THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team reconvenes for one last job, to discuss DC’s Infinite Frontier #0 and the launch of the new era of DC Comics.
(NOTE: The following discussion contains spoilers for Infinite Frontier #0. Do not read any further if you wish to remain unspoiled for the issue, available in stores and digitally now.)
Infinite Frontier #0
Writers: Joshua Williamson, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Brian Michael Bendis, Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Joëlle Jones, Tim Sheridan, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Geoff Johns, and Geoffrey Thorne
Artists: John Timms, David Marquez, Jorge Jiménez, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, Joëlle Jones, Stephen Byrne, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Jamal Igle, Alex Maleev, Todd Nauck, Dexter Soy, Howard Porter, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson
Color Artists: Alex Sinclair, Tamra Bonvillain, Tomeu Morey, Emilo Lopez, Jordie Bellaire, Stephen Byrne, Alejandro Sanchez, Hi-Fi, and Brad Anderson
Letterer: ALW’s Troy Peteri
Cover Artists: Dan Jurgens and Mikel Janín
Joe Grunenwald: What’s this? We’re back again for another week? The Infinite Frontier really is full of all sorts of surprises. Welcome, everyone, to the next new era of DC Comics. How’d you all enjoy the Infinite Frontier one-shot?
Zack Quaintance: I’m going to be forthright here, Joe. I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Grunenwald: Compared to your usual tight-lippedness I appreciate your candor, Zack.
Cori McCreery: So I say this with a grain of salt, because I felt the same way after the Rebirth one-shot, and that wound up fizzling out after awhile, but if they can keep this momentum, I think I’m going to really, really enjoy the Infinite Frontier era a lot.
Greg Silber: I could’ve done with a little less of the frame story, but overall, this was a remarkably strong kickstarting of the new DC era. I’m glad you brought up the Rebirth one-shot Cori, because I think that’s a great point of comparison. This had a lot of the same emphasis on optimism, but it’s a much more enjoyable read overall–partly because it feels forward-thinking whereas Rebirth sometimes felt regressive.
Quaintance: I enjoyed this more than Rebirth. Part of it, I think, is where the DC line was heading into this. We just spent two months mostly-liking the chances they were taking with Future State. That’s a cool place to be starting a new direction for. When Rebirth hit, it felt like a last-ditch effort to stop what had become near-total line-wide failure.
McCreery: Agreed, Greg, Rebirth was about “We’re bringing back all the things you were upset we got rid of!” and this is “We’re moving things forward in a way we haven’t since before the New 52, and we’re doing it with the pieces you love.”
Quaintance: Totally. It really felt like they’re taking some of the risks we saw in the New 52, along with not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, to use a cliché.
Silber: I think the cliche works, though. Its great to see DC realizing that being additive to the universe doesn’t mean we can’t keep the old stuff we love too.
McCreery: Like, I wanted Wally back, sure, but more importantly, I wanted Wally to keep moving forward. I wanted Dick to not be regressed to the point that he was when Rebirth started. These characters are peers to their mentors, and should never be less, ever again.
Grunenwald: I agree with what’s been said about this book compared to the Rebirth one-shot. I actually think having a bunch of different teams setting up all of their own stories on this book worked better than just having one writer and a few artists set up the whole line did on the 2016 one-shot. Infinite Frontier actually gives readers a sense of what the stories going forward are going to be like, and it does so in a remarkably cohesive manner, which I thought was very refreshing given the number of cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.
McCreery: I think this many cooks worked because they still all played in their individual sandboxes, so it didn’t feel like any toes were stepped on.
Silber: Totally agree that letting individual creative teams tell the stories made for a more satisfying read. I also want to be clear that while I think some of the frame story could’ve been cut back a tad, Joshua Williamson (with James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder) did a good job setting up the other teams and staying out of their way.
Grunenwald: Agreed, and it seemed like some of the teams could rely more on the framing than others. All of the text for the Superman/Jon Kent story is told through the framing conversation between Diana and The Spectre, for example, and that worked really nicely, where other stories just had it at the beginning and end as a sort of bridge. Speaking of that Superman section, as a general question, which parts of this book worked best for you? What has you excited coming out of it?
Quaintance: The Alan Scott Green Lantern story was a major highlight for me. Probably THE highlight, if I was ranking them.
Grunenwald: I was not expecting that Alan Scott story to hit as hard as it did, but it was incredibly effective and a nice continuation of his recent evolution.
McCreery: Honestly, most of it. There were only a few things that fell flat for me. I’m really excited for Superman (of course) and something in the Green Arrow and Black Canary story REALLY did it for me.
Silber: Superman was a highlight for me as well. Between this and Philip Kennedy Johnson‘s Future State contributions, there seems to be a recurring theme of him setting up some cynical idea about what the Super Family represents, and shattering that idea by the end of the story. Oh, and I loved the Birds of Prey stuff in the Batman section.
