Saturday, September 19, 2015

Previews, libraries keep me in touch with DC, Marvel

It should be no surprise to any of my readers that I'm a Bronze Age comic book reader. That is to say, my favorite era of comics to read is those published from 1970 through 1985.

That's not to say I'm not into some of the later Silver Age (1956 through 1970) and I certainly read more than my fair share of Batman comics from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. I got out of comics (at least for a while) when DC Comics introduced Jason Todd as the second Robin and my reading of comics after say about 1997 or 1998 is spotty at best.
The cover of the September issue of PREVIEWS
features this promotional artwork for the DARK KNIGHT III:
limited series coming out in November.

As my Cary's Comics Craze readers know, I'm a big advocate of making use of your local library to check out recent trade paperbacks. After all, we fanboys and fangirls have to watch every penny we spend and no money has to exchange hands at a library — if you keep track of your due dates.

If your library is hooked into a larger database that connects with other libraries, you'd be amazed at the variety of nerdy stuff available.  Again, you're not spending any of your own dough, so you can only be disappointed up to a point when you read a less-than-fulfilling or interesting story.

Checking out trades from your library means you're saving a ton of your hard-earned cash. In the meantime, you're also able to keep up with your favorite members of the cape-and-cowl crowd, get an idea of the big story lines being published (and being talked about or criticized at your nearest comic book store and being blogged about!), discover new artists and writers, new heroes or villains — you name it.

Besides talking to fans at comic book conventions who are up on the latest titles being printed, the other way I stay updated on modern comics is by reading previews.

In this case, I literally mean a publication called PREVIEWS.

Each issue is several hundred pages long and provides a quick tease to what's going on in upcoming issues, the price and when those titles will be released. PREVIEWS also includes info on other nerdy stuff available for sale soon, from T-shirts to  trades and those amazing looking statuettes that I love looking at but can't afford. Basically, it's a reference-order guide/catalog for comic book shop owners so they can order appropriately — and like me, have a working knowledge of the industry. (For more on how to use it, go to the PREVIEWSworld website.)

Recently, I've come into possession of the last two issues of PREVIEWS. (Many, many thanks to Dave Baum and The Pop! Shop for his generosity!) They have been very informative on what's happening in the DC and Marvel universes. (Marvel has so much going on with the launch of their newly aligned "All-New, All-Different" universe that it created its own supplement – complete with a sweeeeet Alex Ross cover of ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS No. 1.)

Without further ado, here's a much briefer breakdown on what has piqued my interest from DC and will be on sale in October and November. (Come back to CCC for the Marvel version!)

• Who knew writer-artist David Finch has been writing issues of WONDER WOMAN? I enjoyed what Finch was doing with Batman about three years ago (at least for a time) and he does some pretty amazing covers, so you can't go too wrong there. He will be writing issue 45 (out Oct. 21)  and doing the cover with Jonathan Glapion.

• Did you know DC has been publishing stories based on the continuity of the 1975-1979 "Wonder Woman" TV series starring Lynda Carter? The stories go under the title of WONDER WOMAN '77; SPECIAL No. 2 comes out Sept. 30. The cover art is art-realistic and uh, wonderfully depicts Carter's take on everyone's favorite Amazon warrior.

• DC will release the fifth issue of WE ARE ROBIN on Oct. 28. I'm not entirely sure what the premise is, but it seems some teenagers have taken it upon themselves to don the iconic "R" of the Boy Wonder to take crime fighting to the streets. It's quite possible I will read the first run of issues once WE ARE ROBIN comes out as a trade.

• There's a HARLEY QUINN AND POWER GIRL ongoing series, written by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Issue 5 is out Oct. 21. Conner has a fun style to her art and has been doing Harley Quinn for more than a year now.

• Based on the apparently critical acclaim of the weekly BATMAN ETERNAL series that ran for 52 issues starting in April 2014, DC has a sequel, BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL. Issues 5 through 8 are coming out Nov. 4 through 25.

• The third volume of the BATMAN ETERNAL trades goes on sale Oct. 7. I will be putting a reserve on the first trade through my local library — as I will with BATMAN '66 MEETS THE GREEN HORNET, written by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman. The ongoing BATMAN '66 series, based on the 1966-1968 TV series, is a blast to read. There are two fun stand-alone adventures in each issue. The fourth trade paperback is out Dec. 2. (I posted my review of issue 1 in late July 2013 at the original online home of CCC.)

And finally, I'm interested in DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE. Why, I'm not sure; maybe it's because Frank Miller will have some help in the writing department.

Without a doubt, I'm more than hesitant about this project, which actually makes me nervous. After all, Miller seemed to have lost his touch writing Batman with BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN, the three-issue limited series that wasn't helped by massive shipping delays in late 2001.

Brian Azzarello is co-writing the MASTER RACE limited series, which will complete Miller's DARK KNIGHT trilogy in what DC calls "the epic ending you never saw coming." According to the reliable comics news website Newsarama, "the eight-issue series will feature standalone secondary stories with a rotating art team featuring other aspects of what DC has now dubbed the 'Dark Knight Universe.'" 

Artists Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson are doing the interior art for the main story and Kubert is handling the cover of issue 1 (out Nov. 25).

This sounds like a fantastic Dynamic Duo of comics greats; Kubert does some of the finest art around these days and Janson is one of the greatest inkers in the history of comics. He has been working with Miller since their unforgettable run on DAREDEVIL, so I'd say this series is in phenomenal hands, as far as artists go.

Although I've never been a big fan of Azzarello (even in the much-lauded JOKER graphic novel, which left me cold), it can't be a bad thing for Miller to get some help writing. Maybe he'll help Miller get his Batman writing mojo back — at least to wrap up this story.

Ultimately, I don't know what to expect from MASTER RACE. Although it's safe to say we should expect appearances from Superman, Wonder Woman and Carrie Kelly, the Robin of Miller's DARK KNIGHT Universe.

You can't help but notice the bloody Superman shield/logo, which seems to refer to the Man of Steel's possible death. Don't you think? And what's with that MASTER RACE subtitle anyway? Is Miller up to his Neanderthal men-are-men and women-are-women-who-want-men thinking again?

As comedian Arsenio Hall used to say, things that make you go 'Hmmmm' …!

The best I can hope for is this limited series will be enjoyable and that the first issue will inspire me to read all of it. If nothing else, MASTER RACE certainly has to be a vast improvement over THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN.

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