Welcome to a new segment I am calling Rapidfire Reviews. This review type will be for when I am reviewing many items at once, as such each review will be shorter. The first of these segments will be DC comic’s reboot, The 52. I will be ordering these reviews in order of their chronological releases, as that really does seem to be the best way to do this.
1. Justice League “There was a time when the world didn’t know what a superhero was.”
This one is a pretty solid first issue. It begins a trend that is seen throughout the 52 of having a team’s full roster on the cover and having more than half the team not make an appearance in the issue. This series is showing the start of the League, before everyone knew what a superhero was and whether or not they could be trusted. Our issue begins with Batman pursuing an alien over Gotham’s rooftops with police helicopters pursuing Batman. Pretty quickly Green Lantern joins the fray, and the two end up pursuing the alien together. Banter ensues.
The fun if this issue is the interplay between Batman and GL, my personal favorite being when Batman snags Lantern’s power ring when he is not focused. It is discovered that the alien serves Darkseid, who I think is a great choice for antagonist for the new league. We also get a look at Cyborg before he becomes the world’s first mobile Radio Shack, this series apparently will serve us his origin story… however I do feel his name rather nicely sums up where his abilities come from. The issue ends with Superman making his entrance and a teaser of a battle between Superman and Batman in the next issue. All in all it was a good issue, and while not really pushing any boundaries yet, I am curious to see what comes from this series.
Art: Very Good. Jim Lee is the artist in this book, and I am always happy to see him providing me Batman when he isn’t spouting out Frank Miller-isms. Still I did notice some inconsistencies with character designs, particularly with faces and chins. While nothing horrid, there are time where Batman’s head will change during the same page. Still with this being the first issue I think its fair to allow time to cement the design. Also must say the Lee’s detailed style lends itself very well to making Green Lantern’s constructs. I do love that Hal’s answer to putting out fires is to make green light firetrucks.
Verdict: If you are interested in the Justice League, this is a very good starting point. While definitely not for everyone, I do believe that this is a good effort and the series could lead become very strong. In short if you think you might like it, give it a try. I will continue reading this series.
2. Action Comics “Because that ain’t Superman!”
It’s like All-Star Superman! Wait. I mean it’s like All-Star Batman starring Superman! Wow, that is a LOT worse. Okay for everyone who thought that first part was jibberish allow me to explain. You know that guy you knew in college who was way too into political protest and sticking it to the man? The guy who would always bring the conversation back to his ethics and how people were doing the wrong things. Just way too into it like he had something to prove or just was hiding behind his agenda? Okay, now make him a Kryptonian.
Yep, it’s a pretty unsettling idea. Really the best I can describe this issue as is… well it is Superman being a massive douche. I mean he flies in, threatens people with his eyes glowing, and holds a guy off a building and tells him to confess his crimes, all while spouting how Superman doesn’t believe that the system treats the rich and the poor the same. What kills me is there are intelligent ways to have Superman address impartial justice is America due to wealth without completely betraying Superman’s character. I mean what does it say when I am rooting for Lex Luthor to beat the shit out of Superman. Really the only thing I can say I liked about the story is how Lex takes out Superman.
Art: Yay, I get to say positive things about this comic. The art is excellent in this one, the colors are great, as is the shading. Unfortunately there is no way in hell it is getting considered for best art in the new 52 due to Superman’s design in this one… HE IS WEARING JEANS AND A T-SHIRT WITH A CAPE SOWED ON… I mean come on, that is just… so lazy, actually no. Lazy would just be drawing the preconceived design from other comics. This is just uninspired and ill conceived.
Verdict: Certain Christian comic book stores are boycotting this series due to Superman saying “GD”… which apparently is an abbreviation for God Damn. Trust me, that is the very least reason to avoid reading this one. The only reason to read this one is to see how long it takes for Superman to pull his head out of his ass. A journey I will not be undertaking. Pass.
3. Animal Man “… Maybe I just need to punch someone.”
Well this one took me completely off guard. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this one, and well… wow. This book starts off with an interview with our hero, Buddy Baker. I really like comics that due interviews as one page of text. The alternative regularly seen is an interview conducted between talking heads, which gets boring immediately, sucks away the pace, and wastes space. Which is something I really got to say is the strongest point of Animal Man, it wastes nothing. The one page interview at the beginning quickly gives you background on the character, a superhero who realized he could do more good as an animal rights activist than a superhero. When he goes out in his tights to defuse a situation at the hospital he ends up hemorrhaging from his eyes after using his powers, and suddenly we have got one freaky mystery on our hands.
One completely deranged dream sequence later we are treated to one hell of a last page twist… and hell, I realize I am completely sucked into the comic. Still the comic is not just darkness and WTF moments. It is really nice seeing a superhero who is a father and husband first and foremost, and for Animal Man, being a superhero is not his primary concern. I do love the reason he never gave up being a hero is because he enjoys it so much, loves using his powers and enjoys flight. Its always great to see characters who get to enjoy the powers and see the positives rather than mope and moan about the curse the must endure. Animal Man is a positive character in a completely deranged situation. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Art: Sigh, there just HAD to be a downside didn’t there? The art on this book really had me almost stop from reading it, I had put it off up until doing this blog. While I am very glad I read it, I can understand why it would put people off. The artist has some problems with drawing people. Proportions are off, especially with the face. Still I didn’t really see anything off with his animals, which I suppose might be the important thing? Still the art is a too dark for me, and not in a stylistic way… more like the “I made a mistake while inking and had to fill it in black to hide it” way. And while Animal Man’s new costume is not horrible, I really did prefer the old.
Verdict: So long as you can get past some sub-par artwork, this one is a must buy. Great place to start with this character for new readers, and great place to continue if you are already a fan. One thing I must say is that this one is not for children, there is a lot of blood and lots of disturbing imagery, if you read it and think your kids can handle it, then go for it. More kids should read good comics. I will absolutely be reading this series
4. Batgirl “I’ve got upper arm strength like a mother at this point.”
Welcome back, Barbara. This issue is a very big deal in the comic book community as with this issue, Barbara Gordon is no longer wheel-chair bound, and has stepped out from behind the computer and is once again Batgirl. I think the people who will have the hardest time going into this comic are fans of the most recent Stephanie Brown “Batgirl” series. While I like many am going to miss Stephanie, I am hopeful she will make an appearance in the new DC sooner than later. Anyways back to Barbara. Many of you will be wondering how she is out of the wheelchair? Well, that is an answer for a later issue, the question is rather obviously sidestepped in this issue in order to focus on Batgirl kicking ass rather than an origin story.
