So another Retrospective dealing with issues 29-33, TT Annual 1, Robin 146-147, and Infinite Crisis 5 and 6.
I’ve been doing these for a little while now and they always seem to be popular. So until people stop reading them, I’ll probably keep doing them. For those who are new, here’s what you can expect. I go through the latest DC solicits and add my (sometimes snarky) commentary.
I actually skipped the November solicits because Blackest Night took over the majority of the DC books. One of my problems with Blackest Night (and I have many) is that the story is already getting repetitive. We’ve seen the same couple of scenes repeated ad infinitum. When you go through the solicits and every book has the same basic premise (Hero A comes into contact with Dead Person B!) it gets boring. I couldn’t stand the thought of writing up all of those Blackest Night tie-ins, so I took a month off.
December is really no different. So I’m going to be more selective about which books I include in this write-up. And some books will no boubt be lumped together. That way, I don’t bore you with the same entry 15 times. (I’ll only bore you with it once – ba dum dum.)
Now that I’ve set the comedic bar at a level I can reach, let’s look at what DC will be offering in December:
Blackest Night Books
BLACKEST NIGHT #6
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
The secrets of Nekron are revealed as darkness consumes the DC Universe.
Everything else: TOP SECRET.
BLACKEST NIGHT continues! John Stewart comes face to face with his greatest failures, the planet Xanshi and his wife and fellow Green Lantern, Katma Tui. Plus, what does Fatality truly want with John?
These solicits are a little light on details. But that’s a good thing in my book. My concern is that from the details that are included in the solicits, it sure doesn’t sound like a whole lot has happened from Blackest Night 0 up to Blackest Night 6. Doesn’t it sound like we’re in pretty much the same place we’ve been in from the start of this thing?
Also, did you see that Ed Benes is drawing GL 49. You know what that means? Fatality butt floss on every page! Plus, zombie cleavage I would think.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #43
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art and cover by Pat Gleason & Rebecca Buchman
Red rain falls! As the Black Lanterns continue their reign of terror and chaos on Oa, things go from bad to worse when a horrible loss for the Green Lantern Corps results in Guy Gardner becoming so enraged that he becomes a Red Lantern! And hell breaks loose as the Central Power Battery faces an attack from the newly arrived Black Lantern Corphans!
I split this one out from the other BN books for a couple of reasons:
- Something happens!
- An angry Guy Gardner is a good thing.
Yes, it kinda sucks that they went and spoiled this development a full 3 months before it happens. But at this point I’m pretty glad to see any sign of forward plot movement from Blackest Night. So I’ll take what I can get.
Also, I’ve seen a lot of Guy fans complaining about this already. Come on, guys! You know this isn’t going to last any longer than when Kyle got possessed by Parallax. And that was the single coolest thing to happen in the Sinestro Crops War storyline. So you should just be grateful that Guy is getting a spotlight.
Turing into a Red Lantern sure beats the one-panel “death” Jeph Loeb gave Guy in “Our Wolrds at War”. It pretty much guarantees Guy’s going to be around at the end of Blackest Night. But those close to Guy (whose deaths might push Guy into a rage) better watch their backs.
Blackest Night Mini-Series
BLACKEST NIGHT: THE FLASH #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Scott Kolins
The Flashes of Two Cities – Barry Allen and Wally West – battle the undead Rogues. Will the legendary speedsters be able to handle the Black Lantern Rogues’ revenge? Plus, witness the resurrection of Barry’s greatest enemy, the Reverse Flash in this hyper-speed miniseries event reuniting the fan-favorite FLASH creative team of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins!
BLACKEST NIGHT: JSA #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Eddy Barrows & Ruy José
The mystery men of yesterday are back and they seek the hearts of their new counterparts! It’s Mr. Terrific vs. Mr. Terrific, Dr. Midnite vs. Dr. Midnite, Sand vs Wesley Dodds! Can the new generation of heroes survive the rise of the Black Lantern JSA? Find out in this all-new miniseries from original JSA co-writer James Robinson and rising star artist Eddy Barrows (BLACKEST NIGHT: SUPERMAN)!
Fan-favorite writer Greg Rucka returns to chronicle the adventures of the Amazing Amazon in the DC Universe’s darkest hour! Black Lantern Maxwell Lord has risen and he seeks revenge and retribution for his murder at the hands of Diana. Look for unexpected changes to await Wonder Woman in the course of this series as she plays a major role in the War of Light against the Blackest Night.
