Lots of changes this month in the solicitations. There are a couple prominent series like “Nightwing” and “Teen Titans” ending, low-selling ones like “Stormwatch” getting the axe, and new high-profile debuts like “Batman Eternal” and “Sinestro.” Save for “Batman,” there’s not a whole lot that interests me in the latest bout of culling and churning at DC. For the most part, it looks like we’re just getting another round of throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
Batman Eternal #’s 1-4: Yet if there’s anything “stickier” at the company these days, it’s the Caped Crusader himself. Which is why we’re getting a weekly series with Scott Snyder serving as the “showrunner” for the title while other creators such as James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes and Tim Seely pitch in. John Layman also contributes to these four issues, but that will be the extent of his run as he’s departing the Bat-offices to focus on “Chew” and another creator-owned title he’s had in the works. I certainly can’t fault him for that.
As for the series itself, there’s not much to say about it beyond “weekly ‘Batman’ title with Snyder’s involvement.” We’re told that it’s going to focus on examining the relationship between the character, his allies and his city which is vague to the point of unhelpfulness. Still, the impression one gets from reading the key events listed in the solicitation text -- Commissioner Gordon finding himself on the wrong side of the law, the New 52 introduction of a notorious Bat-villain, the return of Stephanie Brown -- seems to suggest a focus on the supporting cast and characters who don’t have a book to themselves. Done right, this could be the Bat-equivalent of “52” and that would be well worth reading.
Justice League United #0: Because calling this “Justice League Canada” would just sound silly. Yet that’s what this title is even though none of the characters in its initial lineup -- Supergirl, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Stargirl, Martian Manhunter and Animal Man -- are Canadian. Fortunately the company seems well aware of this issue as a new Canadian hero is promised to make their debut here. Jeff Lemire is writing this title and after what I’ve read here, he faces an uphill battle to get me to take it seriously.
Justice League #30: With the “Forever Evil” event over with, now the DCU moves on to addressing the fallout from it. So after saving the world from people far worse than he is, it looks like Lex Luthor is now the leader of the Justice League. Though this is clearly going to be a finite thing, Geoff Johns got some good stories out of effectively doing the same thing with Sinestro in “Green Lantern.” Maybe I will have to pick up “Forever Evil” just to see how we got to this point in the first place.
Superman Unchained #9: Around the time the series launched, Jim Lee stated that he was only going to be onboard for nine issues. This prompted some speculation that was how long the title would last, which has been borne out with this final issue. Given that this is effectively a miniseries, it makes the idea of picking it up a lot more attractive than if it had been the first volume of an ongoing. Plus, I’m sure DC is very happy with the idea of having a self-contained Superman story by Snyder and Lee to sell to anyone who’s interested in the character as well.
Sinestro #1: It was inevitable that the character would be coming back after the end of Johns’ run. I just didn’t expect it to be in the form of an ongoing series. Cullen Bunn writes and Dale Eaglesham provides the art as the former leader of his own Corps of lanterns finds out what the universe has in store for him after he took off for its farthest reaches. I’ve only read “Wolverine: Rot” and the first volume of “The Sixth Gun” from Bunn, and they were both decently entertaining yet didn’t suggest to me that I should run out and start buying the writer’s other work. That applies here too, though I will admit to being curious about the character’s future.
The Authority vol. 1: The info from this solicitation appears somewhat contradictory. It’s advertised as collecting issues #1-8 which would mean that we’re just getting the first two-thirds of the Warren Ellis/Bryan Hitch run. Yet Mark Millar and Frank Quitely are also listed as creators, with the page count listed at being 296. This would indicate that we’re getting a collection of the first two volumes of this title in one. I know this sounds awfully fascinating, but the actual content is certainly worth your time. Ellis and Hitch gave us some of the best superhero stories of their career and if you want to see how Millar and Quitely became superstars (before we realized that the former was actually terrible) then look no further than what’s collected here.
Batman: Arkham Asylum -- Living Hell Deluxe Edition HC: Notable for the fact that it’s written by Marvel mainstay Dan Slott before he hit it big. It also has a reputation for being more darker and dramatic than the majority of his output, though I’m guessing that after reading this the fact that he came up with “Superior Spider-Man” will likely make more sense. That said, this is the story of one of Gotham’s biggest financiers who figures that the best way to avoid jail time was by copping an insanity plea. In the real world, this may have been a clever idea. However, we all know where they send the crazy people in Gotham. Here’s where I’d also say that after not having read this before, picking it up in this format seems like a good idea. Except for the fact that the previous softcover edition is still available from Amazon. There is the matter of the sixteen additional pages in this volume, but there’s no indication of what they’re meant to contain. Not having any idea what I’ll be missing, I think I’ll go with the cheaper edition that I can go out and buy now.
The Spectre vol. 1: Crimes and Judgments: John Ostrander’s other classic run from the 80’s gets its first collection here. It’s a great value for your money as we’re getting the first twelve issues of the title for $20. I’m still waiting for them to finally get out another collection of the writer’s run on “Suicide Squad” as people still keep talking about it today. Hopefully by buying this I’ll let them know that there is an active audience for the writer’s previous work with the company.
Vertigo Quarterly: Cyan #1: Having a color-themed anthology strikes me as being overly arty. Putting “Be prepared to see color as only Vertigo can deliver!” just makes it sound dumb. Of the creators listed, I’m only really a fan of Jock and Fabio Moon, so I can’t say that they’ve presented a compelling reason for me to pick this up.
Coffin Hill vol. 1: Forest of the Night: A new Vertigo series about witchcraft and unleashed darkness gets a collection of its first seven issues for $10? Sure, I’ll pick it up to see what it’s like.