Personally I think this is for the best. Honestly its great seeing Batgirl take to the skies again and get back into the fray. Who will she be facing in this issue? Why, psychopaths in cheap Halloween costumes! Haha, but a good writer can make villains wearing dime-store masks threatening. Luckily for us, Gail Simone is an excellent writer. While her initial romp against these punks would go as you expect, there is a much more sinister threat in the form of a new villain, Mirror. This villain appears to target people who escaped death, and then kills them in methods mirroring how their near death experience, and Barbara Gordon is on Mirror’s list. I would have to say the best parts of this issue are Barbara’s inner monologue, you really get into her head and it is near impossible not to connect with her when Mirror points a gun at her old injury and she locks up with fear. Batgirl comes out of the gate swinging, kicking, and batarranging the competition. Gotham bless her aim.
Art: Quite good. The art here is much better than a lot of the 52, however I would have to say that many of the shots of Batgirl in action seem to be more poses than dynamic movement. Still I gotta say that I love that they kept Barbara’s look and didn’t attempt to reduce her by forcing her into some smutty costume. Speaking of design, Mirror is one of my favorite new designs of the 52.
Verdict: I recommend this one to everyone, it is great to see Barbara back and to see it handled intelligently and more importantly to make sure to have fun. I will most definitely be following this one.
5. Batwing “Myths are something we do very well in Africa.”
Take notes everyone, this is how you do an issue 1. Batwing is almost nearly a perfect issue, the only thing holding it back is the fact this being a new series with new characters… well it has a lot of introduction, but it is handled well. Batwing follows an African police officer who becomes the Batman of Africa, with the blessing and technology of the original. Right away we are introduced to Batwing’s nemesis, Massacre, who more than lives up to the name in issue 1. Batwing himself utilizes a very technological suit, including the eponymous wings that give him flight capabilities. This first issue introduces us to the main characters of the series but also gets our first mystery rolling. With one of Africa’s original superheroes hacked to pieces and left in a bizarre crime scene, it leaves Batwing and co. wondering who is behind the attack and who is next. All the while he is trying to use his persona to lead a corrupt and uncaring police force into action by example. To be completely honest, I like many was worried that this series was an affirmative action comic from DC, having a black hero and have him riding on the Bat-name to give him some credibility. It feels amazing to be wrong some days. Batwing is most definitely a hero in his own right, and the setting of Africa is something wholly unique in the DC universe. This is not a someone merely riding on the Bat-family’s coattails but is looking to be a legitimate member of the family. Welcome to the DC Universe, Batwing.
Art: Wow. This comic has some of the best comic art I have ever seen. Period. I really have to gush on the design of Batwing, I love how they went for something so different for him. In no ways do you look at him and go “Oh its like Batman but with… or It like Nightwing sans…” It is all his own, and I really do love the blue color scheme which is offset beautifully by the natural browns and oranges of Africa. Also a good design is Massacre, while simply, is done very effectively. A very strong contender for best art of the 52, and it shows a lot on DC’s side that they put such a strong team on a new series.
Verdict: GO BUY IT! This was an excellent comic and worth supporting. Unfortunately I cannot recommend this book to everyone, it is very bloody and gruesome, and while not gratuitous it is a sign of the very dark subject matter that this book will be dealing with. NOT FOR CHILDREN! I will absolutely be supporting this one, my only fear is that after such a strong first effort that it won’t live up to its initial potential.
6. Detective Comics “I am Gotham… and Gotham is a hellhole.”
THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR KIDS! IF YOU BUY THIS BOOK FOR YOU A CHILD THEN YOU OFFICIALLY FAIL AS A PARENT!
So yeah… now that THAT is out of the way. Right away I have to say I am a bit disappointed with this book, we have four different new series starring Batman, not including books that he makes a cameo appearance or is a team member. As Detective Comics doesn’t HAVE to be about Batman I personally would have loved to have seen it focus on someone else, a series focusing on the Gotham Police would have been a welcome addition to this line up. Anyways let’s talk about the book that we did end up with. While this book does a good job of setting up its mystery with the Joker as our antagonist… this book really does rely far too much on gore it seems, which is sad there is some obvious intelligence in the writing. Now I really must call out the quote for this one. Batman proclaims that “He is Gotham” in this book, and while I definitely can agree with the statement, it is something that seems completely out of character for Batman to say about himself, I could see Gordan saying it, or many other cast member… but the the man himself saying that he is Gotham? It just falls flat. Which is the problem with this book, you do not feel like you are reading Batman… you feel like you are reading someone trying to write Batman. I was at least hopeful that this being Detective Comics, it would focus more on Batman as the World’s Greatest Detective, focusing more on his cases and showing his keen mind. But this book really is more of a gory mess, focusing on the darkness of Batman and Gotham(which is what I would have expected more from Batman: The Dark Knight) And while the final page is an interesting twist, it is handled in the goriest way they could get away with.
Art: Okay right away from our first glance with Batman, I spot one of the big issues with having so many series with Bats in it. With so many different artists, we end up multiple variations and instead of a unified new design of Batman, we instead end up with cluster of “whatever the artist wanted”. Still that is a symptom of 52, not just this comic. That being said I am not terribly fond of Batman’s design here. Still the art is quite competent, and if it wasn’t for the artist’s talent then the violence wouldn’t be quite so sickening… so… yay?
Verdict: This is a book which seems to rely more on shock value than story, at least from the first issue. Still I have heard good things about this author and, while grotesque, the final page did grab my curiosity. I will be grabbing the next issue to slate my curiosity, so this series has one more chance to grab me as a reader, but it doesn’t seem bloody likely. I would probably recommend this one to fans of Garth Ennis and fans of the torture porn film genre… keep out of the hands of readers younger than 14.
