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.
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?