Grunenwald: The Superman story was another really pleasant surprise for me. I was surprised to see Jon as Superman for one thing, and at first a little wary of the ‘Jon is a secret threat waiting to happen’ that was set up back before Bendis took over the Superman titles, but I agree with you, Greg, that this story did a great job of moving past that.
Quaintance: I liked how they toyed with that Jon is a secret threat idea. It felt really deliberate, and I found myself thinking, oh here we go again…before the truth of what’s going on is revealed.
McCreery: Yeah, I loved that that story focused on the things that Jon has to do to be different from his father, and how his human heart helps him solve problems in creative ways.
Silber: It’s such a great take. I had that “here we go again” thought too, and it was executed in a way that now has me thrilled to have another Superman writer who “gets it.”
Grunenwald: You mentioned the Batman section, Greg. I feel like that one had a little less heavy lifting to do than some of the others since it’s the same creative team that’s been on the book for a while, so a lot of it just felt like ‘this is Batman as he has been and he’s not changing all that much.’ That said I do agree that the Batgirls pages were wonderful, and there’s one page by Jorge Jiménez in particular of Batman’s first appearance in the story that was pretty spectacular. I also think it’s interesting that that section was broken up into multiple parts. I know we’ve talked about how much focus there is on Batman across the DC line but that felt a little on the nose as far as metaphors go.
McCreery: God, I just want them to announce a Batgirls series and stop teasing me.
Silber: You’re not wrong Joe, but I just love the Bat Family too much to be upset about that, especially when it was handled quite well. I didn’t expect any real sea changes in that section either, which is fine since the creative team isn’t changing. But I agree with Cori, I was disappointed not to find firm confirmation of a Batgirls title here.
Quaintance: DC has a long-standing tradition of line-wide shake-ups…except for Batman. But I liked the Bat-family stuff, because I’ve been liking the Bat-family stuff heading into this. I just don’t have much to say about those comics right now that I haven’t written in past reviews, other than, yes, I too would like a Batgirls title to be announced.
Grunenwald: Yeah, I’m not saying I disliked the Batman parts, either. I’ve enjoyed Tynion’s run on the series a lot more post-“Joker War,” and it feels like he’s getting to tell the stories he’s wanted to tell since he took over, so let him continue to do so and I’ll be happy.
McCreery: Now, now, Zack the last two linewide shakeups didn’t really affect Green Lantern either.
Quaintance: Well, you can’t shake a lantern or the fire might go out…I think? I have to be honest here — I’ve never held a lantern.
Silber: Some of them are powered by electricity like a flashlight.
Grunenwald: The GL pages in this book were, I thought, some of the weakest of the issue. They felt wholly inconsequential.
McCreery: The CORPS pages. Let’s be sure to stress that. Because the other Green Lantern story is fantastic and wonderful. But I agree about the boring as heck “Taking the kid to Oa in a spaceship” story. It was all tell no show, and also nothing but exposition.
Grunenwald: Yes, not to be confused with the aforementioned excellent Alan Scott story.
Silber: I kept thinking “oh boy, a trip to Oa with Teen Lantern, that should be fun!” But they don’t get there. And I realize there’s only so many pages to work with, but I wish they were spent on a fun little caper or something.
Grunenwald: It’s all teaser for the upcoming new GL series, which I’m looking forward to reading, but this didn’t really make me any more enthusiastic for it, which was disappointing.
McCreery: Thorne didn’t impress me here, and he didn’t impress me on Future State either, so I’m not too thrilled with giving him the reins, to be honest. Enough Geoffs writing Green Lanterns. Why don’t we bring in another Judd instead?
Quaintance: Is there another Judd? Or are you just wanting the last Judd back?
Silber: Judd Apatow on Green Lantern, that’s my first thought.
Grunenwald: I would also accept a Ron or even a Ben. So Cori, I know you wanted to talk about the Green Arrow/Black Canary story. Or at least that you were excited by it.
Quaintance: Just once I wish someone in this chat would ask what I wanted to talk about.
Grunenwald: Zack, what would you like to talk about?
Quaintance: The Green Arrow/Black Canary story, as it happens.
McCreery: So while I’m happy that Ollie and Dinah are back together, as they’re one of my favorite messy couples in comics, it was the missed phone call that really made me happy, as the second big “Uh none of Tom King’s stuff really mattered, it’s fine” moment of the issue. One of my top five characters of all time, the horrible brainless mess that is Roy Harper, is back from the dead, with nary an explanation.
Silber: I like how it plays up the awkwardness though. If I died and came back to life, I’d have a hard time explaining that to you three!
