Happy nearly Thanksgiving everybody. To those of you not American, feel free to accept that declaration as general well wish and a license to also fill yourself to the gills with turkey on Thursday. Except those of you from the nation of Luxembourg. For you, there will be no turkey and I don’t care if that hurts your feeling. I do not care one bit.
And since it is almost Thanksgiving, that can only mean on thing: BATMAN! Umm…okay, it does not have to, I suppose, but this week it does. We have two articles are Batman stories you should pick up if you already do not own them. Sure, it might be padding, but I still think you’ll love it. And, if you don’t, you can tell me about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deal?
But before we can get to that, why not peek some NEWS!
More on DC’s RRP… Not DC’s RPG Which Meets Every Wednesday in Mike Carlin’s Basement
You caught that update of some upcoming changes, cancellations and shake-ups that came from DC’s RRP meeting last weekend, right?
To run down the list, and get some confirmation, explanation, and more information, Newsarama sat down with DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio. If you didn’t read the first update, you may want to check it out now, so we’re all on the same page.
Grab your multi-sided die and roll over to Newsarama
I think the biggest things here that we did not already know for sure (although there was heavy hinting) is that JLA is ending at the end of this arc and an explanation of the Superman/Adventures of Superman who is cancelled who is not thing.
Also of interest, poor poor Aquaman. Saved from the chopping block by yet another “new direction”. Does that mean Sub Diego is done? That would be too bad because I thought it was a pretty bright idea. In fact, I’d point to letting (or suggesting that) Pfeiffer move on so quick was probably one of the bigger mistakes they have made in reference to the Aquaman title in recent years. And trust me, I think there has been a few. Not because Arcudi is not doing well with expanding Pfeiffer’s ideas, but because by removing Pfeiffer, I think DC killed a lot of momentum the book had. It went building something of a buzz to being another DC book lost in the shuffle. Hopefully, this new concept clicks and DC maintains the momentum this time out.
If not though, I suppose Aquaman can take solace in the fact that, much Iron Man over at Marvel, a cancellation just means a new series over the next hill.
The Jimmy/Justin Hex
Amidst the hoopla surrounding DC’s Infinite Crisis and its various spinoffs, spin overs, and prequels, the publisher launched a new title with a protagonist that is as far from capes and cowls as you can imagine: the wild west stories of mercenary Jonah Hex. Pairing the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with artist Luke Ross, the series will focus on Hex’s travels and the troubles that seem to follow him wherever he goes. We spoke with the team shortly after the series was announced, and now that the first issue has hit, we caught up with Jimmy and Justin for more of the lowdown on the scarred and honorable mercenary.
Can a gunslinger named Hex defeat the hex at Newsarama?
Let’s review, shall we? A less than mainstream concept? Check. A talented artist on board? Check. Good reviews of the first issue? Check.
You add in small sales and an early cancellation and, sure enough, it is a Palmiotti/Gray collaboration. But, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they manage to evade their consistency this time out.
Painted Himself into a Corner…DC’s
Daniel AcuÃƒÂ±a, the artist whose spectacular work has graced recent covers on JLA and OUTSIDERS, has signed an exclusive agreement with DC Comics.
Pay Exclusively Acuna a visit at Newsarama
He’s done a ridiculous amount of covers lately so this is probably a good call for DC. My one hope is that they will utilize him for something besides covers. I know it is unfair, but signing a game exclusively for just covers seems like a bit of a waste. Well, maybe if the guy in question is James Jean, it is not (but, I’d still like to see more interior work from him too), but otherwise, I think we should demand more of exclusive contract folk.
Shutting Down the Precinct
With the release of the solicitations for DC’s February books, it was revealed that one of the publisher’s acclaimed series would be taking its final bow. Gotham Central will end with issue #40.
The Eisner Award winning and nominated series began in late 2002 as something of an experiment – an ongoing series that would focus on the detectives of the Gotham City Police Department. Created by long-time Batman writers Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, along with artist Michael Lark, Gotham Central was immediately (and favorably) compared to Homicide: Life on the Streets, NYPD Blue, and Hill Street Blues among other police dramas for its portrayal of not only the lives of the detectives, but of the toll the job took on them, personally and professionally.
