Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 28, 2012 6:10:35 GMT -5
I'm going to entertain myself by looking at the comic book event that dominated my reading for the year. I haven’t perused everything DC released through this initiative, but here are a few thoughts on those I have.
The New 52 retools the DC universe. It sets everything back to a 5 year time period. Heroes are more inexperienced - old storylines, characters and such have been reworked, some for the good some for the worse. On the bad? This wasn’t well organized; continuity is kind of a mess (Batman has an 11 year old son, that he fathered when he was Batman... how does that fit in a 5 year plan?). And there are titles and characters who have disappeared (Oh how I miss Stephanie Brown).
On the good, there are a lot of fresh, exciting reads. A year ago I was a jaded fan, down to 5 comics a month and near ready to jump ship on everything but Supergirl & Batgirl. There are now over 20 DC comics on my monthly pulls, and my tpb buys have spiked.
While I understand old school readers being disgruntled by the changes (Marriage took a shot, no more Lois and Clark, no more Barry & Iris) and the loss of favorite characters (ala Wally West, Donna Troy and Cassandra Cain, who are all still MIA) for me, despite the noticeable flaws, there was enough good to make this a shot in the arm.
Each comic was grouped into a "family" of titles and to keep the post from becoming overlong, I’ll break it into pieces.
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 28, 2012 6:11:14 GMT -5
Part 1: Batman This family of titles is DCs lynch pin, Batman is its goose that lays the golden egg and we get so much of the guy you could almost choke on it. There are still 3 Robins (or former Robins - at Comiccon it was revealed that Tim was not an official Robin, even though in an early Titans issue, he says he once was the world famous Robin), so there’s a LOT of time compression in the Batworld and it’s not clear how much history has been retained -- but in this universe Alfred was not the butler throughout Bruce’s life. When Bruce was a boy it was Alfred’s father who originally worked for the Wayne family.
Batman Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo made this the cream of the batcrop throughout the year. Though Snyder can lay on the exposition a bit thick, he tells a compelling story and Capullo’s line work is stunning, he draws one great looking Batman/Gotham. This was the book that convinced me to stick with the 52. First issues for the Birds of Prey under whelmed, Batgitl flat out stunk, and Supergirl was merely okay. But Batman #1 was strong, and since then Snyder has taken the year establishing a new foe, the court of the Owls. A few caveats…
Despite what the press would have you believe, Snyder does not walk on water. He overwrites, he overplays his hand (I am so sick of Owls!) and the conclusion of his first arc was predictable, repetitive and long-winded. Also, some of the changes he’s made stink. The new Mr. Freeze (introduced in the annual) is terrible. He has a stupid tuft of hair on his head and he no longer has a wife. He’s just a garden variety crazy obsessed with a frozen chick he never even knew. Groan. Apart from these quibbles, there is some real strong material, good characterizations and drama – so while I don’t see this as an A+ title, I do enjoy it enough to gives it a, Grade: A-
Batman: The Dark Knight I don't like Tony Daniel’s writing so I've skipped Detective Comics+, but I gave Dark Knight a go... David Finch draws a good Batman but as a writer, phew, somebody open a window. If I were the Simpson's comic book guy I’d simply say, "Worse Batman EVER!" By the end of the year writing chores were handed over to Greg Hurwitz, who penned the critically acclaimed Penguin mini-series. The book took an immediate up turn. It has a gritty, streetwise tone to it. Very dark and nasty with horror elements – still, there’s some stupid stuff (Batman leaping towards Scarecrow’s house in broad daylight, out in the open) and it’s treading on old stale territory with that Scarecrow story. So - It's a lesser Bat-title and with so many Bat-books out there, do I really need to spend money on “okay”? Grade: First 9 issues F – last few issues: B-
Batman and Robin At 8 issues its first arc ran slow and long -- it reads stronger in the collected edition. While its themes are well worn (‘parents who train child as an assassin’ has been done to death -- The question of ‘why doesn’t the bat kill?” was already examined in Judd Winick’s Red Hood story) it’s good read even if not especially groundbreaking. The villain “Nobody” has an interesting look and power, he's part of Batman's past and looks to tempt Robin into joining the dark side. The art works in action, is shaky with common folk or quieter scenes. Robin’s a cold dickweed, Batman is more gabby and philosophical than is the norm. I don't like some of the changes (Batman no longer wishes to commemorate Parents death). Grade: B
Batman Incorporated This was part of the ‘second wave’ titles that came in after some first wave books were canceled. In only 3 issues Grant Morrison quickly established his Batbook as the best Batbook around. Inventive, crazed, packed to the gills with thrills and chills. Batman Inc is brilliant. The book also slides right back into the flow of things and retains the history of the pre-52 Batman Inc. It’s odd how each of these Batbooks all seem like different Batmen, each off doing his own thing. Maybe someone cloned Bruce Wayne (J/K).
