Just Giblets

My first batch of the new 52 from the DCnU

20th September 2011
by Michael

My first batch of the new 52 from the DCnU

posted in Nonsense |

Finally managed to pick up the first batch of comics since the release of DC’s new #1’s from the DCnU. (Okay, I got Justice League #1 a couple of weeks ago, but that almost doesn’t count.) For the most part I’m sticking with the titles that I marked as Yes, definitely, Yes, Probably, and Maybe, although at least one title that I just flipped through in the store did make into my purchase pile, and I will be continuing to pick it up for the near future. More on that later. On the whole so far? I’m pretty satisfied. Of the 13 titles I’ve picked up so far, I would characterize 5 as meeting or surpassing my expectations, 6 as being mixed, 1 as possibly not making it to issue #2, and 1 unexpected surprise. I’m going to go through each of my purchases with mini-reviews in roughly the order I enjoyed them.

BatwomanBatwoman, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman – Much anticipated after the outstanding run by Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams III in Detective, Batwoman lives up to expectations and is a welcome return. Clearly characters who are more recent with less of a backstory are more satisfying in the DCnU. With their entire history compressed into 3 years, Batwoman, who hasn’t been around much longer than that in real time, pretty much picks up where she left off. J.H. transitions from handling just the art, to picking up the writing as well, with able assistance from W. Haden. Fortunately, he knows the character so well that the transition is fairly seamless. This book is gorgeous, creepy, exciting, provocative, and a must-read. 5 stars

Demon KnightsDemon Knights, Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves – This is one of my bigger pleasant surprises. Initially I hadn’t even planned on reading this title. The Demon has never been one of my favorite characters, nor do I have anything against him. Then I started reading a little about the book, and interview with Paul Cornell. I read that Madame Xanadu would be included, and ever since Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder’s terrific Vertigo series featuring Madame X, I’ve been a huge fan. The medieval, fantasy setting is lots of fun, but Cornell gives it a decidedly modern feel, which is welcome. Plus, the fact that Jason Blood (The Demon), Madame Xanadu, and Vandal Savage are all immortal, makes for some interesting possibilities. 4 1/2 stars

Swamp ThingSwamp Thing, Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette – I’ve enjoyed all of the different versions of Swamp Thing since Alan Moore wrote his seminal reconstruction of the character, but I was slightly wary of the DCnU change that was born out of Brightest Day. After such a strong mythology regarding the relationship between Alec Holland and Swamp Thing, I wasn’t sure why you would mess with that. Yet Scott Snyder has crafted an intriguing tale that’s also a great starting place for a new or returning reader. He also quite firmly establishes Swamp Thing back into the main DC Universe with a guest appearance by Superman. Yanick Paquette’s art is beautiful and detailed and harkens back to those terrific horror comics of the 70s. 4 1/2 stars

Animal ManAnimal Man, Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman – Animal Man is the comic that many people are raving about. The breakout title that took many by surprise. Again, ever since Grant Morrison’s renaissance of the character for Vertigo, I’ve generally enjoyed Buddy Baker’s reluctant superhero with the animal powers. Best decision? Holding on to the family aspects of Animal Man. Ellen and the kids are what make Buddy unique, and focusing on his family life was a great idea. The kick-off story that Jeff Lemire presents us with is suitably creepy and intriguing. Foreman’s art is pretty stylized, but reminiscent of a Vertigo title, so it’s not off-putting. 4 cats

StormwatchStormwatch, Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda – Looks like Paul Cornell is the big winner so far, with two titles in my Top 5. Stormwatch is another surprise for me. I was mildly looking forward to this; always like Martian Manhunter, and enjoyed The Authority when they were first introduced. Cornell spins the story into the DC Universe by setting up Stormwatch as kind of a secret cabal; a DC version of the Illuminati, of sorts, protecting the earth before superheroes were household names. For readers unfamiliar with the characters, this first issues might be a trifle confusing as lots of members are briefly introduced in a high concept setting. The decision to reintroduce suphero comics’ gay super-couple, Apollo and Midnighter, plays out nicely and gives the title its first rumble. I think this is going to be one fun comic. 4 cats

Legion LostLegion Lost, Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods – As a long-time fan of the Legion of Super Heroes, I was thrilled with the prospect of two Legion titles, yet at the same time, the premise of having a small team of Legionnaires trapped in the 21st century didn’t fill me with excitement. Depending on how it was handled, it could be a lot of fun; yet it seemed like a plot line that better served a miniseries than an ongoing. The debut issue itself was a little disappointing; it was rushed and slightly stilted. The characters weren’t introduced well for new readers, and the entire issue was slightly disorienting. Add to that the apparent demise of two members of the team seemed unnecessary and unwarranted. Still, as a long-time fan of the Legion, I’m willing to give this one a try for the long haul and see how it plays out. 3 1/2 stars

O.M.A.C.O.M.A.C., Dan Didio and Keith Giffen – O.M.A.C.; is my big unexpected delight of this first batch. This title was actually on my “doubtful” list, and was one I hadn’t expected to even flip through at the store, much less purchase. Still, some of the reviews had intrigued me enough to take a skim through the title at the store, and I liked what I saw. This is a major tribute to Jack Kirby, and kicks off very well for new readers. No knowledge of the character is necessary, and both plot and art are vibrant and intriguing. Things start off quickly and with enough mystery to draw the reader in swiftly. I’m definitely here for the time being and am looking forward to seeing how this story plays out. 3 1/2 stars

