The New DC Explosion – Gotham Guardians

Today DC released artwork and a few details as regards the Gotham shuffle, with some titles relaunching and new ones emerging come September, after the Flashpoint event concludes. I really will try and keep this short, I just want to set the stage for comments.
Detective Comics #1 by writer/artist Tony Daniel. Here’s how DC announced the project:

DC Comics’ flagship title is relaunched for the first time ever in DETECTIVE COMICS #1 by acclaimed writer/artist Tony Daniel. Marking the first time Batman will appear in a debut issue of Detective Comics, the series will find Bruce Wayne on the trail of a dangerous serial killer known only as the Gotham Ripper.

Oh yeah, we were all so very sad for Bruce that Batman missed out on appearing in a Detective Comics #1. Fu Manchu, Speed Saunders and Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise have been laughing their arses off for 70+ years … 

I’ve read only a few of Daniel’s writer/artist efforts, and prefer him to stick to the artwork. It’s not that his scripts are awful, just that there are many underemployed writers out there who could do so much better. Surely a Batman creator knows the value of teamwork? Striking as that cover is, I’ll be passing on this one, in part because I’m so tired of The Joker. And restarting the venerable Detective Comics at #1 stinks.
Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Oi, blurb!

In the first BATMAN #1 since 1930, New York Times bestselling writer Scott Snyder teams up with superstar artist Greg Capullo in his DC Comics debut! In the series, Bruce Wayne once again becomes the only character taking on the Batman name.

1930, eh? DC really is changing history! I’m delighted Snyder is staying in the Batman Family, as his current stint writing Dick Grayson as Batman in Detective Comics has shown a rare intelligence that translates well to Gotham’s, shall we say, nightlife. I’m intrigued to see how he approaches Bruce as Batman. It’s a shame Jock isn’t coming along too, as artist, as he’s had a great creative synergy with Snyder, but I’m open to see what Capullo can do. It’s rare that someone gets to be a comics veteran wihout having spent a few years at DC, Capullo’s experience may translate into something good. Or, like equally high-profile signing Mark Bagley, he may find that the DCU isn’t for him. Good luck lads. And restarting Batman at #1 stinks, obviously. 
Batman: The Dark Knight #1 by David Finch Thank the stars DC is rebooting this, potential readers must be so intimidated by the high numbers it’s achieved … #2. So, is it continuing the story that has taken seven months to get not very far? Is it heck.

In BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT, superstar artist David Finch writes and draws a twisted adventure that pulls Bruce Wayne deep into the halls of the famed Arkham Asylum, a jail for Gotham City’s most dangerous and criminally deranged. Finch will team up with collaborator Jay Fabok on pencils.

Anyone banking on regular entertainment from this jumped-up vanity project is a more optimistic man than me. You know, if former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras wants to find work for old chums such as Scott Lobdell now he has the same job at DC, why not start with this book? Or the aforementioned Detective Comics? Oh yes, egos.
Batman and Robin #1 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
In BATMAN AND ROBIN #1, the acclaimed creative team of Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason will explore the family dynamic of the Caped Crusader as Bruce Wayne battles the Gotham underworld with the help of his son, Damian, in the role of Robin.

Bruce and Damian as an official team, a Dynastic Duo? Count me in. Having seen Damian slowly realise that Dick and Alfred deserve respect, it’ll be interesting to see if Damian continues to hero worship dear old dad now he’s actually around. If Bruce insisted on that hideous new cape, he has no chance …

I’ve not been blown away by Tomasi and Gleason’s first arc on the current Batman and Robin book, a sub-Silence of the Lambs piece, but Gleason has talent and Tomasi can be very good, as he showed on Nightwing in a much-praised run. Hey, if they ever bring that comic back he’s a shoo-in for the assignment.
Nightwing #1 by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows 

After a tenure as the Batman of Gotham, Dick Grayson resumes his mantle as Nightwing! As Dick embraces his identity, Haley’s Circus, the big top where he once performed with his family, returns to Gotham – bringing with it a history of murder, mystery and superhuman evil. Nightwing must confront friends and enemies from his past as he searches for the source of an even greater evil.

