The DC New 52: Reviews of All the Week Two Books

Reviews by KC Carlson

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1

Upfront (what you should know about my preconceptions about the comic): A long time ago, for a short period of time, I used to edit this comic book. Also, I’m not a member of the Morrison “cult” following.

Book of the Week! I loved this comic. For me it was like reading a Superman story in the “real” 1938 Action Comics. It tapped into the original Siegel & Shuster concept of Superman fighting for social justice and “for what was right!” These were basic concepts that are so obvious that they eventually became passé for the character, ultimately being phased out in favor of mad scientists, rampaging giant monsters, and other mindless engines of destruction (aka typical DC villains). At some point, somebody (perhaps even the fans) decided that fighting for what was right was too corny a concept for such an iconic character and made Superman seem too “wimpy”.

Obviously, writer Grant Morrison thinks otherwise, and artist Rags Morales finds the character’s true power in this interpretation. I’m extremely curious how we’ll get from this to the costumed hero (in the ridiculous super-suit) that’s going to appear in Superman #1 later this month. (BTW, I’m not opposed to Superman’s outfit being redesigned — I’d just like to see one that doesn’t evoke disco and which is already dated before it even officially appears.)

We get our first taste of some of Superman’s regular supporting characters, including Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, and General Sam Lane — but not really enough of Lois and Jimmy quite yet. The other two obviously aren’t too fond of this Super-character for reasons of their own.

We also get a pretty good look at the return of Clark Kent in his wimpy (although modern-day wimp) alter ego, which for now, at least, appears to be more “hiding out” than actual alter ego. So far, I’m not sure I’m on board 100% with this, but I’m willing to give it a further look.

The surprise last page also offers up another couple of radical tidbits about Superman’s status quo in the New DCU. As the major DC character most in need of a makeover/reboot/rethinking, I think that Superman in Action Comics will be one to watch this year. I just hope for everybody’s sake they finally get it all right this time. I’m not sure I can sit through the whole “Krypton Saga” again.

Animal Man #1

Animal Man #1

Upfront: Usually love most of the obscure-o DC characters, but never really warmed up to Buddy. However — ironically — read (and loved) the Morrison run.

I knew I was going to be in trouble when DC decided to designate a number of their New 52 titles as “The Dark”. I absolutely hate what passes for “dark” in corporate comic-speak these days, because for every Alan Moore Swamp Thing (which I never considered “dark” anyway, due to its underlying positive messages of love and “green”), there seemed to be 20 comics series devoted to demon worship, decapitations, deviant sexual practices, dead people rising, and other unpleasantness — and almost always accompanied by buckets of blood. Just not a horror guy, I guess. Liked ‘em a lot when I was younger; now I’m full and don’t really need any more, thank you.

I’m just not very interested in this little corner of the DCU any more, although I understand why the New DCU is excited about promoting it, having successfully wrenched DC’s “dark” characters back from Vertigo — a largely unnecessary battle that seemed more about ego and control than telling good stories. They’re putting a horror spin on what used to be a superhero, and while they have every right to do that, it’s not what I’m looking to read.

So, Animal Man #1… I think a lot of people will like it. In fact, I’ve already been told by several people that they really like it. Since I respect their opinion, and I know that they really like this kind of storytelling, I have to conclude that this must be pretty good stuff. Just not for me.

I can say this: I really enjoyed Jeff Lemire’s work on the recent Superboy series and was sorry to see it go. And I’m looking forward to reading his take on Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., which I suspect will be more superhero than horror, based on the Flashpoint mini. I can also see that artist Travel Forman has much more than the basic “chops” of comic book artistry, but his art style used here is really not my taste.

Batgirl #1

Batgirl #1

Upfront: I’m a fan of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. I think that Barbara Gordon as Oracle is one of DC’s most brilliant concepts. I generally love Gail Simone’s writing. Man, have I got a headache.

