I didn’t rush out to get this particular book because after the hooplah surrounding the Superman Earth One graphic novel I didn’t want to find myself let down. I was seeing more than a few positive and glowing reviews and figured that a little distance would do me some good. I have been anticipating the book a little bit, as the announcement for the title was made back when I still had a bit more regard for Geoff Johns as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe he is a great talent and one of the best guys working in the mainstream today but his more recent work does seem to lack the sort of focus he had back when he relaunched the Green Lantern franchise.
With Batman Earth One there is at least something to be said for Geoff Johns getting the tone of Batman. JMS’s work on Superman Earth One was passable but I don’t think he get the tone of what the book should have been. It was far too, as much as I hate the phrase, “street level” in its execution. Batman has that same feel but it goes with the character. JMS would have been smart to study Morrison’s work on All-Star Superman for the sort of tone that really works for big blue. Johns seems to want to play in the Nolan sandbox and that is appropriate. Johns also realizes that because there is no continuity to follow he can throw everything up in the air and be a little dangerous. Some of the changes to established lore might upset a number of Batman fanatics, but that’s okay. Again I point to the sort of people whose heads exploded over Ultimate Spider-Man. Johns’ idea of Harvey Bullock coming from Hollywood as a reality tv cop trying to regain his former glory is something that comes wildly out of left field. Alfred being a grumpy old army colleague of Bruce’s father is also somewhat odd. But within the confines of the book Johns is able to make it work.
More than JMS’s Earth One book, Johns really swings for the fences here and while not everyone will be pleased, I can say that I feel like I got my money’s worth this time around. Nothing here felt particularly rehashed the way that it did in Superman Earth One. The parallels to Superman Birthright in that OGN are almost unmistakeable. Even the death of Bruce’s parents has a different spin. It’s not entirely original. It’s just a retelling. But it feels different in the way that The Magnificent Seven was different from Seven Samurai. The flavor is refreshing.
I hope the inevitable second volume is as willing to play with conventions as this is. Johns teases a personal favorite villain of mine as the centerpiece and for not immediately jumping to the Joker he has scored major brownie points with me.
Synopsis: Mentally defeated and physically broken, Bruce Wayne suffered a crippling blow while battling the brutal Bane. Now, the mantle of the Bat must be passed on to another, and Jean Paul Valley answers the call! But as the new Caped Crusader slowly loses his grip on sanity, his idea of justice takes a violent and deadly turn. Witnessing this dangerous behavior firsthand, Nightwing and Robin try to come to grips with Bruce’s highly controversial decision while the new Batman sets his sights on taking revenge against Bane! Collecting DETECTIVE COMICS #667-675, BATMAN #501-508, BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #19-28, CATWOMAN #6-7 and ROBIN #7!
When I reviewed the first volume of Knightfall, I spoke about how the book had a charming old-school quality that seemed to rage against the pitfalls of nineties comics’ tropes. The first installment seems to rally against the idea of comics in the Image mold of the time where everything was grim and gritty and the hero must be as violent as the crime he combats. In the second volume, it seems that the nineties enveloped the Batman mythos and everything about the title got flipped upside down to fit with the established status quo of the time. Readers apparently wanted my blood, more bullets, more outlandish mechanical costumes, and a darker, more violent Batman. Or maybe they didn’t and these issues were written to show them that point.
I don’t want to say that Knightquest is a terrible story. I appreciate the fact that the arc of the narrative does build to a satisfying climax and that Jean-Paul’s decent into madness is very carefully spelled out and detailed. That having been said, his story could have been truncated because after a while it begins to get repetitive. His constant struggle with his own inner programming as well as his progressive upgrades to his armor become staples of the story and you can tell when we are going to get a scene with Jean-Paul talking to the ghost of St. Dumas or becoming frustrated with his own results and redesigning the suit. There are several scenes like this and by the end of the book you wonder why they couldn’t have streamlined it a little bit.
My other major gripe with this collection is that Bruce Wayne’s side-story of flying off to rescue Tim Drake’s father is introduced but then never followed up on. He simply returns and we don’t know what exactly happened on that trip. It is a somewhat frustrating element to the collection because it feels like there is something important to that story and yet they do not bother to tell it.
All in all, it is not a horrible story but the first volume is superior in every way and makes these issues look poor by comparison.
Synopsis: In the first installment of this classic storyline, the Dark Knight’s greatest enemies have all simultaneously escaped from Arkham Asylum and are preying on Gotham City. With his city under siege, Batman pushes his body to the limit as he takes on The Joker, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, The Riddler and the Scarecrow. But things get much worse when Bane, the man behind all the madness, confronts an exhausted Batman – and breaks his back.This massive first KNIGHTFALL volume collects BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE SPECIAL #1, BATMAN #491-500, DETECTIVE COMICS #659-660, SHOWCASE ’93 #7 and 8 and BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #17-18, including chapters never previously reprinted.
With The Dark Knight Rises coming out soon, DC Comics has decided to collect the entirety of the now-classic Knightfall storyline into three massive volumes. Never before has the entire story been collected in trade. The tale spanned multiple books and is one of the largest crossovers I can think of. I have all of these issues in their original magazine form stuffed in a longbox somewhere but haven’t revisited the series in quite some time. This collected edition makes that task much simpler by assembling all the pieces of the puzzle together for the first time. Previous collected editions have only contained the very core of the story, leaving out the ancillary pieces. By creating a multi-volume omnibus style collection of the story, it is much easier to get a real feel for one of the biggest cornerstones of the Batman mythos. I have to say that Bane’s introduction and the breaking of Bruce Wayne’s spine is one of the most important stories in Batman’s history. It’s definitely up there with the death of Jason Todd. As far as crossovers go, I would say it’s one of the better handled ones I can think of. I think the closest comparison would be something like the Death of Superman or Spider-Man’s The Other. I would argue that it is easily better than either of those.
The story begins with a special issue detailing the origins of Bane, from his birth and time spent in prison on Santa Prisca to his eventual escape and migration to Gotham. I feel like this is where the story makes its best effort to ensure that it is differentiated from something like The Death of Superman in that we get a true feeling for Bane as a character. His introduction strikes me as gloriously silver age in design despite being a character very much cut from the nineties cloth. There is a deliberate nature to his creation and his motives that seems very much like what you would have seen for a new character in the seventies. The only difference is that Bane was created with the storyline of taking Bruce Wayne out in mind and so arguments will be made that he came secondary to the story itself. It could have been anyone who pulled his scheme on the Batman. However, Bane is such an inventive character that you truly have to respect the effort that went into his creation. Imagine if Doomsday had this sort of development instead of having the personality of a rock. I think The Death of Superman would hold up much better. Bane was created to serve a purpose, but he was created in such a manner that after this storyline ran its course he could be used again and allowed to evolve. Doomsday never had that option. Nor did the villain in Spider-Man’s The Other storyline whose name I can’t remember, thereby proving my point. Bane made an impact. He wouldn’t be around now if he didn’t. He wouldn’t be the focal point of a new Batman film if he hadn’t made an impact. He’s been in two major motion picture adaptations of the Batman mythos. There are other high profile villains who don’t even have that honor.
Looking back at this particular volume it is easy to see that it does have some of the trappings that we hold against stories of its time. There is a definite 90′s feel to some of the story but there is a lingering feel of classic Batman style to it as well. Only when Azrael begins upgrading his Batman armor do we get a tinge of the ninetiess comics era that was dominated by the hard-edge pioneered by the folks at Image where violence and grit became the status quo. This story however, utilizing Tim Drake as the audience surrogate, seems to intimate that by going in that direction you lose what makes comic characters like Batman special. While some will call this story the epitome of what was wrong with comics in the nineties, its easy to see how, just as easily, it can be a crusade to uphold what has come before. I never truly recognized that until I gave it a read-through again this time around.
Anyhow, the book is a great deal even at the 29.99 cover price, but many retailers are selling it for almost half of that. You really could find worse things to spend your money on. DC has plenty of lesser offerings at the moment, if that’s what you’re going for. This thing does deserve the title of classic. I’m convinced of that now.
Well folks, the hammer finally dropped. It looks as if DC comics has finally decided to unleash the prequels for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal classic Watchmen under the uninspired banner-title of “Before Watchmen.” We’ve been hearing rumors about this for quite some time and while initially it seemed like a bad joke, last year BleedingCool started running supposed concept art for the project that started getting yanked down at the request of DC, adding legitimacy to the ruView postmor and fanning the fires of speculation. The speculation has finally ended and the truth has come out.
Neither Alan Moore nor Dave Gibbons will be involved creatively in the project, with several mini-series being handled by a cadre of talent that ranges from exciting to unsettling. Alan Moore could probably care less about the development, as his feelings on the matter are pretty well established even if he did speak them in a magical language that only Alan Moore himself understands. Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons however gave a comment to DC’s The Source which broke the news today saying:
“The original series of WATCHMEN is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC’s reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire[.]”
So what can we look forward to in this little prequel installment? Here’s the rundown of all the titles:
RORSCHACH, a 4-issue miniseries by writer Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo
MINUTEMEN, a 6-issue miniseries with writing and art handled by Darwyn Cooke
COMEDIAN, a 6-issue miniseries by writer Brian Azzarello with art by J.G. Jones
DR. MANHATTAN, a 4-issue miniseries by writer J. Michael Straczynski with art by Adam Hughes
NITE OWL, a 4- issue miniseries by writer J. Michael Straczynski with art by Joe and Andy Kubert
OZYMANDIAS, a 6 -issue miniseries by writer Len Wein with art by Jae Lee
SILK SPECTRE, a 4-issue miniseries by writer Darwyn Cook with art by Amanda Conner
So how do I feel about all this?
Let’s be honest. Watchmen is an amazing book. It’s a classic and its importance to the world of graphic literature cannot be understated. It represents a shift in the way comics were written and understood and that does not change just because we’re getting more books with those characters by other creators down the line. The characters were hobbled from the Charleston universe and twisted into their own place by Alan Moore in the eighties. So while there is a standalone universe to Watchmen it isn’t necessarily an original invention. Getting angry that someone else wants to play in that sandbox when the entire medium is predicated on people further developing the ideas of others (at least in the mainstream superhero industry) just doesn’t work.
Let’s look at the lineup for the talent on this project for a bit. Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, and Amanda Conner are all folks who pretty much guarantee that I’ll pick up their work sight unseen because their track record is pretty stellar. I can tell you that I am indeed interested in Rorschach, Minutemen, Comedian and Silk Spectre based off of their involvement alone. I think they’re all talented writers and artists who could do something really interesting with these particular characters. Now, the x-factor here is Stracynski. He can be a phenomenal writer when he’s on top of his game. I loved his run on Thor and while he may have made some decisions I didn’t agree with over the course of his career many of those can be attributed to editorial meddling and I won’t delve into that quagmire here. Given the characters that he’s handling, I think Dr. Manhattan is certainly something he could mine some good material out of. Especially if he hits the same notes he was while writing Thor. Nite Owl is a little trickier. If I’d had my way I would have had someone like Greg Rucka on that particular title. But I’m not in charge and at this point all I can do is speculate about how all of this is going to turn out.
As I’ve said, my main issue here isn’t with the fact that we’re getting prequels. It’s not inheritly a bad thing. What I am afraid of is that the stories they are going to tell won’t match up with what has been brewing in the fan culture’s subconscious for several decades and that the whole project will flounder as a result. I can’t help but draw parallels to the Star Wars prequels which saw a great deal of hype only to be cut down by fanboys who didn’t like the direction the franchise took. But at least in that instance the fans could point the finger at George Lucas and say he ruined his own creation. This time around we have the added buffer zone of it being separated from the original creators. If people don’t like it they will try to say that it’s not “canon” or that it “doesn’t matter.” Which is, in a way, a double edged sword. It lacks the legitimacy of having the original creators involved and that is either a great thing or a horrible thing depending on which way you look at it. I mean, Frank Miller himself handled the followup for The Dark Knight Returns and that was absolute garbage. I know we put Alan Moore on a pedestal sometimes but I think in this instance the talent involved is enough to warrant the community keeping an open mind.
