With DC Comics even closer to pressing ‘reset’ on its entire line of comics, it’s fast becoming time to decide what to throw your hard earned coin down on. And what to avoid like the plague. Last week we had a look at the Superman books (and Wonder Woman) that would be launching and the week before that we had a squiz at the Dark Knights new range.
Of course, there are other superheroes in the DC universe. Some of which even fight alongside Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. So this week we’ll be going over some of the ‘smaller’ heroes that make up DC and some of the series where these team ups take place. Top of the list is the most important of all, Justice League.
Justice League (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Bryan Hitch
Artist: Tony Daniel
Rebirth One Shot?: But of course, with superstar Geoff Johns leaving the series, Bryan Hitch’ll be ushering in a new era for the Justice League.
The Creative Team: Bryan Hitch is something of a big name in the comic’s world, having made his start at the tender age of 17 with Marvel UK. As an artist however, not a writer. As an artist Hitch’s career seemed to explode, doing work for both DC and Marvel on a variety of series. Of particular note is his work on The Ultimates, The Ultimates 2 and Fantastic Four with Mark Millar. Hitch was also brought on later in his career as a designer for the 2005 relaunch of Doctor Who and the first relaunched Star Trek film. On top of that, the art in his creator owned Real Heroes was praised highly. But Bryan Hitch is not the artist for Justice League, he’s the writer. While I have enjoyed his limited series JLA from both an art and story perspective, Real Heroes was described as mildly unoriginal with characters that felt flat. Again, I’ve really enjoyed JLA, but that does raise the point that Hitch just doesn’t have that much experience as a writer, so perhaps some caution is in order.
Whatever the story is like, it’s sure to look good with Tony Daniels on art. After an acclaimed run on Teen Titans with Geoff Johns, Daniels moved onto Batman with Grant Morrison which was again congratulated for it’s art. Daniels then found himself in the position of both writing and drawing the New 52’s Detective Comics which was labelled average in terms of story, but stellar in terms of art.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: The Justice League are the greatest heroes DC has on offer. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash and Green Lantern. Expect high stakes, superhero action, and big scale stories. Bryan Hitch has said that his first arc will have “major ramifications” for the rest of the DC universe, whether you think that’s a good thing or not is up to you. Bryan Hitch isn’t regarded as an amazing writer, but he isn’t regarded as a terrible one either. With all his energy on writing rather than doing both, perhaps he’ll be okay. Either way, Tony Daniels is excellent and produces good work so you’re looking for an exciting, all-star series, this may be the one.
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Jonboy Meyers
Rebirth One Shot?: Surely is, Damian Wayne will be bringing the Titans together later this year.
The Creative Team: Benjamin Percy is quite different from other writers in this article, having written other comics for several years before making the jump to DC. Percy in fact appears to be quite the accomplished writer, having written five books and a variety of short stories for more magazines than I have ever read. In addition to that, he has also won the Plimpton Prize and the Whitman Award for short story writing. Despite this, his work in comics has been received in a mixed fashion at best. His work on Green Arrow was described as ‘preachy’ and ‘melodramatic’, while his two-parter on Detective Comics was either called a mess or one of the best stories yet. So who’s to really say how his run on Teen Titans will turn out? He’s a writer with obvious experience and talent, but can he bring it to the table for Teen Titans?
Jonboy Meyers seems to be an artist with a whole bevy of credits behind him. Starting on indie comics in the 90’s before his big break with Marvel on Spiderman. Meyers has worked on a variety of series for both DC and Marvel, as well as some work for Image. Well received on an art front, Meyers is a highly experienced artist with a distinctive style.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: I’m not really up on the play with Teen Titans books, so I don’t know how this compares to the past. Benjamin Percy is shaking things up by having Batman’s son, Damian Wayne, hunt down the other members of the Titans to get them to join him. An intriguing concept to say the least, but one that doesn’t appeal to me personally. Percy is known for being a writer with something to say with his stories; what would he be planning on saying with Teen Titans? Something interesting at least if past work is anything to go by, but the actual story substance remains to be seen. The art should be fantastic and Meyer’s initial designs of the Titans look good at least. A book, I feel, for those already interested in the idea of the Teen Titans.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brett Booth
Rebirth One Shot?: Yes indeed, unlike other new series, Titans kicks things off with a one shot.
The Creative Team: Dan Abnett is an author with a lot of clout. Starting his career all the way back in 1988, Abnett appears to have never stopped writing. Creator of several of the longest running 2000AD stories and several long running Warhammer series, Abnett has a lot of science fiction experience. This has served him well with Abnett also being a large figure in the ‘cosmic’ arm of the Marvel universe, writing multiple series, mini series and limited series for Marvel over the years. In addition to that he’s also written a variety of sci-fi for DC comics, including a successful reboot of Legion of Supeheroes. Abnett is not just prolific however, he’s also very, very good. Obviously which such a long career, he hasn’t struck gold every time, but most of his work is received well and his Warhammer books for Games Workshop have sold well over a million copies. A talent indeed.
