The DC Relaunch Spectacular continues as the Relaunchizers explore the darker side of DC with the final grouping, which is comprised of fugitives and refugees, undead and outcasts, monsters and maniacs…
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Chris Kiser: If Swamp Thing hadn’t been the vehicle through which Alan Moore chose to enter the American comics mainstream, then I seriously doubt the character would have ever made it out of the Silver Age. A man made of plants who roams the earth protecting other plants isn’t really my cup of tea, but DC is taking the right approach here. Scott Snyder is one of the best writers in their stable, one of the few who might be able to match up to the character’s pedigree.
Nick Hanover: The choice of Scott Snyder on this book is a pretty interesting one and I applaud DC for making it. Though he’s somewhat connected to horror through American Vampire, I’d argue he’s now best known for his work on Batman, which has been intensely psychological. That psychological approach is what I think will pay off most here, as there’s a lot of psychology to be explored with the character of Alec Holland.
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin
Chris: I’m willing to give Milligan a mulligan on Flashpoint: Secret Seven, which on the surface appears to be sort of a pilot episode for this series about a Justice League for DC’s top magical characters. Done rightly, this could resemble a high profile version of Shadowpact, a fun little series in its day. I’m also cautiously optimistic about the idea of multiple books under the Justice League banner. It’s sort of like what Marvel does with the Avengers and X-Men, only with a better defined notion of what slant each book in the line is going to have.
Danny: Justice League Dark, terrible title aside, is one of the books I’m anticipating most in this relaunch, by virtue of having Shade the Changing Man in it and being written by Peter Milligan. The last time Milligan did a team superhero book it was Infinity Inc., which was quickly becoming a pseudo-Vertigo book in its criminally short run. I expect some great things from Justice League Dark, even though it sounds like somebody forgot to change the working title.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Travel Foreman, Dan Green
Danny: A lot of indie creators have ventured into mainstream comics to little success. None of you remember, but Dylan Horrocks wrote a bunch of Batgirl issues and both Terry Moore and Gilbert Hernandez worked on Birds of Prey. Jeff Lemire, perhaps by virtue of being a fan of DC (I don’t think the aforementioned creators really care, which is fine), seems to be doing really well in the mainstream. Maybe the climate’s changed. Either way, Jeff Lemire on Animal Man is way too exciting for me, especially when paired with Travel Foreman, who used to work on The Immortal Iron Fist.
Nick: With Sweet Tooth, Lemire has already shown himself to have a knack for crazy spins on traditional man versus nature stories and that sort of headiness could work wonders for Animal Man, who has been mostly divorced from his peak Morrison era thanks to odd roles in 52 and elsewhere. I’m not sure which specific part of Morrison’s perspective on Animal Man Lemire will be pulling from, whether it’s the meta aspects or the corruption of nature by man, but I’m willing to bet the latter will be the most utilized here and the series will be the better for it. Especially since man’s corruption of nature is all the rage these days. Thanks Al Gore!
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artists: Diogenes Neves, Oclair Albert
Chris: After that amazing Lex Luthor story in Action, I’m ready to take a chance on anything Paul Cornell puts out there. Assuming that it doesn’t crossover with “Reign of the Doomsdays,” that includes Demon Knights. As much as the concept of a demon superhero seems self-contradictory and too intentionally edgy, there’s a charm to Etrigan that I can’t deny. It’s probably all the rhyming.
Danny: I like Paul Cornell and I always enjoy a good Etrigan appearance, but for some reason this one isn’t exciting me. I may have to force myself to pick this series up and let the finish product decide if it’s for me.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Chris: Again, we’ve got a character most closely associated with Grant Morrison, and again it’s Jeff Lemire doing the writing. Based on the small piece of his work that I’ve sampled, I wouldn’t have pegged him as a Grant-alike, but the quality of the Flashpoint Frankenstein book, also by Lemire, seems to indicate that Agent of S.H.A.D.E. will be another winner.
Nick: If the only good that comes out of this relaunch is that it makes Jeff Lemire rich, then it will have been worth it. Lemire is overflowing with ideas these days and it’s great to see an indie creator who isn’t burdened with a fear of superheroes. Not that Frankenstein is your normal superhero, but neither is Animal Man when you get down to it. Lemire, like a lot of us non-closeted, unabashed lovers of superheroics and art titles, gets that there is a worth to superpowered beings trying to make right or make up for mistakes. Frankenstein has a bit of both and could very well be the character that really brings Lemire to the attention of the mainstream, questionable Essex County film adaptation notwithstanding.
Writers: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Danny: Here’s a surprise none of us were expecting: a new Resurrection Man with the same writers as the original. This will surely excite the handful of fans who remember this series, but — and this isn’t pessimism, it’s common sense — they’ll have to settle with watching it get prematurely cancelled a second time. Resurrection Man will surely be the relaunch’s Xombi.