Breaking news: Morrison has said that he is retiring from writing Superhero comics and will leave Batman Inc. after 12 issues. Enjoy them while you can. Grade: A+
Catwoman I just re-read the first 12 issues, and the experience only reinforced my opinion that this is one of the very best, and unjustly under-rated books of the New 52 titles. This is a younger, more inexperienced Catwoman. She’s an adrenaline junkie and that gets her into trouble – but she’s learning and she's just now trying on the hero thing (for a good cause). I like this version of Selina, she’s a fascinating –rather damaged- though spirited personality. You'll find many a critic whine about the title, and I can only guess they don't like fun, because this title has been a hell of a lot of fun. It’s an action packed thrill ride, with twists and turns, and a great cast of supporting characters. The art from Guillem March added much; he’s a master with expressions. Sadly he’s leaving the title and the fill-in artists have not been great. And now I’ve learned that writer Judd Winick is also leaving the title after issue 12 and the wretched Ann Nocenti (who helmed the critically panned Green Arrow) is taking over. Major bummer. Grade: A (for now)
Batgirl I hate that I'm not reading this; I've always purchased Batgirl comics. Barbara Gordon is walking again (not entirely sure how, will the zero issue tell us?) and back in the cowl. While this has its ardent fans, I can sum up my feelings in two words. “Bo” and “Ring” There has been an issue or two that were decent, but overall this is poorly written, the dialog frequently stinks, and my interest level in this character has dipped to zero. Gail Simone, once one of my favorite writers, has lost her voice (I dumped this book after 6 issues - and neither Gail’s previous work on Wonder Woman nor her return to the Birds was any good). One of the few titles I loved pre-52 was the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series by Brian Q Miller - so this was a bad trade for me. Grade: C-
Batwoman While highly praised, I find it a rather flat read. And the title character is the least likeable or interesting thing in the book. The only reason I bought it was for the brilliant art by J.H. Williamson. When he took a 6-issue break, the comic went in the tank. I eventually dropped it; the stories are just not that strong. Grade: B- overall (A+ for Williamsons art)
Birds of Prey The Birds retooled as more mercenary types on the edge of the superhero game. Joining Batgirl and Black Canary are Poison Ivy, Katana and a new character, Starling. This book has a spilt personality: Some issues are good while others are garbage. Narrative is messy. A story will end on a cliffhanger, then leave you hanging as it just goes off in another direction in the next issue. It waffles, do they kill, do they not kill? (Pick a side and stick with it). Starling was real fun and funny, but she's now starting to repeat herself and the novelty is wearing off. Average Grade: C
Batwing Boy Howdie! For the first 8-issue arc this was a winner -- an exciting, plot heavy tale of the Batman of Africa from writer Judd Winick and artist Ben Oliver. There was some interesting back-story going on throughout, in its a nail biting account of a villain named Masacre who is hunting down and killing Africa's past heroes (they too have a dark secret). The art was painterly, real nice - and though the backgrounds were pretty thin, I thought the faces and action looked stellar. This was A+ material all the way. While I don’t hate the 2nd arc, it has not been as compelling and our hero has become a supporting character in his own book. The art by Marcus To is fine, but I miss the painted look from Oliver. So it rounds out to a... Grade: B+
Red Hood and the Outlaws Sure this comic aint for no 7 year olds, but for us adults Hood has developed into a goodie. Some of Scott Lobdell's dialog is clunky, but I like how it's violent and funny and the interaction between these band of outsiders –Hood, Arsenal and Starfire- is solid (and yes Kori has shown considerable character development since that first issue). The art has been amazing - very detailed and ornate – bummer that Ken Rocafort's moving on to Superman after issue 12. Grade: A-
Not read: Detective Comics + The author of the comic “Chew”, is taking over writing chores for Detective Comics, so I’ll be checking this one out as well.
Coming next Year: Talon Part of the “third wave” releases in Sept. It’s about one of the weapons of the court of owls, breaking away from the baddies to do his own thing. The bat-market it saturated enough as it is (plus I’m sick of “Owls”) so I'm going to skip this as a monthly - but if reviews are good I’ll try the tpb.
Tomorrow: The Maid of Might, the Man of Steel and their little clone, too!
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 28, 2012 23:06:19 GMT -5
Part 2: Superman The character that put DC on the map has sadly stumbled, George Perez complained of being handcuffed and unable to explore the character as he wanted. The best thing about the Superman family has not been the head of the house. You'd think DC would have had a clear and concise plan for the man of steel, but this shows the NU at its worse.
Anyway - Aliens are pretty much feared and greeted with suspicion on Earth, so Supes has had to slowly earn the love of Metropolis. Supergirl meanwhile is still being dogged by authorities and Superboy is a clone who's not sure if he’s a hero material or not.
