DC Relaunch Spectacular Group 3: Superman & Green Lantern (ain't got a'nothin' on me)
Danny, Nick and Chris, our intrepid crew of Relauncheteers, are back this week to take on the filthy hordes of new titles. And by new we mostly mean regurgitated detritus from the spectator boom.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Rags Morales, Rick Bryant
Chris Kiser: Let me break this down for you. Grant Morrison, the best writer in comics today and the guy who wrote the best Superman story ever, is writing Action Comics. If anyone needs the three of us to tell them how to respond to that, then count me as seriously concerned about that individual’s cognitive capacity. It’ll take a writer of Grant’s caliber, though, to sell me on that T-shirt and Huck Finn pants combo that better not be Supes’ actual in-story costume.
Danny Djeljosevic: Here is my bottom line about the great, big DC relaunch: I can easily ignore anything that jams in my craw so long as I get a Grant Morrison book to read every month. Batman Incorporated won't come back until 2012, but as a generous quid pro quo we get Grant Morrison on Action Comics every month. Plus, Rags Morales, who was once the awesome artist on the underrated/criminally cancelled Hourman long before he was the guy who drew Superman raping somebody or whatever Identity Crisis was about.
Nick Hanover: I know Danny is all a'flutter over Rags Morales but I can't help but feel a little disappointed by his presence on this book after getting spoiled by team-ups like Morrison and Chris Burnham and before that Morrison and Frank Quitely. No offense to Rags, but for quite some time Morrison has worked with artists who are as interested in reinventing super heroics visually as he is interested in permanently altering the philosophy. But hey, small quibbles, all you need to know about this book is that MF GRANT MORRISON is writing it.
Writer: George Pèrez
Artist: Jesus Merino
Nick: And here we have the antithesis of Morrison's Action Comics, a Superman book so Status Quo its theme song is "Pictures of Matchstick Men." That's DC, folks, driving home the company slogan of "Three Steps Back for Every Step Forward!"
Chris: Okay, okay, I take back that comment about the Huck Finn pants! I think DC should embrace the backlash and slather the cover of this first issue with pull quotes about how horrible the new costume looks. “The worst thing to happen to Superman since Richard Pryor!” “Mattel called…They want their lost Masters of the Universe figure back!”
Danny: God, that costume. At least, with George Perez drawing the breakdowns of his own book, we'll have some crazy intricate page layouts.
Writers: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Danny: They finally let her cover her midriff at the price of the constant panty shot that is having-no-pants. Will Supergirl ever win? Hey, you know who did lots of excellent Supergirl redesigns? Cory Walker.
Chris: This book is being written by guys who wrote for Smallville and Heroes, so you know they understand what superheroes are supposed to be like. To be fair, Green and Johnson did write some issues of Superman/Batman that were pretty well received, so they might be legit. I do worry, though, about their seeming plans to write Kara as some kind of Kryptonian brat.
Nick: So, Supergirl finally gets written by a woman, the fabulous Kelly Sue DeConnick, and it's widely praised by critics. It's the first time in ages that anyone has really given Supergirl a second thought (be honest). And how does DC handle this? Well, the company slogan is "Three Steps Back for Every Step Forward!" for a reason, so they've given it to the writers of two terrible, vaguely superhero-like tv shows. Let's just go ahead and make the honey badger DC's mascot because clearly they just don't give a shit.
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: RB Silva, Rob Lean
Danny: I'm loving Eric Canete's image of Superboy on this cover. Finally, something that isn't a T-shirt! Plus, RB Silva art and something called Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E.! There's a lot about this book that says "Read," but then I lose interest when I see Scott Lobdell credited as a writer.
Nick: I'll confess I used to love Scott Lobdell. Generation X was truly the shit...when I was 12.
Chris: Oh, man! I can’t believe they got the guy who writes Red Hood and the Outlaws to do this!
Legion of Super-Heroes
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Grancis Portela
Danny: Considering the lack of writer shakeup here, I fully expect Legion of Super-Heroes to stay the course of the pre-relaunch Legion.
Nick: It's so hard for me to care about any Legion book anymore since DC likes to fuck around with the creative teams so much but I guess the lack of that kind of shake-up here leaves me mildly excited? Like "Ooh, Pawn Stars is on tv and my only other options are a spelling bee and soap operas!" excited.
Chris: Somewhere around a year and a half ago, DC pulled Paul Levitz, a writer that people liked a long time ago, out of the front office and had him write the Legion again. Unable to resist the possibility of catching mediocrity in a bottle once more, they’ve gone for the exact same strategy on half the new line. What a fun, sexy time for all of us!
Nick: I think we broke Chris, Danny.
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Pete Woods
Danny: Another case of "Awesome Artist + Forgotten X-Men Writer," this time serving a comic that, despite the title, does not have Dan Abnett and/or Andy Lanning attached to it. Either way, I have my doubts about Wildfire, Timberwolf and Slug Lad supporting their own book.
Chris: Calling this book Legion Lost only reminds me of the fact that the Abnett and Lanning version of these characters (who once appeared in a miniseries by the same name) are never coming back. The franchise has actually been rebooted twice over since they last appeared. The premise for this series -- seven Legionnaires from the future are left stranded in the 21st Century -- sounds more like the basis for a single arc than an entire ongoing.
Nick: So let me get this straight...this book is an arc Nicieza had left over from when he wrote a few of the several thousand X-books in the '90s but it's got art from Pete Woods? Well shit, I just don't know what to think.
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund
Danny: Rob Liefeld created Youngblood to resemble the Teen Titans, and now the Teen Titans resemble Youngblood. I feel like this was done to make the Teen Titans seem less "lame" and "Silver Agey" even though, let's face it, Teen Titans will always have that DNA in it. Why not embrace it?
Nick: Plus there's the fact that it's written by Lobdell, who wrote my pre-teen fave Generation X, themselves more than a little like Teen Titans. I agree, though, that the Silver Agey aspects are the best part about the Titans, as that excellent Cartoon Network show ably proves. No, really, guys, it's amazing. Shut up.
Chris: Ohhh, I get it. It’s a clever satire of the excessiveness of 1990’s comics culture. Very crafty, DC! The subtlety might be lost on the average reader, but smart people who read The Comics Journal and know about art and stuff will be eating this up.
Writers: Scott McDaniel, John Rozum
Artists: Scott McDaniel, Jonathan Glapion, LeBeau Underwood
Chris: After spending weeks second guessing DC for not hiring enough cutting edge talent and failing to understand how to appeal to new readers, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t buy this. John Rozum has been wowing more than a few discerning readers with Xombi, and Static is a character who, for some reason, really strikes a chord with mainstream audiences.
Danny: At least John Rozum has something to do after Xombi ends. I'm not a fan of Scott McDaniel's art, but yay diversity. There are like three black people-centric DC titles. Which is like 1/17th of the entire line, but when you consider the ratio before the relaunch, it's quite the spike.
Nick: This strikes me as one of the biggest contenders for luring in new readers that DC has. There was a Static Shock TV show that is fondly remembered by kids who are probably buying their own comics by now or would if any looked interesting to them and it's a different beast than most of the DC titles wrapped up in this relaunch. Will it be great? I'm not sure, but at it least it will be somewhat fresh.
Hawk and Dove
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Chris: The solicitation text for this one says, “Hank Hall is not happy…to have Dawn Granger as a new partner in his war on crime.” Hmm. I think I liked the implication in Brightest Day that Hawk was a sort of protective older brother/father figure to Dove better than the notion that he somehow resents her. And that’s about as far as my opinion on Hawk and Dove comics goes.
Danny: To be honest? I'm not sure how or why this is happening. Hawk and Dove? Why make such a low-profile team part of your powerhouse barrage of 52 all-new series? All respect to Sterling Gates (I liked what I read of his Supergirl), but this feels like filler quota material. At least you'll know what to expect from the art.
Nick: I'm sorry, but was anyone asking for this? Is there some rabid subcult of Liefeld fans who miss his Hawk & Dove work the most? Is it because they're superheroes with claws instead of feet?
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy
Chris: Upon first hearing about this whole DC reboot, my initial thoughts were that they can change whatever they want as long as they don’t mess with the stuff Grant Morrison had built up in Batman or the stories Geoff Johns was telling in Green Lantern. So, all the complaining you’ve been reading from me aside, I’m basically getting exactly what I wanted.
Danny: Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke on pre-relaunch Green Lantern was batshit insane, so I'm glad they're actually staying around for the new series. And why wouldn't they?
Nick: This is kind of the biggest example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in this entire relaunch. There's not much to say other than that.
Green Lantern Corps
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Fernando Pasarin, Scott Hanna
Danny: Didn't read Tomasi's GL spinoff stuff before the relaunch, won't continue. This is another "Ain't broke, don't fix" scenario, like the Batbooks.
Nick: See above.
Chris: If you fear going through an entire month without reading the word “poozer” in at least five or six discrete lines of dialogue, then this is the book for you!
Green Lantern: The New Guardians
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Tyler Kirkham, Batt
Chris: You can make all the Rainbow Brite jokes you want, but having all those different colored power rings out there has revitalized the Green Lantern franchise. I’d much rather read about a team like this comprised of representatives of each group than one about the Green Lantern Corps, personally. In my experience, though, the GL spinoff books not written by Geoff Johns have been pretty hard to stomach.
Nick: Unless there's some kind of Captain Planet angle where all those different colored power rings come together to call forth some mulleted weirdo I'm not interested.
Danny: Kyle Rayner running the New Guardians? At least he won't be killed off or retconned.
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter
Chris: I can think of at least four lantern corps I’d rather see get their own book than the red ones. As great as Atrocitus and company are as supporting characters and villains in the main Lantern book, I can’t imagine their own adventures making for very good reading. Their entire existence is based around losing themselves in the rage that fuels their rings, so I don’t see how you turn that into a workable group of protagonists.
Danny: With the exception of X-Statix, Peter Milligan has almost always fared better in the DCU than over at Marvel. I don't know why that is, but I'll gladly see what he does with the Red Lantern Corps. I imagine it'll be a monthly 20 pages of existential handwringing and vomiting blood. I'm weirdly okay with that.
Nick: I couldn't give less of a shit about the Red Lanterns and yet I'll be buying this book, simply because of Milligan. I've already resigned myself to the fact that it will be cancelled after a dozen issues or so but dammit, I'll be there anyway. Milligan is just such a sorely underrated writer that I feel like I owe it to him to buy everything he does regardless of quality. Which is why I have his entire X-Men run.
Our relauncheteers have made it through this round, kiddos, but only barely! Tune in next week to find out if they can survive the terror that is...the books that won't fit into any handy groupings.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book writer, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no followup questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin. He's currently in the midst of reading and reviewing every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and regretting every second of it.
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