Reboots and Recollections Part 2: JP Picks His Top 10 Comics in DC’s September Line-Wide Comic Book Re-launch

I know. There’s nothing quite like a “first” issue.

Of course, there’s the collector’s excitement of being present at the beginning of a potentially new, hit series, where a copy of a “first” issue might be worth thousands of dollars in seventy years time – just enough time for said collector’s grandchildren to cash in on their inheritance.  (Alas, for said collector!)

But there’s also the liberating, and sometimes slightly frightening feeling of starting over, fresh, from scratch. That’s the feeling that I enjoy when picking up a new comic book first issue from the store shelves. And that’s why I’m excited for next month.

With DC Comics re-launching their entire line of comic book offerings this September, fifty-two different titles in all, that feeling can be overshadowed by a daunting inability to decide what to purchase, what to collect, what to read. (You can read some background on that re-launch in Part 1 of Reboots and Recollections.)

Fear not. Biff Bam Pop! is here to help you with that decision.

With all the imminent changes, DC has created a simple way of keeping tabs on your favourite comic books genres: there’s the mainstream and popular DC Universe characters like Justice League, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern and all of the various monthly comic books that showcase them.

There’s also the various titles that the company refers to as “The Dark” that contain characters more familiar to readers of the mature imprint of DC, Vertigo Comics. These characters, now merged under the DC Universe umbrella, include Swamp Thing, Animal Man and many others. Think of “The Dark” as your sort of mainstream horror line of comic books.

“The Edge” is another offshoot, still under that DC Universe umbrella. These titles seem to encapsulate niche comics, period piece comics, or characters that have been brought over from defunct publisher, Wildstorm. It’s here that you’ll find the reimagined Stormwatch, All-Star Western or Blackhawks.

The last segment falls under the “Young Justice” title, a group of comics starring teenage superheroes encountering teenage problems. In this corner of the DC Universe, you’ll find the up-and-coming Teen Titans, Blue Beetle and Static Shock.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s writers and artists that make or break a series for me. The character, often, is secondary. So, without further ado, and in brief fashion, let me begin counting down the Top 10 most anticipated (well, by me anyway) DC Comics titles released this September.

10. Aquaman (September 28)

Yes, the King of the Seven Seas is back! And he’s still wearing orange and he still talks to the fishes with crazy “vuu vuu vuu vuu” echo location calls. There aren’t many heroes who have had the number of attempts at success, via a monthly series, that Aquaman has had over the decades. And yet each attempt has failed. What makes this try any different? Fan favourites, Geoff Johns (writer) and Ivan Reis (artist) are the ace cards here. Aquaman, you see, is in a precarious place. He’s a known commodity globally – a hero who has served with the Justice League of America alongside greats such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – yet it seems that no one wants to read about his surely heroic solo adventures. Johns and Reis aim to do with Aquaman what was done with Green Lantern and the Flash in recent years: reinterpret and re-energize the character for a twenty-first century audience. I think they can do it. And riding this wave should be quite the exciting trip.

9. Stormwatch (September 7)

Only those that read anything from Wildstorm, the publishing company that DC bought out some years ago, would know what Stormwatch was all about. Here, in the new DC Universe, they are the world’s secret superhuman protectors. They saved the world before the Justice League ever did – and with the rise of “new” earth protectors like Superman and Batman, the role that Stormwatch plays has been heightened to even new levels of intrigue. It will be fascinating to see how these characters play along with the better-known heroes of the DC Universe, as I’m sure there are to be fireworks. Fan favourite characters, Jack Hawksmoor, Midnighter and Apollo return and are now joined by the Martian Manhunter in the title. If you love science fiction action, you’d best start reading right here.

8. Justice League Dark (September 28)

What the? A superhero group made up of the most mystical characters in the DC Universe? Yep. Justice League Dark is one reason why DC co-opted Vertigo Comics of all of their “comic book” characters over the past two years. Here, you’ll find Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna, Shade the Changing Man, and everyone’s favourite bastard magician, John Constantine, all fighting the forces of supernatural evil – like only the magically infused can. Justice League Dark could be a mistake waiting to happen. But under the pen of writer Peter Milligan, writer of the still-going-strong-but-set-in-its-own-private-universe, John Constantine Hellblazer title, (still published by Vertigo), I trust where the characters and story will go. If it’s a mistake, it’ll be a brilliant one – this I know.

7. DC Universe Presents (September 21)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a big fan of the compilation and/or spotlight series and DC Universe Presents fits that bill. Exciting characters – some well-established, some quite obscure, will get the spotlight every few months and that’s just how I like it. Keep me guessing and keep me stimulated! First up, Deadman, a favourite character of mine (and one that’s just been optioned for a TV series from Supernatual creator Eric Kripke)! He’ll be around for five issues before another character replaces him for a story arc and so DC Universe Presents will continue, hopefully for a long, long time – as will our attention.

6. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (September 14)

Here’s another weird title to look forward to, set in the “Dark” area of the DC Universe. Made beloved by Grant Morrison in his 7 Soldiers of Victory series a number of years ago, Frankenstein is back, fighting evil as part of the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive. It’s just so strange! Frankie, a hero? Battling alongside other crazed, monstrous creations, all for the betterment of mankind? This might very well DC’s most left-field title – EVER – and it’s been put in the hands of the unassumingly brilliant writer, Jeff Lemire. From his sweetly written and drawn Essex County to his, well Sweet Tooth (an ongoing Vertigo Comics hit), Lemire has a gift for marrying human tenderness with really abstract situations. I might not know about Frankenstein’s longevity on this ride, but I know that I trust Lemire to give us something special and memorable along the way.

Well, that’s a lot of reading to start you off with but it hopefully begins to narrow down some of what’s being released in September. As the excitement for DC’s new 52 titles reaches even greater heights, the next 5 titles in this list will pop up here in the next few days.

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