On the art side is another veteran, though not with quite the same amount of experience or volume of work as Abnett. Brett Booth is the co-creator of Backlash with artistic powerhouse Jim Lee which is no mean feat. He’s also had several successful runs on Spiderman, Fantastic Four and X-Men. I was wondering why I couldn’t find Booth’s name attached to more series, and then I discovered that he is apparently a paleoartist, a dinosaur drawer, professionally. So, not exactly a small fry artist with no talent.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: I have no idea. And I don’t mean that in the same way I talked about Action Comics last week; I mean no real concrete details have been released as of yet. The team will consist of Nightwing, Donna Troy, Arsenal, Garth, and Lilith; an interesting line up. But as for the actual story, no one knows. With a writer like Abnett on board, there’s a high likelihood it’ll be good. That said, I never feel too comfortable with series that keep everything under wraps. Makes me nervous.
The Flash (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Carmine Di Giandoenico
Rebirth One Shot?: But of course, with a large role promised in DC Universe Rebirth, Joshua Williamson will be continuing the action in this one shot.
The Creative Team: I have just spent a good little while looking Joshua Williamson up on the internet as I had no idea who he was. Now I am ashamed that I didn’t. Getting his start around ten years ago, Williamson seems to have paid his dues writing and contributing to a variety of limited runs and one-shots before having the chance to do his own thing. Now he is the writer of Nailbiter and Birthright for Image, and just recently finished Ghosted (also for Image). All 3 of these series have been met with rave reviews and high sales with reviewers praising Williamson’s characterization, stories and dialogue. I’d never heard of him until today, now I want to go out and read everything he’s done. Well, maybe not General Mills Presents: Unstoppable Heroes. But we’ve all got to start somewhere right?
On the other side of the creative team is another guy I’ve never heard of, Carmine Di Giandoenico. He’s Italian and most his work is in his native language. What he has done in English however, is great. His distinctive style on Spiderman Noir being very well received despite a lack-luster plot. He’s got a distinctive style and it looks like it would work well with The Flash.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: This run on The Flash will be spinning straight out of DC Universe: Rebirth and Barry finds himself having to deal with random people becoming speedsters. Top stuff. Williamson has said that while this in of itself is difficult, one of the people granted this speed is a serial killer who hates speedsters. The idea isn’t super original, but considering how Williamson’s other series have been received, I’m very hopeful. He’s also expressed a strong desire to not only make his own mark, but to also bring in old villains, so this Flash series could be a strong pick of DC Rebirth.
Green Lanterns (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Robson Rocha
Rebirth One Shot?: Yes! The Green Lantern arm of DC has honestly been flagging a bit lately, so the chance to revitalize it a bit excites me greatly.
The Creative Team: Beginning his career with the incredibly bizarre, but well received, Our Love Is Real, Sam Humphries is most definitely an odd writer. Going on to pen a a variety of series for Marvel, as well as a few one-shots and limited series, Humphries has nothing if not a distinctive style. Writing Legendary Star Lord, Planet Hulk (Battleworld) and various issues of various Avengers lines, Humphries has been received (overall) pretty well. Known for being distinctly weird and willing to have just about anything happen, Humphries comics are fun. That said, he can be inconsistent with some issues he’s written being fantastic, and others down right bad.
Hailing from Brazil, Robson Rocha is an artist with a small number of consistent credits behind him. A fairly well received run on Birds of Prey and Earth 2: Worlds End, Rocha has been highlighted as having a flair for battle scenes. Outside of this, Rocha has yet to have an extended run on anything, limited only to single issues or runs of two or three.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: I am a huge Green Lantern fan. Geoff Johns run on the character was fantastic and sadly is yet to be matched or even have anything come close. That said, I’m still looking forward to this series. Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are to be the lanterns in this series, watching over Earth while Hal Jordan does whatever it is he does in Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps. Both characters have been introduced in the last couple years, but haven’t really been utilized that much. I’m interested to see how they’re handled as Simon is a muslim immigrant and Jessica the first woman lantern from Earth. The first arc will be kicking off with the Red Lanterns setting their sights on Earth for some nefarious purpose. Hardly original, but considering Humphries penchant for the odd, this could well be the kick-start the Green Lantern arm of DC needs. That said, Humphries is inconsistent and Green Lantern is about more than just crazy space cops. So, fingers tentatively crossed for this one.
Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Rebirth One Shot?: Sadly, yes. Considering the bizarre state Robert Venditti left Hal in, he’s going to need it.
The Creative Team: I’ll do this just once, and leave my bias against Robert Venditti at the door. Venditi got his start in 2002 with The Surrogates, a sci-fi mini-series with Top Shelf. The series was received very well with critics quite complimentary of Venditti’s writing and story. He even went on to write a prequel for the series that was also well received. He’s also the writer of XO-Manowar for Valient comics. This was a sci-fi, superhero romp that, again, was very well received. By all critical accounts, Venditti is a great writer.
