In September, DC’s entire line is going to be highjacked by the villains of the universe. The creative teams frankenstiened together from DC’s regular stable of writers and artists, but — with a few exceptions — none of titles look like logical continuations of any of the current series. How’s a body supposed to know what they’re supposed to read? That’s where our four-part guide comes in.
One more day guys: then the Trinity War will be behind us and we can stop pretending that it makes any sense to have three different Justice Leagues. Oh, sure, we all know they’re coming back (in Canada), but in the meantime, here are the enemies of the Leagues (and also some randos that are getting lumped in with the Leagues — presumably for sales reasons). In part three of our guide, we’ll be going over the issues from Justice League, Justice League of America, Justice League Dark and Teen Titans. You can also check out Part I – Batman and Part 2 – Superman and Earth-2
First thing Geoff Johns did in the New 52 was feed us Batman and the Green Lantern — one the standard bearer for DC and the other the superhero personification of Johns’ epic storytelling. They were natural hallmarks for the Creative Director to hit, but the third was Darkseid. Darkseid is the quintessential “let’s all team up to fight this asshole” villain, and were it not for the threat his armies posed, none of the New 52’s mythology would look like it does. We tend to shy away from calling any one issue or series “important” for mythological reasons, but this one is important. For mythological reasons. We’re already excited to see Greg Pak writing a handful of Superman villains, and his experience writing on Batman / Superman shows how well he handles the oddity of parallel worlds. Most of Paulo Siqueria’s credits in the New 52 are for inking and coloring. When he does get to penciling, his pages are full of details, if not always bursting with energy or motion. Between Pak and Siqueria, it almost suggests a quiet, thinkier approach to the mega-baddie.
This isn’t Lobo’s first appearance in the New 52, but after skippable stints in Deathstroke and Stormwatch, it might as well be. Scott Snyder-disciple Marguerite Bennett is on writing duties, and if her work on the Batman Annual 2 is any indication, she might just be able to find the human connection Rob Liefeld and Jim Starlin missed. Ben Oliver’s art has most recently been seen in dialogue with Jae Lee’s in Batman/Superman, where his otherworldly style was used to full effect — literally giving life to another world. Don’t let the muscle-bound bounty-hunter on the cover fool you: this issue might be one of the most artful on the list.
Justice League 23.3: Dial E
Written by China Mieville; art by (deep breath) Mateus Santolouco, Jeff Lemire, Jock, Alberto Ponticelli, David Lapham, Riccardo Burchiello, and others
Release date 9/18/13
Dial H fans may still be in mourning over the loss of one of the most unusual series in the New 52, but this issue is going to be one hell of a eulogy. Written by series writer China Mieville, and drawn by twenty artists, this issue promises to deliver all of Dial H’s madcap weirdness and then some. It’s a victory lap for a cult series that doubles as a showcase for some incredible artists — it has something for everybody. We’re particularly excited to see original penciller Mateus Santolouco return to the series, but really, every page of this thing is going to be awesome. Plus, there’s one whole page of art by Jeff Lemire, who’s charmingly tossed-off style is usually reserved for his own stories.
As long as we’re still on Earth-0, shouldn’t we be calling them the “Secret League?” Multiverse jokes aside, there’s a lot we don’t know about these guys yet. Their introductions have been buried among the introduction of an entire Justice League of America. It’s poetic, then, that the writing team behind the first two issues of Justice League of America’s: Vibe should tackle this issue. The Vibe vibe continues on through the artistic team — Manuel Garcia penciled Vibe 4. Rob Hunter is a inker from deep in DC’s stable, it’s interesting to see him credited with the more liberal label of “artist” here. It seems like the Secret Society had orchestrated all of this Pandora’s Box nonsense, so you can look to this issue to be another frustrating lack of answers.
The solicit promises “Deadshot’s secret history,” which is a bit of a strange pitch for a Justice League of America issue. Perhaps it’s better to think of this as Matt Kindt’s opportunity to flex nuts on JLA and Suicide Squad, both of which he begins writing in October. Pasqual Ferry might be best known for his work with Matt Fraction on The Mighty Thor, where his clarity of action and emotion served him well, but he’s relatively unknown in the New 52, so he might have as much to prove as Kindt. That might not be enough to justify retelling Deadshot’s origin, so here’s hoping they come up with an interesting angle.
