Leisure:Animation & Manga
Every so often Marvel and DC will go through a period where they give a push to adding brand new superheroes to their respective universes. What this usually amounts to is an enormous amount of crap being thrown at the wall with one or two characters sticking around to achieve some measure of cult/mainstream success. (Hi there “Hitman” and “Ms. Marvel!”) As you might have guessed, I’m bringing this up now because DC is giving this approach another shot in December. It’s good timing for such a thing as the company is riding high off of the success of “Metal” and the fact that they’re stacking the creative teams for these titles with some of their best talent also bodes well for this push. As for the actual concepts they’re pushing, well…
The Immortal Men #1: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: There’s a secret society of heroes that have protected our world since forever and they’ve just been dealt a devastating blow from their biggest rival. In order to get back on their feet, the good guys now have to seek out a powerful new hero and bring him into their fold. Honestly, this has all been done before and also manages to sound like a pitch straight out of 90’s-era Image. So it’s probably a good thing that DC is getting Jim Lee to illustrate this series seeing as how he gave us his own spin on this concept back in the day with “Wild C.A.T.s” (I also think “Divine Right” might qualify here too…). This is being written by James Tynion and the fact that he’s being paired with Lee on this title has me thinking that this is DC’s effort to anoint him as their next big writer along the lines of Scott Snyder. He’s done some good work on various Bat-titles over the years but has yet to deliver anything that has truly wowed me. Though his creator-owned title “The Woods” has been good fun so far. Maybe this will be the title to finally put him over the top?
Damage #1: Ethan Avery has been transformed by our government into a living, breathing ticking time bomb. Without warning and for an hour a day he’ll transform into a beast of destruction, laying waste to everything in his path. So it’s basically “The Hulk” only instead of anger triggering the transformation, it’s completely random. Okay. I’d probably be more onboard with this if the “Hulk for an hour” concept wasn’t already being done in a fun fashion by Al Ewing over in “U.S.Avengers.” Still, this has Tony Daniel providing the art, so it’ll look great, and is being written by Robert Venditti, who has been doing “Green Lantern” ever since Geoff Johns left. That he’s been on “Green Lantern” for so long at this point makes me think that I probably shouldn’t have been so quick to write him off back when he took over from Johns.
The Silencer #1: Honor Guest is the greatest assassin you’ve never heard of and she’s… currently retired? After having put in her time as the chief hitperson for Leviathan she’s now living a normal ordinary life with her family. Now, if you think that her old life is going to cause problems for her new one, then you understand my biggest issue with this title! I would like to think that a veteran writer like Dan Abnett recognizes the utterly generic nature of this setup and has some clever twist planned to subvert it all in the first issue. If not then I don’t think that even the most balls-to-the-wall action John Romita Jr. can deliver here will be capable of making this title interesting.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #’s 1&2 (of 6, I’m assuming): Ah, so the crossover between the animated versions of these characters wasn’t the actual proper vol. 2 for this team-up. James Tynion and Freddie Williams II return for this sequel which has Donatello trying to get in touch with Batman in order to level-up his fighting skills. While he manages to fire up an interdimensional portal to make it to Gotham, one of Batman’s most famous villains manages to come through to the Turtles’ world at the same time: Bane. No longer hindered by the Bat, Bane sees this as a great opportunity to establish his own criminal empire. Now Donatello has to get back to his own world with Batman, while Leo, Raph, and Mikey have to hold out until then. All this sounds appealing enough in its own fan-fiction-y way. Yet the original miniseries was just okay, having arrived at least two decades too late to be properly memorable. If nothing else I’m sure Tynion and Williams will deliver something inoffensively entertaining to satisfy fans of both franchises here, again.
The Kamandi Challenge #12 (of 12): Wanted to mention this because while the main story is wrapped up here by Gail Simone and Ryan Sook, this issue is also said to feature an epilogue from the recently departed Len Wein with art from Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Wein’s status as a legendary creator would be assured by the simple fact that he’s the co-creator of “Wolverine.” But that’s not all he did, as he also co-created “Swamp Thing,” relaunched the “X-Men” with their first “Giant Sized” issue, and edited “Watchmen” as well. This epilogue to “Kamandi” he’s doing here could very well be his final comics work, and it gives me another reason to check out what sounds like an appealingly oddball maxiseries.
Vigilante: Southland: I’m not planning on buying this, but it’s worth discussing since it’s very existence is kind of awkward. The story itself doesn’t sound all that remarkable: Ordinary Joe’s girlfriend discovers something she shouldn’t, gets killed, and he dons a mask and takes to the streets to avenge her, getting tangled up in a conspiracy along the way. What makes this collected edition noteworthy is the fact that while it collects the entire six-issue miniseries, only three issues of it were actually published. Yeah, it was selling that badly. I’m sure the thousands of people who bought the first three issues will be glad to know how the story ends. Assuming they know that this collected edition is even coming out.
Hellblazer vol. 18: The Gift: Mike Carey’s run on this series was unique. Unique in the sense that while the majority of runs on “Hellblazer” were generally quite good, with the occasional bad issue here and there, Carey’s run was generally underwhelming with the occasional great issue here and there. This volume represents the end of his run and if you want to see John Constantine try and fail to get the better of his demonic offspring and the First of the Fallen, then by all means go pick this up. That said, it’s worth mentioning that the story this volume takes its title from is the high point of Carey’s run and one of the best “Hellblazer” stories period. It’s a flashback tale where a very young Johnny is forced to act as a spirit medium for the school bully and realizes that he has a gift for something at the end of it all. The story also features fantastically spooky art from Frazier Irving and even the connections to the ongoing narrative don’t drag it down too much. Fortunately we live in a time where you don’t have to track down the original issue or buy the collection to read this. Just head on over to ComiXology and check out the issue whenever you want for $2.
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