Grunenwald: I had suspected that the reality reset post-Death Metal might be used to bring back some characters who’ve met unceremonious demises, so Roy’s return wasn’t a total shock, but it was still a nice little surprise.
I also really like that I have no idea where that story thread is going to be followed up on. Ollie and Dinah are going to be in Justice League, so is Bendis going to pick it up? Maybe in Titans? They did name the Academy after him, after all. Possibly in a Red Hood story in Urban Legends? Or is Roy just going to be kicking around the DCU waiting for someone to pick him up? Either way I think that’s really exciting.
Quaintance: I bet that one moves to Titans. Ollie and Dinah are also supposed to be part of the still-coming Checkmate series that Bendis and Maleev keep teasing. At least, I think that’s still coming.
Grunenwald: Raise your hand if you forgot all about that series. ::raises hand::
McCreery: Memory of a goldfish this one.
Silber: I’m raising my hand too but I think Bendis would write the Ollie/Dinah relationship well. I loved the way he wrote Superman and Lois.
Quaintance: Well then good news friends…and Joe.
VERY happy to report, CHECKMATE is on the schedule. working on it right now! @alexmaleev is gonna blow you away… again! @thedcnation @DCComics huge new character introduction coming! https://t.co/xos5DUvpOX
— BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (@BRIANMBENDIS) December 26, 2020
Grunenwald: Anj will be happy about another announcement that comes at the end of this book as well! Another nice surprise that I’d sort of suspected was coming was the Flash section of the book. We’ve known from solicits that Wally was going to be leading the series under incoming writer Jeremy Adams and artist Brandon Peterson, but here we have Barry officially passing him the torch, which was really nice.
Silber: I think making Barry a sort of Cosmic Flash while Wally takes the reins as a more familiar Earth Flash is a brilliant compromise.
McCreery: Yeah! Very happy about the Flash section, even if we all kind of predicted it based on solicitations. But like I said before, this is about moving the characters forward. Wally is back as the Flash, but not at the expense of Barry Allen, and not sharing the spotlight with him either. They both get to do their own things, and I think it’s really neat.
Quaintance: And I really like the hints of the two things they’ll be doing that we got. Wally seems like a more natural fit to lead a book about a broader Flash family again, while Barry may be poised to become one of the main entry points to DC embracing their multiverse more directly, which is a thing this story got me excited for.
Silber: Not to sound like I’m regurgitating marketing copy, but I like how much fitting the “Infinite” part of Infinite Frontier turned out to be. It’s a lot of “why not both?” Why not two Flashes? Why not three Wonder Women?
Grunenwald: It does make sense to put Barry in that position, and I sincerely hope that we get to see some of those stories (I am asking you once again, DC, to give us a Justice Incarnate book), but I’m also very, very excited that Wally will be back in the spotlight in a good way for a while.
McCreery: I do want to talk a little more in depth about the previously mentioned spectacular Green Lantern Alan Scott story, and just WHY this story is so important.
Silber: Let’s hear it, because that felt big.
McCreery: So DC made a big deal about Alan Scott’s sexuality in the New 52, but that was a brand new iteration of the character, and it didn’t really feel like the Alan we all knew and loved, and honestly felt kind of like a cheap way to get points? But here we have James Tynion, a queer writer, introducing that part of the character back into the version we already loved. It makes sense, and it felt immensely powerful, and to frame it as this man telling his kids this thing that he’s had to keep secret for so very long, it was heartwarming.
Silber: I must admit, I spent a long time thinking “wait, wasn’t he already out?” because I remembered hearing about that New 52 detail. But this is “our” universe’s Alan, and more importantly, this moment felt very thoughtfully considered. It was treated like the big deal that it is.
Grunenwald: Having another queer creator, Stephen Byrne, illustrate the story was also a nice touch, and it doesn’t hurt that his art is great.
McCreery: And I appreciate it as a later in life coming out story as well, because those do exist. Not everyone comes to terms with their identities when they are younger, and sometimes you feel ashamed and like you have to hide it for so long, that once you do feel good about it yourself, it just feels like an immense weight off your shoulders. And the fact that Todd (who is also gay) just knew, that meant a lot to me.
Quaintance: That part about Todd knowing really made me emotional. The scene was so well-executed too.
Grunenwald: Hopefully people will appreciate it as building on Alan’s story without taking anything away from his past appearances. I’m sure there will be a certain segment of people who grouse about it but screw ’em, this was wonderful and beautifully done.
Silber: It’s saying something that this made me emotional even though I have very little familiarity with Alan Scott, and even less familiarity with his children.
Grunenwald: I have spent literally zero seconds thinking about Alan Scott’s romantic life but yeah, this got me, too.
McCreery: See I’m also very excited to have the kids back. I missed Jenny and Todd a lot.