Bottom line: Too soon to tell. And I really can’t talk too much about the issue without giving too much of it away. It’s doesn’t help that this issue answers some questions, ignores others, and provides some seemingly mystical handwaving to avoid some “reality” issues (for now). I do have to say that if we (corporately) have to have a new Batgirl, I’m glad that Gail Simone is doing it. Point of fact, there’s really nothing in this issue that says that we can’t possibly have other Batgirls again in the future — or didn’t have other Batgirls in the past when Barbara was “unavailable”. The “five-year compression rule” for the timeline makes for some interesting storytelling opportunities in the ultimate “new” Batgirl timeline — if one thinks outside the box — which pretty much defines Simone’s career to date. The rule also has potential pitfalls if not handled correctly. Sorry to be so cryptic. But there’s a very big “something” that we don’t know for sure yet.

I know that everybody wants instant answers, but I’m not sure there ARE instant answers here — at least for right now. The big question is how long fans will wait. Or if DC even cares at all about “old” fans’ wants/needs anymore.

I loved the elevator gag so much, I’m willing to stick around for awhile. And Ardian Syaf’s artwork is very interesting so far. You’ve seen it before in Brightest Day and Green Lantern Corps.

Batwing #1

Batwing #1

Upfront: Not a huge fan of the Batman: Incorporated thing, but secretly love the fact that current fans seem to not realize that it’s such an updated Silver Age concept.

I had to look up to see if Batwing had already appeared. He had — in B:I #5, which I had read and apparently forgotten. Never a good sign. Sadly, this work by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver is pretty forgettable as well. I pretty much checked out when I read “All I need is for people to die!” on page 4, and the double-“shock” ending really turned me off. It’s sad that so many modern comics creators think that brutality and gratuitous violence is an acceptable substitute for taking the time to build memorable characters.

I’m done with this book already.

Detective Comics #1

Detective Comics #1

Upfront: Historically speaking, I’ve always felt that ‘tec has nearly always been more interesting than the Batman title. But Batman usually sells much better.

Having been impressed with the previous run of Detective, I was initially pretty excited about this — until I remembered that the Batman and Detective writers had switched books. Tony Daniel is now writing Detective instead of Batman. I always felt a little sorry for Daniel, having to write “around” Grant Morrison’s Bat-stories, and not ever getting the chance to build up a head of steam on the title, knowing Morrison could throw a wrench (spanner?) into the works at any moment. So I felt that Daniel does a good job here, doing what needed to be done — reestablishing the new Bat-status quo in… uh… whatever this is called (the New 52-verse? Ugg!!!).

Apparently, we’re back to the Year One (and movie) concept of the Gotham police force being generally stupid, brutal, and corrupt — except, of course, for Commissioner Gordon and his close allies. So Gordon and Batman are again tight and eye-to-eye, which is as it should be. Playboy Bruce Wayne is apparently also back in the saddle — another good move — although we need to be occasionally shown this (rather than having it just come up in dialogue between Batman and Alfred) to really sell the idea.

Daniel’s art is effective, although I was taken aback by seeing how tank-like Batman already is, just five years into his mission in this current continuity. I know that my age puts me out-of-sync with current fan (and possibly creator and publisher) desires, but I always read Miller’s Dark Knight Returns as a horrifying potential future for the character (and retroactively, one of DC’s first Elseworlds stories, although never officially labeled as such), not something that was set in stone. Times have obviously changed, however, and since Daniel’s opening two-page spread so closely evokes Miller’s ultimate Batman, it’s very hard for this long-time comics fan not to be a little saddened by the thought that Batman could go from Kane/Finger/Robinson to proto-Miller in just five short years of now super-compressed continuity.

Also, the ending of this issue probably would have been a lot more effective if I hadn’t just re-watched John Woo’s Face/Off a week ago. What a bizarre coincidence. It’s always good to see the Joker, however, and I’m curious to see how this story plays out. I’ll be sticking around for a while — at least ‘til Detective #1,000. (Oh, you know DC will revert, at least for one issue. How can they not?)

Green Arrow #1

Green Arrow #1

Upfront: Love Green Arrow, but hated the previous series so much I actually stopped buying it.