I picked this one up as a Christmas special. Figured it would be a nice little diversion as most DC graphic novels are. Azzarello and Bermejo’s Joker hardcover was fun and I still have the Teen Titans: Games hardcover sitting on my desk. I’ve often had debates over why DC and Marvel don’t invest more heavily in single-serving graphic novels considering how easy they are to promote and build buzz around. The general public is far more likely to pick up a graphic novel than get hooked on individual monthly issues. I remember when Earth One came out everyone seemingly lost their shit over it and it went to multiple printings. It seems to me if you want to entice new readers you should try to cater to them in a format they enjoy. I don’t think that DC and Marvel need to curb their monthlies altogether but I’ll be damned if they’re not shooting themselves in the foot by dragging their feet on graphic novel production. I know artists are somewhat hesitant to jump on-board graphic novels because they would rather get paid their monthly page-rate but I’m sure there’s a compromise there somewhere that could mean big business for the comic publishing world.
Batman : Noel is a pretty good little graphic novel. Lee Bermejo does double duty on writing and art, though Charles Dickens should get a writer credit seeing how this is a pretty direct adaptation of A Christmas Carol even if they didn’t use the title. The story centers around Bob, a lowly runner for the Joker who has a chance run-in with Batman who in the context of this story exemplifies the persona of Scrooge. They really play up the “Batman is a bastard” angle here. I have to say that it’s not the sort of Batman I normally enjoy reading. Too dour, too tied to Frank Miller’s insanity and grumpiness. It would have been a complete turnoff if not for the fact that it was done to serve the purpose of the narrative. I mean, we’re all familiar enough with Dickens’ work to know that he’ll have a change of heart in the end.
The fun of Noel is in Bermejo’s use of Batman’s cast of characters to fill slots in the Dickens lore and the beautiful artwork that he does it with. Say what you will about the book, it is hard to deny that the artwork is anything less than stunning. The layouts, the finishes, the colors…all of it comes together to create something that truly pops. If you were to show this to someone who doesn’t read comics regularly, you can bet your sweet ass they would be impressed. It is some of Bermejo’s best work. It’s vibrant and eye-catching in a way that his work in something like Joker wasn’t. While that artwork was still impressive, it was a muddy, dark blotch. It was too dark to truly impress. Here you get a real feel for how good Bermejo really is.
I admit that the pricetag is a bit hefty for the story content, but it’s a good read and something that I’ll probably pull out around this time each year just for a lark. I would say that’s enough to give it a hearty recommendation.
I know these are becoming completely random and in no way weekly but I feel compelled to write them when I get a chance. Hopefully someone will make a choice based on my recommendation and validate the miniscule bit of effort I put into updating this site every so often. There were plenty of books to choose from this week, so let’s get to it.
Oh Jeph Loeb, we meet again. This time he managed not to make my eyeballs bleed with rage, so let’s chalk that up as a win. I was fully expecting Red Hulk to sodomize Cable or something equally batshit insane to happen. I know that he doesn’t have the same leeway with the 616 characters that he did when he wrote Ultimatum but I still can’t get that out of the back of my mind when I pick up one of his books.
This issue seemed a little light for the first issue of a major event comic, but that having been said it is the sort of style folks have come to associate with Loeb following his Hulk run, which had a similar sort of pacing and tone. The McGuiness art certainly doesn’t help to distance the two. I feel like this is going to ultimately be an utterly disposable piece of event overload but seeing how it’s only going to be four issues long I can’t complain too much. Fear Itself seemed to last forever so a quick little mini-event might be refreshing in the end. I can’t say. Maybe I’ve just been bludgeoned by Marvel’s books so effectively that my brain has turned to mush and I’ll just buy whatever they tell me to.
Me am Marvel Zombie. Take my money. *sigh*
There really isn’t much to say about this particular issue other than it features the art talents of Mr. Paul Grist of Jack Staff fame and the result is a charming almost entirely dialog free story featuring the eleventh Doctor making the Christmas rounds with Santa in the Tardis. It’s cute, it’s breezy and I enjoyed the heck out of it. If you’re a Who fan it’ll probably hit you right where it needs to. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something as a stocking stuffer for younger kids looking to get into comics or sci-fi. It’s just plain nice.
I really don’t know what else I can say about the book. It’s a little on the light side but that is just part of the charm. I hope you’ll give it a try.
I was going to pass this one up. I won’t lie, it didn’t seem like anything that begged to be read. That seems to run counter to my usual feelings about the Palimiotti/Gray writing team but there was a feeling of generic blandness to it in the previews I had come across and so I had planned to let this one pass me by. But the thing is, I DO know that Palmiotti and Gray rarely turn in merely passable work and I owed it to myself to read the book because if nothing else it filled a niche that the new DC lineup seemed to have missed out on. I’m certainly glad I did for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, the writing team has given us a hero who is aware of hero tropes in a way that makes for quite a refreshing read. The inner voice of this new character doesn’t seem like any other hero on the stands. There is a uniqueness to him that I have to applaud, especially considering that I was afraid the title would exemplify the polar opposite. Some of that has to be due to the fact that he’s not another anglo-saxon hero living in a major metropolis. Here we get a Korean-American dating a Hindu woman who works as a lifeguard while living with his hippie flower-power parents who has his powers thrust upon him and deals with it in a way that seems utterly realistic and runs organically with the rest of the narrative.
The art by Jamal Igle is quite good, as it usually is, and readers should find themselves pleasantly surprised by how good this book is. It really does come out of left field and shatter expectations. Please go give this one a shot. It will send a message to DC that these types of stories still have an audience. People on the ‘net beg for books like these and yet the numbers never seem to add up. Hopefully this time around we can mark one in the win column for b-list heroes with stellar writing.
Sam Humphries is something of an indy darling right now. His previous one-shot “Our Love is Real” made a real splash earlier this year and he’s following it up with a self-published book that has been garnering the same level of buzz. The book tells the story of a young man with some psychological issues (for lack of a better term) finding himself in the ancient Aztec world and caught up in the middle of a power dispute over the proper religious teachings that the Aztec people should follow. He also doesn’t want them to wind up getting slaughtered by the incoming Spanish, so he’s got that going for him.
The book is a complex and interesting read. I admit that I had to read it twice to get the flow of information down, but seeing how the version I read was digital and I don’t have a whole lot of experience reading in that format there may have been a bit of a learning curve element to it.
I would advise giving it a shot. This may be your chance to see the breakthrough work of an artist poised to really break out in 2012. I get a similar vibe from what I got off of Fraction during Casanova here and if that’s any indication of things to come Humphries is going to wind up on top sooner rather than later.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully you will find something to enjoy there. I should have a review of Sherlock Holmes : Game of Shadows for you as well this weekend. That should be exciting.
And I’m back. Sorry for skipping out on doing reviews last week but I’ve been busier than I would like and it was the last thing on my mind. Also that issue of Catwoman sorta bust a blood vessel in my brain. This week was a more pleasant reading experience, so the reviews should reflect that. Let’s get started!
The first review this week is for what I have to say is the best book of the week. I feel like getting that out of the way early is important because I’m gonna gush fairly heavily on this one. I’ve been a vocal booster of Palmiotti and Gray’s work on Jonah Hex for a long time now and when the reboot news came down the pike I was surprised to see Hex getting any attention in the new DC landscape. I figured it would be the perfect time for DC to quietly push the character aside the way it has with a few other less-than-stellar selling titles. I’ve been hearing the same “the trade sales keep it alive” line in regard to Jonah Hex for a while but DiDio’s comments that new books would be judged harshly and only the best selling titles would remain in a short period of time made me wonder how this new interpretation would work for our favorite heavily scarred western bounty-hunter.
First and foremost I need to point out that this is not your typical Jonah Hex issue. Gone are the desolate western landscapes where the dust and dirt seem to fly off the page and nestle in the corners of your eyes. We’re now in the developing sprawl of Victorian-era Gotham City, a place where cobblestones have replaced the muddy central thoroughfare of the frontier town. Our Jonah Hex here is an older iteration, having experienced the frontier life and aftermath of the Civil War. He is drawn to the city on contract to help hunt down a Jack the Ripper-esque murderer who is carving a bloody swath of violence through the city leaving a trail of mutilated prostitutes in his wake. It is a story that matches the setting quite well and Palmiotti & Gray set the stage for our adventures efficiently giving us a quiet slow burn through the proceedings punctuated with sudden bursts of violent energy as if the book itself mirrors Hex’s personality.
I felt like there was more in this issue than in three lesser titles combined. It felt dense without feeling impenetrable, offering an excellent place for those who have heard how amazing Jonah Hex was and are finally willing to give the character a shot. Tying his history in with the development of Gotham City should drawin some Bat-fans interested to see how Hex fits in with the story of the Waynes, the Cobblepots, and the Arkhams. Fans of Snyder’s work on Batman will not be disappointed by the similar tone and the uninitiated should be drawn in by the sharp pacing and quality artwork.
Overall Rating: 5/5
I’m an unabashed Aquaman fan. Seriously. I’ve got a good longbox full of Aquaman books and I feel like it’s a shame that nobody gives the guy a real shake. He’s a warrior king from under the sea! The logline alone should sell it but most people only view him as a joke. As such, it’s not surprising that Geoff Johns has gone in for a psuedo-meta presentation of the character where the surface world and the DCU don’t understand why Aquaman exists. I admit that it’s a bit disheartening that this is the direction he wanted to go, because it’ll be hard to dissuade people from believing everything they previously thought about the character when even the folks in the book itself don’t take him seriously. Of course it seems like Johns is also using every page of the book to prove everyone wrong. He lays the smackdown on a bunch of bank robbers, clarifies that he does not in fact talk to fish, and makes sweet love to his woman on the seashore after deciding that he doesn’t want to be king of Atlantis anymore.
This issue reads quite a bit like Johns’ Green Lantern no. 1 when he relaunched that character a few years back. As was the case with GL, Johns dives in head first and works to establish a status quo that clearly defines what sort of character we’re going to be dealing with and doesn’t divert much attention to the looming threat, devoting perhaps three pages total to setting up any sort of external conflict. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it’s important at this stage to prove to the readers that Aquaman is a character worth reading about. I think that Johns has done that effectively. I believe that people who weren’t fans previously will indeed have something to latch onto with this interpretation.
Let’s hope that Aquaman takes off big time like Green Lantern did all those years ago. He deserves it, damnit.
Overall Rating: 4/5
I almost passed on this just because I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of John Constantine being in any book with the “Justice League” label on it. It’s like seeing an old friend who used to weigh 300 pounds showing up looking like Chris Evans on the set of Captain America, your brain just can’t wrap itself around the concept of what is being presented as opposed to what you believe in your head to be true. Sort of like when a sentence doesn’t end the way you expect it banana.
That having been said, Peter Milligan’s name on the cover pretty much sold me entirely and then the contents of what was under that cover won me over entirely. It doesn’t read at all like what you would expect a “Justice League” title to read like. We do get the central Justice League team showing up and attempting to handle the supernatural threat but it soon becomes apparent that it will take a different sort of hero to sort things out. Thus we are introduced to our team through small vignettes. Shade the Changing Man shows up in a scene that is actually a bit heart wrenching. Xanadu, Zatanna, and Constantine get drawn in as well and we finish the issue with the players in position and the game ready to begin. If the issue weren’t almost entirely setup and exposition I would have given it a perfect score. I was expecting something a little bit more along the lines of JLI where they are assembled and the action has begun by the end of the issue but with so many characters to juggle I’m impressed that we got as much material as we did. It’s quite impressive.
OVERALL SCORE: 4/5
And that’s it for this week. I hope you’ll go out and buy some of these. It’d be nice if the good books of the DC relaunch were the ones that sold the best. Basically I want you to buy 10 All-Star Westerns each and hand them out to friends. Because that would be amazing.
I was able to get my hands on a few more of the new DC # 1 titles that I thought looked interesting enough to read and I figured it’d be worthwhile to add my two cents as to their overall quality and value. Because I’m an expert. I wrote a book. It’s on Amazon. That gives me free reign to critique whatever I want. At least that’s what I got out of all those literature classes I took in college.
Are you reading Jeff Lemire’s excellent Sweet Tooth by any chance? If not, you should be. It’s the sort of dark, moody, effective Vertigo mystery that keeps that branch of the publishing division alive with its artistic merit. It’s seriously one of the best books on the market right now and at least three volumes are available in trade paperback for your reading pleasure. I say this because it’s not a fluke that Jeff Lemire is able to put out amazing work on a regular basis. That’s evident with his take on Animal Man, a book that, I believe, in a few years time will be held in the same esteem as Grant Morrison’s own vision for the character.
