The DC New 52 – The First 13 – Well, 14 Really.

I did it.

Somehow, I did it.

I had to beg, borrow & trade in some favors, but I managed to read all 13 of this week’s first batch of DC Comics’ New 52 (as well as last week’s initial offering of Justice League #1). I also managed to secure the remainder of at least the rest of the #1’s. I didn’t really want those autographed X-Men anymore.

The verdict? As an old, jaded DC collector who admittedly had a LOT of doubts and a LOT of annoyance at missing certain characters, it looks like DC has a winner on its hands.

For me, this week had some nice surprises, some highs (as expected ) and, unfortunately, some  lows (That I expected). It also had a real HOLY CRAP moment.

SEMI-SPOILER ALERT –

The HOLY CRAP moment? Check out the end of Detective Comics #1 and try NOT to say, “HOLY CRAP!” The rest of it had a nice old school ‘Dark Knight’ or ‘Year One’ feel, which is to be expected for a re-boot.

Best surprise?

GREEN ARROW #1 , definitely my FAVORITE of the New 52 thus far. I’m a BIG Ollie fan, and I REALLY loved the issue’s story and the amazing art – but then, how could Dan Jurgens inked by George Perez NOT be amazing?? I really like how J.T. Krul gave Ollie the SAME sensibilities & attitude, even if he’s not an ‘elder statesman’ of the hero set anymore. I’m looking forward to learning more about his team of specialists in the issues to come. The one drawback to this issue was actually the COVER, in my opinion. I did NOT like the depiction of Ollie at all, from the mutton chops to the goggles. He looked like a cross between a power ranger & Ultimate Hawkeye. I’m glad his uniform wasn’t as radically changed as the cover presented it.

Biggest let down?

ANIMAL MAN #1. The art was HORRENDOUS. The faces were so misshapen, and sorely in need of CHINS, and it looked like everyone needed orthodontia work to correct over-bites. Also, Buddy’s costume was terrible. It looked like it was lifted from The Angel’s old wardrobe. Story wise, it’s intriguing, but the art will keep me from coming back to it.

Books I was not impressed with (as I expected) –

O.M.A.C. #1 – because ONLY KIRBY COULD DRAW LIKE KIRBY, and the story was just same old same old. I wasn’t let down, because I expected the story to be bland, when you consider what Didio did to The Outsiders. I Won’t be back for more.

HAWK & DOVE #1 – I really liked the story, and I’m curious to see the direction of it. I’m glad to see that it picked up where Brightest Day left off as far as Dove & Deadman go. The only thing is, once more we seemingly have an evil paradigm to Hawk & Dove to fight them in a variation on the whole Order vs Chaos plots of the last H&D series. The MAJOR problem I had? Exactly what I thought it would be – Rob Liefield’s art. I’ve never really liked it, going back to X-Force with Cable’s massive shoulders & tiny ballerina feet. Proportions have gotten a bit better, but I STILL can’t stand his faces. they look flat, and often look off-center and at an odd angle to the shape of the head. Like Giffen trying to do Kirby in O.M.A.C., I feel like Liefield’s trying to do Joe Kubert with the ‘wispy’ lines as opposed to his thick outlines of yesteryear. There’s no happy medium. I’m willing to give it a little more time, due to the story and the fact that I love the characters.

Books I was neutral on –

MEN AT WAR #1 – I was never a big fan of Sgt. Rock & the other WWII books, but the fact that it’s a modern-day setting intrigued me. I’m curious to see who the ‘super’ is that the squad was assaulted by turns out to be, though I have a sneaky suspicion that I won’t give away here. I’ll probably go 1 more issue to see the baddy revealed.

SWAMP THING#1 – Don’t get me wrong. I liked it, but it didn’t ‘wow’ me. I’m also confused as to why Holland is SEPARATE from Swamp Thing, as I thought the Green bound it to him at the end of Brightest Day to fight the blight. I like that he’s back. Still not sure, mostly due to the confusion I get from it, but I’ll give it another 2 issues perhaps.

Books that were BETTER than I expected –

BATWING #1 – I want to get to know this character. I’m very willing to give him a chance, even though I was confused by the back & forth of the ‘6 weeks ago’ and ‘now’ timelines. I wasn’t sure where the ending of the story came, in the past or ‘now’.

STORMWATCH #1 – Having never read the Wildstorm books, this was completely new territory for me. I enjoyed it, having gone in with no expectations, other than curiosity over Martian Manhunter’s involvement.  I will definitely be giving this an extended examination.

