The Twelve DC Relaunch Books We’re Most Excited About Here At Bleeding Cool

Everyone’s talking DC relaunch. Yes, even you. And it’s the same at Bleeding Cool Towers as well. So I asked ten writers for Bleeding Cool to tell us which, of the fifty-two issue launches, they are most excited about. Here’s what we thought.

Greg Baldino – Blue Beetle

Out of all the relaunches coming from DC this September, the one that caught my eye and prompted a little air-punch was the return of Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle. I’ll admit to having a falling out with superhero comics over the last several years– they were going one way, I was going another –but Jaime struck a chord with me, and kept me reading all the way to the woefully undeserved end of his series. Teenage superheroes have always had a special resonance for me; it’s an age of idealism, doubt, and finding out who you are, and at the time I felt that Jaime was the best teenage superhero character besides Bendis’ Ultimate Peter Parker. In an age where superhero comics seem obsessed with gruesome death tolls and teeth-gnashing shouty “heroes” that make the ’80s look plucky and idealistic, BB was, and hopefully will continue to be, wonderfully optimistic. Saving lives was genuinely more important than punching the cool-looking bad guys in the face; and by coming out to his family and friends, being a superhero was never a “terrible burden” that he had to “carry alone.” Jaime’s character stepped away from the shadow of Spider-Man’s guilt-driven heroics and does good because (shock and surprise) it’s the right thing to do. I will happily add Blue Beetle #1 to my pile of autobiographic mini-comics and translated French bandes-dessinee come September 21st.

Adi Tantimedh – Action Comics

A lot of people forget that when Superman first began in the original Action Comics #1 back in 1938, he wasn’t the earnest boy scout that people think of today.  He was the creation of two teenage Jewish boys growing up under the Roosevelt New Deal and an era where the Nazis were in full swing in Europe.  The original Superman was a scary vigilante who reacted to injustice in very direct ways – he would burst in on a wife-beater and throw the guy through a wall, he would descend on a battlefield and toss a despotic general to his death in orbit to stop soldiers from being sent to needless deaths, he would terrorise dictators and had a mild sadistic streak in the way he dealt with gangsters and bullies.

Leave it to Grant Morrison to pull a kind of post-modern referential take and recreate Superman along the same lines for a new ACTION COMICS #1, only updated to 2011.  Everyone thinks JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 is the flagship title for NuDC, but I think it’s really ACTION COMICS #1.

How well it’s going to sell remains to be seen, of course.

Why does Superman have kneepads when he’s supposed to be invulnerable??  Does he wear them because he goes super-skateboarding like all those young ‘uns out there do nowadays?  Or does he have to spend a lot of time on his knees doing… I don’t want to say what in service of being a corporate-owned figure?  The latter sounds a bit depressing, doesn’t it?

Tim Hanley – Wonder Woman

DC could have teamed up Cliff Chiang with my least favourite writer to relaunch my least favourite character, and I still would have bought every issue.  With Chiang and Brian Azzarello, I think that Wonder Woman boasts the most intriguing and impressive team of all 52 new number ones.  Lately, it seems that Wonder Woman’s been relaunched or revamped every few years, with mixed results to say the least, but Azzarello and Chiang have the goods to bring a fascinating new take on the character.  The two have worked together before on the fantastic Doctor 13: Architecture and Morality… while Azzarello is best known for dark and gritty crime books, Doctor 13 was a hilarious, weird adventure story with Chiang knocking it out of the park on every bizarre character and scenario thrown at him.  If they can bring a bit of this sensibility to Wonder Woman, I think it could be amazing.  Whatever the vibe they go for, it’s guaranteed to be a unique book.  Superhero books can be pretty generic a lot of the time, but neither of these creators ever does the same old.  Wonder Woman is one of the most famous and iconic characters in the history of comics, and I think Azzarello and Chiang will do her justice.  I have no idea what they’re going to do with the book, but I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a comic.

Rich Johnston -  Men Of War

When I was a kid, my very favourite superhero comic book was Damage Control. The stories of those average office-working men and women who mopped up after every superhero battle that took place across the Marvel Universe, who dealt with getting paid by Doctor Doom, dealing with staff finding objects of power in post-onslaught wreckage and regenerating into cosmic beings, or finding ways to transform galactic giant robots into something a little more manageable. And that would fit into the office parking space.

It’s a great concept. It appeals to me as much today as it did then.

And Sgt Rock And The Men of War seems to be the DC equivalent albeit, from the cover alone, a little on the darker side. Well, if Marvel can’t be arsed to publish it, DC might as well have a bash. Written by Ivan Brandon, of the quite excellent Image comic Viking, I’m not so much drawn by the presence of Sgt Rock’s grandson or the new style Easy Company that seem to be filling its ranks, but a chance to revisit the kind of stories and ideas I got from Dwayne McDuffie back in the day.