In this version we get Buddy Baker, animal rights activist, indie-film star, and part-time superhero trying to come to terms with what it is exactly that he wants to be. His unease with the way he comes off in an interview recently published in a magazine, which we get to read as the opening page of this debut issue, shows the conflict of this character in a very stark, contrasting light. He knows he does a fair amount of good as a superhero, but also knows his value as a community activist. Add this in with how his family perceives him; a wife and two children who each have their own view of Buddy Baker and what he means to them. Buddy’s son Cliff obviously wants him to be the superhero and hopes that he can in turn share in Animal Man’s adventures. Daughter Maxine just wants her father, a regular father who can provide her with what she wants/needs, and takes it very hard that she cannot have a puppy because of the way it would interfere with Buddy’s connection to his powers. His wife Ellen wants stability. Whether that comes from a movie paycheck, his activism work, or as a superhero doesn’t seem to matter much to her as long as she has Buddy in some constant form. This contrasts with Lemire’s characterization of Buddy as the sort who constantly changes everything about himself.
This is one of the best written books of the relaunch. As with most b-list characters, Lemire is given a longer leash and wider freedom to play with than if he were writing Superman or Wonder Woman. He has more leeway to play with the character and push boundaries. I don’t foresee this one being a major seller but I think it will be a critical hit and a cult favorite for years to come and all of that is deserved because this is a true standout of the relaunch.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Bringing Sgt. Rock into the modern world seemed like a fairly stupid idea. Like Jonah Hex, I always felt like the time period was essential to the character. You can do a one-off story of time displacement but it never feels right. It seemed like this time they were just going to have Sgt. Rock exist in the modern military environment with no reference to WWII. He wasn’t being brought forward, he was never back there in the first place. In Men of War # 1 we get a slight hint that this might be a direct descendant of the Rock we’re accustomed to. In the first segment where we’re introduced to Corporal Rock, an Army sergeant references his great-grandfather who was also a sergeant. I think by dropping that little line of dialog they were able to put aside my fears that this book would in any way be a disservice to the character of Sgt. Rock.
The first segment here sees Rock and his team deployed on a mission where things go pretty haywire and a superhuman, who remains unidentified in this issue but is hinted at being Superman, ends up derailing the overall plan and dumping the team in a violent crossfire. It’s fairly well staged if a bit generic but the cliffhanger ending is more effective than the rest of the issue and makes me want to see how everything plays out.
The second story is more grounded-in-reality with a group of Navy SEALs taking on some insurgents in a classified mission where technically they aren’t even in the area. The pacing is quick and reads like a comic version of Black Hawk Down with a cliffhanger ending that’s just as effective as the one in the preceding Sgt. Rock story.
It’s not an amazing book, in fact it feels fairly by the numbers, but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a military action book and it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out…
OVERALL RATING: 3/5
I’ve championed Scott Snyder as one of the best new talents DC has picked up in years. His Batman work is exquisite and American Vampire is a damn fine book. So when I saw he would be taking over the reigns of Swamp Thing I figured he was just the man for the job. His sensibilities seem to fit quite well with the themes and ideas that seem tethered to such a character and so I was excited to see how it would work out.
I can report that it’s a little bit of a mixed bag. It’s obvious that this was supposed to come off of the end of Brightest Day and reads like a sequel to a story that I missed. Snyder jumps in head first and establishes the narrative which comes off as a bit of an abrupt start. There are references here to Moore’s work on the title as well as the recent developments of Brightest Day and all of that feels out of line with the rest of the reboot titles in that everything else read like a clean break from what came before in most respects where as this one feels less new-reader friendly. I understand that a lot of these things would feel organic if I had been reading what came before but at the same time that defeats the purpose of a company wide reboot and a new # 1 on the cover.
That nitpick aside it is a well written book that I think will explain everything that needs to be explained in due time. The artwork by Paquette is amazing, as it usually is and it compliments the story and tone perfectly. I think that this will be a great book given time but it simply had a hard time coming off the starting line. Once it rounds the first corner I expect it to pull out ahead of the rest fairly quickly.
Overall Rating: 4/5
It’s been a while since I’ve done any weekly comic reviews, but with day-and-date digital becoming more common it’s easier for me to do timely reviews for you folks. I hope to keep a regular schedule when I can, with new reviews available every Thursday. I would have kept to that schedule this week but I was involved in an auto accident and have been dealing with the fallout from that little debacle.
Anyhow, here’s some reviews!
Here’s one I was looking forward to. Gail Simone has hardly ever steered me wrong. Just about every book she’s written I’ve given golden reviews to because she knows how to balance character, plot, and wit with equal measure to the betterment of any book she’s placed on. She’s one of the biggest talents that DC has and it’s nice that she’s getting one of the most high-profile books of the relaunch to play with as her own.
The book begins with a mystery villain called “The Mirror” assaulting a man who he believes cheated death when he escaped a sinking boat where the rest of the souls aboard perished. He then proceeds to rectify this problem by drowning the man with a water hose. I don’t want to make any Final Destination jokes because I only vaguely remember watching the third one one night on Showtime when I couldn’t sleep and therefore don’t have a whole lot of reference but it does seem like a strikingly similar concept and I would be a bit disappointed in its inclusion if it didn’t tie in well with the idea of the overall plot, being that Barbara Gordon is on the list of people who should have died; an obvious first reference to The Killing Joke that will probably drive a lot of the drama as the series unfolds.
We then are treated to Batgirl doing her thing and taking down a particularly vicious group of serial murderers all the while getting glimpses of Barbara’s mindset in the process. The internal monologue here gives us a good idea of who this Batgirl is in the scheme of the new DCU. I have to admit that a lot of Barbara’s dialogue and internal thought process felt…off. Not particularly wrong but just a bit off base. I’m not going to lie, she has some lines that seemed more in tune with Frank Miller’s DKR Batman than what you would expect with Batgirl, but I’m thinking it may be more of Barbara trying to effect a different persona while on patrol than a struggle to find her voice on the part of Simone.
Compared to last week’s JLA # 1, this is a stellar intro issue. We don’t get many answers as to why Barbara is able to walk again or much in the way of true world building but we get the foundation laid for those things to emerge organically which I find to be far more important. The only problem I found with the book really was that a lot of the dialog felt a bit over-the-top in what seemed like an attempt to feel more like the silver-age comic book writing of the seventies. It felt jarring at some points, especially on the last page where a Gotham cop shouts some dialog that feels like it belongs on the cover of a sixties-era Detective Comics issue. But it’s not enough to dissuade me from finishing out the rest of the arc and perhaps staying on for the long haul.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Listen, I’m a fairly big Green Arrow fan. I’ve got a complete run of the title going back to Grell’s run in the eighties. I think he’s one of the best B-list under-the-radar characters that DC had for a while and I appreciated his push to the forefront of the DCU in recent years but lamented the fact that it diluted his character and made him somewhat less interesting as a consequence. I was happy to see him married to Black Canary but saddened by how mediocre that book was aside from some amazing art on the first arc by Cliff Chiang.
This book gives us a reinvention of Green Arrow that I don’t find particularly interesting. They’re touting him as sort of a vigilante Steve Jobs and they’ve given him a personality that falls more closely in line with the Smallville interpretation of the character. I can’t fault them for doing this as that is the version that most of the mainstream identifies with but at the same time for those of us who have been reading Green Arrow for over ten years it’s hard to swallow. It doesn’t feel like Oliver Queen. It may have worked with a new character, but for Green Arrow fans its a disappointment.
The story is nothing to write home about, Ollie is overseas in Paris stalking some low-grade super-villains and it seems mostly written as a way to introduce his methodology and support team which includes his own personal Oracle-who’s-not-Oracle and a pacifist weapons developer. Oliver’s belief system is still intact from previous versions of the character but his attitude has changed. I know that this is an all new continuity but there seems to be almost too much overhaul here. It would have been nice if there were more balance between the old and new on display but as it stands there’s not much to interest already established fans of the character and therein lies one of the problems of the relaunch. They’re hoping to bring in new readers but they’re only going to be replacing the old readers they’re alienating with the changes. I’m not going to be sticking around for this title, for example, despite the fact that I have been on-board for about as long as I’ve been collecting. That should say something.
Overall Rating: 2/5
I fully expected to hate this. I really did. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy this one quite a bit. Is it the “bwaha-ha-ha” style of the original? No, it’s something different. The dynamic here works, though. Also, unlike JLA#1 we get the whole team assembled within the first issue AND thrown into their first mission. It’s not very decompressed the way that some other books have been. It’s got a brisk pace and a lot is established in the very first issue.
Booster Gold leads the team, chosen because he’s a glory hound who can be easily controlled by the UN so that his PR image doesn’t get tarnished, and this immediately sets up some conflict with resident Green Lantern Guy Gardner. In a few panels we get to know everyone’s feelings on each other. It’s a nice quick buildup and helps establish characters that most people might not be familiar with in a short little exchange of dialog. It works. I will admit that there’s not much in the way of explaining the backstories of a lot of these characters. I am willing to bet new readers will be confused as to exactly who Godiva is and what the hell she’s doing on the team, but this is a serialized medium and I’m sure things will be fleshed out as the series progresses.
This one could easily be one of my favorites of the relaunch because it isn’t written in a way that makes it feel decompressed or empty. There is a lot to like in this book. If you want bang for your buck, this is one of the titles I suggest you pick up. Really. Plus it has Batman and you know you need more Batman.
Overall Rating: 4/5
I was hesitant to read this one. Tony Daniel is not high on my list of most-admired Bat-writers. His recent run on Batman was pretty much horrible. I almost dropped it entirely until I realized I’m pathetic and need a complete unbroken run in my boxes because I’m a nerd like that. So it was with reluctance that I picked this one up. Though I did it entirely for review purposes. Because I love you guys.
It’s not a bad book.
There, I said it.
Of course it’s a Joker story, because you have to come out of the box hot and capitalize on what people are expecting and the new DCU needs to establish the Joker as much as it does Batman early on or people will think things are amiss. It’s the sort of well-established formula Joker story we’ve seen before but at the same time it feels well put together and cohesive in a way we haven’t seen in a while. It’s sort of like a forced in-continuity version of Brubaker’s Man Who Laughs with more focus on Batman’s drive to be a good enough detective to anticipate what the Joker can and will do.
We also establish Batman’s relationship with the police. That is to say, he and Gordon are buddies and everyone else wants to shoot him repeatedly. It’s a classic dynamic that I think most Bat-fans will appreciate because it’s what they’re used to and at the same time it feels like an organic part of the idea of Batman. That he works in the shadows and people are immediately distrustful of him. It adds something to the character when he’s working alone and under the radar. How this jibes with there being so many other members of the Batfamily operating at the same time is yet to be seen but at the moment it seems to work just fine.
It’s not the best Batman story ever, but it’s a strong enough effort coming out of the gate that I have to tip my hat to Tony Daniel for upping his game. He really did a good job with this one, which is not something that’s easy to do when so much is riding on a single issue. So, kudos.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
This is the big one. The one that I was anticipating above all others. Grant Morrison back on a Superman book. I was anticipating All Star levels of amazing. I was hoping that finally Superman would be getting the sort of widespread attention he deserved and not for shitty PR stunts like rejecting American citizenship or walking across America like a hobo. I was hoping for a total reinvention of the Superman mythos in a single issue and a literary orgasm.
Was it all that? Not really, but it was still one of the best books to come out of this relaunch. This new young Superman, fresh into the world and looking to make a difference, isn’t what you would expect out of Superman. There’s more edge and attitude to him than you would expect. The way he intimidates criminals, which is something he’s always done but albeit more playfully, makes him seem as if he’s working from Batman’s playbook and so when he transitions back into Clark Kent the shift is so much more immediate and dynamic. It’s a change that I agree with, although seeing as this is sort of a “year one” story for the character I don’t think it will stay forever, it’s too much of a change to be entirely permanent.
We also learn that he’s still friends with Jimmy Olsen but in a shocking turn of events he’s working for a rival newspaper and Lois Lane doesn’t like the idea of Mr. Kent beating her on a scoop. Lois only appears for a few panels here but she’s still the same spunky independent woman that she’s always been and I hope that in coming issues we’ll get more of her because Morrison truly does write her well, even in short snippets.
My favorite element of the issue however was Morrison’s Lex Luthor, seen here working in conjecture with the government to bring down Superman. He’s relaxed and sure of himself with no sign of bluster or bombast. This is the same Lex Luthor that we saw in All Star. The sort of man who would be bemused at the idea of finding himself on death row. A man with a plan. He executes a Goldberg machine style plan to bring down Superman that ends in an amazing final page cliffhanger and I simply cannot wait for the next issue.
Seriously. Buy this book. Or I will hurt you.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
And there you have it. Next week should see more reviews for your reading pleasure. See you then.
