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March 2021 graphic novel picks and news

Here’s my look at graphic novels of interest coming out in March 2021, as well as noteworthy comic news.

(Disclosure: The blog is an affiliate of Bookshop.org, and will earn a commission for purchases made through Bookshop links.)

Archie

A full list of solicitations is available here.

  • Sabrina: Something Wicked TPB, on sale Mar. 17, $15 (Amazon, Bookshop)

DC Comics

A full list of solicitations is available here.

  • The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel, on sale June 1, $10 (Amazon, Bookshop)

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Johnny Constantine
“The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel.” Art by Derek Charm. (DC Comics)

Marvel’s solicitations mention the longtime Young Avengers couple Hulkling and Wiccan are married. Apparently it happened with little fanfare in “Empyre” #4 (a crossover event) last summer. March’s solicitations mention the newlyweds are offered a honeymoon by… the Shi’ar empire?!

Archie’s all digests and trade paperbacks this month, save for a one-shot single-issue comic. I guess even the longtime “Archie” title (published since the 40s) really is dead… and the company’s pretty much shifted away from floppies, save for miniseries to be reprinted as trades. Since I haven’t heard anything otherwise, I have to assume this strategy’s working for Archie. I also haven’t heard much grumbling about this move, versus how vocal online fans would be if DC or Marvel stopped publishing ongoing paper singles. Even the pandemic last year ultimately seemed to not result in much of a business model change for the Big Two… it’s now back to “business as usual,” despite all the problems with singles and the direct market.

The DC solicit above isn’t a joke… it’s an actual kid-oriented graphic novel featuring John Constantine himself. While “Scooby-Doo Team-Up” once referenced Constantine (as “that British guy in the rumpled trenchcoat” that Zatanna “didn’t want to talk about”), this one’s a full fledged story. I guess we’re literally getting “Heckblazer?”

DC’s latest reboot-du-jour: “Infinite Frontier” and the Omniverse (and Linearverse)

As of “Infinite Frontier” #0 in March, the DCU’s being rebooted yet again. Unlike the previous major ones (“Crisis on Infinite Earths,” “The New 52”) and minor ones (“Zero Hour,” “Infinite Crisis,” “Rebirth”), this one’s different. Recent stories introduced two concepts: the “Omniverse,” and the “Linearverse.” The former refers to there now being multiple multiverses: the current one, the “Dark Multiverse,” plus all previous universes (the pre-Crisis multiverse, etc.). The Linearverse, meanwhile, is a new universe where all superhero stories from “Action Comics” #1 to the present happened in real time, with the heroes aging very slowly.

The Omniverse basically means every story DC’s ever published is now “canonical” somewhere, even if not in the main universe. Superman and Batman first meeting each other on a cruise ship? Superboy meeting John F. Kennedy? That time Wonder Woman found gremlins on the invisible jet? All happened somewhere. (And all actual stories.) It’s a shift from trying to retroactively erase from existence various stories/characters (as seen in previous reboots).

The Linearverse, meanwhile, seems to be a way to have a universe without using a floating timeline to explain why Superman and Batman are eternal thirtysomethings. Though it doesn’t seem to account for some things: for one, Superboy (Superman as a boy). He was set in the relative past, and as such was shown in stories living between the early Depression (when Superboy was first created) and the Vietnam War (when the Byrne reboot came along). I’d also have to wonder why in-universe Batman didn’t age much, but, say, the Linearverse’s Oprah Winfrey did (unless they really meant it regarding everyone aging slowly). Finally, unless it’s a Linear Multiverse, I wonder how the JLA/JSA team-ups or Helena Wayne are explained, unless it’s their retconned-for-a-single-reality post-Crisis versions (somewhat defeating the idea of “all stories happened as-is in the Linearverse”).

From what I can gather, this reboot doesn’t seem to be offering much in the way of details right off the bat. (I still have no idea what the current main universe’s timeline is supposed to be, besides “post-Crisis-with-some-New 52/Rebirth-elements-added” mashup?) Guessing either DC’s opted to not bother and go for a vague “everything’s true,” or they’re still working said details out, and all will be made clearer in the future?

Image from “The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel.” Art by Derek Charm. (DC Comics)

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