DC Comics is reinventing itself yet again, relaunching all its titles and bringing in some fresh creative teams. Last week we had a look at all the new Batman books that would be launching. Some were interesting, others less so.
But what about Superman? DC’s oldest and possibly most recognizable property is also given the rebirth treatment with seven Superman related titles launching later this year, including Action Comics returning to its original numbering with #957. We’ll also be looking at the new Wonder Woman because she only has one series, alas. First up, Superman.
Superman (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Rebirth One Shot?: Sure is, Peter J. Tomasi teams up with veteran Green Lantern artist Doug Mahnke to bring the rebirth issue to life.
The Creative Team: An editor at DC for 15 years and a writer since 2007, Peter J. Tomasi is no stranger to DC’s characters. Kicking his career off with a celebrated miniseries on anti-hero/god Black Adam, Tomasi started well. He continued well, if under the radar, with a few limited runs on Nightwing, Requiem and Batman and Robin. But it was in 2004, three years before he joined DC as a full time writer that he really made his mark with the critically acclaimed Light Brigade. Praised highly for its historical accuracies, fantastic characters and compelling story, Light Brigade was a sleeper hit for Tomasi well before working on established properties. What makes Tomasi a writer worth checking out is his great run on Green Lantern Corps during Geoff John’s mega event Blackest Night and continuing on post New 52. Now I don’t want to point fingers or go on too much, but there is a reason that Green Lantern Corps was eventually cancelled after Tomasi left. Spoiler: it sucked super hard.
Patrick Gleason is also a name that I’m familiar with, at least visually. His work on Green Lantern Corps with Peter J. Tomasi was roundly celebrated. While I would love to segue into how Gleason started his career, I honestly can’t tell. He seems to have had a skillful hand in nearly every Batman and Robin book for the last ten years, culminating in a critically acclaimed run on the series in the New 52. In addition to that he’s also had a short run on Nightwing and also on Brightest Day (with Peter J. Tomasi, of course).
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: Superman is a hell of a property, Superman is a cultural icon. And I honestly think that Tomasi is the right writer for the next series of Superman. This new Superman comes with one key difference over the other titles being launched; in this version, Superman is a super family-man. The man of steel finds himself having to balance the difficulties of being a father and husband with being superhero. A classic story, but one that hasn’t been told with Superman in a long time. The quality of this comic, regardless of the team behind it, depends entirely on your openness to the idea of Super-dad. I for one think that if you’re a fan of Superman, this is a great jumping on point. Tomasi and Gleason are both accomplished and have worked together extensively. If you’re looking for traditional superhero fare, perhaps look elsewhere.
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Rebirth One Shot?: No sir, New Superman is new. No need for a rebirth here.
The Creative Team: While I am not a huge Superman fan, this is a book I’m excited about just based on the writer. Gene Luen Yang is the author of two of my favorite indie comics, American Born Chinese and Level Up. Both are stellar examples of not only compelling stories, but stories with heart. American Born Chinese in particular was critically acclaimed and won the Michael L. Printz Award. Yang also wrote a large portion of the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics, which were also well received. And if that wasn’t enough, he flexed his historical and philosophical muscles with Boxers/Saints, a historical comic about the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. Basically what I’m saying here is that, while Yang may have only ever written 9 issues of Superman, he is a fantastic writer in other genres and formats and pretty much anything he sets his pen to is likely to be good.
Viktor Bogdanovic is an artist that is fairly new to the scene, having only really done the art for the Batman: Arkham Knight tie-in series and a couple issues of Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot. Despite his inexperience, Bogdanovic was congratulated for his work on Arkham Knight, and New Superman may be his break-out title.
What Is It About, and Is It Worth It?: New Superman is indeed new, in that Superman is not Clark Kent, but is Kenan Kong, a Chinese Superman. I’m looking forward to Yang’s take on this character as its obvious he has the skill to do so. He’s also placed a lot of thought into the background, even going so far as to change the name after writing the script for the first issue. The writing will undoubtedly be solid. An inexperienced artist with an experienced writer isn’t always the best combination though, with a strong story let down by poor art. However, I feel confident that Bogdanovic will pull through. He’s had solid work since he’s started and Yang has a history of getting good work out of his artists. If you’re looking for a smart, well written Superman story with a difference, acquire day one.
Writer: Phil Jimenez
Artist: Also Phil Jimenez
Rebirth One Shot?: Much like New Superman, Superwoman is a brand new series, so no rebirth issue here.