Wow. It’s never a good sign when you completely forget what the story was about in a comic you just read three days ago. Flipping through it again, I began to realize why I had dismissed it so quickly. I had no real idea who this Green Arrow was as a character. (Mostly because writer J.T. Krul decides to emphasize action and developing the lame villains over telling us who this Green Arrow is. Oh, wait… Part of that’s a secret!) It’s also going to be problematic for old readers to relate to this corporatized Arrow, after reading for years about the lone wolf rebel that the older version of the character was. Granted, the old Ollie was severely flawed, his macho posturing and womanizing ways a relic of another (bad) era, but he was a hell of a lot more interesting than this guy, who now has a handler (wha?) and somebody else designing his equipment for him — just like a real rich guy would.

On the other hand, this new Green Arrow book is one of the best drawn comics of the New 52. It’s the work of two long-time industry veterans — Dan Jurgens (pencils) and George Pérez (inks) — who together really bring out the best of both of their strengths, with dynamic layouts and storytelling polished to a brilliant shine.

Yet, this just adds to the confusion. New readers might be thrilled by this new, slick interpretation of Green Arrow, but wouldn’t they rather have artists closer to their generation? And really — a corporate hero in this day and age? Don’t we all hate Wall Street and the rich right now? It is, after all, partially their fault that most of us can’t afford all the comics we’d like to have. (smiley)

I’m at a loss here. I love the art. Hate the writing. Love the old guy. Hate this one. Comics shouldn’t be this hard.

Hawk and Dove #1

Hawk and Dove #1

Upfront: Really enjoy the male/female concept of this classic team. Don’t think very highly of Rob Liefeld’s artwork.

My first instinct as a former editor is to grab the original art, stat Hawk’s head up about 20-25%, and have it pasted over the original. That corrections aren’t even done this way anymore — it’s all on computer — is testament to how long I’ve been out of the field. Regardless, I still had a laughing fit when I finally saw the full-sized cover artwork on the racks — the big, powerful Hawk with the little itty-bitty pin-head! Inside, his head fluctuates in size/proportion from panel to panel. Yet these days, editors apparently don’t (or aren’t allowed to) “correct” these sort of things. (sigh)

I really want to like this book. I very much enjoyed writer Sterling Gates’ work on Supergirl and the World’s Finest mini a couple of years back for DC, and I think he’s done an awesome job of pulling all the various threads of Hawk and Dove’s all-over-the-place history into a coherent — and satisfying — whole in this first issue. (He keeps Don Hall in the mix, including a reference to his heroic death. Crisis, anyone?)

While I can admit that Rob Liefeld is still great with his pin-up action shots, his ongoing inability to tell a story with his art (or even to seemingly understand where to leave more space for when exposition is needed) leaves this issue a big mess artistically. He’s still obviously only interested in drawing action or pin-up shots. And that has really hurt this first issue overall.

While I want to read more about the adventures of this Hawk and Dove, I’m not really crazy about putting money in Liefeld’s pocket, rewarding him for poor work. Chances are, he’ll flame out by issue #6 and start missing deadlines, so maybe he’ll be replaced. Sadly, his history precedes him. Why DC would hand him an important relaunch project in the first place truly baffles me. Especially when more capable and talented (and reliable) artists were turned away for the New 52 project.

Justice League International #1

Justice League International #1

Upfront: Always a fan of DC’s super-teams that spotlight the characters that don’t always get the spotlight. Dan Jurgens also loves the underdogs and generally knows exactly what to do with ‘em.

Compared to last week’s Justice League #1, this is much more satisfying as a traditional first issue. Frankly, it’s kind of amazing how many characters and concepts are presented here, although a few are underutilized (pretty standard for group books with more than seven members). After the first few pages, we realize that Jurgens possibly wanted an even bigger team, but decided to save something for future issues.

