Villains Month Highlights

You have almost definitely heard by now about "Villains Month," coming from DC in September. To commemorate the two-year anniversary of The New 52, they're spotlighting 52 villains or villain groups in 52 issues, and the heroes are nowhere to be seen. <p>It's something that's already gotten a lot of publicity and scrutiny — and attention for those 3-D covers, which come with a $3.99 cover price — not to mention the wave of interest coinciding with the launch that month of <i>Forever Evil</i>, the first big line-wide crossover event since the dawn of The New 52. <p>With <a href=>DC's full September 2013 solicitations</a> now out, we've given the publisher's entire slate a close eye to see what will matter the most this fall, in our monthly solicitations analysis.


Come September, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's much-hyped <i>Batman</i> origin story "Zero Year" will still be in full swing — though it's taking that month off, along with the rest of DC's regularly scheduled titles, for Villains Month. (Which may have something to do with DC announcing <a href=>further Zero Year tie-ins coming</a> in November.) <p>But, maybe not entirely. Though Scott Snyder appears to be mostly sitting Villains Month out, he and Ray Fawkes are co-writing <i>Batman #23.2: The Riddler</i> (illustrated by Top Cow mainstay Jeremy Haun), which is said to show "how events of ZERO YEAR continue to affect The Riddler today!"


Though August's <i>Dial H #15</i> was solicited as the final issue of that series, it's getting one last hurrah in September in the form of <i>Justice League #23.3: Dial E</i>, from series writer China Mieville and a variety of artists. <p>Twenty of them, in fact, including <i>Green Arrow</i> writer Jeff Lemire, Jock (who's debuting on <i>Savage Wolverine</i> in the same month), and David Lapham. The issue, described as a <i>Dial H</i> "coda" promises 20 new villains to go along with the 20 artists, doing a page each.


With a whole host of unconventional offerings for Villains Month, DC looks to be expanding their creative pool a bit for the initiative. <p><i>Justice League #23.2: Lobo</i> will be written by relative newcomer Marguerite Bennett, who's also co-writing July's <i>Batman Annual</i> with Scott Snyder. Tim Seeley is mostly known for his Image work, but he's writing <i>Batman and Robin #23.4: Killer Croc</i>. And video game veterans Corey May and Dooma Wendschuh, of <i>Assassin's Creed</i> and <i>Army of Two</I> fame, are co-writing <i>Teen Titans #23.2: Deathstroke</i>.


Along with talent not usually associated with The New 52, Villains Month is also bringing some big names who haven't been contributing to The New 52 on a regular basis back to the company. <p>DC legend Marv Wolfman is returning to a franchise he made famous with <i>Teen Titans #23.1: Trigon</i>. Though he recently wrapped his run on <i>Green Lantern: New Guardians</i>, Tony Bedard is writing <i>Superman #23.1: Brainiac</i> and co-writing <i>Aquaman #23.1: Black Manta</i>. DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, who left his gig on <i>Phantom Stranger</i> earlier this year, is listed as writing <i>Justice League Dark #23.2: Eclipso</i>. And former Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco, who's written a variety of New 52 books up until recent months, is on board for writing duties on <I>Justice League of America #7.3: Shadow Thief</i>.


And speaking of writers: Andy Kubert, famed for decades for his work as an artist, is moving to the other side of the page as the writer for <i>Batman #23.1: The Joker</i>, taking on one of the most iconic villains in all of fiction. <p>Don't expect a "Death of the Family" sequel, though, as it's solicited as an "early adventure showcasing the maniacal exploits of the Crown Prince of Gotham—The JOKER!"


Though it seems weird to even think about it, <i>Man of Steel</i> (still not out in theaters for another few days) will likely be out on DVD/other home formats somewhere around October, given the typical four-month time frame for these kinds of things. <p>So that probably explains a couple of collected editions DC has advance solicited for those months: <i>Superman: The Man of Steel — Believe</i> and <i>Superman Adventures: The Man of Steel</i>. Both are easily accessible, all-ages material — and likely, in DC's mind, natural gift pairings with the movie come holiday season.


Given the unusual nature of Villains Month — some titles are getting multiple corresponding villains books, some are getting known — it's hard to draw a straight line between the normal creative team of a book and their Villains Month counterpart in a lot of cases. As noted in previous entries on this list, there are a lot of creators who aren't currently working on New 52 ongoing series <p>Then there are some that are a bit more curious: Like what can, if anything, be inferred from Paul Levitz — most recently of <i>Legion of Super-Heroes</i>, ending in August — writing <i>Earth 2 #15.1: Desaad</i>? Or for that matter, <i>Earth 2 #15.2: Solomon Grundy</i> being written by Matt Kindt? (Regular <i>Earth 2</i> writer James Robinson has announced that he's leaving the title with #16.) Kindt, not currently on a New 52 ongoing beyond the Martian Manhunter back-ups in <i>Justice League of America</i>, is fairly ubiquitous during Villains Month, also writing <i>Justice League of America #7.1: Deadshot</i>, <i>Detective Comics #23.2: Harley Quinn</i> and <I>Green Lantern #23.4: Sinestro</i>. (In October, he's writing the <i>Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S.</i> tie-in miniseries.) <p>Or there's <i>Red Lanterns</i> and <i>Swamp Thing</i> writer Charles Soule taking on <i>Action Comics #23.3: Lex Luthor</i>, starring a big-name villain that doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with either of Soule's ongoing books. <p>It could be that these are all a matter of the right fit for the right book, but that's not going to stop folks from wondering is there might be a greater significance to some of these creative team choices.


With 52 different villains (or villain groups) getting their own one-shot in September, you can expect that some fairly obscure characters might be getting a chance to shine. And they are. <p>Among the characters getting the spotlight for Villains Month: Killer Frost, Shadow Thief, Count Vertigo and The Joker's Daughter; developments you probably didn't expect a year (or month) ago at this time.


The acclaimed <i>Batman: Black and White</i> series is back as of September, this time as a six-part miniseries. <p>First introduced in 1996, <i>Black and White</i> features a variety of creators telling short Batman stories, devoid of color — this time around including Chip Kidd, Neal Adams, John Arcudi, Howard Mackie, Sean Murphy and Chris Samnee; all among the creators listed for issue #1.


It's taken two years, but The New 52 finally has its first line-wide crossover event, as announced first earlier this month — and it's not "Trinity War," as many first suspected. <p>The first issue of <i>Forever Evil</i>, by Geoff Johns and David Finch, is out on Sept. 4, and fits right in with the rest of Villains Month. The solicitation isn't short on hyperbole: "The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! An epic tale of the world’s greatest super-villains starts here!" <p>It's a seven-issue series, with further tie-ins coming in October. Exactly which way things will get further shaken up than a month full of bad guy books remains to be seen.

What We Learned From DC's SEPTEMBER 2013 Solicitations

Date: 10 June 2013 Time: 08:28 PM ET