Yeesh! That’s a big week of news, and I don’t even need to write 25 items to cover it all. Let’s get to it, as the opening salvo of this edition of Comics Disassembled is all about new comics, and the excitement they contain within.
1. DC Comics, Taking Swings
Originally, this item was going to be exclusively about the reveal that Ngozi Ukazu – the incredible cartoonist behind Check, Please! – will be writing and drawing an upcoming Big Barda graphic novel called, fittingly, Barda. And let me be clear, that’s still top of my personal DC announcement power rankings for the week. Ukazu is the exact type of creator DC should be trying to hire for its young adult graphic novels, both because she’s someone younger audiences already know and connect with and because she is incredibly good at what she does. Barda on the surface struck me as an odd pick, but seeing Ukazu break it down in the announcement, it’s clear that this makes a lot of sense because it finds Ukazu wrestling with familiar (and effective) territory for her as a storyteller. Namely, a character that’s wrestling with different sides of themselves as a being.
This isn’t coming until June 2024, so it’ll be a minute before we see it. But I’ll say this: I am all the way in on it when it drops.
That’s a YA book, and one that largely operates out of the universal needs many DC books have to deal with. But there was a plethora of announcements for the main universe as well, with that news hitting this morning. Here’s the breakdown on what’s coming:
- The Flash #800 will find writers like Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, and Joshua Williamson returning to write new stories, before that leads into a new series in September’s The Flash #1 from Si Spurrier and Mike Deodato, Jr.
- September also brings a new volume of Wonder Woman, as that series debuts then with writer Tom King and Daniel Sampere making the magic happen
- June brings Steelworks, and incredibly, Michael Dorn – Worf! But also the voice of Steel from Superman: The Animated Series! But mainly Worf! – will be writing it!
- Jadzia Axelrod, the writer of the well-liked DC YA graphic novel Galaxy: The Prettiest Star, makes their mainline DC debut with Hawkgirl #1 in July, with Amancay Nahuelpan on art
That’s a fascinating mix of announcements, if only because it still shows DC embracing the new like they are with that Barda book – Jadzia Axelrod hitting the DC universe! – while also digging into its old bag of tricks with an anniversary issue (starring famous creators connected to the character) that leads into a new volume, a favored trick in DC’s playbook. Some of the new, some of the old. That new volume of The Flash is a microcosm for that blend, and the trickiness of balancing it. It’s not about Barry Allen. It instead focuses on my beloved Wally West, and it’s a sci-fi/cosmic horror book exploring Wally’s relationship with the Speed Force with the perfect writer onboard for that in Si Spurrier. That’s fantastic. But it also is drawn by Mike Deodato, Jr., a veteran artist whose strengths – in my opinion – orient on shadows and muscles, not the energy a speedster book would need. That’s just a weird mix.
There’s a bit of an unusual tension across a number of these creative teams, where the writers and artists are all gifted, but they maybe feel a little incongruous to one another. That’s in theory, of course. In actuality, maybe they all jive perfectly, and these titles are all killers. Theory isn’t everything. For a minute when I first saw the announcement, I considered the possibility that Michael Dorn – WORF! – could be drawing Steelworks because the initial reveal did not specifically speak to his role. That was my brief theory, but when I scrolled down, the actuality was yes, he was in fact writing it (But hey, King’s drawing variants now, so why not Michael Dorn?!). So those don’t always add up. Maybe Deodato’s a perfect fit for the cosmic horror element, in the same way Mike Perkins was for Swamp Thing.
We shall see, but I’ll give DC this: these announcements are making me think about them a lot more than others from the past have. That’s a step in the right direction, in my book.
2. Daniel Clowes, Returning to the Fold
Sometimes you need to talk things up to make your point. This isn’t one of those points. It just takes eight words to convey what needs to be conveyed.
I’m not a massive Clowes fan – some I love, some I don’t love as much – but because he’s Daniel Clowes, one of the most renowned cartoonists in comics, you’ll be sure I’ll read whatever he publishes. And it’s been seven years since a new graphic novel arrived from him, with his upcoming book — Monica, which is a “series of short, interconnected narratives that tell the life story — actually, stories — of its titular character” — being six years in the making. It’s easy to fall victim of publisher hype, but Fantagraphics isn’t typically one for building something up without reason to. So, when they say things Monica being “the most personal and ambitious book of (Clowes) storied career,” it’s hard to not have your ears perk up as a result.
I’ll be the judge of that when it hits in October of this year. This is certainly one to watch.