Thanks for popping by and checking out my weekly Monday Demythify column.
For the last two weeks I’ve written about the stroke recovery of fan favorite comic book, fantasy, Star Trek and all around potpourri writer Peter David. The first piece focused on the debt I owe “PAD” (as Peter is lovingly called), and last week I discussed the sacrifice that freelancers make, often for little return, and why the Hero Initiative is so important. As an update to those pieces, I can advise you that there is now a direct option to support Peter David’s recovery. The initial call remains for fans to buy his recent books through Crazy 8 Press. However, a new option is a direct donation through Hero Initiative which is tax deductible. The support options are on the right sidebar on Peter David’s website. I have captured that image on the right for you (click to enlarge) so you know what to look for.
Ok. Now this week I run through the 10 big questions stemming from the comic book solicitations we’ve seen from the industry’s top publishers for April 2013.
In addition, please note that the DC Comics New 52 covers are partial covers. In April 2013 all the covers for New 52 titles will be gatefold with a big surprise once you open the fold. As with DC’s Death of the Family inaugural double covers, the extra component of April’s gatefold covers will come essentially free as the price of the comics they adorn are not being increased whether $2.99 or $3.99 as per usual.
Ok, let’s get into it.
10. Who is DC’s new White Lantern? (DC Comics New 52)
The White Lantern has been a concept DC has been trying to get right for several years. We’ve had a Black Lantern in the form of Black Hand as well as a whole corps of Black Lanterns that were the center piece of DC’s Blackest Night event of 2010/11. During that event, Sinestro became the White Lantern and several DC characters became members of the White Lantern Corps. That was all short-lived.
A weekly series called Brightest Day followed that event culminating with a freshly imported Swamp Thing from Vertigo becoming DC’s White Lantern. That made “some” sense since Swamp Thing was a creature and/or avatar of nature and Earth is one big living eco-system. However, we then had Flashpoint and the creation of the DC New 52 universe. Swamp Thing is now part of the Green and has been anchoring his own critically acclaimed New 52 series. His White Lantern past doesn’t appear to have been a part of his New 52 reboot.
So who is DC’s latest White Lantern? Well, February’s Green Lantern: New Guardians #17 has Kyle Rayner on the cover certainly appearing to be the or a White Lantern. However, as with Sinestro and Swamp Thing, this too seems short-lived since the solicit for April’s April’s Green Lantern: New Guardians #19 cryptically teases: “If that’s Kyle, then who is the new White Lantern?” Interestingly, two former White Lanterns are doing battle on the cover (see above right). Sinestro still in a Green Lantern uniform and in the land of the living. Interesting times.
Who do you think will end up being the DC New 52’s White Lantern?
9. Who debuts with Earth 2’s Fate & who is Prime Earth’s Mister Terrific? (DC Comics New 52)
I’m a huge fan of the sci-fi staple of alternate realities. I imagine that is one of the reasons I have been a long-standing fan of DC’s multiverse (and eagerly anticipating Grant Morrison’s Multiversity maxi-series). While I was saddened that DC New 52’s first wave did not include a Justice Society, nor did that Prime Earth continuity even have a World War II era team of “mystery men” that inspire DC’s current pantheon of heroes, I was pleased that a subsequent wave included two books playing with the alternate universe concept: Earth 2 which is set firmly on an alternate Earth and Worlds’ Finest set on DC’s Prime Earth featuring Power Girl and Huntress; two characters displaced from Earth 2 trying to get back home.
One of the other reasons I was a fan of the old Justice Society was the generational aspect to it, particularly in comics’ Bronze Age. These WWII era heroes, firmly based on the characters that debuted in the Golden Age and the formative years of what we know today as the comic book industry, grew older and had their own kids who assumed their own heroic identifies or adopted their parents’. Infinity Inc. to that end is a classic fave of mine.
While the generational aspect of DC heroes is no longer a hallmark of a DC Universe trying to be hip and young for readers, we do have glimpses of lineage in DC’s multiverse: Prime Earth’s Batman partnering with his son Robin in the Batman & Robin series, or with Earth 2 Superman’s cousin Power Girl and Earth 2 Batman’s daughter Huntress in Worlds’ Finest, or even with Earth 2’s evil (?) Daughter Fury in the Earth 2 series. However, along with the olde JSA, the Teen Titans have also been impacted negatively with the lack of generational legacy in the New 52.