I’ve read more Justice League # 1′s than I would care to count. Each time we get something drastically different from the previous iteration, making it hard, for me at least, to say exactly what makes for a definitive Justice League book. Grant Morrison’s run was pretty damned fantastic. As was the JLI group. The earliest incarnations of the team I’ve only read a handful of, mainly because I don’t have a ready access to the back issues the way I do with the JLI to present. (I have all of JLI, the Morrison era JLA book, and dropped the last volume of the book around Final Crisis)
I wasn’t going to bother with DC anymore. I’ve been slowly working my way out of monthly comic buying and sticking to trade releases and only keeping the books that I have the strongest of attachments to. JLA wasn’t one of those books. But I have to admit that the hype around Geoff Johns and Jim Lee tackling the book in an all new continuity was enough to make me pick up the first issue. The (arguably) biggest names DC has to offer working on a title that should be their premiere book of the lineup is not something that comes along everyday. I’ve likened it to putting Bendis on New Avengers back in 2005. How it took six years for DC to figure out a winning formula is beyond me. Johns alone would have been enough to sell the book but Jim Lee is a demi-god to most of the loyal comic buying public. The early numbers for the book indicate as such, what the actual sales translate to is another question entirely.
But what about the book itself? Is it any good?
That’s a little bit harder to answer. The book reminds me of a fine mixing of Bendis’ work on the early days of Ultimate Spider-Man as well as Johns’ own work when he relaunched Green Lantern. Like USM, this is an origin story, and it’s decompressed quite a bit. The days of a team assembling, fighting a threat, and moving on to the next issue are long gone. In this issue we get Batman, still being hunted by the police as they’re not yet aware that he’s “one of the good guys” as he tries to take down a monstrous looking villain that I at first mistook for a revamped Killer Croc.
Eventually Green Lantern gets himself involved. We soon learn through his banter with Batman that super-heroes are a relatively new phenomenon here and that the world doesn’t quite know what to make of them as of yet. Green Lantern is then surprised to find out that Batman is just some dude in a mask, bereft of any real superpower. The writing here is quick, snappy, breezy, and light. It covers a fair amount of ground in setting up the status quo and getting the ball rolling. The timeframe for this issues is fairly short, so by the time you get to the end of the book, some people might be a little let down, regardless of the somewhat tantalizing cliffhanger where we’re introduced to this new continuity’s Superman.
I can’t say this is a bad book. Jim Lee is on his A-game and there’s quite a bit to cover in a world where the rules haven’t been defined yet, so no matter what there’s a sense that no matter what Johns crammed in it would never be enough. If anything, the only thing I can say is that the book is promising. It’s an origin story where they have free reign to play around with the elements as they please. It looks like we’re seeing some tweaks already with the way they handle Cyborg, who we see as a high-school football player in this issue. The elements are there and only the rest of the arc will tell us if this was all worth our time or not.
Resurrection Man # 1
Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Fernando Dagnino
It’s the return of Mitch Shelly – and he’s still dead. Resurrection Man can’t stay dead for long, though – and with each rebirth comes new and unexpected powers. But his many returns have not gone unnoticed, and forces are gathering to learn what’s so special about him – and to see which of them will finally stop Resurrection Man dead.
Abnett and Lanning can do no wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy was friggin’ amazing. I know next to nothing about this Resurrection Man character but I don’t doubt DnA will be able to make it worthwhile.
Final Verdict: PULL
Savage Hawkman # 1
Tony Daniel & Philip Tan
Carter Hall’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job with an archaeologist who specializes in alien ruins – but will the doctor’s latest discovery spread an alien plague through New York City? No matter the personal cost, Carter Hall must don his wings and become the new, savage Hawkman to survive! Witness the start of a new action series from writer Tony S. Daniel and artist Philip Tan that will take Hawkman where no hero has flown before!
Hawkman can be interesting if you cut through the continuity, so a fresh start is promising. But Tony Daniel is a far more talented artist than he is a writer, and I’m not a huge fan of Philip Tan’s artwork. So this just seems unappealing on multiple levels.
Final Verdict: PASS
Static Shock # 1
Scott McDaniel & John Rozum
The brilliant, slightly awkward high school student Virgil Hawkins transforms into the cocky electromagnetic hero Static! A mysterious tragedy forces the Hawkins family to relocate from Dakota to New York City! Virgil embarks upon new adventures in a new high school and a new internship at S.T.A.R. Labs! As Static, he dons a new uniform and establishes a new secret headquarters! But is he ready to take on the new villains who lurk in New York City’s underworld?
Static Shock finally gets a title and it’s with Scott McDaniel at the helm pulling the writing duties alongside John Rozum as well as handling the artwork. I actually like McDaniel’s style, though it’s not for everybody and I think it could work wonders for a character like Static. It’s sad that we’re not getting the book under Dwayne McDuffie’s hand, may he rest in peace, but it’s good to see that DC still plans to use the character.
Final Verdict: PULL
Stormwatch # 1
Paul Cornell & Miguel Sepulveda
They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds?
Cornell on Stormwatch you say? And Martian Manhunter is on the team? I don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I legitimately have to see to believe. Curiosity makes this one a definite must-read.
Final Verdict: PULL
Suicide Squad # 1
Adam Glass & Marco Rudy
They’re a team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous – they’re sheer suicide! Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! Defeated and imprisoned, they’re being interrogated about their mission – and about who’s pulling the strings behind this illegal operation. Who will be the first to crack under the pressure?
Sorry but this just looks bad. All kinds of bad. I won’t waste any more words on it because I’d just be repeating what so many others have already said.
Final Verdict: PASS
Superboy # 1
Scott Lobdell & RB Silva
They thought he was just an experiment – and a failed one at that! Grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA, the Clone was no more than a set of data to the scientists of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. But when the scope of his stunning powers was revealed, he became a deadly weapon! Now the question is: Can a clone develop a conscience?
The premise sounds interesting, I’ll give you that. I’m just not sure what the point is when all of this stuff was handled with pretty expert precision under other writers in the past. I feel like they’ve thrown away a great deal of what made Superboy exciting in exchange for this which just seems like wheel spinning.
Final Verdict: PASS
Supergirl # 1
Michael Green, Mike Johnson & Mahmud Asrar
Meet Supergirl. She’s got the unpredictable behavior of a teenager, the same powers as Superman – and none of his affection for the people of Earth. So don’t piss her off!
Some Smallville writers take the reigns of Supergirl following the likes of Sterling Gates, Kelly Sue DeConnick and other amazing writers who worked to make her interesting and turn her into something nearly unrecognizeable and utterly bland. Nope. No sell.
Final Verdict: PASS
Superman # 1
George Perez & Jesus Merino
The new adventures of Superman begin here! What is The Man of Steel’s startling new status quo? How does it affect Lois Lane and The Daily Planet? There’s no time for answers now, because Superman must stop a monstrous threat to Metropolis – one that he somehow is the cause of!
George Perez on Superman is something I’ve wanted to see for as long as I can remember. I probably would have liked to see him do a run in his heyday, coming off the success of something like his Wonder Woman run but this is something too good to pass up, regardless of the circumstances.
Final Verdict: PULL
Swamp Thing # 1
Scott Snyder & Yanick Paquette
One of the world’s most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth! Alec Holland has his life back but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!
Oh yes. This fits in Snyder’s wheelhouse very well and Swamp Thing has been overdue for a resurgence for many years now. I suspect this will be one of the breakouts of the lineup and hopefully we’ll be able to have another run to place alongside Alan Moore’s as a contender for the definitive version of the character.
Final Verdict: PULL
Teen Titans # 1
Scott Lobdell & Brett Booth
Tim Drake, Batman’s former sidekick, is back in action when an international organization seeks to capture, kill or co-opt super-powered teenagers. As Red Robin, he’s going to have to team up with the mysterious and belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and the hyperactive speedster calling himself Kid Flash to stand any chance at all against a living, breathing weapon with roots in another world! They – along with a few other tortured teen heroes – will be the Teen Titans in this new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men) and artist Brett Booth (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!
Just looking at what they’re doing here makes my head hurt. I love the Teen Titans and I’m not against different interpretations. I loved the TV show as much as I love Johns’ run and Perez’s as well. But this just seems horrible.
Final Verdict: PASS
Voodoo # 1
Ron Marz & Sami Basri
Who is Voodoo? Is she hero, villain – or both? Learn the truth about Priscilla Kitaen as she leaves a trail of violence across America. Discover the new DCU through her eyes, because the things she sees are not always what they seem?
When he’s not ranting about comic piracy on twitter, Ron Marz is usually writing Witchblade for Top Cow. Now that he’s handed that over to Hack/Slash’s Tim Seeley he’s free to write another seemingly similarly themed book for DC. Nothing about it screams must-buy, as I think Marz used up most of his mystical mojo writing Witchblade for the last few years. This one will probably end up being culled in the not too distant future.
Final Verdict: PASS
Wonder Woman # 1
Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang
The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman would dare to protect humanity from the wrath of such strange and powerful forces. But is she one of us – or one of them?
Anything is better than what we’ve been getting. Phil Hester has been doing an admirable job trying to salvage what he was handed but it’s still leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Azzarello’s take looks a bit more promising and Cliff Chiang can draw the crap out of anything and I’ll pay for it.
Final Verdict: PULL
So where does that put us?
27/52 titles I would rate as worthy of buying. That’s roughly 52% of the 52 that you should feel comfortable buying. I have to admit, the coincidence of the number seems almost intentional. Dan DiDio, you slick bastard you.
Here’s our penultimate look at the new DCU 52 titles. So far we’re finding a lot to like spread in with some iffy offerings. But it’s not the trainwreck many are making it out to be. So let’s continue…
Legion Lost # 1
Fabien Nicieza & Pete Woods
Seven heroes from the 31st century have traveled back to the present day. Their mission: Save their future from annihilation. But when the future tech they brought with them fails, they find themselves trapped in a nightmarish world that, for them, is the ultimate struggle to survive! Don’t miss the start of this all-new LEGION series illustrated by Pete Woods – fresh off his spectacular run on ACTION COMICS – who is joined by writer Fabian Nicieza (RED ROBIN)!
I’m a fan of Fabien Nicieza. I really am. Not just for Cable & Deadpool but for his work on titles like Red Robin as well. I think he’s a strong writer who can really run when given an acceptable concept and a good artist. He definitely has the good artist on this title. Pete Woods is one of the strongest talents DC has on their roster. As for the concept, it could really go either way. The Legion is a tough nut to crack. But I would wager heavily that Fabien has something worth reading here.
Final Verdict: PULL
Legion of Super-Heroes # 1
Paul Levitz & Karl Kerschl
The Legion of Super-Heroes has been decimated by the worst disaster in its history. Now, the students of the Legion Academy must rise to the challenge of helping the team rebuild – but a threat of almost unstoppable power is rising at the edge of Dominator space, and if the new recruits fail, the Legion Espionage Squad may be the first casualties in a war that could split worlds in half!
As I said before, The Legion is not the easiest title to make work. But Paul Levtiz has a strong background with the book that should carry over here. I think longtime fans of the Legion will be satisfied and hopefully he manages to snare some new readers as well.
Final Verdict: PULL
Men of War # 1
Ivan Brandon & Tom Derenick
On the ground and on the front lines, a young, headstrong soldier known as Joe Rock assumes command of Easy Company – a team of ex-military men turned contractors. Will they survive the battle-scarred landscape carved by the DCU’s Super-Villains? Find out in this explosive new series from Ivan Brandon (Viking, DOC SAVAGE) and Tom Derenick (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!
Updating Sgt. Rock out of WW2? Immediate no sell. It makes me think too much of Hex. And while I enjoy that title for a bit of “WTF” levity, it goes against much of what makes the character truly work and I think that might be the case here.
Final Verdict: PASS
Mr. Terrific # 1
Eric Wallace & Roger Robinson
The world’s third-smartest man – and one of its most eligible bachelors – uses his brains and fists against science gone mad in this new series from Eric Wallace (TITANS) and Roger Robinson! Michael Holt is the head of a successful high-tech corporation and an institute that recruits and encourages the finest minds of the next generation to excel. As Mister Terrific he inhabits a world of amazement few others know exists, let alone can comprehend.
That suit is horrible but Mr. Terrific is an underrated character, and since we’re not getting a JSA title it looks like this is as good as it gets. Not sure about the creative team, but hopefully they can come out swinging and give Mr. Terrific the book he deserves.
