Monday, September 26, 2011

Week 3 in the new DCnU

Wow. What a week. This week was filled with controversy for the wrong books, with further character assassinations that add Red Arrow, Starfire, Catwoman and most unfortuantely Jason Todd, to the Amanda Waller book of how not to have a reboot. A real shame because it should have been about how spectacular Batman was, how Wonder Woman is back to being interesting and how the Green Lantern Corps dealt with the same idea the Green Lantern book did in more successful fashion. Reviews follow below:

by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
The Good: Everything about this book is stunning and it has to be tied for first place with Batwoman for the best book thus far in the new 52. Batman #1 throws in a mixture of the mysteries of Gotham and a mystery a little reminiscent of Seven in which both the culprit and the detective are way ahead of the viewers in intent and depth. There are beautiful little tributes to everything that Batman is and has been lately, and it's delivered in quick witty writing. Snyder really gets everyone, from a cameo of Jim Gordon Jr. in Arkham that says so much in one panel and no words, down to one liner delivered by Damian in the whole issue that says it all, right in the middle of a perfect Batfamily portrait. Just beautiful. And the ending sets up the biggest most exciting change in dynamics I have seen in the DC world thus far.
The Bad: Snyder is always wordy, but effective. I felt Bruce's speech could have been edited for brevity since the point was made clearly by everything else in the scene. But other than that, this book is flawless.
The Grade: A+
Status: Stays in 

by Tony Bedard and Ig Guara
The Good: This is a great origins story, as far as getting things started within the reboot go. It's great for new readers and for old ones, but most importantly it welcomes everyone into the breadth of the universe where Blue Beetle exists, it shows you both the intergalactic origin of the scarab and how it lands into the back of a kid named Jaime and the reality of his earthy world. It has been interesting to see how different the books of the new DCnU read and contain, while some have almost nothing going on in them, some others feel like you have gone on a fantastic journey and like they are a great read at the end. This is one of the latter.
The Bad: While the story is very well written, I was not crazy about the character introductions and development. I'm curious though if the development is something we'll  just have to wait for, and thus I'm excited since there is a lot going on here in terms of characters and what they will mean to each other. I was also not crazy about the art, which feels in parts rushed like in other new DCnU books. I really think DCnU should be showing us the upper echelon of what comic book art can be in this relaunch, and only a few books have achieved that.
The Grade: B
Status: Stays in

by J.T. Krul and Freddie Williams II
The Good: An action-packed first issue that introduces a series of new characters while giving a sense of clear and present danger.
The Bad: There were many ways this book could have gone, including my favorite: following the story of Nate becoming something other within the realm of his powers, something not human, something beyond the physics we understand. While the book explores a little bit of that dimension, it also seems to confuse Nate with Firestorm (both stylistically and story-wise) and with Dr. Manhattan (which was inspired in Captain Atom), without really giving clarity of the direction of the book. I would kind of be interested if they took him into Watchmen territory and turned him into a being so powerful, not even Superman could match him. That would be interesting. This book was just confusing (and confused) and, again, art that is just OK should not be cutting it in the new DCnU.
The Grade: C-
Status: Dropped

by Peter Tomasi and Fernando Taparin
The Good: I am shocked as to how much better this title was at dealing with GLs on Earth (this time Guy Gardner and John Stewart) than the titular Green Lantern #1. This was an awesome read filled with earthly lives and contemplation, and the advantage that these guys over Hal Jordan of being able to get back to work as interstellar police. Not only that but the art is what you should expect of a new 52. It's exciting and detailed, particularly in the scenes in outer space and in the main action sequences. After the OK run right before War of the Green Lanterns I was expecting not to be interested in this book, but it's just become my favorite Green Lantern book (although I am a Hal guy to the end)!
The Bad: A little less violence (oh my gosh, that opening sequence is brutal) seems to be a common complaint from me. And this may just be the new 52 modus operandi, but at least it was done in a way that makes the story interesting.
The Grade: A
Status: Added

by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows
The Good: Beautiful art, particularly in an opening sequence that reminds us of what a sight Dick Grayson is while patrolling the city. We get action packed beginning and end and some interesting development in the middle, with the origins of the first Robin coming back to town to haunt Dick in more ways than one. It is not an easy first issue for first readers, but it is a fantastic one for long-time fans of the series
The Bad: What is up with Daken/X-23 wearing a hydra costume showing up at the end of this issue? I have no idea, but it would be nice if there was a little more oroginality in the character design (unless, of course, if this is an older character I'm not aware of).
The Grade: B
Status: Stays in

by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort
The Good: One of my favorite characters even, Jason Todd, finally gets his own book (no, the Lost Years mini does not really count), and the good news is that it centers on him, more than in the other characters. Hopefully there will be further development of the myth of Jason Todd through this series, which would be a lot of fun to see.
The Bad: There has been a lot of outrage out there about the character assassination of Kory (aka Starfire) as a sex toy, and what a mess this really was. In a week where DC releases an unbelievable Batman and a return to form in Wonder Woman, all of that is thrown out the window with horrible writing of characters and changes that were not necessary at all. Not only Starfire becomes, splash page after splash page, nothing but a sexual object that sees all humans the same therefore anyone will do for a little quickie, but it's so in your face it hurts. Let alone that two important characters in the mythos of Nightwing have been dropped in this book and become completely unrecognizable. Roy Harper, who admittedly grew a lot in the old DCU, has become a shadow of himself or as Jason would put it, a contender for "the wors sidekick"in the history. The art is just OK, and it seems to have most of its focus on Kory's body and on the fact that Jason's mechanical mask is now malleable to allow him to make facial expressions while checking Kory's body out.
The Grade: D
Status: Dropped

by Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar
The Good: The art is pretty good. There is also the fact that we get to see the arrival of Kara on Earth, although with the twist that she goes through Earth all the way to Siberia. As an origin story including the discovery of her powers works well...
The Bad:... but man was that slow. Aside from the good items listed above, nothing happened in this book. It just felt like it all happened in one scene and only leaves us asking for more on the very final page with a very special guest appearance.
The Grade: C
Status: Dropped unless it really picks up with the next issue

by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang
The Good: Wonder Woman is back, back to awesomeness, action and intrigue. She's back to (as close as you can get to) her beloved original costume and to being a tall amazon. How awesome is that? There are all the the elements of a good Wonder Woman story. There is mysticism, there is action, there is a story that makes you intrigued, there is a heroine you can believe in. All things done in Odyssey, and done so poorly. In only one issue, Azzarello proves that you can do all those things right and fun again.
The Bad: It somewhat took a lot of time to get momentum to get there. But by the time you get to it, it really kicks into high gear. Also, in a book about the most powerful woman in the DCnU and with the thought of re-empowering women with a fresh take on a taller, lean and mean Diana, it is kind of a shame to have unnecessary images of violence against women in the opening and closing scenes. I understand that this is to frame the level of evil of the antagonist, but it still felt a little gratuitous.
The Grade: A-
Status: Stays In

Lastly, the following books were not reviewed and their Status remains unchanged for me: Browsed Through, Still Not Interested.
  • Birds of Prey
  • Catwoman
  • DC Universe Presents
  • Legion of Super-Heroes

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