There will be no review of Garth Ennis’ and John McCrea’s “All-Star Section 8” here. I was planning to do one, and it would’ve focused on how it was pretty much what you’d expect: Ennis bringing in DC’s heroes for one more kicking with as much bathroom humor as he could get away with in a non-mature readers title. This time around, it has the added kick in the teeth of showing that not even Superman was exempt from the writer’s contempt as he has been in the past. Instead of making everything right again, he keeps the vicious cycle that Sixpack is stuck in going so that he and the rest of the DCU can continue to exist. It makes his neck-snapping of Zod in “Man of Steel” look almost saint-like in comparison.
Then I read Charlotte Finn’s review/analysis of the series over at Comics Alliance and realized that I had missed the point of the series entirely. While it’s ostensibly a revival of the worst superteam ever from “Hitman,” Finn makes a great case for “ASS8” being a metaphor for the perils of addiction. Sixpack may be a terrible hero, but it’s his love of these characters and their universe that keeps him from realizing that he’s really a drunk freezing to death in an alley who has dreamed the whole thing into being. From that perspective, Superman’s offer of a whiskey bottle at the end of his life-affirming speech makes perfect blackly comic sense.
I want to thank Finn for taking the time to dig deeper into something that I had written off as something for Ennis completists. It’s more than that, and I’ll have to keep it in mind when I get around to reading Ennis’ follow-up, now with artist Russ Braun, “Hard Travelin’ Heroz.” For all of “ASS8’s” ridiculousness, though, I do hope that the writer’s beatboxing take on the Phantom Stranger becomes the default take on the character. Much in the same way that Warren Ellis’ “My robot brain needs beer!” interpretation of Machine Man has over at Marvel.
Mother Panic #1: The rollout of Gerard Way’s “Young Animal” imprint continues apace. Violet Page is a celebutante with a bad attitude in Gotham City. It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that someone with a mindset like hers in that particular city is about to embark on a career of vigilantism. What sets her apart, according to the solicitation text, is that she’s going after the indiscretions of her other spoiled peers. Okay, I’m intrigued. This is coming to us from writer Jody Houser, best known to this point for the solo adventures of “Faith” from Valiant, and artist Tommy Lee Edwards, whose heavy-black work sounds perfect for this kind of story in Gotham.
The Hellblazer #4: Still not sure if this latest incarnation of John Constantine’s adventures in the DCU will get me reading about them again. That said, this cover from Yasmin Putri did bring a smile to my face. As silly a concept as it is irresistable.
Catwoman: Election Night #1: It’s worth noting that by the time most of these comics from this round of solicitations hit the stands, our current (beyond crazy/nightmarish) election cycle will have come to an end. Will Catwoman getting personally involved in Gotham City’s latest mayoral election help to put all of this real-life chaos behind us via allegory or clever satire? Probably not. I’m mainly bringing this up here because it features the last we’ll ever see of Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell’s “Prez” revamp from last year’s “DC You” initiative. A well-liked series that was supposed to run for twelve issues, it was put on hiatus after six due to disastrously low sales. The back half of the series was supposed to follow at some point, except now it’s just being wrapped up as an add-on to this “Catwoman” special. I can’t imagine anyone who liked the miniseries to be pleased at this development.
Batman vol. 9: Bloom (Trade Paperback): Seeing the softcover being offered in these solicitations when the hardcover has yet to arrive just feels mean. At least there’s only two-and-a-half weeks to go before the hardcover arrives and I can find out how Jim Gordon’s stint in the robo-Bat-suit ends.
Batman: Death and the Maidens (Deluxe HC): An eight-issue miniseries that also wound up serving as Greg Rucka’s swan song for his run on the character. In it, the Dark Knight is busy sealing up Lazarus Pits around the globe, hoping to put an end to the menace of Ra’s Al Ghul. As this is happening, the Demon’s Head has to contend with the vendetta of a woman he wronged decades ago. Rather than fight a war on two fronts, Ra’s offers Batman a deal: Leave him one pit for his own use, and he’ll make it so that Bruce Wayne can have one last conversation with his parents. I remember liking this series, even though it’s been at least a decade since I’ve read it. Most likely I’ll be re-reading it for a podcast about Rucka in general for the future. Why him, and why now? Why not, I say.
Suicide Squad vol. 5: Apokolips Now: In which our team heads off to Iran to stop an execution, only to be re-routed via Boom Tube to Apokolips. Surviving for long on Darkseid’s home turf would be a challenge even the Justice League would likely balk at. Except that the League doesn’t have one of Darkseid’s Female Furies on their team in the form of Lashina, A.K.A. The Duchess. Surely she’ll provide the Squad the edge they need in order to make it off the planet and only lose just a few members in the process, and not turn on them when they least expect it? With Ostrander and Yale running the show, I honestly can’t be sure how this is going to turn out. Also, the cover for this solicitation is fantastic even if it’s at the expense of Amanda Waller’s dignity.
Secret Six vol. 2: The Gauntlet: The “New 52” relaunch of this great series was effectively derailed after a six-month gap between its second and third issues when original artist Ken Lashley left to work at Marvel. So this second volume collects the final eight issues of it from #7 to #14. It’s too bad that things wound up like this because the first volume showed that Simone hadn’t lost a step in writing the adventures of Catman and the very bad, no-good people he winds up working with for revenge. I’m worried that this second volume will end on the kind of “We gotta wrap this up NOW!” note common to titles cancelled before their time, but that first volume was such an effective return to form that I’ll be picking it up anyway.