Chris: I guess the so-called “DC Dark” line is where all the writing talent has been hiding! I only read one issue of DnA’s last Resurrection Man series, and that was the crossover with “One Million,” so I never really got a feel for how that book was. It’s a spectacular concept, though, about a character who comes back to life with a new superpower each time he dies, so I’m planning to make up for lost time by hopping on board with the relaunch. After taking my pick of the book’s we’re discussing today, my pull list is starting to look rather long.
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Chris: On the one hand, you’ve got DC trying rather obviously to hop aboard the zeitgeist train by unearthing a decades old property that has the word “vampire” in the title (I…Vampire was originally a popular feature in House of Mystery during the early Eighties). But on the other, you’ve got to give them credit for calling in an up-and-coming indie creator, Joshua Hale Fialkov, to write it.
Nick: I have a feeling this book might wind up being a sleeper, but I’m having a hard time drumming up enthusiasm for it. That’s unfortunately more likely due to vampire burnout, but given that quite a few of us are experiencing that these days, it’s going to take a lot for this book to really stand out. I wish Fialkov and Sorrentino all the best and truly hope they make me eat crow.
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Sami Basri
Nick: I’m not the biggest fan of Ron Marz’s writing and I too am bewildered by the seemingly random Wildstorm integrations going on with the relaunch. With a truly, ahem, wild writer on the series, a Joe Casey perhaps (who, if you remember, actually wrote WildC.A.T.S at one point), this book could have grabbed me, but in its current guise it appears to be the definition of superfluous.
Chris: There’s a new DC book starring Kyle Rayner and one written by Ron Marz, but, sadly, they aren’t one and the same.
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda
Danny: I haven’t thought too much about the Stormwatch relaunch, but, reading the solicit I’m suddenly excited for it. Apollo and Midnighter in the DCU doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but I have faith in Paul Cornell’s ability to make them work. Plus, Martian Manhunter.
Nick: Apollo and Midnighter being in the DCU is going to make things kind of awkward for Batman and Superman, isn’t it? Unless things get really crazy and they provoke Supes and Batty to confess the feelings for each other they’ve long hidden.
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Chris: I don’t know much about Grifter other than the fact that he was a popular WildC.A.T.S. character who had a really cool-looking costume. Does that make him the Gambit of Wildstorm? If CAFU has to be pulled away from drawing Nick Spencer’s wonderful T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents stories, I’m glad it’s for the purpose of helping another indie creator like Nathan Edmondson make it in the big leagues.
Nick: The team for this series is such a weird conglomeration of talent it just might work, despite the somewhat anonymous status of the character. I don’t know that Grifter has enough going for him to justify an entire book, but Edmondson and CAFU are undoubtedly the most interesting pairing here and that alone could be worth the price of admission.
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Ken Lashley
Danny: Why, yes, I do like G.I. Joe, thank you for asking.
Nick: At least this title isn’t called Blackhawks D.O.W.N.?
Writer: Ivan Brandon
Artist: Tom Derenick
Chris: I agree that there needs to be some non-superhero variety amongst the big two comics publishers, but I’m not sure going back to the war comic genre of the Forties and Fifties is really the way to go. As a child thumbing through the boxes of old comics at my grandparents’ house, those were the ones I always skipped over.
Nick: I’m with Chris. I think it’s especially bizarre for DC to put an emphasis on these kinds of books given the military climate of today. The series that are being revived here and with Blackhawks were successful in their time because they appeared in an era when the American people were truly proud of their military accomplishments. Unless these two books take the kind of emotional look at warfare that, say, Marvel’s The ‘Nam did, I think these series will be out of touch at best and jingoistic garbage at worst.
Writer: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti
Nick: Westerns, unlike war books, truly are due for a revival. Palmiotti/Gray have been doing stellar work on the Western front for ages now with Jonah Hex, so this one doesn’t require much thought and if we’re lucky, maybe it will inspire other creators to dig into the Western genre.
Danny: If you don’t mind your Palmiotti/Gray Jonah Hex with minor rebranding, this should be a great read. Can I make a promise here? The art by Moritat will melt your fucking eyeballs.
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Joe Bennett, Art Thibert
Chris: How many comics starring bad guys have actually been good? Sure, you’ve got Suicide Squad, Secret Six, and Thunderbolts, but I’d say those are the exceptions. Die-hard Deathstroke fans are in for a treat, though, considering that there will be a way for them to get their fix without having to pick up an issue of that awful looking Teen Titans.
Danny: DC Comics, I think you overestimate the number of people who want to see a Deathstroke solo comic. On the bright side, Kyle Higgins.
And that’s all folks! Until Marvel goes and rebuilds the 616, you can catch the three of us separately! And sometimes together.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book writer, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no followup questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat.
When he’s not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for “Partytime” Lukash’s Panel Panopticon.
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin. He’s currently in the midst of reading and reviewing every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and regretting every second of it.