The New DC Explosion – Turn on the dark

And the announcements keep on coming, though it’s fair to say that DC are keeping us in the dark. It’s DC’s new Weirdoverse! Actually, I probably shouldn’t use that term, as DC attached it to a bunch of Nineties launches that all skewed towards the dark side of the superhero universe, then fell right off the edge. None of those books – Scare Tactics, Challengers of the Unknown, Night Force and Book of Fate – are in the latest batch of comics announced for a very crowded September, but the wholesale introduction of a DC dark side reminds me of that time.

And you know what? At least two of those books were pretty darn good.

But that was then, let’s look at now. Or rather, soon.
Swamp Thing  #1 by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette and Franco Francavilla No surprise here, after Swampy was reborn in the recent Brightest Day series. I never read those appearances but heard he was no longer the Swamp Thing as reimagined by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben. Not good. Further, he was given a mission to save the planet or something. Ho hum. Happily, Scott Snyder is the Anti-Ho-Hum. He’s shown horror form with Vertigo’s American Vampire, and Detective Comics demonstrates that he can play well in the DCU, so I want to see where he takes Swamp Thing. Paquette makes any script look good, while alternating artist Francavilla has partnered with Snyder to stunning effect in Detective. This comic looks to be unmissable.
Resurrection Man #1 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino One of the best, most original comics of the Nineties returns, with his creators at the writing helm. Mitch Shelley, lawyer, gains new super-powers every time he dies. It sounds cheesy, but DnA, along with artist Butch Guice, spun that simple concept into a compelling drama over 28 issues. The series was set firmly in the DC, as the immortal Shelley fought eternal adversary Vandal Savage and the likes of Major Force, and teamed up with the Justice League, while staking a claim for the most off-the-wall superhero comic out there. Supporting villains the Body Doubles – a pair of female assassins – even won a one-shot and a mini-series on the back of Mitch’s book. Resurrection Man has barely appeared since the comic’s 1999 cancellation, representing an awful waste of potential. Maybe I should have seen this one coming … after all, coming back from the dead is Mitch’s game. DnA are two of the most consistently good writers in comics, so I’ve no doubt this will be a rewarding read, and with Dagnino – late of Justice League: Generation Lost – drawing, it’s going to look great. If you never read the original run, I’d recommend grabbing a trade, but I don’t think DC ever put one out. They will now.
I … Vampire #1 by Josh Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino The vampires are back, and they’ve forgotten their clothes. I dunno, when Andrew Bennett and Mary, Queen of Blood were sparring in House of Mystery back in the day they had a certain sartorial style. Look at ’em now. Tarts. Still, I’ll give the comic a try as Bennett bids to prevent one-time love Mary from leading her fanged horde to dominion over the Earth. Josh Fialkov has written a lot of comic books and graphic novels and I’m mildly embarrassed to admit that I’ve missed them all. Well, apart from Rampaging Wolverine. Any day I can avoid a Wolverine comic is a good day. I’ve seen covers by Andrea Sorrentino and they have a richly realistic style; I imagine a simplified approach will be required for monthly strip work, and I look forward to seeing it. I suppose not drawing clothes saves time …
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #1 by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Poticelli One of the more entertaining entries of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers event, Frankenstein returns as an operative of the Super Human Advanced Defence Executive. With big guns blazing and, hopefully, the beehived Bride at his side, this could be great fun. Especially as it’s being written by Sweet Tooth writer Jeff Lemire, who’s been making his Superboy scripts more weirdly diverting by the issue. Albert Ponticelli, probably best known for his Unknown Soldier work, promises to bring an interesting European vibe to the book.
Animal Man #1 by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman and Dan Green It’s that man Lemire again, on another character redefined by Morrison. Animal Man is fighting for his family life in this new series, as daughter Maxine’s developing abilitiy to tap animal powers cause problems. I’ll be there, as Buddy Baker, wife Ellen, son Cliff and the aforementioned Maxine are some of my favourite DC characters. This looks a great fit for Lemire, while Foreman, who made a big impression on Iron Fist, pencils and the great Dan Green brings his fine lines to the project. While you’re waiting for this, you could do worse than check out the trade collection of last year’s The Last Days of Animal Man by Gerry Conway and Chris Batista. The six-issue series went under the radar, but it’s a beautifully crafted, charming story that will delight all Animal Man fans.
Demon Knights #1 by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert Medieval sword and sorcery superheroics. Sold. With Cornell writing we’re guaranteed sharp tales featuring splendid character dynamics. I don’t know who series headliner The Demon will interact with, mind you, as so far Cornell (Captain Britain & MI13, Action Comics. Knight & Squire, Doctor Who) is keeping his cards close to his chest. But last year’s Camelot 500 story in DC Universe: Legacies #7 did see the Demon teaming with the Shining Knight and the Silent Knight, so they could show up alongside the new players Cornell plans to populate the book with. I do hope that the Demon’s old enemy Morgan Le Fay is in there as she’s always great value and has a brilliant Jack Kirby visual. I’m not actually a Demon fan, but find him bearable when his rhyming scans. I’ve no doubt that a wordsmith as proficient as Cornell can give us terse verse, but he doesn’t really have to try – Etrigan spoke like a regular fella centuries ago. It’s only in recent years that a promotion poshed up his speech patterns. Former Green Arrow artist Neves and Green Lantern inker Albert should make a great team on the book Cornell describes as ‘brilliant, widescreen, action-packed stuff’. This will be very good, buy it.
Voodoo #1 by Ron Marz and Sami Basri I enjoyed Marz on Green Lantern, I enjoyed Basri on Power Girl, I enjoyed Voodoo … hang on, I’ve no idea who Voodoo is. Cue seconds of research – aha, Wildstorm transplant to the DCU, it says here. A half-alien hybrid, trying to learn the secrets of her past. I’ve heard worse concepts. Has anyone read this character? Because I’m undecided as to whether to try #1. She reminds me of Witchblade, with that scary hand. And DC’s Claw – they should team up and fall in glove.
Justice League Dark #1 by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin Justice League Vertigo, more like, as John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu and Deadman protect the spookier side of the street. Milligan’s had long, successful runs with the first two characters, and the remaining pair sound right up his quirky alley, so this could be very good. At the very least it’ll be interesting. A magician, a madman, a mystic and a body-hopping spirit (sorry, I don’t know a single synonym for ‘ghost’ beginning with ‘m’) aren’t an obvious grouping for Justice League membership, so I’m keen to see how this sub-team comes together. Really, it seems to be another crack at the Shadowpact concept, but with a more commercial name. Mind, Justice League Dark? Sounds like a chocolate bar. I’d have gone for Justice League Arcane. Sadly, DC don’t even know I’m alive, so no one asked. I don’t know the work of Mikel Janin; he had a story in the recent JLA 80 Page Giant, which looked terrific, and I’ve seen his covers for Flashpoint minis (Hal Jordan, Deadman & the Flying Graysons) and they’re gorgeous, so I’ve high hopes.

