Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New 52: Week 4

The final 13 books; the final week of DC's relaunch. It's here and I'm tired. It's been an interesting experiment but I've actually never read this many new books in one month. Even back in 1994, when DC tried its "Zero Month", a very similar tactic with less change of creative teams, I read maybe half the books. And I was working in a comic store then.

The highs have been high (Batman, batman and Robin, Action Comics) but the lows have been even lower (Catwoman, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Legion LOST). DC is saying is going back to press on several of these issues, with some of them going close to 200,000 copies, a rarity in today's market. And I'll be adding six or so more titles to my subscription. So DC considers the experiment incredibly successful. But how successful are this week's titles?

Voodoo #1: She's a stripper. And the whole thing takes place inside the strip club After last week, that's a huge red flag. Voodoo poles dances and gives a lap dance. The only other action is a federal agent fighting off a gang rape. What is it with DC's push into soft core porn? One book maybe, but three in a week?

Buy #2?: Absolutely not. And I used to like Ron Marz.

Superman #1:Where Grant Morrison took a bold, radical step with Action Comics, George Perez goes for a more traditional take with a story right out of 12 years ago.The Daily Planet selling out to a major communications company is one thing but no one would build a new skyscraper to a print newspaper in this day and age. The DC Universe is clearly not our own. I wish George Perez was drawing this. at times the art and copy were battling each other, like the news report of the battle running over the battle itself.

There's a lot of reboot here as well with a total erasure of the Clark/ Lois romance (much less marriage). Like Peter and Mary jane this is bound to cause problems down the road asa n accepted continuity for the entire line is established. There's also the new costume. Now that it's clearly shown in action, it doesn't work. It's too armored and inflexible, taking away from the streamlined man in flight that the audience identifies with Superman. The high collar and cape also don't work together. I expect to see this streamlined pretty quickly.

Buy #2?: DC is lucky they got me reading one Superman title again. Two is asking too much.

Dark Knight #1: David Finch's first five issues of dark Knight was by his own admission, kind of a disaster. It personified the worst of the IMAGE era; a pretty book that was constantly late and told us nothing. Now it relaunches with Paul Jenkins hand,ing the writing, placing Finch back on art.The result is a book that raises my expectations and dashes them. Gone are the wall to wall action scenes replaced by a very long exposition and a cliche Bruce Wayne fundraiser. Once Batman gets to an Arkham Asylum breakout, it's handled seriously until the dumbest twist I've seen in a Batman comic in a long time.

Buy #2?: Luckily there are two great Batman books running. I don't need this one.

Teen Titans #1:Comic writers usually get about ten good years. After that they used to become editors. Now they move on to other media or stay and get stale. Scott Lobdell is proving to be the latter as both Titans books feel like leftovers from the 90s. We get a forgettable story with IMAGE style artwork. I know it's been twenty years but do readers really want a classic IMAGE comeback? DC seems to think so. I'd like to think we've evolved.

Buy #2?: I like Red Robin's new costume. And hadn't they cancelled that book, I would have finally picked it up. But not this.

Savage Hawkman #1: Hawkman may look like a guy with wings but his real superpower is rebooting. Seriously, the guy gets a new origin every three years. I've long since given up on ever understanding the character since he's been so many. This doesn't help. DC has enough faith in Tony Daniel as a writer they've given him a second title. I don't have that same faith as this effort is as flawed as his Detective Comics three weeks ago. When you have a convoluted character as Hawkman, it's a bad idea to do the whole "who am I" plot. Which is exactly what I got. Carter Hall, I don't know who you are. And I don't care.

Buy #2?: I amy never buy another Hawkman comic again.

Aquaman #1: This book, written by Geoff Johns, has been getting the biggest push of all 13 titles. And it lives up to the push. You can see a real effort on the part of Johns here, more so than his other 2 launches this month. It's got a fantastic fight scene and the horror type villain Johns has amde a signature of his work. There is also a lot of work put into wiping out all the Aquaman jokes that have been built up over the last thirty years. Arthur comes across and strong, confident and not embarrassed to be Aquaman. Which is saying a lot.