Never mind, I’ve enjoyed what (very) little I’ve seen from Higgins, and I always relish seeing Dick embrace his circus roots. Barrows is a good artist, so I’ll savour him for the few issues he’s on the book – DC’s big launch art teams never stay for long, do they? I’m thrilled to itty bitty bits that Dick is his own man again – now Bruce is back Gotham doesn’t need a second Batman. Let Dick continue to make his own name. Visually, I like the red in Nightwing’s tweaked costume, it’s a nice nod to his original redbreast persona.
Batwoman #1 by JH Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder
The highly-anticipated new series from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder begins in BATWOMAN #1.

Blimey, they’ve only done the slim Batwoman #0 so far … did I miss all the awards announcements? Or are we talking separate gongs? You’ll notice that DC doesn’t actually give us any story details here. Typical Batwoman, we never know what’s going on. When Kate Kane stories actually appear, I wind up praising them, but we’ve been waiting so long for Batwoman #1 that I’m hardly on the edge of my seat with excitement. And while Williams’ art is exquisite with amazing layouts, they don’t always serve the story – maybe they’ll be consistently good now he’s co-writing with Blackman … more likely it’ll just mean production delays. 
Batgirl #1 by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes 
Stephanie Brown has grown into the role of Batgirl in a fabulously entertaining, much-liked monthly by Brian Q Miller and artistic colleagues. Helping her along the way has been Barbara Gordon, Batgirl-turned-Oracle, whose character arc over several years has seen her emerge as one of superhero comics’ most interesting, impressive and popular players.

So here’s Batgirl #1 …

Batgirl’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as dark secrets from her past in BATGIRL #1, the stunning debut issue from fan-favorite writer Gail Simone and artists Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes.

Notice the red hair. I really thought DC were teasing us, that Steph was donning a wig to protect her identity, fooling criminals into thinking the old Batgirl was black; that would fit in with Babs’ recent ‘killing off’ of Oracle – keep the bad guys guessing. But no, Simone today told DC Women Kicking Ass: ‘This is classic Barbara as she was originally conceived, with a few big surprises.’ Of all the announcements from DC so far, this is the one I’m most dubious about – Babs doesn’t need to go back to being Batgirl to be a heroine, there are several younger women who can fill the role. But as Oracle, she’s unique. She created a role for herself when her previous one was ripped away, and she’s comics’ pre-eminent disabled character. As J Caleb Mozzocco says at Every Day is Like Wednesday, this is a puzzling move given DC’s stated aim to make its line of characters more diverse. I’ll reserve full judgment until I see the first issue. With Simone writing, and  Syaf and Cifuentes drawing, at the very least it’ll read well and look good. But I do have a great big ‘Convince me’ plastered to my head. 
Catwoman #1 by Judd Winick and Guillem March
There’s a rumour going around that DC is covering up the legs of all female heroes (I don’t think it’s been confirmed, but meanwhile there’s a terrific think piece on the subject at comicbookgrrrl). If it is true, it looks even sillier than it already is when you consider all the cleavage on display here, and the goggles-as-bra tease. DC says of the book:

Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in CATWOMAN #1, written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Guillem March.

That’s a rather well-written blurb, and given that Judd Winick has been on fire of late with his scripts for Justice League Generation Lost and Power Girl, I’ll give this book a try. It helps that March produces terrific comic art. I’d be surprised if I stayed, though, as I much prefer Selina as a supporting character.
Birds of Prey #1 by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz 
The latter is already on the book, producing his usual gorgeous stuff. The former has written for Marvel, but not on titles I’ve read. Colour me intrigued. DC says:

The Birds of Prey are Gotham City’s covert ops team, taking down the villains other heroes can’t touch. Mystery novelist ands comics writer Duane Swierczynski teams up with Jesus Saiz for BIRDS OF PREY #1, the first issue of the hard-hitting new series.

OK, no Oracle, I get that. But who are these people with a queerly costumed Black Canary? The lady with the sword, is that Katana? She can be fun, with her spiky personality. Surely that’s not Poison Ivy among the plants, she’s far too much of a (putting it politely) wild card to be a team player. And Corset Girl, who she? And where’s Huntress, she’s hugely popular and shouldn’t disappear with Flashpoint.  Zinda Blake, Lady Blackhawk, is, I hope, the team’s post-Oracle organiser, and far too busy to appear on the cover.

And there’s more ….
No word, sadly, on the return of a Steph Brown book, or Tim Drake Red Robin title, but there is the very good news that after going on hiatus with #10, Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s stonkingly good Batman Inc will resume publication and storyline before too long. Morrison will meantime be working on a secret project, likely the oft-mentioned Muliversity series.

And straight out of left field, two brand new titles.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Batman’s former sidekick had put his past as The Red Hood behind him, when the reclusive Jason Todd finds himself unwillingly elected as the leader of an all-new team of outlaw vigilantes. As The Red Hood once again, Jason Todd will lead this new team of antiheroes, including Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal and Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war. Red Hood and the Outlaws will be written by Scott Lobdell and illustrated by rising superstar artist Kenneth Rocafort.

OK, who did it. Who demanded this book, starring two street-fighting loony tunes and an orange space princess? It certainly wasn’t me, I’ll be running a mile. Well, after the first issue, as this has ‘car crash’ written all over it and I’m the most rubbernecking of readers. Plus, I want to read the Secret Origin of Roy’s baseball cap. And see if Wild Dog shows up to complete the box of mixed nuts.
Batwing #1
This September, join with us in this historic moment when the first black character to wear the Batman mantle will be the first to star in his own ongoing series. BATWING will be written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Ben Oliver.

I don’t think DC are doing Batwing a favour by launching him out on his own before he’s had time to gain a following. Like the Mr Terrific book, I suspect it’s DC looking to produce more books featuring non-white guys, and good on them for that, but Mr T has fans. Batwing, we know bugger all about. I’ll certainly give it a go, as Winick showed in last month’s Power Girl that he can write characters from non-American cultures, and Ben Oliver is just stupendous.

All in all, the new Batman line is a mixed bag, with promising titles, weird offerings, too much on the writer/artist front and just too much product overall. The Bat-franchise has enough titles to maintain a small comics compny, and only monied diehards will follow them all. I’ll give most of these a try and while I can see some making the pull list (Nightwing, Batgirl) others sound less promising (Red Hood and his Amazingly Odd Friends). Does anything stand out for you?

22 thoughts on “The New DC Explosion – Gotham Guardians

  1. What they're doing to Barbara/Oracle is kinda sad. The reboot is supposed to include more diversity amongst the characters, but I supposed the disabled don't count in that regard.

    Silver Age Uber Alles!


  2. very nice rundown. Very thorough and well spoken..However Batman Inc is a piece of trash in concept and execution, and if you are rebooting to fix horrible ideas why bring trhis back. Its out of character, boorish and absurd.


  3. I agree about turning the clock back, Knightsky. But I have a niggling feeling DC have a trick up their sleeve, that Batgirl may be set on a spare Earth, or in the past, and that Steph will keep her suit.

    Thanks Stephen, one thing with Batman Inc, at least Grant Morrison has an end in sight, so you won't be stuck with it for ever.


  4. They're clearly doing Red Hood and the Outlaws for me. Roy Harper has two arms and a longbow, and Jason Todd and Kory are a step up from the company he's been keeping of late. Even if it is potential car crash material, and we're still playing the anti-hero riff, it's actually impossible for it to be worse than Titans.

    I get what they're trying to do with Batwing, but would personally have gone for Nightrunner from the Inc international contingent. Maybe they would have if Kyle Higgins hadn't got the Nightwing gig? (And if I can't have Snyder writing Dick Grayson, then I'm happy with this – I've liked Gates of Gotham so far.)

    I have mixed feelings about Batgirl. On the one hand, it sucks to lose the strength and refusal to quit that she's shown as a disabled hero. On the other hand, I loved her as Batgirl, and it sucks equally that all the male characters who've suffered spinal injuries have magically got better. It really depends on how it's done, and we know nothing about that as yet other than the cover tease (and covers often lie) and Gail Simone's promise to be “respectful”.

    I see DC's cunning plan with the Finch title. Since Batman Inc also suffers delays, but nowhere near as badly, they're clearly going to publish The Dark Knight on the months that Morrison's book has to skip. No clue what they're going to publish between September and Inc's return in 2012 though!


  5. Who those Birds are may be a matter of how much origin tweaking happens at the end of Flushpoint. I first though that red-head was Poison Ivy, but how about the Thorn (of “Rose and” fame)? Still, seems to be controlling the trees there, and Ivy is a Gotham character…

    The presence of Katana I hope means we won't get any Outsiders this time around. Never read an Outsiders book I've liked. EVER.

