Even for a large company, a two million dollar budget shortfall is still cause for concern. That’s the issue facing DC at the moment and they’re scrambling for a plan to do something about it. While most of the shortfall is said to be attributed to costs incurred from the East-to-West Coast move, the news broke at a time when the sales numbers for May -- the “DC You” mini-relaunch in the wake of the “Convergence” event -- came out. The numbers were… not as good as everyone was hoping for. As a result, there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on right now that the company’s effort to reach a larger audience by publishing a more diverse selection of titles is going to be walked back in favor of a more conservative approach.
That’s a short-term answer to a long-term problem and will likely see only further diminishing returns for the company. It was said that the new “DC You” titles would be given at least a year to see how things shake out and the company should at least stay the course for that long. If DC is going to be spooked at just the hint of adversity in trying to reach a broader audience than those who go to the comic shops each Wednesday, then they deserve whatever’s coming to them.
And on that note we turn to something lighter...
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (of 6): I’m kind of surprised that we never saw this during the 90’s. Not only was that the height of Turtlemania, but crossovers like this were a lot more common between all companies. This comes to us from writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie E. Williams II and takes the “dimension crossing” approach to the team-up. The Turtles and the Foot Clan have found themselves in Gotham City and the latter are looking to profit before returning home. Naturally, Batman isn’t about to let that happen and he’s going to get some help from the Heroes in a Half-Shell. After we get past the Caped Crusader’s inevitable hang-ups with this kind of team-up, of course. This strikes me as being something that would be better suited to an extra-sized one-shot (which is likely how it would’ve been presented in the 90’s), but why do that when you can milk the concept for six issues and sell it again as a trade paperback. We’ll see if Tynion can dig deep enough to make this crossover not feel overstretched in its six issue length.
Bamtan ‘66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E. #1 (of 6): This probably seemed like a great idea, before the film version of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” came out and failed to make much of an impact. I’m even less confident that we needed six issues of this compared to the Batman/TMNT crossover I just talked about. Even so, this is coming from regular “Batman ‘66” writer Jeff Parker which should make it worth reading for fans of that series.
Lobo #13: So I saw the cover to this issue and came up with this dialogue for it:
Lobo: Never mind the blade, feel the wrath of my LIGHTNING NIPPLES!
Hal Jordan: This is not cool, man! I just want to get back to my apartment and the rug that really ties the room together!
Does it make for a better comic? Only you can answer that. But it’s one that I would read.
The Omega Men #7: Billed as the final issue -- BUT IT’S NOT! Thought to be one of the victims of the budget shortfall, the series is now being allowed to run for its intended twelve-issue length. Even though it wasn’t billed as a twelve-issue maxiseries, writer Tom King has gone on record as saying that everything he’s been doing with the series so far has been geared towards a story of that length. Did the “Grayson” writer’s statements help save his comic? We’ll likely never know the full story. However, its circumstances do make me a bit more interested in checking out the inevitable collection.
Batman by Ed Brubaker vol. 1: Hey, here’s something that I wasn’t expecting to see. Before he hit it big writing “Captain America” at Marvel, Ed Brubaker spent several years writing the Dark Knight’s adventures between runs on “Batman” and “Detective Comics.” I can only speculate that his “defection” to Marvel is the reason that we haven’t seen these runs collected before now. However, every notable writer who has had a run on one of DC’s titles (no matter how obscure -- see Garth Ennis’ run on “The Demon”) will see a trade paperback collecting their work at some point. It’ll just take longer depending on how important you are to the company, apparently.
Supergirl vol. 1: The Girl of Steel: This series was spun off from a massively popular arc of “Batman/Superman” illustrated by the late Michael Turner. The writer of that arc, Jeph Loeb, wrote the first five issues of “Supergirl” and the fact that four other writers are credited in this volume should tell you everything you need to know about how things went after he left. I honestly can’t even remember if the issues collected here (#’s 0-10 and 12) contain the notorious “Switchblade Fuckdoll” image that Dirk Deppy was so fond of referencing back in the days when he was running “Journalista!” That would at least make this volume an object of morbid curiosity for me.
Swamp Thing vol. 7: Season’s End: It has certainly taken a while for Charles Soule’s work on this series to finally be collected. I’m certainly looking forward to reading this final volume. If only to see if he keeps throwing in new concepts and ideas for the title character to deal with right up to the very end.
Last Gang in Town #1 (of 8)Lucifer #1/New Romancer #1 (of 12)/The Sheriff of Babylon #1 (of 7): Out of the four new titles being launched by Vertigo this month, only the ones without any supernatural hooks sound interesting. “Last Gang” is a multi-generational crime saga from “FBP” writer Simon Oliver (with the final volume of that series being solicited here) that starts out in Britain in the 70’s and follows the rise of a new gang of “snot-nosed” criminals. As for “Sheriff,” “Grayson” writer and former CIA operations officer Tom King has a cop-turned-military contractor investigating the death of one of his trainees in Baghdad. These stories have promising real-life hooks that make them sound potentially interesting and are coming from writers who can tell a story.
“New Romancer” is from Peter Milligan, about a coder for a dating app who unleashes the spirit of history’s greatest lover onto it, and after “The Names” I don’t think that giving him twelve issues to run amok with will work out any better than the nine he was given for that title. As for “Lucifer,” it appears to be completely divorced from the character established in Mike Carey’s series of the same name and “Sandman.” This is down to the fact that the series begins with God being murdered and Lucifer accused of the crime. The fallen angel is of course given a chance to prove his innocence and teams up with his accuser and brother, the angel Gabriel. Artist Lee Garbett has done some good work on “Loki: Agent of Asgard,” while writer Holly Black is an unknown quantity to me. Reading this setup, it sounds more than a little ridiculous in its “Lethal Weapon” by way of Gaiman premise. Should be about as good as the forthcoming TV series that this is no doubt being published to cash in on.
American Vampire vol. 8: The publication schedule of this “Second Cycle” may have been a complete trainwreck, but at least the previous volume wasn’t bad. Vol. 8, on the other hand, looks to feature (say it out loud now) “VAMPIRES IN SPAAAAAAAAACE!” While “American Vampire” can be funny, it doesn’t do silly all that well. Witness the “Nazi Vampires” story from vol. 3 that felt like a low-rent B-movie, even with Sean Murphy’s art. Either we’re getting the same silliness here, or writer Scott Snyder has some kind of twist in mind as Pearl and Skinner’s battle against the Gray Trader leads them to NASA. We shall see.