Buy #2?: Sure. Maybe the first arc as well.

Justice League Dark #1: DC has learned that Justice League is more than a collective of their most powerful brands. It's a brand all its own. So they're leveraging it to cover a combination of many of their magical characters. But will this succeed where Shadowpact failed? Well, it's a solid first start. peter Milligan has been missed and he brings a lot of strength here. When the book opened with a female character I got nervous we'd see more misogynistic crap the likes of Catwoman. But the female characters are handled as string, smart individuals, no lesser than say john Constantine. However, I still wonder if this was the right book for the DCU. It feels like Vertigo with the brakes on. I wonder how far this could have gone under that imprint and without the Justice League name.

Buy #2?: Like it. Will flip through the next one for sure.

Blackhawks #1:: I give DC credit. Even in this desperate sales grab of a reboot, they're not afraid to try new genres. I doubt Marvel would ever throw out a western, vampires, modern military and this, a sci-fi black ops book in the same month. And most of worked including this. It's a world away from the Sgt. Rock reboot with a G.I. Joe type team, hardware and base. There's a makeout scene and some sexual content but guess what? This time it's within a relationship and actually adds to the story! Finally.

Buy #2?: Just to see where this arc goes.

I, Vampire #1:Oh, Twilight. The bigger you get, the more you make me miss Buffy. This book is the most blatant cash-in since Chris Claremont created the Brood after a midnight showing of Alien. It's moody, goth and utterly cryptic. I can't tell which is the the flashback and which is the present day. Why is there two characters called Mary? One is four hundred years old and one just got turned into a vampire. And trying to set this in the DC Universe with a couple of superhero references just makes it more confusing. Vampires have eaten a city. Not only would the Justice League notice, they would have prevented it.

Buy #2?: I don't know who this book is for but it ain't me.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1: The cancellation of the third Green Lantern title has led to a fourth. And it's in lockstep with the other three. Kyle Rayner's the star of this book and looks to move in close contact with the other Corps. It does everything I've come to expect from the franchise with just enough surprises to keep the story moving. No rebooting here, aside from a slight tweak of Ky;e's origin which suits his character better. And the cliffhanger is enough to bring me back.

Buy #2?: Looks like I'll be buying all four Green Lantern titles for a while.

Flash #1:While fans pleaded for the return of Hal Jordan for more than a decade, no one seemed to mind Barry Allen was dead. No one but Geoff Johns who tried to make lightning strike twice with Flash: Rebirth. Fans came and didn't notice they had already left. the relaunch didn't work, leaving the artist Francis Manapul, to write it himself. And he mostly writes things he likes to draw. The action is shot from dizzying angles with the kind of kinetic energy that he brought to last year's reboot. But the story's nothing. There's a new love interest with Iris still in the wings, an "old college buddy" that's thinly drawn and a sci-fi twist that comes out of nowhere.

Buy #2?: Last year's reboot didn't work. This one works even less.

The Fury of Firestorm #1: Now this is a reboot. Taking character cues from Brightest Day, Gail Simone restarts the whole thing, putting Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch in the same high school. I'm into it but it ends too soon with half a fight scene. We also get one twist on top of another with no way to figure out the status quo yet. Ethan Van Sciver is listed as co-plotter but other than the cover, his art is nowhere to be seen, proving that DC is onto two ideas this relaunch; giving artists writer credit and t&a.

Buy #2?:Yes, but only until i figure out what's going on.

All Star Western #1:Now this is how you kick off a series. A great story that introduces a strong character to new readers and gives long time fans something they haven't seen before. Now that the movie has bombed and forgotten, Jonah Hex feels revitalized with a trip to Gotham alongside the founder of Arkham Asylum. My only complaint is the story moves a little too slowly with repetitive interrogation scenes and Arkham's profile of Hex. I would have loved a done-in-one but that would leave me free to skip the next issue.

Buy #2?: I'll flip through it. If they can wrap up this story in one more issue, I'll bite.

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