    Which leaves the girl with the dragon tattoo… Somebody like Cheshire?

    (As for the rest, I echo most of your sentiments, Martin. And here I thought a pseudo-reboot was the perfect time to make Jason Todd disappear from continuity.)


  6. I agree with Mart that new creative teams (artists, mostly) rarely stick around very long. The Palmiotti/Gray/Conner and Winick/Basri runs on “Power Girl” have been an exception. I suspect that most of these artists will last the first story arc, maybe two, if we're lucky. The most recent “Birds of Prey” series, while marvelously written, has suffered from different artists each issue throughout the whole run. Here's hoping the new “Birds” has better luck. None of this stuff catches my interest. It's the same old comics, just reset to issue #1. How is this going to attract new readers? Isn't there going to be an all-ages Batman book, or is everything going to be all scowls, and darkness, and gore?

    Oh, and resetting “Detective Comics” and “Batman” to #1 makes me tried and sad. This is just business as usual. Now to see what's in store for Superman. More of the same, I expect. Sorry for the rambling comment. It just doesn't seem like anything has changed at all. It's like putting a shiny new cover on a very old book. Yawn.


  7. Two years ago I was 100% for a Barbara Gordon Batgirl series. Batgirl: Year One is one of my favorite DC trades. Then Stephanie Brown Batgirl happened and her series became the DC comic I look(ed) forward to the most. Be careful what I wish for, eh?


  8. I keep looking at the new Black Canary costume and keep thinking about the old debate over the fishnets. It's like the artist thought to him/herself 'You want fishnets? I'LL give YOU fishnets!' I mean, seriously? Even on the arms? Yeesh.


  9. Excellent run-through, sir, if I may so. I've been enjoying your coverage of this brave new DC world.

    Only one thought to add to those above; am I the only one who thinks that DC are making an effort to keep all of their film and TV properties in print. It seems that ANYTHING which has appeared on the big or little screen is being placed before the public. And so, Swamp Thing, the original Batgirl, and so on. If that's so, it would make perfect commercial sense.


  10. I think all women in the DC Universe should be lesbians after the reboot. All men should be footballers with big guts. All fight scenes should last at least 15 pages with minimal dialogue. Batgirl could, in reality, be a twelve year old boy with gender reassignment fantasies. All of this would only work if Alan Moore would come back to DC.


  11. I wonder why it is with Batman DC can't minimise it to maybe four books maximum? I look at that rundown and it's a ridiculous amount of baggage to be putting out, especially given this is supposed to attract new curious readers.
    I stopped buying Batman regularly back in the 90s precisely because of this, to be fair I dropped all these franchise books due to the cost and effort of keeping up and most have never gotten me back.

    Quick thoughts: Is Batwing a direct take from the character introduced in one of The Huntress Back-ups way back in Wonder Woman?
    A bizarre title to publish in 2011 to be sure…

    Cannot fathom the motive in bringing back Barbara as Batgirl. I think Col up above put his finger on the issue though, DC seem to be going for pushing its most identifiable properties. I do like Babs Batgirl but this is just wrong, Cassandra and Stephanie were just as good and a whole lot more relevant to todays readers. I'm generally quite traditional where comics characters are concerned but as with killing off the fresh and dynamic Ryan Choi and bringing back Barry Allen after 25 years gone this is smacks more of Vanity than sound buisness sense.

    Damien Wayne – So glad he made the cut! I have read some of Batman & Robin and the Teen Titans and he's a splendid addition to the mythos.

    Red Hood – Utterly pointless, especially given the supposed clean sweep of this relaunch.

    Birds of Prey – I;m intrigued by this solicit, I am a fan of the Simone book though at the moment several issues behind. So may or may not pick this up but I AM intrigued… same goes for Catwoman.


  12. So far, DC hasn't seen any economic incentive to minimize the number of Batbooks. Although when you get right down to it, only four of them star Batman himself. So: wish granted!

    Recently, DC has done pretty well in keeping the books separate from each other. I've been reading Detective, Batman Inc. and Birds of Prey. I haven't felt even any soft in-story pressure to get the other books; they're separate and work just fine alone. I hope that trend continues, because I can't spend $33 a month to follow Batman, Batwoman, Batgirl & possibly Batwing.


