New Hotness Special Edition: What’s Hot for 2014 – Part 1

As the new year begins, it’s time to look forward to the potentially bright future. Last year was one amazing year in comics and 2014 stands on the cusp of surpassing it. But what kind of things should we be looking for out of the major publishers? Russell has a few ideas and there are several big things we already know about. For the next few weeks, the New Hotness Special Edition will explore the major comic book companies February-April solicitations and speculate what it means for the rest of the year. First up…

DC Comics logo

Forever Evil is going to wrap up in March and thus bring the first phase of the New 52 reboot to a close. What comes after this is most likely a major status quo change for the entire line, but most directly affecting Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

Nightwing is the character experiencing the most change as Forever Evil ends and right now things don’t look so good for the original Robin. His current title is being canceled at issue #30 and he was left out of the Batman: Eternal promo materials so it’s not unreasonable to think this is the death signal for Richard Grayson. But nothing has been confirmed on that and it could also be a simple change of identity. We’ll find out for sure in April.

Nightwing #30 cover...that doesn't look good for Richard Grayson.
Nightwing #30 cover…that doesn’t look good for Richard Grayson.

Speaking of Batman: Eternal, the new weekly series starts in April. With Talon, Batman: The Dark Knight and Nightwing canceled, a new weekly will more than replace them. Scott Snyder is the architect of this new status quo and that bodes well for the entire line. Plus, having people like Tim Seely (Revival), James Tynion IV (Talon), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing) and Ray Fawkes (Trinity of Sin: Pandora) working with him, this book should turn out to be a must-buy for any Batman fan.

Scott Snyder is, unfortunately, stepping away from DC’s top-selling Superman Unchained as the story and series come to a close with April’s issue #9. Snyder’s writing along with DC superstar artist/co-publisher Jim Lee’s pencils made it one of the best-selling books of 2013. But, don’t fret too much Superman fans, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder have just begun what is already being hailed as one of the best runs on Action Comics ever. There’s also Superman/Wonder Woman from Charles Soule and Tony Daniel, which has turned out to be one of the single best comics be published today.

Superman and Lana Lang, the best New 52 team-up yet!
Superman and Lana Lang in Action Comics #27…the best New 52 team-up yet!

DC’s other new weekly series, Futures End, jumps five years into the future and even further to show us what the overall New 52 story is leading to. One of those things is the New 52 introduction of Terry McGinnis, the lead character from TV’s Batman Beyond. The title from writers Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen, Brian Azzarello and Dan Jurgens is going to concentrate on where the New 52 is headed in one possible future.  Look for The New 52: Futures End #0 on Free Comic Book Day in May and then issue #1 later that month. With that list of writers, there’s no way this will be anything less than incredible.

Jeff Lemire is really becoming one of the busier guys at DC Comics these days, too. He’s launching the all-new Justice League Canada United (replacing the canceled Justice League of America) in April in addition to continuing his run on Green Arrow and the above-mentioned weekly. DC’s experiments with its cosmic universe have only faired so-so thus far. The Green Lantern line is doing fine, but the Legion of Super-Heroes and Threshold both met with unfortunate ends. But, Lemire’s perfectly-crafted Trillium has shown his talents for telling high-concept sci-fi stories with great characters. Now, he’s writing characters like Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and the finally-reintroduced Adam Strange in JLU’s largely space-based adventures. This should be a blast!

The super-team I never knew, I always wanted.
The super-team I never knew, I always wanted.

Geoff Johns has teased a bit about what comes after Forever Evil, but one big piece of info is that a new solo title is going to launch out of it. The likely candidate is Cyborg. He’s the only member of the original seven New 52 Justice League to not have his own book. And Johns has expressed a real affinity for the character since the New 52 launched. Cyborg is also being set up for a major turning-point role in the second half of Forever Evil, so his profile is about to get even bigger.

Seriously, how does he not have a solo book yet?
Seriously, how does he not have a solo book yet?

But, the first major solo title coming out of Forever Evil is Sinestro, the character’s first-ever solo series written by Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun, Marvel’s Magneto) and drawn by Dale Eaglesham (Green Lantern #23.4: Sinestro, Villains United). This has been a long-time coming as Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern was as much about the redemption of Sinestro as it was the redemption of Hal Jordan. Bunn’s background with writing villains who aren’t so evil, after all, is well documented and should help make this book another welcomed addition to the Green Lantern Family titles.