The April 2013 Justice League group solicits bring us interesting questions concerning both Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest series.
Earth 2 #11 teases (cover top right): “As Dr Fate emerges as the latest hero on Earth 2, what other heroes make a most unexpected appearance? The cover is adorned by Dr. Fate who looks like a modern take of the character with a costume reminiscent of the orignal’s in the pre-New 52 continuity. Two big Q’s are staring at us: Who is Dr. Fate and who are the heroes that emerge with him to populate Earth 2’s yet-to-be-named Justice Society?
Worlds’ Finest #11 (cover lower right) also poses an interesting question: “Mr. Terrific and Power Girl reunited? But if Michael Holt is still on Earth 2, who is kissing Karen Starr?” No elaboration eeded on this one since the solicitation says it all. As folks may recall, Mister Terrific was a first wave New 52 title that was cancelled. He traveled to Earth 2 in that series’ last issue and has not been on Prime Earth since. So who is that kissing PG? Clayface, someone else?
8. Where is Snake Eyes & what’s the deal with Cobra’s Baroness? (IDW Publishing)
With April’s G.I. Joe: Cobra Files #1, IDW completes is relaunch of its core G.I. Joe ongoing titles. That includes the adjectiveless G.I. Joe debuting in February with G.I. Joe: Secret Missions debuting in March.
The Cobra series has been my fave of the previous series and I’m glad writer Mike Costa and artist Antonio Fuso are staying aboard. Costa describes the premise of the book like so: “The stakes being much more emotional than physical, though there are physical stakes, and always dealing with the moral question of what it is they’re doing. If you can be a good guy doing bad things and still stay a good guy, that’s really the whole theme of the book.”
The team’s roster is further described as: “The only real warriors on the team are Flint, Lady Jaye and Ronin. Chameleon really isn’t a field agent and she’s the star. She sort of switched sides to survive, and came to find out that working for G.I. Joe was only slightly better. She’s trying to navigate that moral landscape and really create a moral identity for herself and figure out if it’s too late for her to maybe do some good and whether or not that’s who she’s going to be.”
In addition, the surviving Crimson Twin Tomax continues to be a prisoner of G.I. Joe and feeding them Cobra intel for cushier “prison” digs.
The big Q’s stemming from Cobra Files and the previous solicits for the other two core G.I. Joe series are: Where is Snake Eyes? He’s not on any of the series’ debut covers and used to anchor his own IDW series. Also, how big a role is the Baroness to play for Cobra in all three series? She occupies prime real estate in the subscription variant for all three series’ debut issues.
This should be a big year for G.I. Joe with the movie Retaliation set for release on March 27, 2013. However, sadly, there’s been no news on the second season of Cartoon Network’s G.I. Joe: Renegades TV series.
I guess my “cartoon” fill for G.I. Joe will come from IDW’s 2-D comics.
7. Is Hulk STILL worthy? (Marvel Now)
Marvel Now has done wonder for Marvel Comics after DC’s dominance of 2012 with their New 52. Many new #1’s adorn store shelves for Marvel titles. Some faves of mine include All-New X-Men, Thor: God of Thunder and Cable & X-Force. I liked the debut of issue of Indestructible Hulk. It seemed like an interesting take on the character; essentially Hulk Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. A hero with both brains and brawn now.
April’s sixth issue of the series sees Walter Simonson on art alongside Mark Waid as writer. We get Thor, Jotunhiem and a cool cover. The solicit reads: ” Walt Simonson draws the Hulk AND Thor! • Banner takes his lab team to Jotunheim! • Hulk vs. Frost Giants! • Guest-starring Thor!” I love that we’ll see Hulk interact with staples of Norse mythology in the issue.
The cover (see right) has Hulk trying to lift Thor’s hammer. To refresh your memory only the worthy can hold the hammer called Mjolnir. The inscription on the Norse hammer reads: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” While Hulk is struggling with the hammer on the cover, he did possess a magical hammer and was transformed by it in Marvel’s 2011 Fear Itself event. Is Hulk still one of “The Worthy” as he was only a few years ago?
