Villain Month Guide: Part 3 – Justice Leagues and Teen Titans

villains month JL

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

DarkseidJustice League 23.1: Darkseid
Written by Greg Pak; art by Paulo Siqueria
Release date 9/4/13

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.

LoboJustice League 23.2: Lobo
Written by Marguerite Bennett; art by Ben Oliver
Release date 9/11/13

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.

Dial EJustice 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.

Secret SocietyJustice League 23.4: Secret Society
Written by Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates; art by Manuel Garcia and Rob Hunter
Release date 9/25/13

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.

Deadshot Justice League of America 7.1: Deadshot
Written by Matt Kindt; art by Pasqual Ferry
Release date 9/4/13

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.

Killer FrostJustice League of America 7.2: Killer Frost
Written by Sterling Gates; art by Derlis Santacruz
Release date 9/11/13

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.

Shadow TheifJustice League of America 7.3: Shadow Thief
Written by Tom DeFalco; art by Chad Hardin
Release date 9/18/13

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.

Black AdamJustice League of America 7.4: Black Adam
Written by Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates; art by Edgar Salazar
Release date 9/25/13

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).

CreeperJustice League Dark 23.1: The Creeper
Written by Ann Nocenti; art by Chriscross
Release date 9/4/13

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.

EclipsoJustice League Dark 23.1: Eclipso
Written by Dan DiDio art by Philip Tan
Release date 9/11/13

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.

TrigonTeen Titans 23.1: Trigon
Written by Marv Wolfman; art by CAFU
Release date 9/11/13

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!

DeathstrokeTeen Titans 23.2: Deathstroke
Written by Corey Mays and Dooma Wendschuh; art by Angel Unzueta and Moritat
Release date 9/18/13

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.

18 comments on “Villain Month Guide: Part 3 – Justice Leagues and Teen Titans

  1. Trigon is an interesting one to me. I SHOULD be interested in it. Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans is one of my top five favorite comic runs ever, so this should be a dream come true. But there are two things that have turned me off from reading it:

    1. I honestly don’t care about Trigon as a character much to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, the Trigon stories from the old Wolfman/Perez run are great, but I think they just work better when Trigon is an indestructible force of ultimate evil. Giving him a personality and backstory and kingdom to rule turns me off the concept altogether.

    (That’s why I always loved the animated series’ take. Yeah, the Titans defeat of Trigon was a c omplete dues ex machina, but here Trigon represented an abusive father and Raven learning to overcome that part of her life and creating a family that loves and respects her, and I like that much more abstract treatment of Trigon).

    2. The fact taht it’s set in the New 52. I dropped Teen Titans when the current Trigon storyline started, and I just do not care in the slightest aout what’s going on with him in the New 52. The Titans as a franchise are kind of ruined at the moment, and unless Lobdell is handing the title off, I don’t really care to check in with them, even if Wolfman is coming backfor an issue.

    And it makes me really sad to say that.

    • Interesting. Part of what had me excited about that issue is the way you talk about New Teen Titans with such reverence. I think I’ll still pick it up, but now you’ve got me all confused, Spencer.

      • Aw, well don’t let me get you down too much. You might get more out of the story going into it with a blank slate than I would going into it with two continuities’ worth of baggage to navigate. Wolfman usually puts out pretty good stuff, so it shouldn’t be a total wash.

        • It is interesting to note that the two Teen Titan titles this month are written by writers that are either very new to comics or very old to comics, and not any of the current Young Justice guys. I think DC knows that they have a mess on their hands, and are testing with waters with some old blood and some new blood.

        • Is there still a Young Justice line? Isn’t ONLY Teen Titans left from that?
          Hawk & Dove – CANCELLED
          Static Shock – CANCELLED
          Blue Beetle – CANCELLED
          Legion Lost – CANCELLED
          Ravagers – CANCELLED
          Legion of Super Heroes – CANCELLED

        • Superboy kind of occupies both YJ and Super-families. But yes, there really isn’t much of a line anymore. I do find it interesting that DC doesn’t even publish their solicits in groups anymore. I guess the designations of “edge” and “dark” didn’t make sense to them either.

    • You must do what you think you must in order to protect yourself. Dredging up the greatness of the past to try to undo the sins of the present: it’s the same reason I’m not excited about the prospect of any future Star Wars movies.

      • Nicely said. This move kind of reminds me of when they brought Marv Wolfman back to write Nightwing five or six years ago, after Bruce Jones’ disastrous run, in hopes of him reviving interest in the character. Wolfman’s run wasn’t bad by any means, but I think the expectations were simply too high, and people were disappointed. Or maybe it’s more like when Mark Waid returned to write Wally West’s book after his disastrous year-long replacement by Bart. Again, I liked his work, but people expected more of Waid’s classic run and were disappointed not to get the exact same thing he pumped out ten years ago.

        Who knows, sometimes you just can’t go home again.

        (But hell, hwo am I kidding, I know I’ll still end up flipping through the issue at the least.)

  2. So I really hope that Dial E is just madcap Meiville craziness. It’d be great to see it tie in to the end of Dial H or feature Roxy and Nelse, but it could also just be 20 pages of Mieville riffing with phenomenal artistic support, and I’d be happy.

    On that note – has anyone been able to find a complete list of artists on that issue? Everything I’ve read just lists the first 6 or 7.

  3. Not a ton of stuff from these groups I plan on grabbing. Probably just:
    Secret Society, Black Adam, & Darkseid. Lobo & Trigon are maybe’s.

    • Drew and I did a fair amount of grumbling about these issues last night. Surprisingly, I’m going to read all of the Justice League books, but then it’s all cherry picking from there (Trigon, Black Adam). There’s just too much fucking chaff in JLA and JLA. I don’t know why Lemire is keeping so a low profile during villain month – he’s only writing the Count Vertigo issue – when we could really stand to see him writing an awesome Justice League Dark issue.

  4. Pingback: Villain Month Guide: Part 1 – Batman | Retcon Punch

  5. Pingback: Villain Month Guide: Part 2 – Superman and Earth-2 | Retcon Punch

  6. Pingback: Villain Month Guide: Part 4 – Everyone Else | Retcon Punch

  7. Pingback: How Would I Rebuild The DC Universe From Scratch? – Cyborg, Power Girl, Green Lantern, And More | Jyger's Rant

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