Pack up your desk and turn in your gun and shield at Newsarama
The “Dead Robin” story did much to restore my interest in this title so this news is a bit of a disappointment. If it had come a few months earlier, when my dedication to it was flagging, I doubt I would have cared. Now though, just when I though the book was back on an uptick, it is too bad. Good for the Rucka knowing when his enthusiasm started to dissipate and having the sense to get up from the table and walk away. I’m not sure if the rumors about “Streets of Gotham” are accurate, but part of me hopes not. If the Rucka was growing tired of Gotham Central, would Streets really be different enough to reinvigorate him? Or if it was that different, would it be a title any of us would care about?
Batman in ’94: So Weird, So Good?
It’s early- to mid-1994 in the DC offices. The Bat-editors are sitting around, wondering what they’re going to do when the big “replace Batman with a crazy person” crossover is over. They have Dick Grayson lined up to take the mantle of the Bat for a few issues, but after that, what can they do? Everyone wants Bruce Wayne back because Azrael, let’s face it, sucked as Batman, but who can they get to write and draw the continuing adventures of everyone’s favorite dark and disturbing vigilante?
Someone (Denny O’Neil, maybe?) says, “How about we get a writer who has become increasingly more paranoid about the government and honestly seems to believe that aliens landed in New Mexico in the 1940s and are currently influencing our culture, and team him with an artist who excels at making everything he touches look more grotesque than Bosch? And why don’t we put these guys on our flagship title, Batman?” And they all look at him briefly like he (or she, I suppose, depending on who was there) is insane, but then, slowly, the idea takes root. Sure, why not? Let’s do that!
Do the time warp again at Buzzscope
I have covered Moench/Kelly’s run of Batman in the past so I will not get too much into it here. I just want to say that while the author does point out a great many things that were good about it, he fails to mention one of its biggest flaws. The scripting often ran towards hackneyed or obvious, especially when tackling religious/supernatural stories. The Ragman story in particular is festooned with glittering generalities that are dressed up like deep revelations. So while I will not deny that the Moench/Kelly run was certainly different and had some interesting ideas, I would warn you from buying it all at once. Buy an arc or two, see if it works for you and go from there.
Milligan on Batman? How Did I Miss This?
Peter Milligan is one of the more bizarre comics writers out there, and not in a Grant Morrison “I love superheroes and love making them do mad, glorious things” kind of way, but in a more disturbing way. So it’s strange that he was allowed to write Batman, and not in a prestige format graphic novel like Arkham Asylum, but in the character’s two main books (I’ll get to his brief run on Detective in time). He didn’t write the character for long, but his stories of Batman are completely unlike anything the character has seen before or since.
Oooh, and Riddler too at Buzzscope
Can you believe it? I’ve never been aware of this story, never mind read it. I feel much shame. I think this is my next longbox diving mission. And it should be yours too.
JSA CLASSIFIED #5
I’m no fan of Power Girl, so I sat the first arc of this title out. However, an Injustice Society focused arc? Where do I sign up?
SEVEN SOLDIERS: ZATANNA #4
Yay! The latest of the Seven Soldiers pulls into the station. Just when I thought it never would. Let’s see what place it ends up coming in compared to its other 3 first round minis (third is my prediction, but only because I loved Klarion and Guardian so).
SEVEN SOLDIERS: FRANKENSTEIN #1
I have no idea how you make the Frankenstein monster work in the DCU nor any idea what half the solicitation text in reference to this book means, but who cares. It looks great and it is part of the Seven Soldiers. Plus, the way I see it, the Monster is most definitely in Morrison’s wheelhouse.
OPINIONS ON THE WORK OF PEOPLE FAR MORE TALENTED THAN I
GOTHAM CENTRAL #37
This issue is a bit of a clichÃƒÂ©, (War of the Worlds is the most recent blockbuster to mine the “normal people reacting to horrible end of the world esque tragedy), but only because the concept of it continues to resound with consumers. Allen is a strong character who is often eclipsed by his partner, the more well known and dramatic potential possessing Montoya, so it is good to see Rucka give him the spotlight in a way that does not require him to get shot. The “next issue” tease, however, leads me to believe that this praise might be a bit too soon on my part.