6. What is Bionic Man vs. Bionic Woman Building To? (Dynamite Entertainment)
I’ve been a fan of Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, and Jamie Sommers, The Bionic Woman, since the 1970’s. There were short-lived comic book series for both at the time from Charlton Comics. I was intrigued when Dynamite Entertainment acquired the rights to publish new series including both characters. The first arc of Bionic Man (using an online inflation calculator, $6M in 1974 equates to $28M in today’s dollars, so 6 mill is not in the series’ title) was based on Kevin Smith’s aborted movie script for the character.
The core Bionic Man series has had some sales success despite moving past Smith’s story and even using classic faves like Big Foot in the most recent arc. Unfortunately, likely due to sales, Bionic Woman is cancelled as of this month. However, a Bionic Man vs. Bionic Woman mini-series debuted last week that will pit both character against one another. April 2013 Dynamite solicits sees the Bionic Man series MIA for some reason (it should have issue #21 shipping in April), but we do get the penultimate issue of the mini-series with issue #4. That solicit teases the following: “The iconic heroes of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN, together again… and at each other’s throats! Torn to pieces (in both the literal and figurative sense), can Steve Austin somehow regroup, locate, and save the rogue Jamie Sommers… without killing her?”
With the cancellation of the Bionic Woman, and a brand spanking new Bionic Man Annual #1 in the previous March 2013 solicits, what is Dynamite building to with this mini-series? Another Bionic Woman series? A Bionic Missions series featuring other Bionic characters alongside Jamie Sommers like the Bionic Boy, the Bionic Dog, the old series’ more-advanced-than-Steve-Austin Seven Million Dollar Man ($33 million in today’s dollars) or something else?
5. Another WildCATS / Wildstorm alumni makes New 52 debut? (DC Comics New 52)
Since the debut of the New 52 in September of 2011 we’ve seen DC’s steady integration of Wildstorm characters and concepts into the line. Writer Justin Jordan’s Team 7 series is a revamp of a Wildstorm classic, but this time around with DC proper characters, formerly Wildstorm characters, and newbies rounding out the roster.
The last two months worth of solicits have seen classic WildCATS characters make their New 52 debuts.
Does Justin Jordan’s April offering continue that trend? The solicit would seem to imply it… or does it(?): “What new member, who threatens to tear the team apart, is welcomed into The New 52?”
Clearly, it could be another former DC character or Vertigo character, but my Spidey sense is tingling with possibilities around another WildCATS alumni joining. Well, of the core WildCATS team Lord Emp and Maul remain to make their New 52 debuts? Does one join in April 2013?
4. How can you have three self-contained arcs under one banner? (Valiant Entertainment)
2012 saw the reemergence of Valiant Comics. The Summer of Valiant’s 4 series launch was quite successful and currently their line includes 5 series (Shadowman debuted in the Fall of 2012). Two of these series share a past as revealed in this month’s Bloodshot #7. He, Bloodshot, was a Harbinger Hunter earlier in his life; he hunted special kids with special powers.
That leads us to April’s debut of a “self-contained”, according to Valiant, mini-series called Harbinger Wars. Its debut issue notes that: ” Two dozen undisciplined, untested and untrained superhuman children have just escaped from a top-secret research facility and into the world. • When Bloodshot, Toyo Harada and Peter Stanchek join the chase, will the Valiant Universe be ready for its first all-out superhuman showdown?
I admit, I’m not a huge fan of the Harbinger concept, but I did enjoy that series’ debut arc. However, I’m only reading Bloodshot and Archer & Armstrong regularly as I can’t stretch my dollar too far in 2013. However, I am intrigued by this mini-series.
What made me curious about Valiant’s full April 2013 solicitations was that both Bloodshot #10 and Harbinger #11 start what Valiant terms “All-new arc, all-new jumping-on point! HARBINGER WARS continues in a standalone, four-part arc…” For all three series being “self-contained” the interlocking covers (below) for Blooshot #10 (left), Harbinger Wars #1 (middle) and Harbinger #11 (right) are interesting (that’s not a criticism, just an observation).
I imagine both of the Bloodshot and Harbinger series will feature arcs that take place in the Harbinger Wars backdrop, but are not required reading per se to enjoy the main mini-series or each series own arcs. If we do read all of them though, we’ll just get a better sense of what’s going on in this corner of the Valiant Universe.