I had pretty low expectations of the first batch of BN tie-in mini-series. And so far, they have met or exceeded by expectations. BN: Superman actually had a pretty strong first issue. But it seems like you can skip all three and not miss anything. And Tales of the Corps was an embarrassing money grab. DC should be ashamed of that one.
This crop of tie-ins seems a little more promising to me. I was a fan of the Johns/Kollins run on Flash and I liked the first 2/3 of their “Rogues Revenge” mini-series. So while “Rebirth” isn’t to my liking, I expect I’ll like BN: Flash okay as long as Johns can keep the retcons to a minimum.
The stand-out to me promises to be BN: Wonder Woman. I know Rucka was upset he never got to deal with the fallout from the death of Max Lord. Now, it looks like he’ll get that chance even if it years a few years late. Plus, you’ve got Nicola Scott. Nicola Scott + Wonder Woman is worth my $3 every time.
ADVENTURE COMICS #5
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jerry Ordway; co-feature art by Francis Manapul
Concluding the 2-part BLACKEST NIGHT tale of Superboy-Prime! The Black Lanterns have forced Prime to face his deepest and darkest fears, but what – and who – are they? And how will Superboy-Prime strike back after this devastating attack?
Plus, Conner Kent faces off with Superman’s greatest enemy in an exciting co-feature by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul. That’s right: Superboy confronts Lex Luthor!
I’m truly torn on this one. On the one hand, I’ve been enjoying Adventure Comics so far. On the other, I’m really sick of Johns’ take on Superboy-Prime. The end of Legion of Three Worlds totally crossed a line for me and I was hoping not to see the character again for a while. But Johns just can’t seem to stay away from him. On the upside, I’m looking forward to the Conner/Lex confrontation.
BOOSTER GOLD #27
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art and cover by Dan Jurgens& Norm Rapmund
Black Lantern Ted Kord is out for blood in this BLACKEST NIGHT tie-in issue! Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes joins forces with Booster Gold in an attempt to take down Black Lantern Ted Kord once and for all. But the battle will have consequences for the Blue and the Gold, and Booster and Beetle’s lives will be forever changed!
This is another tough one. This issue definitely fits into the “Hero A comes into contact with Dead Person B” formula I talked about earlier. And there’s no way I won’t be sick of that by the end of the year. And DC has already gone to the Ted Kord well at least one time too many since killing him off in Countdown. But still, I really like Booster Gold. I feel like Jurgens does a great job with the book and I’d like to see it get some attention. Hopefully Jurgens can rise above the formula and deliver one of the better tie-ins to this event.
TEEN TITANS #78
Written by J.T. Krul
Art and cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
An unexpected BLACKEST NIGHT team-up! Ravager has sworn to kill her father Deathstroke. But what happens when they’re forced to fight side-by-side against their dead friends and relatives? Will they kill each other before the Black Lanterns do?
Remember when Titans was the goose that laid the golden eggs? Well, DC totally killed that goose. (I think that goose may even be a Black Lantern!) This franchise is in a tail spin and DC doesn’t seem to know what to do to pull out of it. I’ll give you a hint, DC, a Deathstroke/Ravager issue is NOT the answer.
On the upside, I don’t see Sean McKeever’s name anywhere on this comic book. Therefore, I will buy it on principle.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #40
Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mark Bagley & Rob Hunter
The JLA can’t escape the BLACKEST NIGHT! Faced with the continuing threat of the Black Lanterns, Zatanna, Vixen and the rest of the team confront their pasts when fallen friends and foes return for blood!
I can’t be the only one who finds Bagley’s cover to be hideous, right?
I recently posted an article about the new JLA line-up. Interesting to see Vixen and Zatanna featured so prominently after not being included in the official line-up. I guess the rumors that Robinson’s team will be super-sized are true.
As I said in my article, I really can’t muster up any excitement for Robinson’s JLA after 3 issues of Cry for Justice.
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel & Sandu Florea
While Black Mask and his Ministry of Death struggle to maintain control of Gotham City, The Dark Knight sets his sights on Kittyhawk – a young thief pivotal to the outcome of Black Mask’s gang war. But will a powerful adversary thought long dead spoil all of Batman’s plans? Guest-starring Oracle and the Penguin!
Not too much to say here. I’m having some trouble keeping up my enthusiasm for Batman with the back-and-forth writing from Winick and Daniel. I mean, these are two of my least favorite writers in comics these days. Black Mask and Penquin both feel over-used these days. And I’m enjoying them more in Dini’s Streets of Gotham.
