cv4_02Justice League: Generation Lost #5 (Keith Giffen, Judd Winick & Joe Bennett)
Booster Gold #34 (Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Chris Batista & Rich Perotta)
Ex Machina #50 (Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris) – I’m still not a fan of the Maxwell Lord, Evil Mastermind story, and the Giffen/JMD Metal Men story was not my cup of tea, but this creator/character combo has built up enough good will since the 1980s that I’m willing to give this thing a shot. And hey, if nothing else it’s an excuse for Tony Harris to do a couple dozen more sweet covers now that Ex Machina is wrapping up. I was following Ex Machina in trade, then stopped buying those when DC started releasing oversized hardcovers. The third one of those is coming out in May, out of how many, four? five? I wonder how long it will be before I find out how Ex Machina ends?

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Gotham City Sirens #14 (Paul Dini & Guillem March) – There’s no way I am reading this book. But the cover (at left) is a nice reminder of how appealing March can be when his art isn’t full of ass shots and hastily-erased nipples and genitals.

Detective Comics #867 (David Hine, Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens)
Batman: Arkham Reborn (David Hine & Jeremy Haun) – David Hine’s Arkham one-shot was one of the few bright spots within last year’s Battle for the Cowl event, and I’ve heard nice things about the Arkham Reborn mini-series. Perhaps Hine and McDaniel’s arc in Detective will continue to be an enjoyable sidebar to Bat-Family? It could happen!

Batman: The Bat and the Beast (Peter Milligan & Andy Clarke) – I’ve always liked the idea of “anthology” books in this mold, though they frequently end up as a dumping ground for moldy inventory stories. I have no idea of this story’s provenance, save that it was sandwiched so well between completely unappealing stories that I didn’t even realize Milligan was on Batman Confidential. But at $12.99 for a complete Batman story, I can definitely see impulse purchasing this.

Hellblazer #269 (Peter Milligan & Giuseppe Camuncoli) – Speaking of Milligan! I know we’ve trashed his Greek Street and Hellblazer work on the podcast, though I was a bashful supporter of the latter. It’s picked up since then, and I’m excited to see Milligan following up on the Kathy George/Troy Renzer cameos from earlier in his run. Perhaps because of this storyline, a third collection of Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man is due in July, a mere six months after the second. At this rate, the entire series will be collected by 2015. I guess DC’s trade department needs to prioritize their releases; it’s not like there’s a Shade movie coming out this month or anything.

The Losers Book Two (Andy Diggle, Jock, AlĂ© Garza, Ben Oliver, &c.) – Oh wait, that wouldn’t help anything. The Losers, based on Diggle/Jock and company’s series, was initially collected in five volumes. Those are falling out of print — in the case of the last volume, it’s already long gone — and DC opted to consolidate the series into two big volumes, logically named Book One and Book Two. All solid planning — except the second book isn’t coming out until August, just in time for… the DVD release, I guess? Why on Earth isn’t this book out now? I can understand DC’s sluggish pace when they’re collecting new books — I’m sure they’d rather I be buying DMZ, Ex Machina and Hellblazer in single issues and then again in collections, but this is almost directly stating, “What, capitalize on a potentially successful motion picture? Nah, we got some more plastic rings to make. You know, for our real fans.”

sm cv701 02

Action Comics #891 (Paul Cornell & Pete Woods)
Superman #701 (J. Michael Straczynski & Eddy Barrows) – A Lex Luthor solo book by Paul Cornell and Pete Woods? Sign me up! More John Cassaday covers? Ditto!

So why are they putting cluttered, ugly David Finch covers on Action Comics, and giving JMS/Barrows the John Cassaday covers? DC was so close to having a complete package that excited me out of the Superman Office for the first time since… well, probably since I was thirteen and thought Reign of the Supermen was badass.

Wow. I’m not sure if my attempts to stay positive were successful, but I did my best, I really did. DC has products I want to buy, but sometimes they make it difficult  Did I miss anything good? Does anyone have reason to crush my fragile positivity? Let me know.


  1. Does anyone have reason to crush my fragile positivity?

    Well, those Shade trades were what made me finally turn to Amazon after years, what with them still not being in a major american city in none of the dozen or so comic-carrying bookstores (OR COMIC STORES, jesus) I checked. So I guess that sort of kills the idea that it’ll find some new readers this second time around if it’s getting that kind of love.