Big shoes to fill Ivan, big clumpy shoes to fill…

Brendon Connelly – Animal Man

I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons; I’ve got a real appetite for family and character drama; I’m a sucker for recursive, kaleidoscopic meta-texts; and just hearing the words Grant and Morrison is enough to make my ears prick up. As such, I was quite in love with the ’88-’90 run of Animal Man.

So could the new run possibly live up to my memories of what is, perhaps, my favourite superhero ongoing of all time?

That question is already enough to make the first issue a must-see for me, a dramatic hook from outside of the comic itself. But there are high stakes with a lot of this comics, and I could have chosen lots of them on a similar basis. After all, they are all just prospects, much of the anticipation measured against what has gone before with these titles and characters.

But I’m singling out Animal Man because I’m also invested in Jeff Lemire. Freshly invested. I hadn’t read a single page of his comics until when, earlier this week, Bleeding Cool reported on his comic Essex County‘s adaptation to film. I thought I better check it out… so I did. It was a cover-to-cover, non-stop read for me. If I’m telling the truth, it didn’t become an instant favourite, but I was left with an appetite for more.

So, I’m working my way through all of the Jeff Lemire I can scrounge up. There’s nothing like enough to last until September, so thank heavens Animal Man is coming then, and Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE too. All I have to do in the meantime is not burn out on him.

Aaron Haaland – JL Dark

Justice League Dark has my attention as it’s something I’ve been harping on about as a retailer and fan for the longest time: bringing the darker Vertigo elements back into the DCU!

I loved these guys as a kid (I sought out mature reader books in middle school) when they were in the DCU proper, then I enjoyed them as the great Vertigo experiment migrated them along uncharted courses. I always felt the DCU was a little weaker and safer with them gone, and when I found out that editorially they weren’t allowed to appear in DC books, even when Vertigo wasn’t using them, it made some stories more predictable (It was always Ivy or Floronic Man, never Swamp Thing behind plant based threats). Then at some point I just felt there was enough nostalgic reason to dust these characters off who’ve an get then back in action.

Now with Dark we have them all back, in the DCU, and together! We rarely saw them together other than the odd Vertigo Seasonal Jam, Children’s Crusade, or Hellblazer guest star. I’m ready for what insane level of evil and weirdness is out there in this new universe that would draw these forces together. I’m also already wanting to see Animal Man, Black Orchid, Kid Eternity, and other crazy Vertigo refugees show up. And I want Swamp Thing here either as an ally or antagonist.

The fact that Dark’s written by Vertigo all star Peter Milligan assures me of this books authenticity. New readers are in for a treat!

Kate Kotler- The Fury Of Firestorm

I hate to admit it, but I haven’t followed superhero comics for years and years and years.  Despite my utter and total lack of knowledge of the DC Universe as it stands and the impact which the reboot will have on the comics industry, I’m very intrigued to learn that The Fury of Firestorm will be written by two writers with drastically different political philosophies: The uber-liberal Gail Simone and ultra-conservative Ethan Van Sciver.  Again, given my total lack of knowledge of superhero lore (outside of the big capes everyone knows, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and Wonder Woman) I did consult with my personal “superhero expert” to find out what the potential impact of having politically opposite writers on this one book.  Interestingly enough the aforementioned expert (writer Paul Storrie) says  “Although the character has gone through changes through the years, the hallmark of Firestorm has always been two distinct personalities acting as one superhero.”  So perhaps it’s quite fitting that there are two extremely different writers involved in re-envisioning this character, as it could add to the multifaceted personality which has always been an integral part of the Firestorm character.

Joel Ronson – Aquaman

I think I am most excited about the new JLA series in the DC Relaunch but the one I am most interested in has to be Aquaman.

As I said in my last column I don’t think there are enough aquatic superheroes and I am glad Aquaman is coming to change that.

I have always been into comics with underwater cities in them and I have always been into superheroes so I think Aquaman would have to be a really, really shit series to disappoint me but I doubt it will be.

Nevs Coleman – All Star Western #1

Well, first off, I’m a bit worried how many titles are being resurrected when their previous incarnations have done nothing but fill up ten pence bins. How many volumes of Captain Atom, Hawkman, Blue Beetle or Firestorm do there have to be before DC realizes those characters are lame ducks? I’m aware that the execution of the concept is more important than the idea itself, but I’d still be hard pushed to pick up ‘Alan Moore’s Adventures of Affable Arthur Curry’, to be honest. My heart still hurts thinking about the time Dan Jurgens took the reins of The Justice League from Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis

So having gone through the list, switching between states of ‘Meh!’ (All the Bat-Books, Legion, Deathstroke.) to ‘Woo! (The Superman books, Static Shock, R.B. Silva) to ‘Huh?’ (Animal man, I’ Vampire, Resurrection Man, Blackhawks.) and outright ‘ARGH!’ (Batgirl, Hawk & Dove.) I’m afraid my call is a two-way tie!

