We did it IMJ Nation™! We went through (almost all) of DC’s New 52 and it didn’t kill us or make our heads explode! Some comics were good, some were bad– and sure, some were perfectly awful… But we survived. We agreed on some titles– but mostly it seems like I got ‘em all wrong. This week we get the last batch of books, so I’m sure my sterling track record will continue. Which comics will stick around and which ones are headed toward a quick, ignoble cancellation? Only time will tell. For now let’s get through this final stack and close the lid on the beginning of one of the boldest moves made by a comic book publisher since comics began.
Written By: George Perez
Art By: Jesus Merino
The most anticipated book of the week did not fail to amaze. The horrible cover art (that I’ve had to look at for months) had me a bit nervous for the art but I had faith that George Perez would give me great Superman story… And he did.
Most of the early questions surrounding the DC Relaunch were raised primarily from the fans filled with unease over what might be happening to the publisher’s most popular heroes. Some didn’t think the DCU was “broken”… So why “fix” it? Other long-time fans were worried that the great would be sacrificed for the trendy. It didn’t help that some characters were reportedly being totally revamped, while others’ were having their continuity remain basically the same. Confusing to be sure… But I figured it was DC just wanting to have their cake and eat it too… And who can blame them? A little bit of “this”, a little bit of “that” would be a better approach than just WHOLESALE change just for change sake… Right?
Virtually everyone knows that the Batman and Green Lantern books were the biggest DC sellers before the re-do… With the Superman titles lagging behind– especially in terms of quality. Still, there were plenty of people who liked Superman just the GD way he was. In retrospect, I think it actually helped DC’s Boy Scout that the last Superman story of the “old” DCU was J. Michael Straczynki’s horrifyingly dull Grounded– which received LOTS of bad marks from the comic book cognoscenti.
As I mentioned in my Action Comics #1 review, Superman has long needed a major makeover to make him relevant… And I was hoping he would get one with these new comics. What I didn’t expect to see was his entire world get a facelift too. But it seems Superman’s world has most definitely changed in Superman #1… And I think it’s better.
The new set-up is simple: The Daily Planet has merged with another news entity in Metropolis to form a major news/media conglomerate. In the process Lois Lane, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen all receive bigger duties… While Clark is still the modest journalist attempting to keep his integrity (and his secret identity). He’s squarely opposed to the merger– which puts him at odds with Lois… Who obviously enjoys her new role as the Executive Producer of New Media. Her coverage of Superman’s aerial battle instantly establishes Lois as the strong, empowered woman we have come to expect. And finally, for the first time in the new DCU, we get to see a costumed Superman fight off a fierce enemy in one of his own books.
While the action sequences are great, Perez skillfully uses a series of revolving plot lines to move the story forward. He also AWESOMELY uses caption boxes to describe Superman’s thoughts in detail– really fleshing out the story. Although the caption boxes are later revealed to be how Clark would document the events for his column, the clever captions still had me wishing that more modern books would bring back this storytelling device. In this case–especially with this character– the captions worked beautifully.
Superman #1 is the perfect way to kick off a new era for the Man of Steel. Clark is written with much more emotion– a great departure from what we have been seeing in most of the modern Superman stories. How did DC ever think they could make the character more relatable when they rarely showed his feelings? Perez writes this Superman as a bit less experienced and a lot more hard headed– which has me excited for what’s to come.
All Star Western #1
Written By: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art By: Moritat
If you were a fan of the Jonah Hex series, then All Star Western #1 will not disappoint. Veteran Jonah Hex writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti bring the hard-riding bounty hunter into the future by taking us to the Gotham City of the past. This series serves as an unofficial continuation of the original Jonah Hex title– only without the elements of the Wild West. Using Amadeus Arkham as the narrator for this issue works as a great plot device to introduce Hex to new readers, while not hitting overused points that will feel overly redundant for existing fans. ASW #1 also gives us a great murder mystery within one of Gotham’s first secret societies. We get a lot of great “Easter Eggs” when some of the members’ identities are revealed. Have fun reading this and enjoy the extra pages of this jumbo-sized issue.Aquaman #1
Written By: Geoff Johns
Art By: Ivan Reis
A reintroduction is definitely necessary for a character that’s been absent in the DCU for so long. But the method Geoff Johns uses to do so here is a bit odd. I really don’t know how I feel about Aquaman ordering fish and chips at a local diner… Though, admittedly, it did make me laugh. Johns hits most of the dramatic notes needed for a first issue but unfortunately, it’s all less than interesting and very formulaic. That I could almost predict what was going to happen from page one was also annoying since this Aquaman reboot has supposedly been a priority on the writer’s agenda for a some time.Batman: The Dark Knight #1
Written By: Paul Jenkins and David Finch
Art By: David Finch
As usual, David Finch’s art is nothing short of fantastic. Unfortunately, we’ve been bombarded with so many Batman books this month that it’s beginning to get a bit difficult to read anything that seems remotely fresh. Here it’s more of the same: With questionable dialogue and a boring story. A giant-sized Two-Face is the main threat of this 1st issue and frankly, I’m not in the mood for another Arkham breakout. Sorry kids… But it looks like the Snyder’s main Batman book is the only Bat title really worth buying so far.Blackhawks #1
Written By: Mike Costa
Art By: Graham Nolan
It’s definitely good to have a change from the typical superhero books sometimes. Blackhawks has the same DNA as your typical G.I. Joe comic, just one set in the DCU…Which makes sense, since Mike Costa– the current G.I. Joe writer– is the author. We get a glimpse of where this covert team is stationed as well as a brief reveal for most key members. The Blackhawks art is dark and gritty– which serves this military genre perfectly. There is also a slight touch of sci-fi for those of you who may desire a bit of the fantastic.The Flash #1
Written By: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelato
Art By: Francis Manapul
The art award of the week goes to Francis Manapul as he continues to deliver some of the best Flash art that I’ve seen in a long time. Being able to draw a constantly moving force and make it look fresh every time is no small feat. My initial reaction upon hearing that the artist was also going to write this reboot was negative. I figured we’d have another Tony Daniel debacle on our hands. But this is not the case. The plot is very simplistic, yet it was still enough to get me excited for next issue.