    Admittedly maybe I just have a hard-on for characters who get no love in trade who start with S. I very nearly had the same problem with the new Static trades and when I saw that lone fucking copy for $20 you bet your ass I paid for it. Didn’t eat lunch the rest of that week but it was worth it.

    Comment by Syrg — April 21, 2010 @ 5:50 am

  2. Not sure if you’ve been following the Superman books, but the second collection of Robinson’s Mon-El stories is in the solicits. I thought the first one was pretty good – despite the commercially boneheaded move of removing Superman from his own titles, Robinson is able to make Mon-El pretty interesting, and he’s got space to develop some of the peripheral characters. IMO it’s worth checking out.

    Comment by matches — April 21, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  3. That may just be my favorite Quitely B&R cover, or the one with Dick and Damian doing Cross Kick

    Comment by Rick — April 21, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  4. There’s a big tell in the Lemire interview: the Atom’s going to get his own “Joker”, whose story “will reach all the way back into Ray Palmer’s childhood.” You KNOW that idea came from the Boy King. After all, it doesn’t make sense otherwise, it ALWAYS has to do with the hero’s past, it’s ALWAYS inadverdently his fault.

    Comment by Dan Coyle — April 22, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  5. Well, you almost made it the whole way. And it’s a good exercise to get perspective on what’s tough love and what’s, I don’t know, stagnating cynicism.

    And I do feel slightly more positive about DC.

    *More Artgerm covers, which I like (although the Batgirl in sexily damaged suit cover toes a Line). I like Tom Mandrake working on Batman, especially with vampires. And don’t forget David Hine is also on Azrael now, too.

    *Still not interested in JLA/JSA but hey, neat cover I guess. I saw Levitz saying that this Legion reboot will be the one book to give someone to introduce them to the Legion at-large, which will be great if it delivers. And while Green Lantern and The Flash don’t promise any particular superhero poetry (thanks G-Mo), they do offer an amusing sort of superhero pageantry. The sort of thing no one would look down on you for liking if it weren’t so fucking over-hyped.

    *The Mighty Crusaders features more of the (I’m told) underappreciated Red Circle characters, as written by the no doubt underappreciated Eric Trautmann. More John Ostrander written Deadshot & a triple dose of Tony Bedard written Brainiac, I’m down with those. Plus, a Star Sapphire statuette that’s cute-sexy not so-uncute-it-isn’t-sexy.

    *Unsure of how I feel about Tom Strong stories not written by Alan Moore. Did he sign off on that? Would he even care these days? Well, stay positive I guess. Come on Positive Thinking!

    Comment by Steve — April 24, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  6. There was a Top 10 earlier done by someone other than Moore so I am guessing he was cool.

    Comment by Rick — April 24, 2010 @ 1:16 am

  7. It doesn’t matter if Moore is happy with it or not, does it? He’s said his goodbyes to ABC and WildStorm still owns it.

    Comment by Dan Coyle — May 3, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  8. Tell the truth, you didn’t try did you :P

    I would wholeheartedly recommend you pick up tjhe Arkham Reborn TPB when it comes out, all of Haun/Hine’s Arkham work has been darn good so far, hell he even made Daniel’s Black Mask reveal MAKE SENSE in hindsight

    So much palpable contempt for Tony Daniel among the comics internet. I like him, thought his work on RIP was great, sure it would have been better if Quitely, JHW3, or Stewart did it, but so would everything. He does what he does well, works fine for Batman. As a writer though I have no defense…

    Don’t get the unease I’m sensing from people about JMS Superman and Wonder Woman, his Thor run was spectacular. Though I’m not a big fan of Barrows, but I don’t hate him.
    I don’t like Finch but that “Luthor in suit” cover was better than his work usually is.

    I’m with you on Lemire Atom (though I’m a LoSH fan so that doesn’t bother me), but his interviews fill me with hope.

    blah blah blah I know no one cares.

    Comment by Nathan — May 10, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

  9. Also I think Brandon still does work for DC, he’s finishing up his Nemesis mini and is doing the co-feature of Streets of Gotham

    Comment by Nathan — May 14, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

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