Silber: Like, take out the superhero costumes, and it’s just a sweet scene of two people happy for their dad finally being comfortable enough with himself to come out to them.
Grunenwald: Again, this special is all about building on what’s come before and moving in new and interesting directions. The Alan Scott story may be the best example of that. There’s also a fair amount of that in the Themyscira-set story.
McCreery: Agreed Joe, but I do feel like that one might have had the wind taken out of it’s sails a bit by the final page of the issue, because it seems like while we are going to see more of Nubia and Yara, they still aren’t going to be the main focuses of the Wonder line of books. Not to be confused with Bendis’s Wonder Comics.
Quaintance: RIP, I assume
Grunenwald: That’s a valid point, Cori. At least Yara’s got her solo miniseries coming. Still I was glad to see that Diana is definitely sticking around in some form. It sounds like she might be making her way out to explore the new multiverse as well, and I’m all for that. And Hippolyta making Nubia the new queen of the Amazons was a fantastic scene.
Silber: Yeah, that’s a really fun development.
McCreery: Yeah, that was a move I didn’t actually expect!
Silber: I’m curious to see how this plays out in the main Wonder Woman title. Maybe it’ll be like The Flash, with Diana going on cosmic adventures while Nubia (and Yara?) take on more terrestrial matters.
Grunenwald: Don’t forget Hippolyta! She’ll be the Wonder Woman in the Justice League, if I recall correctly. So many Wonder Women!
Silber: Oh yeah! Perhaps a Wonder Woman “family” dynamic like Bats and Supes have is on the horizon.
Grunenwald: Can we talk about the very ending before we wrap up?
Quaintance: I’ll allow it.
Grunenwald: Thank you, your honor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury….Darkseid is.
Silber: He sure is!
Quaintance: Hey, remember earlier when I was talking about the “uh oh, Jon Kent is secretly evil” tease? Did anyone else get similar vibes here? I thought they were deliberately teasing a certain someone that we’ve just seen vanquished.
Grunenwald: You mean the Batman What Laughs? I blissfully did not get that vibe.
McCreery: I absolutely got those vibes Zack. I for sure felt like they were about to reveal the next iteration of the Batman Who Laughs and thank the New Gods they didn’t.
Silber: Darkseid was a legitimate surprise to me.
Grunenwald: This just goes to show how hard I work not to think about the Batman Who Laughs. The Darkseid reveal was spectacular, though. It’s been too long since he was the supreme evil of the DC Universe, and this version of him seems just as terrifying as I could ever want him to be.
Quaintance: I think it’s as close to a right answer as you can get. If you need a giant big cosmic bad in the DCU, you go Darkseid.
Silber: I just hope that we get a subtle, Kirby-like Darkseid, rather than the video gamey version we often get where he’s a big guy who can be defeated with good punching.
McCreery: Oh and Stargirl happened. But like the rest of you, I don’t really have anything to say about it, because it was by far the weakest story in the book.
Quaintance: Oh right. Yeah. I don’t have anything about that one.
Grunenwald: I was happy to just move on from that one. But good to at least mention it as a story that was in the book. Any final thoughts on Infinite Frontier #0?
McCreery: Just that DC has suckered me again, and my optimism is back, which is good, because to be honest, I was starting to feel let down and burned out by my favorite comics publisher.
Grunenwald: And hey, Cori, you’ve got a new Supergirl thing to look forward to! Woman of Tomorrow!
McCreery: Oh RIGHT! How did I forget that brief one line announcement, sans creative team that ran in this issue?! Excited to see who the creatives will be!
Grunenwald: She was in a panel as well towards the end! She had a sword! Famous sword-wielder Kara Zor-El.
McCreery: Better than an axe! ::grumble grumble::
Silber: My final thought is that with just one line in that Titans Academy story, Gorilla Gregg remains the Sensational Character Find of 2021! I like film noir, he likes film noir. I’m named Greg, he’s named Gregg. I love gorillas, he is a gorilla. We’re basically the same person.
Quaintance: Supergirls and swords and whatever this gorilla stuff is about aside, I have a thing to say: A real irony for me moving forward is that one of the things I’m already enjoying about a new initiative called INFINITE Frontier, is that it’s the most limited, paired-down, and dare I say muscular DC line in years. The other books this week (which we’ve also read) were few but mighty, and it just felt more cohesive and stronger than it has in a long long while.
McCreery: Agreed Zack.
Silber: Even Suicide Squad and Crime Syndicate, which are nominally “dark” titles, were a blast. Ten years ago those may have been pretentious and obnoxiously violent, but here it’s all in good fun.
Grunenwald: I agree with everything you’ve all said (even Greg’s gorilla thing). It seems like DC has a plan in place for the next few months at least, and I hope they can keep this momentum going.
Silber: I hope you all have an Infinitely great night!
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