*deep breath* Okay, so about a month back Tom King tweeted a page of art from Jason Fabok with a severed hand catching fire in a wintery backdrop and Fabok tweeted a picture of snow with a statement that he was working with a writer on a secret project. CBR thought that this meant the two were teaming up for a Rorschach miniseries picking up from the character’s demise at the end of “Watchmen.” Given the existence of “Doomsday Clock” and the integration of “Watchmen” into the DCU, this isn’t an entirely implausible theory. King and Fabok have already collaborated on the “Batman” half of the crossover story “The Button” which acts as something of a lead-in to the maxiseries. It does, however, contradict writer Geoff Johns’ statement that “Doomsday Clock” is a self-contained maxiseries and won’t offer any spinoffs or tie-ins to other DCU titles.
While King and Fabok may eventually get around to doing a Rorschach minseries someday, January’s solicitations offered an actually convincing reason that their next project together won’t be it. The two are teaming up for the Swamp Thing Winter Special which has the title character shepherding a boy through a blizzard while the two are stalked by a snow monster. This special also features a story by the character’s late co-creator Len Wein, which was set to be the start of a new “Swamp Thing” series with art from Kelly Jones. As far as I’m concerned, having King and Fabok collaborate on a story that will give Wein’s final story a wider audience than it would have otherwise is a much better use of their talents than giving us *ugh* more “Watchmen” spinoffs.
Sideways #1: No, we’re not done with DC’s efforts to launch new properties with top-tier talent. For a given definition of “top-tier talent” in this case as it has a pretty great artist, Kenneth Rocafort, illustrating the work of a DC co-publisher, Dan Didio, and a writer whose work has never really clicked with me, Justin Jordan. This is their effort to bring a “Spider-Man” type character to the DCU as it’s about a highschool kid who fell into the dark matter dimension and emerged with the ability to create inter-dimensional rifts at will. It’s not just the “teen hero” thing that makes this similar to Marvel’s beloved wall-crawler, but I’d say Sideways’ costume looks more than a little familiar. Spidey’s familiar mantra is also paraphrased here in the solicitation text with, “But with that much power comes great liability,” so it seems pretty obvious what they’re doing here. Will they succeed? Well, Didio and Jordan have yet to have any success with crafting an ongoing series with familiar characters in the DCU, so I’m not expecting them to have better luck with an all-new one.
The Terrifics #1: This, on the other hand, seems like a better bet as it involves four likeable B-list characters -- Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man, and Phantom Girl -- bound together to form a team following a tragic accident. While the use of established characters gives it a leg up, this title also features Jeff Lemire’s return to the DCU. Now here’s a guy who has had some success in crafting a successful ongoing series in that universe, “Animal Man.” He’s joined by artist Ivan Reis, so the book is bound to look phenomenal. All this bodes well for its commercial success, as does the fact that Tom Strong features in it as well. So you’ll have his cult audience along for the ride as well I should think.
Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1: “Continued from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL” it says in the solicitation text. It’s also pretty true as this issue is being solicited to cover a gap in the solicitation of “Metal” to allow Greg Capullo to illustrate the whole thing following a brief bout with illness. While the fact that it’s co-written by Scott Snyder would signal that it’s going to be of some relevance to the main event, the big news is that it’s gaining another co-writer in none other than Grant Morrison. As it turns out, the Bat-god Barbatos he introduced in his excellent “Batman” run has some significance to “Metal” and it looks like he’ll be expounding on that here. Along with the other co-writers (yes, this one-shot now has four) Joshua Williamson and James Tynion IV. I’d originally thought that they’d be doing the heavy lifting for the main story, but with the addition of Morrison it now feels like they’re being overshadowed in their own book.
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye vol. 2: Every Me, Every You: I think the first volume of this has been my favorite of the Young Animal titles released so far. It was an entertainingly surreal romp through the underworld with humor, adventure, drama and some absolutely fantastic art from Michael Avon Oeming. That said, it never really found an audience so this second volume is likely going to be the last we’ll see of Cave Carson’s adventures in his own title. At least he’s got the Young Animal/DCU crossover event to look forward to in the near future.
Mother Panic vol. 2: Under Her Skin: As for this other Young Animal title, the only reason I’d consider picking this up is because of the completist in me.
Aquaman by Peter David Book One: David has long been a fixture on the comics landscape, to the point where you know whether you love his style or hate it at this point. I fall more into the former category, but I also acknowledge that he’s made a lot of controversial changes to characters over the years (and said some disagreeable stuff in public, but that’s another story). One of his most infamous changes came when he started writing the new “Aquaman” ongoing title. The character’s stigma of being a joke was in full force during the 90’s and DC felt he needed a change. So David had the character’s left hand chewed off and replaced by a mentally-controlled harpoon. He also got long hair, but that may have been down to the artist. Fans were enraged but kept reading and David stuck around for years. Aside from the historical significance of this change, the other reason you’d want to read this is because superhero comics from David during the 90’s tend to hold up a lot better than most (see his “X-Factor” work).
DC Meets Looney Tunes: I’ll admit that I’m tempted to pick this up out of morbid curiosity for two reasons. One is to see whether or not Tom King and Lee Weeks’ “Batman/Elmer Fudd” issue is actually the instant classic some have claimed it to be in the way that it walks a very fine line between being humorous and heartbreaking. The other is to see if the “Lobo/Road Runner” issue can actually do justice to the concept. Out of all the team-ups collected here, this one felt like it made the most sense. I’m just not sure if I want to spend $20 to find out if it lives up to what it can be. And to see if any of the other comics I haven’t mentioned here are any good at all.
The DC Universe by Neil Gaiman: Collects the writers origins of Poison Ivy and the Riddler from “Secret Origins,” his Metamorpho story with Mike Allred from “Wednesday Comics,” “Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame” (the only story here I haven’t already read), and the two-issue “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader.” That last story happens to be the worst thing I’ve read from the writer and drags the whole thing down. If only I had skipped out on picking up the overpriced hardcover collecting it I could’ve had the chance to be disappointed years later by getting this more complete collection of Gaiman works. One for the writer’s completist fans, in case it wasn’t already obvious.
Motherlands #1 (of 6): Hey, so it looks like Vertigo isn’t quite dead yet! There’s even word of a proper relaunch for the imprint coming along later this year. Until then, we’ve got a new creator-owned title from Si Spurrier to tide everyone over. It’s as weird as you’d expect coming from him: The biggest celebrities in the multiverse aren’t heroes with powers, but bounty hunters who can take down universe-hopping fugitives. Spotlight-shunning Tab is one of the best, but in order to take down her biggest bounty yet she’s going to have to team up with the last person she wants to: Her mother. Tab’s mom used to be the best bounty hunter around, and now she’s an overbearing, hypercritical, and old wreck. As a six-issue miniseries from Spurrier, with art from Rachel Stott, this sounds like it could be great fun that doesn’t wear out its welcome.