The Creative Team: Before now, I was unsure who Phil Jimenez was. Now I’m wondering how I’ve never heard of him before. The man seems to be a drawing dynamo. Starting with DC in 1991, Jiminez came to the fore as an artist on DC’s mega event Infinite Crisis, which received mixed reactions in terms of story, but was praised for its art. Jiminez has also worked on a 3 year run of Wonder Woman and even collaborated with Grant Morrison on New X-Men and The Invisibles. He went on to draw for over 40 different series for DC, Image, Vertigo and Marvel. As an artist, Jimenez is incredibly experienced and looking at his work, it shows. As a writer I feel less confident. Jiminez just has less experience as a writer. What experience he does have is hardly the Eisner winning stuff of legends. In 1994, Jiminez wrote a well-received mini-series, Tempest, which was a good starting point. But the only other significant project he’s penned is a mini-series for Vertigo, Otherworld, which wasn’t terrible, but was still labelled confusing at best.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: While it would seem obvious what this comic is about based on the name, there’s a little more to it. For reasons that I’m not 100% familiar with, Superman has lost his powers and transferred them to none other than Lois Lane. Jiminez promises a story of Lois struggling to adjust to her new powers, and a search to find out why they’re killing her. I’m intrigued by the concept and I’m almost certain it’ll look fantastic, but I just can’t help but think that Jiminez may not have the experience to pull it off. Perhaps Superwoman will prove me wrong and we’ll get the woman-centric superhero tale we’ve been promised. I certainly hope so, as it seems to be the kind of series that could be truly excellent.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Brian Ching
Rebirth One Shot?: Surely is, Steve Orlando and Emanuela Lupacchino team up to bring the new Supergirl to life on August 17th (No cover as of yet)
The Creative Team: Steve Orlando is a writer that I’m in two minds about. Orlando really started back in 2009, contributing stories for a variety of different anthologies for Vertigo and Image. After a solo series we’ll get to a little bit, Orlando moved onto Midnighter, a Batman-esqu character who also happened to be gay. The series was a critical success with the series noted for its strong character relationships and well-developed arcs. Now it would seem, thanks to his hard work and success on Midnighter, Orlando has been given the chance to work on Supergirl, a title he will no doubt bring the same level of skill to. That ‘other series’ I mentioned? That series is Undertow — a pulpy, atlantean-themed sci-fi romp that, by all accounts and reviews, is fantastic. Called a tense thrill ride by some and a unique take on an old concept by others. I hated it. I couldn’t stand the damn thing and only got 3 issues in. So, two minds here. On the one hand, a brilliantly received series that won awards for its portrayal of a gay character, and on the other a series that remains to this day the only one I have ever cancelled prematurely.
Brian Ching, unlike Steve Orlando, seems to come from a wealth of experience. While I can’t pinpoint his exact start, Ching has been involved as an artist for Dark Horse since 2005, providing pencils for a range of Star Wars comics ever since. This seems to make up the body of his work with his pencils appearing in over 20 different Star Wars titles. He has also worked on a few series that would be considered outside the mainstream (at least compared to Superman), such as Witchblade, Conan The Avenger, and a variety of Conan one shots. Brian Ching has quite a distinctive style, and it remains to be seen if it can brought into Supergirl, a title that is quite unlike anything else he’s drawn.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: In the New 52, Supergirl sold and was received fairly well until it was cancelled for reasons that I’m still not 100% sure on despite my extensive research (internet browsing). So the prospect of a new Supergirl series, especially this close to the television series, could be an exciting one. The team is solid with Ching having a bevy of work behind him and Orlando having a small but well received range behind him. No real, concrete details are available yet as to the actual story, though expect some similarities to the TV show with Supergirl having to handle moving to a new city. Oh, and her Dad is the Cyborg Superman apparently, because y’know why the heck not right? There’s real potential here for a great series, but I’ll just never be able to get the taste of Undertow out of my mouth.
Action Comics (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham and Stephen Segovia
Rebirth One Shot?: No sir, Action Comics leaps straight back to it with #957.
The Creative Team: Dan Jurgens was a name that we covered over in the Batman article, seeing as he is to stay on as the writer for Batman Beyond. In case you missed last time, the short and tall of it is that he’s generally regarded as a great writer. I expressed a little hesitation though, as his run on Batman Beyond in the last year or so had not exactly been met with the biggest enthusiasm with some reviewers, who said his story felt confused or lacked direction. While I would still keep a little bit of that skepticism around, Jurgens does have a huge involvement with Superman related titles, having written for the character since the 1980’s. He was even one of the main forces behind The Death of Superman and created two of Superman’s deadliest villains, Doomsday (who actually did kill Superman) and Cyborg Superman (who was less successful). So Dan Jurgens is a writer is who has a lot of Superman experience, but perhaps shouldn’t be on a Batman title.
