Picked up my remaining #1’s from DC’s new 52 for September, and like the first batch, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but overall I’d have to say more consistently enjoyable books. Again, I principally stuck to the books I had marked as Yes, Definitely, Yes, Probably and Maybe, with a single title being added on a whim. I also read my first two digital comics, both of which I ended up buying in paper format as well. I enjoyed the digital comics more than I thought I would. It’s a nice way to keep up with titles that I really like when I can’t get to the comic book store in a timely fashion. And now, on with the reviews.
Wonder Woman, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang – What I like about Wonder Woman is her nobility, her dignity, her strength, her wisdom… the fact that everyone respects her. I know that can make her boring for some people, or difficult to write as being a character the reader can relate to. What bothered me a little during last year’s relaunch was the fact that some of characteristics were lessened by making her younger and more like Buffy Summers. Fortunately, by the end of that arc, she had slowly returned to the character I loved, and Brian Azzarello certainly picks up with that character. Some people have criticized Wonder Woman #1 as being confusing and new-reader unfriendly. I didn’t find it so. We all started reading comics at some point in the middle of a story. If the story is good enough, you get drawn in and over the next couple of months, you fill in the gaps. You don’t have to start reading a new comic with a complete knowledge of the character at your fingertips. I don’t mind the violence in this book so much due to its background in Greek mythology, and the warrior aspect of Diana. As someone who sleeps in the nude, I certainly don’t understand the (few) complaints about Diana doing the same. An Amazon from a Greek Isle sleeping in the nude? I can’t imagine! And Chiang never draws Diana in a cheesecake pose. Azzarello’s Diana doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time in this first issue, but she’s tough and compassionate, and off to a good star in my eyes. 4 1/2 stars.
Justice League Dark, Peter Milligan, Mikel Janin – While some have scoffed at the idea of a Justice League title made up of mystical characters, I was excited by the prospect, and Justice League Dark lived up to my expectations, and even surpassed them. Written by Peter Milligan, JLD reads like a super hero comic Vertigo style. The choice of characters is intriguing, with two strong female leads. Madame Xanadu and Zatanna are great characters, and they come off well here. Milligan always writes Shade the Changing Man well, and as unlikely as it sounds, it will be interesting to see Deadman and John Constantine interacting with teammates, especially given Constantine’s past associations with these characters (if he still has them in this new continuity. The use of the main Justice League characters works as well. I especially appreciated Wonder Woman’s acceptance of a mystical threat as opposed to Superman (who is vulnerable to magic) and Cyborg, a man born of science and technology. Milligan’s use of Enchantress/June Moon as the pieces villain and victim is also well done, creepy, and complex. Mikel Janin’s gorgeous artwork is icing on the cake of this terrific debut. I hope this book lasts, because I will be following it for the duration. 4 1/2 stars.
Nightwing, Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrow – I’ve never followed a Nightwing title before, and while I’ve always liked the character, there was never anything about his solo exploits that drew me in. But recently, I’ve been intrigued by the Dick Grayson character, and Eddy Barrow’s art and Nightwing’s new costume design (which reminds me of Batwoman) are gorgeous. I felt this relaunch was the perfect opportunity to give him a try, and so far, I’m very pleased with the result. Dick is a character that’s easy to relate to. He’s a kid sidekick who has managed to transition to an adult who can stand on his own. He’s basically optimistic and likeable, but works well in the dark underbelly of Gotham City. Not having a lot of experience with his solo back story, I appreciate the exploration of Dick’s past by having him pay a visit to the circus where he was raised. Some have criticized Dick’s lack of concern over the death’s of two policeman that he might have been able to prevent had he not take the time to change into costume, but I felt the narrative conveyed that he misjudged the situation and took responsibility for it. It will be interesting to see what kind of supporting cast writer Kyle Higgins builds for Dick, but I appreciated the attention on the main character for this debut issue. If the quality of the writing and art remain this high, I will continue to read Nightwing, which was only a ‘maybe’ on my initial list. 4 stars
Birds of Prey, Duane Swierczynski, Jesus Saiz – While it was nice to have Black Canary have a brief interaction with Barbara Gordon to harken back to the glory days of Birds of Prey, I am looking at this version as a brand new thing with nothing in common other than the name of the book. Actually, I was positively surprised at how much I enjoyed Birds of Prey. My expectations were pretty low, as superficially, it seems like a random assortment of superheroines thrown together to mimic a concept. Still, Black Canary is a strong leader/focal point for the team. Starling is a new character, and it will be interesting to learn about her. I’m not thrilled with Katana’s redesign, but I’ve enjoyed the character during her early Batman and the Outsiders days, so I’m interested in seeing her interact here. Poison Ivy is the big question mark. While I like the character, she seems rather shoehorned into this title. Of course, post-relaunch, I have no idea what her motivations will be. The writing is good, opening strongly with a mystery, then slowly revealing tidbits in flashback. Jesus Saiz’ artwork is clean and dynamic. He manages to fill a book with attractive women without making it seem like a teen’s wet dream. I’ll stick around for this. 4 cats.