I trust Valiant because of how they delivered in 2012. So, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m not expecting Bloodshot to be featured in the Harbinger series’ arc nor any Harbinger prime characters in Bloodshot’s arc. If I want both sets of characters I assume the mini is where I’ll get them. We’ll see if my prediction of what Valiant means by “self-contained” materializes in terms of Harbinger Wars.
3. Marvel’s American & Canadian Heroes vs. ADAPTATION? (Marvel Now)
Alpha Flight fans, or better yet, fans of Marvel Comics’ Canadian super-heroes… rejoice!
Omega Flight is back in April; plus we get Wolverine! As part of core the Marvel Now series in Jonathan Hickman’s adjectiveless Avengers, we get the reemergence of Canada’s premiere super-team, but there’s a lot of mystery packed into the Marvel April 2013 solicit: “We learn that the Canadian super team Omega Flight got lost in a Garden Origin Site. • Discover what happens when the Avengers go in to rescue them. • Learn why ADAPTATION is the scariest word in the Marvel Universe.”
So, what is ADAPTATION and what does in mean of Marvel’s American and Canadian super-heroes? And where is Marvel Now’s Alpha or Omega Flight series? Grrrr.
2. Who will make up the Secret Society? (DC Comics New 52)
DC Comics April 2013 solicits also feature the reemergence or at least the build towards a new Secret Society in the New 52.
In the old universe, the Secret Society of Super-Villains was made up of DC’s prime villains; the key foils for each iconic Justice League member. There was also an Injustice Gang which seemed like a corny name, but was a similar concept.
Well, Justice League of America #3 solicit reads: “A new Secret Society is forming-—but which of its members has the power to attack the Justice League from within?” A mutiny in the ranks of the JLA so early?
We also have movement on this plot point in the Savage Hawkman series’ #19 issue: “The Secret Society strikes again—but who is the one member strong enough to ground The Savage Hawkman?”
Other solicits in the Justice League Group do feature big bads, but not the words “Secret Society”. So those villains may not be part of the Society. I also wonder if in future months we’ll see more of the Society build in the JLA sub-family of books: Green Arrow, Katana, Vibe and Catwoman?
1. What drives Bruce Wayne to use a gun? (DC Comics New 52)
There are 4 taboos in comic book fandom with 2 shattered already. The first was that Marvel’s Bucky, Captain America’s first sidekick, should remain dead. Well, Bucky is back as an adult hero in the modern-day Marvel Now era as the Winter Soldier. The second was that DC Comics’ Jason Todd, the second Robin, should stay dead. Well, he’s back too as the Red Hood in DC’s New 52.
A taboo that remains intact is that Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben stays dead. Well, Spider-Man’s Uncle remains quite dead and ghostly as seen in Amazing Spider-Man #700.
The last taboo is that Batman NEVER uses a gun. Well, historically, Batman did use a gun in his early career back when his costume included purple gloves (see The Batman Chronicles tpb volume 1) and in/on Detective Comics #575 (that cover is pretty iconic and it with the broader storyline is collected in the Batman Year Two tpb). That being said, for the majority of his publication history Batman has not used traditional guns. The alternate Earth noir First Wave mini-series in 2010 also featured a pulp era Batman with guns alongside Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Doc Savage and others set in the past, but Bruce’s core DC continuity self has not used guns since the Golden Age. This gun moratorium was because Bruce Wayne has been portrayed as being so traumatized by his parents’ killings that he abhors guns. Well, that taboo is shattered in April based on the Batman #19 solicit that reads: “Who would cause Bruce Wayne to use a gun?”
Hmmmm. Interesting. If the Joker’s antics in Death of the Family hasn’t driven Batman to use a gun, who or what possibly could? Any ideas?
That concludes my list. And, for those keeping score, there is sadly still no solicitation from Image Comics for Image United #4 of their 2009 six issue mini-series. However, in response to my Sunday Twitter Q, Image founder Rob Liefeld confirmed they are planning on wrapping up Image United. Details yet to be announced.
In terms of the April 2013 comic book solicitations, what other big questions do you have from any of the comic book publishers’ offerings?
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