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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse CusterAnd 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!

ALL-STAR WESTERN # 1

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

AQUAMAN # 1

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

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK # 1

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

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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.

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

It’s that time again! And lucky for you this time the reviews are on time. I hope you appreciate how much effort goes into that because I really don’t feel like being analytical at 8:00 am on a Thursday morning. I’m doing this all for you. Really. Because I sure as hell am not getting paid to do this.

BATMAN AND ROBIN # 1

I’m apologetically pro-Damien. I think he’s one of the best things to come out of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. There’s something about him that sets him apart from all the other Robins and I would say that it’s mostly the fact that he’s what Jason Todd could have been. The whole “Sidekick with an attitude” thing works for some and doesn’t for others and Damien works. Now, I will admit that too much of his schtick can be tiresome. But the same can be said for any character. I love me some Deadpool but I got some serious DP burnout following the 87 series he had going on at once last year. Luckily, DC seems to realize that Damien provokes strong reactions and therefore uses him with a deal of finesse. What I mean by this is that usually his personality is either downplayed or dialed up depending on the context of the story. In this debut issue, he’s far more antagonistic than usual because we’re being reintroduced to his dynamic with Bruce. That level of mutual respect that we had seen in previous stories seems to have been scaled back because of this new timeline and as such we get some interesting character beats from both Bruce and Damien in regards to their views on the sentiment of death and the ethos of fighting crime.

Like some other books this week, it’s clear that some holdover elements from the old continuity will be front and center for certain characters. In this case, it’s the worldwide enterprise of Batman, Inc. The fact that Batman has only been around for five years in this continuity doesn’t seem to hinder that storyline at all. We’ve yet to see exactly what parts of Batman’s history are still relevant. I don’t know if Knightfall, No Man’s Land, Murderer/Fugitive, etc. have happened in this timeline but we do know that Damien is still around and Batman Inc is still happening around the globe. Again I have to point out how troublesome this is to new readers if that’s truly what DC is trying to draw in with this relaunch. Someone picking up Batman and Robin # 1 without a prior knowledge of Morrison’s work on the character might be a little perplexed as to when exactly Batman had a son and what the hell Batman, Inc. is. Fans of those particular storylines will not be let down however, as this is a pretty direct continuation of those themes in a similar sort of style.

Overall Rating: 3/5

DEMON KNIGHTS # 1

I’ll just go ahead and say upfront that this is my favorite title of the bunch so far and if you haven’t already you need to go buy a copy and read it right now. The rest of this review is just going to be me gushing over how amazing the book is and how lucky we as readers are to have someone like Paul Cornell writing a book like this. Seriously, if there is one thing that I have to applaud DC for in this whole stunt it’s giving good writers chances to work on books that otherwise would have never seen the light of day. There are a lot of people who are going to pick this up just because of its connection to the “new 52” and they’re going to find one of the most fun, well-written fantasy adventure comics to come along in a long damned time.

I’ve always been a fan of Etrigan. I think he’s one hell of a character and he really hasn’t been given his due in the last few years. That changes here and I think it’s mostly due to the fact that Cornell knows how to write him and that he is a character that works best when he has appropriate characters to bounce off of and he gets that here with Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, and a whole host of medieval side-characters. The fact that this is set entirely in the middle-ages allows Cornell to go wild and do whatever he pleases without worrying about bumping up against someone else’s plans. The recent dust-up with Gail Simone being displeased about Batgirl’s appearance in Birds of Prey without her prior knowledge comes to mind. I don’t think anyone is going to try to appropriate anybody in Demon Knights anytime soon. There is an artistic freedom that comes with a book like this that I really can get behind.

Seriously, go buy the book. It’s the shining pinnacle of what this relaunch has to offer.

Overall Rating: 5/5

SUPERBOY # 1

This one is hard to review. It’s not a bad book. It’s actually quite an interesting read. It’s just so hard for me to disconnect this version of the character from the previous incarnation. Even more so than last week’s Green Arrow, not a whole lot of this book felt like what I would associate with Superboy. That having been said, what we’re presented with is a fresh take on the character. The scientific procedural element of the story is interesting and provides an excellent framework for progressing the issue. My only problem with the book has been that Superboy’s personality is defined by NOT having a personality. That can only last for so long before it becomes a chore to read through. I think that Scott Lobdell knows this, but he’s trying to match the character’s personality to the expected tropes of the genre he’s presenting the character in. He’s a clone, so he needs to be a blank slate at the beginning. That’s how these stories work. I think he’s trying to play with expectations a little bit and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes with it.

Superboy is a title that I’m cautiously optimistic about. The final page seems to indicate that this storyline somehow informs the new Teen Titans, which doesn’t look very interesting at all to me. I can’t really say for sure how much I’ll enjoy this past the first issue. I’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Overall Rating: 3/5

SUICIDE SQUAD # 1

I am very tempted just to write *facepalm* and leave it at that. There really are no words to express how much I disliked this book. Anything not involving King Shark (he’s a shaaaaarrrk!) was pretty much terrible. Deadshot has lost his mustache and Amanda Waller is a young, thin slice of bland. This was just…well, a mess. I don’t imagine any other DC book has missed the mark as hard as this one has. Or let us hope, at least. I’d hate to see what could be worse than this slap in the face to what was once an amazing title.

I don’t want to sound like a cranky fanboy, but seriously…I just can’t imagine how anyone would find this interpretation of the title appealing. It’s generic, bland, and brings nothing new to the table while disregarding the elements of the characters involved that made them interesting in the first place. It’s just one big ball of missed opportunity, because these characters in their pre-reboot forms on the same team would have been interesting to see. Now? not so much.

Overall rating: 1/5

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN # 1

So, controversy, huh? We’ve got an African-American/Hispanic Ultimate Spider-Man and that has some people angry and other people bored and other people happy as hell. Emotions! Does any of that have any bearing on how good the book is or isn’t? Not really. The initial PR stunt nature of the book is a bit disheartening because I think it might have been a little bit better received if it had come out of the box as a surprise. It’s actually a pretty decent book. It doesn’t feel like a continuation of the old series as much as it feels like an entirely new story where someone who isn’t Peter Parker somehow winds up getting spider-based powers. It’s got Bendis’ usual sense of story-flow, that is to say that it begins a bit slowly, but the slice-of-life soap-opera elements of Bendis’ writing were what made that book work so well in the early days.

I’m not going to call this one better or worse than the Parker years because it’s only been one issue and it’ll be another twenty-three or so until I’m able to see what sort of book this is really going to be. All we know right now is that Miles is going to have a little bit of a different power-set from Parker judging from that final page cliffhanger, and that he probably won’t have a costume until around issue six if Bendis keeps to his usual pace. But if everything between then and now is well written as it was back when he first launched USM, then I doubt we’ll really care.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

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And that’s our show everybody. Join us next week for another round of my telling you what you should do with your money. See you then.


Bonus Comic Reviews!

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.

ANIMAL MAN # 1

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

MEN OF WAR # 1

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

SWAMP THING # 1

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


Review: Justice League # 1

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.

Pictured Above: Not 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.

Rating: 6/10


DCnU – Pass or Pull (Final Part)

At last we come to the end. The final eleven books in the new DCU 52 put under a microscope and examined to determine whether they’re worth the paper they’re printed on…

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

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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.


DCnU – Pass or Pull (Part Four)

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

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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…


DCnU – Pass or Pull (Part Three)

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

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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.