Final Verdict: PULL
Nightwing # 1
Kyle Higgins & Eddy Barrows
Dick Grayson flies high once more as Nightwing in a new series from hot new writer Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM)! And as he embraces his destiny, Haley’s Circus, the big top where Dick once performed, returns to Gotham City – bringing with it murder, mystery and superhuman evil. Nightwing must confront his past, among former friends and enemies from his circus days, while uncovering a much greater evil!
I love me some Nightwing and I’m glad to see him in his own title again, though I was really starting to embrace the Batman Inc. dynamic. Kyle Higgins is, as I’ve stated, a rising star at DC and being handed the keys to a fan favorite book could make or break him. I don’t doubt this will be worth reading.
Final Verdict: PULL
OMAC # 1
Dan DiDio & Keith Giffen
The all-seeing Brother Eye satellite has unleashed a new beast upon the DC Universe in this smashing new series! Kevin Kho has become an unwilling participant in a war between Checkmate and Brother Eye as he is transformed into the One Machine Army Corp known only as O.M.A.C.!
Jack Kirby by way of Dan DiDio? I cringe at the very thought.
Final Verdict: PASS
Red Hood and the Outlaws # 1
Scott Lobdell & Ken Rocafort
No sooner has Batman’s former sidekick, Jason Todd, put his past as the Red Hood behind him than he finds himself cornered by a pair of modern day outlaws: Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal, the damaged soldier of fortune, and the alien Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war who won’t be chained again. As a loner, Jason has absolutely no interest in this motley crew of outlaws. So what’s he going to do when they choose the Red Hood as their leader? Find out in this hot new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men), featuring art by rising star Kenneth Rocafort (ACTION COMICS)!
This description SCREAMS 90′s pseudo-image title and it isn’t helped by putting the man who defined much of the X-Men’s adventures during the decade at the helm. I don’t expect much out of this title at all. I don’t care how much you taunt me with Arsenal’s awesome trucker hat, I’m not buying!
Final Verdict: PASS
Red Lanterns # 1
Peter Milligan & Ed Benes
Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps return in their own series, battling against injustice in the most bloody ways imaginable!
I love Pete Milligan as I’ve said in earlier entries but this doesn’t seem like it could be made interesting if it were written by a council of Jack Kirby, Grant Morrison, and Shakespeare.
Final Verdict: PASS
Be sure to come back tomorrow for the last round of analysis and we tally up the score to see if this relaunch is really worth all the effort…
Our in-depth look at the new DCU 52 comes on the heels of the revelation to the press by Dan DiDio that Clark Kent and Lois Lane will indeed no longer be married when the new titles launch this fall. This has prompted a new round of backlash against the reboot but frankly the amount of vitriol being spewed is about what you would expect from the DC fanbase regardless of the particulars inciting their rage.
Green Arrow # 1
JT Krul & Dan Jurgans and Norm Rapmund
Green Arrow is on the hunt. Driven by inner demons, Ollie Queen travels the world and brings outlaws to justice? by breaking every law. Now, armed with cutting-edge weaponry and illegally gained intel (courtesy of his team at QCore), Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.
JT Krul headed up the last GA relaunch and I feel like it was burdened by the Brightest Day baggage it was carrying with it. That having been said, this doesn’t look too much better and the synopsis seems to indicate that this Green Arrow will bear little resemblance to the character that we’ve come to know and since there was nothing wrong with him in the first place that earns this book a tick in the loss column.
Final Verdict: PASS
Green Lantern # 1
Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke
The red-hot GREEN LANTERN team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke introduce an unexpected new Lantern.
Wow. Vague much? There’s not much to go on but I will admit that 90% of Johns’ Lantern work has been stellar. Well worth the money and I don’t doubt that this will be much different. Johns’ best work is within the confines of a title where he can mold the characters to his liking through careful plotting over a long period of time. His first run on the Flash exemplified this. His last Green Lantern run was excellent and while Blackest Night was a misfire, Johns’ work on the central title was good enough to earn it credibility as one of the definitive works on the character. I would hope that trend continues here.
Final Verdict: PULL
Green Lantern Corps # 1
Peter Tomasi & Fernando Pasarin
When deadly conflicts emerge across the universe, it’s up to Guy Gardner, John Stewart and an elite Green Lantern strike force to keep the peace – or else.
Guy Gardner. Instant buy. The GLC book has been just as interesting as the central GL book for the past few years and Tomasi seems to have a handle on things. This seems more of a sure shot than the flagship title under Johns.
Final Verdict: PULL
Green Lantern : New Guardians # 1
Tony Bedard & Tyler Kirkham
Kyle Rayner has assembled the most powerful team in all the universe, selected from the full spectrum of corps. But can he even keep this volatile group together?
This one seems less like a slam dunk. Spinning out of the Blackest Night/Brightest Day clusterbang, the premise seems perched on too much continuity and given the reboot’s streamlined universe we can assume that this particular title may end up being a bit muddled. I’m not too optimistic.
Final Verdict: PASS
Grifter # 1
Nate Edmondson & Cafu
The DCU’s most wanted man stars in his own series! Cole Cash is a charming grifter few can resist. And yet he’s about to be branded a serial killer when he begins hunting and exterminating inhuman creatures hidden in human form – creatures only he can see! Can the biggest sweet talker of all time talk his way out of this one when even his brother thinks he’s gone over the edge?
I have a soft spot for the old WildCATs stuff, but I’m not so sure about introducing Grifter into the DCU. Edmondson is a talented scribe but Grifter is a tough sell nowadays. It’ll be interesting to see if people still give a damn. I personally don’t see the appeal anymore.
Final Verdict: PASS
Hawk and Dove # 1
Sterling Gates & Rob Liefeld
Hank Hall is not happy. He’s not happy to have Dawn Granger as a new partner in his war on crime. He’s not happy that she’s dating the ghostly Super Hero, Deadman. He’s not happy to learn that someone is trying to plunge the United States into a new civil war! Now it’s up to Hawk and Dove to root out the forces behind this conflict and stop them before they turn the U.S. into a wasteland! And who is the monster lurking in the shadows, watching Hawk and Dove from afar? Find out in this new series from Sterling Gates (FLASHPOINT: KID FLASH LOST) and artist Rob Liefeld (X-Force, Youngblood)!
Do I really need to spell out why this book will be unreadable when Liefeld’s name is in bold print at the top? No matter how much I may respect Sterling Gates, Liefeld is an immediate turn-off. When the man can get artwork in on time it’s still a mess. How the man has been unable to evolve even a little since the early 90′s is beyond me. The rest of the Image crew have evolved their art by leaps and bounds but Liefeld remains constant in his poorly drawn little niche.
Final Verdict: PASS
I, Vampire # 1
Joshua Fielkov & Andrea Sorrentino
For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree – and she plans to start with the heroes of the DCU!
Again the mystical part of the DCU gets put under the spotlight and here we get something truly interesting. Some sincerely great mystical characters have been given chances to shine in the DCU only to have their lives cut short despite critical and fan respect. Simon Dark comes to mind. This seems to be an equally compelling title and I would hope people check it out.
Final Verdict: PULL
Justice League # 1
Geoff Johns & Jim Lee
Comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history! In a universe where super heroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World Greatest Heroes! This spectacular debut issue is also offered as a special combo pack edition, polybagged with a redemption code for a digital download of the issue.
I don’t know for sure that this will ever even see a second issue. I’m fearful of another WildCATs incident. But Johns and Lee on the premier DC book should be enough to garner a little bit of attention. It could be the catalyst that sees a return to greatness for DC the way putting Bendis on the Avengers was for Marvel. Or it could be a massive misfire. Either way, I want to see it happen.
Final Verdict: PULL
Justice League Dark # 1
Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin
The witch known as The Enchantress has gone mad, unleashing forces that not even the combined powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg can stop. And if those heroes can’t handle the job, who will stand against this mystical madness? Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine may be our only hope – but how can we put our trust in beings whose very presence makes ordinary people break out in a cold sweat?
It seems so wrong to have John Constantine in a title with the words “Justice League” in it but under the penmanship of Peter Milligan you have to place your bets in the title’s favor. The man knows how to write stuff like this and I can guarantee this will be the most interesting of the JL titles this fall. Hands down.
Final Verdict: PULL
Justice League International # 1
Dan Jurgens & Aaron Lopresti
With the growing presence of super beings around the world, the United Nations resolves to create a new group called Justice League International. Batman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron, Fire, Ice, Vixen and Rocket Red are charged with promoting unity and trust – but can they reach that goal without killing each other first?
It seems off. As someone who deeply loved some JLI back in the day, this doesn’t feel right. But Jurgens has been doing some good work with the Booster Gold title recently and so maybe this will be worth a look. I have to say that if you ever loved the JLI and don’t read this then I don’t know what to say to you.
Final Verdict: PULL
Part Four will be up tomorrow followed by the final installment on Thursday. Until then, you can always let us know your own Pass/Pull opinions in the comments or on our Facebook page.
As I sit down to write this review, Green Lantern has a 24% rating on RottenTomatoes. When I see a number like that, I expect something around Transformers 2 level shoddiness. Having just got back from seeing the film, I can say that it’s leagues better than that. Thank Christ. I’ll level with you. I enjoyed it more than I did Iron Man 2. Sure there are some script issues, and it doesn’t have the dedicated focus that the more recent Marvel Studios releases seem to have down to a science, but it’s nowhere near the abomination that its ratings seem to indicate. It’s not Ghost Rider, Elektra, Catwoman, etc. level bad. It’s actually a decent film. It may alienate some of the more hardcore fans of the Green Lantern comics with the liberties it takes toward continuity and Hal Jordan as a character, but the truth of the matter is that as a film it works just fine. Does it have flaws? Yes. So did Batman Begins, to be perfectly frank. And most of the problems are actually the same. It comes down to pacing and structure. Although I’ll be honest, there is some really sub-par CGI work which hinders the film just as much as the script ever does. But if you think about the sort of money that it would take to really get a Green Lantern film on the screen and have it look flawless, it’d equal the national deficit following our middle-eastern war campaigns.
Green Lantern has a lot working against it when you walk into the theatre. Ryan Reynolds was a controversial choice to play Hal Jordan for numerous reasons. First and foremost, he doesn’t embody the comics version of the character very much at all. He’s more prone to playing the cocky wise-cracking prankster than anything else. Can he do serious? Yes. But does he here? Not really. The film version of the character seems molded around Reynolds rather than the other way around. He only tangentially resembles the Hal Jordan most fans of the comic are familiar with. The caveat is that the Hal Jordan of the comics is somewhat of a dull figure. He’s a straight arrow who is generally most interesting when placed against his foils. That’s why the “hard traveling heroes” years where he crossed the country with Green Arrow were so great, it was the interplay off the opposing characters. Here, Hal is front and center and the story revolves around his journey. In order to play to the masses, they had to mold Hal into a hero that’s more in line with the modern sensibility of what a comic-film hero should be. They’ve turned him into a sort of pseudo-Tony Stark who is massively flawed and yet puts on a brave face propped up by their own sarcasm and wit. It’s not the classic interpretation of the character but the backstory revolving around Hal’s father’s death and his battle to overcome fear are familiar enough that it doesn’t feel like a complete destruction of his character that results in such horrible films as the aforementioned Ghost Rider or Elektra. The film’s Hal Jordan retains enough of his central character that most people will not be offended by the changes and the mainstream audience viewing the film won’t even take notice.
The biggest changes come in the form of Parallax’s origin and, well, his entire existence. I would argue that it might have been a bad idea to throw Parallax into the mix so early, but realistically speaking it’s the easiest way to explain the concept of the color yellow as the embodiment of fear and sets up the eventual Sinestro heel turn (which we KNOW will happen if a sequel ever gets off the ground) as well as any plot device could. It also gives an easy explaination for the introduction of Hector Hammond as a villain. Hammond serves well as the earth-bound villain element of the piece, and Skarsgard plays him with an old-school studio-style monster edge that, while not exactly subtle, is more than enough to match the tone that the film is setting up.
There are only a few major misfires in the whole of the film, the first of which being Hal’s unnecessary friend/comedic relief played by Taika Waititi who looked remarkedly similar enough to Richard Ayoade that I really just wish that they would have had Hal befriend Moss from The IT Crowd. It would have been much more entertaining.
I know it sounds like I’m tearing the film apart a little bit but really it’s quite enjoyable. It may not be the Green Lantern that die-hard fans have been clammoring for but it’s a great first attempt and I think that subsequent sequels without the burden of the origin story to weigh them down will find their footing a little better than this debut entry. Do yourself a favor and check it out if you in any way want the studios to take risks with DC characters on screen because if it flops I guarantee they’re going to go with the safest bets possible and that’s no good for anyone, least of all the fans.
