Back from two conventions, I’m again diving into the first month of
DC’s “New 52.” Let’s see what I find.
Mister Terrific #1 [$2.99] is the third of these new DCU titles to
star an African or African-American hero. That’s a welcome trend.
While my reading of the old DCU titles has been sporadic, I knew a
little about Mister Terrific and liked the character.
Writer Eric Wallace covers the basis well enough. Michael Holt is
an atheist but not really. Science is his god and, after his wife
dies, he is talked out of taking his own life by an apparition who
claims to be his future son. His blind faith in science leads him
to lend his support to a Republican candidate simply because said
candidate isn’t as anti-science as most of the GOP. That struck me
as an intriguing character flaw.
The writing is somewhat uneven, but there are some good moments in
this issue. An unseen menace turns a man into a murderous genius.
Holt’s friendship with Karen (Power Girl) Starr causes some tension
between her and a black woman. It’s a seriously awkward scene and
not entirely believable, but it was clearly meant to be an awkward
moment. The cliffhanger is intriguing, but it’ll only work for me
if Holt extricates himself from the peril. I really don’t want to
see him rescued by Power Girl next month.
Were I buying and not borrowing these comics from a friend, Mister
Terrific is one I’d keep buying. For now.
I liked Resurrection Man #1 [$2.99]. Mitch Shelley can’t die and,
each time he is “killed” and returns to life, he has a new power.
His continued presence offends what appears to be an organization
of demons. Spooky stuff.
This first issue could have read and flowed better visually, but I
was delighted that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are writing their
creation once more. Having never himself created anything worth
note, Dan DiDio has a history of disrespecting creators. However,
with Abnett/Lanning back on Resurrection Man and Paul Levitz doing
a Huntress mini-series, perhaps DiDio has found religion of sorts.
In any case, Resurrection Man is another title worth sticking with.
I find myself enjoying more “new 52" titles than I expected when I
started reading these initial issues.
If I had to use but one word to describe Superboy #1 ($2.99), that
word would be...leaden. The entire issue takes place in one lab or
another. There was only one character - not Superboy - with whom
I could even mildly relate. There were the usual cliche corporation
or government - who can tell - authority figures who were, at best,
callous bastards. There was a silly mystery about who supplied the
human portion of Superboy’s DNA. (Could his name rhyme with “Tex”?)
There was a last page foreshadowing of Superboy’s role in the Teen
Titans, a series that stopped being interesting decades ago. This
first issue gives me no reason to come back for a second.
Batman #1 [$2.99] was a pleasant surprise. Scott Snyder’s script
did a fine job introducing the cast - facial recognition software,
I love it - and giving us a creditable Bruce Wayne, someone who’s
not just a mask for Batman. Damian was so less evil and obnoxious
that, for once, he didn’t make me want to hand the Joker a crowbar.
There was a nice political/social subplot and the introduction of
an intriguing mystery. The Greg Capullo/Jonathan Glapion art was
quite nice as well. If this book continues to portray a Batman who
is not a dick, I’ll keep reading it.
Birds of Prey #1 [$2.99] was just kind of...there. The characters
(Black Canary and Starling) didn’t hook me. The shadowy villains
didn’t intrigue me. Neither the writing nor the art struck me as
more than journeyman at best. This series doesn’t work without a
strong lead (Oracle) overcoming a major handicap at its core. That
was what gave the former Birds of Prey its compelling emotion and
its heart. I’ll pass on a second issue.
While I tried to avoid reading reviews of “The New 52" books before
I read them myself, it was impossible to avoid all the online talk
about them. Even so, I tried to approach these comics with an open
mind and believe I succeeded.
Catwoman #1 [$2.99] was a disappointment. Here’s a great character
and writer Judd Winick managed to avoid all the great elements of
her past appearances. The entire issue read like a set-up to that
absurd and undignified scene when Batman and Catwoman have sex on
a rooftop. It’s exploitation sexuality and just plain lousy comic
books. Whether it’s ego or simply a lack of talent, Winick doesn’t
write other people’s creations well.
As for Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 [$2.99], it’s a vile companion
to such sludge as the New 52's Deathstroke and Suicide Squad. The
characters are either pathetic or unlikeable. If Starfire creators
Marv Wolfman and George Perez dragged writer Scott Lobdell into an
alley to beat the crap out of him, I’d not only look the other way,
I’d say they were having lunch with me at the time.
Okay, I’m not seriously encouraging violence towards Lobdell or any
other comics writer. But Red Hood and the Outlaws, like Catwoman,
is an awful comic book. I can’t think of a single reason why I’d
ever buy or read another issue of either.
Paul Jenkins writes Deadman in DC Universe Presents #1 [$2.99] and
it’s the best portrayal of the character since his original run in
Strange Adventures. With terrific art by Bernard Chang, Jenkins
tells us everything we need to know about Boston Brand, establishes
his character and purpose, avoids bringing in extraneous elements
like the League of Assassins, and gives us a cliffhanger I did not
see coming. For however long Deadman headlines this title, I’ll be
Green Lantern Corps #1 [$2.99] was another “blah” debut. The only
element I found interesting was the attempt by John Stewart and Guy
Gardner to mix real lives with their Green Lantern duties. I would
love to see more of that, but, of course, what we will get is more of
the same old “7000 Green Lanterns in space” stuff that marked this
title in its previous incarnation. Been there, didn’t enjoy that,
won’t be back for more.
I wanted to like Legion of Super-Heroes #1 [$2.99]. When that book
is good, it’s great and it’s been good many times in its decades of
publication. But this debut issue had too much back story and too
little of the grandeur that is the Legion at its best. Because, at
its best, the Legion is a bright shining future which reveals that
mankind survives our turbulent modern times. The uneven Francis
Portela art added to the failure of this first issue to entertain
me. The title is written by Paul Levitz, which earns it a second
chance with me, but I need better from this series.
Nightwing #1 [$2.99] is yet another “blah” first issue. There’s an
obligatory fight scene at the beginning of the issue that goes on
too long. There’s a scene I liked with Dick Grayson visiting the
traveling circus that used to be his home. There’s the arrival
of a hitman who dispatches two cops in bloody fashion and is about
to do the same to Grayson for the issue’s cliffhanger. Not enough
good stuff to make me want to come back for the next issue. Once
again, I question why DC decided to launch with 52 first issues in
a single month instead of taking the time and effort to make sure
their relaunches were good comic books.
The theme of Supergirl #1 [$2.99] appears to be big explosions and
the hitting of people and things. It may be the most boring issue
yet of DC’s “New 52.” It’s definitely a ridiculous approach for a
first issue. No second issue for me.
Wonder Woman #1 [$2.99] was intriguing. Writer Brian Azzarello’s
horror/mythology take was certainly different from previous takes
on the series, albeit a little gory for my tastes. Cliff Chiang’s
art was excellent. Though I would like to see Wonder Woman emerge
as a symbol of hope and inspiration - two things we need more of in
our entertainment and our world - I’m sticking with this title for
the immediate future. A fine first issue.
That takes us through the third week of “The New 52.” Give me a few
days to read the fourth week and we’ll pick this up again. In the
meantime, I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2011 Tony Isabella