- Posted by Johanna on November 22, 2011 at 9:15 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
I just read through a month and a half’s worth of DC’s titles, and now that we’re firmly into month 3, my reading list has been winnowed greatly. Here are the five books I’m going to continue buying.
One of the big challenges with these titles is that they only have 20 pages available, which makes it rare to find satisfying comics that are enjoyable on their own, instead of as part of a bigger continuing story. A big fight scene, while perhaps visually exciting, can leave this reader feeling like I’ve wasted my money. Other books are made up of bits, not coming together into a cohesive whole. But enough on what others are doing wrong. Here are the ones I think are getting stuff right.
Legion Lost #3
by Fabian Nicieza & Pete Woods
While the main Legion of Super-Heroes title feels disjointed to me, trying to cover too many characters in not enough space, this one has a simple premise that allows greater focus. (Plus, it’s in keeping with the history of the concept.) A small team — Timber Wolf, Wildfire, Tyroc, Dawnstar, Tellus — has been trapped in our time, where they’re trying to stop another alien from infecting humans with some kind of space plague.
I actually care about this threat (unlike in some of the other 52), I can follow it from issue to issue, and it’s visually interesting. The characters are well-chosen for a blend of powers and personalities, some of which have been under-served in the past, so I’m glad to spend more time getting to know them better.
I’ve always liked team books better than solo superhero stories, because they allow for more different characterizations. I would have liked this better with more than one girl hero (although that may be addressed next issue), but while all these team members have reason to be angsty and upset, they’re still acting as heroes, trying to make things better for others in spite of their own trauma.
Birds of Prey #3
written by Duane Swierczynski; art by Jesus Saiz
Speaking of team books, I’m glad this one is shaking out into something I might like. I’m still not sure about new character Starling, who seems too much a plot device. She always wins her fights, she’s always thought two steps ahead, and she doesn’t need anything from anyone. I hope her character gets fleshed out with some weaknesses and three-dimensionality soon.
I miss Oracle, but I’m glad to see Black Canary and Katana. This issue, they recruit Poison Ivy, leading to a debate on which methods are acceptable for their goals. (Which I’m a little fuzzy on right now.) The emphasis has been on action over depth so far, but a Katana who talks to her dead husband’s soul stuck in her sword intrigues me. And I do want to support an all-woman team.
by J.H. Williams III; co-written by W. Haden Blackman
Another book that’s showing interaction among women broken in various ways. Kate Kane has a dynamite design, immediately drawing the eye wherever she appears, and her backstory is equally involving, with a sister she thought dead but who may have become a demented villain. I like the way her dad supports her, I like seeing cousin Bette as her apprentice/sidekick, and I’m tickled by her burgeoning relationship with officer Maggie Sawyer. I never thought I’d see Cameron Chase again, but here she is, too, still working for the DEO investigating supers.
What sets this book apart from all others, though, is the stunning art by Williams. Most of the book is composed in two-page spreads, which opens up the story and also benefits the comic in another way: it’s much better suited to read in print than online. This is a book to buy, not browse digitally.
Wonder Woman #3
written by Brian Azzarello; art by Cliff Chiang
I’m a bit surprised at what’s driving some of my picks, since two of my selections are art-focused (at least in terms of why I choose to keep reading them). Normally, the story is the most important factor for me, but I love Chiang’s work, and I’m very glad it’s on display in a monthly title.
I disagree with the choices made — to position this book as a horror title, to reveal a father for Diana — but at least someone seems to have a vision for the character that isn’t retro and has a direction that makes sense based on her history. I’m assuming that Azzarello will continue following up on how this makes Queen Hippolyta a liar to her people, but I’m disappointed on how this rips apart one of the few mother/daughter relationships seen in superhero comics. (So many of them are about the father, as though only that one parent shaped a child.) I guess he felt he needed a reason to make Wonder Woman into a superhero connected more to our world than hers.
I’m pleased to see the Amazons used as supporting characters (although that might be changing), and the gods appearing modernized, so we’re not reading the same thing we’ve seen before. And gracious, it’s lovely, with simple, direct designs and excellent storytelling. I just don’t have the words to do justice to Chiang’s skill.
Green Lantern #3
written by Geoff Johns; pencils by Doug Mahnke; inks by Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, and Tom Nguyen
I’ve already talked about how surprised I am that I’m following this title, but by putting the relationship (and the attendent power struggles) between Hal Jordan and Sinestro front and center, I’ve got a hook that I never before had when reading about magical space cops.
Sinestro needs help, because his Corps have turned against him. So he’s willing to give the disgraced Hal Jordan (I love that phrase, because I’m very ambivalent about him, historically) back a ring in return for his help. This actually makes Sinestro somewhat sympathetic (although he’s made his own problems), which ties in nicely with the movie portrayal.
Johns is doing an excellent job with cliffhangers as well, making this a great read month to month. Each last page leaves me wondering what he’s going to do next.