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1
Written By: Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver
Art By: Yildiray Cinar
Let’s face it: DC has done a piss poor job with its minority characters since the relaunch. With the Mr. Terrific monstrosity and the walking Latino stereotype that is Blue Beetle– I’d say they have two strikes against them already. The Fury of Firestorm #1 finally handles the issue of race with a little more care and maturity. While the issue is only mentioned in a few panels– they seem to convey the attitude Sciver & Simone are shooting for… Without over dramatizing it. The writing is simple without sacrificing drama and the comic reads with great ease. I never felt the need to go back in order to understand what was going on. The art was a nice surprise and the colors really popped out of every action packed panel… A great starting point for Firestorm.Green Lantern: New Guardians #1
Written By: Tony Bedard
Art By: Tyler Kirkham
Green Lantern comics seem to have saturated the market as well… And much like the Bat books, they’re not all worth reading. The opinions of the IMJ Nation™ seemed mixed for the regular Green Lantern title and BORED for Green Lantern Corps. I’m here to say that if you can only afford to buy one Green Lantern family book, then make it New Guardians. If Kyle Rayner is your favorite Lantern, reading this comic will solidify your opinion. If Kyle isn’t, I still think you’ll like it. The art is fantastic and the writing is witty and funny. Lots of fun and for once. Not so much green on every page, which makes this Lantern tale easier on the eyes.
I, Vampire #1
Written By: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art By: Andrea Sorrentino
Good God! I finally finished reading this book after only… ONE HOUR! I, Vampire is by far the toughest book to read of DC’s New 52. Horrible dialogue and confusing caption boxes makes this issue a complete mess. The horrible art doesn’t do readers any favors either. The colors are extremely muddy and the overuse of blacks and sepia tones make it confusing to differentiate the characters. Lucky for me I know how to kill vampires.
Justice League Dark #1
Written By: Peter Milligan
Art By: Mikel Janin
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I did know that many people were eagerly anticipating its release but I couldn’t grasp the intense interest in so many obscure and magic-related characters throwing themselves together… Let alone calling the comic Justice League Dark. Now I know.
This issue grabs you by surprise and takes you on a fantastic journey through the paranormal side of the DCU. Milligan doesn’t waver from his usual style here, delivering another weird yet entertaining story. He does a wonderful job of explaining why the DCU needs a team like this: Basically to take on the truly wild, abnormal threats the main Justice League team is simply not equipped for. My only complaint about this book was the art. It wasn’t horrible but very inconsistent from page to page. The last few panels seem rushed and the darker color pallet didn’t seem to fit the style of pencils. All in all, a small gripe– and not enough to disparage what was a solid, enjoyable read.
The Savage Hawkman #1
Written By: Tony S. Daniel
Art By: Philip Tan
Hawkman is a character that DC has been trying to (unsuccessfully) reinvent for years. No difference here. Still, I must admit the comic’s first half had me very excited and the artwork was some of the best of the week. Unfortunately the second half of the book– which happened to be when Hawkman finally makes his appearance– is when the story lost its’ entire spark. The artwork remained good but the plot and dialogue from the evil aliens was cheesy and boring (surprise, surprise, it’s Tony Daniel at the helm). Sorry, Hawkman– but it looks like another swift cancellation is in your future. Maybe the book would be better off with a slight title change… How does The Sordid Hackman sound?Teen Titans #1
Written By: Scott Lobdell
Art By: Brett Booth
This story read much too quickly! A great start for what I hope will be a series of great Teen Titans stories. I’ve mentioned this before: I’m a sucker for team recruitment stories… And this issue we get to watch Tim Drake begin gathering a team– going after Wonder Girl first. Kid Flash also makes a quick appearance. As I mentioned last week, Scott Lobdell is also writing Superboy– so seeing him closely following his own continuity is awesome from a nerdy point of view. Superboy is still in a testing facility so there’s no fears of spoiling either title if you plan on reading them both. I can’t wait to get the next issue!
Written By: Ron Marz
Art By: Sami Basri
DC’s attempt at tackling different genres within the New 52 had been pretty good… Until this week showed a trend toward mediocrity. Now we get a sci-fi story about an alien posing as a stripper. Although the book hints that she is here to gather intel on Earth for an inevitable invasion, I sure hope we get much more than this as the series presses on. For the first time, I’m not sure I’m satisfied with having some of these books share the same Universe. At first I thought it might be fun but then comics like this come out and make me question the entire premise. There’s someone out there who will enjoy DC’s version of the movie Species– but it’s not for me.