Superman DCs "New 52" black eye. While I liked the new costume and it was drawn beautifully here. The comic is a shambles. I'm amazed that a title like this had no unifying direction, no guiding voice to give this character the respect he’s due. George Perez' 6 issue run was an over overwritten mess that got progressively worse each issue. Old pro's Dan Jurgons and Keith Giffen were brought I, but even they stumbled (I thought the first baddie they had Supes face was planning to talk the hero to death). The new year will begin with yet another team and I hope they can do something because the man of steel has been a train wreck. Grade: D
Action Comics It’s nowhere near as great as Morrison's All-Star Superman. While some folks love it, I'm a bit disappointed. Grant has spent so much time being clever, and throwing out Easter eggs and whatnot, that he forgot that the strength of All-Star was its heart. Not a terrible comic, but not up to Morison's higher standards. Grade: B-
Superboy SB just can’t seem to catch fire. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. The book is tied in with the Teen Titans and the Culling event, and characters bounce in and out of the story with such frequency that it’s not established it’s own voice. Issue #10 and 11 were great (and funny) with superb interaction, and the art has been a win. If it continues along those lines maybe it’ll turn into more than just an okay read. Grade: C+
Supergirl They started SG over from scratch, and it has been a slow developing story that reads better in as a whole, rather than monthly increments. I like that Kara has struggled to learn our language. That she didn’t just pop on Earth and a month later she’s speaking fluent English and is suddenly a superhero. I liked watching this fish out of water try and find her place in this new world, while grieving the loss of her old one. I like her determination, even if she can be a bit too combative. On the negative, it does need to branch out from the ‘fight of the month’ format. There has been a slow move to bring in some supporting characters –which I liked a lot and hope they stick with it (the best part of issue 11 wasn’t the fight, but the quieter friendship/bonding stuff... and the “date?”)
Artist Mahmud Asrur is a huge plus. The guy is a great storyteller, his panel transitions are smooth/easy to read, and his choreography and understanding of spatial relationships is without peer. He’s like a master filmmaker plying expert use of blocking and framing techniques, camera angle and coverage shot’s. Grade: B+
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 29, 2012 23:06:57 GMT -5
Part 3: The Justice League The JL titles have been hit and miss. A lot of stuff I've skipped, Green Arrow and Hawkman were generally slammed at review sites and on forums, and I had no interest in either. But two surprise hits emerged. Two I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I have: Wonder Woman and Aquaman. I don't know if this version of Wonder Woman could have ever been possible in the old universe --so if nothing else, the New 52 gave me something dynamic and different with Diana. With that in mind…
A bad thing about the New 52 is that certain writers need a locked down continuity and history, and floundered without that anchor. On the good, some writers, like Grant Morrison or WWs Brian Azzarello, flourish without constraints. You let talents like this fly unfettered and they come up with some innovative comic stories.
Wonder Woman You're a wonder, Wonder Woman! Month in and month out this title has impressed. Brain Azzarello is writing the best Wonder Woman ever! He’s tapping into dark aspects of mythology, where the Gods are as strange as anything seen in a Miyazaki film. The interlocking wordplay is dazzling (and challenging), each month he drops little morsels of info that grow into something bigger. It constantly surprises and delights and makes me hunger for more. I take my time in reading this story, allow it to soak all in and I enjoy going back and re-read it all over again. The art by Cliff Chiang is a huge storytelling plus, his panels are striking and bold, WW has never looked so strong. Diana has been intrepid, resourceful, loyal and loving. Across the board, story, dialog and art, this has been a win Grade: A+
Flash Great art from Francis Manapul, but story-wise it's dull, baby, dull! Flat characterizations, weak rogues gallery, and no real drama or tension in the stories. One website continually hails it as brilliant, I will concede that its brilliant... as a sleeping pill. Grade: C-
Justice League Not too deep in story or character. It's pretty much been a big dumb action movie. Fun - not substantial (even O.M.A.C. had more substance) from superstar creative team Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. They have also introduced a new Shazam in a backup story. Tired of legal wrangling with Marvel over the use of the name Captain Marvel, they now just call him Shazam. It could be worse, I guess in Flashpoint stories there was an alt-timeline version of CM, called Captain Thunder? Ha ha ha… oh for dumb! Sounds less like a superhero and more like a guy who eats too much Taco Bell. Grade: B-
World's Finest A second wave title from writer Paul Levits: Huntress and Power Girl from Earth 2 are stranded on Earth 1 - how are they dealing with this predicament, will they ever find their way home? This doesn’t re-invent the wheel; it’s just good old style comic book fun. The camaraderie between the women has been a highlight. The only negative (apart from PGs new, unflattering costume) is that it’s striking the same notes month after month. Which is what happened with Levits Huntress mini-series (it too circled around the same points, rarely offered any fresh, interesting new spins, and fell into dullsville). If Paul proves to be a one trick pony, this book will be in trouble. But for now I’ll give it a Grade: B
