Ever since DC Comics announced that the Justice League was the first super-hero team in the new 52 universe, many fans have been wondering what became of the Justice Society? Recently it was announced that the once inaugural super-team would be returning in the Earth Two title, confirming that the new continuity does indeed contain a multiverse. Similarly, there will be a World’s Finest title featuring Power Girl and the Huntress on the same parallel Earth. Readers will also remember that long before the big bad reboot was mentioned there was a series called Multiveristy that has been in development for a while now. Written by Grant Morrison, the series would explore some of the infinite Earths in the titular landscape. For fans wondering what all three titles will bring, DC has released covers for the first issues of the first two titles. Additionally, the comics company has released page art from the Morrison-written Action Comics #9, which follows the adventures of an alternate Superman and, perhaps, acts as a sort of prelude to Multiveristy. We hope so, anyway. Here are the images. Check them out and let us know what you think!
Batman: Year One is based on the landmark 1987 DC Comics titles from 12-time Eisner Award winner Frank Miller and illustrator David Mazzucchelli. The film depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed vigilante. The playboy billionaire chooses the guise of a giant bat to combat crime, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon (who is already battling corruption from inside the police department), inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a crooked political system that infests Gotham.
Primetime television stars Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) provide the core voices for Batman: Year One. Three-time Emmy Award winner Cranston gives voice to young Jim Gordon, while McKenzie makes his animated voiceover debut as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Fanboy favorites Dushku and Sackhoff fill the roles of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Detective Sarah Essen, respectively. Alex Rocco (The Godfather) is the voice of crime lord Carmine Falcone.
Animation master Bruce Timm is executive producer of Batman: Year One. Directors are Lauren Montgomery (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) and Sam Liu (All-Star Superman) from a script penned by Academy Award nominee Tab Murphy (Gorillas in the Mist, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse).
BIRDS OF PREY #1
Written by DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI, Art and cover by JESUS SAIZ
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
One is wanted for a murder she didn’t commit. The other is on the run because she knows too much. They are Dinah Laurel Lance and Ev Crawford – a.k.a. Black Canary and Starling – and together, as Gotham City’s covert ops team, they’re taking down the villains other heroes can’t touch. But now they’ve attracted the attention of a grizzled newspaper reporter who wants to expose them, as well as a creepy, chameleon-like strike team that’s out to kill them. Don’t miss the start of this hard-hitting new series from mystery novelist/comics writer Duane Swierczynski (Expiration Date, Cable).
No Oracle means a major, fundamental change in the team, but the addition of Katana and Poison Ivy certainly makes for an interesting line-up. Swierczynski is a great writer and will add an interesting tone to the title and Saiz is an exceptional artist, so this is a title that is definitely worth picking up.
Writer: Geoff Johns; Penciler: Andy Kubert; Inker: Sandra Hope and Jesse Delperdang
I freely admit that I dismissed Flashpoint early on as a fun “Elseworlds” series, but one that ultimately would have no effect on the greater DC Universe. Now that I have finished eating an entire plate of crow, I will own up to being very, very wrong. However, I have a problem with the resolution, or rather, what turned out to be the beginning to this whole alternate universe. I just have a hard time accepting that the catalyst for the entire event was a monumental act of selfishness on the part of Barry Allen. The Barry Allen that would sacrifice his own mother for the greater good by stopping himself from going back in time to save her is not the Barry Allen that would screw with the timeline like that to begin with. I just don’t buy it, so, ultimately the big revelation fell completely flat for me.
However, the event mini-series that changes an entire comic book universe ends with possibly the best Batman scene ever. This is an amazing catharsis for Bruce Wayne and I can’t help but wonder if this fundamentally changes the character, or at least lightens him up somewhat. This may be the most significant development for the character since he first donned the cowl. If this will be followed up on in the Batman titles and affect his mission and demeanor going forward, I may suddenly be interested in the Dark Knight Detective again. We will find out in the coming weeks.
Then there is that double page spread with a mysteriously cloaked figure informing Barry that long ago the timeline was split into three to “weaken your world for their impending arrival” which, with the stranger apparently popping up in all the new 52 books, means that everything is probably building to some sort of event next summer. Another Crisis, perhaps? One that returns everything back to pre-September in the event of lagging sales and interest in the new books? I’m very excited and optimistic about The New 52, but the lead-in to and explanation for the changing has left me cynical. DC Comics has September and the months to come to change my mind.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Writer: Geoff Johns; Penciler: Jim Lee; Inker: Scott Williams
The Justice League gets a new #1 issue as well as a new origin. While both of these have happened in one form or another at least half a dozen times since the team debuted in 1960, this time is significant as being probably the first time the team has begun from the beginning with a complete reboot. This also our first full look at the new DC Universe. We see a Green Lantern and Batman who have never met, but are aware of each other. And the last page gives us our first full-on, in new continuity look at Superman. Presumably, the alien that Lantern and Bats are chasing will have something to do with what ultimately brings our heroes together to form the League, but we’ll just have to see how that plays out.
This story is set “five years ago” when super-heroes are relatively new to the greater DC Universe and, as such, are somewhat feared by the general populace and not entirely tolerated by law enforcement, especially Batman. Supposedly this are the first ever super-heroes as the Justice Society and any World War II heroes never existed. Basically, this is the old Earth-1, Earth-2 scenario from pre-1986 back, which I think is pretty cool. For those of us who have been reading comics for more than 25 or 30 years, this is even cooler than the return of the multiverse in Infinite Crisis. It seems that the new DC Universe is a mix of the pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths structure of continuity with the All-Star Universe titles’ sensibilities and story structure. Again, the coming months as well as the rest of the titles will prove or disprove this.
