Our DCU Retcon

Geoff Johns, now DC’s Chief Creative Officer, has expended a considerable amount of time and effort restoring the DCU to what he remembers and loved as a kid.  And good for him!  He did the work, came up through the ranks, excelled at his craft, and wound up in a position to guide DC to what he likes best.  However, it does open the door for every other fan and DC-lover to do the same thing.  When we (inevitably!) become the CCO we’ll do the same thing.  As a sneak peak, here’s a preview of the things we’ll do to restore DC to what we remember as kids.

See, I didn’t start reading DC books until ’92 or ’93 with the death and return of Superman. There actually aren’t many good memories of DC when I was a kid to which I’d want to return, but there are somethings I’d do responsibly with my great power.

  • Flashpoint/ DCnU was all a dream. The Psycho-Pirate awakens from it to find he’s still in a padded cell within Arkham. ANNNnnnndd….
  • Barry’s dead. It’s nothing personal, Bowtie, but your death was the best thing about you story-wise. We’ll pick up with Wally again sometime after Waid’s phenomenal arc, “The Return of Barry Allen.” I like my heroes full formed rather than whining about the burden of legacy and self-doubt. Also, what’s wrong with guys with gadgets? Captain Cold’s powers are now natural? WTF?!? Instead of being inspired by the cool Icicle, he’s inspired by the douchy Johnsian Icicle, Jr.? Come one Manapul! I’d have a moritorium on the use of Captain Cold so that he could rest from having such a horrid redo.

  • Justice League International – This has come back somewhat with the New 52, but I like the idea of a Justice League in every country.  In fact, it was SUCH a good idea that Marvel had their own take on it with the Fifty-State Initiative.  It allows for more interesting backdrops, more characters to get spotlight, and gives other areas of the DCU such a time to shine.  To this end, Max Lord isn’t a villain anymore, either.  He was such a good bureaucratic good guy, a character we just don’t ever see.  And much like the (Marvel) Sandman’s return to villainy from heroism, it doesn’t feel right.  We’ve seen too many of his inner thoughts to buy that.
  • I’d also bring back annuals. What better way to tell a few short stories, tryout new writers/ artists/, make a few bucks, throw in some nifty supplement material, and entertain the reader? If there’s something better than an annual not tied to a cross-over, I haven’t found it. To my mind, an annual is a good way to both audition talent and examine aspects of a character or character dynamics that can’t find page space in the regular book.
  • No more Rainbow Lantern Corps – There will always be Green Lanterns, that’s a given, but the rainbow Corps (Corpses?) are only diluting the brand.  First task: get rid of all but green and yellow rings.  That’s been enough for 60 years.  We’ll then pare that down to one lantern corps: Green.  Most likely, just to make my mark, I’ll keep one yellow ring and have a lone Sinestro Corps member (not Thaal Sinestro) patrol the universe serving up fear.
  • Jason Todd is dead – Nuff said.  Fuck that guy

  • As a basic concept/ look, I’ve always been drawn to Hawkman. As a character…or convoluted series of characters… not so much. As Assistant CCO of DC, All of Hawkman’s origins go bye-bye. He’s not the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince, he’s not an alien. He’s not an avatar for some Hawk-god. He’s not even an amalgamation of those ideas. He’s just a shirtless guy with wings and a cool helmet that likes to beat the tar out of criminals with a mace…and he’s been around a long time. A non-origin worked for Wolverine for over twenty years. Why does Hawkman have to be from somewhere? He simply is. Done.
  • Marvel Crossovers – The Marvel/DC crossovers may not have always been great, but they’ve always been fun.  When I’m in the CCO seat the Marvel relationship will be repaired and task one will be getting the Batman/Daredevil crossover going.  I’m sure Bendis and Maleev are still up for it.  I think I’ll ditch the Amalgam concept, though.
  • Guy Gardner: Sexist Pig – Guy Gardner was always an ass, but for no discernible reason (other than spite).  Since taking the reins on Green Lantern, Johns has toned down that attitude considerably, and just made it a result of Gardner’s enthusiasm for the job.  We’re going back to the sexist braggart we all loved to hate.  But don’t worry: if you don’t like this particular take where there’s Jerk Guy Gardner, Earnest Guy Gardner is also lurking.  By Giffen and DeMatteis, if they’re willing.
  • When was the last time the Martian Manhunter actually hunted “men”? You need somebody found? Go see J’onn J’onnz. Yeah, we’re bringing that shit back.
  • No Superboy – I hopped on just after Crisis happened, when Clark Kent became Superman as an adult.  This was also before Reign of the Supermen, when DC just wanted to expand the brand.  While the Silver Age had some great stories, I think they’re silly for modern continuity.  And there have been dome decent Connor Kent stories, the whole thing seems like emo Superman.  So let’s just go back to that blissful period without a Superboy.