Earth 2 Damn thing just wont get going: Great art, boring stories (with cringe worthy dialog), boring characters and bad costumes. JSA are completely re-worked, Green Lantern kissed a guy (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that”). Has its fans, but after falling into a deep coma, I dropped it. Grade: D+
Aquaman Geoff John’s has made Aquaman cool. He's delving into Arthur's complex history and has given him an interesting supporting cast and made Black Manta a serious bad ass. There's mystery and intrigue and the art by Ivan Reis has been standout. It’s a quick read, the pages just zip by, which makes it better as a story taken in one chunk, rather than in monthly installments (though it’s still wonderful as a monthly). I was going to skip Aquaman, I'm glad I didn't. Note: This just in, Johns and Reis are being taken off Aquaman at issue 16. Johns will write another JLA book, Reise is to take over JL when Lee leaves. Grade: A
Not Read: Justice League International (Cancelled), Fury of Firestorm (Low sales, could face cancellation), Captain Atom (Cancelled), Green Arrow, Savage Hawkman (Low sales), DC Universe Presents (Low sales), Mr. Terrific (Cancelled)
Coming next Year: Justice League of America It was just announced that in January we will get another JL title. This looks like a covert –secret agent- style operation. Lead by Steve Trevor (who has become a kind of Nick. Fury type in DCs NU) and including an odd mix of members such as Catwoman (working along side Batman), Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter (who will quit Stormwatch). And bring back Stargirl (yay) and Vibe (Seriously, Vibe, the character George Perez hated? We can’t have Wally West, but we get a new Vibe?) It will be written by Geoff Johns and drawn by David Finch
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 30, 2012 23:13:05 GMT -5
[glow=limegreen,3,300]Green Lantern[/glow]I’m only reading one book from this group. Very little changed for the Lanterns in the New 52. Things continued on with what was happening in the old DC universe. And that exposes at least one weakness in this endeavor. While some titles seem brand new, some, like the Lanterns, appear to retain their entire history. Even accounting for compression, it stretches credibility. (Note: The Blackest Night aftermath –Brightest Day- seems to have disappeared from continuity in many cases)
Green Lantern Sinestro is back with a green ring and he and Hal Jordan have been forced to work together. The character bits have been exceptional and Sinestro is badass, but with a lot of layers. The little blue guys have lost their minds, which will se up the next event. These events have been the weakest part of Geoff Johns reign as the Lanterns guiding light. As they tend to just be big noisy battles where character development is thrown out the window. Right now though, it has been a hell of a year, I’ve loved reading the exploits of this cosmic Odd Couple. Grade: A-
Note: In the next season there will be a new Green Lantern of Earth… Jordan has disappeared.
Young Justice This group hasn't been real stellar. The few I’ve tried have been fair at best. The “Culling” event was a thread through several of these (and Superboy), while it started off intriguing; it turned stupid at the end (and Harvest is one of the worst new 52 villains -- a tired ass with an idiot scheme to fill the world with evil super teens). Static Shock was one of the first cancelled titles, it was poorly reviewed and it all blew up in a public fight between the co-writers. Showing that not all was paradise within the new U.
Teen Titans Despite some mentions of the group in other books and Red Robin speaking of past incarnations of the team in issue 2 -- according the folks from DC at Comiccon, the old (superior) Titans team never existed (of course, we still have our of old comics, so bite me DC). This version can’t match the classic Wolfman/Perez series, but it’s solid: It had many bright spots early on, was boosted by nice character interaction and the mysterious organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. as a foe. But as soon as that groups nefarious plan was revealed -in a messy cross-over event- the title lost steam. Issue 11 was a mess, #12 wasn’t much better and I hope this isn’t an indication that the book is in a tailspin. The art has been good – I’ll round it all out to a, Grade: B- (but it’s slipping fast)
Blue Beetle I liked the first BB series, this just rehashes and re-spins old storylines -- had a nice 2 issues bump, then sunk again when Beetle went to NY and each issue just goes through the same motions. It’s not a bad comic, but the old comic was so wonderful that this reboot pales by comparison. Grade: C
Ravagers Part of the “second wave”. This was born from the culling, which is bad. But I like the characters, especially Fairchild, who made the move from Gen 13 to the DC universe. This seems to be pulling from the same thread as Marvels’ Avengers Academy, but while I found those kids too nice to see them as future killers, I have no problem viewing this group as a time bomb waiting to go off. They kill, and they kill in brutal ways. They can be callus and cold and not very unified -- but that makes for a fascinating team dynamic. Not brilliant but a good mix of personalities. Grade: B-
Not Read: Hawk and Dove (Cancelled), Static Shock (Cancelled), Legion of Super-Heroes (sales have dropped like a stone, but I don’t think they’ll cancel this flagship title – maybe just retool it with a new creative team)
Post by Mighty Jack on Sept 1, 2012 1:20:30 GMT -5
The Dark This group became my surprise favorite from the new 52. It has shown the most imagination and originality of anything published by DC. The epic struggle between the Red and the Green against the Rot has been a constant, as has been –to a lesser degree- a war with the vampires. I'm reading all the titles in this family, and enjoyed all save one.
One thing I’ve liked about the New 52, the one sign of a true organized plan. Is their attempt at “world building”. We see the red and green in other comics (and in other eras). There are indications that Stormwatch has been around for ages (and have tried to cage Mary, from “I, Vampire” in centuries past). Even the Daemonites from Jim Lee’s Wildstorm have been folded into this universe (though not as successfully)
Animal Man I was going to skip this, but when Internet reviewers slobbered over the first issue, I picked it up… and had my mind blown. I loved it! This title features the avatar of The Red (the force of animal/man) Writer Jeff Lemire is the New 52s MVP and Animal Man is one of the best comics published by the company. There's a great family dynamic, which proves married heroes can still be interesting – you just have to have a great writer who can tell original stories. The saga of the baker family is freaky, wild and scary.
Travel Forman was the book first artists, followed by Steve Pugh. Though I think Pugh is the better in technical terms, Foreman never should have left this book. He was perfect for horror of this sort. If Salvador Dali and Hironimous Bosch had a baby, it would be Travel Foreman. I’ve enjoyed Pugh, but he never reaches the level of the grotesque the way Travel did. During his run the comic made me feel nauseas– and I mean that in a good way. His work disturbed me, I felt like I’d fallen into a feverish nightmare built upon twisted, bloated flesh and sickness. It wasn’t simply something I read, but felt. Grade: A+
Swamp Thing And this is the avatar of the Green (mother Earth, plants and the like). Writer Scott Snyder treads on familiar territory, but gives it a fresh spin and keeps things exciting. We didn’t even see Swamp Thing until issue 7, but the story was just fine with Alex Holland the human fighting the good fight. This is tied in with Animal Man, as the green and the red are under assault from the rot. In the first year each hero fought alone, but in the forthcoming season the titles will be tied closely together as they unite against a common foe. I can't wait! I just wish artist Yanick Paquette could keep to a monthly schedule because his art is a wonder (and he draws a beautiful Abigail Arcane) Grade: A
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Jeff Leimire sure gave this an imaginative spin as Frankenstein and his group of famous monsters faced the strange and weird -- rather Hellboyish in many ways. The book was a slow starter, then got red hot. A new writer jumped on board with issue 10 with no loss in quality (Lemire was more poetic, Kindt is more action oriented), and it will soon be crossing over with Animal Man/Swamp Thing in the "Rotworld" saga -- unfortunately sales are low and I’ve heard rumors that Frank could be joining JLD. So I’m not sure how much life this topnotch book has left. Grade: B+
Resurrection Man An interesting idea that rarely caught fire (mysterious guy dies, and each time comes back with a different power) -- It has had one super great issue that delved into the title character’s past but the rest was okay at best and now it’s cancelled. I will say that the current issue #12, leading up to the final story next month, was intriguing. I wonder if this might have been better as a 6 issue limited series? Grade: C
I, Vampire This is delightfully dark, moody and atmospheric - as Andrew, king of the vampires, tries to lead his people while forging a peace with mankind. His great love, Mary, Queen of Blood would rather just wipe humans off the face of the planet. This is a slow brewing, eerie and compelling tale, with great shadowy art from Andrea Sorrentino. Sadly it’s not selling well. DC bungled as they tried to market this to the Twilight crowd early on. Big mistake as it just turned most readers away (and those of us who did read it have been trying to convince others that it’s nothing like Twilight in the least). From comments Dan Didio made, I gather there has been a slow rise in sales, which has kept it from cancellation -- but for how long? Come on people, some of the best, freshest reads in the New 52 come from the Dark… and yet you’re not buying. It really sucks seeing a bad book like Superman or the Dark Knight sell, while original, smart, well-written material like this, Frankenstein and Demon Knights, slip away, ignored. Grade: A+
Justice League Dark Many people, myself included, were really looking forward to this title. It united some of DCs best supernatural characters: From Constantine, to Zatanna to Dead Man. But Peter Milligan's writing was hit and miss -- On the good: He created tension and a sense of twisted, out of control madness. He wrote a great Constantine and I like how Madam Xanadu’s dark visions had her turning to drugs in order to cope. On the bad, the motivation and reasoning behind Xanadu’s actions lacked clarity (why did she mess with the Enchantress 2 halves, why did she give Enchantress the names of JLD members?) He brought in characters like Mindwarp, who wound up doing nothing in stopping the threat, and he overused the words insane/mad/crazy (seriously, it got laughable).
After this, Jeff Lemire took over. He tightened up the storyline and brought clarity and a stronger sense of purpose to the JLD. In a few short months the book has vaulted to one of my top 10. Note: Lemire got permission from Neil Gaiman to bring Tim Hunter (Books of Magic) to the title. He’s the boy wizard in glasses who is said to have inspired Harry Potter. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with him. Average overall Grade: A-
Dial "H" Another 2nd wave title, this takes the old Dial H For Hero book and gives is a weird, horrific spin. The wielder of a dial –which can turn a person into a variety of heroes- is a overweight loser name Nelson Jent – and over the past few month I’ve started to care for and root for the poor slob. I've liked what I've read so far, there’s a lot of mystery to unfold -- It seems very far removed from the DC universe, and that's okay. It's a convoluted, off beat tale that requires multiple readings in order to understand what’s going on (and even then I don’t ‘get it’ all), but it's worth the investment of time and brain cells. Grade: B+/A-
Demon Knights Paul Cornell’s first storyline was a Dark ages seven samurai, a bawdy, bloody adventure that was a lot of fun. The cast is a colorful lot (we see the early days of Etrigan the Demon, Madam Xanadu, Shining Knights and Vandal Savage to name a few). I recently re-read all 12 issues, and while I liked it as a monthly, it really soars taken in all at once.
I like mysteries, and I like comic book writers who drop clues like trails of bread crumbs -not revealing all- but just enough to whet the appetite and to make the revelations that come later all the sweeter. Yes, part of me gets frustrated with all the half finished sentences, but most of me - the mystery fan in me- delights in it. As a monthly I felt like I had no handle on the character of Horsewoman, but reading it in one I can see Cornell building on her gradually, small pieces of the puzzle thrown in here and there. And while she's still an enigma, I'm getting a little sense of who she is... or might be (there appears to be some connection to the red).
It was an exhilarating read -- pulse pounding and intriguing and I hope this low selling book doesn't get cancelled before Paul can complete his puzzle (and at his own pace). I think it's going to be a hell of journey getting to that point. And worth another go through the entire run once it's done. Grade: A+
Coming next year: Sword of Sorcery & Phantom Stranger I’m assuming these will be grouped in the "Dark" family – though I’ve heard no official word. Sword gives us the return of Amethyst (yay – and no, I wasn’t a pre-teen girl when Amethyst was first released - just a guy who liked great story and art, which it provided) – I’ll be sampling both.
Tomorrow: A look at Bono's pal and band mate... Hu, what’s that? Oh, sorry, wrong "The Edge"
Post by Mighty Jack on Sept 2, 2012 15:14:04 GMT -5
The Edge It's edgy, gritty, tough and mean... and it's one of the weak sisters of the New 52. They lost several titles to cancellation and have already made a far too many changes to the creative teams on several titles, and recently Editors have pissed off Rob Leifeld, who suddenly left Grifter, Deathstroke (and Hawkman) and then had a Twitter fueled tantrum where he’s going around blasting everyone
Aside from Fairchild in the Ravagers and Superboy, the mixing of Jim Lee’s old Wildstorm characters into the DCU (which includes Voodoo and Grifter) has been a bust. If not for the Young Justice line, The Edge would be the suckiest thing in the New 52 Universe.
The Suicide Squad From writer Adam Glass: It’s nasty, bloody, and irreverent… and in its first 7 months I loved it! It's about a group of villains, led by Amanda Waller, who are sent into the worst situations to do the dirty jobs the heroes can’t or wont do. I liked the characterizations and Harley Quinn was a hoot. Unfortunately it faltered at about the mid way point – it lost a good artist (for a guy named Dagnino, who some prefer, even though he’s a crappy storyteller), Harley wasn’t as funny with her new split personality, and it got repetitive (Deadshot complains, Waller says she doesn't care, and every month they do this dance). It bounced back with issue 12, but it could go either way. I hope its best days aren't behind it. Grade: B
Voodoo This started off great - it was a gritty game of cat and mouse, between an alien shape shifter and a secret Government agent. But after 4 issues DC decided they didn’t like the direction Ron Marz was going, so they fired him (which he heard about in a round about way, and wasn’t able to talk to those in charge and find out what changes they wanted). It was a classless move and it backfired. The new writer and direction (heavier emphasis on big sci-fi action) was terrible and a good comic went bad. And now it has been cancelled. Grade: C
All-Star Western Includes Jonah Hex and other western tales. Collected edition coming in October. I’m looking forward to reading this title (I put most $3.99 books in my tpb want list) Reviewed here
Stormwatch Its kind of secret JLA (they have a satellite and Martian Manhunter as a member) that have been around for centuries (there are indications that they sprung from the Demon Knights) Writer Paul Cornell started it off and it was hit and miss. Sometimes exciting, frequently messy. The art was weak. All told it was just okay – and now Peter Milligan (JLD, Red Lanterns), has taken over the title. It didn't wow me all that much so I’ve dropped it. Grade: C+
O.M.A.C. This received glowing reviews, but it didn’t impress me much. Written by Dan Didio, it was just an action comic. Characterization was non-existent. Keith Geffin’s art mimicked Jack Kirby’s style, and while Jack was a fantastic storyteller and designer, I never found him visually appealing -- he drew ugly, ugly people. Big square head with gaping maws (catching flies?) The New52 was supposed to be new, not bury itself in the past. Premise-wise it was a neat idea: All seeing computer eye in the sky creates a powerful creature to do its bidding… but the execution was lacking. Sales were terrible and it was one of the first of the 52 to be cancelled. Grade: C
Not Read: Grifter (low sales), Deathstroke (low sales), Blackhawks (No Lady Blackhawk? Boo! Cancelled), Men of War (Cancelled), GI Combat (Low sales)
Coming next year: Team 7 This is about a secret special ops team, stocked with folks like Steve Trevor and Dinah Lance and set years in the past, before they hooked up with Wonder Woman or became the Black Canary etc. This book will also include Grifter and Deathstroke, which might be an indication that their solo titles are next on the chopping block.