All Star Western #1 made me go ‘Woop Woop!’ first. Whatever else you want to say about DC, in the last few years they’ve made valiant attempts to revive the Western genre, even in the wake of That Jonah hex movie. Grey and Palmoitti have been doing great stuff on the Jonah Hex book, which has probably had the best revolving art team on mainstream comic since X-Statix, and the fact that nobody has poached Moritat for one of the big books astounds me. People unaware of just how good this guy is are forthwith directed to his run on the Firstwave incarnation Spirit with Dazzlin’ Dave Hine on writerist duties.

But for sheer ‘Holy Moley!’ factor, I’m actually looking forward to Justice League Dark. Despite sounding like somebody at DC doesn’t know how pronouns work, I’m swung merely by the fact that I’ve lived to see Shade, the Changing Man drawn by George Perez in Secret Seven this month. Which for me is a bit like hearing Frank Sinatra covering The Kinks. Shouldn’t work, but is somehow awesome. Essentially, a new Shade The Changing Man comic written by Pulsatin’ Pete Milligan, but with Zatanna running about. Hopefully they’ll get the fishnets back in there somehow.

Mark Seifert – Swamp Thing.

As someone who hasn’t read a lot of monthly DCU books in recent years because I haven’t felt like keeping up with the continuity, I’ll probably be giving a lot of these a look. Particularly the Superman books, because a bold move there could have a big impact on comics as a whole.

But if I had to pick one, Swamp Thing seems to be a case of the right creators on the right book at the right time — and I think this book’s return to the DCU  is even more significant than it appears at first glance.

If they can hit the right note with this book, DC is helping themselves tremendously in the long term.

Catwoman – Michael Moran.

The Cat is one of the Caped Crusader’s oldest adversaries. She appears in the original Batman #1 – the funnybook from 1940 that’s worth a million dollars – and over the past 70 years she has evolved probably more than any other DC character.

And I’m not just talking about costume changes. The jewel thief of 1940 developed over the next couple of decades into a standard Batman ‘theme villain’. Then she gained an all-new tragic backstory in Year One.

We’ll draw a discreet veil over that 2004 film when Catwoman was the first and almost certainly the last Bat-villain to get their own spinoff movie.

Along the way Selina Kyle has become a complex antihero who might seem more at home in the Marvel universe than the more conformist world of DC.

And despite all those changes, she has always been loved. Let’s not deny that sex sells, and Selina is, challenged only by relative newcomer Power Girl, the sexiest woman in the DC continuum. Artists love to draw her, fans love to read about her, and the Dark Knight himself has been tempted by her more than once.

Somewhere in the infinite riot of multiversal crises Bruce even married Selina.

But not now. Don’t even ask about Huntress. Judd Winick and Guillem March are promising us an all-new Catwoman. ‘Tough, sexy, violent, and somewhat over-the-top’

That sounds like the kind of comic I want to read. If I’m looking for thoughtful, reflective literary fiction I know where to find it. When I open a comic book I’m always hoping to find fast, pacy action. I’m hoping for a ‘not quite real’ realism – I’m more interested in well-trained mortals like Bats and Catwoman than I am in pandimensional demons or smart-talking ducks.

And yes, if I’m being honest I’m quite happy to read a comic with a tough, sexy female lead. Whether she’s bad, or whether she’s just drawn that way.

So. Catwoman #1. I’m in. How about you?

Andrew Wheeler – Stormwatch

The integration of WildStorm characters into the DCU is one of the gambles of the reboot widely seen as least likely to pay off. How are the re-re-rebooted Stormwatch, Grifter and Voodoo meant to carve out a place in the market under the shadows of books like Action Comics #1 and all those Green Lanterns? It also seems like an uneasy culture fit. Stormwatch revels in sex, gore, and even occasional stories with consequences. Can Apollo and Midnighter sit comfortably in the same universe as the Justice League without giving up their head-exploding punches and their bigot-exploding kisses? Stormwatch in the DCU is like adding Tyrion Lannister to the cast of Two And A Half Men.

Yet Stormwatch is the reboot book that I’m most excited about, because this new context for WildStorm’s arch-liberal bully-boys is an obvious launching pad for a thousand new stories, and Paul Cornell is a great choice to explore them. He’s a smart enough writer to know that it’s going to take work to make these guys stick. I’m also excited to see DC’s big gay couple join the DC Universe proper, though I’m not thrilled about their new looks. My hope is that Apollo and Midnighter can change the DCU more than the DCU changes them.

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