Welcome to the second installment in a new ongoing feature at Comics Alliance, where we present and take apart each month's solicitations from Marvel and DC. Today we're taking a select look at the best and most interesting books coming from DC Comics in December, from "Batman and Robin" to opening the DC and Vertigo vaults. (Note: "Batman, Inc." #2 was left out because I figured you guys have heard enough of me fawning over that comic. It looks amazing, buy it.)

1. BATMAN AND ROBIN #18

Written by PETER J. TOMASI

Art by PATRICK GLEASON & MARK IRWIN

Cover by PATRICK GLEASON

1:10 Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER

Batman and Robin find themselves in the middle of a deadly crusade as "angels" continue falling from the skies! The White Knight is shining his heavenly light into the dark corners of Gotham City in his quest to vanquish the shadows of the soul in "Dark Knight, White Knight" part 2 of 3!

Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

On sale DECEMBER 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

This is the second issue of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's run, and it's comforting to know from solicitations they aren't mucking with the basics: The Dick/Damian dynamic couched in crazy new superheroics in fast-paced, three-issue arcs. Unlike most Grant Morrison follow-up stories, this one actually has a decently high chance of success, partially because Tomasi is Morrison's handpicked successor on the title and partially because of his affinity for Dick Grayson's character.



2. BATMAN: ORPHANS #1-2


Written by EDDIE BERGANZA

Art and cover by CARLO BARBERI & JUAN VLASCO

Robin's been found dead! And that's not an easy thing to face – especially when you're Tim Drake! In this pre-RED ROBIN tale, Tim and Batman must solve the murder of an impostor Robin and follow the trail of someone putting together a new team of teenaged sidekicks made up of kids who've been promised that they'll become the new Robin...IF they survive!

Shipping both issues of this stand alone tale in December!

Issue #1 on sale DECEMBER 1

Issue #2 on sale DECEMBER 15

1 and 2 of 2 • 56 pg, FC, $3.99 US

The vaults are opening pretty wide with this coming out, since I've never even heard of it. The fact that it's a pre-Red Robin tale certainly implies that this is inventory material, but the "'02" on the cover pretty much cements it, so: this is the latest stop on the DC Comics "Oh Wait, We Had All This Crap Ready To Publish Sitting In My Drawer" train. Berganza's done a little bit of writing work since this, including a two-issue stint on "Action Comics" under the name J.D. Finn to finish up Chuck Austen's run. Which is kind of surprising, since Eddie Berganza is an editor at DC, so you'd think he'd be able to get his own stuff published. The "Deadpool" art team of Carlo Barberi and Juan Vlasco provide art in a completely different style from their current one, or so it seems.

3. BIRDS OF PREY #7


Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by ARDIAN SYAF & VICENTE CIFUENTES
Cover by STANLEY "ARTGERM" LAU


One of Oracle's fiercest enemies finds her alone and far from her allies and safe houses – and that's just the tip of the iceberg as Batman returns! Rising star artist Ardian Syaf (BRIGHEST DAY) makes his BIRDS OF PREY debut in a story you must not miss, which we're calling "The Death of Oracle"!


On sale DECEMBER 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Gail Simone's "Birds of Prey" relaunch has been interesting since it's clearly been engineered to serve dual purposes. On one hand, it's Gail Simone's return to the book that made her name as a writer, and her remit has always been to deliver big slam-bang superhero action featuring ladies that actually pass the Bechdel Test. However, it seems that that audience has been feeling kind of alienated by this title largely due to artist Ed Benes's work (for whom the book was essentially a showcase) being somewhat exploitative of the female form (to put it nicely). With this issue, "Green Lantern Corps" and "Captain Britain and MI:13" artist Ardian Syaf joins the crew, and his cleaner-Ivan-Reis style should hopefully fit the subject material better.

4. ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #13

Written by PAUL CORNELL

Art by MARCO RUDY and ED BENES

Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER

While present-day Lex Luthor is busy fighting an array of the DCU's most vile foes over in ACTION COMICS, this annual takes a look back at two formative encounters Luthor had before he became the bald mad genius we know and love (to hate) today! Marco Rudy illustrates a story of young Lex and Darkseid, while Ed Benes tackles a tale starring Luthor and Batman foe Ra's al Ghul!

On sale DECEMBER 1 • 56 pg, FC $4.99 US

I'm pretty much totally excited for this, because Lex and Darkseid are two of my favorite characters, Marco Rudy is an absolutely unbelievable up-and-coming artist (did anyone check out "Superman/Batman" #76 this week? Fantastic layouts), and Paul Cornell's scripts on "Action Comics" so far have been some of my favorite recent DC comics. There's also a story with Ra's al Ghul drawn by Ed Benes, but I'm figuring I'll have to do that thing where I imagine the script and redraw the comic in my head for that one.

5. GREEN LANTERN: LARFLEEZE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL


Written by GEOFF JOHNS

Art by BRETT BOOTH

Cover by GENE HA

It's BRIGHTEST (CHRISTMAS) DAY! What do you want for Christmas? Orange Lantern Larfleeze wants everything – including Santa Claus himself! And nothing, not even the heroes of the DC Universe can to stop the Orange Lantern from getting what he wants! Plus, you won't want to miss the strange holiday season shenanigans starring the rest of the Orange Lantern Corps! Superstar writer Geoff Johns and artist Brett Booth team up for an unbelievable sleigh ride adventure!