Post by Mighty Jack on Sept 3, 2012 23:19:49 GMT -5
Summary So that’s it – in regards to the quality of the product its pretty much what you get anyway, from any company: Good books, bad books, books that settle in the middle. While it did indeed breathe new life into a few stale characters (Wonder Woman and Aquaman have never been better IMHO) it also offers up some weaker titles that leave you missing the old gang (Superman). I do like the attempts at ‘world building’ and how we are seeing threads connecting one title to another.
Monetarily it has given DC a boost in sales, created awareness and -- Bottom line, I’m reading and enjoying more DC titles than I have in years.
As the collected editions show up in the mail, I’ll come back and update this. I might also give a few a second shot and speak to that, as I did here… Spoiler alterts
Earlier I said that I hated that I wasn’t buying Batgirl? Well I was bored and itching to read something superheroee this weekend, so I popped into my LOC and grabbed the past 6 issues of Batgirl. My thoughts? It’s still a bit of a mess. There are incongruities -- Barbara does things that make no sense (she happens upon a criminal who was with Joker when he shot her… but then she lets him go? What, so he can hurt other people?). Her mother’s past actions also makes no sense at this point. She walked out on her family because James Jr. was evil. Hell, if my 10-year-old kid butchered the cat and threatened my daughter, I don’t just leave because he tells me too. I take him to a psychiatrist; have him institutionalized if need be. (Hopefully there’s more to this)
In addition: While writer Simone’s damaged/sympathetic villains were refreshing… it’s not so refreshing when it’s done every, single damn time. Stop trying to twist my arm and make me feel sorry for killers and thieves. It’s pissing me off.
So -- Simone’s writing is flawed, but the book has improved: The recent Knightfall storyline has been a barnburner. While I do miss confident Barbara Gordon, I have to realize that this is a younger Babs, and she was never Oracle, she’s not that leader. In that light, the inner monologues give voice to someone who is more than steadfast hero, she’s also a human being who is trying to work her way back to what she was before she was put in that wheelchair. And Gail does offer a distinctly female perspective. The friendships and interactions sound authentic and are a nice shift from the alpha male (or even alpha female) mindset.
I do wish Gail could put away the bleeding heart and balance things out. Barbara’s psychopath brother has broken out of Arkham, and if Simone starts in on the violins for that plotline, I think I’ll hurl. Take a page from cynical Ed Brubaker and show us a heart of darkness that is truly evil and not some poor tragic figure. I’ve had my fill of your poor tragic villains.
0 issues will be released in September. My hope is that we’ll finally find out how Barbara was able to walk again – we’ll see the process, the physical rehab she had to endure. Show, rather than tell -- that will make her journey back into the cowl a bit more tangible and heartfelt.
My New 52 Reading List (at this point) 1. Wonder Woman 2. Animal Man 3. I, Vampire 4. Batman Incorporated 5. Catwoman 6. Demon Knights 7. Aquaman 8. Swamp Thing 9. Justice League Dark 10. Batman 11. Green Lantern 12. Red Hood and the Outlaws 13. Supergirl 14. Dial “H” 15. Batwing 16. Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 17. Suicide Squad 18. Worlds’ Finest 19. The Ravagers 20. Legion Lost (buying in collected editions) 21. Batman and Robin (buying in collected editions) 22. Batgirl (giving the book a second chance) 23. Stormwatch (buying in collected editions) 24. Teen Titans (dropping it for Sword of Sorcery – may buy collected editions) 25. Justice League (buying in collected editions) 26. Superboy (dropping it for Phantom Stranger – may buy collected editions)
Collected Editions Forthcoming – Not able to comment on quality yet 27. All-Star Western
Dropped Titles 28. Nightwing (collected edition) 29. Green Lantern Corps (collected editon) 30. Action Comics 31. Batwoman 32. Batman: The Dark Knight 33. Earth 2 34. Voodoo 35. Blue Beetle 36. Flash 37. Birds of Prey 38. O.M.A.C. (Cancelled) 39. Resurrection Man (Cancelled) 40. Superman 41. Red Lanterns (tbp)
Mini Series 42. The Ray (4 issues) Grade: B 43. Huntress (6 issues) Grade: C 44. Penguin: Pain and Prejudice (TPB forthcoming) 45. Phantom Lady (Only 1 issue released. Liked it so far) 46. Night Force (I read 1 issue, didn’t like it and skipped the rest) 47. Shade (didn’t interest me, though reviews have been good)
Post by Mighty Jack on Sept 15, 2012 0:32:43 GMT -5
I found a used copy of The Red Lanterns 7 issue TPB, so I grabbed that for the heck of it and -hooo boy, what a stinker!! I've heard some defenders say it has been unfairly maligned -- uh, no it hasn't. This is the worse thing I've read from the New52 (granted I haven’t read them all, I.E. the much-reviled Mr.. Terrific and Static Shock, to name two). The storytelling is atrocious. It’s disjointed; the narrative bounces from one thing to the next, right in the middle of a conversation or a conflict. There was too much naval gazing and self-monologing, not enough blood spitting action. It fails as an action comic, as a character study and as an examination on the nature of rage. I think Milligan has lost it as a writer.