7. Green Arrow ” I have a lot of toys. But I don’t play games.”
Poor Green Arrow, you deserve so much better than this. After Flashpoint delivered a truly wonderful one-shot, Green Arrow Industries, I had high hopes for the return of Oliver Queen. Alas, this is not meant to be. So here we are reading Green Arrow #1. Mediocrity ensues. Having just read this one, and even looking through my notes, I have a hard time recalling what was going on in this issue or why we are supposed to care. I remember there being an executive meeting at Queen’s billion dollar company, which apparently is not doing so well, despite Oliver apparently having the tech to make arrows that can hack computers and flash freeze supervillains. Besides that is the fact that Oliver’s company is apparently Apple in this new Universe, with the biggest hits being the Q-Pad and the Q-Phone… honestly I don’t know if I hate or love this idea, and its because they went either too far or not far enough with the concept. As is it is a joke that just got repeated a few times too many, but they could have done much more with it. Have the company symbol be an apple with an arrow piercing it, hell have Oliver wearing a turtleneck in his off-time.
I would have to say my main issue with this issue was that… I was simply bored while reading it. Green Arrow showed up, fought some… weird looking mutated villains. Showed off some trick arrows that just… ugh, I mean, yes the ridiculous arrows are part of his charm, and while some are just deliciously silly like the boxing glove arrow. Other are are not silly or fun enough, falling into an uncanny valley, and become groan worthy. This book ends with some villains talking about needing to get Green Arrow, followed by a last page splash off a gang of supervillains all ready to take him down… and I didn’t recognize one of them. See if you are going to introduce villains dramatically on the last page there needs to be a reason for it, either because it is an important or particularly threatening villain, someone you thought was dead and is being revealed alive, or it is being revealed that a villain is someone you didn’t expect. This simply revealed that a lot of goons were going to go after Green Arrow… which isn’t at all threatening as all this issue had was Green Arrow beating up a lot of goons. I mean if you wanted to have an exciting showdown with him, pit him against someone like Deadshot, both are ranged weapon masters and it could lead to a really tense sniper battle between the two marksmen.
There were a lot of issues like this one amongst the 52, a standard introductory story for new readers. This one just comes off as bland and unexciting, it plays things too safe and as such there is no real drama, excitement, or mystery… creating no reason to want to come back for the next chapter.
Art: Like the rest of the issue, nothing stands out here. Green Arrow gets a revamped look here and… while not bad, he is not recognizable as Green Arrow. Honestly he looks more like Red Arrow if he bleached his hair and took on his mentor’s mantle. While what they added is not detrimental, they took away his beard and hood, which honestly are his two most recognizable features. Really I can’t think of a better way to put this book, they took Green Arrow and then made him as generic as they possibly could. I would also like to talk about the villains designs in this book… but I have already forgot them. Take that as the insult it is meant to be.
Verdict: This issue left me overall unsatisfied and uninterested in the series. While I have never been what you call a fan of Green Arrow, I know the character and like him. So if someone like me is unwilling to pick up the rest of the series, how is DC planning on picking up the new readers they were wanting to grab with the 52? This one is a pass for me, everything about this one is just uninspired, and too generic to even be so bad that its funny.
8. Hawk and Dove “Dove could sense danger, and I could smash it.”
My first thought on hearing about this series was, “Really?… Them? You are giving those guys, their own series?” Which is not to say that I dislike Hawk and Dove… what I did know of them just made them see them so one-note that I was mystified that they were chosen as one of the 52. I mean there are plenty of other heroes that could use their own series, I mean come on where the hell is Captain Marvel?! Hawk and Dove are just a duo where one is constantly angry and violent and the other is peace-loving and well…. boring. What could they possibly bring to the 52 to make them worthwhile??
Fun. A whole hell of a lot of fun.
I mean hell the first time we see our heroes they are fighting zombies… on a crashing plane… on a collision course with Washington D.C. I mean come on this is just awesome. In my mind there are two philosophies when it comes to writing a great comic; there are those who attempt to push the medium in new ways and attempt new things, and then there are those who simply embrace the lavishly ludicrous that made the medium so great to begin with. Hawk and Dove dive headfirst into the latter from the get go.
Unfortunately, the execution of this issue does get a bit sloppy as it goes on. Hawk and Dove are admittedly lesser known heroes, so you need some back story for these two, but it does bring things to a grinding halt, when the characters themselves are quite simple to sum up. Hawk and Dove were granted powers by the gods and are the Avatars of War and Peace, and thus a superhero buddy cop duo was born. Still that is not to say this backstory is bad, I actually enjoyed the story. The original Dove was Hawk’s younger brother who died recently, and out of the blue a new Dove is chosen by the gods and he has no choice but to partner with her. So Hawk is still dealing with his brother’s death, while adjusting to a new partner that he frankly doesn’t like and who in his mind can never measure up to the original Dove. The drama between the two is nice because it comes from a very real, emotional place and not simply from very different philosophies. This issue focuses mostly on Hawk but we do get a bit from Dove who is remaining mostly a mystery to the audience as well, as she apparently has a secret connection to the original Dove that Hawk can never know(but obviously will find out at some point to create drama) Also she is strangely enough dating Deadman…. so she is dating a ghost? Okay I gotta say that DC is doing very strongly on showing the multiple sexual preferences, we have multiple gay and lesbian heroes in the lineup and now apparently even a Necrophiliac. Go Progress!
Still I will say that this issue lost me a bit at the end with the introduction of its villain which is… a pallet swap of Hawk? Wow… lazy. I honestly wasn’t sure if the character was supposed to be Hawk but was simply colored wrong, or a clone, or what. After looking up the comic on DC’s website I found out that this character is part of a villainous duo called Condor and Swan, who are avatars of a different sort? But honestly when your villains are simply recolored versions of your heroes you are running low on ideas… and this is the start of the series so that is not promising. Still with the backstory out of the way, I am hopeful that this series can simply focus on having fun, and to be fair Condor only got one page and maybe two lines, so who knows he may prove to be a threatening villain in future issues.
Art: I enjoy the art in this issue, it is stylized and cartoonish… There is NOTHING wrong with that, honestly it is the best choice for a series like this. Still I really have to call out the design for Condor, while I like the idea of a villains that mirror our heroes. They don’t need to mirror the design, by all means keep the avian designs and even similar costumes, but the exact duplication is just lazy. They really could have had fun and make some sinister villains here… well you get the point. At the end of the day it will come down to the writing to save these initial villains, and here’s hoping they pull it off.
Verdict: While I am gonna go ahead and guess that very few of you know these heroes, but if you are a fan of the ridiculous then go ahead and give this one a shot. I am gonna check this one out myself as it is nice to have something fun amidst all these serious comics, my only real worry here being that this series does not live up to its initial awesomeness of Crashing Plane-Zombie Smackdown!
9. Justice League International “It’s Booster Gold! The guy from the beer ads!”
Wow, this is another very strong, surprising series. I was wondering about the necessity of this series as well… the Justice League already operates worldwide, I mean their base of operations is a space station so the can monitor the planet. However the setup for this team is actually rather brilliant. The United Nations decides to create a superhero peacekeeping group, deciding that if it works out they can take the credit and if it doesn’t they can always say it was the hero’s fault. And who did they decide for the villain for this group?
Booster Gold! Okay, I love that they gave Booster Gold a Justice League to run. Also they really do go with a group of multinational heroes, including my new favorite hero name ever, the Chinese superhero, The August General in Iron! This again is a really fun first issue, and I am excited to see where it goes. This is a group of superheros composed of mostly heroes that are unknown to new readers. So both the team and the readers are getting to know each other, learning their powers, making it very natural. I also like the fact that this is a team getting assembled but its not by some shadowy organization, its by the United Nations, sure there is one guy who pushes for the idea and sure he may be working for some other organization. However I really do like the idea that they are working in the open for the good guys.
Art: The art in this issue is really good. From what I have seen they kept most of the original costume designs for the heroes… of if there were changes it was not enough to distract or disturb the audience. So overall this is a very strong first issue, both written and visually.
Verdict: A very pleasant surprise. So far in my reviews I think this book best captures a group of super heroes who are working towards becoming a team, and even better they actually have all their member introduced in the first issue! I will be following this series and if you are a new reader or a comic vet looking for something new, I suggest trying this one out.
10. Men of War “I am not ashamed of doing what I do.”
In many ways Men of War is looking to become The Punisher of DC comics. Okay, wow, I REALLY need to quantify that statement before I scare you off. This is looking to be a dark, gritty view of the DC universe from a much more real perspective. This story focuses on an army grunt named Rock, who, while obviously leader material, wants to stay an infantry soldier. Rock’s next mission throws him into a battle zone where superhumans become involved which then goes to hell. One of the things I love is that you have NO idea what heroes or villains are involved. A flying red blur shoots across the battlezone, is it Superman? No one knows, but what that the field is now a blazing inferno after he passed. At first I was worried that this series was going to be an advertisement for military service. Don’t get me wrong I think our troops truly are heroes and I thought the idea of a war comic among DC’s lineup was a great idea, I don’t think there is anyone who likes reading enlistment advertisements. I wasn’t sure if this would figure into the DC Universe at large or if it was simply going to focus on soldiers and what they have to deal with… Surprisingly we get both. The only time I have ever seen a series that dealt with humans dealing in the world of superhumans it has either been police or reporters, so it is really interesting seeing the military having to deal with it. And its not simply a division being sent to go fight a supervillain for fodder, superhumans showed up, possibly to help or hinder, but everything gets FUBAR and mayhem ensues. Haha, oh and one consideration I must admit an appreciation for is the caption boxes that define some military terms or acronyms that the layperson would not be familiar with. They were very useful and allowed a layperson like me to know what our characters were talking about without resorting to dumbing down dialogue.
This issue showed something that a lot of comics struggle with, the impact of superhumans on normal people. The dark side of having these powerful individuals amongst us. The series has already handled the issue infinitely better than many comics I have read… namely The Boys. Also please do not be alarmed when I said this issue is dark and gritty, it is not a bad thing here. However I would warn parents that as a war comic, there is blood and violence, however it has not been gratuitous so far. If you would let your child watch a war movie then they will have no problems reading this.
Art: I think this is one of the strongest offerings from from the 52, this book has a unique style, great lighting and use of colors. Most impressively it manages to show the chaos of a battlezone without the reader losing their sense of what is going on.
Verdict: In quite a few ways, this could be the most unique offering in the 52. This series excites me with the possibilities and I am looking forward to where it goes from here. Also this is a great gateway issue for people who don’t normally read superhero comics as it shows them in a very unique way as we see them from a realistic perspective.
11. O.M.A.C. “I AM O.M.A.C.”
And the winner for Worst Hair in the 52 goes to… O.M.A.C.
I really must question who this book is for, because it certainly isn’t meant for me. The issue starts with some water cooler conversation on the upper levels of Cadmus, the DC universe’s premiere cloning facility. O.M.A.C. then shows up and starts smashing things… and this is the comic right there. O.M.A.C. himself has no personality at all, the only dialogue he gives is repeating the last part of the orders he is receiving. The comic is very simple with, obstacle appearing, and the our hero hitting it until it goes away… this is essentially the comic book version of watching your friend play Double Dragon.
Art: While there are worse artists working in comics… this series just lacks any real substance or originality. Also who thought that giving our hero a giant, flowing, neon-mechahawk was a good idea?!?
Verdict: O.M.A.C. both as a comic and as a hero can be summed up with two words, no personality. While I freely admit that over time the character can evolve and become something more. As of right now this issue failed to interest me in seeing that happen. Skip it.
12. Static Shock “Time for Plan B… That, I’m also making up as I go!”
Welcome Back, Static! Static got something very few superheros actually get, a damn good cartoon show. I am coming into this series with the knowledge of the television show, however you won’t be needing prior knowledge of Static going in. That out of the way this… is not a great issue. It just ends up falling directly into the middle, not taking any real chances. It is definitely still Static, with him throwing banter as much as ball lightning and using science to defeat his enemies. Still one of the things I will give the issue is a really good last page.
Art: Good use of colors throughout the issue… umm I can’t really think of anything else to say. NEXT!
Verdict: If you like the character than you may be willing to go for another issue, but this first story does little to entice new reader.
13. Stormwatch “The Moon seems to be threatening Earth.”
And the Winner for Best New Villain: The Moon.
Stormwatch is the continuation of The Authority, a comic that has the distinction of being damn awesome. This issue does a great job of establishing mystery and intrigue, something essential to a first issue. We are introduced to our team by seeing them in action. Stormwatch being a very large group of very different people. One group is at their base investigating the fact that the Moon appears to be growing claws… or fangs. Another is investigating a giant horn that has fallen to the ground, while the last is trying to recruit a new member. This new member is Apollo, who may very well wield powers on par with Superman, but has no interest at all in becoming a superhero. New to the team is the Martian Manhunter, and while I didn’t know what to make of his addition at first I must say that it is a solid fit. The Manhunter is strange and powerful enough to feel right at home aboard Stormwatch. I am very intrigued by this first issue, and this is a great starting point. Also and series with The Midnighter will get a look through from me.
Art: Very good art throughout with some great color work. However I will admit that essentially any character’s designs that have been changed, have been changed for the worse. The changes aren’t terrible… just wholly unnecessary, I don’t know why any of these characters needed a change, but I am personally hopeful that we will see a return of the old uniforms later on.
Verdict: A very solid first issue and a great starting point. If you are looking for a new comic series to try out, this is in my top recommendations for you. I am already looking forward to the next issue, and will definitely be following this series.
14. Swamp Thing “Plants can scream… they’re screaming all the time.”
Swamp Thing is a tricky character to write because it is so easy for the character to be a joke. Luckily you can tell the author respects the character and his history after reading this book. This first issue is most definitely a jumping on point for new readers, as most of the issue is introducing our hero. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a strong mystery already in place. At the start of the story, hundred of animals all across the planet are just falling down dead. Later dead animals are seen to rise and become a storm of carrion. Elsewhere flies enter people’s ears, their necks then snapping around, becoming horrific, zombie-like creatures. One of the things that was very unique is that Swamp thing doesn’t show up until the last page. The focus is on Dr. Holland, a man who is intrinsically linked with the Swamp Thing. Still I won’t go into too much detail here as the comic does a good job of introducing the character. Also points given to this series for having a superhero cameo that doesn’t feel forced.
Art: The thing I really have to point out with the art so far is how creepy they managed to make the threat so far. We have no idea what is happening so far, there is no villain giving monologues here, it is just this pervasive wrongness happening across the planet, and that has to be expressed just through the art. And it is done wonderfully. This book could have come across looking very cheesy but is done very well. Bravo.
Verdict: This already seems to be a smart, well written series. While this first issue is mostly introduction, it is very well done and it has me wanting to read more. Go give this one a read.
15. Batman and Robin “Why is dying always cheaper?”
Okay two things about this book. 1) This is a very good book. 2) Yeah this book will confuse new readers. Batman and Robin picks up right were things left off for Bruce Wayne. With him currently leading Batman Inc., wearing the cowl again after coming back from being “dead”, and his son Damian as the newest Robin… Okay so I am pretty sure that there will be plenty of new readers who have no idea what was going on with any of that… but it is not my job to explain, it’s DC’s. As of yet I am not 100% about how friendly this book is towards new readers, but you should be fine reading it after a few trips to Wikipedia, if not going out and simply reading Grant Morrison’s Batman run.
Still that aside this a good issue and much to my surprise I am beginning to like Bruce and Damian’s pairing. Mostly because Damian is actually trying here, sure he messes up and puts people in danger, but honestly that is progress for him. He is trying to do thing his dad’s way, and he is struggling with it. This is great because it shows that he isn’t just this asshole kid who likes murder, he is very broken from how he was raised by his mother, and it is a struggle for him to not be that person. The main focus of this issue is Bruce deciding to move on from his parent’s deaths… which sounds odd, but is a really nice moment. Bruce has decided that his parent’s memory deserves better than to simply be mourned, and besides that while they were his original reason for becoming Batman, it has become so much more, so that he doesn’t need to carry that weight with him anymore. We also get a new villain here named Nobody, who has a VERY cool design and is killing members of Batman Inc., with the final reveal teasing that Nobody may actually be a member of the organization.
Art: Solid art throughout this book. Very creative during combat and utterly chaotic when needed. Loved the design for Nobody… however I do think its funny that Gordon now has brown hair instead of white in all the new books. Apparently he got de-aged so he can be kept around?
Verdict: Batman and Robin is carrying the torch from Morrison, so for fans of the Bat before the reboot, this is the book you will be wanting to follow. For new-comers there is going to be a learning curve and while I am not sure how much leeway the author is going to give you, this is a book you will receive more if you put in more. I will be reading this series
16. Batwoman “… Dark red angel of the night… she promised.”
Batwoman… okay to be fair I am completely unfamiliar with this character. Let’s see what we have… a goth-y, pale, redhead, covered in tattoos who dresses like Batman. Wow, if she had some daddy issues she would be perf- oh wait there they are! Hello Perfect Woma– OH… wait she is a lesbian… damn.
Anyways… This one can be confusing to new readers, as instead of letting us get to know the character through her actions, we instead get a very awkward two page splash that tries to squeeze her whole backstory in… yikes. As for Batwoman herself I can say that… umm… okay I honestly don’t know much about her character after this first issue. She is a lesbian and Batwoman and her cousin is currently her sidekick but refuses to let her wear her superhero costume because… its too flamboyant?… Really? Coming from the lady dressed as a bat with a bright red wig? Okay, entirely ignoring the point that the Bat-family has a grand history of flamboyant costumed sidekicks, the whole thing about costumes seems to be an excuse to show the two getting undressed. There are way too many shots of our heroes out of clothes. Okay so Batwoman is hunting after this… ghost who drowns people? And is being pursued by Black Mask… who is running a government agency now.
What? This book is… kind of a mess to be honest, at least from the perspective of a new reader. Perhaps if I read her series from beforehand I would know what is going on and maybe care about these peoples. But again, it’s not my job to do that, it’s DC’s.
Art: So with all of those issues, why would most of you pick up this book? Because it is gorgeous. Or at least Batgirl is. I was really drawn into this comic by the artwork and then I noticed that Batgirl gets thrice as much detail as any other character, she pops off of the page, which for the covers is great. But not as great when you are supposed to have her working with a partner, who just fades into the background along with everything else. The comic also has a habit of having artwork or other panels behind the main panels, at times this works well and the non-standard artwork works exceptionally well in the beginning. As things go on it begins to feel lazy, as though they are shoving in this artwork to take up space… space that the story and characters so desperately needed.
