DC Comics Takes Aim at Chinese Market…?

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I haven’t been reading much coverage of DC Comics’ upcoming “Rebirth”, but I just stumbled across this title: New Super-Man. From the synopsis, it would appear that DC are aiming to crack the (no-doubt) growing Chinese comics market. Or just to capitalize on the growing awareness of China in contemporary society/politics/economics. The first story-arc, “Made in China” takes the DC universe in a potentially interesting direction — a new, “Justice League of China”…

“Made in China” Chapter One.

An impulsive act of heroism thrusts an arrogant young man into the limelight of Shanghai as China begins to form its own Justice League of powerful heroes. Rising from the ashes of The Final Days of Superman, award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang and on-the-rise art star Victor Bogdanovic introduce readers to Kong Kenan — the New Super-Man! When the world needed a new hero, China made him!

As someone who has studied China and Chinese history and politics for over a decade, this could be a really interesting title. Also, the fact that China made their own Super-Man is amusing — given the long history of Chinese manufacturers’ tendency to replicate Western creations (just as each new rising power has done, throughout history), this seems entirely apt.

New Super-Man #1 is due to be published on July 13th, #2 on August 10th. Here’s the synopsis for the second issue:

“Made in China” Chapter Two.

The New Super-Man must face off against the Justice League of China? When Kenan Kong was imbued with the powers of Superman, he didn’t waste any time using them! Now it’s up to the New Bat-Man and New Wonder-Woman of his home country to bring our hero back down to earth-just in time to stop the attack of the deadly Sunbeam!

Upcoming: DETECTIVE COMICS #934 (& Some DC Comics Rebirth Thoughts)

DetectiveComics-934-ArtSo, DC Comics is re-branding again. After five years, the New 52 has been brought to an end (judging from the leaked images from the DC Rebirth #1 issue, through an entirely-expected timey-wimey bit of trickery), and the entire DC line-up is, you guessed it, being renumbered again. All but two series are turning back to #1s. The two exceptions? Action Comics and Detective Comics — both of which are turning back the clock even further, and… picking up their numbering pre-New 52. I don’t really understand why, because the continuity of the New 52 is supposedly staying (aside from the aforementioned timey-wimey muddling). The Action Comics storyline sounds interesting (see here), but not as interesting as Detective Comics. Here are the details and synopsis for the first issue, #934:

Writer: James Tynion IV | Pencils: Eddy Barrows | Inks: Eber Ferreira

“RISE OF THE BATMEN” Chapter One

An unknown predator begins outdoing Batman, taking down dangerous threats with military precision. It’s up to the Dark Knight and series costar Batwoman to rally and train the young heroes of Gotham City to end this mysterious threat!

WHAT NOW: Batman and Batwoman begin training Spoiler, Red Robin and Cassandra Cain, but is the villainous Clayface ready for redemption?

This sounds pretty interesting, so I think I’ll be checking this series out, when it’s released on June 8th. What I’ve read of Tynion’s New 52 work, he’s a good writer. The New 52 iteration of Detective Comics was pretty shaky to begin with, but was brilliantly rescued by Gregg Hurwitz (penning three of my favourite Batman stories), and then sadly petered out a bit again afterwards — with the exception of Benjamin Percy’s two-parter, which was excellent. Continue reading

Catching up on DC/Vertigo Comics Collections

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Featuring: Arkham Manor, Batgirl, Batman & Robin, Bodies, Coffin Hill, Deathstroke, Detective Comics, Gotham Academy, Grayson, Harley Quinn, Justice League, Lobo, The Names, (New) Teen Titans Continue reading

DC Comics’ TV Universe Expands Even Further…

Hot on the heels of the Lucifer trailer, two more trailers have surfaced online these past couple of days, for two new series that will be hitting small screens soon.

First up was the lengthy Supergirl (CBS) featurette, which has divided fans online — some see it as a welcome breath of fresh air in an otherwise grim-‘n’-gritty TV and movie universe, which has seen heroes become darker and more grey, walking the fine line between champion and violent vigilante. Others see it as twee and lame. Personally, I am reserving judgement, but it looks like this series could offer something lighter, and appeal to both the super-hero and (loosely) the teen drama fandoms — both of which are highly lucrative. I’ll wait to see how it shapes up, but I’m certainly interested in giving it a fair shot. Here’s the featurette:

Secondly, and spinning out of the hugely successful Arrow and The Flash, is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW), which features the aforementioned Flash, plus a number of other guest stars and villains from those two shows (both of which I’m now way behind on). This looks like it could be fun, and maybe even a venue for the now-cancelled Constantine to show up? That’s pure speculation, probably inspired only by the fact that the time traveler in the trailer is from London, and so is Constantine… (What a lazy route to a hypothesis…)

It’s a grand time to be a fan of super-heroes and TV, but I worry that this is the first step towards the comicification of TV: endless spin-offs, tie-ins and crossovers that have novelty value the first time, but eventually just make everyone annoyed…

Quick Reviews: Graphic Novels

Here are seven mini-reviews of graphic novels/collections that I’ve read over the last few weeks. Given that some of them are from now well-established series, I decided to keep them very short in order to not spoil things for new readers.

