Thursday, September 08, 2011

The New 52: Coming Right at You!

Last week DC began the relaunch of every one of its titles. Dan Didio claimed falling sales for the move, a decision I find specious in the light of their massive 2010 hit, Blackest Night. The relaunch definitely will create a short term spike but how well the entire line will do depends on the actual quality of the books. So what is the quality of the books?

I'm doing short reviews of all 52 #1 titles this month. Partly because it gives this blog a larger purpose than the quick bites I can post on Twitter and Facebook. In this day of social networking, blogs really have to justify their existence.

The other reason is that my local comic store, Chimera's Comics had a deal where if you sign up for all 52 books, you get a free Absolute Batman: the Long Halloween, a $75 book I had my eye on for awhile. I've also been curious about sampling many of the titles so why not all?

The launch started last week with the final issue of the crossover Flashpoint, an elseworlds style mini series that could have been a Flash annual. It did little to reshape the universe and almost nothing to justify the relaunch.

It also began with :

Justice League #1: The flagship title by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Lee's artwork took a great leap forward when he came to DC with Batman: Hush. Always a superb stylist, he tightened his storytelling skills when he approached the legendary character. Geoff Johns on the other hand is a great writer clearly showing the strain of being spread too thin. His scripts over the last year have lacked the depth and nuance of his long runs on Flash and Green Lantern. So what we have here are some really gorgeous fight scenes.

Buy # 2?: It's all the heavy hitters by two of my favorite creators. I'll stick around to see if the story deepens over the next few issues.

This week saw the release of :

Stormwatch #1: The integration of outside titles into the DCU has been problematic at best. This is a prime example, adding the Martian Manhunter into a Wildstorm title. As a new reader, I'm lost. There seems to be a lot of new characters and a lot of continuity and no clear jump on point. For a #1, this is death.

Buy # 2?: I love J'Onn J'Onzz but no.

Action Comics #1: Grant Morrison has left Batman and returned to Superman with an entirely different take than he did on All-Star Superman. And I'm loving it. The t-shirt, jeans and work boot costume channels the Golden Age stories in the way his Batman run channeled the weird 50's tales. Mark Morales has taken a leap of energy since Identity Crisis, fusing Jerry Ordway with Mark Bagley.

Buy # 2?:I rarely read Superman but this is one run I will.

OMAC #1: Keith Giffen doing Kirby. That's all that recommends it.

Buy # 2?: Sorry I bought #1.

Batgirl #1: When I heard Barbra Gordon would be leaving her wheelchair and donning the batgirl costume again, I was skeptical. Gail Simone knew that and made the change the mystery of the piece. She hasn't ignored continuity, she's using it to keep the story moving forward. And some well paced flashbacks keep a new reader in the game. Well paced action keeps them coming back.

Buy # 2?: Oh, yes. And as a lifelong Batman fan, I've never picked up a Batgirl monthly.

Swamp Thing #1:

Alec Holland is Swamp Thing. And he's not. That's the mystery posed in the first issue. Swamp Thing is a character that has had several different takes. Wein and Wrightson went for pure classic horror. Moore sought to challenge the limitations of the genre. Scott Snyder seems straight forward creepy superhero. I'm fine with it but I don't know if the journey will be worth $3 a month.

Buy # 2?: If it's a slow week.

Detective Comics #1: I usually steer clear of artists turned writers. For every John Byrne or Walt Simonson, you get an IMAGE comic. I read Tony Daniel's first try Battle for the Cowl. It was terrible and I've avoided him for the past three years. He's gotten better but still not great. This is fairly standard Joker fare with a little less characterization and a lot more gore.

Buy # 2?: No, but my expectations for Snyder and Capullo's Batman #1 have raised.

Green Arrow #1: I've always liked the world weary character of Green Arrow. He always seemed a little harder and older than the other DC heroes. So old that in the 90's his grown son take over. That's all erased with this take, along with the bald spot, the goatee and Black Canary. In its place we have a Smallville look, an Oracle stand-in and a pedestrian action scene.

Buy # 2?: It's always hard to keep a Green arrow title going. This one won't be any easier.

Static Shock #1: Despite some great art by Scott McDaniel, I had the same problem here as I did with Stormwatch. I never read the Milestone series or watched the animated show so I don't get the significance of most of these characters or how they may have changed. I'm still on the outside looking in. I wonder if Grifter will fall into the same problems.

Buy # 2?:Wish I could. Can't so I won't.

Animal Man #1: I always root for Animal Man. He seems more grounded than other heroes and Grant Morrison did some really terrific work with him in the 80's and in 52. This issue has a lot going for it and really creepy twist ending but it takes too long to start moving. I also hate the new costume.

Buy # 2?: I won't even browse it. Not unless something amazing happens on the cover.

Hawk and Dove #1: Remember when I said Jim Lee upped his game when he came to DC? Rob Liefeld didn't. This feels like a book from 1991 with hard pinched faces, glamour shots and shading that makes it feel like Hawk is two different characters. Reading this book is like seeing a hair metal band tour again. It's fun as long as you ignore the fact that you've grown out of it.

Buy # 2?: N.O.

Batwing #1: A Judd Winick series about an African Batman in the congo fighting genocide with photo realistic style artwork? It's just as leaden as you'll think it will be.

Buy # 2?: Why bother? It will be cancelled within the year.

Justice League International #1: Dark Knight Returns brought me to DC in the 80's but JLI kept me there. There have been a few relaunches of this idea, mostly mini-series with the original creative team. This has none of them with a slightly more serious take on the line-up, minus Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle, Dr. Fate and most of the characters I wanted to see here. Still it has some of the that series trademark humor and I like both Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti (although why Jurgens is writing one series and drawing a different one is beyond me. He could easily be carrying this book solo) and teases us with Batman and Guy Gardner so it's a pleasant if pedestrian read.

Buy # 2?: The next few anyway.

Men of War #1: Why is this a DCU title? This Sgt. Rock re-imagining is a straight up military title with a hint of supernatural, the kind of thing Vertigo can do very well. Did they need one more series to make up the 52? Did DC want a bigger spotlight for a non superhero book? Plus it's the only title that costs a dollar more. So this odd duck also bites you on the wrist. It's good, it just doesn't belong here.

Buy # 2?: I don't know why I bought #1.

Next week: 12 more.

No comments: