Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New 52: Week 3

And here we go. Only 12 this week which by now feels like a breeze. I might even get to Iron Man before the weekend.

Batman #1: Wow. After week one's disappointing Detective Comics I assumed last week's Batman and Robin would be the bat book I add to my pull list. It still is but it is joined by this, the best Batman book I've read since Grant Morrison's opening salvo six years ago.

It's interesting that the artists on both main Batman books were once Spawn artists. It shows but like Jim Lee's work on the character, both Tony Daniel and Greg Capullo have reined themselves in, stepped up and matured for the Dark Knight. I've been a fan of Capullo since 1992's X Force and this is his best work yet. Strong, clear storytelling with the cartoony horror he brought to Spawn. Scott Snyder's procedural serial killer tale didn't grab me on Detective but he shines on the more superhero tone of Batman. Once again Bruce Wayne is front and center as the man in the costume, a character far too many Bat writers neglect.

My only complaint is Capullo draws faces way too young. Bruce Wayne looks 25, Dick Grayson 18, Tim Drake 12 and Damien 8. Age them up about five years and they'll fit with the other books.

Buy #2?: And #3. And #4. And repeat.

Deadman #1: Deadman is a great character with a finite story. Even Neal Adams closed his story initially and struggled to reopen it for further adventures. Paul Jenkins sidesteps this with a slight reboot. Now every person Boston Brand possesses possesses him a bit. The move makes him more human and gives friction between him and the godlike Rama. The art, while overcolored, is clean and direct, even when it goes into the murky afterlife. I'm with it.

Buy #2?: Yes, at least.

Green Lantern Corps #1: The Green Lantern franchise was in the best shape of the DC Universe so there hasn't been much of a change in these books. Guy Gardner's Emerald Warriors barely lasted a year so the character and its writer have moved back to the old series. As usual, we've got horror tinged sci-fi and two Earth Green Lanterns (John Stewart taking the place of Kyle Rayner). We also get more character work and Earth setting than usual.

Buy #2?:Have been. Will continue to.

Blue Beetle #1: I read this entire book without knowing it was a reboot. The text page in the back clued me in. It felt like we were checking in with the characters after the cancellation of Jaime Reyes last run. There was no way to tell if any of these people were new or why Jaime was so upset when he put on the costume. If I had no knowledge of the character before, this would have been a good first issue. As it was, it left me confused.

Buy #2?: This issue made me like the character more, but not the book.

Nightwing #1: Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel's initial run on Nightwing was one of my favorite 90's Bat books (and the 90's was a very good time for Batman comics). This run gets back to that feel with a first person narrative, lots of leaping across rooftops and a nondescript assassin villain. Haly's circus comes back in what is sure to be a running subplot. But what happened to Dick's costume? After some garish 80's outfits he settled into a classic look in the late 90's. It only needed a tweak. So why red? Didn't Dick wear a black and red costume when he was pretending to be evil?

Buy #2?: Yes but necessarily #3. Like the story, hate the costume. And that counts.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1: I hate Jason Todd. Didn't like him as Robin (and I'm old enough to remember when he was), glad he died and felt his resurrection invalidated a great story. Since then he's been crazy, nasty and shallow. Scott Lobdell does nothing to redeem this and actually takes the complexity out of Red Arrow and Starfire to fit them together in a team that has absolutely no reason to be a team.

Buy #2?: It's going to take a lot to make my buy Jason Todd again. And this is not a lot.

Legion of Super Heroes #1: After last week's terrible Legion LOST I was hoping the main book would be the salvation for the franchise. Reading Paul Levitz' return I instantly got his respect and love for the characters. By the end of the issue, I still didn't share it. I still found it a befuddling mess of unrelatable, thinly drawn alternate reality future super heroes. The continuity, always a problem with Legion, was only an issue if you wanted to understand why any of these twenty people mattered. Fans should be pleased. Non fans should remain non fans.

Buy #2?: Oh, Legion. I keep trying but you won't let me in.

Wonder Woman #1: The most recognizable female super hero has never had an easy time selling books. Over the years she's gone from S&M to feminism to military to covert ops to fantasy in an attempt to capture an audience. Brian Azzerello goes for mythology with a touch of suspense. It works and it works really well for readers looking for something different out of the 52. I don't think it will work for casual fans but what ever has?

Buy #2?: I'm a casual fan. So probably not.

Catwoman #1: Judd Winick to me will always be the guy who got into comics through MTV. And his work has done nothing to dissuade me. Catwoman can be played for cheesecake or for intrigue and capers. Guess which this is? Besides the gratuitous boob shots, the voyeuristic and unconvincing looks into the seedy underbelly of Gotham and the hatred towards women, it's twenty two pages of hacky dialogue that ends with Batman and Catwoman having sex with their costumes on. I don't consider that a spoiler because I don't consider it actually have happened. Garbage.

Buy #2?: Catwoman deserves a monthly title. But I don't have to read it.

Captain Atom #1: Captain Atom's powers have changed. He's gone from looking like the Silver Surfer to looking like the Human Torch. But more importantly, he can transmute matter. Exactly like Firestorm can do. Why they've given one character another of their character's powers is beyond me. And it's two fight scenes and a laboratory exposition. I get no sense of how this may have affected Atom's personality, a character I really liked and read in the 80's. I get the impression this isn't him.

Buy #2?:No, but I wonder what Firestorm is supposed to do next week with Captain Atom stealing his identity.

Birds of Prey #1: The book on the fringes of the Bat universe now breaks away completely. Gone are Oracle, Huntress and Batgirl. Black Canary remains with a new character, Starling, and two women on the cover that don't even appear in the book. I'm guessing they're Poison Ivy and Katana in new costumes but they could very well be new characters. The story is fast paced, fun and action packed if not terribly original. Now that I've read Green Arrow and this, there's no mention of connection between GA and Black Canary, two characters who got married a few years ago. Have they been separated or rebooted to the point where they don't know each other? More questions I'd rather not pay $3 to answer.

Buy #2?: Nothing wrong with it but not much that compels me to return either.

Supergirl #1: I've read almost 40 of these relaunches and I'm already tired of a trend; one where the character doesn't know who they are, why they're here or what happened. As a long time reader, I know these characters. I want to know what's changed and if it's made that character stronger or weaker. These "who am I" plots give me none of that. Supergirl is the worst culprit. It's one scene. One damn fight scene. At last Superboy wandered around trying to decide who he was. Kara, a character that has seen many reboots over the years, doesn't even get that luxury, fighting some exo suits until the obligatory Superman cameo.

Buy #2?:No, but only because it stinks.

Next week: the last time I buy this many DC Comics at once.

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