  13. Lorin, Roy had a Speedy recovery.

    Jules, interesting idea about Nightrunner. He never made much of an impression on me, though I read only part one of his debut. Maybe with more time, he'd prove more interesting. It's not like Batwing has done much, either.

    Siskoid, good idea re: Thorn but I hope that Cheshire isn't involved. DC likes to present her as a bit of an edgy anti-hero, when in fact she's just a low-down killer and an unfit mother.

    Anon, I'm dreading the Superman reset, with singledom, seams and kneepads. DC should bring out a DC Classic book starring the iconic versions of characters Dan DiDio says the public wants to see.

    Quick Keith, what else have you been wishing for? We must stop it!

    ch, the supposed DC costume edict is deeply weird. Cover yer legs up but show us yer tits?

    Good theory, Colin. The comic companies are constantly trying to cash in on movies and TV versions, but has any comic bar the Batman titles ever received a sustained boost?

    Claude, you're hired!

    Dave, meet Shadzane! And I'm with you and Siskoid, Jason Todd should have been waved back into the grave.

    Rob, I agree, discrete Bat-storylines are the way ahead.

    Well, Jeff, we're getting a Static Shock book, which could be a great read.

    Shadzane, thank you so much!


  14. No! Mark Bagley! He who draws the ugliest heroes in comics; yes, if DC MUST return their flagship Bats book to 1 then we must have him. And Judd Winnick on Catwoman…so get set for his requisite gay characters to shoehorn their way into the storyline wiht all the sublety of a batarang to the head. Hes so politically-correct it makes my teeth hurt. Ive never liked him since he capitalised on that poor boys death in Real World. But the other books show promise…1930s? Intriguing. Damien as a new Robin…a nice twist. Batgirl…well, lets wait and see. BOP? Odd line-up, and I miss the Huntress from the line-up already.


  15. I dunno Martin — “singledom, seams and kneepads” sounds pretty damn wonderful! But it's not exactly what I look for in a Superman book. Maybe it can be the next Chaykin project.


  16. Karl, the 'Judd Winick always adds gays' thing is a bit tired – I never saw any not-hetties in his year-long stints on Power Girl or JLA. As for the Pedro business, I never saw the Real World, but understood he wrote Pedro and Me to highlight the HIV issue. Is there any reason not to give a guy the benefit of the doubt?


  17. Martin, Winnicks book Pedro And Me [ which i have ] is a work of fiction, really. In the Real World series on MTV he openly criticised the poor boy for his 'lifestyle' and was censured by MTV. In subsequent repeats it was edited out. Winnick was horrendous in that programme – he colluded with several housemates to force out another [who MTV openly admitted was the 'star' of the show] and offered to look after another housemates girlfriend whilst he went home for the weekend. He did that all right..he ended up marrying her! And when the blonde girl from Indiana [sorry cant recall her name] made a crass but unintentional remark about Mohammeds religion, he got the others to put pressure on her to apologize on the show, resulting in the most embarrassing moment for her. But its his 'friendship' with Pedro that was the most suspect. He had no time for him in the house, and even suggested separate cups and plates for this poor lad to use, and then when the book came out Winnick is suddenly his ''best friend ever'', having been there for him from the start. The books the biggest fabrication since the Da Vinci Code.
    Since then he deliberately shoehorns gay characters into most of his work..there was a site somewhere two years ago that had a rolling sweepstake on how long once he began on a new comic hed introduce someone gay. And hes been criticised for writing them as weak and victims, which is insulting to boot.
    No, Im sorry for this Martin but I dont like him [thats a bit obvious!]. He latches onto causes; Pedro in the tv show did more to highlight and educate people about HIV than winnick ever did – just a pity he isnt around anymore to give his side of the story.
    And whats a 'not-hettie'? Never heard that before!?!

    Sorry for this rant, if you dont feel its the right place to discuss it. Hope you understand how I feel.


  18. Thanks for the detail, Karl. Reality shows, people behave weirdly on them. Sometimes they're taking direction. Or maybe Judd Winick was just a ratbag. But perhaps he's grown since then? The way people do on TV.

    The only gay who made much of an impression on me was Terry in the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern book, and that because he was so wet. But I got the impression the book meant us to like him.

    A non-hettie = non-heterosexual 🙂


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