In terms of artists, this one is a little confusing. I’ve never really been that sure on the need for multiple artists, and I’m certainly not going to cover the careers of three different artists here. However, looking at Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham and Stephen Segovia, I’m encouraged. Patrick Zircher, I’m guessing, will be the lead artist, with a wealth of DC and Marvel experience behind him. Tyler Kirkham has also worked for DC extensively, being the main artist on Green Lantern: New Guardians and providing covers and supporting art for a variety of other series. Stephen Segovia seems to be about on the same level as Kirkham, having done the pencils for a wide range of Marvel titles and titles I’ve never even heard of. So a varied, but experienced, art team.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: Look, I’m not 100% clear on my Superman lore, I never have been, so forgive me if I sound confused here. Best I can tell, Action Comics will have two Supermen, as well as Lex Luthor who is also Superman. One Superman is from the New 52, while the other is the classic Superman with a wife and child (who you can read about in Superman). But at the same time Lex Luthor is also flying around Metropilis as Superman. Honestly, I’m sure that Dan Jurgens has great ideas when it comes to Superman comics and has written fantastic ones before. And I’m equally sure that the art team will produce some great work. But the whole idea seems far too confusing. I read a lot of comics and I’m pretty used to convoluted comic-book storylines and even I’m confused. Unless you have a masters in English literature, I would advise looking at something a little less confusing.
Writer: Francis Manupul
Artist: Francis Manupul yet again
Rebirth One Shot?: Not this time sports fans, Trinity is a new series.
The Creative Team: This is an artist/writer solo team I feel like I can get behind. Francis Manupul began his career with Top Cow working on Withcblade and Tomb Raider. His work continued to be recognized with Manupul moving over to DC exclusively and eventually working on The Flash with Geoff Johns. After the New 52, Manupul stayed on the series, only now as both writer and artist. His run on the series was congratulated as being visually stunning and full of interesting ideas. The writing itself was still noted as being good, just not up to the same standard as the art. In addition to positive reviews around his art, Manupul has also won the Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Art and the Inkwell All-In-One award for inking most of his own art. Manupul is no doubt a highly accomplished artist that I would predict will go on to be one of the best. It just remains to be seen if his writing can keep up.
What’s It About, and Is It Worth It?: In 2008 and 2009, there was a series surrounding the adventures of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman; it was called Trinity. This series is also called Trinity and, surprise, it’s about the same thing. Exploring the dynamic between DC’s 3 biggest characters and still telling a great story is no small task. I’m confident that the book will look good at the very least, but I remain to be convinced on the actual story itself and the skill of the writer behind it. Approach cautiously.
Wonder Woman (Twice Monthly)
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott
Rebirth One Shot?: Surely is, Greg Rucka is set to return to Wonder Woman and shake things up.
The Creative Team: First, let’s talk art. The way this run of Wonder Woman will work is that each odd numbered issue will be done by Liam Sharp, and each even numbered issue will be done by Nicola Scott. Liam Sharp is a comic book art veteran, having made his start in 1980 on industry giant 2000AD. His work as an artist was quickly recognized and he worked on a variety of titles before moving over to Marvel UK. Afterwards, the work kept coming with well-received runs on X-Men, Spiderman and Hulk for Marvel and Superman and Batman for DC. Sharp has illustrated well over 50 different mini-series and each time he is congratulated as a distinctive artist with real flair.
Nicola Scott hails from just across the ditch in Australia and, despite a shorter career compared to Sharp, still appears to be a great artist. Beginning in 2002, Scott quickly rose through the ranks, joining DC in 2004 and was called a ‘Talent to Watch’ by Wizard in 2005. She then began to work with Gail Simon on both Birds of Prey and Secret Six, where her art was commended both times. Scott appears to be an artist with great talent who, after working on a few smaller series, is more than ready to switch over to the big time (as it were).
Now, Greg Rucka. When Rucka was announced as the writer for the new Wonder Woman, fans were excited, and it seems for good reason. Rucka is a critically acclaimed and award winning writer with a solid history when it comes to Wonder Woman. Starting as an novel writer, Rucka entered the world of comics with Whiteout and it’s sequel Whiteout: Melt, the latter earning him an Eisner for Best Limited Series. Rucka went on to write a wide variety of series and mini-series, winning another 5 Eisner Awards and nominated for another 12. His best work with penning the character was in Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia. This limited series is praised as potentially the best Wonder Woman story ever written, and is given as a prime example of Wonder Woman characterization done not only right, but excellently. With a run on the main series also attracting high praise, it’s not hard to see why you might be excited about this version of Wonder Woman.
What Is It About, and Is It Worth It?: Yes, it’s worth it. Straight up. If you like Wonder Woman, superheroes, good writing, good art, strong female characters, or just good comics, then yes this is worth it. Rucka seems to be taking full advantage of the bi-monthly format with two stories being told simultaneously. Each odd numbered issue will be set ‘now’ and will deal with Wonder Woman’s quest to discover the truth around her past. Promises of monsters, magic and heroism abound, so expect good things here. Every even numbered issue will be around Wonder Woman’s first moments in the world of man, and will be Greg Rucka’s effort to redefine the Wonder Woman mythos for a new generation. 100% worth it. My expectations are enormously high.
What I’ll Be Taking Away
As much as I recognise the importance of Superman as a comic book and cultural icon, I’m just not that big a fan. I won’t be getting any of the Superman books. Not because they’re terrible or anything, I’m just not that interested. I will be picking up New-Superman as I have enjoyed all of Gene Luen Yang’s work that I have read, and Wonder Woman as I feel I’d be mad to miss it.