Comics are getting operatic off the top this week! Let’s look at a big week of interesting news and thoughts on comics in Comics Disassembled, my look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics, led by…Batman at the opera?!
1. Ram and Rafael, Getting Operatic
When I think of runs on Detective Comics I loved in semi-recent memory, my mind immediately goes to two efforts that were focused, finite efforts featuring a small selection of artists with a writer as the constant: Detective Comics #854 to #863 by Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III, and Jock as well as Detective Comics #871 to #881 – or The Black Mirror, as the overall arc is called – by Scott Snyder, Francesco Francavilla, and, tell me if you’ve heard this one before, Jock. Those two runs were allowed to just do their thing, with the creators coming in and bouncing out, leaving us with two doozies for future collections. I loved those.
I’m getting that energy from the just announced Detective Comics run Ram V, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave Stewart are putting together, starting with July’s issue #1062. The first four issue arc is titled “Gotham Nocturne,” with this sequence oriented around music and opera, in specific, with the first issue even being titled, “Overture.” It finds Batman dealing with a “creeping dread” as a “strange melody” haunts Gotham and starts affecting its denizens. There’s more to come past that first four issue arc, with pre-planned pop-ins from artist Ivan Reis in issues #1066 and #1069 giving Albuquerque defined breaks, but even just that sounds great. There will be a back-up story throughout the run, with Si Spurrier and Dani exploring supporting characters starting with Jim Gordon. But even with that absurdly high quality team, I’m here for the main event, one that’s at least focused, if not necessarily finite by nature.
The main story certainly evokes Rucka and Williams’ work together on Detective, as their Batwoman-centric arc – Elegy, a stone cold classic if there ever was one in the series – also came with musical titles for each issue. That it comes with a variant cover by Williams ties those arcs together even more, underlining that connection and the operatic nature of this pending run. Stewart even colored Elegy! That’s not to say there’s anyone copying someone else’s work here. These are completely different animals. It’s just this new effort recalls one of the greatest arcs ever in the series. If that’s your starting point, you’re doing pretty good. Needless to say, I have high expectations for this one. No pressure, team!
One final note: bonus points for the InHyuk Lee variant, which really, really emphasizes the opera connection, even crediting Ram for the “Libretto” and Albuquerque for the “musica.” It’s very, very smart. This just all seems so well put together. I’m excited.
2. DC Entertainment, Being Overhauled?
A Variety article arrived yesterday that stated, rather cryptically, that “Warner Bros. Discovery” is “Exploring Overhaul of DC Entertainment,” a combination of words that are easy to be concerned by but also difficult to parse in the current state. That makes this item #1 in potential impact but #who the heck knows in terms of meaning. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing, at least not yet.
The point of the piece, though, focused on how David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, is not too keen about how the varying DC puzzle pieces fit together. Which is understandable. The movie/TV channel for DC feels like a drunken game of mad libs in which they are victorious every once in a while. For every The Batman or Peacemaker, there’s at least one moderate disaster, with a toxic side of the fanbase agitating against the current and future at every turn. But as the Variety article said, this wouldn’t necessarily just affect DC on the movie side. Here’s a paragraph to emphasize that:
“The move would potentially affect DC feature film development in the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, streaming series at Warner Bros. Television, and the creative arm within DC proper — all in an effort to have the disparate elements more closely aligned in order to maximize the value of the superhero stable — one often seen as punching up against Marvel.”
The name of the game is brand harmony, and that’s what Zaslav is trying to do with the disparate aspects of DC Entertainment. How that will manifest itself is uncertain, but before the doomsaying begins, one thing I’ll say is this: uncertainty has been omnipresent for two years now at the wider world of DC Entertainment. Who am I kidding, the doomsaying assuredly started seconds after the article was posted. But from what I’ve heard, it’s business as usual at DC (the comics side) for the time being. It’s not a panic, but the unfortunate status quo. With the only constant being change – and by the time this type of story comes out, they’ve already been looking at it all for a while – that’s all you can do.
To be honest, DC – the comics presence – feels cohesive in a way it hasn’t in a while. It’s in a good place, while the movies are not. And part of the reason Marvel’s succeeded in the film space while DC has only had fits and starts is the latter hasn’t really played off the decades of material its publishing arm has in the same way. If they want to find a solid answer to their problems, it might simply be to let the comics lead in a way they aren’t currently. Hopefully sorting out the movie side doesn’t result in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because it’d be a real shame if it did.