ONE-SHOT • On sale DECEMBER 22 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Yeah, okay -- Larfleeze is the funniest Johns character since Superboy-Prime; it's pretty clear that he's got a hit character here, albeit one that would get old pretty quickly in a solo title. Still, that doesn't mean that Johns can't do a one-shot, and that's what we get here: Greedy Larfleeze's attempt to find Santa Claus and make him give up all his toys. Brett Booth ("Anita Blake") draws his first DC work in quite a while with this.

6. TEEN TITANS: COLD CASE



Written by MARK SABLE

Art by SEAN MURPHY

Cover by JAY FABOK

Don't miss this untold tale from writer Mark Sable (Grounded, TWO-FACE: YEAR ONE) and red-hot artist Sean Murphy (JOE THE BARBARIAN) bringing the Teen Titans and The Flash's Rogues Gallery into direct conflict! Two people already died over a mysterious object, and now both teams want it. How much more blood will be spilled to obtain it as this gets deadly personal for all involved?

ONE-SHOT • On sale DECEMBER 22 • 56 pg, FC, $4.99 US



Again, FROM THE DC VAULT! This one-shot has been teased by artist Sean Murphy for a while -- it was originally designed as a fill-in during (presumably) the Johns run, but then it became out of date and shelved, and now it's out because Sean Murphy's a gigantic new name from "Joe the Barbarian." So the secret to getting DC to like your style is, I guess, to work with Grant Morrison at Vertigo. And then somehow affect a regime change.

7. LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ANNUAL #1



Written by PAUL LEVITZ & KEITH GIFFEN

Art and cover by KEITH GIFFEN & JOHN DE
LL


The legendary team of Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen reunite on the Legion for the first time in 20 years! And their next 31st century masterpiece introduces the all-new, all-deadly Emerald Empress! She's ultra-twisted! She possesses entire planets! And she devastates the Legion so completely, one Legionnaire will never be the same!

On sale DECEMBER 29 • 56 pg, FC, $4.99 US


I've never been a big Legion fan. My first issue, barring a Composite Superman/Batman story from when I was a kid, was the late 2004 reboot by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson. I dig the concept, I've followed it ever since even into the current deboot era, and even I realize it's a pretty big deal that Levitz and Giffen are reuniting. The "Great Darkness Saga" collaborators are one of those legendary teams in comics, like Wolfman and Perez or Claremont and Byrne, and neither of them have gone crazy yet, so there's actually a good chance this might recapture some of the magic. Whatever that magic is. I haven't read it yet.

8. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #2



Written by NICK SPENCER

Art by CAFU & BIT and CHRISCROSS

Cover by GARY FRANK

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS doesn't let up on the throttle for a second as the team's assault on the Spider compound to rescue a captured teammate continues! Plus, special guest artist ChrisCross (FIRESTORM) illustrates a story spotlighting the backstory of doomed speedster Lightning!

On sale DECEMBER 8 • 40 pg, FC $3 .99 US

I wasn't that excited when I profiled the last issue last month, but after reading the first two issues of "Morning Glories" and the absolutely fantastic ten-page "Jimmy Olsen" story, I'm looking forward to this title a hell of a lot. I'm under no illusions that it'll last an extended period of time, but the creative team on this is very talented, so this could end up being one of those under-the-radar critical hits like "The Order." I hope I'm wrong about how this book will be sold and ordered -- maybe this book would benefit from an online day-and-date release to raise interest? -- but I'm really excited to see how this turns out.

9. WILDCATS #30


Written by ADAM BEECHEN

Art by MIKE S. MILLER

Cover by JHEREMY RAAPACK & RICHARD FRIEND

A page is about to turn in the history of the WildStorm Universe's flagship title, as the epic story that began with the end of the world draws to a close. While the final battle against a mystical threat here on Earth builds to its climax, a sudden arrival from space may bring great hope – or greater despair. Friends are reunited and lives are permanently changed as a new Doctor is revealed. But will this development finally bring about the healing of their shattered world?

On sale DECEMBER 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US


The solicitation doesn't even mention it, but this comic concludes the entire WildStorm Universe. I really don't know what to think of the fact that the final issue of the WSU, the universe that gave us "Authority," "Planetary" and "Sleeper," will be drawn by Mike S. Miller, a guy who did fill-in issues of JLA in the '90s before being blacklisted from DC Comics (or so the rumors go) for making homophobic comments on their message board. I realize this is a mercy killing, but c'mon guys, couldn't you give it a classier send-off than this?

10. VERTIGO RESURRECTED: HELLBLAZER #1

Written by GARTH ENNIS & JASON AARON

Art by STEVE DILLON and SEAN MUPRHY

Cover by GLENN FABRY

Four of the industry's biggest stars take on John Constantine in two hard-to-find 2-part stories! First up reprints HELLBLAZER #57 and #58 – the long out-of-print tale from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's (PREACHER) character-defining as Constantine and Chas confront some very macabre tests on human cadavers. Next is a story from HELLBLAZER #245 and #246 by new superstars Jason Aaron (SCALPED) and Sean Murphy (JOE THE BARBARIAN) following a doomed documentary crew exploring the mystery behind what happened to Mucous Membrane – Constantine's former punk band.

On sale DECEMBER 15 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US MATURE READERS

The vault-opening continues, but what's interesting here is that these are all previously reprinted stories, just uncollected. While the Aaron/Murphy two-parter is, I believe, completely standalone, I'm not sure why DC keeps reprinting uncollected arcs out of context in these things. Wouldn't it be wiser to put out a trade, or incorporate them into reprints of the existing trades? I guess the latter would require a way to put them out for people who already have the trades, but wouldn't you want to remark on that somehow? Either way, good stuff to have back in print.