Friday, November 4, 2011


I’m reading the fourth week of the first month of DC’s “New 52" in
the full knowledge that the third issues of those titles have begun
to arrive in comic-book shops across the country and, presumably,
the world.  I move slowly, but surely..

In the old DC Universe, if you had asked me to name my favorite DCU
title, I wouldn’t even have to think about it.  It was Jonah Hex as
written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by some of the
best darn artists in comics.  If you ask me to name my favorite of
the new DCU titles, it would be All Star Western [$3.99}, written
by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by a one-name artist
called Moritat.  Funny how things work out sometimes.

All Star Western #1 brings Jonah out of the American West and into
Gotham City of the 1880s.  He’s not as young as he used to be, but
he hasn’t lost a step.  He’s still our scarred surly magnificent
bounty hunter.  The differences are that he’s left the Wild West for
a Wilder East filled with corruption on a higher level than he’s
faced before and that he’s been saddled with an unwanted partner,
a medical doctor delving into the human mind.  And guess who Doctor
Amadeus Arkham finds both fascinating and frightening?

Gray and Palmiotti have amped up their already outstanding writing
for this new series. Moritat’s art is excellent throughout with a
welcome hint of Nick Cardy that shows through here and there.  If
you buy only one of DC’s “New 52,” this should be that one series.
I love it a lot. 

Aquaman #1 [$2.99] was an enjoyable relaunch of this most unfairly
denigrated super-hero.  Writer Geoff Johns gives us an Aquaman who is
clearly one of the more powerful heroes in the new DC and makes him
a far more relatable and interesting character that he’s ever been
before.  Penciller Ivan Reis has kicked up his Neal Adams-inspired
art a notch, combining with the solid inking of Joe Prado to give
us a comic book that looks as good as it reads.  Given past decades
of Aquaman, I was skeptical that anything outside of the Batman: The
Brave and the Bold
cartoon series could present the character in a
manner that would entertain me.  Kudos to Johns for overcoming my
skepticism with this first issue.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 [$2.99] was just kind of there.  It had
decent writing and art, but it didn’t engage or move me.  Until the
last-page shock ending.  Which I thought was dumb.  I won’t kick it
to the curb, but I’ll need more from its second issue.

I’m not sure what to make of Blackhawks #1 [$2.99].  The legendary
team has been rebooted as a secret “black ops” branch of the United
Nations, albeit with what appears to be more of a moral foundation
than most “black ops” organizations.  There are a few characters I
found interesting in this debut issue, but they could have used a
bit more “on screen” time to flesh them out better.  This one isn’t
a hit with me, but I’ll probably give it a few more issues before
I rule it out completely.

The Flash #1 [$2.99} falls into the “nothing to see here” category
of DC’s “New 52" titles.  There’s nothing new here, nothing that’s
particularly exciting, intriguing, or moving.  It’s just words and
pictures on pages that don’t engage the reader.  Again I ask...why
did there have to be 52 new titles in the same month?  Maybe start
with your 20 best bets and debut more when you actually have comic
books that are good.

Fury of the Firestorms: The Nuclear Men #1 [$2.99} was tragically
disappointing.  The relatable simplicity of Gerry Conway’s original
Firestorm was utterly lost in this debut issue.  Too many precious
pages were devoted to the boringly bad ass villains and the trite
conspiracy behind them.  Too little attention was devoted to making
the leads real and sympathetic.  A comic book by Ethan Van Sciver
and Gail Simone should be so much better than this one.  DC and its
readers would have been better served if Conway had been hired to
helm the character he created and who has been a quiet favorite of
many readers for decades.  With Simone already off the title, I’m
not likely to come back for a second issue.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 [$2.99] is mired in back story that
stretches all the way back to when Kyle Rayner first received a
power ring.  The script knocks off various multi-colored Lanterns
like some cheap horror movie sans the sexy teenagers.  I’m guessing
this will end up being a book about a team of different-colored
Lanterns and I’m definitely not the audience for that.  I’ve seen
that dance for the past couple of years worth of Green Lantern and
its spinoff titles and it didn’t entertain me then.  So I’m sitting
out this series.

I, Vampire #1 {$2.99] was another “blah” title.  It drowned in its
attempt to create either a compelling or horrific tone.  That these
vampires are in the same world as Superman and the rest of the DCU
super-heroes was interesting for about a page.  Then I realized the
vampires are out of their weight class.  Delusions of grandeur should
have been cast as more interesting delusions of adequacy with the
vampires trying to survive and maybe even thrive under the radar of
foes who could destroy them by listening hard.

Today’s blog started out so much more promising, didn’t it?  I’ll
be back tomorrow to wrap up the first month of the new 52.  See you

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. Glad to hear that Gray and Palmiotti are continuing their great work on the new "All Star western" I agree 100% with you that their "Jonah Hex" series was the best title on the stands each month that DC was producing (not including Vertigo titles) as it was the only DC book I made sure never to miss.

    Unfortunately I'll have to give this new title a pass (along with every other monthly book they put out) since I no longer can convince myself to plunk down nearly $4 a month for a comic.

    I understand that "All Star Western" will probably follow the JH footsteps, as stand alone stories, but I've all but given up on these $2.99-$3.99 monthly chapters and will await the TPB.

  2. All-Star Western, Aquaman, Teen Titans and Batgirl are the only titles I stuck with through issue 2 with plans to stay longer on all three.

    ASW is a great continuation of the character of Jonah Hex. And the back up stories that will intro or re-intro other western characters is a welcome bonus.