DETECTIVE COMICS #860
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III; co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Batwoman’s origin story concludes here! In “Go!” part 3, Kate Kane becomes Batwoman and goes after a terrorist cell in Gotham, but all does not go according to plan. Plus, in the present, Kate confronts her father about her supposedly dead sister!
In the co-feature, the Huntress joins The Question in her quest to track down the leaders of the human trafficking ring. But finding them – and bring them to justice – will be harder and more dangerous than either hero thought!
Confession time: I’m a behind on this title. But I love the art on the book. Rucka’s writing hasn’t completely won me over to Batwoman yet. But maybe I’ll feel differently once I catch up. I am looking forward to seeing the Huntress and the Question though!
BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM #7
Written by Paul Dini; co-feature written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs; co-feature art by Jeremy Haun
Paul Dini returns to STREETS OF GOTHAM as Batman and Robin uncover a sinister plot involving dozens of Gotham City’s young runaways. Is Arkham Asylum escapee Humpty Dumpty at the center of the scheme – or is he just the tip of an even more dangerous iceberg? Guest-starring Abuse and Zsasz!
And in the Manhunter co-feature, now that Kate has finally tracked down Two-Face, she’s ready to confront him for the hit he ordered on Gotham’s former D.A. But their confrontation is not going to go the way she planned!
I haven’t gotten around to writing up a review for Streets of Gotham, but I have been keeping up with the book and mostly enjoying it. I wasn’t thrilled with the 60′s-TV show-worthy bad guy, The Broker. But if you’re going to do the character, last issue was about as good of a story as you could possibly tell. I am enjoying watching Dini re-invent Mr. Zsasz. And I am enjoying the build-up in the Manhunter back-up to the inevitable showdown beteen the former DA of Gotham and the new sheriff in town.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott
Cover by Phil Noto
It’s Bat vs. Bat in “Core Requirements” part 1! As Gotham City burns, the new Batgirl comes face-to-face with Batman and Robin, who are anything but happy about her running around with a bat-symbol on her costume. Batman confronts Oracle as Damian confronts Stephanie in the ultimate Bat-family feud.
My favorite thing about this series so far is the Phil Noto covers. And I think this is Noto’s best cover yet. But the first two issues were pretty mediocre. And it’s not promising that the solicit for this issue reads an awful lot like the one for the first issue.
In all honesty, if the next issue is a marked improvement over the first two I am unlikely to be here for issue 5.
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #7
Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March
Catwoman takes charge as the other Sirens fall victim to their most dangerous challenge yet!
Does the text for this solicit even matter?
Hey, I like Catwoman’s boobs as much as the next guy. Depending on who the next guy is, I may like them more. I’ve got a healthy collection of Jim Balent’s boobtastic run on Catwoman to prove it. But even I got sick of this bad girl retread after the first couple of issues.
Can this book really be written by the same guy who is writing Streets of Gotham? Maybe there are two Paul Dini’s. One of them worked in animation and wrote Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham. The other guy wrote Countdown and this.
It’s the best explanation I can come up with.
SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #4
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
While everyone wants something from Metropolis’ first Super Hero, Superman must fight his first Super-Villain – someone who wants everything – the Parasite! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor turns his attention toward The Man of Steel…
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank continue their bold reinterpretation of the origin of The Man of Steel for the 21st Century!
Geoff Johns can hand in a blank script for all I care. I’m on board this mini-series for Gary Frank’s art. As I said in my review of the first issue, the art pushes all my Superman fanboy buttons.
ACTION COMICS #884
Written by Greg Rucka; co-feature written by James Robinson & Greg Rucka
Art by Pere Pérez; co-feature art by CAFU
When Lois tries to run the story that will clear Flamebird and Nightwing once and for all, she finds herself blocked at every turn. With the world’s anti-Kryptonian sentiment escalating to a near-frenzy, not even being General Lane’s daughter will keep her safe!
Plus, to the shock and horror of Flamebird, the problems with Nightwing’s uncontrolled aging reach a critical juncture! and in part 6 of the new co-feature, Captain Atom squares off against his old adversary Major Force just as some troubling memories start to resurface – one word: Monarch!
I’m not loving the Anti-Krypton story that seems to be taking hold of the Superman books post Codename: Patriot. It just feels like watered-down X-Men. Are you really going to cover any new territory here? I don’t think so.
As I mentioned in my review of the latest issue, the Captain Atom back-up is just getting tiresome. The word “Monarch” does nothing to improve my outlook on that subject.