Aquaman, Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis – I’ve always kind of liked Aquaman, and I always give his books a try. They often start off strong, but then lose of shift focus after a time and I lose interest. Then there’s Geoff Johns DC’s superstar lead writer. Not part of the Green Lantern bandwagon, and not a fan of excessive violence in comics, I’m very hit-or-miss with Johns. His writing does come off like fanfic, but that’s no always a bad thing. It works pretty well here in Aquaman. Aquaman stops some crooks, then stops for a bite at a seafood restaurant while all around him bystanders belittle him: “Does he need a glass of water?” “How can he eat fish ‘n chips? He talks to fish! They’re his friends!” Okay, it goes on a little too long, and is a little bit like being hit in the head by a sledgehammer, but he does show Aquamqn as a powerful hero, sets up a dangerous (and sure to be very bloody, with lots of dismemberment) threat approaching. Most important, Johns is a fan of Mera, and she will be an important element of this comic. That, in and of itself locks me in as a reader. Oh, and thanks Ivan, it’s really purty to look at too. 4 stars
Superman, George Perez and Jesus Merino – With all the debate on decompressed storytelling in comics, it’s refreshing, and almost overwhelming to pick up a book written by George Perez. The book is thick with text, with small panels and incredibly detailed artwork. His books have got to be the least decompressed comics on the market. I’ve never really been a follower of Superman, but with Grant Morrison on Action Comics, and Perez on Superman (for the time being), I figured that this was the time to give him another try. Perez spends his time setting up the situation in Superman #1: introducing us to his supporting cast, laying out the world of journalism in today’s internet age, and setting up a dangerous and interesting menace for Metropolis and Superman. While I’m not enough of a fan to really care about the much-talked about dissolution of Lois and Clark’s marriage, I do think that there was much more to explore with them married, than rehashing their on-again/off-again attraction, or Clark’s unrequited pining for Lois. Again, it’s only been one issue, and I’ll keep reading at least as long as Perez is on the title (which is only going to be 3 or 4 issues based on recent press announcements — too bad.) 4 stars
Legion of Super-Heroes, Paul Levitz and Francis Portela – What can I say? I’m a long time fan of this title. Not that I’m a Legion zombie. I’ve dropped the title before. But never while it featured the first and original version of the team. That said, so far, (and come on, it’s only been one issue) LoSH is merely adequate. It picks up pretty much where it left off before the relaunch, and after the events in the other DCnU Legion title, Legion Lost. I’m glad DC didn’t try to revamp this title, after doing so just over a year ago. I like the fact that they finally added some new members pulled from the Legion Academy, but why not Gravity Kid and Powerboy? A gay couple is exactly what the Legion needs (and I’m still hoping that Vi and Lightning Lass just come out finally and get married or something!) We’ll see where this title goes in the future, but I’m pretty certain I’ll be along for the ride. 3 1/2 stars
The Fury of Firestorm, Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone, and Yidiray Cinar – I’m picking up Firestorm for one reason, and one reason alone: Gail Simone. I will give anything Gail Simone writes a chance. It doesn’t mean I will keep reading it, but I will definitely give it a fair shot. I actually used to regularly read Firestorm’s title in the 80’s (or was it 90’s?) I loved Pat Broderick’s art, and the concept of a fused being, especially one involving two such disparate characters (high school jock and brilliant scientist) was pretty fun. Well the brilliant scientist is dead, and the second half of this fused being is a brilliant high school student who happens to be African-American, which leads in this new version of Firestorm, to some well-written explorations on race. I tend to prefer Gail’s team books to her solo books (actually I tend to prefer team books to solo books in general) but I have faith that she will build a fascinating supporting cast. This first issue was entertaining and kept my interest, but hasn’t yet drawn me in and made me want to find out more about the characters. Hopefully that will emerge in the next couple of issues. 3 stars.
