No other event in comics has received more press than DC Comics across the board reboot of their entire line of comics. Some have called it the most exciting time in comics since the 90’s and maybe to a certain extent it is. The issues have been selling out across the country and even produced boycotts, misunderstandings and several 2nd prints, but more importantly it looks like DC’s gamble paid off as there is no way that they won’t own several if not all of the top sales spots in the month of September which puts Marvel in a spot they haven’t been in well over five years… second. The thing is people are buying these books thinking that they’re going to be of some great value and who knows maybe they will be. But if you’re a first time reader to the new DC, a frugal buyer or you just missed out on the first prints of a lot of these series like a lot of people seem to have then let’s go through what you should catch on the second go round of this major event. Of course you could always buy digitally if you don't care about your comics being on paper and if so then you definitely need this guide.
Justice League – If you haven’t read my review then let me sum it up for you again, meh. The simple fact is that this book tries to be too broad with its vision when other books are already living in the future of the DC Universe. If it was going to be a series that ran at the same time as the old DCU then it would have been more interesting, but we’ve already seen the outcome and it’s just not worth the drawn out mystery that the book is trying to create. Let’s see if it comes out on time next month and maybe, just maybe it’ll be better. But if you missed it you’re not missing much.
Verdict – Still a meh and a pass.
Action Comics – This book is ridiculous. I don’t think I’ve ever made a sound that resembled “GD” and I hope I never do, I don’t buy the cover story from Morrison and DC about it being a sound effect like "Bah" and frankly I wouldn’t care if it meant “God Damnit”, but the circus surrounding this issue is blown out of proportion and has distracted everyone from the story and art. So what about them?
Well it’s Spider-man, its DC’s answer to the superhero that has real life problems that’s relatable to the blue collar/middle-class worker. I know that sounds dumb to say because he’s freaking Superman, but that’s what it is. Clark is struggling to pay the rent and is living off of nothing and dress like a nerd, it's literally Spider-man.
The only real problem with this issue is you don’t get a true sense for the type of person either Superman or Clark is, other than the fact that when Clark is Supes he puts on a very different attitude. Luthor is in the book and Morrison plays him pretty much like he always has a ticking clock. That really seems to be the only thing he can do with Luthor is make him so smart that he can plan everything down to the second. It’s interesting once, but hopefully Morrison has something better waiting in the wings for the new Luthor. The art is great and if you don’t like it just stop reading comics.
Verdict – 3/5 – Buy, but it'll never be as good as All-Star Superman.
Batman Detective Comics – I guess they’re not calling this just Detective Comics anymore which seems really foolish, but whatever. Tony Daniel’s does a decent job with this series and he actually breathes some new life into the Joker… for about 10 pages. I was thrilled to see the long running relationship between Batman and Joker had been erased and that Batman was trying to figure the villain out again, but Batman really came across stupid. Especially since Batman appears in 3-4 other titles of this reboot, this particular version of him came across as not knowing what the hell he was doing. I’m okay with Batman being in a learning stage, but he’s never come across as someone who has to learn everything the hard way. The Joker came across like a psychopath than the unpredictable Clown Prince from old. If find it very interesting that DC let Daniel's set the tone and stage for the Joker rather than any of their Top Tier writers. The art was decent, but I have to wondering how long before another artist is brought onto the book.
Verdict – 3/5 – Buy, but be prepared to drop it when Daniel’s reverts to his old ways and the Joker to resemble his silver screen self than anything you're familiar with in the character.
Batgirl – If there was one book I was looking forward to, it was Batgirl. Granted I don’t think people actually like her as Batgirl for any reason other than the animated Batman series and almost everyone that reads comics today enjoys her as Oracle, I still liked her returning to the role she started. AsI’m sure the same bleeding hearts that called for Hal Jordon and Barry Allen’s return were excited, so to was I. Sadly though, this book wasn’t very good. In fact Gail Simone was the first creator to instantly bring up the old DC within the pages of the new DC. Sure she adds a spin on it, but it makes this title seem more like a Marvel “What If…” issue than a new ongoing series. The villain introduced is forgettable and cheesy and Babs’ life outside of the costume is overly simplified as to not give her any real problems to deal with in her life. That is to say that Babs outside of her costume is completely un-relatable to any reader which is shame since that’s where Stephanie Brown succeeded. Also the art is forgettable and suffers for mis-proportions and in general unflattering angles that make Batgirl look like a poorly posed action figure.
Verdict – 1/5 – Skip, just wait for it to be cancelled or revert back to Steph Brown as Simone is already alluding to returning Babs to her handicapped status quo (way to ruin a fresh start for everyone Simone).