  • No Guardians – Those little blue guys are asses, and much like Matt’s feelings toward Professor X, I don’t think I’ve ever read a good story with them.
  • I’ve mentioned this before, but maybe someone will listen if I say it often enough. Captain Marvel and company need their own universe to play around in. It’s got to be a more timeless place. A modern setting doesn’t work, and being forced into a universe where dark psychotic killers exist turns Cap into drab generic punch’em-up kind of guy. A kid that turns into a grown up when he/ she utters a magic word is an idea that appeals to pre-teens because of its silliness and it’s wish fulfillment. A Captain Marvel book needs to be written with the same sensibility as Spongebob Squarepants or a Tex Avery cartoon. Silly and strange should be the order of the day when it comes to Captain Marvel.
  • Tim Drake: Robin – The current Robin situation is a huge mess.  Damian Wayne makes for a few good Morrison stories, but I’ve never liked the idea of Son of Batman, and it would take a huge reset button to put him back.  Honestly, I don’t know why DC didn’t do that in 2011.  Tim Drake was the right Robin for his time.  Rather than an acrobat, a physical character, he was something of a hacker, which played to Batman’s detective side and had to work EXTREMELY hard for his physical development.  And he was all planning, no impulse, which put him at odds with Jason Todd (seriously, fuck that guy).  Meanwhile, it feels like he was shoehorned into the Red Robin role because no one wanted to get rid of him but nobody knew what to do with him.  Put him back in the Robin suit and let’s get Damian back to being a digression.
  • Only Batman and Superman have multiple titles – It seems like only Superman and Batman can truly support more than one title.  Not Green Lantern, Aquaman, or Flash.  Let’s not dilute the brand, DC.  Focus your best talent on the top titles.  There don’t need to be 4 Lantern-related books on the stand each month.
  • One thing I’d keep that Johns and co. are doing right is the re-introduction of the anthology title or titles with rotating foci. While every hero or team is someone’s favorite, not all characters can support their own title. The New 52’s DC Universe Presents is an opportunity to… dare I say it… showcase characters and stories of this nature. But, why not do more? Bring back Mystery in Space and cast a wider net. Give the fans their Space Cabby, ULTRA, The Multi-Alien, Adam Strange, and others. What about a House of Mystery or a similar title for darker/ magical characters? Not only would I shuffle characters, I’d shuffle creators often. I’d use anthologies as an incentive to bring over and keep creative talent. It’s an opportunity for creators of on-going titles as well as new talent to play with more toys from the box. The only stricture would be to stay away from characters that currently have their own title.
  • Elseworlds – Placing familiar heroes in unfamiliar settings is a GREAT idea and produced some amazing stories.  Books Holy Terror, Red Son, and The Nail were both interesting takes on our heroes and took their concepts to the core so we could really examine what makes them strong.  In fact, it was such a good idea that it was the theme for an entire year of annuals.  Let’s see some more.

Everything Old Is New Again

The DCU is a big place, but occasionally heroes just get…displaced. Just ask Psycho Pirate.  For every Resurrection Man that gets another shot at the big time, there’s a Power Girl or an Oracle* who fades out.  For this week’s LIST we present what the DCU’s former heroes are  doing now.
  • Phantom Lady (Stormy Tyler) – Lunch lady at an elementary school in New Jersey

  • Connor Hawke – Newsstand vendor.  In fact, in the New 52 he’s the hack in Watchmen

  • Wizard SHAZAM! – shill for Sham-WOW Industries.

  • Rainbow Raider – Blogger, whydoesgeoffjohnshateme.net

  • Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite, Qwisp – Three words: interdimensional midget porn

  • The Spectre – Working in Disney’s Haunted Mansion

  • Ray Palmer – moved to the Marvel 616 Universe hoping to study under Hank Pym.

  • Tawky Tawny – Killed Tony the Tiger in a fight club for his power, using them to shill for Frosted Flakes

  • ‘Mazing Man – Manager of a Planet Krypton in New Orleans.

  • Lobo – Doin’ yer mom, comprende?

  • Mikaal Thomas – marketing a healing crystal through Urban Outfitters.

  • Captain Marvel – Herald of Galactus

  • Jack Ryder – back up keyboardist for the Parliment Funkadelic

  • Jack Knight – Collecting Bakelite and Viewmaster reels in Opal City

*Try not to dwell on the thought that it’s DC’s women getting demoted.

This Week’s Comics

There’s a lot to talk about this week, including how strange it is to take a look through Diamond’s new releases and see so many #1’s. Which brings be to a question I’m throwing out to our reading public. Not that many folks have been following my experiment to pick up new releases on the cheap, but if you have, should I keep including DC books throughout this year for the purpose of the experiment?

It’s been going exceptionally well, picking up books a couple months later for under cover price, and if left to my own devices I would just drop all the DCU titles and be done with it. But I’m concerned that it would throw off the results, and I’m wondering if I should keep up the list with DCnU titles through the year for the sake of the experiment. If you have any thoughts, or just want to berate me for such a dumb stunt, hit us up in the comment section.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s noteworthy for this week.

  • 27 SECOND SET #1 (OF 4) – The first series had some promise but just never really jelled with me, unfortunately.
  • FEAR ITSELF #6 (OF 7)
  • FEAR ITSELF HULK VS DRACULA #1 (OF 3) – I wonder if my ditching DC titles is going to lead to my making up for it with other books I would never otherwise pick up. This is a good case in point. I’m really just sucked in my the high concept, partially due to the Dracula/Sgt Fury WWII story I’m currently reading in some old Marvel Comics Presents. Ah, what’s the worst that could happen?
  • GLADSTONES SCHOOL FOR WORLD CONQUERORS #5 – It’s strange, but I really think this is the title I look forward to most each month. Just an all around excellent title.
  • HERC #7
  • INFINITE #2 – I admit it, Infinite #1 wasn’t great. It was just too vague in all respects. Still, The Rob has had two books come out in two weeks, which means he’s put out more books in 8 days than Todd McFarlane has put out in the last decade.
  • UNCANNY X-FORCE #15 – My Rick Remender love continues unabated.

In other administrivia, you can now email Matt and I directly at matt or jesse at lemurcomics.com. We also have a fledgling Twitter feed up. Check out @LEMURComics for all the minor thoughts that enter our brain but aren’t enough for a full post.

Well, that’s it for me. What are YOU looking at?

This Week’s Comics

It’s strange to take a look at the week’s releases and see almost all of DC’s output is #1 issues.  I’ve had a bit of a change of heart on the DC relaunch.  If you recall the DC preview Matt and I did last week, while I wasn’t thrilled about the event or the necessity, there were a few books I didn’t feel I could help but pick up.  Well, that’s all changed.


Dick move there, Eobard...

It kicked off with Chris Sims and Caleb Goellner’s review, which was about what I expected.  Matt’s Game Tape pretty much backed that up.  But then I checked out the preview pages.

You may recall that Matt and I have both been pretty horrified by the sheer dickishness in Flash Rebirth when Professor Zoom went back in time to kill Barry’s mother (and push Barry down a flight of stairs for some reason).  Like a dick.  It was the worst attempt at “story” since Brad Meltzer decided it would be a good idea to have Dr. Light rape Sue Dibny.  Then the whole Flashpoint/DCU Reboot is predicated on THAT?  Thanks but no thanks, DC.

Say what you will about Brian Bendis’ master plan for the Marvel U, but at least it’s not based on the worst travesty of story in the last 5 years.  So as Flashpoint ends…So does my time with the DCU.  Maybe I’ll pick up an issue here or there when I find them in the discount bins, but as far as seeking them out?  Nope.  I’m out.  Thanks DC, it’s been a fun 22 years.

As for this week’s comics, here’s what’s new and noteworthy that I’m not completely fed up with.

  • ATOMIC ROBO GHOST OF STATION X #1 (OF 6) – New Atomic Robo!  Break out the banners, there’s at least one thing right in the comic book world!
  • HULK #40

And…The rest is Marvel books that don’t merit much mention.  At least not today.  That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

A Brief Look at the New DCU

Well, that was it.  Last week was the end of the DCU as we’ve known it for the last 25 years and the All-New, All-Different DC Universe kicks off next week.  After such extended diatribes about DCNu, it’s probably only fair that we take a look at the 52 new titles DC will be launching.  (I took this list from http://drhiphop85.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/breaking-news-dcnu-presents-all-52-new-titles-the-relaunch-is-here/, who probably got it from Previews, but is the first site I found to have all the information in one place.)  Some of the info has already changed, such as the Green Lantern titles, but we’ll look at it as announced.  There will be SPOILERS ahead.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales
Cover by Rags Morales

A new era of DC Comics begins as the longest-running monthly comic of
all time releases its first issue #1 since 1938.

This September, New York Times bestselling writer Grant Morrison
(ALL-STAR SUPERMAN) joins with sensational artist Rags Morales to
bring you tales of The Man of Tomorrow unlike any you’ve ever read
before in ACTION COMICS #1. This momentous first issue will set in
motion the history of the DC Universe as Superman defends a world that
doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.

The first Action Comics #1 is now the most sought-after comic book of
all time. This September, one of comics’ most imaginative storytellers
will make history again in Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’ ACTION

I’m glad Action comes first alphabetically because of all the new titles, this is the biggest one for me.  As tempted as I am to write off the whole DCU now, I’ll never be able to pass up a Grant Morrison uperman title.  Add in art by Rags Morales, who made me a fan for life after his work on Hourman so long ago, and this is a sure-fire hit.

This is one of two reasons I haven’t written off DC books entirely. Grant Morrison on a Superman book is a win for me.

The solicitations make note of how long it’s been since the last Action #1, and we’ll see that on several other listings.  It’s ironic that this whole relaunch is the only thing that makes this fact notable.  Word has since come out that Action is going to take place 5 years in the past.  While “Grant Morrison’s Smallville” will almost certainly be worth reading, no way does this five-year separation last long.

You’re almost certainly right about the five-year separation. I’m worried that Morrison is on the title long enough to tell the origin from 5 years ago; then we’re going to get a bait and switch.

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Grey
Art by Moritat

If you liked Jonah Hex, this will just be expanding upon that mythology by incorporating more DC Western stars.  Since it’s only tangential to the primary DCU, this changes from Hex’s last title will most likely be minor.

I’m pleasantly surprised that they’re keeping this book essentially intact. DC’s willingness to change up creative teams, such as taking Secret Six from Gail Simone, is disconcerting. That the title is the only thing changing is actually a relief.

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Travel Foreman & Dan Green

Were there really enough people screaming for an Animal Man book? Or is this a by product of needing 52 titles?

I imagine it’s DC wanting to find work for Lemire, and this is a character they pitched him that they thought he could do something with.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

We rip on Geoff Johns a lot here, but he really is a good writer.  I’m anxious to see what he does here, I just hope it doesn’t lead to an over-complication of the whole Aquaman Family.

This is one of those times when I have to disagree with you. Johns isn’t a good writer; he’s a good idea man. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When Johns takes on too many responsibilities, the quality suffers. I want this book to be good; I’d love for Aquaman to see a Green Lantern style renaissance, but Johns is the guy that brought back Barry Allen and inexplicably went back in time to shove young Allen down a set of stairs. Johns’s best writing is at least three years behind him unless he were to drop everything for Aquaman.

Good points. 

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes

This one is going to be contentious for a lot of readers.  As much as I think Oracle was a strong character in her own right, no Batgirl since her has done a thing for me. Writing off Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown is alright with me.

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo

In the first BATMAN #1 since 1940, New York Times bestselling writer
Scott Snyder teams up with superstar artist Greg Capullo in his DC
Comics debut! In the series, Bruce Wayne once again becomes the only
character taking on the Batman name.

I confess to being curious about this one, and Greg Capullo hasn’t done work for the Big Two in decades.  But again, let’s stop bragging about how long it’s been since the last #1.  It’s weird.

It’s like they’re subliminally saying… “Here’s a collectible! It’ll be worth something someday.” How much is Superman #1 (vol. 2)? Oh… right, not much.

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason

Did we ever get Tomasi’s vol. 1 arc that was supposed to happen between Morrison and Cornell?

I believe so.  I think it was right before Winick’s Red Hood arc.

Written by David Finch
Art by David Finch & Jay Fabok

Shouldn’t we be giving out 1/52 of the entire line to titles we’ll actually see?

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Ben Oliver

This one reeks of tokenism to me.  Maybe it’ll work, but Judd Winick’s work in the DCU has never been to my taste, Red Hood work aside.

Written by J.H. Williams III & Haden Blackman
Art by Amy Reeder

I imagine this is the exact same book they’ve been soliciting for over a year, with no changes.  It’ll most likely be solid, and definitely look amazing.

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Jesus Saiz

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This is a refrain I keep thinking again and again while looking at this list. Next…

Written by Mike Costa
Art by Ken Lashley
Cover by Ken Lashley

Blackhawk is an elite group of mercenaries made up of brave men from
around the world equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and
vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us. A set
of contemporary tales that battle the world’s gravest threats,
BLACKHAWKS #1 will be written by Mike Costa and illustrated by Ken

This is just G.I. Joe, right?  I mean…Right?

Yeah… That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.

Unless you like Blackhawk.

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Ig Guara

I like this in principle, but why is this going to work when the book was cancelled for low sales almost two and a half years ago?

Written by JT Krul
Art by Freddie Williams II

I don’t think I can bring myself to read anything more by the guy who wrote Rise of Arsenal.  Sorry.

See my comments re: Animal Man.

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Guillem March

Even Judd Winick can’t characterize this as more than sex and violence.  Sorry, pass.

Written by Paul Jenkins
Art by Bernard Chang

A new anthology series written by Paul Jenkins?  He’s becoming more hit-or-miss for me, but I like the concept.

My interest in this title is going to waver depending on the character(s) highlighted each issue. Odds are I’ll be pulling this one from quarter boxes in about 20 years in the same way I’ve been pulling DC Comics Presents.

Or Marvel Comics Presents.

Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Joe Bennett & Art Thibert

I’ve had to look up half of these writers to see who they are. Why is DC handing a major relaunch to it’s rookie class? Many of these guys only have one shots and back up stories to their names. This is a weird strategy all around. Are Johns and Lee crazy or crazy like foxes? We’ll see… we’ll see.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert

Despite never liking The Demon (reading his dialogue ALWAYS feels like work) Paul Cornell’s name here is a huge draw.  However, I don’t give this book more than a year.  It’s Etrigan.

Despite being Cornell, I’m going to wait for the trade on this one.

Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Tony S. Daniel

Expect a mediocre bat-title.  Shouldn’t these books be launching with higher-profile creators?  Daniel’s art is great, but his writing is still finding it’s legs.

A major title with mass name recognition in the hands of a mediocre writer… Ummmmm…we’ll see?

Written by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
I’m surprised Geoff Johns hasn’t taken this one over.  I wonder how many speedsters there will be post-Flashpoint, especially with no JSA?

I’ll wait a few issues before I think about giving this one a try.

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Alberto Ponticelli

I’ve heard some great things about Jeff Lemire’s indy work, and Frankenstein was one of Grant Morrison’s best Seven Soldiers titles. I think this one may be one to watch.

I’m liking Lemire’s work on the Flashpoint Frankenstein book. I’ll give this one the once over.

Written by Ethan Van Sciver & Gail Simone
Art by Yildiray Cinar

I was fairly nonplussed about this one, but a Newsarama interview with Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver have made it sound worth checking out.

It will be a testimony to the creative if they can make me care about Firestorm.

Written by JT Krul
Art by Dan Jurgens

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke & Christiam Almy

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin & Scott Hanna

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Tyler Kirkham & Batt

Okay.  The Green Lantern titles.  This is where things will get especially muddy, since Geoff Johns has spent the last 5 years resetting GL continuity to where he wants it. And without Blackest Night, where did all these Corps come from?  I think I’m done with anything ring-based for the foreseeable future.


Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Cafu & BIT

What? by whom? Oh… uh….so what?

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Rob Liefeld

<sigh>  I’ll be getting this one, although I’m curious how the Rob will get both this and The Infinite out.  That’s not even taking into consideration the long-lost  Image United.

Written by Josh Fialkov
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Cover by Andrea Sorrentino

Vampires threaten to bring ruin to the DC Universe in I, VAMPIRE #1 by
rising star Josh Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino. Tortured by his
centuries-old love for the Queen of the Damnned, Andrew Bennett must
save humanity from the violent uprising of his fellow vampires, even
if it means exterminating his own kind.

And DC arrives at the Twilight party, which sounds dirty but isn’t.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee & Scott Williams

I think this is going to be the premiere book of the DCNu, with such high-profile creators on it.  Even I’ll get sucked into it, I’m sure, as I’m a sucker for the JLA.  This will probably also be where we see the most character interaction and get the most clues about how this whole new DCU is going to work.

Nope. Just… nope. I’ll wait until the origin story is finished; then I’ll see what it’s all about.

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
Cover by Ryan Sook

John Constantine, Deadman, Shade the Changing Man and Madame Xanadu
are Justice League Dark, a band of supernatural heroes united to stop
the dark things the rest of the DCU does not see in JUSTICE LEAGUE
DARK #1, by Peter Milligan and artist Mikel Janin.

I’m more likely to pick this one up than the main title.

Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Aaron Lopresti
Cover by Aaron Lopresti

A team of internationally-drafted superheroes fight each other and
their bureaucratic supervisors as much as they do global crime in
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1 from writer Dan Jurgens and artist
Aaron Lopresti. The cover to issue #1 is by Aaron Lopresti.

In another example of short-sightedness, it feels like DC has spent the last 5 years eliminating the Giffen/DeMatteis era JL only to start listening to fan outrage and support of that era.

How far into the book do we see a roster change to characters that Jurgens really wants to work with? I can’t bring myself to care about this book remembering the lackluster JL stories Jurgens wrote in the 90’s… Dr. Destiny story not withstanding.

Good point.  Also worth noting: Jurgens gets associated with the JLI era a lot, but truly he didn’t get involved until long after the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire run was over.

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Pete Woods

Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Francis Portela

Written by Eric Wallace
Art by Roger Robinson

I’m a sucker for the new Mister Terrific.  This one I’ll be keeping an eye out for to see how it does…

Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Eddy Barrows

Written by Dan Didio & Keith Giffen
Art by Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Cover by Kenneth Rocafort

Batman’s former sidekick had put his past as The Red Hood behind him,
when the reclusive Jason Todd finds himself unwillingly elected as the
leader of an all-new team of outlaw vigilantes.

As The Red Hood once again, Jason Todd will lead this new team of
antiheroes, including Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal and
Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war.

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS will be written by Scott Lobdell and
illustrated by rising superstar artist Kenneth Rocafort.
Junk!After 20 years, DC finally gets their X-Force!

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Ed Benes & Rob Hunter

Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Fernando Dagnino

Welcome back, R-Man!  This is the highlight of the relaunch news, for me.  Seriously, the 90’s series was a highlight of it’s era along other titles like Starman, Chronos, and Chase.

Ditto. This and Action Comics are the only two titles I’m guaranteed to buy when they come out. I’m so excited that they’ve got DnA back for writing, but why not give Butch Guice some love?

Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Philip Tan
Cover by Philip Tan

Batman writer Tony Daniel will team up with artist Philip Tan (GREEN
Carter Hall’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job
with an archeologist who specializes in alien ruins – but will the
doctor’s latest discovery spread an alien plague through New York
City? No matter the personal cost, Carter Hall must don his cowl and
wings and become the new, savage Hawkman to survive. The cover to
issue #1 is by Philip Tan.

Can we all please just agree that, like Dr. Strange, no matter how much we may like Hawkman he just can’t support his own title?

Written by Ivan Brandon
Art by Tom Derenick
Cover by Tom Derenick

The grandson of the original Sgt. Rock assumes the command of Easy
Company, a team of crack ex-military men financed by a covert military
contractor, as they brave the battle-scarred landscape carved by the
DC Universe’s super-villains. SGT. ROCK AND THE MEN OF WAR #1 is
contemporary military story fighting under modern conditions, and will
be written by Ivan Brandon and illustrated by Tom Derenick.

Written by John Rozum & Scott McDaniel
Art by Scott McDaniel & Jonathan Glapion

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Miguel Sepulveda
Cover by Miguel Sepulveda

Stormwatch is a dangerous super human strike force whose existence is
kept secret from the world. Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the crew
look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet:
Midnighter and Apollo. And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian
Manhunter can change their minds. Featuring a surprising new roster,
STORMWATCH #1 will be written by the critically-acclaimed Paul Cornell
(Superman: The Black Ring, “Dr. Who”) and illustrated by Miguel

I’m a pretty huge Stormwatch fan, at least the Ellis run they’re trying to recreate here.  But I think DC is making a mistake by putting J’onn here rather than in the JLA, where he’s been the one constant across every. single.  incarnation.

At the point that you have 3 JLA’s, a Stormwatch, a Suicide Squad, Teen Titans, and a Blackhawk team combatting “the world’s gravest threats,” why not combine them all into a book called Justice League Unlimited? What better way to honor Dwayne McDuffie and apologize for screwing him over with his shot at the JLoA book?

Written by Adam Glass
Art by Marco Rudy

Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! They’re a team of death-row super
villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous
– they’re sheer suicide! Who will be the first to crack under the
pressure? Find out in SUICIDE SQUAD #1, written by Adam Glass

Okay, this sounds pretty intriguing.

I’d agree if I hadn’t read the first two issues of Flashpoint: Legion of Doom. It’s been the most boring prison break ever.

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by R.B. Silva & Rob Lean

Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Art by Mahmud Asrar

Written by George Perez
Art by Jesus Merino

I’ve just realized that there’s no book simply called “Superman”.  If DC’s bragging about how they’re relaunching new #1 issues of titles for the first time in 70 years, they should be ashamed that for the first time in 70 years some of them are gone.  This may be the only book with a creator who also participated in the post-Crisis relaunch.

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Yannick Paquette

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund
Cover by Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund

Tim Drake is forced to step out from behind his keyboard when an
international organization seeks to capture or kill super-powered
teenagers. As Red Robin, he must team up with the mysterious and
belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and a hyperactive
speedster calling himself Kid Flash in TEEN TITANS #1, by Scott
Lobdell and artists Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund.

This reeks of mid-90’s Image comics, to me.  Hey look, Superboy has a tattoo!  Isn’t that edgy?  I bet Red Robin has talons or claws of some type.

Written by Ron Marz
Art by Sami Basri

No offense meant to Ron Marz, but even Alan Moore couldn’t make Voodoo interesting.  Couldn’t we have gotten Joe Casey back on Wildcats?

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang

A few miscellaneous thoughts:

We haven’t quite worked out what this means (for good or ill), but twelve titles feature Batman
characters or take place in Gotham City.  That’s almost 1/4 of the whole line.

GL-related books are still even with the Superman related titles, 6 each (if you count Superboy in Teen Titans). Ain’t that some #$%@.

Out of the 52 new titles, only 6 look like must-buys to me, with about 9 that look like they have potential or I may check in on.  That’s 28%, which isn’t bad, but I doubt I’ll pick them all up.

Two are must-buys. I’ll give four others a chance. Looks like my pendulum has swung back toward Marvel.

I’ve looked through this list of new books many, many times and I can’t help but wonder how long DC will be able to maintain these 52 titles? Some I see lasting 1 – 3 years while a few won’t make it to April.

Agreed.  And now that Robinson is relaunching JSA, Batman Inc will be relaunched soon, and more titles will come in and out, the “52” part of this seems like a gimmick.  In the interest of fairness, we’ll let Dan Didio have the last word.

DCnU: Threat or Menace?

In the past several weeks DC has been ruling comic book news with the  revelation that following Flashpoint all of their titles will be  cancelled, replaced with 52 new ongoing series all starting with new  #1’s.  Matt and I have been pretty quiet on this so far, but I think I can sum up my  feelings pretty easily:

No sir, I don’t think I like it.

It’s not just the fear of a new retcon.  I started reading comics  shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths, so the post-Crisis  universe has been “my” DCU, but I’ve gone more or less willingly  through other revamps like Zero Hour and the Infinite and Final  Crises.  It’s not  just being an old stick-in-the-mud, attached to “my” universe and  unwilling to give up any variation from that (although certainly that  is a part of it), it’s that I don’t see the necessity.

For so long we’ve been trying to convince the world that “Bang! Pow!  Comics aren’t just for kids anymore!”  Well it’s worked, and now  nobody believes comics aren’t for dudes in their thirties.  Guys who  have lived with the continuity for decades and are happy with it.  We’re having to BEG kids to come read comics and bribe them with Free Comic Book Days.

For a moment let’s accept the premise that nobody cares about the  established continuity and there are potential readers just waiting for the prime jumping-on point.  DC is launching their new universe* with 52  brand new titles!  No one (other than a few of those aforementioned  30-somethings) has been waiting all this time to get into comics just to start picking up 52 new books.  So we’re negating  the very premise right off the bat.  And with trade paperback programs  it’s never been easier to get caught up to speed on a title, so is DC  building a straw man argument to justify ripping apart the foundations  of the DCU?  Add in to that some of these titles, while sounding  interesting, can’t possibly last more than 13 issues.  Justice League  Dark?  Demon Knights?  Deadman?  Not a chance.

DC (and Geoff Johns in particular) has ALREADY spent the last 5 years  trying to retcon the DCU into the place they remember from their  childhoods.  To wit: Supergirl and Superboy, Krypto, Batman catching  his parents’ killer, the returns of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, and the  end of secret identities**.  Mark Waid had a totally valid reason for  opening that door,  but it didn’t take much for Geoff Johns to stick his foot in there and  build a universe around it.  In fact, Johns’ hard-on for the  Superfriends and 80’s eras of the Justice League (the hands-down worst  era in modern times for storytelling and good ideas) is returning the  DCU to a one of the WORST periods in DC history and stifling progress, even as it returns the DCU to one of HIS favorite times.  Hey, that’s just me, though.  I have different affections than Johns.  But it just proves that there’s no perfect, ideal, one size fits all DCU.

Practically, screwing with the timeline can only work for so long.  If you’ll  recall, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths relaunch Superman and Wonder Woman were new arrivals,  although Batman, Flash, etc still had an established history.  Then there was the confusion with the Justice League (Was it a new group?  Old?  Who was the founding female member?) and the lines got so indecipherable that  the only way to solve the problem was to drift further and further back to original continuity.  And yet DC doesn’t  appear to have learned that lesson AT ALL, as all three of those examples  will be new to the DCU again***.  Batman, Flash, and GL are all still established****, the JLA will be a new team (and the first in DC continuity…who knows what that will mean for the JSA and the Golden Agers), Superman gets one current title and one set five years in the past.  I’m lost already!  No way does this not become a mess 2 years in.

It’s not that I don’t see benefits.  First and foremost, DC is trying something new.  That’s got to be lauded.  Then there are lines like the Super- and Bat-books that have gotten so bloated it’s hard to tell what one title offers versus another.*****  We’re also seeing the return of titles like Resurrection Man, Stormwatch, and Legion Lost (if you’re into such things), which is pretty exciting.  There’s real opportunity here.

But more than anything, it feels like DC has painted themselves into a corner after years of short-sighted storytelling.  It’s gotten so messy they can’t “One Year Later” changes into place, they’re having to magically “Brand New Day” it back into cohesiveness.  It’s as if this were the only possible solution to get back to the status quo after Batman, Inc and Superman’s marriage, and obviously Marvel owns the rights to Mephisto.

One of the things that made Marvel significant in the 60’s was  creating one coherent universe where any of their characters could and  did interact with another, and that was the default mode for  developing superhero universes for the last 50 years.  But maybe what  we’re seeing here is the end of continuity and a move to storytelling where each story stands on it’s  own.

All this said, let’s look back on my comments from a couple weeks back.  I  suspect that this isn’t an attempt to retcon a new CONTINUITY, it’s an  attempt to build a new CANON.  With all of DC’s titles starting from  issue 1, they have the rare opportunity to scrap what doesn’t work,  keep what does, and then declare from this point on, they are staying  true to the key concepts of each character without having to fight with the continuity of every story.  It’s the core of the
character that’s key and they want to keep drawing in new readers  without burdening them down with 60 years of stories or hundreds of  issues that may or may not matter.

No sir, I don’t think I like it.

Grudgingly, I admit this is a valid approach. And they are DC’s  characters, not mine.  But continuity is part of what we love, even if  it can be a burden to creators, new readers, and even us readers.  Yes, I want  everything to fit, but it’s not a deal-breaker.  When the line I’ve followed faithfully is gone, when those characters aren’t the same, it  doesn’t mean that those stories no longer exist or aren’t valid, but it  does mean the characters we’ve spent so much time with AREN’T THE SAME  CHARACTERS.

The other day I asked if continuity was just trivia, keeping us from  great stories.  Well, the answer is no.  Those details are characterization, and they’re exactly why we’ve followed these characters for months or  years or (in my case) decades.

Stay tuned next week for Part Three, in which we look at the news and  rumors for the DCNu line and make rampant speculations and  ill-informed inferences like everyone else on the Internet.

*Not New Universe.  That was different.
** The idea that everyone knows Bruce Wayne is Batman (and refers to  him as Bruce in the field as if they’re all best friends!) infuriates me more than anything in comics over the past 20 years.
*** I may be the only one who remembers this, but especially shocking  after the first Crisis was the change they put Brainiac through.  They  just made him a Coluan with mental powers.  That didn’t last long…
****Good luck explaining Blackest Night and the New Guardians without the Justice League and all of the established heroes.


***** Almost as bad as Marvel’s Avengers books.

What, Me Continuity?


If there’s anything more divisive in the comic community (aside from organic vs mechanical web shooters) I can’t think of what it is.  With as many creators as it takes to create a line of comics nothing can stay 100% consistent.  That’s
okay, we’re all human.  Stan Lee invented the No-Prize as a way of poking fun at just that thing and we’ve all found our own ways to adapt with the ever-shifting reality of our favorite fictional worlds.  But the real problem with continuity  is that all of us have different burdens of acceptability for variation.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen someone ask how Spider-Man can be fighting the Scorpion in Amazing at the same time he’s fighting Doc Ock in Web or Spectacular.  I’ve never really had this problem: comics don’t operate in real time.  One issue is probably several hours to a few days (out of 30 in a month) so there’s plenty of time for Spidey to be somewhere else.  Yes, it is an insanely nerdy solution to a nonexistent problem, but that’s how it works in my head.  I didn’t ask for it, that’s how it happens.  But even that example shows I buy in to the very idea of continuity.  There must be a place and order for everything that happens.

Even with my (eminently reasonable and sensible) rationalization* I’ve been struggling with continuity lately.  I’ve set up what I consider a relatively low bar for continuity: I just want to know where everything fits in.  Normally this isn’t a problem.  We have the DCU and the 616 Marvel U.  The Ultimate line is its own consistent universe.  The Adventures line (along with DC Kids/Johnny DC) is the all-ages line that focuses on done-in-one stories and doesn’t worry about continuity.  No problem there.  But then there are books like Thor: The Mighty Avenger, anything involving the Legion of
Superheroes, or umpteen one-shots and mini-series (like the recent glut of Captain America titles) that feel like they should have a place in core continuity but don’t.

While some of these are very good stories, I want them to fit in. Somewhere.  Anywhere!  And that they don’t fit into a certain established chronology is frustrating me to no end.  Marvel launched their Ultimate line as a means to escape the burden of continuity and start from scratch without making the same mistakes. But now, 10 years in, Ultimate comics are in the exact same predicament.  It’s just by the nature of serial storytelling that a backstory gets built up.  The Adventures line is great, and you can miss any issue without missing a critical piece of story, but then again none of the stories in the have as much weight, because everything has to be reset by the end of the issue.  There’s no character arc.  In addition, these stories cheat in a sense, because we already know the characters from years of their primary stories already established. As much as I love Jeff Parker’s MA Avengers, they wouldn’t work as well with brand-new characters.  To some extent it is by piggybacking on established continuity that he is able to skips the characterization and focus on the adventures.

It’s not just comics in this dilemma.  Less than a decade after Spider-Man finally made it to the big screen, relaunched Batman and Superman movies are looking to get rebooted, too.  Where does X-Men: First Class fit in?  Good luck figuring it out!  Imagine if comics worked like the movies, where three stories represented a burden of backstory and required a reset!

It looks like I’ve been picking on Marvel, but stay tuned for Part Two next week, where I finally share my thoughts on DCNu and explain why I’m so befuddled by the whole thing. 

*Your reasonable and sensible rationalization is neither reasonable nor sensible because it’s different than mine.  That’s just how it works for us comic nerds, sorry.