Verdict: Reading this comic was very similar to opening a book to the middle and picking things up from there. I am pretty damn certain that there is substance and story here… but without any context I feel like the family in the beginning of this comic. Drowning and confused. I may give this series a shot… but probably not.
17. Deathstroke “A Major Damn Badass”
This is Deathstroke, and apparently he wants you to know how bad a dude he is… which honestly makes me feel a lot less like this guy is a deadly assassin/mercenary as he is some guy whose deadly deeds are the answer to his mid-life crisis. Some get the sports car and a mistress and others get a suit of armor and talk about how badass they are. Which has got to be the strangest thing about Deathstroke is the fact that I think he is much more intimidating outside of his armor. I swear he looks like Captain Ahab if he was born in Sin City. See, if he went around just wearing his street clothes beating the shit out of people with his bare hands, I would be much more inclined to believe the whole badass thing.
So for Deathstroke’s first outing in the 52, they really needed to put his best foot forward. Which is why this issue is about Deathstroke teaming up with some young mercs called… the Alpha Dawgs.
No, that is not a typo. They chose to call themselves the Alpha Dawgs… with a W. Oh and their mission? Apparently they need to get a briefcase away from… Nosferatu? Okay no it’s not Nosferatu but I mean… look at that guy and tell me your first thought isn’t vampire? Anyways… so this book seems mostly to be about how everyone is looking down on Deathstroke, for some reason. He gets teamed up with another team because he is getting old and… okay bullshit. What little I do know of Deathstroke is that he is capable of making some very scary people tremble in their boots. And you are telling me people don’t want to hire him anymore, that in order to make DEATHSTROKE a worthwhile transaction someone thought “oh hey let’s team him with the Alpha Dawgs!” The thing is… it could have been interesting. If Deathstroke really was losing his edge due to age, it could have been really interesting to see him have to deal with that and swallow his pride to work with a team. But he hasn’t lost his edge, so where the hell is this thinking coming from? The issue ends with Deathstroke killing the Alpha Dawgs(I cheered) chewing out his manager for putting him in a group with others. There was also something about the briefcase holding something all sinister and shit, but honestly? I stopped caring long before that.
Art: The art in this book is good… and thus wasted on this book.
Verdict: If you have no idea who Deathstroke is, this is not the book you want to read to be introduced to the character. So new readers should stay away. If you are a fan of the character, then you have even more reason to keep your distance. I will not be reading this series.
18. Demon Knights “We find the source of our problems and we throw dragons at it.”
HELL YES! This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me glad the 52 happened. DC essentially took a group of their characters who were kicking around during the medieval ages and decided to play Dungeons and Dragons. The book stars Jason Blood, better known as his alter-ego the demon, Etrigan. Alongside him is his lady love, Madame Xanadu, however which form of the protagonist she really cares for is up for debate. Years after the fall of Camelot, they walk into a bar and run into Vandal Savage and the Shining Knight. And then dragons(actually dinosaurs) show up and the bar fight ensues…
Why aren’t you buying this book yet?
Art: This book has very strong art throughout, as the preview shows. I really like the design they went for with Etrigan, as I always dislike his original outfit and how he was always hunched over, whereas here he looks like… well.. a Demon Knight. This book and Batman are my favorite art styles of the 52, both being a pleasure to look at.
Verdict: Yes, really. That is all I am going to write about this one. It is ridiculous, awesome, and incredibly fun. I love that they took a group of characters in the medieval ages and make them a team fighting dragons. I love that they tapped Vandal Savage, an immortal supervillain who really doesn’t appear so villainous during the dark ages. I just love this book, I will be following this series and you owe it to yourself to check it out.
19. Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Really, DC?!? Okay, I have to admit that this one is responsible for much of the hiatus in reviewing these… I just froze in my tracks when I reached this comic. I mean it Frankenstein teamed up with a mummy, vampire, werewolf, and black lagoon creature fighting monsters. Besides being a pretty blatant Hellboy wannabe… it just so stupid. I am not going to lie, there are times where it embraces the silliness and becomes kind of fun… but the parts where I started to enjoy the comic just made me feel guilty, like laughing at a really low-brow joke. Anyway the comic is about Frankenstein being sent in by S.H.A.D.E….. because all comic book organizations must be forced acronyms. Frank has to go with his new team and clear a town full of monsters in six hours or S.H.A.D.E. will simply nuke the site from orbit. Honestly, when your options are sending in the monster squad or nuking a town overrun with thousands of monsters… nuking the place seems the more rational choice!
Art: This book…. is very messy. Tons of black heavy lines feel like they are there more often to cover up mistakes than any sort of style, and faces contort into strange shapes while speaking. As for designs… yeah no. No points to this comic. Father Time is in the body of Hit-Girl and for some reason there vampire is wearing red and yellow checkered arm warmers(maybe he is really into Gryffindor?)
Verdict: There are some points where this book really does veer into being fun, but much like meeting that hot blonde at the bar, sure she may give you some enjoyment… but you know you will hate yourself in the morning for lowering yourself down to something that stupid. I will not be following this one.
