DC PUBWATCH: SDCC and July Edition

DC PUBWATCH: SDCC and July Edition
With SDCC all wrapped up, here are Corinne's thoughts on the event and July's DC reads. What worked? What utterly failed? What's to come?

I spent last weekend in San Diego, attending as many DC-relevant panels as I could to gather information for you, dear readers. I was also invited to attend the DC Press Breakfasts, one of which turned into a cult initiation, but they gave me a snazzy robe, so all hail Tom King! The biggest announcements

I spent last weekend in San Diego, attending as many DC-relevant panels as I could to gather information for you, dear readers. I was also invited to attend the DC Press Breakfasts, one of which turned into a cult initiation, but they gave me a snazzy robe, so all hail Tom King!

The biggest announcements were new creative teams on Green Lantern (relaunching with a new #1 in October), Aquaman, and Wonder Woman (both maintaining current numbering).

Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp take over Green Lantern in November, with a story focusing on Hal Jordan and the actual job of being a space cop. After talking to Dan Jurgens, it sounds like the other three displaced Corps members will be folded into Green Lanterns, but only until that series ends with issue #57. Seems we’re going back to the days when the only Green Lantern worth focusing on is Hal Jordan. Yay.

Subtly announced during the first Press Breakfast was Kelly Sue DeConnick taking over Aquaman. Dan DiDio slipped her name between the other two creative team shifts that had already been announced, and I’m not gonna lie, this girl shouted “WHAT?!” in the middle of the sentence. Joining Kelly Sue on the book is one of my favorite up and coming artists, Robson Rocha. Unlike last year, where DC sidelined Wonder Woman in her own book leading out of her solo movie, they seem to be doing the opposite to Aquaman.

The last big creative team announcement was G. Willow Wilson taking over Wonder Woman after Steve Orlando’s short run and James Tynion IV’s Justice League Dark crossover, “The Witching Hour.” Joining Wilson on the book is artist Cary Nord. It’s going to be wonderful to have a woman writing Wonder Woman, and a great writer at that.

Other announcements included a new Shazam! series by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham, a Batman Who Laughs mini-series by Scott Snyder and Jock, and an Electric Warriors series set after Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster, penned by Steve Orlando with art by Travel Foreman.

Also announced were several new books for the DC Ink and Zoom imprints, though without full creative teams. I’m extremely excited for the direction DC is pushing towards, but I wish they’d release the full creative teams on each book when they make the announcements.

With this news rounded up, lets dig into the past month’s worth of books! What made the grade? Spoilers ahead!

A

Justice League #3

Scott Snyder (writer), Jorge Jimenez (artist), Alejandro Sanchez (colors), Tom Napolitano (letters)

Honestly, I almost want to let this issue speak for itself. Scott Snyder is giving us the most iconic versions of all these characters, and immediately putting them in the middle of something epic. At the same time, he’s honoring DC history by referencing things like John Stewart’s past and the White Martians. Each issue of this run has been bombastic and wild, and just the kick in the pants the Justice League book has needed since the beginning of Rebirth. THIS is why it should be DC’s flagship book.

John Stewart as an Ultra Violet Lantern looking menacing over the rest of the Justice League

Justice League #3 – Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez

The Flash #49

Joshua Williamson (writer), Howard Porter (artist), Hi-Fi (colors), Steve Wands (letters)

For an issue that amounted to little more than a race, this book was a lot of fun to read. This event has been a thrill ride and is ramping up to be something incredibly special. Howard Porter in particular has helped define the look of the Flash for me for two decades, starting with when I started reading JLA. I honestly consider him to be one of the most underrated artists in the comics industry. I can’t wait to see how this event plays out.

The Flashes and Justice League racing

The Flash #49 – Howard Porter and Hi-Fi

The Flash #50

Joshua Williamson (writer), Howard Porter (artist), Hi-Fi (colors), Steve Wands (letters)

Even though Flash/Speed Buggy spoiled the big reveal almost a month early, the return of Bart Allen makes up for it in my mind. Not only did Bart Allen return, but so did Hypertime. Hypertime is what DC used in the ’90s to try to get away from Multiple Earths. Now Hypertime exists with Multiple Earths, so we’ll see how that plays out. Honestly, Williamson has penned one of the all-time greatest Flash runs, one that will go down in history right alongside Waid and Johns. Who knows—by the time he’s done, maybe it will eclipse those two legends.

Barry Allen and Wally West fighting Zoom who is in a regular Flash costume

The Flash #50 – Howard Porter and Hi-Fi

Hawkman #2

Robert Venditti (writer), Bryan Hitch (penciller), Andrew Currie, Daniel Henriques, and Bryan Hitch (inkers), Jeremiah Shipper (colorist), Starkings & Comicraft (letterers)

Fine, I’ll say it. Venditti has made me interested in a Hawkman story. I don’t like Hawkman. He’s confusing. Even longtime, well-versed DC Comics fans get lost in the continuity quagmire that is Carter Hall. Venditti is taking the mystery of Hawkman’s lives and making a good story out of it. Hitch’s pencils are a perfect fit for the book, adding great detail to a story where we need to examine everything. Hopefully, I’ll come out of this Hawkman run with a better appreciation of a character that has helped shape every era of DC’s history.

Hawkman looming at the reader

Hawkman #2 – Bryan Hitch and Alex Sinclair

Justice League #4

Scott Snyder (writer), Jorge Jimenez (artist), Alejandro Sanchez (colors), Tom Napolitano (letters)

This story just continues to be balls-to-the-wall intense. We have Batman and Luthor fighting within Superman’s bloodstream while Joker attacks Hawkgirl within Martian Manhunter’s. COMICS, EVERYBODY! At the same time as those tiny battles are raging, so are battles between Cyborg, Green Lantern, and Sinestro; and between Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, and Gorilla Grodd. I heard Scott Snyder talk about the things he has planned for this book, and I have no doubt that it’s going to continue to stay wild.

The backs of the Justice League in front of the Joker

Justice League #4 – Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez

Justice League Dark #1

James Tynion IV (Writer), Alvaro Martinez Bueno (Pencils), Raul Fernandez (Ink), Brad Anderson (Colors), Rob Leigh (Letters)

I was a little leery of Wonder Woman being on this team, but the story makes it work. She’s seeing magic decay around her and trying to get the best people to help her stop that. We also see that there are two sides to the fight, and that neither may be entirely correct. Most importantly, we got to see some magical heroes we haven’t seen in quite some time, notably Zauriel. I’ve missed my sassy angel. This book is dark and creepy in all the right ways, and I can’t wait to get more of the story.

The new Justice League Dark team: Swamp Thing, Zatana, Detective Chimp, Man-Bat, Wonder Woman

Justice League Dark #1 – Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson

The Man of Steel #5

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Adam Hughes and Jason Fabok (Artists), Alex Sinclair (Colors, pages 8-11), Josh Reed (Letters)

MAN, OH MAN. This issue fires on all cylinders for me. It’s a rare occurrence to get Adam Hughes interior art, and he makes good. Bendis also uses this chapter to play to Hughes’ biggest strength, and by that I mean there is a lot of Supergirl in this issue. And not only is there a lot of Supergirl, there is a lot of Supergirl history nods. Referencing “Sekowsky” on a page with Supergirl made my heart swell. Mike Sekowsky was the writer and artist that helmed Kara’s transition from the Silver to Bronze Age in Adventure Comics. And then… there was… THAT… panel. I’m going to include it here, because I literally screamed when I saw it.

The Man of Steel #6

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Jason Fabok (Artist), Alex Sinclair (Colors), Josh Reed (Letters)

All the doubts I had about Bendis’s Superman (You can read those thoughts in June’s issue of the MNT) evaporated by the end of this mini-series. Each issue got progressively stronger. Well I’m still not 100% sold on the story being told with Lois and Jon, it’s still better than I had feared. Also, it was really nice to see Kara be the one to save the day with the Phantom Zone projector. The tribute to Kandor was very nice, even if I’m still disappointed that that bottled city is gone.

Superman and Supergirl facing off against Rogol Zaar

The Man of Steel #6 – Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair

The Terrifics #5

Jeff Lemire (Writer), Doc Shaner (Artist), Nathan Fairburn (Colors), Tom Napolitano (Letters)

I absolutely loved how this book was laid out. Opening with four panel pages focusing on each character, and only changing that structure when characters were in the same space was brilliant. Doc Shaner’s faces convey so much emotion that it’d be almost impossible not to feel for each of these characters. I’m still absolutely in love with his Phantom Girl and how young and innocent she looks. The actual villain hook of this story wasn’t the best, but the emotional beats more than make up for it.

The Terrifics fighting elemental monsters

The Terrifics #5 – Dale Eaglesham and Wil Quintana

Wonder Woman #51

Steve Orlando (Writer), Laura Braga (Artist), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colors), Saida Temofonte (Letters)

What’s this? A readable issue of Wonder Woman you ask? Well first of all, it was an issue of Wonder Woman that actually focused on Wonder Woman and not her BRAND NEW BROTHER! In fact it’s an issue focused on the heart of the character, and one of those things that makes her special. The entire issue revolves around Diana making a regularly scheduled visit to the villain Mayfly, introduced in issue #28. Its about her supporting a person who considered her an enemy and helping her grow to become a friend. That sort of compassion and understanding is what makes Wonder Woman great.

Wonder Woman ready for battle

Wonder Woman #51 – Artgem

The many books receiving Bs:

Action Comics #1001
Aquaman #38
Batgirl #24
Batman #51
Batman: Prelude to the Wedding – Joker vs Harley Quinn
Batwoman #17
The Curse of Brimstone #4
Deathstroke #33
Detective Comics #983-985
The Flash #51
Green Lanterns #51
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #48-49
Harley Quinn #46
The Hellblazer #24
Injustice 2 #29-30
Injustice vs. The Masters of the Universe #1
The Immortal Men #4
Mera: Queen of Atlantis #5-6
Mother Panic: Gotham AD #4-5
Nightwing #46
Plastic Man #2
Raven: Daughter of Darkness #8
Scooby Doo Team-Up #39-40
Shade the Changing Woman #5
Superman #1
The Terrifics #6
The Unexpected #2

The many books receiving a grade of C:

Batman #50
Batman Beyond #21-22
The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #6
Catwoman #1
Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #5
Damage #7
DC Beach Blanket Bad Guys Summer Special #1
Doomsday Clock #6
Green Arrow #42
Green Lanterns #50
Harley Quinn #43
The Hellblazer #23
Michael Cray #9
The New Challengers #3
Sideways #6
The Silencer #6-7
Suicide Squad #44

These books barely squeak by with Ds this month:

Bane Conquest #12

Chuck Dixon (Writer), Graham Nolan (Artist), Gregory Wright (Colors). Carlos M. Mangual (Letters)

Well that was anti-climatic. Almost none of the plot of this book had any satisfying conclusion, and even the things that seemed to have some sort of conclusion failed to lead anywhere. Batman says Kobra is ended, but it’s really not. Bane and Batman ride off happily into the sunset, and we’re led to believe that Bane wouldn’t end the truce immediately upon reaching mainland? Sure, whatever. At least this book is done.

Bane crushing the book's logo

Bane Conquest #12 – Graham Nolan and Gregory Wright

Teen Titans Special

Adam Glass (Writer), Robson Rocha (Penciller), Daniel Henriques (Inker), Sunny Gho (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)

Last month, the Titans Special cracked my top ten, because I liked and was intrigued by the new direction for the team. This month this book rattles around in my bottom five, because I hate the new direction for the team. The Teen Titans should not be an overly dark book. It can have dark moments (Lord knows the Judas Contract was dark), but at its core it should be fun and light. More than that, Damian needs a foil. He needs a Dick Grayson. He needs a Starfire. He needs a Jon Kent. Without someone to balance him, he doesn’t work, and it doesn’t seem like anyone on this new team will fill that role.

Kid Flash, Robin and Red Arrow in front of destroyed statues of their mentors

Teen Titans Special #1 – Robson Rocha, Trevor Scott and Hi-Fi

Teen Titans #20

Adam Glass (Writer), Bernard Chang (Artist), Marcelo Maiolo (Colors), Rob Leigh (Letters)

Many of the same complaints I have about the Teen Titans special circle back around here now that it’s in the main book. Damian Wayne doesn’t work with this team. Almost nobody on this team makes me care about them. Roundhouse, Crush, and Djinn, we still know next to nothing about, and that can work, if the characters are strong enough. To me, this feels like Adam Glass is trying to do exactly what Wolfman and Perez did with New Teen Titans. Use a couple known characters, and a few created brand new for the team, except Glass and Chang’s new characters aren’t as interesting as Wolfman and Perez’s. In addition, he definitely needs to watch some YouTube videos or hang around some actual teenagers, because they don’t talk like he seems to think they do.

