Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Assessment of DC's New 52...At Least The 19 I Got

Arguably the biggest story in the world of comics over the last few months has been the "reboot" of the DC Universe.  Hoping to bring aboard new readers and give the continuity a shot in the arm, DC Comics put together a storyline (Flashpoint) that rewrote the universe, giving us younger characters, redone histories, and a fresh new setting.  It's been done several times before, with my first experience of the "reboot" being the amazing Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series from 1985.  Like that storyline, Flashpoint essentially reset the timeline, either erasing, condensing, or re-writing major events of the past.  I could write a whole blog or three about how this changes things, story- and character-wise, but I'll refrain...for now.  This entry's going to be more about what I thought about what I bought.

There were 52 new titles (hm, and 52 parallel universes in the DC Universe...but I digress) and I ended up with 19 of them.  Wish I could've gotten all 52, but it just didn't fall that way for me.  I'll grace you all with a capsule assessment of each title I picked up, little droppings from my brain that might compel you to go pick up a few.  Maybe more than 19, but that's your choice.

I'll list them in no particular order, title first with the writer/artist combo in parentheses. They're all #1's, so I'm not putting the numbers me lazy.  And away we go...

Legion Lost (Fabian Nicieza/Pete Woods) Seven Legionnaires from the 31st century track a menace back to the 21st century and are stranded when their time sphere blows up.  Decent beginning but new readers might be lost on the Legion of Super-Heroes.  They're a great team, but admittedly not an easy thread to follow.  I always give writers props when they tackle the mythos.  Still, this might have some good potential.

Suicide Squad (Adam Glass/Federico Dallocchio/Ransom Getty) We're introduced to Task Force X, which has the unfortunate titular nickname.  I was a HUGE fan of John Ostrander's original Suicide Squad during the 80's so I usually will check it out whenever it's put out.  The book was an interesting way to introduce the characters, some familiar (Deadshot, Harley Quinn) and some not (Voltiac).  I'm intrigued about where they'll take the book, so I'll continue to pick it up.  Usually has a high body count as well, so it could get wacky.

Action Comics (Grant Morrison/Rags Morales/Rick Bryant) Superman as a younger man makes his mark in Metropolis as Lex Luthor makes plans to capture him for study.  If you don't know me, Morrison is my favorite comic writer so of course I'd pick this one up.  And it was very good.  Morrison loves writing Superman so this will get even better as it goes.  Definite pick up for the second issue.

Batgirl (Gail Simone/Adrian Syaf/Vincente Cifuentes)  Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl.  The mystery of how hasn't been revealed, as she was crippled after being shot in the spine by The Joker in Killing Joke (which happens in the new universe).  After fighting crime as information broker to the superheroes, Oracle, she's back in the Bat-family.  Loved the new villain, The Mirror.  Super-creepy with a relentless modus operandi and a just-back Batgirl.  Simone writing Batgirl is a sure-fire treat.

Justice League International (Dan Jurgens/Aaron Lopresti/Matt Ryan)  The United Nations puts together its own Justice League - one they can easily control - to investigate the disappearance of a team of scientists.  A very diverse group from multiple countries led by the easily-swayed Booster Gold and mentored by Batman (without UN approval), this has good potential.  Jurgens never wows me with writing, but he's solid and knows how to write good, entertaining stories.

Stormwatch (Paul Cornell/Miguel Sepulveda)  Stormwatch investigates a strange and gigantic horn that has signaled something ancient and angry, all while trying to recruit a massively powerful superhuman to their ranks.  I've been a longtime fan of Warren Ellis' version of Stormwatch/The Authority and I think I can trust Cornell to bring some good ol' weirdness to the title.  I'm hoping it pulls out all the stops.  Jury's still out on the artwork, though, but that's not a dealbreaker.

Justice League Dark (Peter Milligan/Mikel Janin)  Where one League operates in the light, this one not so much.  Gathering the weirdest, magic-based heroes together to face a mad Enchantress, Milligan might have a hidden gem here.  I mean, come on...a tornado made of teeth?  What's not to like about that?  I think this title will be loads of fun when it gets going.

Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang)  Princess Diana is a tough character to write apparently, but Azzarello gets off to a fantastic start here with a chilling tale that is going to pit Wonder Woman against powerful and depraved gods while protecting a young woman carrying the unborn child of...Zeus?  Definitely going to keep up with this one.

Aquaman (Johns/Ivan Reis/Joe Prado)  Johns strikes again with a really nice restart of Aquaman, who, I have to agree, never got the respect he deserves.  His powers are more complex than you think, and they cover that in a little segment during the issue.  Neat setup with the voracious creatures called The Trench as well.  This is another that will be fun to read.