Stormwatch – This is the Authority with Martian Manhunter. That’s not a bad thing at all in fact the mixture of the three things(Stormwatch, Authority, MM) is interesting and finally a great way to feed the Wildstorm characters into the DCU. Now Superman and Batman aren’t the only badasses. I think of all the series this one has the most potential to affect the DCU in a positive way and shake up the status quo. Paul Cornell may be a fan favorite, but he really brings some of his best writing to this series and while keeping them familiar adds a new flare to them to keep things interesting. The art on the other hand is barely tolerable and frankly if an actual superstar artist had been put on this book it would have been twice as successful, but instead everyone looked at the cover and wondered who the hell Miguel Sepulveda was and why his art isn’t very good.
Verdict – 4/5 – Buy, but pray for an art change… for the better.
Justice League International – So this book was a surprise. I’ve never been a fan of the JLI, but this new version has the book feeling more like Checkmate than JLI. The team is interesting, the political make up is interesting and although Booster Gold is still peddling himself to endorsements he’s far more likeable and approachable as a character. The biggest thing is that he doesn't come across as a joke. Really this is going to be his series, but the added addition of Batman was a nice touch. I liked Jurgens take on Batman as well, making him less gruff and mean and in general less approachable. Yes it’s cool when Bats is all intimidating, but I've never liked him more when he told Booster he could do the job in this issue. Batman's kind of like Wolverine, he was a loner, but now he has too many friends. Let's hope DC understands that and stops having him push everyone away.
Verdict – 4/5 – Buy, hopefully the book finds a good balance between the characters and conflicts otherwise I see the JLI taking on some stupid tasks each week in order to have the characters interact and nothing more.
Swamp Thing – Let me just say the only Swamp Thing I’ve ever read was by Andy Diggle and it wasn’t very good. I have no love affinity for Swamp Thing outside of the crappy cartoon/action figures and the first two movies. I do however like Scott Snyder’s work so there’s no surprise that this book is pretty decent. Superman makes an unnecessary appearance and the in general the story has a familiar ring to it that I couldn't quite place. It will probably drive me nuts until I think of it, but that’s what I took away from this issue I knew it and it was okay. Not great and hopefully Snyder doesn’t fall victim to trying to rehash all the previous Swamp Thing stories that came before, otherwise this will be yet another failed attempt at making this character relevant.
Verdict – 3/5 – Buy, but don’t be hopeful since people will probably bail on the series after every website constantly compares it to Alan Moore’s run on the character and suggests everyone go read that instead.
Animal Man – Another in the stable of up and coming writers for DC is Jeff Lemire and no surprise this book is also pretty good. This book is very much like Swamp Thing in that one creator really stamped his name on it and no one’s given a shit about it ever since and I don’t mean creators. I mean the fans have simply not given any other writers the chance to show that they understand this character that Morrison dominated when he was a good and hungry writer. Having never been interested by a character called Animal Man or any of Morrison’s early work I took the opportunity to come in with a fresh start for this character and I really liked it. It wasn’t a great book, but Lemire stayed true to his writing style and more importantly his roots. If you hated his Superboy, which I’m sure you did, then fear not since this is nothing like it. It's too early to tell if this is going to get great or just stay good, but I'm hopeful that this new DC has room for characters and series like this and doesn't start giving all the weird books the axe.
Verdict – 3/5 – Buy and support since it’s going to be under a lot of comparison.
Men of War – Guess which book didn’t make my cut to issue#2? That’s right this book which takes Sgt. Rock and places him in the 21stcentury. The book was boring and felt the need to teach you every bit of military jargon that it used via either unbelievable dialog exposition or editor notes. Granted, not everyone has been playing Call of Duty for the last five years, but it's boring and really anyone who's interested in a war book probably either knows or doesn't care. The pacing and format that Ivan Brandon chose to tell the story can only be described as old school. Begins with the present, goes to the past and works its way to the present again. It was so by the book that there was no reason to be interested and frankly a bit sad considering that Brandon could have been as creative as he wanted to be with this series. Instead it's paint by numbers when everyone else has moved on to a blank canvas and has free range of creativity. The art was pretty good, but not enough to save it.
Verdict – 2/5 – Skip, this book is sure to get cancelled.
Now we’re going to move on to books that I didn’t buy, but borrowed from a friend who was much braver than I and picked up all of this week’s first issues. The verdict will be a bit different as I’ll say whether I was right in skipping them or wrong. Again if it's something that should be skipped it will be "Right" and if it's something worth reading it's "Wrong", backwards I know but you'll get used to it.
