By Matt Wilson
It didn’t actually say so on the covers of DC’s comics in April — a stamp that initially said “WTF Certified” wasn’t used — but the entire month was what the publisher dubbed “WTF Month.” What did that mean, exactly? It meant all of the company’s New 52 titles shipped with gatefold covers, the inside part of which was supposed to contain some sort of surprise that tied into the story within.
Some of ’em worked. A bunch of ’em didn’t.
I didn’t read every title that came out of DC in April, but I read a good many (namely, the 19 the publisher sent review copies of to the press) and I found that you could pretty easily place a lot of the month’s covers into one of four categories, ranging from total fakeouts that had essentially nothing to do with the comics inside to out-and-out spoilers of last-page reveals.
So, below, I’ve funneled my DC sampling from the month into those four piles. (And you should be warned that spoilers for the comics of April are to follow. If you haven’t read them, beware.)
“Action Comics” #19: There is a grand total of three panels in this comic in which a guy is made to look like Jimmy Olsen — presumably Superman sees the guy that way because he’s dizzy and disoriented, perhaps through some kind of hypnotic suggestion, too — and then the guy spontaneously combusts. Superman doesn’t even touch him, or think he’s really Jimmy.
“Batman” #19: It’s a Clayface fakeout. That’s not Bruce Wayne. It’s Clayface. It’s never even that much of a mystery.
“Batman & Robin” #19: Carrie Kelley isn’t Robin. She doesn’t even cross paths with Batman. She dresses as Robin for a costume party and Bruce Wayne meets her at the door. She’s just some girl who (apparently) tutored Damian, maybe in drama. That’s it.
“Swamp Thing” #19: Superman appears in exactly one panel in this comic, so he can say Alec Holland’s name when he sees Metropolis covered in vines. Perceptive guy, that Superman.
“Constantine” #19: What’s weird about this one is that it isn’t the gatefold part that’s the fakeout. The Spectre is definitely in here. But Constantine is never dead on a street, even for one panel. He does get knocked out at one point. That’s about as close as it gets.
“Green Lantern Corps” #19: It’s all a simulation by Mogo to test the Corps’ willpower and make them believe in themselves. I am not making that up.
Less “WTF” Than “Well, OK”
“Nightwing” #19: Nightwing doesn’t actually fight the Prankster head-on, but the villain shows up in the last few pages.
“Vibe” #3: Vibe and Kid Flash have one of those standard superhero vs. superhero fights where it’s all just a big misunderstanding. ARGUS pits Vibe against Kid Flash to test his skills against a speedster. It’s pretty much what you would guess.
“Dial H” #11: It’s pretty upsetting when Nelson uses the dial to become The Flash that he isn’t actually the Overweight Flash portrayed on the cover. That would be hilarious. Other than that, what’s on the cover is what happens.
“Green Arrow” #19: Komodo killed Oliver Queen’s dad. He comes right out and says it. That’s literally all that is revealed in this issue.
Decent Story Tie-Ins/Misdirections
“Justice League” #19: At no point in this comic does Batman actually attack Superman with a Kryptonite ring, but this is Geoff Johns’ version of Tower of Babel, so it gets the point across.
“Stormwatch” #19: What is depicted on this cover is basically what happens in this book. The New 52 Stormwatch is shuffled away and replaced by the classic Wildstorm version of the team (mostly). It’s downright crazy. If people actually seemed to care about Stormwatch, it’d be a big deal.
“Wonder Woman” #19: Wonder Woman both fights and kisses Orion in this issue. But it’s not what it looks like, in either scenario. Of all the WTF covers, this one may have accomplished its goal the best. It hints at what’s coming without out-and-out giving it away.
“Detective Comics” #19: The reveal of the Man-Bats is a very accurate depiction of what’s in this 80-page giant. This comic was slam-full of Man-Bats. As for the 900 thing, it’s a city block. There’s not really a mystery to it. This was essentially DC stretching to acknowledge that this would have been “Detective” 900, and I can’t really fault it for that.
“Animal Man” #19: What’s revealed on the cover here isn’t so much a spoiler for regular readers of the title, but for people who have been waiting on trades, who just happen to pop the cover open in the shop, I’d bet it’s a bit of a shock.
“Green Lantern” #19: Look, it’s no big surprise that Sinestro would once again grab up a yellow Power Battery, but this gives away basically the entire arc of the issue on the cover.
“Red Hood and the Outlaws” #19: Again, something that’s played as a big, surprise reveal in the interior is up and stated on the cover. It just seems like the cover could have hinted at it rather than just plain saying it.
“Batgirl” #19: Batgirl doesn’t Batarang her murderer brother in the chest, and in the end it’s kind of an accident, but she’s pretty much responsible for it, if he’s really dead. This cover more or less gives that all away.
“Batman Inc.” #10: There isn’t even a hint that Batman’s going to become a Man-Bat until the last couple pages of the issue. Imagine how cool that reveal would have been, with the “Year One” reference and everything, if the cover hadn’t said, “Hey, this is going to happen.” Man.