So, let’s see what we’ve got from DC’s New 52 this week. I’m still loving the day-and-date electronic sales, and am rapidly becoming an even bigger DC fan. Not everything is perfect, but there’s some good stuff going on.
Batman and Robin #1
The main story in this one is framed by the start of a new, very cool-looking storyline. This is good. What’s not so good is that the framing story is better than the main story. Yes, as a new #1, a jumping-on point for new readers, it’s important to establish who the characters are and what the situation is. But the main storyline is just Batman (Bruce) trying to keep Robin (Damian) from being a perfect cocky little shit. And failing. I’m hoping that, now that the dynamic has been spelled out in big, bold letters, the book backs off on this aspect of the mythos. It’s hard enough to like Damian at the best of times – and he is not being shown at his best.
Batman has an interesting little character moment that’s been a long time coming in the sewers, but outside of that, he seems more like Mr. Wilson trying to babysit Dennis the Menace than the Dark Knight. As I said, I hope they get over this bit and on to some good stories.
I liked the Batwoman run in Detective Comics a lot. This picks up from that, and does a pretty good job of giving us a tough, smart, female hero. There’s not a lot of meat to the story – again, it’s trying to lay the foundation for new readers, I think – but there are hints of good things coming, and the character scenes in the book are very good. Bette Kane is back, trying to earn the right to be Flamebird to Kate Kane’s Batwoman, and there’s some understandable tension between Kate and her father after the revelations in the Detective Comics storyline. All in all, I’m hopeful for this one.
I’m not really a fan of villain books ((Matt Wagner’s amazing Grendel is a notable and sublime exception.)), and Slade Wilson is definitely a villain. Not even the Punisher is as much an unmitigated bad guy as Deathstroke the Terminator. I’ve enjoyed seeing Deathstroke opposing many different DC heroes and teams, right back to The New Teen Titans, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be grabbed by a book with him as the star. On the other hand, his miniseries in Flashpoint was pretty good.
This book is also pretty good. It latches on to the idea that, legendary super-badass or not, Slade Wilson is getting old and, while it may not be slowing him down much, his clients are starting to think it is. So he’s gotta prove he’s just as hard, just as nasty, just as scary, and just as effective as he’s always been. I’m going to give it a couple of issues to win me over.
Demon Knights #1
The Demon Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, the Shining Knight, and three others I don’t recognize get caught up in an invasion, led by the Questing Queen and Mordru ((Whom I remember fondly from his attacks on The Legion of Superheroes in the 31st century. Guy’s lived a loooong time – right up to when Darkseid drained him dry in the Great Darkness Saga. Good times.)). It’s set in the middle ages, and looks like a great deal of fun.
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
As might be expected in a comic starring Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos, this is a pretty weird, silly book. Not necessarily in a bad way, though. I liked the bizarre story and the strange characters. It had a nice touch of the absurd mixed in with the horror and action. I’m not really a fan of the art style, though. It’s a little muddy for my taste, though well-done. But for me, that’s a little quibble.
Green Lantern #1
With Blackest Night and Brightest Day, it seems the Green Lantern mythology has become very complicated. Now there are rings of all sorts of colours. Sinestro has a green ring back, endorsed by the Guardians, and Hal no longer has a ring. Having followed neither Blackest nor Brightest, I’m a little out of my depth with the background, but the story itself is not bad, if a little trite ((I saw one scene in an old Lethal Weapon movie, for example.)) – ex-superhero dealing with the difficulties of returning to normal life. Could be interesting.
I’ve never read anything with Grifter in it, except for his appearances in Flashpoint, so I don’t know much about the character. Because of that, it was nice that the series is starting with an origin story. It’s a pretty good story, too – reluctant, misunderstood hero, alone and on the run from the police and military and his entire life, a mysterious ((Speaking of mysterious, this is the second comic that I’ve spotted a strange, cloaked and hooded woman floating in the background of a panel. Wonder what’s up with that.)) threat tied to his origin, and general confusion about what’s going on. I’m liking it so far.