Written by James Robinson
Art by Fernando Dagnino & Raúl Fernandez
Part 2 of Man of Valor! Metropolis gets a chance to see the new Mon-El in action. But now the stakes are raised even higher and the action escalates as Mon finally goes mano-a-mano against the Parasite! This is a battle that’s been brewing since Mon’s emergence on Earth and now it explodes into the streets and skies of the city.
Plus, with Mon-El’s secret identity publicly known, how will the Science Police react to him now that they know he’s been living among them all this time? All this plus the return of Natasha Irons and the fate of Steel!
I’ve actually enjoyed most of Robinson’s run on Superman. But even I have to admit that the pace has been somewhat slow. Some issues have felt like padding. But this issue looks like it will finally advance some long-dangling plot threads. And that’s good – as long as they aren’t tied up as sloppily as the Codename: Patriot finale. That was a stinker.
SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #10
Written by Greg Rucka & James Robinson
Art by Pete Woods
New Krypton is a planet so fresh, it’s experiencing countless things for the first time. Its first spring. Its first blooms. Its first birth of a child. And now its first homicide. When an important figure in Kandor is murdered, the suspect seems obvious to everyone but Superman. But can he make Zod or the Council believe this is more than an open-and-shut case? And can he uncover the real killer in time to save the life of the accused? It’s a dark mystery, but R.E.B.E.L.S. star Adam Strange arrives in time to help find answers…even though the truth may blow apart the civilized trappings of Kandorian society in the process.
This action-packed arc leads all the way to the series’ final issue, which itself sets the stage for huge happenings in the DC Universe next summer!
The other Superman books have their charms. But I can certainly understand why fans would be disappointed in them some times. World of New Krypton, on the other hand, always delivers. Next to Secret Six, it is the book I look forward to the most from month to month. I’ll be sad when it’s over!
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Matt Camp
Uh-oh! The Silver Banshee is back in Metropolis! This time she’s after an artifact that could finally break her family’s eternal curse. When Inspector Mike Henderson gets involved, Supergirl is pulled into the conflict! Meanwhile, Lana Lang’s mysterious condition takes a turn for the worse. Will the Girl of Steel be able to save her only two human friends? Join fan-favorite writer Sterling Gates and guest artist Matt Camp (SUPERMAN: SECRET FILES 2009, Zero Killer) to find out!
I hate to say it, but the usually reliable Gates/Igle team has hit a bit of a speed bump with the last couple of issues. Crossovers into Codename: Patriot and Hunt for Reactron have pushed the book slightly off track. Hopefully, now that those crossovers are in the past, the team can get back to delivering very good (maybe even great) Supergirl stories.
Hey! Where’s Igle?
WORLD’S FINEST #3
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle
The Toyman has crafted the ultimate killing machine to protect himself from the Kryptonian menace, and Oracle has sent Supergirl and Batgirl to stop it. But when Supergirl faces off against the Kryptonite Man while the new Batgirl takes on Catwoman, they both find themselves in over their heads.This looks like a job for…
Oh, here he is.
This solicit sounds good enough to me. So, I’ll use this space to address something that has been bugging me. With no Birds of Prey book, I’m not sure what Oracle’s role is in the DCU. She just seems to be all over the place. Is she running The Network, mentoring Batgirl, or just setting up random operations like this one? I don’t know. But I’d really like to see her concentrate on setting up a regular group of operatives like what she had in Birds of Prey.
I really miss that book!
GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY #27
Written by Andrew Kreisberg
Art by Renato Guedes & Jose Wilson Magalhaes and Mike Norton & Bill Sienkiewicz
First up: “Five Stages” part 3! Cupid and Green Arrow team up against Black Canary and Green Arrow (?!) just as the mysterious soldiers of Cobalt make Star City their own battlefield!
And then in the co-feature: Just where did this mysterious second Green Arrow come from? And how is Cobalt connected to his recent past?
Every month, when the solicits come out, Green Arrow/Black Canary is one of the first things I look at. It’s not because I am anxiously awaiting hints of what is to come on the book. It’s because I desperately hope that DC will replace Andrew Kreisberg.
Every month, I am disappointed.
And then I see Cupid on the cover and I can barely contain my fanboy rage. Please, DC, do something about this book!
The Justice Society struggles to pick up the pieces after the team’s devastating break up! Regrouping at a new, temporary home base, the smaller team reflects on the recent infiltration of their ranks and how they can protect themselves from another such attack in the future! And why is the new Dr. Fate acting so weird?
