Week 2 of the DC Relaunch found me enduring lines at comic stores for the first time in years! It’s fun to see people coming out and buying books again but are we just going through another false speculation boom… Or, as DC promised, are these titles delivering on the promises of a brave new comic book world? Lets delve into Week 2 of “The New DC 52” and start to find out!
Resurrection Man #1
Written By: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art By: Fernando Darning
As the IMJ Book of the Week™ came to a climactic close, there were two things on my mind: One was how much longer it seemed to take to get through Week 2 of the DC Relaunch (for reasons I’ve yet to determine or understand)… And Two: How much reading Resurrection Man #1 made it all worthwhile. Now I know it seems inexplicable that reading comics all day can seem like a chore… But it can be and sometimes is– especially when you are attempting to make your column deadline. If you’re in this to be fair-minded (and not paid to present a certain opinion like some “reviewers” from some PUFF SITES I won’t mention), then you’re doing everything possible to give every book its’ proper due… Mindful that you also have to get to work writing your reviews.
Let’s forget that pressure for now and discuss how refreshing Resurrection Man #1 truly is. I’m still amazed that it is in my hands, considering HOW DEEPLY OBSCURE this awesome character was before this week.
This guy was a little more than a tiny spot on my “Comics Radar” when DC made their New 52 announcements. I wasn’t familiar with the character from the creative team’s original run– though I was very familiar with the Abnett and Lanning’s stunning work on Marvel’s Cosmic Comic Book Line. This week (for once), I actually did save the BEST for last… And this comic was good enough to boost my opinion of DC’s output this week by entire letter grade.
Who is Resurrection Man? That’s usually the key question you have to at least partially answer to successfully launch a new #1 issue– even more so when you’re dealing with a relatively unknown quantity like RM. This kind of comic needs to not only appeal to new readers– but resonate with returning die-hard fans as well. I had never read a Resurrection Man comic in my life, so I was happy this first issue was NEW reader friendly… So friendly that I never felt gypped that the writers didn’t provide us with an origin story.
Which is good, because Resurrection Man #1 starts by throwing us smack in the middle of a big story arc. Finally, some writing that doesn’t assume the reader is a complete idiot and can’t figure out a character without having to have their heads beaten in with gobs of expository dialogue filled with the “hows and whys”! As a seasoned reader, I think I’ve just grown tired of origin stories… Which is why I was pleased to skip it here.
We are even treated to a great opening monologue… Best of the week, hands down. But use of this device can be as problematic as it is pragmatic: It can successfully guide the reader through important establishing plot and character moments or it can create a complete and complex mess that comes off as near-unfathomable. But the words here immediately grabbed me and piqued my interest in the character and what he was feeling– while simultaneously giving me several snapshots of who he is.
We’re then treated to vague understanding of how RM’s powers work and the mission he is on. (In this particular case, the reason behind this mission is a mystery– even to him.)
What a clever idea! A hero that repeatedly resurrects in order to accomplish a specific goal. The premise seems vaguely familiar, yet refreshingly original– at least in the superhero genre. Almost like Night of the Living Dead meets Quantum Leap. Lanning & Abnett also continuously find new ways to keep us guessing– which is an extremely good thing.
When RM meets a mysterious figure that knows what he’s all about, the comic makes a deliberate tonal shift. This leads to an exciting, beautifully drawn mid-air battle sequence (they’re on a plane when the $%*# hits). This double page spread– great for story development and obviously great looking– brings me to the tipping point of what made this issue GREAT: Fernando (Justice League: Generation Lost) Dagnino’s art is utterly jaw dropping. This book will no doubt bring huge, much-deserved attention to the Spanish artist. His clean and detailed lines bring out the dynamic in each panel– which, in essence, gives each page in the comic its’ own personality.
By the end of Resurrection Man #1, all the excitement is nicely packaged into a COMPLETE story. Still, as I turned to that last page– I couldn’t help but want for more. This book has me excited for the paranormal world DC has lined up for us– mainly since Abnett and Lanning have such a great track record for staying dedicated to their projects. As long as THIS creative force stays on THIS book, we can only assume that we will continue to get a fantastic comic.