Of all the announcements this past week, today’s have piqued my interest the most, being a combination of revivals and new concepts produced by some excellent talent. I doubt every book will stick, but I expect a good many quality stories in the meantime. 

17 thoughts on “The New DC Explosion – Turn on the dark

  1. Finally, a set of new announcements that actually do represent change and risk-taking and history making for the new DCU. These books aren't all in my wheelhouse, but man, this whole re-launch thing would have good down smoother if any of the earlier-announced titles had showed this level of imagination and creativity…

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  2. Yeah, I'm looking forward to some of these, particularly Demon Knights.

    “they should team up and fall in glove.”

    You should be ashamed of yourself, sir!

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  3. Voodoo had a four-issue mini series in 1997 written by Alan Moore. Yes, THAT Alan Moore.

    The fact no one ever mentions this gives you an idea of how much impact the character has had to date – even Alan Moore couldn't make anything good out of her.

    If memory serves, Voodoo's a stripper or pole dancer who's also a supernatural superheroine. The mini series was entirely forgettable, but it did get trade paperbacked (mine is long since gone to my ebay masters, I'm afraid).

    Which isn't to say another writer can't turn the idea around.

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  4. “Materialization?” Eh, I like the “metaphysical” thing better. These do indeed seem to be newish ideas to add to the DCnU, but unfortunately/fortunately they don't appear to be my cuppa, especially with all the exposed female boobage. That does not portend well. (Did Frankie steal Mr. T's jacket?)

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  5. Snell, you're so right, dunno why DC were so timid with their order of announcements.

    Britt, FDK, thanks … I don't think we're there yet!

    Glad the Swampy news is good for you, Rob!

    Gary, I can't help myself. You should hear us sub-editors at work when we someone asks for a fish pun for a headline …

    KlownKrusty, cheers. Weird I've never heard of her. I'll give Voodoo a shot.

    Carol, if he did nick Mr Terrific's jacket, it won't look so terrific should he get it back. Then again, Mr Terrific could make ANYthing look terrific …

    Jeff, the fact that we now know Tim is still around (if tweaked) despite his not being mentioned alongside the Bat titles – he's a Teen Hero – gives me hope Xombi may be fitting another announcement niche. Phonetically named heroes?

    Rob, did you hear that somewhere?

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  6. Looking forward to Resurrection Man. The Body Doubles have to return. I liked that he was part of DC 1 Million which was probably his last significant appearance.

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  7. Having read today's Flashpoint: Frankenstein, I might have to temper my enthusiasm a little bit. It was perfectly acceptable funnybook fare, but I can't imagine why I'd buy this book when I could use those same dollars to buy Hellboy. Lemire gets a lot of love from people, but so far the only think he's written that I've really dug was that 8-page Ultra story in Strange Adventures.

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  8. “Mzimu” for “spirit”. Ordinarily I wouldn't have suggested the word, not even remembering what language it's in, but I did after all learn it from a DC comic. It was a text page in Dr Graves perhaps?

    As far as the title JLDark, JLArcane would probably convey the premise better, but I bet they came up with the dark first, and then searched for whatever premise might fit.

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  9. Todd, I reckon bringing back the bodacious body doubles will be demanded by the higher-ups at DC.

    Rob, have Frankenstein, but I've not gotten to it yet. I'm taking a day off this week to catch up 🙂

    Oh, nice one, Blue Lightning. I think The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves was Charlton.

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