Batman-Vol.06-GraveyardShiftBATMAN, Vol.6 — Graveyard Shift (DC New 52)

Writer: Scott Snyder | Artist: Greg Capullo

In these tales from BATMAN #0, 18-20, 28, 34 and BATMAN ANNUAL #2, look back to the early days of the Dark Knight, then see the impact of the wake of the death of his son Damian! Plus, has Batman’s worst foe become…Bruce Wayne? This title also includes three pivotal chapters from the epic ZERO YEAR storyline, and a chapter that ties in to BATMAN ETERNAL!

Another good collection, but not the best. This book collects together the shorter and stand-alone stories. It’s a good, mixed collection. I miss the larger, multi-issue and more involved storylines, and I look forward to reading “End Game”.

A must for completists, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s essential. It is, however, also quite a good book to read if you want to sample Snyder and Capullo’s Batman work — they remain a creative force to be reckoned with.

*

DetectiveComics-Vol.06-IcarusBATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS, Vol.6 — Icarus (DC New 52)

Writer: Francis Manapul | Artist: Brian Buccellato

Batman finds himself knee-deep in a new mystery involving a deadly new narcotic that has hit the streets of Gotham City. Can the Dark Knight stop the threat before the entire town finds itself embroiled in a deadly gang war that could burn everything — and everyone — down to the ground?

Collects: Detective Comics #30-34 & Annual #3

This is a great new instalment in this series. After Gregg Hurwitz’s run on Batman: Dark Knight ended, I’ve been looking for some new life in the Bat-family titles. I think Manapul and Buccellato are the pair to do it: “Icarus” is a great story, focusing a lot on the “Detective” part of the series title. A drug ravaging the city, Batman and his allies must get to the bottom of things in order to take the unstable, deadly substance off the streets.

A great first storyline for the new creative team. Highly recommended for all fans of Batman.

*

Copperhead-Vol.01-NewSheriffInTownCOPPERHEAD, Vol.1 — A New Sheriff in Town (Image)

Writer: Jay Faerber | Artist: Scott Godlewski

Welcome to Copperhead, a grimy mining town on the edge of a backwater planet. Single mom Clara Bronson is the new sheriff, and on her first day she’ll have to contend with a resentful deputy, a shady mining tycoon, and a family of alien hillbillies. And did we mention the massacre?

Collects: Copperhead #1-5

Now this book was fantastic. A perfect transposition of the classic crime/cop story onto a weird and wonderful, Star Wars-esque science fictional setting. The writing and dialogue are punchy and perfectly paced, the artwork is fantastic. The characters are quickly established, the world and community Bronson finds herself in are great — populated by colourful characters and intriguing dynamics. Her supporting cast are interesting and diverse (in race as well as temperament), and Faerber and Godlewski give us some hints about their pasts and potential future storylines.

If you read only one new comic series this year, I’d highly recommend you make it this one. “A New Sheriff in Town” is the start of something awesome.

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Low-Vol.01-DeliriumOfHopeLOW, Vol.1 — The Delirium of Hope (Image)

Writer: Rick Remender | Artist: Greg Tocchini

Millennia ago, mankind fled the earth’s surface into the bottomless depths of the darkest oceans. Shielded from a merciless sun’s scorching radiation, the human race tried to stave off certain extinction by sending robotic probes far into the galaxy, to search for a new home among the stars. Generations later, one family is about to be torn apart, in a conflict that will usher in the final race to save humanity from a world beyond hope.

Collects: Low #1-6

This series was getting a lot of attention when it was first announced, and the first few issues were equally praised. It’s not difficult to see why — Tocchini’s artwork is striking and vivid, and Remender’s story is pretty cool. The dystopian setting is unusual and well-built. That being said, the story never quite gripped me as much as I’d expected. I like Remender’s work, and this series has some fantastic, weird and wonderful moments within. But… it also felt just a tad plodding. It was slightly predictable, too. Nevertheless, and while those may sound like damning niggles, Low is worth checking out if you’re a fan of SF comic and/or dystopian fiction. An interesting book.