Batman & Robin #1
Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Art By: Patrick Gleason
As DC attempts to release a Batman-centric comic book every seven days, this week we get Batman and Robin. Since Grant Morrison left the book over a year ago, my interest in this comic has purely been focused on the characters and unfortunately not the creative team. Thankfully, Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman & Robin #1 brings back the dynamic that I didn’t realize I was missing when Damien Wayne was brought into the Bat-fold.
Damien brings just the right amount of independent “Yin” to Batman’s “Yang”– while still maintaining a great chemistry between father and son. The first half of the comic had fantastic art by Patrick Gleason. Strangely, the second half seemed a bit rushed. The result was straight up Batman book that took no dramatic risks nor deviated from what I expected. It wasn’t bad but it was also nothing that I haven’t read in many a Batman story before. That said, it was the inconsistent art that kept me from giving this book the “Bag It” tag.
Written By: J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman
Art By: J.H. Williams
Probably the most hyped book of the week also delivered exactly what I thought it would: Amazing art with a not so amazing story. I’m sure you’ve already read about how great this book is from various other comic book sites. You might fall into the same trap that I almost fell into by actually believing those reviews. But reading this comic I couldn’t help but wonder: Did I really like it or was I just trying to convince myself that I did because I so desperately wanted to?
I’m sorry, but despite how beautiful this book is, I cannot confidently advise you that you will receive anything groundbreaking story-wise. An okay ending– and I’ll definitely buy the next issue… But, all-in-all, nothing great.
Written By: Kyle Higgins
Art By: Joe Bennett
This comic was a blind side smack in the face. A runner-up for my IMJ Book of the Week™, this was the first story in a long time that had me laughing out loud within the first two pages. A fast and fun ride, Deathstroke #1 was another great example of what I want out of my comic books: Comedy, action, suspense and a fantastic twist ending that I didn’t see coming. A great start for a great character. I can’t wait for the next issue.Demon Knights #1
Written By: Paul Cornell
Art By: Diogenes Neves
Paul Cornell’s Demon Knights #1 was another great surprise this week. Set in a completely different era than the rest of the new DCU, this book is certain to scratch any fantasy fan’s itch. This is DC’s take on the medieval, with a heaping dose of old-fashioned sword fighting and magic. If curses cast by Camelot’s Merlin, action and intrigue are your thing– then this book is a MUST BUY!Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
Written By: Jeff Lemire
Art By: Alberto Ponticelli
I’m not sure what’s in the water over at DC but so far all of their non-superhero books have been stealing the NEW 52 show. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 is no exception. Let me describe the book to you in two words: Creature Commandos. That’s a concept I can get behind! Frank is the Team Leader who recruits a Werewolf, a Mummy medic and an Amphibian/Human scientist. Together they fight a shit-load of other monsters. This comic is a freakin’ monster mash of fun and has arrived just in time for the fall. Go get this now!Green Lantern #1
Written By: Geoff Johns
Art By: Doug Mahnke
I’m not exactly sure what DC’s trying to do to Hal Jordan but it IS obvious that they are taking him in a different direction. In Justice League #1 he’s basically a total douchebag— which, at least, made him a little different from what we are used to. Geoff Johns then takes the douchebaggery to the next level in Green Lantern #1, as his “new” Hal is a broke ex-fighter pilot who can’t pay the bills. This douche is so low that he’ll even use the pretext of a romantic dinner to ask his girlfriend to co-sign a lease for a new ride he can’t get credit for. I’ll admit that as much as I love the traditional Hal Jordan, this new spin on the character made the GL book fun to read– the best since Blackest Night ended. With Hal no longer wielding a ring, we also see Sinestro turning into a Green Lantern. For my money, this was the best DC superhero comic this week.Grifter #1
Written By: Nathan Edmondson
Art By: Cafu
I don’t blame DC for trying to put their spin on a Wolverine-type character– but perhaps they could have been a little less blatant… With Grifter’s mutton chops and greasy hair being a dead giveaway to their intentions. But hey, that’s all right. The book was fun and made me want to come back… Which is more than I can say for some of DC’s other nascent offerings.