So how is the first introduction to the new DCU? Pretty cool. It’s a well written tale with some great Lee/Williams art and certainly whets the appetite for more. I think it was smart to kick things off at the dawn of super-heroics to give us an idea of how things are in this new continuity. I wonder for how many issues we will be five years in the past and if all the new #1 issues start out in the same place. With the mystery lady from Flashpoint making a “Where’s Waldo?” appearance I also wonder how closely tied all the new titles will be. Next week we get a full slate of thirteen titles including comics featuring Superman and Batman, so I suspect more will be answered. My theory is that the continuity pre-September still exists on New Earth, the New 52 is set on Earth-1 and we’ll see some titles set on other Earths, like the upcoming Justice Society book taking place on Earth-2. All in all, Justice League #1 is a solid start to the New 52 and I can’t read to read the rest of the titles for this month!
Fans of the erstwhile ABC show LOST certainly shared this irritation. So do sports fans. The irritation I speak of is that of a non-fan dispensing “expertise” and criticism toward a subject about which they have little or no knowledge.
“The Milwaukee Brewers suck, dude.”
“Oh yeah? Name 3 players.”
“LOST is the worst show; just find a way off the island, how hard can it be?”
“Not even remotely what the show is about. Ever seen an episode?”
Recently I was listening to the ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast (which I do daily). The show is expertly hosted by Nate Ravitz, Matthew Berry (ESPN’s “Talented Mr. Roto”), and their producer is lovingly referred to as Pod Vader. I obviously enjoy the show, since I listen daily, and they are the pinnacle of talent with regard to fantasy baseball expertise and advice. Berry’s column on ESPN always entertains, as he finds a way to mix pop culture references in with fantasy baseball and bring it all together. His recent Ten Lists of 10 column is a great read as always, and toward the end he lists the top 10 superheroes “in order of awesomeness”. I take no issue with the list. Berry is a self-admitted non-comic book guy, and for a fan whose knowledge comes primarily from movies and TV, this is a solid list. On the podcast, the guys were discussing Berry’s list, and Aquaman’s name came up. Predictably, they spent a few minutes crushing him and then moved on. It was then that I decided Aquaman deserves better. He deserves respect. If you aren’t a comic book fan, you shouldn’t bash Aquaman. Stick with me here.
The hierarchy of comic book superheroes is always a crowd-pleasing conversation. Even my wife, who has a fleeting interest and the most basic comic character knowledge base (although growing impressively, I can proudly say), will jump into a conversation ranking the best and worst among costumed heroes. Who’s the best? Batman! Wolverine! Superman! Spider-Man! While the same handful of do-gooders always seem to get the top votes, Aquaman is only brought up for a laugh. Well not today. I got you, Aquaman.
It is likely that 9 out of every 10 Aquaman haters know nothing about him. They know just what you can take from his name: he is aqua-based, so the rush to judgment is that “he has to be in water to be effective”. Not so.
Let’s dispel some myths:
1. Aquaman is only a hero when he’s in water.
The truth: He has superhuman durability and strength anywhere. Aquaman has adapted to live in the crushing depths of the ocean, so his body density is such that he can withstand close range machine gun fire. He has played vital roles in heroic missions on land and even in space. He has a healing factor (see: Wolverine). Due to a special suit Batman made for him, he suffers no ill-effects when he is on land.
2. OK, but what good do his powers do him on land?
He can see in total darkness and has advanced hearing similar to sonar (see: Superman).
3. But he can’t fly!
He CAN SWIM UP NIAGARA FALLS.
Capable of reaching speeds of 10,000 feet per second, he’s a strong swimmer. There’s more water than land on earth, so if you need to get somewhere fast, Aqua’s your guy.
4. No crimes are committed underwater.
That’s because he has psionic domination of all marine life. He telepathically tells them what to do. If one – JUST one – of the land based superheroes had the equivalent of that power on land, there would be no crime here either.
Ok, so maybe compiling a list of abilities and accomplishments is a silly way to defend Aquaman’s merit. Here’s the real reason we need Aquaman to be one of our top superheroes: diversity.
Ever notice that not very many brand new superheroes have been born recently? All the big ones were born in the 1960s or earlier. That’s because there are only so many people and places that need defending! Earth needed a protector of its seas, after all, they do take up 2/3 of its surface, and Aquaman was glad to oblige. At their core, superheroes are for kids to idolize and look up to. What the comic publishers have realized recently is that diversifying the heroes draws in a more diverse fan base and increases readership. John Stewart is an African-American Green Lantern. Jaime Reyes is a Latino teen and is DC’s current Blue Beetle. Kate Kane, the current Batgirl, (now called Batwoman) is a lesbian of Jewish descent. Kids naturally gravitate to a hero they can relate to. Peter Parker was the nerd, Bruce Wayne lost his parents, Clark Kent the outsider. Wolverine battles his past, Tony Stark (Iron Man) battles addictions, The Hulk battles himself. These vulnerabilities are what ultimately endear us to the character. We need our heroes to be flawed and imperfect, because we are. Aquaman is far from perfect, and that’s why we need him even more.