Another probable solo (sort of) book is Shazam! or likely the Shazam! Family. Billy Batson got quite an introduction thanks to Johns and Gary Frank that did pretty much what all the New 52 books have done: excited a lot and really upset a vocal few. In any case, Shazam is joining the Justice League and, according to Johns, will have a very close friendship with Cyborg. Being the two youngest members of the team, that makes sense. But I doubt that’s all we’ll see from Earth’s Mightiest Mortal. Look for a probable solo series before the year is out, maybe even written by Geoff Johns (hopefully!). When Forever Evil ends, all he’ll have on his plate is Justice League…and all those TV/movie gigs he’s working on. Plenty of time, right?

Seriously, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank need to do more of this!
Seriously, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank need to do more of this!

Still, it’s not like there’s nothing happening in Justice League. We now know that Lex Luthor is joining the League in the aftermath of Forever Evil! Obviously this changes things on the team quite a bit. According to Geoff Johns and the looks of things from the April Superman Family solicits, it looks like Superman may have decided he can’t work on a team with Luthor. But Wonder Woman hasn’t budged…kind of makes you wonder if their relationship can survive this one or how Superman will be able to continue relationships with the other JL members who decide to stay on the team with Luthor. Those include Batman, Aquaman and Cyborg, by the way. Though it kind of looks like Flash may have decided to leave for similar reasons…because Captain Cold is joining up, too!

You know you never thought you'd see this!
You know you never thought you’d see this!

There are some creative changes coming, too. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have left The Flash for Detective Comics and it’s likely to be a good switch. But don’t feel bad for the Scarlet Speedster, he’s getting an all-star new creative team in writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen (Green Lantern Corps) with artist Brett Booth (Nightwing, Batman/Superman). And since Barry is going to be the main star of next Fall’s Flash TV series on the CW, look for Flash to get a big push this year in the comics. Of course, the biggest news about this new creative team is that they’re reintroducing fan-favorite Wally West.

What will this New 52 incarnation be like? That’s anybody’s guess at this point. However, given the Brett Booth has been a vocal proponent of the original Kid Flash making a comeback; I’m betting he’ll be given a great introduction.

Let's play "Where's Wally?" Can you spot him?
Let’s play “Where’s Wally?” Can you spot him?

One major surprise was the recent announcement that Teen Titans will end at issue #30. Scott Lobdell has written the title since it started, but recently stated he’s bringing his story to a close and DC made the decision to cancel the book all together. Don’t expect that to stand as the rumors of a Young Justice line overhaul have been floating for some time now. With several new, younger voices joining the DC ranks (ahem, Van Jensen, Marguerite Bennett) it’s about time DC came up with an answer to Marvel’s stellar (and unfortunately canceled) Young Avengers.

A few of the teen heroes could use solo outings, too. A new Red Robin, Wonder Girl and maybe Kid Flash/Impulse books could do well. Might not hurt to give Static Shock another chance, too, either in a re-launched Teen Titans (maybe Young Justice?) or another solo book. In any case, the Young Justice line needs revitalizing and it needs to feel like it’s actually aimed at a teen audience. Maybe put the under-35’s on writing duties for those books…it’s just crazy enough to work.

Just sayin', there's a lot of kids who grew up watching this show. A little humor in a TT book couldn't hurt.
There are a lot of kids who grew up watching this show. A little humor in a TT book couldn’t hurt.

Outside of main DC continuity there’s Superman Earth One Vol. 3, Wonder Woman Earth One The Trial of Diana Prince, and Batman Earth One Vol. 2. All should be making appearances this year, too. So far the Earth One line has been stellar and I expect that to continue. I won’t claim to be the biggest Grant Morrison fan, but the prospect of him writing a Wonder Woman story sounds like it could be fun. I also look for the quality and fun of other out-of-continuity stories, like Injustice (based on the popular video game) and Adventures of Superman (a digital-first anthology title) to get even better this year as both of those books have become very popular with readers and critics.

If you love the game, there's no reason NOT to be reading this!
If you love the game, there’s no reason NOT to be reading this!