Legion Lost #1
The Legion of Superheroes has changed a bit since I used to read the series. The look of Tyroc is far less 70s funk, and they’ve brought along Gates and Chameleon Girl, along with heroes I’m more familiar with: Wildfire, Dawnstar, Tellus, and Timber Wolf. The team has chased a bad guy back from the future to stop him from releasing some sort of pathogen ((Which has not been explained yet.)) and, predictably, they get stuck here in our presence.
I like the story, but that may be because of the love I have for the LSH. It was the first series ((Well, first superhero series. Mike Grell’s The Warlord was a long time favourite before that.)) that hooked me with an ongoing storyline – the Great Darkness Saga. So, I’m more forgiving of some of the oddities and awkwardnesses ((It’s a word if I say it’s a word.)) of the book.
Mister Terrific #1
Again, I’m not familiar with Mr. Terrific, so it’s good that they’re doing an origin story. I like the hero – nice combination of haunted and driven, relying on intelligence and tech ((And money. Lots and lots of money.)) to fight crime. I think they’re jumping at the twist a little early in this one – I don’t know the character well enough to care deeply about it yet. But it is a good twist – no denying that.
Red Lanterns #1
More lantern mythology. Atrocitus lacks direction, so decides to become an avenging angel. I dunno about this one. On the one hand, that is one bad-ass kitty cat he’s got. On the other, I’m not sure I’m all that interested in a book about taking savage and bloody vengeance on all and sundry. I don’t think that’s totally the direction the book is going – there are strong intimations of more complex and interesting stories – so I’m going to give it a bit of a chance. But it’s going to need to work hard to win me over.
Resurrection Man #1
I liked this book. Resurrection Man is another new hero that I’m not familiar with, but this book is less of an origin story than some of the others. This works, mainly because of the mysterious nature of the origin. There’s a bit of a The Fugitive vibe being set up, with what looks like both Heaven and Hell hunting for him, coupled with a built-in story generator – the feelings that draw him to perform certain acts and go certain places. It’s got a nice mix of creepy and action.
Suicide Squad #1
I have mixed feelings about Suicide Squad, both as a group and as a book. The basic premise is interesting for about five minutes, then quickly reveals itself as an excuse to write about the main characters being absolute bastards. On the other hand, the story in the book was pretty good, even if they did telegraph the twist in it a little bit. And I like the character of Harley Quinn.
There’s been a bit of Internet grumbling about Harley’s new look, and it is certainly a more gratuitously sexy look than in a lot of other versions ((Especially than in the animated series.)), but I gotta say that those complaining must not have seen her in the Arkham Asylum video game. There’s also been some complaints about Amanda Waller’s new look – slimmed down and sexied up. There may be some merit to this complaint, but it seems like an awful lot of noise over a single panel. Anyway, the look of characters in comic books change all the time, whether as part of an editorial decision or because a different artist brings a different take to the character. With the relaunch, I figure you gotta expect even bigger changes, and I can’t see bashing an entire book because you don’t like the look of a single character.
But that’s just me.
It’s not the Superboy I grew up with – it’s the post-death-of-Superman, clone-grown-by-secret-project, funky-telepathy-telekinesis Superboy. This first issue focuses on the lab and the shady secret agency that grew him, with hints of agendas and plots and secrets. There’s some strong association to the feel of the Project: Superman miniseries from Flashpoint and the Superboy origin and recruitment from the Young Justice animated series. It’s got some promise.
I plan to continue with Week Three of this little series of posts next week, but it’ll probably be delayed some, as I’ll be traveling. Still, I’ll be able to get my comics electronically, and can read them on the bus and in the hotel at night, so hopefully I won’t fall too far behind.
I generally give a new TV show or comic series three issues to grab me, and that’s what I’m thinking with the new DC universe. I’m only going to write about the new #1s, though – after that, I just won’t have much new to say. I may post a scorecard a few months down to take a look at what I’m still reading, though. We’ll have to see.