Resurrection Man (Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning/Fernando Dagnino)  Mitch Shelley dies...a lot.  Every time he dies, he resurrects with a new power.  And it seems he's become the main attraction for a massive hunt for his soul and the target of two hot bounty hunters (The Body Doubles).  I trust "DnA" as a writing team, and they created Mr. Shelley, so I think this is headed in the right direction, too. 

Swamp Thing (Scott Snyder/Yanick Paquette)  One of the darlings of the first set of issues, and I can see why.  Snyder's crafted an eerie yet low-key beginning, and the art by Paquette is gorgeous.  Strange things are afoot, and what's this?  Alec Holland is not Swamp Thing...well, at this point...although he was...don't worry, it'll all come together nicely, I believe.  Plus, zombie flies and dead men walking with their heads turned backward...*brrrr*

Green Lantern:  New Guardians (Tony Bedard/Tyler Kirkham/Batt)  Set sometime in the past - I think - Kyle Rayner becomes a Green Lantern and is blamed for stealing several other color Lantern rings.  A pretty fair setup but I'm not sure I'll keep this one yet.  I may stick with a couple other Lantern books, but this one's not bad, just not up to par with the others I'll mention.  Still, a team with all the color Lanterns is pretty intriguing.

Red Lanterns (Milligan/Ed Benes/Rob Hunter)  The Red Lanterns are based on rage and are led by Atrocitus, and here we get some insight into his former life and present life as leader of the animalistic Red Lanterns.  It's interesting, but I'm not sure I'll keep up with it.  Love Milligan's writing, but I'm not sure it'll be enough to keep me on this one.

Green Lantern (Johns/Doug Mahnke/Christian Alamy)  Whaaaaat?  Sinestro re-instated as a Green Lantern?  Hal Jordan stripped of his ring?  Something's up with Sinestro's old crew, the Yellow Lanterns and Jordan tries to adjust to non-powered life.  Lots of fun, and with pretty art by one of my favorites in Mahnke.  Definitely a keeper.

Justice League (Geoff Johns/Jim Lee/Scott Williams)  The flagship title goes back five years to the formation of the League.  This beginning issue focuses on Green Lantern Hal Jordan meeting Batman for their first team-up to track down a creature that - and I really hope it goes somewhere - may be from Apokolips.  Another thing I love in comics:  Jack Kirby's Fourth World stuff.  Neat issue with sweet art from Lee, I'll keep this one for sure.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (Jeff Lemire/Alberto Ponticelli)  Indie darling Lemire shows he has great chops here as Frankenstein leads a super-team of monsters into a small town to rescue survivors of a demonic invasion.  Great script and I'm staying with this one, even if I'm not totally sold on the art yet.  But that won't stop me from picking it up.

Batman (Snyder/Greg Capullo/Jonathan Glapion)  Batman investigates grisly murders while Bruce Wayne proposes big changes for Gotham City.  Snyder goes two-for-two with another great book.  The ending sets up a bit of a shocker that will be interesting for the mega-detective to solve.  Great script here, too, along with some sweet art.

Green Lantern Corps (Peter J. Tomasi/Fernando Pasarin/Scott Hanna)  Guy Gardner and John Stewart try to adjust to their lives on Earth, then are made part of an investigative team sent to find out why Green Lanterns are being murdered.  Tomasi put together a fun script with a setup that will likely reveal some nasty villains, and I really enjoyed the art as well.  The second of the two GL books I'll likely keep.

Legion of Super-Heroes (Paul Levitz/Francis Portela)  Legionnaires touch down on a planet for an investigation while there's strife on the homefront.  This book got a lot of thumbs-down, but I actually thought it was OK.  Levitz knows the characters better than most and the art wasn't that bad.  I'm willing to give it a little more of a chance because I trust Levitz with these complex and numerous Legionnaires.

And there you have it:  my look at 19 of the 52 first issues of the rebooted DC Comics line.  There are some I'll end up dropping, and others I still want to read, but they were sold out.

I regret not putting these on the list right away:  Animal Man, O.M.A.C., Demon Knights, All-Star Western, and I, Vampire.  I'll check them out with reprints and update my thoughts on those.

All in all, a decent reboot.  I'm interested to see where they go with it.  Maybe in another write-up, I'll discuss the ramifications and random theories about the new look.  Is this a permanent thing?  Did you catch all the hints at a "back door" to the previous universe?  And how about that strange hooded woman who appeared in the last issue of Flashpoint appearing in EVERY single issue that came out?

Four-color me intrigued.

In the meantime, dear readers, go support your local comic book store and pick up a few of these titles...and titles from other companies.  Ain't gonna play favorites here...just buy some comics!  If you want to check out more from DC Comics, click the links on the sidebar and catch up on the news.

Stay heroic, people!

1 comment:

  1. Very cool, brother. I haven't bought any books in quite a few years but I was wondering about this new DC start-over. So thanks, this little review brought me up to date. :) ~ Ron "Showtime"