Supergirl, Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Mahmud Asrar – I haven’t read Supergirl in several years; not since her skirt got really short after Peter David left the title. I want to like Supergirl because I really want to support as many books as I can that feature super-heroines. What better time to give it another try than this new relaunch. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much given the solicits and the apparent story direction they were describing, but the first issue was intriguing enough to keep me reading. Not a lot happens in issues #1, other than give us pieces of Supergirl’s personality, and show us the range of her powers. And it sets her up for her first meeting/confrontation with her cousin (at least in the old continuity) Superman. The high cut of her shorts did distract me a little… especially since in some profile shots it looks like that she’s naked from the waist down, but other than that, I didn’t find the book to be all that sexist. 3 stars
Voodoo, Ron Marz and Sami Basri – I don’t know much about Voodoo. I read a handful of the WildC.A.T.S. issues when they first came out, but don’t really remember much about the character. I decided to give this series a try to see how it would mesh with the DC Universe, and to support another female led title. Yes, I read that she was a stripper by profession, more opportunity for some barely clad women for the men who like that sort of thing in comics, but at least it was in context. The book held my interest, and intrigued me enough to keep reading. Of the two main supporting character, the man was a dick and got his just desserts, and the woman being set up to be Voodoo’s nemesis could develop into an interesting character. The art is fine, and the story compelling enough to keep me interested enough to see where it will lead. I’m in for now. 3 stars
Green Lantern: New Guardians, Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham – While never a big Green Lantern fan, Kyle Rayner has always been by far my choice to wear the ring. Surrounding him with a team of lanterns representing the spectrum appeals to me as a fan of team books, especially with a couple of female members. Unfortunately, the first issue is basically a set-up issue, bringing the characters together, and giving Kyle what appears to be a new origin story. While I will miss the Kyle who has already mastered his ring and has an illustrious career of being a Green Lantern behind him, it could be interesting to see his maturation into a Green Lantern starting from ground zero. It’s enough to keep me reading at any rate. 3 stars
DC Universe Presents: Deadman, Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chaing – Deadman is an interesting choice of character to kick off this title, which will be a series of rotating storylines featuring different characters (and presumably different creative teams). I suppose given the attention Deadman was given during Brightest Day, and the fact that he appears in Justice League Dark means that DC thinks he’s a character that could succeed. I’ve never been a fan of solo Deadman stories, but Paul Jenkins does a pretty good job drawing me in with this one. We get retold his origin, of course, yet there’s no mention of his experiences in Brightest Day as yet. I think that story, along with his relationship with Dove, made him a more interesting character for me. Bernard Chaing’s artwork is crisp and clean. This title will depend largely on it’s featured character, of course, but the possibilities are endless. 2 1/2 stars
I, Vampire, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino – Here was a title that I had no intention of buying, but for some reason, I decided to give it a try. I’m pretty much over vampires, but when I flipped through the book, the art caught my eye. Like Voodoo, I am somewhat interested in the integration of the vampire mythos being introduced into the world of superheroes. The story sets up a conflict between two long-lived vampires, one who feels it is time for vampires to stop being an oppressed minority and subjugate humankind, the other seeing that path lead to self-destruction when there are opponents like Superman in the world. The two characters have a long, involved history, as both lovers and foes, which could be interesting. I’ll continue to read this for a bit and see if it keeps my interest. 2 1/2 stars
Blue Beetle, Tony Bedard and Ig Guara – I’ve never read Blue Beetle’s comic, but I grew to appreciate this new rendition of the character during is recent appearances in team books and crossovers. Jaime is a Puerto Rican high school student who becomes the host for a semi-sentient suit of alien armor that gives him super powers. I wanted to support DC’s nod to diversity by picking up this title. Like Green Lantern: New Guardians, Blue Beetle #1 is a set-up issue retelling Jaime’s origin and establishing the cast of characters. We don’t actually see Jaime in his Blue Beetle armor until the final splash page. Still, the story unfolds well, and I will continue to support the book and watch the storyline unfold. 2 1/2 stars
The Savage Hawkman, Tony S. Daniel and Philip Tan – While I have enjoyed Hawkman’s previous series in the past, I wasn’t all that interested in this new “savage” take… especially without a Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman involved. Still, I decided to give this a try, with very few expectations. It wasn’t as uninteresting as I thought, but it didn’t really wow me. There’s an interesting take, almost similar to Blue Beetle, where Carter Hall is possessed by the Nth metal that defies gravity. I was interested enough to keep following the title and see where it goes, but I’m not optimistic. 2 stars
All in all I’m enjoying the DC relaunch. There are a small handful of books I really like, a large swatch that are pretty good and I will enjoy following, a very small group that I was disappointed in, and then a bunch that I didn’t try and I don’t feel I’m missing out on. Anyone else have any thoughts?