Interpreting this week's news and comics for signs that the world is ending.
Outhouse Correspondent F.F Ambarger combs through this week's news and comics to point out signs that the world will be ending this year.
Mass Cancellation of DC Comics!
Yesterday, DC announced that they would be canning six of their weakest-selling titles, delighting many of the naysayers who have been waiting for this announcement for eight months. Everyone was expecting DC to make cuts, especially in light of the news that Marvel had finally overtaken DC in sales once more. DC made the right call in culling the bottom of the barrel, eliminating poorly-selling titles such as Static Shock, Hawk and Dove and Men of War. Having read all the cancelled books, I can say that DC made the right call in getting rid of these weak performers, which were among DC's worst offerings.
Equally important was DC's announcement of Wave Two, a set of six new ongoing series that will replace their cancelled brethren. Wave Two will allow DC to keep their New 52 moniker, while upgrading some of their worst books with some potential upgrades. Among the series announced were Dial H, a remake of the Vertigo property written by popular novelist China Miéville and edited by Vertigo head Karen Berger, Earth 2, which will explore a parallel universe featuring DC's Golden Age Heroes, Batman Incorporated, which will continue Grant Morrison's Bat-epic and GI Combat, which will feature an ongoing backup feature by All-Star Western scribes Palmiotti and Gray.
In my humble opinion, this announcement is the equivalent to the Pau Gasol trade to the Lakers a few years back. DC just added a sales juggernaut (Batman Incorporated), an Eisner-caliber book (Dial H) and a probable top 50 seller (Earth 2) in exchange for a collection of DC's worst series (and OMAC). While I don't think that Wave Two will be able to offset Marvel's Avengers vs. X-Men event, it will certainly keep the publisher's line from becoming stagnant.
Millarworld Lives On!
Mark Millar warned us that 2012 would be his year and he certainly seems to be amping his Millarworld line in anticipation. Millar announced a new science fiction themed series called Jupiter's Children that will kick off the creation of a new superhero universe designed to compete with DC and Marvel's. With art by Frank Quietly, Jupiter's Children will apparently have a mythology as deep as the Big Two, but without all the necessary reading. In addition, Millar also announced a new Hit-Girl miniseries and a sequel to Nemesis. With The Secret Service and Supercrooks also coming out in 2012, Millar's going to have a very busy year.
Mark Millar is, in my eyes, the Dave Matthews Band of comic book creators. He's a well-respected creator, hast a huge, cult-like fan following who think that he can do no wrong and has appeal beyond the typical fanboy. However, I just don't get the appeal. Millar's comics rely on over the top plot twists and an emphasis on EXTREME violence to sell issues and are basically movie pitches with pretty art. He's able to attract top-notch talent because his comics sell well at bookstores and he's almost always able to sucker some movie studio into buying rights to his stories. Obviously, there's a reason his comics sell. I just don't know what it is.
Heroes Fighting Heroes!
This mind as well be a weekly feature in this column as I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty more images of Avengers fighting X-Men in the coming weeks. Marvel has been spamming the internet with teasers pairing off heroes against each other, which have created philosophical arguments such as "Who would win, a blind lawyer or the heir of Apocalypse that was about five minutes away from conquering the world?" (My money's on the blind lawyer.)
While I'm doubtful that these fights will have that big of a role in the actual Avengers vs. X-Men series (look at how important the Worthy were in Fear Itself), they do seem to actually be attracting interest towards the event. I guess it's because that unlike typical superhero vs. villain battles, which will almost always end in a hero's victory, there's no obvious winner in a hero vs. hero fight. Until they release a Rocket Raccoon vs. Howard the Duck teaser, make mine Marvel!
Another Age of Apocalypse! (Didn't We Just See That Last Week?)
In this week's superlative Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (one of the best books on the stands right now), we see a not entirely unexpected potential consequence to Wolverine's decision to admit Kid Genesis (AKA a child version of Apocalypse). In a future premonition, Deathlok sees Kid Genesis turning evil and fighting older versions of many of the teenaged cast of the series.
Say what you want about Wolverine (and my boss had plenty to say right here), but Jason Aaron is just knocking it out of the park with bringing the students of Jean Grey's School for Responsible Mutanting to life. Quentin Quire, Broo, Edie and Kid Gladiator are all great additions to the X-Cast and are easily the most interesting students to arrive in Westchester since Scott Summers and the original X-Men arrived at Xavier's School back in the 60s.
Brilliant #2 Came Out!
Did you forget about Brilliant? I know I did. Brilliant is Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley's creator-owned miniseries about college students inventing superpowers. Unlike Bendis and Bagley's historic run on Ultimate Spider-Man, which often double-shipped in a month, Brilliant has been conspicuously absent from stores since the first issue was released back in September. While not as terrible as the massive delays between Powers issues (there will be a seventeen month delay between issues #7 and #8 by the time #8 comes out next month), four months is enough to kill the momentum on any book, even one written by the Great One himself.
The reason for the delay? Well, that's not quite clear. Brilliant #1 was delayed due an artistic snafu involving a lack of inked pages, which required the entire issue to have to be redone and recolored. Whether that screwed up the rest of the schedule is unclear. Allegedly, the series will start shipping on a monthly basis, but I'll believe that when I see it. As for the quality of Brilliant #2, it was alright but certainly not worth the four months I spent impatiently waiting for it.
Batwoman Gets Blackmailed!
In Batwoman #5, Batwoman finally defeats La Llorona, the creepy mist lady who has been abducting children in Gotham. However, she discovers La Llorona is a lackey for a person/organization named Medusa. Batwoman is coerced into assisting the DEO in the investigation of Medusa, after Director Bones, head of the DEO, threatens to arrest her father. Kate Kane rejects Batman's offer to join Batman Inc. so that she can work for the DEO instead, leading Batman to be even grumpier than usual. Also, Batwoman's sidekick Flamebird is still in critical care.
When DC announced that Batwoman would be returning without Greg Rucka, the creator largely responsible for her transcending the "lipstick lesbian" image she had been labeled with during her introduction in 52, I admit I was a little skeptical, even if J.H. Williams, one of the best artists in the industry was involved with the book. Thankfully, Batwoman has consistently proven me wrong and this issue was no exception. My only qualm with the book is that the Medusa reveal reminds me a little too much of Leviathan over in Batman Incorporated. Hopefully, I'm offbase in this worry as Batwoman's one of the series I look forward to the most every month.
Crisis Averted: One Sign That the World Might Not Be Ending Afterall
Spider-Man Saves the Day (Sort of)!
On the surface, Scarlet Spider feels a bit like an EXTREME Spider-Man. That's probably because Kaine, the lead character of the book, was very much a product of the EXTREME 90's. However, Chris Yost does a great job of symbolically washing away a lot of that extremeness without whitewashing the grittiness that separates Kaine from Peter Parker. Unlike Peter Parker, whose irresponsible urges are repressed by a crushing sense of guilt, Kaine feels much less responsibility to protecting the innocent and manages to screw up even the most well-intentioned of actions. Scarlet Spider is a solid read and reminds me a lot of the early issues of Venom, another great Spider-spinoff.
Written or Contributed by: F.F. Ambarger, Outhouse Correspondent