Justice League InternationalJustice League International, Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti – Big team books have always appealed to me, and Justice League International boasts a line-up with four superheroines… always a big plus for me. It’s a nice mix of established, underutilized and new characters that promises lots of potential. Writer Dan Jurgens sets up his pet character Booster Gold as the team leader, which follows nicely on the work he’s done with the character over the last few years. There is a lot of room for team tension and the fact that with the exception of Batman, none of these characters is featured in their own title, lots of room for character development. And yet there was something missing from this debut issue that kept it from ranking higher. Perhaps it was the very fact that there were so many characters to introduce, therefore few if any got much panel time. I expect much more from this title as it progresses, and I’m looking forward to following the team’s adventures. 3 1/2 stars

BatgirlBatgirl, Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf – Poor Gail Simone. She’s one of the most talented writers DC has at the moment, and she’s built up a strong fan base. And she’s a terrific person to boot! To saddle her with this assignment is just cruel. I truly believe that there were few people clamoring for Barbara Gordon to get back into the bat suit. Oracle was such a fascinating, strong, complex, kick-ass character, that bringing Gordon back as Batgirl just seems like a huge step back. Add to that the fact that the most recent Batgirl, one Stephanie Brown, was a fresh, fun, and unique take on the character, and you’ve got problems. I’ve got to hand it to Gail for deciding, well, even though I don’t necessarily agree with DC’s decision about this character, I’m going to write it so someone else doesn’t mess it up. Sadly, while the writing is strong and Ardian Syaf’s artwork is gorgeous, I read ,em>Batgirl #1 with an unpleasant taste in my mouth. It seems forced, derivative, unnecessary, and quite a regression in both the Barbara Gordon and Batgirl characters. Would it be a good jumping on spot for new readers? Perhaps. Will I keep reading? Yes. Gail Simone is one of the good ones and I will continue to support her. Plus, if anyone can turn this sows’ ear into a silk purse, it’s Gail Simone. 3 cats

BatwingBatwing, Judd Winick and Ben Oliver – This is a curious purchase for me. This is definitely one of those, okay, there’s-a-company-wide-relaunch-this-is-a-great-opportunity-to-try-new-titles purchases. A Batman in Africa could be pretty interesting provided that time and care is taken by writer Judd Winick to really try to make this relevant and accurate. Don’t lean too heavily on stereotypes. So far I’m on board. It’s a unique story from a very different point-of-view. Ben Oliver’s artwork nicely rendered. And it’s a brand new title, with brand new characters, yet tied to an established character with a rich history. The possibilities are endless. Here’s hoping it flourishes. 3 cats

Justice LeagueJustice League, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee – For their flagship title DC certainly opened with a pretty lackluster issue. I agree with what many reviewers have already said, if DC wanted to tell the origin of this new Justice League, they should have opened in the present with the entire group already together, then flashed back in a multi-issue arc to show how they came together. Instead you’ve got the premiere issue of their flagship superteam playing like an issue of Brave and the Bold featuring Batman and Green Lantern. Half the team doesn’t even appear in the issue, and for someone like me, who really could care less about Hal Jordan, I’m left with something I read and thought, “Meh.” Add to that the dated and frankly unimaginative Jim Lee art and there’s really not much to write home about in Justice League #1. 2 1/2 stars

Action ComicsAction Comics, Grant Morrison and Rags Morales – Not a huge fan of Superman, but again, with a company-wide relaunch, I figured this would be a good time to dip my toe in and see if I’m interested. After reading Action Comics #1 I’m still not sure. Grant Morrison has certainly set up a complex, intriguing story packed with information and promise. All the principles are there, Superman, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor… but I haven’t quite bought into this new premise yet… the Superman in T-shirt and jeans, mistrusted by us regular folks. The Superman in Grant’s comic seems much more like a SuperBOY to me, lacking the maturity that a Superman implies. Still, Grant Morrison’s books are nothing if not interesting, so I will give this a shot for a while and see where it goes. 2 1/2 cats

Resurrection ManResurrection Man, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino – Lots of advance excitement about Resurrection Man, and honestly, that’s part of the reason I picked this book up. I think I read this title in its earlier incarnation, but honestly, it clearly didn’t make much of an impact since I can’t really remember it. This DCnU launch boasts beautiful artwork by Dagnino, and an action-packed kick-off issue. There’s enough of a mystery to keep the reader coming back, but not a whole lot of character development. I don’t feel I know much of anything about our lead character… not even his name. Okay, it’s Mitch, I think. I just checked. There are two whole pages of Mitch taking note of a series of people at an airport that could have been devoted to fleshing out our main character a bit more. As it stands now, I don’t really care about him, and don’t have much of a reason to continue reading his exploits. Okay, it’s a lot to ask for a single issue, so I will keep going for a while, but this one might not last all that long on my pull list. 2 cats

Mister TerrificMister Terrific, Eric Wallace, Gianluca Gugliotta – Biggest disappointment so far. While not really a fan of the character pre-DCnU, I was really looking forward to the book as it was being reimagined. I wanted to support any books that featured female leads or any other sort of diversity, and the premise for the new Mister Terrific title sounded pretty fun. Sadly, the story is scattered, and frankly, pretty uninteresting so far. The interior art is pretty bad, which is particularly disappointing as the cover art is really stellar. I’ll pick up issue #2, but unless there’s a rapid turnaround, that’s probably going to be all she wrote.

In addition to the 14 comics I picked up from DC in the last few weeks, I also picked up 3 from Marvel (Alpha Flight: Fear Itself – 3 1/2 cats, X-Factor – 4 cats, and Heroes for Hire – 3 cats) and one from IDW (Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths – 4 cats). DC is definitely winning this battle.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 at 10:12 pm and is filed under Nonsense. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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