20. Green Lantern “We expect you to do what other Lanterns do, Sinestro. Protect your sector.”
I have to admit that I was intrigued after the first couple pages of this book. Sinestro, one of the Green Lantern’s greatest enemies has been forced back into the Corps. The Guardians forcing him to recite their oath again and saying while he may not have to listen to them, he will protect his sector like any other Green Lantern. Upon Sinestro’s return his homeworld he finds that his subordinates who he had ordered to protect his planet, have instead enslaved it. He then has to kill Sinestro Corps members and escape. This is all really interesting. It’s cool to see Sinestro having to be a Green Lantern again and possibly even go down the path of redemption, and the fact that he was forced into this path at first creates a possible way for him to rejoin the Lanterns without betraying his character. If the story had focused entirely on Sinestro, with him being the Green Lantern and that struggle, this could have been an interesting and complex series…
And then Hal Jordan comes in. Honestly I am not too familiar with Hal… but I swear he is written as the least likable person ever. Every scene he is in just drags… yes I get that they are trying to show Hal at a low point so he can rejoin the Corps and get back on top… but Sinestro would have been so much more interesting of a main character. Still my hopes of Hal being a cameo or possibly killed off in this issue were sadly wrong as the issue with Sinestro offering Hal the chance to rejoin the Corps. With that… I officially do not care anymore. It’s not a story about redemption anymore, or a villain forced to work for the side of good anymore… It is a story about a villain working to abuse the system while teaming up with a massive jerk… whee…
Art: OH GOD IT BURNS!!! Most of my pictures for the comics are either action scenes or frames that popped out at me, either way I try to either show the best, most dynamic, or most iconic picture in each… Look again at the picture I put for Green Lantern. That is Hal Jordan… go ahead and scroll back up to the first review, Justice League. That is supposed to be the same character. This frame of Hal Jordan will haunt me forever. The strangest thing though, is that the I had no problem at all with the aliens in this book, they were done fine. But the humans… dear god in heaven. Some things cannot be forgiven, that panel of Hal is one of them.
Verdict: Honestly there are some interesting ideas here, but I feel the execution is severely lacking. If they had made this book focusing on Sinestro’s return to the Green Lanterns, I feel it would have been much more interesting. I will not be following this book… but I may be willing to give it a chance later if they switch artists.
21. Grifter “Overconfident con-artists are like sorority girls…”
Grifter is very different than most of the other comics reviewed because this issue is almost entirely set up. Not that this issue is bad, it actually is quite interesting. Our
hero protagonist is a conman who gets snatched by invading… aliens? Anyways he wakes up while one of the creatures is attempting to possess him, but he manages to break loose. The thing that I found really interesting is that he didn’t gain any superpowers from this, or have any to begin with. What did end up happening was that he ended up attuned to their telepathic feed. He knows that they need to kill him, to keep their invasion a secret, however he can hear them coming for him. However after getting attacked by one of these creatures on a plane and killing it, he is labelled a terrorist and is now on the run from the authorities and the invaders.
As far as origins go I enjoyed this one. I like that all he has as far as abilities is that he essentially has the frequency for the bad guy’s radio… and that makes him a threat. While him donning a mask/bandana at the end seems a little strange… especially as he has been very resourceful throughout. I think its strange that he would jump straight for a disguise that draws attention instead of say… a haircut and dye job?
Art: I really enjoyed the art in Grifter. I liked the character design and the bright use of colors was very nice throughout.
Verdict: So far I am intrigued by this series, but I can see it going either way. It could continue its mystique and have some very interesting hero on the run stories… or it could get really drawn out. It comes down to the author really, so here is hoping. I will be optimistic and continue reading this one. If it sounds interesting to you, I recommend checking this one out.
22. Legion Lost “You go back to a doomed future.”
A team of superheroes goes back in time, chasing down a supervillain from releasing a dangerous pathogen in the past. However they arrive too late, their time craft is destroyed and they are now lost in the past with an uncertain future in front of them.
While it is pretty clear to mark this off as a cookie cutter creation. I mean there is a Wolverine rip-off who called himself Lone Wolf. Still the part that really got my attention? The villain. He is going on this rampage, in this monstrous rage. But as he is walking through the rubble, a little girl comes up to him with tears in her eyes, clearly scared but needing help finding her sister. And you see all the rage just flow out of the villain. I really enjoyed that scene and it’s always nice to see villains be more than walking, monologuing disaster zones.
So far I am going to go ahead and label this one in the fun category. I like the concept, even if it has been done before… a lot. Still the thing that I like so much about this first issue is that… everything that can go wrong does. It’s like starting off Star Wars by watching Empire Strikes Back. Sure you may be jumping into the middle, you may not know who all of these characters are… but it leaves with everything in such peril that you really wanna know what comes next.
Let’s just hope that Legion Lost has a better answer than George Lucas… because Ewoks suck.
Art: The art is… okay. It is bright, colorful, and you can tell characters apart. But honestly… it just didn’t stand out for me, which may be what kills this series to be honest. It honestly comes off as generic enough, but without art that will get someone to pick it up at comic store… then this series is doomed.
Verdict: It is hard to tell how this series is going to do in the future. While the premise has been done before, it is still an interesting one, and perhaps this comic can do something interesting with it. So will I be reading it? Well… maybe. This series will have to sell me on the next issue. So far I am curious, but the series doesn’t have anything that sets it far enough apart yet. So maybe the future holds greatness for this series, maybe it hold more of the same… or maybe it holds ewoks.
23. Mister Terrific “Looks like a space biker riding three snooker balls.”
Actually a simple “Thanks black guy, for saving us from a homicidal lunatic wearing weaponized body armor” will do.
Okay, I love this character. I have seen him once or twice in other books, but this issue firmly cemented him for me… why? Because as completely unbelievable as it is that someone like him exists, he is incredibly human.
Mister Terrific will quite proudly tell you he is the world’s third smartest man, an atheist, and a firm believer in SCIENCE!!!!! This issue gives us Mister Terrific’s origin, which is very simple honestly but I felt was very well executed. He loses his wife in a traffic accident(cue atheism) and ends up diving into his work… and then realizing that isn’t enough. So he decides to kill himself. Then his son shows up… from the future. His son tells him that he can change the world for the better, but he has to live to do it. His superpower is his wealth and super-intelligence… I mean the guy keeps his homebase in a pocket dimension… he is like a likable Reed Richards! Which I never thought was possible. Huh, wait… Mister Terrific… Mister Fantastic, wait that can’t be a coincidence…. huh, anyways…
As for the threat in this issue? Well something is causing people to become smarter… but also sociopathic assholes. As far as threats go… I found it pretty lacking. I mean we see a guy get smart and then go outside and kill a homeless man because he contributed nothing and thus it was illogical for him to continue draining the world’s resources. And honestly I just don’t feel too threatened by the whole thing, especially when there is very little mystery about what’s behind it seeing as how the end teaser tells us that we will be introduced to a supervillain named Brainstorm… yeah.
Still the issue gets points from me because it referenced Doctor Who… Hey it’s my blog and my review, I can give points for whatever I like!
Art: This book’s art was all over the place. Some panels like the one above are gorgeous. Generally the more exciting scenes get some really great art… but things slack elsewhere with transforming faces during conversations on other pages. So it ends up evening itself out as okay, but if the artist improves over the run of this series then it could be something to be reckoned with.
Verdict: It’s always nice to read a superhero book and find that they are an actual character and not just tights and special effects, and that is what makes this book work. I suggest this one to everyone, give it a chance. I will be following this series.
24. Red Lanterns “The universe cries out for vengeance.”
This comic opens with a Red Lantern cat spewing blood, and scalping space pirates.
Okay do I really need to say anything else? Well, actually yes… yes I do. Atrocitus, the leader of the Red Lanterns and co-winner of most obvious villain name alongside Sinestro, makes this book worth checking out. See the thing is that I do not like the Red Lantern Corps at all. They are fueled by wrath, and spend their time with blood flowing out of their mouths, barely able to talk, shouting rage. They are just… boring. Atrocitus appears to be the only one who kept his intelligence, and honestly has a very interesting arc inside this single issue. The leader of the Red Lanterns was one a psychiatrist, and then his whole planet got wiped out. He created the Red Lanterns and was able to ignite his pain and rage as power… but time goes on and his rage is lessening, the pain isn’t as bright anymore and as such he isn’t as powerful. So there he is, losing his power as time goes on and he has surrounded himself with berserkers who only respect power.
Over this issue, Atrocitus discovers its not mindless rage that is the purpose of the Corps, but vengeance. There is so much needless pain in the universe, and that is what fuels the anger and rage. The purpose of the Corps is to avenge that pain, to make those responisble accountable for their actions. So essentially… Atrocitus decides to make the Red Lanterns into a super-powered squadron of Punishers… HELL. YES.
The fact that they actually have given this Corps a purpose makes them actually interesting, something I didn’t at all expect. Still there are problems on the horizon as one of the more powerful Lanterns is starting a coup against Atrocitus… which while making sense and is good drama for the story, is hard to take serious due to the fact that she can barely speak and has blood spewing out of her mouth constantly. It just makes her well… silly.
Art: The art here is okay… but the blood pouring out of their mouths and the way that the leader of the coup is always shown standing so that it shows off her ass… yeah comic, you lose points for that.
Verdict: This is an interesting comic because it succeeds in spite of itself. Surprisingly Atrocitus is a very interesting character who is honestly justified in his anger, and the idea that he could turn the Red Lanterns towards a purpose is very interesting… despite the Red Lanterns themselves not having any character. For me this one is worth continuing because of the main character and because if we are lucky Atrocitus will just wipe out the other cast for being insubordinate… except the cat… he can keep the kitty.
25. Resurrection Man “I die, the plane crashes, everyone dies. Then half an hour later I un-die.”
Umm… okay so stuff happens in this book, but how to put it…
Okay so at the start of the issue, our hero is dead. Then he comes back to life… and has the power of magnetism. Apparently this is our hero’s ability. He comes back to life if killed, each time with a new superpower, which is REALLY cool. As for the rest of the book… umm.
Okay so he gets on a plane… and this blonde sits next to him… and turns into… an angel? I guess. Anyway they fight… stuff happens. Okay honestly, this book was confusing. It tries to have a lot of mystery but it is holding all the cards, so I came away more confused than curious. Mostly the series has a main character has a character with a really cool ability. Again that is all I can tell you about him as well… I can’t think of anything at all you learn about his personality from this issue.
Honestly it’s strange, because I enjoyed the issue, but when I sit down to write this review… I am having a hard time thinking of anything positive to say for it.
Art: I disliked the artwork in this book. It has some merit but is far too dark and could use a better colorist. Also character’s physiques can change from panel to panel. There were some cool designs here, the “angel” was very creepy, still this book needs to work on its art.
Verdict: A cool power does not a cool comic book make. I will not be following this one.
26. Suicide Squad “You’re mission is to wipe out the entire stadium. Six thousand people. You have six hours.”
Deadshot screams as a masked goon places a blowtorch to a metal bucket on his chest. The bucket is removed to reveal a pair of rats, still smoking from the heat. The rats have been attempting to find a respite from the heat by clawing and biting their way into Deadshot’s chest. So as far as first pages go…. DAMN.
For those unfamiliar with the Suicide Squad(aka Task Force X), it is an ever changing roster of supervillains on death row who are given dangerous missions by the government in exchange for a reduction in their sentence. If they manage to survive long enough they will be set free… but most die horribly in the field. I have always loved the idea for this team and I like the crew we get this time. Two members of the Secret Six are present, but don’t be mistaken into thinking that this is a sequel to that marvelous series, it appears to be its own beast. So our roster contains Deadshot, Harley Quinn, King Shark, El Diablo, Savant, Black Spider, and Voltaic. If you don’t know some of these characters, than it is fine as most of them get an intro here, and others… well… everyone wears a red shirt in the Suicide Squad so maybe it’s good not to get too attached to any of them. In true series fashion, they lose a member in this first issue and death is promised in the next issue as well.
This is not a series for children. This issue has a lot of blood and torture… but I am completely fine with that here. This is a series about supervillains doing there thing, there should be death and blood. While I have issue with the amount of gore in books like Detective Comics, its absence would seem odd here. This first issue serves mainly as an introduction so we don’t get to see our team in action yet, so while its not at all an action packed issue, I found it far from boring.
Art: Excellent art here with a lot of new character designs. I really liked Deadshot’s new look, his helmet getting a very cool redesign. King Shark is now a hammerhead which is… well fine, but seems a bit unnecessary. Harley Quinn is now showing… a LOT of skin, which while is unabashedly a fan service move… I really can’t complain because its Harley showing a lot of skin. Biggest points lost in the redesign is for Amanda Waller, who used to be this big imposing woman called “The Wall” who now looks like a model. Still it wouldn’t surprise me for that to be a fake out and the real Amanda pulling strings from somewhere, but as is, that redesign was pointless.
Verdict: If you are fine with ultraviolence and like supervillains, this a comic for you. While many readers like me are looking for something to fulfill our Secret Six needs, this isn’t the book… at least not yet. So if you are coming into this one, let it be its own book and enjoy it for its own merits and not judge it by what it could have been. I personally will be going along for this crazy ride.