Ethan Van Sciver is equally as good. His work on Green Lantern, The Flash and Green Lantern: Rebirth is regarded as some of the best around. Starting at the tender age of 19, Sciver has been in the business for far longer than some. And his distinctive style and incredible attention to detail really show it.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: Okay, look, Venditti’s run on Green Lantern, objectively, isn’t terrible. I even enjoyed a few issues. But overall, it’s not that great. It’s not even awful, it’s just average. The premise of this series is likewise. With Hal Jordan still a fugitive and the rest of the corps still missing, the Sinestro Corps step in to enforce their terrifying brand of justice on the galaxy. If you find that interesting, great, but the rest of the corps really needs to be here for me to be convinced. Overall, Ethan Van Sciver is an amazing artist and I really like his work, but Robert Venditti is just far, far too uneven for me to really recommend this book.
Aquaman (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brad Walker, Jesus Merino and Phil Briones
Rebirth One Shot?: Sure is, Aquaman’s had a tumultuous run in the New 52, so expect the status quo to be shaken up a bit.
The Creative Team: we’ve already talked about Dan Abnett, so we’ll move on. If you skipped ahead, rest assured that he’s a fantastic writer with a long career behind him. Now, to our three artists.
Brad Walker has a short, if well regarded career. He’s worked on a very wide variety of series. Single issues here and there or perhaps a small run on an off-shoot series, but nothing too large. His largest run appears to be on DC’s Sinestro and New Guardians, both from the last few years. Both series, while tonally uneven in terms of story, were regarded as being very well drawn. And indeed Walker appears to be well regarded wherever he sets his pencils.
Also on art is Jesus Merino. Starting on a variety of non-English comics before getting work as an inker for a small range of series, Merino has a fair bit of experience. He’s also gone on to do the art for the New 52 version of Superman with George Perez, as well as a few single issues here and there. Most of his experience I can’t comment on as it’s in Spanish and thus, almost impossible to find.
Crossing into yet another country I’ve never been to, Phil Briones is a French artist with, frankly, very few credits behind him. It’s longest run was a period on New Suicide Squad which was received with a resounding ‘eh’.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: Despite two thirds of the art team being strictly in the ‘okay’ category, I would say yes, it is worth it. Aquaman seems to be a series that, to be successful, it needs a certain creativity behind it. He’s a hero that is decidedly unsuited to regular stories and I think that Dan Abnett has the track record required. The only thing that gives me pause is the premise of the first arc. It’s been described as Aquaman’s efforts to unite the sea and land, but that’s a premise that’s been covered fairly extensively in the past. What new ground is going to be tread? Who can say? Despite this, I would actually recommend this series simply on the strength of its writer.
Cyborg (Twice Monthly)
Writer: John Semper
Artist: Wil Conrad
Rebirth One Shot?: Yes indeed, the New 52 series gets a fresh start on August 3rd (No cover just yet)
The Creative Team: My research into John Semper started quietly. I had no idea who he was. As I read, I found myself saying “oh he did that too?” more and more often. Semper is not actually a comic book writer, though he is tangentially involved, being the main writer for Spider-Man the cartoon. Semper has also been a writer/producer/show-runner for a variety of other cartoons, including The Incredible Hulk and Scooby Doo. For me what stood out was he was the creator of Static Shock, one of my favorite shows as a kid. Semper is widely regarded as an excellent writer for TV, and has won a handful of awards for doing so. Color me quite excited for this one.
I’m not unexcited, but I’m hardly over the moon with the choice of artist for Cyborg. Wil Conrad is not terrible by any stretch, he just doesn’t have the same level of experience as John Semper. The bulk of his work comes from Dark Horses Buffy The Vampire Slayer series as well as a few issues of DC’s Nightwing and Stormwatch. Potentially Cyborg will be his breakout series?
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: Much like Aquaman, the premise of the first arc is one that has been trod many times before. Namely, Cyborg’s relationship between his mechanical and human parts. Is he a machine? Is he a man? Semper promises a “hippie journey” as he discovers the answer to this question whilst also dealing with “being a black man in Detroit”. Considering the immense television pedigree of its writer, I would say that yes, Cyborg is a great series to jump on if you’re after a superhero series with a bit of a different flair.
What I’ll Be Taking Away
This is difficult. On the one hand, I’m a stalwart Green Lantern fan. I will be picking up Green Lanterns and Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps. But I just don’t think I’ll be that satisfied. So with that, I’ll grabbing Justice League to continue on my run, Aquaman because I’m curious and The Flash because I convinced myself it would be good. Will I be satisfied with all of these? Possibly, possibly not. But, I am definitely looking forward to reading all of them, and that’s what counts.