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.
“Everyone Else” is an unfairly dismissive designation. Look at the heavy-hitters on this list! There’s quite a bit more creative consistency in these titles, so we’re expecting a slightly higher hit to miss ratio. In part four of our guide, we’ll be going over the issues from Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and Swamp Thing. Don’t forget to check out Part 1 – Batman, Part 2 – Superman and Earth-2 and Part 3 – Justice Leagues and Teen Titans.
“This better be worth it.” This is a phrase uttered by all Green Lantern fans at some point in their relationship with the series. Robert Venditti looks to be jumping into Green Lantern Event Mania with both feet, and in just a few short issues has established an impossibly powerful adversary for all corps. If you’re reading any series with the word “Lantern” in the title, you almost have to pick up this issue. In as much as any one character can BE a crossover event, he is. Oh and check out that artist credit: Rags Morales. Morales is one of the most expressive realists working in comics today. His work on Identity Crisis and the early issues of Action Comics are powerful examples of what he can accomplish.
Mongul is a motherfucker. Before he got wrapped up in (and eventually claimed control of) the Sinestro Corps, Mongul was a world-conquering warlord. But he liked to play devastating psychological games as well, as shown in his character-defining turn in Alan Moore’s Superman story “For The Man Who Has Everything.” Mongul employed those same Black Mercy flowers against Hal Jordan early in Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern. It’s exciting to see Jim Starlin writing this issue — he invented the character with Len Wein in 1980. Howard Porter is another one of DC’s workhorses who hasn’t really had a fair shot an any New 52 comics, but was a regular on Grant Morrison’s Justice League of America and Geoff Johns’ The Flash.
Black Hand occupies a strange space in the New 52. He’s mostly a hold-over from Blackest Night, and even after he managed to free himself from the Indigo Tribe, poor William Hand hasn’t been able to exercise much agency over his relationship with death. Charles Soule is currently breathing life into the Red Lanterns, so we hope he can inject some similar vitality into what is also effectively a Green Lantern monster. He’s described the issue as “Shaun of the Dead-esque” — we may not know exactly what that means, but it is promising. Alberto Poncticelli has been impressing us in the pages of Dial H for months, and his knack for dark levity should fit Soule’s story well. Even if Black Hand’s effect on the GL Universe is already logged in the archives, this should be a totally engaging one-off.
We’ve giggled a fair amount about The Definitive End that Geoff Johns concluded his Green Lantern saga with, and how it makes telling future GL stories… a little tricky. Johns had some very specific things to say about how Sinestro lives out the rest of days, so Matt Kindt is going to have his work cut out for him crafting an issue that doesn’t feel like an unnecessary continuation of a finished story. (But then again, what are comics for if not that?) Dale Eaglesham was the artist of Gail Simone’s Villains United mini-series during Infinite Crisis, so he’s got some experience drawing a book with the word “Villain” on the cover.
When we last saw Gorilla Grodd, he was being carried into the speed force by a time-displaced wooly mammoth. Look, he’s a ridiculous character, alright? Writer Brian Buccellato has always been more than game to embrace that wackiness (and to exchange terrible monkey puns on twitter), but he’s also found an angle with Grodd’s thirst for power that is sure to bring him back with a vengeance. As one of the stable of artists to work on 52, Chris Batista was a heavy-hitter of sorts before the relaunch. He’s been largely absent from the New 52, but this is just the kind of fun project to bring him back into the fold.
Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have spent the last couple months building up the mystery of the Reverse-Flash. Issue 23 (in stores now!) finally revealed the man behind the mask, and teased this issue as the Secret Origin of Reverse-Flash. It’s the logical continuation of a series that remains a can’t-miss. Between the emotionally resonant writing and Manapul’s gorgeous, kinetic art, we’d pick this issue up even if the villain was just waiting for the screen printing on his new costume to dry. (Printing individual shirts is cheap, but the set-up fee is outrageous.)