*

Unwritten-Vol.09-FablesTHE UNWRITTEN, Vol. 9 — The Unwritten Fables (Vertigo)

Writer: Mike Carey & Bill Willingham | Artist: Peter Gross & Mark Buckingham

The worlds of FABLES and THE UNWRITTEN collide in the epic comic event by Mike Carey and Bill Willingham!

Tommy Taylor is thrust into the world of Vertigo’s hit series Fables! But a dark and terrible foe has seized the fairy-tale homelands and our world. In desperation, the witches of Fabletown gather to summon the greatest mage the worlds have ever seen. But they are in for an unpleasant surprise.

Collects: The Unwritten #50-55

Long-time readers of CR have probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big fan of not only The Unwritten, but also Mike Carey’s fiction and Bill Willingham’s Fables universe. It was with great anticipation, therefore, that I started reading The Unwritten Fables. What I found was… disappointing. The story was fine, but didn’t come close to matching the quality of neither The Unwritten nor Fables. The connection felt forced, the story not as confident nor gripping as I have come to expect from both writers. The artwork is very good, of course, and is worth reading for that reason alone. Ultimately, though, I would not tell anyone that this is an essential book, and if you’ve been following either series, you wouldn’t miss anything by skipping it.

*

Unwritten-Vol.10-WarStoriesTHE UNWRITTEN, Vol. 10 — War Stories (Vertigo)

Writer: Mike Carey | Artist: Peter Gross

The tenth volume of the critically-acclaimed new series from the Eisner-nominated creative team, Mike Carey and Peter Gross is the perfect jumping on point, as Tom Taylor is stranded at the beginning of all creation!

Lost in the unwritten scenes of all the world’s stories, Tom Taylor is headed back to reality — and all the gods and beasts and monsters ever imagined can’t stop him. But there’s a toll on the road that may be too high for him or anyone to pay…

Collects: The Unwritten Apocalypse #1-5

So, I liked this better than The Unwritten Fables, but the book still didn’t engage me as much as the first eight volumes of the series did. It’s still a strong series, and one I’d recommend to everyone, but this one meandered just a little more than I had hoped. The artwork in the first chapter/issue is fantastic and tries something new. This book kicks off a new phase in the story. Imaginative, innovative, and pretty twisty, if you’re a fan of the series, this is a must. If you’ve never read anything in this series before, I’d recommend you go back to volume one and get hooked now.

*

Wayward-Vol.01-StringTheoryWAYWARD, Vol.1 — String Theory (Image)

Writer: Jim Zub | Artists: Steve Cummings, John Rauch & Tamra Bonvillain

Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late?

Collects: Wayward #1-5

This is a fantastic new series. I’ve enjoyed everything of Jim Zub’s that I’ve read in the past, but this may be my favourite. Set in Japan, the comic brings to the country and its culture to life on the page. Mashing it up with folklore and mythology, this has a Studio Gibli-esque feel, while very much maintaining its own identity. Magical conspiracies, amusing werecats, and pretty cool protagonists and antagonists. I can’t wait for book two. A definite must-read, and another success for Image Comics.

*

Quick Review: SUPERMAN UNCHAINED Deluxe Edition (DC Comics)

SupermanUnchained-DeluxeWriter: Scott Snyder | Artist: Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Scott Williams

From the skies above Metropolis to the four corners of the globe to the star-streaked spaceways beyond, one man is synonymous with the word “hero.” Since his arrival marked the dawn of the superhero age, Superman has waged a never-ending battle for truth and justice, no matter when or where.

But before the dawn came the darkness. When another with incredible power, far more than that of mortal man, fell to the Earth. One who could spell the end for the Man of Steel.

Collects: Superman Unchained #1-9

This is a pretty good Superman story. As the name suggests, it’s off-the-hook, action-packed and large-scale. The stakes are high (global peril!), the action is huge, and the story stretches back to the 1940s. Superman is up against a group of techno-terrorists and a mysterious US military department that appears to have been manipulating events behind-the-scenes for years. Teaming up with a surprise ally, Superman must get to the bottom of the terrorists’ schemes, and negotiate a peace with the US military. Meanwhile, his friends and allies step up to help out as and when they can.

The writing is very good, the artwork is stunning, and the action comes fast and often. By offering no pretense as to what this story is meant to be, Scott et al can really go all out. There’s a lot of over-the-top action, presented in eye-catching, stunning artwork. It still manages to be less over-the-top than the Man of Steel movie, mind… If you have any interest in the character, then Superman Unchained should entertain.

Superman Unchained Deluxe Edition is published next week.