I know that this year has been a bit different when it comes to the content I’ve posted on the blog. After leaving my job at the comic shop back in December I had to make the painful decision to alter my comic buying habits to accommodate my new lifestyle. As such, I’ve been getting my comics from an online retailer, mailed out once a month and as such I haven’t had much luck posting real reviews on a timely basis. It’s just a sad byproduct of my current situation. Another byproduct has been the steady decline of my interest in the mainstream comics scene. I have, sadly, been dropping titles I once considered vital with each passing month and have instead been focusing on creator-owned work that manages to resonate with me more than anything that DC or Marvel sends down the chute every month.
I never thought I’d see the day that I’d say this but I may just be done with DC comics. Lately the only books that I can say I’ve enjoyed fully are Morrison’s Batman Inc., Palmiotti & Gray’s Jonah Hex, Cornell’s Action Comics and Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Roberson’s handling of the Superman book has also been admireable. But that’s five books out of a line that will see 52 titles jump started with a new # 1 issue.
Dan Didio was quotes in the USA Today article as saying:
In September, more than 50 more first issues will debut, introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.
“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line,” says Dan DiDio, who co-publishes DC with Lee. “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”
Fans around the internet have been in an uproar over this and I have to say that I understand where some of them are coming from, in light of this news coupled with the rumors that have been coming out that have not yet been substantiated such as Lois & Clark’s marriage being lost in the new continuity as well as several creative team changes that are less than exciting including a possible loss of Gail Simone from Birds of Prey. The last time that happened it sucked just about all the energy from the book and it was left to die a slow death. On the other hand Grant Morrison is rumored to be taking over the central Superman title and it is confirmed we will be getting a Justice League book written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, in a move that clearly parallels Marvel’s decision to put Bendis on New Avengers several years ago.
The problem I have with the Justice League book being handled by Johns & Lee, aside from the fact that the creative team is almost begging for publishing delays, is that it seems like they’re aping Marvel’s formula several years after it has already gotten stale. Granted, DC could never make such a move any time after Marvel does anything similar because it’s either too soon or too late after the fact for it not to seem like a stunt or playing catch up. My philosophy when it comes to the DC v. Marvel debate comes down to the way Marvel treats its writers. They sell the writers in a way that makes them out to be superstars. Marvel presents their writers as the A-list. The cream of the crop. Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Nick Spencer, et. al are sold as being equal commodities to the characters they write. DC does not seem to do the same for their writers outside of Morrison or Johns. They have a SMATTERING of amazing talent in people like Chris Roberson, Matt Sturges, Gail Simone, Paul Cornell, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, and so many others. But you don’t see DC publicizing them like walking gods of creativity the way Marvel does with their stable.
The whole line-wide reboot thing reads like a desperate stunt. DC loves to pull stunts. The repeated weekly series plan alone shows that. This stunt in particular will alienate a great deal of the fanbase and probably lose them for a good long time. They say that the point of all this is to garner new readers by eliminating the confusion surrounding certain characters and their continuity but they are failing to understand the simple reason why the comics market isn’t viable to younger readers and that’s that comic books are not cost effective to the consumer.
The article in USA today also mentions that beginning in September, DC comics will be going same-day release with digital and print copies. This is a major leap forward in the digital market but raises even more questions. Are the digital comics going to be significantly cheaper than the print counterparts? If DC wants to make me pay full price for a copy of the new Superman # 1 at $2.99 when I can get it from an online retailer for anywhere from a 10-40% discount, then what is the impetus for me to switch to digital? The price debate is probably the most important hurdle that the comics industry will have to face in the coming years. I bought a blu-ray movie yesterday for $8.99. That’s two plus hours of entertainment plus special features for roughly ten dollars with tax applied. A comic book is 20 pages of content for about $3.25 after taxes are applied and the best case scenario is usually a ten minute read-time if there’s actually any dense content to the book. If you’re trying to attract new readers, you have to give them more bang for their buck. I respect DC for trying to lower the cost of buying comics, but the content provided for the price is a huge turnoff to people who aren’t already hooked. Add to that the fact that comics aren’t readily available anywhere outside of specialized shops and you’ve got a major dilemma. All the continuity stunts in the world will not save you from that pitfall. Comics are being displayed at Barnes and Noble now, but I’ve seen that selection and it’s not very impressive and not too well organized.
I don’t want to sound like a doomsayer, foretelling the end of comics or anything like that. The industry will adapt and survive in some manner, because too much money stands to be lost if they don’t. But the logic that has gone into DC’s latest stunt boggles the mind of anyone who takes the time to look at it carefully. Perhaps this whole article will be rendered worthless when more information becomes available. I hope everything does work out for the best. I still have friends who work in the retail level of the industry, and all the writers and artists who I’ve developed a rapport with since developing this blog don’t deserve to see their chosen profession crumble because the companies don’t know how to adapt. All I can do is sit and wait and see if what DC has to offer is worth paying for.
According to the official DCU newsblog, JMS will be taking his leave from the Superman and Wonder Woman monthly titles citing a need to prioritize the release of the next Earth One graphic novel as well as his recent healthy issues as the reasons for his early departure. Those concerned about whether or not the current storylines will be left dangling will be happy to hear that oncoming Superman writer Chris Roberson (of iZombie and Cinderella fame) as well as new Wonder Woman scribe Phil Hester will both be working off of Stracynski’s plot outlines. Those of you hoping that the storylines would be abandoned are out of luck. I would argue that the premeses behind the current direction of both books were sound and interesting, simply not being taken in the right direction due to Stracynski’s understanding of the characters being deeply flawed.
I’m sure some overzealous fanboys will be quick to theorize that this has something to do with the critical reaction to the series but the truth is JMS got mainstream exposure for the title, so whether or not the faithful drank his kool-aid was not a concern of the people publishing the books. He isn’t being forced off because of his failures, if anything it seems like they want to replicate the amazing success of Earth One as soon as possible considering the buzz on the first installment seems to be mostly positive.
The thing to take away from this is that both new writers for Superman and Wonder Woman are ASTOUNDING talents who I personally cannot wait to see tackle the characters. Especially Phil Hester. I have a sketch of Green Arrow he drew for me hanging framed in my office. He’s awesome. You should share my enthusiasm. I have enough to go around.
By now you’ve probably read every single last report on Superman : Earth One that the media machine can spit at you. It’s been getting major press since before it’s launch last week from all over the place including CNN, USA Today, and other reputable news sources that I don’t pay attention to. The focus has mainly been on the depiction of Clark Kent as a young hipster with a hoodie. It’s such a dramatic change in direction, isn’t it?
The truth of the matter is that a lot of people are going to be torn on this book. Some are hating on it because of the liberties it takes with the mythos. Others for the fact that this Clark doesn’t seem much like the Clark we’ve come to know in the past seventy years of his publishing history. The thing is, it has no bearing on the regular title. It’s a standalone universe. The way I see it, the people complaining about it are the same people who lost their marbles over the changes that Bendis made when writing Ultimate Spider-Man way back when that first started up. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have any bearing on that. This is an expiriment in updating the origin of Superman for a modern audience using what the writer believes are modern sensibilities. I won’t comment on whether or not he has a grasp on what modern audiences want, because the nationwide sellouts of the book indicate that he has a fairly decent idea, regardless of the quality of the book he produced. I don’t think a wide majority of Superman fans picked up the book, as they’ve been fairly vocal about how horrible his run on the regular in-continuity title has been thus far. It seems to me that the majority of the people picking up this title are the uninitiated, who will have no qualms with the changes because they will only have the slightest inclination that anything has changed. Remember that for a chunk of the population, Smallville is the default incarnation of the Superman character. Smallville.
The book isn’t that bad. It really is just Ultimate Superman. The only problem being that in the format which it has been published, you’re not really getting a whole lot of story for the price. I feel like the book ran maybe four issues worth of content but they charged me for six. That having been said, I think a premium has been placed on the book for the high profile creative team. JMS has had his name in the news alot lately due to his work on Wonder Woman as well as the regular Superman title and Shane Davis is a damned fine penciller, so DC is probably just trying to get their money’s worth. The price certainly didn’t seem to affect the buying public as they snatched it up in droves. But it is worth noting that the story is a brisk one. Thankfully the book stands on its own in such a way that you don’t need to buy a second volume to complete the story. I would have felt a bit miffed if I’d paid the price I did and didn’t even get a full story out of it.
As for the story, it’s familiar to those who have read anything remotely related to Superman before ( it felt a little bit too much like Birthright in some places for me), it also diverges from the regular path a little bit simply by virtue of being set in modern times. Clark Kent pursuing an active career in print journalism seems a bit anachronistic and so they play with it a little bit and Clark’s entry into the field isn’t the same as it was in his previous incarnations. None of that really matters, the key players are there and the dynamic still works. Although the Jimmy/Clark dynamic might be interesting to watch this time around considering that Jimmy seems to be less the bumbling loser that he is often portrayed as.
I will give the team props for not utilizing the old guard of Superman villains for this go-around. If there’s one thing a lot of people agree on its that the old villains are getting stale. There are numerous petitions to keep Lex Luthor out of the next Superman movie because people are tired of the same old shtick. Here we get a villain who helps reinforced the thematic elements of Superman’s arrival. The fear of the foreign is on full display and I think that will be the underlying thematic element of this particular version of Superman. It’s certainly a timely and relevant metaphor. The only question is whether or not Stracynski can keep it subtle enough not to be overbearing.
On the whole, it’s an interesting effort. Not as fun as the early Ultimate universe was, but definitely a popular expiriment nonetheless.
Overall Score : 7/10 Stars
People ask me why I buy certain series. For example, I picked up Freedom Fighters # 1 despite the fact that I was very vocal about how much I disliked the previous two mini-series by the same creative team. I think for this particular book it came down to three things:
1. I trust Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. They constantly hammer out great stuff and their misfires are the anomolies.
2. Phantom Lady’s Cleavage.
3. I needed review material for the dead days following Labor Day holiday.
As I told Palmiotti on Twitter earlier this morning, I disliked the previous two mini-series but this one connected better in my opinion. I stated that the main cause of that is probably that it doesn’t have ties to any event book. The first mini-series from the team spun out of Battle for Bludhaven, a book that was not that great in its own right. This one doesn’t seem to have ties to anything in the larger scheme, it’s not a Brightest Day crossover at least as far as I can tell. It’s just a superhero book that wants to do its own thing.
A few sites have complained that there is too much jammed into the issue. That the flow doesn’t feel right and that it’s compacted. I disagree completely. For 2.99, I feel this is one of the best comics for your money that DC has published in a while. Just because a book doesn’t fall into the post-Bendis decompression phenomenon doesn’t mean that it’s crammed. I think we as a fanbase have grown content with padded books that don’t live up to what can be done with the storytelling medium. Here we get a fight with superpowered neo-nazis, an asteroid threatening to destroy the earth, an alien parasite destroying a town, and a government conspiracy about the foundations of the US. None of it feels obtrusive however, because it serves to reintroduce the characters in a manner that shows that they’ve been active in the DC universe even if they weren’t getting much stage time.
I think of Freedom Fighters as sort of like a more easily accessible Doom Patrol. All of these people have something they are struggling with internally, whether it’s the Human Bomb whose troubles are pretty apparent or Black Condor who has serious emotional baggage in regards to his native American heritage, there is that internal strife that makes for intriguing characters. Unlike the Doom Patrol however, you don’t feel sorry for these characters for having to put up with an asswipe like Niles Caulder. While Uncle Sam is a hardcase, he’s no self-serving jerk. He has the weight of the nation on his shoulders, literally as his power is connected to the soul of the country, but he doesn’t come off as completely unlikeable and that’s why I really like the book; I like the characters. They’re relateable and interesting. They may not be the biggest names in the business but they’re not complete throwaways. Jimmy and Justin do a good job of infusing them with life, which I hope will sustain the title long enough to get some good stories. Unfortunately DC doesn’t seem to be pushing the book very hard, which is a shame. Then again, they don’t push Jonah Hex very hard either and that doesn’t affect its fanbase much at all. I hope the same will be able to be said for Freedom Fighters.