My only complaint is the Wrath possession of Montoya. It takes the whole “ground level” feel of the book and tosses it out the window. Given how compelling their struggle through the rest of the city is because of its utter humanity, I cannot figure out why this supernatural mishap would be viewed as a good plot point. By putting a face to the end of the world horror (cast in smoke though the face was) undermines Allen’s feeling of helplessness while he stumbles through burned out Gotham because a face means an outside force to face and best. However unlikely it might seem that a man could be the physical incarnation of a Deadly Sin, it is still more likely than defeating a city gone crazy with panic just because.
ALL STAR SUPERMAN #1
I can say, unequivocally, that there is a far better debut issue than its sister title in this new “imprint”. There is not a ton here storywise to sink my teeth into, but what it had I tended to overwhelmingly like. The origin recap was brilliant, getting it out of the way quickly and smartly, a respectful nod to the audience. Morrison’s Lex Luthor is a little more sci-fi than I tend to like my Lex, but his ruthlessness and “kill Superman, damn the consequences” fixation is down to earth enough to bridge the gap between “business” Lex and “battlesuit” Lex in a way I can live with. The rest of the characters have moments of great clarity (Jimmy’s appearance being the highlight) but this is just a snack of characterization. Morrison spends too little time with any of them to scratch the surface.
Quitely, thankfully, did bring his A-game to this outing, conveying the differences between Clark and Superman with subtle adjustments of posture. It is never flashy, but wouldn’t you know it, it all adds up to a noticeable disparity in character design. It might not explain how a pair of glasses could fool so many, but it does make it clear that the pair of glasses were only part of the disguise.
BIRDS OF PREY #88
When you are done here, why not check out my full review on the main page. Think of it as the dessert to this scrumptious column-y meal.
So, I have not really bothered with this book since I read and was bored/disappointed with issue #1. I picked up #4 because it was drawn by Van Sciver, but I did not even do that until almost a month after it came out. I almost did not pick it up at all, but come on, its Van Sciver!
So why was this issue different? Well, first, #4 was pretty good. The Oa stuff was not (seriously? Kilowog and Hal making with lighthearted wrestling. I know Kilowog is alive again, but come one, Hal did still kill him. They don’t have to hate each other, but being buddies seems a bit much.), but the earth stuff was. Even if a large part of that, I’m sure, was that it was a plot the skewed away from having to deal too much with Hal Jordan’s characterization (to reiterate: there is nothing wrong with Hal’s characterization, I just would have never decided to return him to a square jawed flyboy with nearly no flaws because that version of him holds zero interest to me). The second reason, however, is infinitely more important.
I can’t say why, because I do not really understand it myself, but I have been waiting for him to show up since his brief appearance in Rebirth and, finally, here he is in all his spooky glory as rendered by Van Sciver. Awesome.
Not so awesome: the yellow German speaking aliens. I’m willing to bet Johns has an ace up his sleeve on this one because, as it stands now, I just don’t much care or feel threatened by them.
Another great issue of this book. Andreyko continues to do an excellent job of mining some of the more obscure corners of the DCU for characters that fit perfectly in the context of Manhunter but I never would have thought of to include. Skorpio’s humiliation is a perfect (and very funny) example of that skill.
Not sure what Kate’s going to decide in reference to Bones offer, but I can imagine either avenue leading to some excellent stories.
Also worth giving thumbs up to: Dylan getting his employer’s back, Shaw clearly still not all right, and “Grandpa” making his play.
CRAZY (BUT RIGHT) THEORIES
New feature time. Infinite Crisis is here and I want to know what you think about. Specifically, what you think is going to happen at the end. You know, who the big villain is, what will the post-IC DCU look like, etc. Send your theories to me at a email@example.com or leave them on our awesome message boards. The first comes from the Nexus’s own Tim Sheridan.
It is pretty clear that at the end of Infinite Crisis, we’ll realize that Aztek has been behind it all, with help from Nightwing. You know, the real Identity Crisis killer.
Well, I think he’s on to something. What do you think?
That’s it, my friends. A short, pre-holiday edition of News and Views has drawn to a close. Hope you liked reading it as much as I liked writing it and I’ll see you post Thanksgiving. Remember, Luxembourg, nothing for you.
Un Gajje Likes Turkey, but What Really Makes Thanksgiving is the Sausage Stuffing