Books as GOOD as I expected –

BATGIRL #1 – Gail Simone wrote an EXCELLENT book, and the art by Syaf & Cifuentes was excellent as well. I’m one of those who lament the loss of Oracle and was quite ambivalent to the whys & wherefores of how Barbara Gordon again became the Dominoed Daredoll, and I’m now a bit more confident and very willing to learn more of how it happened. I expected excellence and got it.

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1 – by Mssrs. Jurgens, LoPresti & Ryan – also excellent, as expected. Not sure about the lineup as it sits currently, but willing to wait. Plus, Jurgens writing Booster is icing on the cake.

ACTION COMICS #1 – Solid tale much in the spirit of Superman’s VERY first appearance, in attitude and ability. Knowing that this is at the ground floor of his career, as opposed to the present like SUPERMAN #1 will be, makes the ‘outfit’ ok. Excellent overall, as expected.

STATIC SHOCK #1 – Nice to see they picked up his TEEN TITANS characteristics and (from what I can tell) his storyline intact. Nice to know that we’ll more than likely be seeing more Dakota residents as well, such as Hardware. Dakota’s still there, it’s just Static that left it. Probably the second “Holy Crap” ending, though nowhere NEAR the one in Detective #1. Again, I expected excellence & I got it.

Lastly, we come to JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, which started it all rolling. As with ACTION #1, knowing this takes place in the past, is fine. I like that Johns & Lee want to show the group building from ground up, and set up the basis for the relationships that are there today. I’m looking forward to them getting to the present day stories, as much as I like the set up. I’m hoping they aren’t going to use SEVEN issues to bring in each one, like how #2 primarily deals with Superman, and #3 introduces Wonder Woman. The fact that Darkseid is the villain opens up another whole Pandora’s Box – are ALL the New Gods back? Time will tell, I suppose.

OVERALL – Once more, I had a lot of reservations about the New 52, but so far so good. Going into this with the mindset of how a NEW reader might see it helps. You need to shut out the continuity of yesterday and look, hopefully, to the future. I was there when Crisis On Infinite Earths FIRST changed everything, and in truth I enjoyed exploring that new DC Universe. I think I’m going to look forward to exploring this one as well.

Next week will see another 13 new releases, consisting of:

  • BATMAN AND ROBIN #1
  • BATWOMAN #1
  • DEATHSTROKE #1
  • DEMON KNIGHTS #1
  • FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1
  • GREEN LANTERN #1
  • GRIFTER #1
  • LEGION LOST #1
  • MISTER TERRIFIC #1
  • RED LANTERNS #1
  • RESURRECTION MAN #1
  • SUICIDE SQUAD #1
  • SUPERBOY #1

Predictions? Not really any for this coming batch. The ones I’m least worried about are LEGION LOST, GREEN LANTERN & BATWOMAN. I’m REALLY looking forward to DEMON KNIGHTS & FRANKENSTEIN. I’ll go into SUICIDE SQUAD, MR. TERRIFIC & SUPERBOY with the same open mind I went into the books THIS week. Join me, won’t you?

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One comment

  1. Good recaps all around. Seems this was a nasty surprise-free week, on balance. I’m not surprised Morrison, Morales, Simone and Syaf turned in the goods: they’ve all maintained consistent levels of artistic and creative awesomeness no matter what tidal wave of boneheaded editorial fiats comes their way.

    Nor am I surprised Leifeld’s returned to blight us all with his dark shadow. And on Hawk and Dove, of all titles? Jesus, they could’ve at least given him a team book to mess-up. Something led by a brick shithouse, into whom Rob can easily project himself.

    Yours are the second good things I’ve heard about Static and Batwing so far. McDaniel seems well-positioned for it after his runs on both Robin and Nightwing, though I get a real Spider-man vibe from the “young genius hero with real world problems growing up in the Big Scary City” thing. But who knows? I’m hoping he’ll go all the way back to the well that was “Daredevil: Fall From Grace,” and really start fucking with Virgil’s life (following Joss Whedon’s postulate, “Hero in pain = story: interesting.”)

    Really, though, I can’t get over this reboot’s shameless transparency. It had Marketing Stunt painted all over it from the word “Go,” moreso evean than the last half-decade of Crises. Made apparent by DC’s disingenuous quest for the Platonic Ideal of a “new” reader, when they really mean “new teenage boy readers with money.” Considering I saw Marvel tilt at the same windmills back in ’97, I’m already waiting for the “new” universe to turn out to be a pocket dimension that only exists in the mind of someone’s psychic child (Swamp Thing’s, perhaps) for a bare handful of seconds…though it’ll probably take six months before someone realizes they need another publicity stunt to keep their numbers up.

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