Monday, September 12, 2011

The 13 (or so) New 52 I read this week

The DC reboot continues, and the company sent me 13 titles last week to read. That's a lot, even for comics. So I'm going to keep it simple with a list and short takes on each one. Here goes:

The Good:
Action Comics: Taking the idea that no one has ever seen a superhero before and running with it, Grant Morrison went back to the roots of Superman for this first arc: He has no actual costume, he can't fly (he leaps), and he has no qualms about beating up a guy who beats his wife, or dangling a man off the edge of a skyscraper to scare a confession out of him. This Superman has never met his match; he has the sheer power to make things happen even if police and governments can't; he wants to change the world. He's young — in his 20s — and brash, and impatient. And he enjoys the heck out of being Superman. This is my favorite book of the relaunch so far.

Swamp Thing: Told us what had changed since we last checked in with the elemental who thought he was a man. For one thing, Alec Holland is alive and has the elemental's memories. For another, Superman stops by to give the human part of the duo a pep-talk. Favorite line (something to the effect of): "I have memories of a woman with white hair. I've never met her. I have ...feelings for her." And the invunche-type creatures are just scary. (I'm a long time Swampy fan, with the whole of the 1980s/Alan Moore run, so I'm bringing some baggage along.)

Batgirl: My son and I disagree on this one. He didn't buy into the storyline, but I like it because it brings everyone's favorite Batgirl back to the fight, and the joy she experiences is clear in the expressions on her face (awesome artwork by Ardian Syaf). She's also not quite ready yet, freezing when a gun is pointed her way (her years as the wheelchair-bound Oracle are still in-continuity). Writer Gail Simone was the right person to bring Barbara Gordon back in black.

Animal Man: I never followed Animal Man's adventures, but an issue like this would make me interested in trying the series. It has an indie-comics feel, with domestic matters leading into his super-heroing, as well as the art style that also reminds me of 1980s horror comics (I mean, look at that cover!). Very scary bad things are happening in this story, and I want to know more.

OMAC: Again, I have baggage that pre-disposes me to being interested in this title. I own the original run of OMAC stories by Jack Kirby from the 1970s, was a fan of the other Kirby stories of era (including Kamandi), and this book purposely recreates his art style and storytelling sense (even mimicking some of the panels in the original tales). It's an updated Kirby with a feeling that any crazy thing might happen next.

The Meh:
Batwing: Meh. I predict this will be the first title from the New 52 to be cancelled.
Detective: Awesome art, terrible dialogue (both by Tony S. Daniel). Generic Batman story (up until the final image, which is all kinds of sick and makes me want to see what happens next). But still, any time you "hear" Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd when you're reading a Batman caption, someone made a mistake.
Green Arrow: (zzzzzzzzz.) This read like a rejected "Smallville" TV script. Young Ollie Queen fights bad guys who got their powers from a mystery source and who like to videotape their crimes for YouTube.
Justice League International: Again, my son and I disagree. He liked this one. I think it's the issue where nothing interesting happens. I don't care about any of the C-list characters (at least, as they're represented here) chosen for this international team that Batman horns in on for no known reason. Biggest gripe, though: If ANY character needed a costume overhaul in the DCU, it was Guy Gardner. Why does he still look like a Joe Staton caricature?
Stormwatch: I was a fan of The Authority in its early run. So much so that I went back to find the Warren Ellis-scripted issues of the series that it launched out of (the original Stormwatch title). I am not so much a fan of this one. I will give it another issue to see if it catches on, but so far, the muddled timelines of the characters have me a little confused (i.e., some of them that were Authority have never been in Stormwatch?) but maybe that's just because I keep forgetting this is "new" continuity.
Man of War: This is a war comic in a superhero world. The lead story is OK, in that it introduces a regular Joe who is the grandson of Sgt. Rock of Easy Co., the legendary WWII character. Rock stories were almost always worth your investment of time and emotion. Here, the new Rock is a guy who's good at his job and goes where he needs to go to get the job done. The backup story, however, read like war propaganda (gun worship, liberal-bashing and all) and just turned me off.

The ones I have yet to read: Hawk & Dove, which has horrid Rob Leifeld 1990s-era artwork, and Static Shock, which I'm looking forward to. I'll let you know.

Hawk & Dove: Terrible. It was everything I feared it would be, and worse. It looks and reads like it was stolen by a time traveler from Image comics in 1995. May beat Batwing for the first new title to be canceled.

Static Shock: OK. Nice to see this getting another shot. Crossing over from the Milestone line of comics DC helped launch in the 1990s, Static is a fan favorite because of light-hearted attitude and the WB cartoon. This has great potential.
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