Firestorm, Metal Men, Katana, Sugar & Spike, Poison Ivy, Swamp Thing, Raven, Metamorpho - DC's upcoming mini-series
Well, here's a way to brighten a dull Monday - a slew of new book announcements from DC Comics. Eight six-part mini-series set for release in January 2016 with some interesting names attached - only writers, so far. Let's have a quick round-up with some first impressions.
This is going to be written by Gerry Conway, creator of the character. Given Firestorm's popularity on the Flash TV series, it's a wonder this has been so long coming. Given the TV link, and the presence of Conway, I'm betting this is the original nuclear duo of Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein reteaming, with recent continuity thrown out the window. And while some readers may be sniffy about a veteran writer returning to the scene of former glories, it's inarguable that FIrestorm has never been as successful as when Conway was writing. Further, I'd argue it was never as enjoyable. And Conway's The Last Days of Animal Man a couple of years ago proved Conway can still write a darned food superhero book. If DC teams Conway with a suitable artist - heck, his Animal Man pencilling partner Chris Batista would be a dream - I could easily see this six-issue run becoming indefinite.
Sugar & Spike
Here's an odd one. The cute toddlers written and drawn by Sheldon Mayer in the funny, charming Fifties and Sixties series (that's little Sugar Plumm in my Too Dangerous Twitter pic) are being revived - as teenage detectives. By Keith Giffen. Now, I'm a huge Giffen fan but 'charming' and 'cute' aren't words I'd associate with his work. 'Cynical' and 'snarky", maybe. And if Sugar & Spike aren't cheeky kids talking in 'baby jabber', what's the point? But as I say, I'm a Giffen booster, and a big Sugar and Spike fan, so I'll give it a go. Maybe DC could hire an Archie artist - well, the new, more 'grown-up approaches, are lessening opportunities there - to draw the book.
Katana: Cult of the Kobra
This is a massive surprise, the sword-happy superheroine having only recently headlined a failed series. Sure, she's appearing in the upcoming Suicide Squad film, and has been on the Arrow TV show, but does she actually have a fanbase? To me, she's the epitome of a character who works well in a team, but hasn't the appeal to hold her own book. This mini is being handled by her very smart creator, Mike Barr, but I'd rather see him write Katana in a revived Outsiders book - she was never more interesting than when she was being big sister to Halo - than as a solo act. The subtitle says she's going up against DC cult leader Kobra. I've never liked that character concept, but it seems plenty of people do.
Speaking of Outsiders, it's Katana's old pal Rex Mason, the Element Man. He began as a solo character, and has enough interesting supporting characters to stud a series. His previous solo stories have always been fun, and he's going to be written by Aaron Lopresti, whose Garbage Man in the 2010 DC series Weird Worlds showed he has chops. And a quote from back then - 'I always have been more comfortable writing my own projects and I think my artwork has always been better when I do' - makes me hopeful Lopresti will be drawing as well as writing. If that's the case, this is going to be a winner.
Alan Moore's phenomenally successful reinvention of Swamp Thing has tended to overshadow the contribution of his co-creator, Len Wein, who wrote his initial, very popular stories. Recently, Wein returned to the character with a two-part Convergence offering. And very enjoyable that was too, as he and artist Kelley Jones spun a darkly humorous take on the original DC muck monster. Hmm, wonder if Jones is busy...
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death
From one plant person to another. Poison Ivy gets her first DC book, and given Catwoman has held her own series for so long, it's a surprise it's taken so long for Pamela Isley to follow. That said, she's not lacked for appearances... Ivy has shown up so much, fighting for the rights of oppressed plants, that an appearance by her has to be special to get my interest. Gail Simone giving us an especially fine Poison Ivy tale in last year's Batgirl Annual. And given her great Wonder Woman story in digital Sensation Comics - Rescue Angel, reviewed on this very blog - I'm optimistic Amy Chu can deliver. As for who could illustrate it, probably any number of people would love a crack... Ivy is one of those characters artists love to draw. I expect DC will want a Batgirl/Black Canary/Gotham Academy vibe, so most likely a Ben Caldwell/Karl Kerschl type will get the job.
It's a second title for Len Wein as the quirkiest robots in comics return. Platinum, Gold, Tin, Mercury, Lead and Iron haven't had a solo strip since Wednesday Comics and Doom Patrol circa 2009. I loved both takes on Doc Magnus's very human creations and cannot wait to make their acquaintance once more. So long as Wein embraces the classic concept - no Veridium, please - this could be great. Wein could do worse than look to the Seventies take of Martin Pasko and Joe Staton, and find some way to update their anarchic, whimsical approach. Heck, it's only six issues, maybe Staton could find time in between his Dick Tracy duties to pencil, with former Rom inkers Ian Akin and Brian Garvey adding the polish.
Gerry Conway on Firestorm. Len Wein on Swamp Thing and Metal Men ... there's a bit of a trend here, one DC continues by launching New Teen Titan Raven into her own series with co-creator Marv Wolfman at the helm.. The promotional image with the story is the laughable New 52 redesign, but if there's to be any chance of the revamped version gaining popularity, she need to be closer to the classic, George Perez look. This quote from Wolfman in USA Today - where DC broke the news - bodes well for an image change: 'When I go to comic conventions it thrills me to see all the young fans cosplaying as Raven from the Teen Titans GO! cartoon show.' With luck, clamshell-head Raven will soon be a thing of the past. I'd love to see Wolfman tap into his Tomb of Dracula/Night Force side to give us a truly creepy solo superheroine. And if he has an artistic dealer in darkness a la Tom Mandrake bringing his scripts to life, I'll be happy.
So, eight books, all worth at least a look. While I'd love to see Metal Men and Firestorm announced as ongoings, at least we know every story will have a beginning, a middle and an end. So, how soon is January?