New year. New titles. New creative teams. New trades. Let’s get down to it.
Demon Knights #16: Robert Venditti, best known around here as the writer of “The Surrogates,” takes over for Paul Cornell. As was the case with “Stormwatch” my interest in this title has declined accordingly. While I liked “The Surrogates,” Venditti’s style seems at odds with the “Dungeons and Dragons by way of Monty Python” vibe that Cornell has successfully mined here. Of course, with his departure from this title, Cornell is currently writing only one title for DC: “Saucer Country” for Vertigo which may not be long for this world if the sales figures don’t stabilize soon. I’ve liked just about everything the man has written so far, so here’s hoping he’ll turn up on a new title soon either at DC or elsewhere.
Catwoman vol. 2: Dollhouse: I’m not sure if this title will ever live down the Batsex at the end of the first issue, but the biggest problem with the first volume for me was that it effectively wrote the title character into a corner. By raising the stakes so high with the trouble Selina Kyle got into with her thieving ways she now runs the risk of coming off as appallingly unsympathetic in continuing them. How many dead friends is she going to rack up before she realizes that something has to change? Honestly, I’m on the fence about picking it up. Maybe I’ll give it a go if I can find it for cheap at Comic-Con.
Batman vol. 2: The City of Owls HC: Oh yeah. Now this I’ll be picking up when it comes out. Why bother with picking up the crossover when all the action will be right here. Anyway, I did spoil myself for one of the major reveals of the event... which deals in a piece of Bat-history so obscure, and arguably ill-conceived, that I’m surprised writer Scott Snyder brings it back here. I’ve heard it said that this bit of continuity was expected to be seen in Grant Morrison’s run with his “everything is true” approach to Batman’s history, so either Snyder called “dibs” or maybe he was dared to do it by Morrison. Given Snyder’s track record, this should be a good read regardless of how it came to be.
Stormwatch vol. 2: Enemies of the Earth: Well, maybe... nah. Life’s too short to waste on stuff like this.
Impulse vol. 1: Runs in the Family: You know, I thought Mark Waid had effectively burned his bridges with the company after his last exit when the man’s return to “The Flash” went south. Bart Allen was the grandson of Barry Allen from the 30th century where he was raised in a virtual reality environment before he was brought back to the 20th after his accelerated metabolism nearly killed him. Comics everyone! I still have the original trade paperback collecting his first appearance in “The Flash” and the first few issues of his solo series, and I remember them being good fun. That was... a good many years ago, so I’d imagine a re-reading is in order to determine if they still hold up. Ten issues for $20 is still a good deal by today’s standards, though. Still, the big question is why DC is releasing this now. I guess someone in editorial still has a soft spot for Waid’s work with the character.
The Shade: All twelve issues in softcover for $20? WHY YES I WILL BUY THAT! While there was some concern early on that sales on the title wouldn’t be strong enough for the maxi-series to reach its intended conclusion, it still managed to end its run above 10K. I know I’m a dick for not supporting it in that format, but it would appear that all I did was prevent it from getting a deluxe hardcover treatment. For the record DC, I would be willing to pay extra to get this title in that format so if you want to change your mind before January rolls around I’m cool with that.
Superman: For Tomorrow: The twelve-issue run by Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee in one softcover edition. If you’re a fan of Lee, then you’ll certainly want this in your library. As for Azzarello... it has also been a long time since I’ve read the story but I remember it like this: Superman is a square hole while Azzarello is a round peg. The two will fit together, but the end result is kind of funny-looking and awkward.
The New Teen Titans: Games: In the works for over twenty-five years... when it came out in hardcover over a year ago. Comparisons to “Duke Nukem Forever” would be in order except that the reception for this title was a lot warmer than “Duke’s.” I’ve never actually read any “Teen Titans” comics, let alone any of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s definitive run, so maybe I’ll give this a shot. If it’s a slow week.
Insurgent #1: This title, from creators unfamiliar to me, with its story of nanotech being used to create an unstoppable army out of ordinary citizens and the one man who has to save everybody when it all goes wrong, sounds like it’d be better off at Image. Here at DC, it’s being published as a non-DCU, non-Vertigo title, which means that while it may start off above 10K, it won’t be there for long. Unless it’s good. I mean REALLY good. We’re talking TRANSCENDENTLY good here, because that’s what it’ll take to survive in the current market. At Image, it’d at least be able to take advantage of the publisher’s current knack for putting out “the next hot creator-owned title” month after month for a while now. There, it’d have the same chance to survive as anything else. At DC, I’m not sure if anyone will remember it long enough to get a collected edition after its six issues are published.
Animal Man vol. 4: Born to be Wild: While the first three volumes by Grant Morrison are very much worth your time, I’m frankly baffled as to why they’re putting out a collection of the issues that followed. I originally read Morrison’s run at UCR during my frequent visits to the Eaton Collection there, and they also had the Peter Milligan-written arc that came after it. Whether this was by editorial dictate or Milligan’s own initiative, his arc essentially involved putting the genie that was Buddy Baker figuring out that he was a comic book character back in the bottle. Not only was it needlessly convoluted, it was completely unnecessary as Morrison wrapped things up in a way where these things never needed to be addressed again if a writer didn’t want to. As for the Tom Veitch run that followed, I never bothered to finish that. If DC did want to release a proper follow-up to Morrison’s run, they probably would’ve been better off with the Jamie Delano issues that took the character into horror-infused territory (where he currently resides today) and into Vertigo proper. I’ve never read those issues, but I’d really like to.
American Vampire vol. 5: It’s in the bag. Along with seven issues of the regular series (taking us up to its current hiatus) this also collects the Dustin Nguyen-illustrated “Lord of Nightmares” mini-series. While I’m looking forward to seeing some more non-Batman work from Nguyen (the last I recall was “Wildcats 3.0”) I’m also hoping that we won’t get any of the B-movie silliness that dragged down the last spinoff from this title.
The New Deadwardians: I thought that this was co-written by Dan Abnett’s frequent collaborator Andy Lanning. Guess not. Anyway, this series takes place in a post-Victorian England where the upper class have all become vampires in order to get away from the zombies who now make up the lower class. It’s the job of Chief Inspector George Suttle to investigate murders in this world, which is normally the dullest job you can get when the entire populace is comprised of the undead. Naturally, a member of high society winds up dead under mysterious circumstances and Suttle has to figure out the truth behind it. I’d heard good things about this title while it was being released, and after reading Abnett’s cosmic Marvel stories for years I’m also interested in seeing what he can do outside of the superhero genre. Yeah, sometimes it’s as simple as that.