Having Booster Gold in charge makes me nervous (and for good reason, as we come to find out in one of the issue’s interesting twists), but the new team is truly International in make-up, featuring former members of previous JLA, Global Guardians, Suicide Squad, Checkmate, and even Green Lantern Corps line-ups. It’s not a team that’s going to come together easily, as demonstrated by the interactions of Booster, Batman, and Guy Gardner — one of whom walks out before issue’s end. There’s a certain amount of insubordination among some members, as well as a feeling that Batman in this new DCU isn’t as universally respected as he was in previous incarnations. (Former Global Guardian Godiva pointedly tells Bats to “sod off!” at one point. She’ll be somebody to watch!)

I’m glad to see that there’s still a place for good old straightforward super-team action in the New DCU, and Dan Jurgens is always the right guy to count on for that. Artists Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan are obviously handily capable of keeping up with him! I’m looking forward to more!

Men of War #1

Men of War #1

Upfront: Really liked the war genre as a kid, but mostly because I related to Kanigher and Kubert’s subtle anti-war stance (“Make War No More”). But when I needed money for school, my old war books were the first to be sold off (although I have regretted it ever since).

In which we are introduced to a new Sgt. Rock (the grandson of the original). It seems very odd to see a war book in this day and age — but it really shouldn’t as, sadly, it seems that there will never be a shortage of wars. Men of War appears to be in the same tradition of the classic DC war anthologies, with a few important differences.

First of all, the old DC war books were almost always telling stories of past wars (although the reader could interpret the stories as reflection on then-current wars, like Vietnam). This was an important difference, at least for me. I always felt that I was reading about history — and could chalk up the brutal violence of war to another, historical, era — rather than it being a part of current life. Yeah, I was obviously fooling myself, but I was also a born pacifist. Which is why I was reading about it, rather than “doing” it. (I am old enough to have been issued a Draft Card in my late teens — but the draft ended before I could be called. I carried it around in my wallet for years, until it finally turned to dust.)

Second, this new series adds the concept of superheroes to the mix, although not in an overt, obvious way (at least for now). This is nothing new — my youth was filled with goofy, non-canon Batman/Sgt. Rock team-ups in Brave and Bold, as well as The Invaders at Marvel, but for the most part, war stories and superhero stores don’t have a lot of obvious common ground. I’m not sure what to think about this — the superheroics are kept subtle in the lead story, and there are no superheroes at all in the the back-up — but I’ll probably stick around for a while to find out.

As for this first issue, specifically, the creators — Ivan Brandon, Tom Derenick, Jonathan Vankin, and Phil Winslade — tell compelling, human stories, with the back-up being slightly superior.

OMAC #1

OMAC #1

Upfront: OMAC is my least favorite Kirby Koncept, ever. Giffen is one of my favorite creators. Never read anything by Dan DiDio that I’ve ever enjoyed. I dropped his Outsiders after three issues.

Well, this definitely doesn’t suck. Keith Giffen’s art is gorgeous, combining traces of his early Kirby worship with thirty-some years of rock-solid storytelling. And DiDio doesn’t embarrass himself at all. Frankly, I don’t have a clue to what’s going on in here — but then again, I never really understood what Kirby was going on about with the character back in the day either. So, I am incredibly unqualified to judge this book, although I would imagine that if you’ve always loved Kirby’s OMAC, you’ll love this as well. It seems authentic and faithful to the original — and how often do you get to say that about comics these days?!

Not for me, but I bet others will love it.

Static Shock #1

Static Shock #1

Upfront: One of DC’s best underused characters/concepts.

I was very interested to see how this would work out. In a better world, the departed Dwayne McDuffie would be writing this…

I’ve always been a fan of artist Scott McDaniel. His big, chunky work has been an anomaly in an ever-growing world of thin-line artists and inkers, but it really serves him well in denoting the power behind the characters he draws. His Static is maybe a little too stocky for a teen character, but I can live with that if it helps to elevate Static into more of a DC star by emphasizing his action-oriented power. So the art on this new book is in a very good place.

I’m a little concerned that the writing (by both McDaniel and John Rozum) may hold it back a little. The emphasis on science may be slowing down the action a mite. Which is difficult for me to say, having been raised on Schwartz, Fox, and Broome “super-science”. Granted, there is a lot of science to get established in this series — and Virgil IS a self-avowed science geek — but there were a couple of passages here that wandered pretty close to textbook territory. Not good when you’re trying to establish your “cult” character more fully in the mainstream. Let’s be generous and chalk this up to first-issue exposition gone wild.

