A bit delayed, but partially because I wanted to make absolutely positively sure that DC wasn't pulling some last minute announcement of another title launching in February. Turns out that they are going to fill out their obligated 52 titles that month with a Valentine's Day themed one-shot that gives a snapshot of the various romantic entanglements around the DCU and slap the New 52 label on it in an attempt to boost up sales. Not a bad move, all things told, as it allows that extra space to make sure our first new book is up to the inevitable scrutiny it is going to be under.
And without further delay, ladies and gents, your new New 52:
1. Constantine: The first I’m going to write about due to it’s alphabetic placement, but the last of this bunch to be announced, and actually launching a month later. It seems that DC is less strident in launching these books in a singular month, but rather spacing them out slightly to give them more room to breathe. Which makes marketing sense; it’s how Marvel organized their Marvel Now initiative, and it provides an opportunity for Threshold (which we’ll get to later) and this book to have it’s own space.
Which is all well and good, but will it be any good? Much of the initial talk about Constantine is about how it will be replacing the longest running DC title, Hellblazer, presumably with a more moderate rating and a bit more of a superhero bent. While I am saddened to see such a historic Vertigo title cancelled, I also feel that thus far the fears about the New 52 John have been unfounded; he’s an interesting, shades-of-gray character who might be a member of a team, but is far from being a team player. In regards to this series? It has a promising creative team. I am especially excited to see Renato Guedes on a regular assignment with DC, as his work is always spectacular to read. Looking forward to this book, but it has a high bar to clear with most of the skeptical audience.
2. Justice League of America: The big launch of the wave, and the one I am most excited for personally. To be honest, Geoff Johns’ Justice League has been a bit of a disappointment for me, but I think that is partially due to that book attempting to operate as an all-readers, continuity-light trifle of a superhero book that anyone could pick up and read. JLA, by comparison, seems to have a bit more dirt under it’s fingernails. Besides, the line-up for the team is so utterly bizarre that it should at least make for some interesting pairings and interactions. High expectations going in, but I had similar expectations for Justice League before, so we’ll see how this one shapes up.
3. Justice League of America’s Vibe: For the people who might ask “Who’s Vibe?”, DC has given a very helpful title: he’s a member of the Justice League of America! Honestly hard to say what to expect from this book until at least JLA comes out and we see what the new Vibe is like. As it stands, it’s a reboot of a slightly corny and horribly dated superhero whose name reminds of women’s personal accessories, written by television’s Andrew Kreisenberg and drawn by Pete Woods and largely based on Johns plotting points. For what it’s worth, I hear good things about Arrow, and I’ve loved Pete Woods work since his Luthor stuff on Action Comics, so it is at least a promising creative team. But I don’t see a minor character like Vibe having a whole lot of longevity, even with the hotly anticipated JLA tag attached.
4. Katana: Serious good news, bad news situation here. Good news, DC is pulling the trigger on that Katana series they’ve been plotting around for a while now, in conjunction with her own high-profile position on that same hotly anticipated Justice League of America book. Bad news? Ann Nocenti’s writing it. While I was originally pulling for Nocenti when she came onto Green Arrow, the quality of her work since that high-profile position has been muddled at best, and horribly misguided at worst. I will be pulling for this book as I always do hope the best for female-led solo series, but I also realistically predict it will be plagued by the same illogical nonsense that has defined her New 52 work thus far.
5. Threshold: And again, even as I write about this last, this book is actually launching a month earlier. According to rumor, the first issue at least has been done for a while, and editorial deemed it time to abort the whole military book experiment a month early. For all intents and purposes however, this is considered a part of this Fourth Wave. All of those technicalities aside...this is a weird book. It is essentially a DC cosmic anthology title, with two stories from Keith Giffen and Tom Raney, one starring a new character that will be revealed in future Green Lantern books and a second feature starring Larfleeze. So in short, it’s a double-feature Green Lantern book without the word “Lantern” in the title and at a deluxe 3.99 pricetag. Not exactly an easy sell, but it does expand that line slightly...except it’s being solicited along with the other “Edge” titles. So it may be simply expanding the interstellar corner of the DCU. Either way, the high pricetag books that aren’t Action Comics or Batman books have struggled historically, and it will be interesting to see if this catches an audience. Giffen and the cosmic line have their fans, and the latter has a very sparse line currently being published. Still, if I had to put money down, I don’t see this as being long for this world.