Batwing – Frankly the reboot has too many Bat books, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It did have several flaws, the biggest being that it relied on Batman to show up in the issue to prove that they were tied together. The second being that the narration bounced to different points in time, but never really clarified which was the present. The biggest annoyance was that they gave Batwing his own Alfred... really not needed. Winnick did surprise me by the fact that I didn’t instantly pick up the book and say, “yup, Judd Winnick wrote this.” This is a very good thing as he really seems to have embraced the new DC and ventured out from his usual formula. Or he could have reverted back to his roots in which he came from with stories like Caper and the early years of the Exiles. The art was fantastic and Ben Oliver is the caliber of artist that all of the books should have rather than some of the fill in artists that DC seems to have lined their stable with. Oliver’s art is what really steals the show and one of the best reasons to pick up the book.
Verdict – I was wrong and will be looking to buy a copy of this when I can find it.
Green Arrow – I wanted to like this book I really did, but I can’t get into JT Krul’s writing. He writes how he comes off in real life…arrogant. I can say that after seeing him in numerous comic shops across LA and each time he just seems like a guy you would rather not waste your Saturday with. I was hoping that GA would be interesting and different and for the most part it is. Queen’s company is basically Apple and that’s a cool twist, it makes his company real and puts him up there with the other mega companies in the DCU.
The downside to all of this is that there’s already a "board member trying to take over" angle to the book and Ollie has a huge supporting cast of characters on top of that and what can only be described as C-list villains. How do you reboot a book and choose to create really crappy villains already? That’s something that happens over time not straight out of the gate. There’s potential, but I really think that Krul was the wrong choice for the book. The art team is weird and I don’t know why they would pay George Perez to ink for Dan Jurgens other than Jurgens not having the time to write and ink, but they are not a good pairing. Pérez should have inked the book with a banana and bucket of ink because the line work is terrible. Again wasted potential with this book, but if Ollie can’t sub-stain his own series at least they gave him a youthful appearance and cleaned up his company and past. He’s far more interesting now than he’s been in a decade for sure.
Verdict – I may be wrong, I may be right. Personally I’ll keep reading someone else’s copy.
Hawk and Dove – This will be the first series to be cancelled. I hope that you liked Dove and Deadman’s relationship because they’re still dating. How can she talk to Deadman you ask? Who the hell knows? Hawk is the worst character in the DCU and they’ve done nothing to change that. He’s un-relatable, unlikable and now he doesn't even talk like a male chauvinist which at least made him funny at times. Liefeld draws this book and I use that term loosely. There is literally nothing left to say about this man’s art. Are you reading The Infinite? Want to see what those characters look like with different colored hair? Done and done. There is no way that Liefeld can keep up with a monthly title no matter how much his art degrades with each issue. Not only does this book look like it was made in the 90’s, but so does the story. I can’t even believe DC would launch with this book it’s just seems like it’s everything that were trying to get away from with the reboot. Too bad if you’re Hawk and Dove fan because this baby is being thrown out with the bath water and cancelled when the sales drop.
Verdict – Right, don’t buy this book is everything that’s wrong with comics for the past two decades.
O.M.A.C. – This too is everything that has been wrong with comics in the last two decades as well. The story is very generic and basically just a mixture of the Incredible Hulk and Dr. Manhattan and the only interesting thing about it is the place setting of Cadmus labs. Otherwise if you enjoyed OMAC and Brother Eye from Infinite Crisis all that junk is back and about as interesting as it ever was. Didio can’t write and god only knows why Giffen is working with him. The art is also the worst of any of the reboots. This may actually be the first thing to get cancelled since it has nothing going for it, story, writers, art all of it is just bad. It's a tossup between this one and Hawk and Dove on who's getting the axe first.
Verdict – Right again!
Static Shock – Right off the bat, I’ve never been a Static fan and that’s why I skipped this one. I have to say though after reading it, it was a good book. It had a few problems, too many characters, played the family angle too soon and the rich benefactor that makes everything way to easy wasn’t needed at all. On top of all of that they added S.T.A.R. Labs into the mix which is just about the only thing that made it a DC book. I liked that so far it’s the only book set in New York and I think McDaniel’s captures the city as much as he can. The book reads and feels like a cartoon and that’s not a bad thing. The villains are C to D-list, but it works since Static isn’t an A-list character. He’s not Green Arrow, an A to B-list character fighting guys that aren’t in his league, no Static is evenly matched. The dialog and narration are muddled with too much information, but after reading all of the reboot books I’ll settle for too much rather than too little, at least for now.
Verdict – Wrong, I should have picked this one up and hopefully I’ll get the chance too.
There you have it, everything that you need to influence you’re buying decisions for the first set of the New 52. My biggest fear is that after all of this settles down comics we’ll be right back to where they were at the beginning of the year, but hopefully some people that walked away from comics will stick around this time and help keep the medium strong. Until next week when I have to sit here and do this again.