I’m probably in the minority here, but I think re-establishing the Milestone characters as a solid part of the DCU — rather than isolated in the “Dakota-verse” (whatever that was) — is a move in the right direction, hopefully giving Static the big break-out his character has always deserved. It’s good to see that other Milestone concepts — such as Hardware — are also going to be a part of the New DCU. The New 52 is much better place to debut them rather than quietly slipping them into established DC books as supporting characters, which didn’t exactly work out when DC tried it a couple of years back.

My one BIG misgiving: that final panel. Wasn’t there enough slicing and dicing and mutilating of characters in the old DCU? Seeing the now-cliched concept dragged into the New DCU is not forward-thinking. I hope that, due to the nature of Static’s powers, this might be something altogether different than what I’m expecting/dreading. I hope enough that I’ll be back next issue to find out. But it really does make me wonder if a lot of current DC creators were a bunch of sad little Sids next door, spending their childhoods ripping the arms and legs off their favorite action figures.

Stormwatch #1

Stormwatch #1

Upfront: Have never read an issue of Stormwatch.

You would think, then, that I might be the ideal audience for this start-from-scratch #1 issue, wouldn’t you?

You’d be absolutely wrong.

I had no earthly idea what was going on in this issue, no real sense of who or what any of the characters were all about — save for recognizing what looks like the Martian Manhunter — nor did I really care. I did get the sense that there was a backstory important to at least some of these characters — but apparently not important enough for the creators to fill me in.

Unfortunately, since I got the impression that most of the characters were condescending assholes, I don’t think I need to come back. I certainly don’t feel welcome to come back. Further, this issue ties into a story that’s yet to be published. Always a great idea if you want to confuse new readers immediately. (Sarcasm alert!)

This was especially disappointing, since I was enjoying writer Paul Cornell’s work in Action Comics and some of his earlier work for Marvel. Maybe I’ll have better luck with his Demon Knights.

Swamp Thing #1

Swamp Thing #1

Upfront: Used to be among my favorite characters/concepts since its early Wein/Wrightson origins. Stopped reading the character when Rick Veitch’s “Swamp Thing meets Jesus” story got deep-sixed by DC.

This — by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette — is quite good. Bordering on amazing!

It seems designed for fallen readers like me, with its touchstones to Alec Holland and ties to the rest of the DCU. Curiously, we see the “new” (and current) Superman here before we even see him in his own book, plus we discover that he has previously died (hinting that the original Doomsday storyline has survived into this new, streamlined DCU). The creators tease a connection between Holland and Swamp Thing — evoking the original series — and set up a creepy mystery (although not too creepy — yet) which is out of the early Moore playbook, which certainly presses all the right buttons for this fallen Swamp Thing fan. Also, much of Paquette’s art evokes a bit of Bissette and Totleben (the latter is also cheekily name-checked in the story) while retaining a style of his own.

While not a done-in-one first issue, there’s certainly enough good stuff here to ensure I’ll be back for #2. A clever bit of misdirection in the final pages assures that. I hesitate to say too much about this issue, not wanting to give away too many of the good bits. I’m glad I saved this one for last.

Weekly Wrap-up Scorecard

Top Notch: Action Comics, Swamp Thing

Back for More: Batgirl, Detective Comics, Justice League International, Static Shock, Justice League (from last week)

On the Fence: Green Arrow, Men of War

Not My Thing, But You Might Like It: Animal Man, OMAC

I’m Probably Done: Batwing, Hawk and Dove, Stormwatch


19 Responses to “The DC New 52: Reviews of All the Week Two Books”

  1. Westfield Comics Blog » Link blogging: KC reviews more of DC’s New 52 Says:

    […] at Comics Worth Reading, regular Westfield contributor KC Carlson continues his reviews of DC’s New 52. This time he looks at the second week’s releases: Action Comics, Animal Man, Batgirl, […]

  2. Kenn Says:

    Good reviews there! I actually have read some Stormwatch/Authority/whatever in the past, and still got the same feeling about this issue!
    Green Arrow is more or less the Smallville version, which might appeal to new readers. I liked it, but didn’t love it.
    I wish Batgirl had spent LESS time on TKJ and given us a Barbara with Batgirl physicality and Oracle brains. She SHOULD have the capacity for both.
    Totally agree about Action! The best of the lot for me!

