The All-New Gutterball Special NOW!

Superhero comics are infamous for their periodic reinventions. What started as a savvy business decision (few issues of a comic will ever sell better than an issue #1) and a narrative necessity (ongoing storytelling without any intention of ever concluding gets pretty damn convoluted after a single year, let alone fifty or more) has become a hallmark of the genre. 2015 saw both DC and Marvel both reinvent or tweak their line of comics, with the DCYou and the All-New, All Different Marvel initiatives, respectively. I’ve reflected on reinventions a lot in the past few weeks – it’s hard not to think a bit about it, poised as we are at the start of another new year. Not quite two weeks into 2016, a lot of resolutions are surely already broken, and as all of us have returned to work or school, or otherwise resuming our usual routines, January usually starts with a lot of promise but quickly settles into the familiar.

But not so, here in the Gutterball Special office; taking a cue from the superhero comics which dominate an embarrassing amount of my headspace, I’m taking the start of a new year as the opportunity to lightly reboot this blog. Now, this is not a wholesale reinvention, like the New 52, but is more like Marvel NOW (or the subsequent All-New Marvel NOW, or the present All New, All Different Marvel) – I’m not erasing or replacing prior continuity, I’m simply opening a new volume of all the same features you’ve grown to enjoy skimming idly in the past four months. Much of these changes will be mostly aesthetic, and if you’re reading this, you may well have already noticed the shiny new logo at the top of this page:

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Similarly, my weekly Beer & Batman feature is getting a graphic overhaul, complete with a logo of it’s own:

B&B

Each Beer & Batman pairing will also feature a scorecard, featuring a quick breakdown of both the book and the beer discussed. This is all part of an effort to keep the blog a little more concise, and as a result, a little more accessible. This will extend, as well, to the Tea & Comics feature, which I for one have missed tremendously, and am delighted to relaunch. Just like before, it will feature myself and Dani in conversation, but, recognizing the demands on our time (neither of us are getting any less busy), we’ll be focusing on just one comic every week. This, too, comes with it’s own brand new logo, of course:

T&C Logo

For anyone who still wants to hear my thoughts regarding every comic I read each week, be sure to follow me on Twitter if you aren’t already – it’s @gutterballsblog, and every Wednesday, I will live tweet my way through my pull list. Incidentally, I’ve also updated that very pull list to reflect all the titles I’m presently reading.

I am absolutely delighted to share these changes with all of you, and look forward to welcoming many new readers to Gutterball Special in the year ahead. Now, in the spirit of looking forward, I thought it might be fun to share some hopes, predictions and wild speculations regarding comics in 2016. Here are a few things that I think might very well happen in the next twelve months:

A new creative team will debut on Batman.

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Batman #50 cover by Greg Capullo.

Artist Greg Capullo has already announced that he will be stepping away from the title for an indeterminate amount of team, with no replacement announced. Scott Snyder may well continue writing for a time, just with other artistic collaborators, but with Bruce Wayne set to resume the Batman identity in issue #50, I can’t help but feel like Snyder is winding down the story he started in Batman #1. As to whom that new creative team might be, I don’t have a clear frontrunner, but I would read the hell out of a Batman comic handled by the current Hellblazer team of Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV and Riley Rossmo.

Supergirl will get her own ongoing comic.

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Supergirl as seen in DC Comics Bombshells. Art by Marguerite Sauvage.

The time is right for this character to get the comic she has always deserved. With her own TV series on CBS, exposure for the character is at an all time high, and DC would be silly not to make the most of it. Kara’s brightness and optimism make her a refreshing antidote to the relentless grimness of her cousin’s current big-screen exploits, and a comic series of the same tone would be right in line with other DC books like Batgirl and Black Canary. Actually, if I were to speculate as to who DC would get to make a Supergirl comic, I would probably guess the Batgirl creative team. If it were up to me, though, Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage, the dynamite team behind DC Comics Bombshells, would’ve started making a Supergirl comic yesterday.

The Big Two’s rotating door of talent will see more A-list creators returning to independent comics.

This is less of a prediction, and more of an observation of a trend which I fully expect to continue in 2016. It’s a familiar trajectory – a writer or artist makes a name for themselves in independent comics, the Big Two take notice, recruits that writer or artist, who produces a steady output of mainstream superhero work for a few years, before burning out, growing disillusioned or just getting plain bored, and then happily returns to making their own independent comics. (Consider Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen, as examples.) I will admit, this prediction stems from wishful thinking, because I really hope to see Jeff Lemire find his way back to making more independent comics. Sure, he’s writing Descender and Plutona right now, but that’s stacked on top of Extraordinary X-Men, All-New Hawkeye, Old Man Logan and Bloodshot. The man’s a workhorse. As a pretty big X-Men fan and a pretty big Lemire fan, I’m pretty crushingly disappointed by his thus-far joyless run on Extraordinary X-Men, and I hope that 2016 will see a return to the days when any new Lemire work was something worth anticipating.

Doctor Strange will be the superhero film everyone talks about this year.

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. (Photograph by MICHAEL MULLER/© 2015 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2015 Marvel. Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly)

Like most recent years, 2016 is stacked full of superhero films – Deadpool, Batman v. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad, X-Men: Apocalypse. But the one that I think (or maybe I just hope) everyone will be talking about at the end of the year is Doctor Strange. The current comic by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo is breathtaking, and if the film can capture even a fraction of that magic, it ought to be astounding. It’s got a great supporting cast (Tilda Swinton! Mads Mikkelsen!) and a director with a quiet but strong resume (The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister director Scott Derrickson). I don’t want to overstep and proclaim that Doctor Strange will attain Guardians of the Galaxy-level zeitgeist this year, but hey, if it does, you heard it here first.

Find Gutterball Special on Twitter and Facebook to share your own hopes and predictions for comics in 2016 – I would love to hear your thoughts!

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