And the post-Flashpoint new titles keep on coming from DC. Today’s batch, says the publicity, are the edgiest of the 52 new books. Let’s take a look.
Blackhawk #1 by Mike Costa and Ken Lashley
Blackhawk is an elite group of mercenaries made up of brave men from around the world equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us. A set of contemporary tales that battle the world’s gravest threats.
Uh-huh. I’ve enjoyed a fair few Blackhawk comics in my time – my favourites being the Mark Evanier/Dan Spiegle run of the Seventies – so the title presses my nostalgia buttons. I’m not convinced this will be my cup of tea, though. What was the USP of the Blackhawks? Fighter planes. And what’s not mentioned in that blurb? It sounds as if this book is aimed at the GI Joe generation, with a much-loved title tacked onto a comic with a very tenuous link to the original – chaps from around the world at war – in a bid to pull in a few more readers. The illo tells us that while the ‘brave men’ have the ‘cutting edge hardware’, the brave women have belly shirts. Lovely. Mike Costa I don’t know at all, but it seems he’s written Transformers and – wait for it – GI Joe. Ken Lashley, I remember from the likes of Excalibur and Flash – good artist. I could try this as a cheaper download after a month. But unless I hear great things, I likely won’t.
Sgt Rock and the Men of War #1 by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick
The grandson of the original Sgt. Rock assumes the command of Easy Company, a team of crack ex-military men financed by a covert military contractor, as they brave the battle-scarred landscape carved by the DC Universe’s super-villains. Sgt Rock and the Men of War#1 is a contemporary military story of fighting under modern conditions.
I’ve not read more than a few dozen Sgt Rock stories, but one thing they shared was a flavour. There was a weariness about the Second World War, a feeling that it wasn’t about glory, it was about surviving one more day, getting one step closer to peace. This comic borrows Rock’s name, but Sgt Rock and the Men of War (the latter phrase representing another long-dead DC title) won’t be Easy Company. If Brandon and Derenick, two solid creators, capture some of the Rock tone, great, but if not I’d rather they sold this comic under a different name. I’ll give this book a try, but it sounds a bit too ‘A-Team in the DCU’ for my liking. That cover, with eagle-shaped blood-spatter on an anonymous guy, bodes ill. Sgt Rock had personality. Sgt Rock had stubble.
Deathstroke #1 by Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett and Art Thibert
A metahuman mercenary who made a living taking out the toughest targets, Deathstroke will reclaim his fearsome legacy by any means necessary in DEATHSTROKE #1, a new series from rising star Kyle Higgins and artists Joe Bennett and Art Thibert.
Oh, this is a bugger, a great creative team on a character I cannot stand. Deathstroke was OK as an occasional villain but once DC started overusing him, and emphasising his ‘honorable’ side, I was turned off. I do not wish to be told that a stone killer who sleeps with 13-year-old girl is actually rather cool. Pass.
Grifter #1 by Nathan Edmondson, Cafu and Bit
Ex-black ops agent Cole Cash is a charming grifter that few can resist. And yet he’s about to be branded a serial killer when he begins hunting and exterminating inhuman creatures hidden in human form – creatures only he can see. Can the biggest sweet talker of all time talk his way out of this one when even his brother thinks he’s gone over the edge? Find out in GRIFTER #1, written by Nathan Edmondson with art by CAFU and BIT (the team behind T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS).
I never read any WildC.A.T.S. comics because they featured a man wearing a dishrag on his head who fired two guns at once. So it’s time for a wee Wiki. Former honorable crook … mental powers … healing factor … doesn’t sound as if I missed anything. Good artists, mind, and Edmondson has a hit with Who is Jake Ellis?, so I likely should give Grifter a try. But he has a dishrag on his head. And it’s not even a pretty one.
OMAC #1 by Dan DidDio, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish
A man loses control of his life as the omnipresent Brother Eye transforms him against his will into a powerful killing machine OMAC #1, written by DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and co-written and illustrated by Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish.
So there I was last night, Tweeting that I was dying to hear where Keith Giffen, one of my favourite comics creators, was turning up, and then DC announces this. I think there’s a lesson here …
Lord, I hate the modern OMACs. Dan DiDio’s DC has been shoving the things down our throat for over five years now – thousands of ordinary citizens all over the world are sleeper cyborgs, they keep attacking the heroes and no one does anything about it. I am not spending another penny on a book featuring the OMACs.
All-Star Western #1 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Moritat
Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Featuring back-up stories starring DC’s other western heroes, ALL-STAR WESTERN #1 will be written by the fan-favorite Jonah Hex team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and illustrated by Moritat.
I thought DC was happy with the performance of the Jonah Hex series. Yes, sales are relatively low, but it’s a consistent trade seller, and garners an awful lot of praise. But here it is, revamped as a 19th-century Gotham Central, and bearing another title from the DC archives. I’m not sure how much mileage there is in Jonah teaming up with Amadeus Arkham – this could be a hit with Western and Batman fans alike, or it could be a fascinating disaster. Given that Gray and Palmiotti are excellent writers, and Moritat is a rising star whose credits include The Spirit and Elephantmen, the former is a lot more likely.
And back-ups too. Who will we get? Scalphunter? Cinnamon? Super-Chief? Given that we’re in Gotham, I’d bet the farm on Bat Lash!
Stormwatch #1 by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda
Stormwatch is a dangerous super human strike force whose existence is kept secret from the world. Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo. And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds. Featuring a surprising new roster, STORMWATCH #1 will be written by the critically-acclaimed Paul Cornell (Superman: The Black Ring, “Dr. Who”) and illustrated by Miguel Sepulveda.
Now this is weird. J’onn J’onnz allied with a team out to recruit ‘two of the deadliest superhumans on the planet’? Unless they seek to redeem the brutal Apollo and Midnighter, this isn’t a group any Martian Manhunter I know would join. And while I get that this will be a tweaked J’onn, it sounds a really bad fit. What a shame J’onn isn’t ‘diverse’, then he might have kept his JLA place. I could actually see his replacement, Cyborg, fitting easily into a Wildstorm team.
And what the heck is DC doing integrating Jim Lee’s universe into the main line? Stormwatch won’t get to be the UN superhero team, as the JLI is filling that niche, and they can’t develop into the darkly entertaining Authority or the JLA would have to lock them up. I’ve never read a Stormwatch story but the presence of Paul Cornell guarantees I’ll try this. As a Dr Who writer, I think he’ll have a fascinating take on J’onn’s alien nature, and he’s a whiz at superteams. And Miguel Sepulveda, who drew that story in Action Comics #900,is a real talent.
Suicide Squad #1 by Adam Glass and Marco Rudy
Blue Beetle #1 by Tony Bedard, Ig Guara and Ruy Jose