Pluses: The opening scenes with a raging blue cat on the attack! Bleez was the most compelling and interesting character in this thing; I just wish a better writer were on hand to flesh her out a little more. And Ed Benes’ art was enjoyable. Nice cover to issue 3
Post by Mighty Jack on Sept 30, 2012 19:37:18 GMT -5
Read a few more new collected editions: Legion Lost and Green Lantern Corps, both collect 7 issues.
Green Lantern Corps has received mixed notices – some love it, others not so much. I’m not a fan of writer Peter J. Thomasi – while he attempts to humanize our heroes, his characterizations are clichéd and superficial. The premise is a cliché as well, Once again the Guardian's shady past comes back to bite them and the Lantern's are left to uncover the mystery and fix the mess. The book is brutally violent, which was something I expect from Red Lanterns but was suprised to find here.
It doesn't help that I'm not a fan of the books protagonists. John Stewart does little to endear me here and while I like Guy Gardner as a co-star and find him funny in a secondary role, I don't care for him in the spotlight.
Some folks swear by the title, but I was unimpressed. The art by Fernando Pasarin is solid, but the book as a whole is okay - nothing special.
Legion Lost: I haven't read many glowing reviews for this one, and the first issue was weak. The idea is that several time traveling Legionnaires are sent to the past to stop a terrorist from releasing a deadly virus... they fail. In fact they fail a lot. They find themslves trapped in our time, but continue with their objective to aprehend the villain and find a way home.
On the negative: The book is repetitive. In the first issue alone their time transport gets blown up... twice And their incompetence is already annoying as they capture, and lose their prey on two occassions.
Still while there are many bumps in the road the book caught fire as it went and I found myself drawn in -- Primarily due to the strength of the lead characters. They each have a distinct personality (I like how each member was given a voice as narrator in individual issues). My favorites include the cranky, conspiracy theorist insect-like Gates, he cracks me up. And Timber Wolf carries the book, he's a bit like Wolverine. Dawnstar, Chamelion Girl, Tyroc, Tellus and Wildfire round out the team.
Fabian Nicieza wrote much of this book, Tom DeFalco took over for him at issue 7. Pete Woods handles the art chores and has been an asset. Good with action and expression.
I have no history with this group, I can't compare it to what came pre-New 52 -- but I enjoyed this take enough that I'll pick up a second volume (wich might be the last. Sales are very low and the rumor is that it will be cut in the next group of cancellations in Feb 2013)
Last Edit: Sept 30, 2012 19:54:01 GMT -5 by Mighty Jack
Post by Mighty Jack on Oct 17, 2012 2:06:34 GMT -5
Well the next round of cancellations was announced and Legion Lost and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. are both saying bye bye in January.
My exploration of the New 52 in its first year is nearing an end. The second to last pre-ordered collected edition showed up today.
Nightwing: Traps and Trapezes Collects issues 1 through 7
Not much to say about this one. Written by Kyle Higgens it explores a dark secret about Haley's Circus. An assassin is hell bent on killing Dick Grayson... but why?
All told this wasn't bad, but pretty formulaic. Art by Eddy Burrows is solid, though not special enough to make it memorable. In the end the title was an okay, workman like effort. Neither terrible nor particularly wonderful. There is some very violent imagery (a guy's neck is twisted backwards).
I've never been that wild about Nightwing's solo work in general and wont be back for more.
And all that leaves me is All-Star Western coming on Halloween.
My final entry in this thread comes with the final trade to arrive at my doorstep.
I was really looking forward to this. I like writers Palmiotti and Gray and the duo sets up a tale that has Jonah Hex in old west Gotham -- teaming up with psychologist Amadeus Arkham and even finding himself in the bat cave and meeting Bruce Wayne’s great grandfather-mother. Sounds like a blast.
But the first volume of the title tells a serviceable, if less than stunning story. The idea is sound, Hex is stuck in the big city, and he’s man where time is passing him by. The nods to Gotham and DCs future are compelling in concept, but it never strikes gold.
The second arc where Hex searches for missing children, starts off wonderfully and I thought the book was finally going to catch fire… but the rushed through final act dampness that hope. It’s not that it’s a bad book, but I expected it to be so much better than simply… okay to good.
The art by Moritat is indicative of the book as a whole. At times his work is stunning, the cityscapes, design and figure work are beautiful and detailed. At other times it appears as if he was rushed for time and just scribbled out something as quickly as he could. The art becomes terribly sloppy and distracting.
All-Star features a couple of backup stories. El Diablo and the Barbary Ghost. Diablo was okay, Ghost was better. In fact I enjoyed it more than Hex.
In the end All-Star is a hit and miss affair - and at $4 a copy I’m glad I skipped it as a periodical and elected to wait for the collected edition (which saved me $14 all told).