With the exception of never allowing Grifter to fully suit up, I am behind the creators’ building their action/mystery storyline a bit slow. The basics: Grifter is taken captive and knocked out for an unknown amount of time. Now there are people after him. And we finally do get a nice close-up of Grifter with his trademark mask– which I admit amped my inner fanboy for the next issue.Legion Lost #1
Written By: Fabian Nicieza
Art By: Pete Woods
My only BURN IT! of the week, Legion Lost #1 had me dozing off in the middle of the day. I’ll readily admit I’ve never cared for the Legion of Super Heroes. Sadly, DC’s Relaunch hasn’t done anything to change my opinion. It’s still a bunch of characters that I don’t care about doing a bunch of things that I don’t care about. The art was okay– making this first issue somewhat tolerable… But when I was done with the book, I wanted my 20 minutes back. Unfortunately, like this comic– they are now lost to me forever.Mister Terrific #1
Written By: Eric Wallace
Art By: Gianluca Gugliotta
Okay, I’m going to tread lightly here, in hopes that I don’t offend anyone.
I truly believe diversity in comic books is very important. I also believe that we are all equal. And I believe that we should treat everyone like we want to be treated. That all said, reading Mister Terrific #1 made me feel stupid– or at least like the creator was attempting to make me feel stupid.
When I read my comics, I want two very simple things: Good story and Good art. I’m such a fan that I’ll even sometimes tolerate a little mediocrity in the medium I love. What I will NOT tolerate: Creators “talking down” to me. Case in point: I don’t need to be reminded that our lead character is African-American. Yet writer Eric Wallace does– or more, specifically, has Mister Terrific do it for him in the Fourth Panel on Page Four. Looking at two onlookers, he says, “…A simple, ‘Thanks Black guy for saving us from a homicidal lunatic wearing weaponized body armor’ will do.”
Yes, he actually says that.
I decided to ignore this very out of character moment for Mister Terrific and continued to read what was actually a great story with great art. Then, it happened a second time– Page 15, Panel 3. Mister T’s date (an uncredited Power Girl)says to a jealous Aleeka, “I get it, it’s because I’m a WHITE GIRL isn’t it?” To which Aleeka replies, “And I’m a BLACK WOMAN, which means I’m built to handle things you can’t even imagine or never had to.”
That’s the EXACT MOMENT this book EARNS its BORED TAG. It’s a real shame that the writer felt the need to beat us over the head with the obvious, as the rest of this book was enjoyable. It’s all just so REGRESSIVE. Consider my rating a slap on the wrist for Wallace ignorantly underestimating the intelligence of the comic book audience. I’ll still buy the next issue but if this becomes a constant theme in the book– then I will no longer be interested.Red Lanterns #1
Written By: Peter Milligan
Art By: Ed Benes
This book was not what I was expecting… And I doubt that it will last more than a few story arcs before being inevitably cancelled. I don’t think Atrocitus (the lead Red Lantern) is a very relatable character. Even as an anti-hero he’s not that interesting. This book has some pretty annoying Red Lantern-speak too. The big A’s idea of turning over a new leaf so he can fight injustice throughout the galaxy also makes him MUCH LESS menacing. Actually, in the time that I’ve written this mini-review, I can’t really think of anything memorable enough to recommend it to you. In other words, I’m…Suicide Squad #1
Written By: Adam Glass
Art By: Federico Dallocchio
When I saw that Harley Quinn was front and center on the cover of this book, I immediately thought this was going to be a new take on Gotham City Sirens. Boy, was I wrong. This very adult book has military-style torture scenes featuring some of DC’s baddest people. The plot is ultra simple: It’s a VILLAIN team book, where an unknown entity puts some of the DCU’s biggest degenerates together to carry out missions of murder and mayhem. I can’t say that there was anything deep here, but it was a quick read and lots of fun.Superboy #1
Written By: Scott Lobdell
Art By: R.B. Silva
My final book of the week is Superboy #1. When Jeff Lemire’s take on the character published last year, I gave it a try… And I couldn’t get behind it. The character was a bore and kind of a dick. This is where the NEW DC 52 continues to amaze me: This new Superboy comic gives us a different kind of story that is actually quite engaging. Superboy has been genetically altered with the D.N.A. of a human and an alien. It’s obvious that the alien D.N.A. belongs to Superman– but who is the human donor? The obvious guess would be Lex Luthor but I guess we’ll all have to wait for the answer in this new universe. This comic was fun (there’s that word again)– and even gave us a little teaser panel for the Teen Titans. It seems that Superboy and the Titans title may be closely tied– so if you’re planning on trying out the new Teen Titans comic, then this book here may be a great primer.