  3. James Schee Says:

    Yay, been waiting for these as I wanted a bigger format to talk about these comics.

    I was really impressed by Action Comics #1, its just so refreshing to see a Superman that is actually DOING something instead of being so passive. Good intro for the Clark Kent part too, that was more character building in the scene with his landlord, than I’d seen in the Superman books in years.

    Detective was an odd duck, as there were things I liked, the interaction with Alfred, Jim Gordon etc. Yet the amount of gore seemed a bit extreme for me.

    Animal Man was interesting I thought. I’m a little off put by horror as you, so I’m a little worried as to where this is going. Yet as the one married couple in the DCU (at least so far) I’m holding out hope that the family will come through.

    I was really surprised by Batgirl, it took directions I didn’t think it’d go. I think it has some real potential.

    One thing though, I’ve only read it digitally and had a question. On page 4 where they have the credits and Babs is swinging. Is her foot sticking out towards the reader drawn wrong? It looks like the bottom of her right foot is drawn as a left foot instead.

    I liked Men of War, I haven’t read a lot of war comics, but this one was really interesting and has me curious to see what happens next in both stories.

    Hawk & Dove was just a mess, my first exposure to the characters was Armageddon 2001 which wasn’t a good one for them. This I saw nothing to pull me in. Its odd as well, back in the 90s I liked Liefeld’s Youngblood when I found the mini in a pack of comics at Wal-Mart. This was just awful though.

    Green Arrow is one of those characters that for some reason or another I have never been able to appreciate. When you have him fighting characters that even he calls losers it just doesn’t have anything for me to care about. Its a very well drawn book though.

    JLI was just a ton of fun though, I’m looking forward to learning more about these new characters that I don’t know a thing about (Chinese hero and Lady Godiva) and also seeing how old friends have changed.

    Swamp Thing just lost me, I’ve never really read much of the characters stories and it just baffled me. Static Shock was a bit too slow for me for a first issue. Batwing and OMAC… I just don’t get the appeal of it, maybe its because I hated the whole evil army of OMACs thing from a few years ago.

    My problem with Stormwatch, is that it required prior knowledge to really get it. An odd thing is that I think (I could be wrong) that these were all characters that weren’t introduced until the book became The Authority. It’d been nice to see some of the actual Stormwatch characters like Fuji or the like.

    My list:

    Top Notch: Action Comics, JLI and Batgirl

    Back for More: Detective Comics, Justice League (from last week), Men of War and Animal Man

    On the Fence: Stormwatch, Static Shock

    Not My Thing, But You Might Like It: OMAC, Swamp Thing

    I’m Probably Done: Batwing, Hawk and Dove and Green Arrow

  4. James Schee Says:

    Here’s the Batgirl page I’m talking about:

    http://www.nypost.com/rw/nypost/2011/08/29/news/web_galleries/g_bat_girl/bat_girl_photos100–400×600.jpg

  5. Bytowner Says:

    The big question is how long fans will wait. Or if DC even cares at all about “old” fans’ wants/needs anymore.

    Wouldn’t the act of the reboot itself be the answer to that?

  6. Johanna Says:

    I’m still working my way through the stack, so I started with the bad ones, figuring that they’d be easiest. Maybe I’m in a really good mood, but I was intrigued by the twists of Animal Man, wanting to see how he deals with his family. Swamp Thing, on the other hand, bored me with all that talking.

    I think that Stormwatch is firmly in the history of that title. Yes, its characters are full of attitude, but that’s what its fans like. I want to see how they win over Apollo and the Midnighter, and the Projectionist is a nicely modern addition.