The new Teen Titans team around a car

Teen Titans #20 – Bernard Chang and Wil Quintana

Wonder Woman #49

James Robinson (Writer), Jesus Merino (Artist), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colors), Saida Temofonte (Letters)

Seven pages in and we get a panty shot of Wonder Woman, so that’s cool. In this issue we get a lot of Steve Trevor using nothing but his pet name for Diana, and several pages with no Wonder Woman. The issue ended with a Wonder Woman splayed helplessly at the feet of her evil *again* brother. The nicest thing I can say about this issue is that it ends with the words “To Be Concluded,” and this is Robinson’s penultimate issue.

Wonder Woman fighting the Dark Gods

Wonder Woman #49 – Stephen Segovia and Romulo Fajardo Jr.

And receiving a grade of F:

Wonder Woman #50

James Robinson (Writer), Stephen Segovia, Jesus Merino, Andy Owens, Emanuela Lupacchino, and Ray McCarthy (Artists), Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Chris Sotomayor (Colors), Saida Temofonte (Letters)

“Obviously I’ve seen anger about bringing Jason or other male characters in, so I’ve made a point—even though Jason is a character in the book, as well as Steve Trevor—of making sure that doesn’t happen. The book is Wonder Woman. That’s her name in the title. It’s her book and I’m making sure that I do her justice, for her sake and for the readers.” James Robinson said in an interview with Comicosity before his run on the book started.

That is a promise that was not kept. Once more, Wonder Woman seemed like a secondary character in her own book in Robinson’s, thankfully, final issue. Back when we thought his run was just to be 12 issues, I did a running total of Diana’s page time in the first five issues, and found that Diana had appeared on fewer than half the pages that far into the run. Now that the run is over, I have gone back and counted the whole thing.

After a total of 21 issues and 450 pages, Wonder Woman appeared on page for just 271 of those. Please also note that some of those pages she only appeared in the background on a TV screen. If that’s what James Robinson thinks doing a character justice is, I never want him near another character I like. The bad news is that he’s soon writing Detective Comics. The good news is that Steve Orlando and G. Willow Wilson are the next two writers for Wonder Woman. It’s been a crappy year and a half for Wonder Woman comics, but the future is bright.

Wonder Woman riding a pegasus in front of the Dark Gods

Wonder Woman #50 – Jesus Merino and Romulo Fajardo Jr

Chart showing that Wonder Woman was only on 62% of the pages of Robinson's run

This chart speaks for itself

Now, what am I looking forward to in the newest batch of DC Solicits?

1. The Return of the Secret Files line. I’ve been clamoring for a return of the Who’s Who book, but I’ll settle for Secret Files. The Secret Files series was huge when I was a kid, so I hope we get lots more of them in the near future.

Batman in front of a swarm of bats

Batman Secret Files #1 – Mikel Janin

2. The Enhanced foil covers. Not all of them work, but the ones that do are absolutely gorgeous. My favorites are Action Comics, Detective Comics, Nightwing and of course Supergirl.

Blue tinted Superman flying with a flock of geese

Action Comics #1004 – Steve Rude

3. The blank comics for “24 Hour Comic Day.” The price is a little steep ($2.99 for 16 cardstock pages), but the idea is fun, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to buy at least one.

Blank Comics for 24 Hour Comic Day

Blank Comics for 24 Hour Comic Day

4. Heroes in Crisis. Everything Tom King said about this series at SDCC made me much more interested than I had been, and not only because they gave me a robe. I think this is going to be a deeply personal story and one that will touch a lot of people.

Harley Quinn using Wonder Woman's lasso to choke Batman

Heroes in Crisis #2 – Clay Mann

5. Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla Special #1. I am 100% here for Tom Grummett art.

Nightwing hunting Magilla Gorilla

Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla Special #1 – Marcus To

That’s a wrap for the busiest month of the comics year! See you next month as things calm down a bit.

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Cori McCreery
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