An all-new ongoing series! The Justice Society spin off group struggles to pull itself toward some semblance of order after the JSA’s devastating split! New home base, new training methods, new villains – all bringing the JSA All-Stars face-to-“face” with one of their greatest villains again – for the first time! Join writer Matthew Sturges (JUSTICE SOCIETY, JACK OF FABLES) and artist Freddie Williams II (ROBIN) for a new chapter in the JSA legacy.
Well, the cast is definitely big enough to support two books. So, this seems like a no-brainer to split the team. I don’t know if I’ll follow both books or not.
POWER GIRL #7
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art and cover by Amanda Conner
A blast from the past! The alien Vartox has come to Earth to claim a wife—and her name is Power Girl! PG may have wanted a boyfriend, but not quite like this! The fan-favorite team of Palmiotti, Gray and Conner craft another winner!
I’m a big fan of Amanda Conner’s art. And I feel she is the perfect artist for Power Girl. But the writing team of Palmiotti and Gray always leaves me feeling underwhelmed. This book is a great book to thumb through at the comic shop for the art. But reading it sometimes feels like a chore.
I appreciate the light tone and the art. I just wish the writing were a little more interesting.
SECRET SIX #16
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Peter Nguyen & Doug Hazlewood
The supremely powerful and infinitely dangerous Black Alice returns and she’s decided she wants to be a member of the Six – even if someone has to die to make room!
Of all the books coming out in December, this is the one I’l looking forward to the most!
And yay Black Alice!
Boo no Nicola Scott!
WONDER WOMAN #39
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan
This is it! The secret behind Wonder Woman’s new power and the true meaning of the Olympian are revealed right here!
It’s an all-out action issue as Diana faces an old foe with a hideous new face!
I’m still hoping Gail Simone can make me love her Wonder Woman as much as I love Secret Six. This issue sure sounds like a winner. You know I’ll be there.
(But odds are Seventh Soldier will beat me to the punch when it comes time to write a review.)
Written by Mike Johnson
Art by Angel Unzueta & Wayne Faucher
Spotlight on Donna Troy! What happens when a young twenty-something woman feels like she grew up too fast and deprived herself of a twenty-something kind of life? As Donna ponders this, the Fearsome Five continue their Titans revenge streak. They picked the wrong time to do it…
Seriously, if you’re not going to do anything with this book, just cancel it and spare us all the trouble.
I’ve been holding off writing a review of this series until the whole thing was done. It’s been a long wait, but here we are. Was it worth the wait? Mostly.
There’s no getting around the fact that this mini-series was solicited as a Final Crisis tie-in. Like most of the FC tie-ins, this story had little if anything to do with Final Crisis. Ultimately, it’s irrelevant. But I wish they had left the words “Final Crisis” out of the title.
As is to be expected, the series was filled with characters. As someone who has come to tolerate the Legion of Superheroes, I sometimes found it difficult to know who was who. But I expect to see a big cast in a book like this – especially one drawn by George Perez. And the book did a pretty good job of narrowing its focus to specific characters when needed.
The story was a bit of a mess. Ultimately, we’ve got the culmination of all the Legion-related plot threads Johns has been sowing over the last several years. Mix that in with plot threads from Green Lantern, Infinite Crisis, Countdown and probably a half dozen other books and you’ve got a recipe for confusion. But again, the book manages to be accessible when it needs to be.
A lot of the plot just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Stuff happens. But there’s so many characters and so many plot threads, it can be tough to sort out. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to wrap your mind around the colliding alternate realities. And if either side can pull allies from alternate realities at will, shouldn’t there have been infinite heroes pairing off against infinite villains?
Well, if you think about any of this stuff too long, you’re going to go cross-eyed (thank you, Austin Powers). So it’s best just to turn your brain off and enjoy the ride. If you’re able to do that, Johns serves up the kind of fan-baiting moments he’s known for. Lots of cool stuff for fans of Superman, Superboy, Sodom Yat, Bart Allen, the Titans, the Legion and most anything else Geoff Johns has ever written.
And if you love to hate Superboy Prime, you get plenty of opportunities to do so. Honestly, Superboy Prime is my biggest gripe with this book. Johns has beaten this dead horse a bit too much for my liking. He’s a popular comic book writer. Does he really need to take so many swipes at fanboys? I hope Prime has been put out to pasture for a good, long while.
Little of substance really happened in this mini-series. If you’re planning to read Adventure Comics (as I am) I’m sure some of the plot threads will be followed up there. But otherwise, I think it’s enough to know that Conner and Bart are back.
If you were expecting a masterpiece (or a story remotely associated with Final Crisis) I don’t think this mini series delivered. But fans of Johns’ take on the Legion were well served.