Here’s the deal. I’ve been busy with a TON of stuff today. Like, just about everything that I need to do in a given month I had to get done today and then some. So you’ll have to apologize when I eschew the typical format of these reviews and go about this a little differently this week. This week’s reviews will be comprised of just two books, Batman and Superman # 701. Basically, the biggest two books to hit this week. I mean, Birds of Prey # 3 was awesome, and a bunch of people who went apeshit over certain events in the second issue had eat some serious crow. I finally picked up a copy of The Sixth Gun which I recommend to anybody who likes Jonah Hex but wants a little bit of mysticism thrown in without being outright terrible like the film. Also Generation Lost made me fall in freaking love with the Rocket Reds.
Let’s start with Superman # 701.
Dear god, this whole issue seems like 32 pages of JMS trying to justify the premise of his arc to us by hammering us over the head with apathetic retreads of tired philosophy and even more tired retreads of scenes that Grant Morrison already did to perfection a few years back with All-Star Superman. Seriously, that suicide jumper scene was basically everything Morrison did but stretched out for a few pages with no sense of gravitas. It’s so mind-numbingly blunt that it looses any and all effect.
I think my biggest problem with JMS’s retread of Hard Travelin’ Heroes starring Superman is that JMS doesn’t seem to write Superman in the classic sense. The Superman I know is not the spiteful, sarcastic, embittered abuser of power that we get in this issue. This feels like Stracynski trying to finish out what he had wanted to do with Thor but couldn’t because he got tossed to the curb by Marvel editorial. I think that a lot of the bitterness that he feels over how that panned out is being transferred onto his Superman. Superman here doesn’t feel like he needs to answer to anybody. Not reporters, not the man on the street, nobody. He is sick and tired of everyone’s impatience and expectations. The problem is, he’s made Superman borderline unlikeable in this instance.
I’ve seen just as much love for this issue as I have hate, so obviously he’s struck a chord with people. But I’ve noticed that a lot of the praise is coming from people who are new to reading Superman on a regular basis. A lot of first timer’s interested by the premise got drawn in, and having no attachment to everything that makes Superman…well, Superman, they find this sort of bland retread to be new and fresh and exciting.
It’s lazy and it doesn’t really work for anyone who has any real understanding of Superman as a character. Some would argue that JMS is attempting to write away the flaws of Superman, but by turning him into a cynical jerkwad doesn’t do anything but create more flaws. It alienates the previously faithful readers and the new readership is not likely to stick around in the long run.
It’s not the worst issue of Superman ever written, it’s just an egregious slap in the face to fans of the character. It collapses under the weight of it’s own self importance and in the end will just be another footnote in the long history of the book that people look back on and sort of chuckle at.
Still better than Electric Blue Supes.
On the flipside, we have Batman 701, which goes back to the moments immediately following Batman R.I.P. and leading up to Batman’s collision course with Darkseid in Final Crisis. This issue is the first time in a while we’ve seen Bruce Wayne in the suit for the main story. I think Morrison was wise to hold off on this issue until now, simply because it gives the audience a broader understanding of his entire overall story and allows for the reader to follow the action with greater ease than if it had come immediately following R.I.P.
The artwork is just amazing, a step-up from Daniel, whose work seemed to be rushed while he had to perform the writing duties as well. There is more definition, more style on display here. It matches the mood of the story perfectly, and I think that goes a long way towards crafting an excellent issue.
The basic premise is centered around Hurt’s declaration that following the events of R.I.P., if Bruce were to wear the cowl again it would be the last time. A prophetic curse that weighs heavy on Bruce. It’s interesting that he takes this to heart the way he does, seeing how he comes down on criminals as being overly cowardly and superstitious and I don’t think that is an accident. Morrison doesn’t do coincidence.
His reaction to the death of a New God shows us exactly how Morrison feels about Batman as a character and it works well within everything that’s come to be associated with Bruce as far as his determination and his psyche. It’s the exact opposite of Stracynski’s Superman in that regard. Nobody will accuse this Batman of not being in character. He is the driven detective, the dark knight and he acts as such.
I’m looking forward to the rest of this arc.
I feel like these won’t be up to snuff. I’ve been off my game for the last few days, more focused on my novel than the content of the site, sad to say. I know it’s horribly short-sighted of me considering that the novel is in no way a sure thing whereas this site seems to have a dedicated audience if our recent web-numbers mean anything at all. (Hint, they don’t)
So here we go.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #635 GRIM 3.99
AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #3 (OF 6) 3.99
COVER RUN THE DC COMICS ART OF ADAM HUGHES HC 39.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #866 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #580 HA 2.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #18 2.99
GREEN ARROW #1 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
HERALDS #4 (OF 5) 2.99
HULK #23 WWHS 4.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #3 2.99
JURASSIC PARK REDEMPTION #1 3.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #4 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
POWER GIRL #13 2.99
SEA BEAR & GRIZZLY SHARK #1 4.99
SUPERGIRL #53 2.99
SUPERMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THUNDERBOLTS #145 HA 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #4 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #14 3.99
X-FACTOR #206 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #237 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #2 2.99
I was so wary when I bought this title. I got the distinct feeling that it was going to be just downright abysmal. It had every indicator that it would be. In the wake of what’s going down with Arsenal, which may be the absolute worst storyline/title that DC has published in years, I expected to be equally disappointed in the new Green Arrow title. Despite the fact that I have every issue of Green Arrow from the moment Mike Grell took over the character to the end of the last series, I was seriously considering skipping it this time around because I didn’t have much faith that I would get my money’s worth.
The first issue was largely an exercise in getting people caught up, with Green Arrow telling a would-be victim everything the reader needs to know in order to jump aboard. It feels a little bit like a drag considering that I have been following Green Arrow for a while, but I suppose DC figured this new direction would hook a couple of new readers and they’d need the recap. Still, it could have been done a lot better without seeming like we were being led by the nose.
The new villain who takes control of Ollie’s old company is actually a pretty cool looking figure, she has a graceful mystery to her presence that makes her seem like less of a throwaway villain than other new arrivals, and thank god she’s not another archer (that we know of) because that’s just getting old.
The teaser reel at the end of the book that shows us where the book is headed helps to keep me interested, because it promises a few interesting possibilities. I’m not likely to drop the book as I’m a completist when it comes to Ollie, but I won’t regret my decision to stick around if things stay mostly as they are here.
Man, this thing is a mess. The story is bland and overly familiar, and the art looks like amateur hour. Nostalgia aside, there is no reason for this book to exist because there is nothing to salvage it when it comes to quality. I imagine some people who are really die hard fans of the franchise will stick around to see its completion, but I would have to be handed this book for free the next go-around to read issue two. I really wish I could say more about the book, but it was so mediocre that while reading it, nothing sunk in except how much I disliked it. I even like the second and third films, so it’s not like I’m holding it to any high standard. It’s just not a very good book, and it really could have been. I don’t think anyone will dispute that. It’s just a mess of an issue that turned me off nearly immediately.
Everyone here is probably well acquainted with my eternal love for Power Girl. I think she’s an underrated character who gets shoehorned into a stereotype because of the size of her bazongas. Everyone knows the story where she was supposedly drawn with bigger knockers every month back when she first debuted just to see how far they could go with it before someone noticed.
The thing is, as Jimmy Palmiotti (friend of the site, natch), Justin Gray and Amanda Conner can attest, you can squeeze some great stories out of her if you’re willing to think outside of the box and go places that aren’t readily visited by the majority of the characters in the mainstream. Power Girl operated for twelve months as the most legitimately fun book on the stands with some of the best expressive artwork this side of Kevin Maguire. It was earnest and endearing and I never wanted it to end.
Unfortunately it had to.
Now Judd Winick has taken over the writing duties while new artist Sami Basri has the unenviable task of following Amanda Conner. How do they do? I would put their efforts at “admirable.” Judd Winick does a good job of handling the tone set down by the previous team, but has to work in the events of Generation Lost, so things take a turn toward the more standard superhero fare. It feels kind of like a mash-up of the previous issues of Power Girl with a hint of Sterling Gates’ Supergirl work during the big crossover.
I think that Winick would have done better if he’d kept Generation Lost separate from the Power Girl ongoing, just as the previous team kept Power Girl separate from her interactions with the JSA. I understand the reasoning behind the move, but from a storytelling standpoint it feels like it’s trying too hard to fit into an overall continuity and not concerned with growing organically.
As far as the art is concerned, Basri does a good job but there are instances where it seems like there are three different renditions of Power Girl throughout the book where she doesn’t look like the same person. I think when the artist gets a better grasp of the character, those little nitpicks will slip away.
I just hope that Winick can manage writing the book without fretting over making the character “integral” to the overall scheme of the DCU, because crossovers kill interesting titles. It becomes less about the character and more about the universe and frankly I don’t want that to happen here.
Uh, yeah. I don’t know what to think about this one. Well, I know what I think about it. I just don’t know what to think about my liking it. There is no setup, it’s just a dive-in and go with the flow sort of book. Like it’s an issue of a series that already has four issues on the rack and this is just the next one in the series. There is no rational explaination or origin given for these characters, and nothing makes any real sense but the artwork is genuinely amazing and I don’t think I’ve cough-laughed the way I did with this book in a long time. I mean, a lot of this book caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to think. I can’t really recommend it for general audiences but if you’re looking for dumb violent “WTF” style stuff, this is definitely worth a look.
There has been a lot said about Stracynski’s arrival to the Superman title. Everyone by now knows the premise that Superman will be walking across America trying to reconnect with the people he’s supposed to protect. What I’m wondering is if this little pseudo-art vanity project will end up like Brian Azzarello’s run from a few years back that everyone dismisses as pretentious garbage. I suppose it would be worse if it were happening in Action comics, because I don’t know how much Action you can get out of a brisk jog, but considering that it’s been a while since Superman even appeared in his own book, I don’t know if Superman going through a pseudo Kung Fu “walk the earth” trek is really what we need right now.
I think that the War of the Supermen story was really well done and it had the sort of epic edge-of-your-seat stakes that I require from a Superman story. I doubt I’m going to get that in Stracynski’s run. I don’t doubt that it will be well written, because when he’s not hamstrung by editorial mandate, JMS can crank out some good stories. He knows how to write characters to thei strength and I don’t doubt that we’ll get some interesting moments out of this story arc. What I’m afraid of is when it fails to generate interest and gets cut short because editorial wants to see a bump in numbers but modern comic readers don’t have the patience for a slow burn anymore.
All I’m saying is that it’s off to a decent start, and it has a good chance to be something really great, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t seem like it’s not going to end well. No matter what happens.
So there you go. Next week I’ll try to have these up in a more timely fashion. But, I’ve said that before and you get where I’m going with this.
Well, it’s time for me to rant and rave about comics again. It feels like it’s already later in the week than it really is so you’ll forgive me if everything feels a bit “off” today. I’m not sure why I feel so damned disoriented but I do. I spent Tuesday playing Red Dead Redemption, which I finally managed to complete and it was worth it because that game is all kinds of amazing right up to the very end. I want a sequel now. But games are more my brother’s department, so I’ll let him tell you about that if he ever decides to do another editorial for us, the lazy bastich.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #633 2.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #634 GRIM 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #1 (OF 4) 3.99
BIRDS OF PREY #2 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
BLACK WIDOW #3 HA 2.99
BOYS #43 (MR) 3.99
DEADPOOL #24 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #12 (OF 13) 2.99
HER-OES #3 2.99
HERALDS #3 (OF 5) 2.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #610 WWHS 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
NEW MUTANTS #14 XSC 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS X #3 3.99
WITCHBLADE TP VOL 07 14.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #4 3.99
So let’s hop to it. No sense in wasting time.
Two issues of Amazing Spider-Man hit the shelves this week. Three if you count the Black Cat mini-series. The finale of SHED was passable, but the overall quality of the arc is tainted for me by Bachalo’s artwork, which I find to be damn near incomprehensible. Seriously, I have no clue what in god’s blue balls is going on when that dude draws an issue. I’m not saying that he’s a bad artist, as there’s obviously talent there. I certainly can’t draw with any degree of his skill, his style simply aggrivates me and if Spidey weren’t a title I’d been collecting for around six years straight I would probably skip the story just so as to avoid looking at his clusterfuck linework.
Skip to the next issue however, and it looks like we’re in for a ride and a half. The Kraven saga is finally coming to a head, with the Kravinoff family hunting down members of the “Spider” family in some sort of scheme that I guess will either redeem Kraven’s honor in the family’s eyes or straight up resurrect him. I’m not sure. There seems to be a lot of misdirection on the part of the Kraven family. They were straight up trying to explode Arachne with a rocket launcher in the streets of New York while they had much more elaborate and detailed plans in their hunt for Mattie Franklin, the other, OTHER Spider-Woman who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
But honestly, the best part of the issue for me was seeing Kaine get his ass handed to him. I’m no fan of Kaine. He oozes 90′s psuedo-cool-lameness and seeing him get beat up and sliced to ribbons was just a treat for me. Like a free dessert at a restaraunt I was already enjoying.
