Thursday, January 28, 2016

On the Shelf: Two miniseries for the price of one

We told you before about DC's plans to roll out a string of miniseries beginning this month. As it happens, the company's plans changed, perhaps for the better.

Fresh from having her ongoing series cancelled after less than a year, Katana returns, but instead of a stand-alone miniseries, editorial decided to merge it with one for Deadshot under the umbrella title, Suicide Squad's Most Wanted, as part of the promotional push for the "Suicide Squad" movie, due in August. Katana's creator, Mike W. Barr, returns to DC after a lengthy absence to script Katana's story, which sends her to Markovia, home of Geo-Force. If you remember the original Batman & the Outsiders series that Barr wrote in the 80's, Geo-Force & Katana were teammates. We are reintroduced to Dr. Jace, an award winning scientist and mentor to Prince Brion of Markovia, aka Geo-Force, who will play a part in this drama, to be sure. However, Markovia is under attack by the forces of Kobra, who intends to take over the country for the usually obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, Deadshot learns that his father is near death, and despite Amanda Waller's refusal to allow him some downtime, Floyd Lawton sees the opportunity of a lifetime when a mission puts him within distance of his father. We're also introduced to a new player, one Will Evans, an African-American. Now, if you think Evans is the character being played as Deadshot by Will Smith ("Concussion") in the movie, you're wrong. We think. Smith reportedly is playing Lawton. Debate that decision all you want, but the reason Smith is on board is because of his track record with summer blockbusters, though "Concussion", which was released last month, was swept beneath the runaway train of a certain space movie. Evans, though, comes off in the eyes of writer Brian Buccellato as more of a Cyborg wanna-be than a Deadshot-in-waiting. Hmmmmmmm.

Not too keen on the $5 cover, but then, they are blending two miniseries together that individually would have trouble drawing flies, which is why Katana's solo series died as quickly as it did.

Rating: B+.

Now for some big news for baby boomer cartoon fans. We hinted at this over at Saturday Morning Archives earlier, but DC is expanding its presently Scooby-Doo-centric Hanna-Barbera line of books come May. Stop and think about this:

Wacky Raceland: The Wacky Races hasn't been adapted into comics in 20 years, when the racers appeared in 2 issues of a H-B anthology at Archie. The designs are by an artist who worked on "Mad Max: Fury Road" last year, and that, friends, is a selling point.

The Flintstones: You can say this would be a spin-off from the "modern stone age family"'s appearance in Scooby-Doo Team-Up 7 more than a year ago. Amanda Connor, co-author of Starfire & the Harley Quinn line of books, based her designs on the movie, "The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas". As if giving Fred 5:00 shadow doesn't disguise the fact he's modeled after actor Mark Addy. Barney looks like a plumper version of actor Stephen Baldwin. Mark Russell (Prez) is writing. An artist hasn't been named, but will be by this time next month, though we won't mind if Connor and husband/writing partner Jimmy Palmiotti took the gig.

Future Quest: Imagine if Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Frankenstein, Jr., Mightor, & The Herculoids, just to name a few, were all in the same universe. For those of us who wanted the original versions of Mightor, Space Ghost, and Birdman, well, consider the wish granted. Baby boomers rejoice! Jeff Parker (Batman '66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) is writing. Expect great things. And, yes, Jonny would also be spinning off from Scooby-Doo Team-Up.

Scooby Apocalypse: Zombie apocalypse, that is. Jim Lee, Keith Giffen, and Howard Porter lead what appears to be a slightly older Mystery, Inc. team through this adventure. Fans are already complaining about the tattoos Fred & Shaggy are sporting in preliminary sketches, plus Shaggy having a full beard and a handlebar mustache. Well, from a creative standpoint, it can't be any worse than Sholly "Tuna" Fisch's by-the-numbers scripts for the team-up book, can it? Of course not! Besides, with Afterlife With Archie still on a creative siesta due to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's extended stay in Hollywood, who else would you want aping The Walking Dead, anyway?

As of now, DC hasn't said if any of the four are ongoing or miniseries. I'll hazard a guess and say that all but The Flintstones are miniseries, just to test the waters. Let's just be thankful they're doing this, and be done with it.

We forgot to discuss Batman '66-The Man From U.N.C.L.E. previously, so let's do it, since we're a third of the way through. Like, who'd ever believe this would've been done back in the 60's, anyway? U.N.C.L.E. had a head-start on Batman, as it was halfway through its 2nd season when Batman launched 50 years ago this month, but both series ended roughly around the same time. The Dynamic Duo & Batgirl against T.H.R.U.S.H.? The enemy agents recruiting some of the Caped Crusaders' lesser enemies? The mind boggles! And if that isn't enough, the follow-up mini sees Batman & Robin meet a certain pair of British Avengers. You've been warned.

Rating: A.

Of course, we'd be happier still if Batgirl got to share an adventure with The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., but let's not get our hopes up......!

Spring promises a Lost in Space miniseries, and a brand new Three Stooges comic book, both from independent publishers. Ye scribe's personal reading list is about to grow.....!

We mentioned before that in the current issue of The Hangman, writer Frank Tieri and artist Felix Ruiz based their humanoid personification of the Devil seemingly on actor Tom Ellis, the star of Lucifer. What has us bugging is Ruiz's artwork, influenced by 80's icon Bill Sienkiewicz, might be the reason why it took three months between issues instead of six weeks. Not happy with the lack of an explanation from editor Alex Segura, but we'll spare him our dreaded awards.

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