    OMAC is insane, not in a bad way, but there’s no story there yet. And I really like the characters of Hawk and Dove but agree that the art is highly unpleasant to read.

  7. Anthony Says:

    Superman’s “disco” costume, such as it is, still looks better than the “Li’l Abner”/”designed by a 5-year-old” “costume” he has on in “Action”… :-p

    And yeah, I didn’t care for the Static-limb-severing either. (Which dredges up one flaw of the “new DCU”… that it’s mostly the same *old* writers/editors/DiDio in charge of it, including apparently shock-value violence.). Nice comparison of DC’s writers to Sid from “Toy Story”…

    Re: its name: fans/comic sites online seem to have taken to calling it “the DCnU” (DCU + “new”), which is the worse acronym I’ve ever seen (an acronym with a lower-case letter in the middle?!). I’m sticking with “DCNU” (all upper-case)…

  8. Basque Says:

    Good reviews, but I’m a little sad to see Animal Man dismissed as “one of the bad ones” in response to this. Opinions will vary, of course, but until I saw this review, the buzz from blogs, review sites and twitter seemed to be near universal praise for it.

    For me, Animal Man was the winner of the week. I was as turned off by the “dark” grouping in the PR/solicits as everyone else, but Animal Man (like Swamp Thing) rises above that poor marketing decision and stands on its own as a truly unique and brilliant comic. Jeff Lemire’s take on the characters seems spot on. In what little we see of Buddy’s family in the issue, I was immediately thrown back into the old pre-Vertigo take on the character from Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan’s runs. And the art (though a little inconsistent, perhaps due to multiple inkers) was pretty brilliant as well.

    That’s just my opinion, of course. I just got the impression that the book was dismissed more because it happened to be part of the “dark DCU” than for what it did. And I don’t really see what’s so dark about it when Swamp Thing, which feels like full-on horror from a writer who specializes in full-on horror titles (even his Detective run was basically horror), gets a positive review.

    Anyway, I hope people will try Animal Man. It’s probably true that it’s not for everyone, but I think it was the best comic from DC last week.

  9. Thad Says:

    Animal Man was my favorite. Sure there was eye-bleeding and other macabre imagery, but I didn’t really see it in a dark/horror vein; I got more out of the wonderful balance of the mundane with the supernatural, and the mystery of just what exactly is going on. I like the idea that Animal Man and Swamp Thing seem to be converging as two sides of the supernatural coin — though on the whole I found Swamp Thing lacking. (Too much talky-talky, and I didn’t read Brightest Day. And the last-page reveal was more baffling than anything.)

    I quite liked Action, too; the original “socialist vigilante” version of Superman is my favorite and I’ve been wanting to see somebody bring back that version of the character for ages. Sure, it cribs heavily from Spider-Man 2, but that’s not a bad thing.

    I’d probably put Men of War at #3 just because of a bias in favor of titles that try new things. That said, while I haven’t had a chance to read Stormwatch yet, I suspect Men of War is the most Wildstorm-like book of the relaunch.

    CBR has some reactions from new readers that I find instructive:
    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=34344

    It’s telling that the only books people were really satisfied with were Action and Detective, because they already know who Superman and Batman are and don’t feel like they’re missing any important backstory. (Memo to DC/Warner: this means you can stop retelling their damn origin stories now.) Obviously it’s a small sample but it IS interesting and disheartening to note that nearly everybody is frustrated and feels like they don’t know who the characters are or what’s happening.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Basque, sorry, I was trying to say that I disagreed with KC when it came to Swamp Thing (he liked, I didn’t) and Animal Man (I liked, he didn’t). I’m with you in wanting to see more of the latter. I think KC was hoping for more of the traditional superhero approach, (which is just a matter of taste).

    I couldn’t even finish Men of War. Distinctly not for me, and at the higher price, I’m not surprised it was among the lower-ordered. Thanks for sharing that new reader response link, Thad. Very enlightening. I know who most of these characters are, but it would have been smarter (IMO) for DC to do a few more stand-alone new-reader-friendly single-issue stories.