The Flash took its time in introducing superpowered versions of the Rogues into the New 52. They were developed and deployed slowly, eventually fighting alongside Flash to repel the Gorilla forces from Central City. Brian Buccellato has more than enough invested in these characters — not only did he introduce the characters to the New 52, he’s going to be writing the on-going Rogues series (something the Retcon Punchers have been clamoring for for an embarrassingly long time). The double-great news here is that Patrick Zircher is drawing the issue, and we were recently floored by his art on the similarly evil team book Suicide Squad. Zircher’s work is just bright enough to convey the lighter tone evoked by the Rogues, but not so goofy as to lose their newfound importance in this world.
Black Manta has a beef with Aquaman. Y’see: Aquaman murdered his father. Wait — who’s the fucking villain here? Aquaman’s moral ambiguity notwithstanding, Blank Manta seems to have made a life out of seeking his revenge. Geoff Johns shares the writing credit here with Tony Bedard, who has demonstrated a keen ability to mine Johns’ uber-mythology for emotional pathos, as in Green Lantern: New Guardians 0 and 13-16. Claude St. Aubin has a history of providing artistic backup for Tony Bedard in their generally well-regarded R.E.B.E.L.S. series.
It might not be fair to classify this Aquaman villain as a “villain.” He did lead the armies of Atlantis as they invaded and forcibly flooded Boston and Gotham City. But (and this is a pretty big “but”) he only did so because he thought Atlantis was under nuclear attack from the surface world. It was all a big dumb ruse executed by Arthur’s longtime advisor Vulko. Again, who’s the bad guy here? Johns we know to the be the leader of the Make Aquaman Cool Again campaign, and Sterling Gates has demonstrated his ability to take his marching orders from the boss. Geraldo Borges hasn’t had any regular tenure on New 52 series, but he has helped fill in on issues of Nightwing, Superman, Ravagers and Worlds’ Finest.
John Ostrander may be most well known for his work on Suicide Squad, where he cast a recently paralyzed Barbara Gordon as tech-savy information broker Oracle. The rest, as they say, is history. (Or not. DC hasn’t been entirely clear on that particular piece of continuity.) Point is, Ostrander understands strong women, which might help him transcend Cheetah’s cheesecake-y introduction to the New 52 in Justice League 13 and 14. Fans with a good memory may recognize Victor Ibanez from his work on Swamp Thing 3, which we liked quite a bit, though he otherwise hasn’t seen much action at DC recently. At any rate, don’t let the numeration fool you — the money issue for Wonder Woman fans is below.
Never one to compromise his vision, Brian Azzarello found a clever way around the chronological requirements of zero month, delivering a moving coming-of-age story that established one of the most important relationships of the series. We’re expecting similar relevance from this issue, what with the First Born having some things to answer for after this month’s shocking installment. Aco is a complete unknown to us, and has a thoroughly google-proof name, so we’re not entirely sure what to expect of the art. Still, with Azzarello on writing duties, this thing is basically a no-brainer.
Here’s another one that has its sights set on relevance. Featuring both the regular writer and artist, this issue will not miss a beat from the series proper. Issue 23 left the good Count on his knees as Ollie and Shado sped away on his snowmobile (vertigobile?). Suffice it to say, he’s going to have revenge on his agenda. The solicit suggests the action here will pick up in Vancouver, of all places, and while that may not seem like the most exciting of locales, native Canadian Lemire might just have the perspective to make it come alive.
Some might argue that Anton Arcane already overstayed his welcome with the drawn-out conclusion of Rotworld earlier this year, and many more would agree that Swamp Thing 0 was effectively an Arcane issue. This issue has a bit of work to do just to justify its own existence. Of course, series writer Charles Soule has already demonstrated that he isn’t interested in retracing Scott Snyder’s footsteps, and has certainly earned our faith that this won’t be a simple exercise in redundancy. Moreover, Soule wrote beautifully for Jesus Saiz in Swamp Thing 21. We haven’t been able to get enough of Saiz since we first encountered him on Birds of Prey (and again in his Beowulf back-ups in Sword of Sorcery), so his name is more than enough to warrant a closer look.