I’m not gonna really review this issue, I just wanted to post a picture of Black Widow’s wicked awesome “Srsly?” face as drawn by Daniel Acuna.
Seriously. Epic bitchface.
You know what? This may be the single best issue of Hulk of the decade. It’s definitely the best to come out since the Planet Hulk saga ended. It feels like the Hulk should. It’s got all the melodramatic pathos, all the internal emotional struggle worked out through unrepentant violence. In short, it’s just a really amazing piece of Hulk. So much of what happens in this issue builds off of years and years of Hulk history, so much so that every event that happens in the pages of the issue carry an emotional weight that has been missing from the series for a while. I think that running parallel to Loeb’s overblown lunacy has caused the Incredible Hulk book to suffer by association. Pak has had to work within the confines of what Loeb has been building up to with the Red Hulk identity mystery and the introduction of gamma-radiated heroes, but he maneuvers in between the raindrops of insanity here to put out a classic Hulk issue that I think people will be talking about YEARS down the line as a perfect example of what makes The Hulk work as a character.
I will admit that the issue did have a bit of sensory overload. A lot of what happens happens very, very fast and there’s a lot of information to process. That having been said, it’s not so mindbogglingly convoluted that you can’t fully understand what’s going on. Compared to something like, let’s say, last week’s issue of SHIELD which just about made my brain crap itself. (Thanks Jonathan Hickman, you magnificant bastard)
In short, it may not be a great jumping on point if you’re unfamiliar with what’s been going on, but this issue should be a treat and a half for true died-in-the-wool Hulk fans who have been waiting for an issue like this for a long, long time.
If Avengers was Bendis doing the Avengers in a more classic mold, New Avengers certainly continues the work he did in the previous volume, with all the stuff that will make Bendis haters gnash their teeth and complain until they’re blue in the face while ignoring the fact that it’s still a damned fine book that is in no way inferior to what he’s doing over in the flagship title or anything any other Avengers writer has done before him. He even has the requisite Avengers trope of having everyone sitting around the table at the Avengers mansion and talking. Which happened ALL THE MOTHERFLIPPING TIME back in the old days, so it’s not as if his “overly talky” style is in any way counter to what the Avengers have done in the past. Plus we get some serious mystical mania with Hellstorm, Strange and the new sorcerer supreme, Dr. Voodoo.
Seriously, to prepare for this review I stalked message board topics about it. Just to see what other people were thinking and I have to say that the majority of comic book readers are a bunch of jaded cynics and hypocrits who really would only be happy with any given title that they claim to love if they were working on it with an artist of their choosing. Of course then only one person would be happy with the book and the rest of us would still be complaining. Lighten up fanboys, you guys are killing me.
Also, my new comic nerd-crush is Victoria Hand. In this issue she has a big gun. She’s won my heart.
Now I have to head back into the shop for a few hours on my day off to continue pulling books for subscribers. UPS lost another one of our boxes and so there’s a few things that we have to finish up today. I swear, in between Diamond Distribution and UPS, it’s a wonder we have any comic books to complain about on a weekly basis AT ALL.
According to SuperHeroHype and Geoff John’s manic twitter feed, there is talk of a live-action Blue Beetle series being developed.
According to Johns, it is the Reyes character that would be featured in a live action show, having been introduced on the animated “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” last year with plans to play a larger part on the show. The first stage of development in a live action show are recent tests to replicate how Reyes might activate his suit from the magical scarab that attached itself to his spine after Kord’s death. (courtesy SuperHeroHype)
If this turns out to be true, I will be freaking ecstatic. I love Blue Beetle. I think Jaime Reyes is one of the best new legacy characters DC has cranked out in a while. All respect to Gail Simone, I could never get into her All New Atom, but Blue Beetle suckered me in immediately and I stayed with his book all the way through to it’s eventual cancellation.
The prominent placement in the Brave and the Bold cartoon had me wondering if they were testing the waters for something bigger, and I hope that this pans out. That would just go a long way toward shutting up some fanboys who spend most of their time bellyaching about DC’s inherit “racism” in regards to their characters.
Ladies and gentlemen, I drank a 1/2 gallon of Gatorade yesterday. I am more hydrated than I have been in my entire life and I’m pretty sure my brain is suffering because of it. So small talk be damned, it’s review time.
AVENGERS PRIME #1 (OF 5) HA 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #17 2.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1 HA 3.99
IZOMBIE #2 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX NO WAY BACK HC 19.99
JSA ALL STARS #7 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #39 2.99
SERENITY FLOAT OUT ONE SHOT #1 FRANK STOCKTON CVR 3.5
THANOS IMPERATIVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
Stand back, I’m prepared to do criticism!
I wasn’t going to pick this one up at all but got suckered into it by Alan Davis’ pretty pretty drawerings. I don’t have much to say about the writing, because it’s typical Bendis fare; but it’s good Bendis fare, as we get some good cathartic character interaction between Tony and Steve that really needed to happen before the whole Heroic Age could take off. While the book seems to be heralded as the reunited Avengers back together for the first time since the Disassembled disaster, they actually spend most of the book’s length separated, which works in establishing what this series will focus on, as it’s definitely tied heavier to Thor than either of the other big three.
I don’t think that this book is truly in any way essential, other than the character interactions between Steve and Tony which could have easily been done in the opening pages of the mainline Avengers book. This is mostly an exercise in capitalism. It’s a cash grab, honestly. But it’s a well written and superbly drawn cashgrab, which is more than I can say for some other recent attempts.
I will be honest and say that I don’t know too much about Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s backstory. The entirety of my knowlege is made up by what was presented in this introductory issue. I enjoyed what was presented but I don’t have the emotional attachment to these characters the way some people do. I will say that from what I saw on the page, this series could be an interesting one as the dynamic and the setup is different from just about every other Marvel b0ok out there right now. It’s a team book without being a team book. The group of specialists that Hawkeye and Mockingbird run with in this book, including none other than Dominic Fortune, give off a dynamic not unlike Birds of Prey, which doesn’t bode well for the inevitable Green Arrow/Black Canary comparisons that are bound to stick with the book despite being much better written than that book ever could have hoped as well as establishing itself as a lynchpin in the Avengers universe.
Hawkeye, despite the fact that I haven’t had much exposure to him, is central to the Avengers dynamic. He’s as attached to Steve Rogers at this point as the Falcon is, and they play on that well in this issue. I think that this series will serve as a nice companion piece to the new Avengers-centric Marvel Universe. I just hope it doesn’t get hamstrung by the fact that Hawkeye is, let’s be honest, a 2nd tier character and series built around those tend to have fairly limited runs. Like Hawkeye’s own series that lasted about twelve issues before getting shut down so he could die in Avengers Dissassembled.
I stopped following the monthly exploits of Jonah Hex about twelve issues back. I just had to find some room to trim on the pull list and I switched it over to trades. But when this came along I had to pick it up because I’m a sucker for original graphic novels. This one is very well done, and feels like the monthly series but with the dial turned up to eleven. Honestly, this feels like what the movie should be. It’s a taut western tale that adheres to and embraces alot of the western tropes and devices, while seeming decidedly modern in it’s raw narrative structure and effectively blunt depictions of violence in the old west.
I’ll say that if you wanted mass market appeal for the character in the weeks leading up to his theatrical debut, you could have gone with an artist that is more easily palatable to the everyday reader, but Tony DeZuniga’s sketchy style fits the character well. He’s done some amazing work on some of my favorite characters, and while I think his style is a good fit for the narrative, some complaints about his artwork are bound to arise.
What I liked most about this book was really how it appeals to any and all Jonah Hex readers. Newbies get a pseudo-origin story and can jump right into the action with no real trouble at all, while old fans will undoubtedly love it for how well it stays in line with what’s come before. It hits all the notes it needs to and then some.
And that’s it for this week. I’m going to focus my attention on these scrumtious extra crispy strips from KFC that I’ve picked up for lunch. They are just aces, and they won’t immediately put you into a death coma like a DoubleDown will. So, that’s just a check in the plus column.
You know what the best part of yesterday’s “Avengers Day” festivities were? Seriously? When my co-worker brought in cake. Volstagg understands where I’m coming from when I straight up tell you that even the crappiest day could be saved by cake. I mean, obviously when the zombies come and the fecal matter hits the rotating blades, cake isn’t going to make up for that, but I guarantee you that it won’t not help. That’s a promise.
AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #2 2.99
DEADPOOL #23 HA 2.99
EXECUTOR HC (MR) 19.99
GALACTA DAUGHTER OF GALACTUS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #26 HA 2.99
SCALPED TP VOL 06 THE GNAWING (MR) 14.99
SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #3 (OF 4) 2.99
X-FACTOR #205 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #236 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #1 2.99
I’m not gonna lie, dear readers…this week was slim pickin’s after last weeks full frontal assault by the big two. I will however give you what I can, as is my journalistic duty.
AVENGERS # 1
Let me get this out of the way, compared to New Avengers, this is about as Avenger-y an Avenger book can get. Sure, there’s a lot of Bendis’ trademark standing around and talking, but having recently re-read Busiek’s awesome run, there was a fair amount of expositional dialogue slinging in that era too, and I don’t know too many people who badmouth that run. Mostly out of fear that George Perez will come for them in the night and annihilate their souls with the power cosmic that he keeps stored in the lining of his Hawai’ian shirts.
Let’s see, Romita artwork? Check.
Clint Barton as Hawkeye? Check.
Steve Rogers giving an inspiring speech? Check
MOTHERF##KING KANG?!?!? CHECK!!!
Seriously, is there anything I think of as being more of an Avengers staple than Kang? No! Because he’s the most ludicrous Avengers villain of all time. He embodies the over-the-top grandiose nature of the book in ways that Dr. Doom or Ultron simply cannot. I know that’s a matter of opinion, but I would consider it to be fact, because that’s just how big my goddamned ego is. Kang has the sort of absurd over the top nature that could only be found within the pages of a comic book. I mean that with all the love and respect it entails. Comics as a medium have the ability to take the completely batshit insane and make it work the way that if you tried it on television or on film, you would be laughed at like a gimpy orangutan in a sailor outfit. Oh, the laughs you would garner if you tried to throw a time traveling despot into the workings of even the most out-there television show you could find. If Kang showed up in his purple helmet on the island on LOST, people would groan and punch themselves in the groin. Well, I would make a high pitched shrieking sound and bounce around the room like a walaby on angeldust, but that’s because I like things that nobody else likes.
The fact of the matter is that Bendis has gone back and made an Avengers book for the people who spent the last six years complaining that his books didn’t feel like they were Avengers books. Are those people really going to be able to make those claims when Kang shows up sporting a doomsday device that was supposedly built by a future version of Tony Stark and tells them that the future of the world depends on their new team triumphing over seemingly insurmountable odds? No, those people will have to eat their words like a slice of spongey Avengers Day cake. How does it taste, people? The answer should be chocolate.
Wanna guess what I love more in comics than Kang? Give up?
Yeah, I went there. You think I stuck around through all of Green Arrow/Black Canary because I enjoyed the story. Nope. It’s because I am bound by honor to purchase any and all comics featuring a character whose costume involves fishnets. My brain is hard wired that way. Is that shallow? Maybe. How many people bought Power Girl just because of the boobage? I bought it because I love the character. The boobs are only a fraction of that element, so I suppose that makes me better than everyone else. That’s me, champion of ethics.
Anyway, this issue begins with Zatanna in full bondage mode, chained to a gigantic St. Andrew’s cross while the Joker is set to ram a gigantic drill through her torso. Fan service? You bet your ass. It’s all a swerve, of course. It’s a Zatanna book, nothing is going to be exactly what it seems like. But do you think anybody who just flipped open the book to see a hot brunette in fishnets and sexy boots bound and gagged in pure fetish fuel fashion is gonna put the book back on the rack after that? No. They’ll buy it. They have to. Unless they’re a female who can’t appreciate how friggin’ hot that opening page is. But take a closer look femi-nazis, that panel is all about the empowerment of the female form, that when we view a woman at her most helpless she’s truly always in control. Satisfied? I hope so, because I don’t really wantto overanalyze the book. It all really boils down to the fishnets. Let’s be honest.