Traditionally a villain of Firestorm, Killer Frost also seems like a strange choice for a Justice League of America book. This is one of three issues Sterling Gates wrote this month — and one of two drawn by Derlis Santacruz — so perhaps this lapse is forgivable. The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man already offered an origin for Killer Frost in the New 52 (not that anybody read it), but that leaves Gates and Santacruz nowhere to go but forward. It’s possible they’ll find something to do with her, but given Gate’s recent output on Vibe, and Santacruz’s recent work on the Detective Comics Annual 2, we’re not holding out much hope. The character’s recent appearance in the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us had us all asking: “who?” Maybe this issue can answer that bored rhetorical question.
Hey, how much do you suppose a shadow is worth? Like, how much would you insure it for against theft? In the answer to that question lies the true evil of the Shadow Thief — who, it should be no surprise, is an old nemesis of Hawkman. Joking aside, it would be great to see Tom DeFalco break out of the Young Justice group, which served as a kind of ever-shrinking tomb for him in the New 52. Of course, DeFalco certainly deserves some of the blame for the slow failure of many of those series. Chad Hardin is similarly no stranger to cancelled titles, though his work on the final chapters of Demon Knights is generally well respected. Still, DeFalco and Hardin will have their work cut out for them, attempting to resuscitate a DOA idea like a villain who steals shadows.
Didn’t Black Adam die? The Trinity War kicked off because Shazam was trying to spread his ashes in Kahndaq, so we’re either doing Secret Origins or Unlikely Resurrections. Fortunately for us, Geoff Johns is an old pro at both. The Shazam story might just be the only Johns material of the New 52 that the entire Retcon Punch staff has been able to get behind, so we’re cautiously optimistic about this one. Edgar Salazar recently came off a run on late-period Deathstroke — neither the Higgins Period, which we loved, nor the Leifeld Period, which we hated, but the Justin Jordan Period, which we ignored (just like everyone else).
We’ve been pretty big fans of Justice League Dark since Jeff Lemire took the reins last year, but let’s be honest: we’re not big fans of Ann Nocenti or Chriscross. In fact, we adhere to a rather strict “NO-centi” policy around here. Unfortunately, Chriscross’ wonky perspectives and exaggerated grimaces aren’t going to make us reconsider. Short of confirming a list of “most predictably bad issues of 2013,” we can’t encourage reading this one. Patrick really wanted to mention that Chriscross usually includes at least one neat visual effect in each issue he draws, but that sends a mixed message about an issue we’re vehemently counter-recommending. Oh, that made it into the final copy? Look, guys: pick up at your own risk.
Hey, remember the Black Diamond Probability? You know, that quasi-event that had Eclipso’s black diamond popping up across DC history? Just kidding — of course you don’t! Of all of the villains featured this month, Eclipso has certainly had the most convoluted introduction, sprawling from Team 7 to All Star Western to Demon Knights to Sword of Sorcery. Who better than to navigate those waters than Dan Didio, everyone’s favorite handler of convoluted mythologies? Then again, the team of Didio and Philip Tan had us dropping Phantom Stranger faster than we could forget his name. This promises to be just as memorable.
Marv Wolfman returning to Teen Titans is all many fans need to know, but the fact that he’s returning with an issue about Trigon — a character he created for New Teen Titans 2 — makes this event particularly notable. The legacy of Wolfman and Perez might be a bit daunting for any artist, but we actually liked CAFU quite a bit on his fill-in work for Green Lantern Corps 13, where he demonstrated a knack for clearly-staged horror. We could probably add something about Trigon’s relationship to Raven, but honestly, who cares? Marv Wolfman is writing an issue of Teen Titans!
At last, the issue that poses the question, “when will it be Deathstroke’s turn?” (You know, ignoring that he already had a solo series that was unceremoniously cancelled earlier this year, plus a staring role in Team 7, also unceremoniously canceled earlier this year.) Corey May and Dooma Wendschuh are videogame writers — that’s not a pejorative, that’s actually their occupation. They’re best known as the writers of the Assassin’s Creed series, but they seem to have found a backdoor into comics through Batman: Arkham Origins. Moritat has the distinction of being the only artist in the New 52 to have drawn every issue of his series, and while Angel Unzueta hasn’t been a presence in the New 52, he had extensive experience at DC before the relaunch.