  11. Basque Says:

    Oh yeah. There was just a little bit of cognitive dissonance in my head when I read, “I started with the bad ones. Animal Man…” :)

  12. Johanna Says:

    Ha! Sorry about that. Should have put “bad ones” in quotes.

  13. Thad Says:

    “I know who most of these characters are, but it would have been smarter (IMO) for DC to do a few more stand-alone new-reader-friendly single-issue stories.”

    Indeed. I think it’s smart that they aren’t doing a bunch of origin stories (the new Sgt. Rock is the only one I can think of offhand — and given that he’s actually a new character that’s to be expected), but a little more background on the characters would be a good idea. Tantalizing readers and leaving them questions they want the answers to is good, but it’s not the same thing as leaving them with an incomplete story.

    I have no idea what the hell is going on with Swamp Thing, and I’ve read some of the Moore run. The issue isn’t even friendly to people who have a basic familiarity with the character, let alone ones who just dimly remember action figures in the early 1990’s, let alone kids born in the mid-1990’s.

  14. Byron Says:

    I read just about every comic book blog or website there is. I listen to plenty of comic book review podcasts. Of the many many sites out there, there were only two well done impartial reviews. Robot 6 and this one by KC. Dispasionate, snark free, hate free, cheerleader free. Nothing like “this book was TERRIBLE! I’m boycotting the entire 52!! Rabble Rabble!!”

    So thanks. I don’t agree with all of your opinions but I appreciate the even handed tone and the professionalism.

    I’m sure Johanna will totally ruin it all by giving plenty of snark when she starts her 52 reviews. Just kidding. Johanna’s snark seems less shrill and annoying and more like what would pass for snark in an archie comic. ;)

  15. Byron Says:

    Also, just to comment on the whole Superman/Action timeline disconnect; DC was incredibly stupid for not putting some sort of text on the opening page to clarify when exactly Action takes place in relation to the other books. Why does DC suck so bad at this?

    Marvel always seems to do better in this regard. You can come on board virtually any Marvel comic and you’ll get a paragraph telling you exactly what’s going on. It’s such a simple thing. I’m seriously rooting for DC.

    Given the dispproportionate amount of hate directed at them for this reboot they have become underdogs to me and I’m trying to support this new launch. But jeez DC! This was 100% avoidable.

  16. Good Comics Out September 14: Nah Nah Nah Superheroes! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] continues its launches, which I won’t be able to read until this weekend since KC gets first crack at them. I’m most interested in seeing Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Mister Terrific, and […]

  17. Johanna Says:

    Thank you, Byron. When I can talk KC into doing reviews, he’s very good at them.

  18. Thad Says:

    @Byron: DC’s intro page hate is rooted in a rational idea — that you should be able to pick up a book and figure out what’s going on from the cues in the story and dialogue; show, don’t tell — but in practice it seems that they’re not very good at it.

    (I loved Wednesday Comics but found it utterly vexing that it couldn’t devote a single sentence at the beginning of each strip to recap what happened the previous week. I love the format and would love to see it as an ongoing, but that’s completely hostile to new readers.)

    I suppose Action’s “recap” could have consisted of only three words: “Five years ago…” Then again, maybe that would take new readers out of the story, thinking it’s a flashback and waiting for it to catch up to the present. Dunno; we’ll see how Perez handles it in Superman, I guess.

    On the whole, though, like I said, if that article’s any indication of a consensus then Action is one of the books that didn’t need an explanation, because people know who Superman is. And between the #1 and the story cues (most notably the costume), it’s clear that this is set early in Superman’s career.

    It probably also bears noting that the audience is fully prepared for a “prequel” Superman story by the past decade of Smallville.

  19. dave k Says:

    Wow, what a great set of reviews. First time reader and commenter, but had to thank you for such well rounded, thoughtful, funny (yet non-contemptuous) work.

    You managed to avoid all the things that drive me crazy about both positive and negative reviews on pretty much any kind of media these days.

    I wish more critics would understand that admitting something is “not their thing, but you might like it” wins big credibility points.




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