Monday, September 26, 2011

The Week in Review – September 21

The new DCU rules, in fact this week they rule so much that I’ve decided the week in review is all about this week’s number one issues from DC. I think the strangeness of the reboot, and it is a reboot, is wearing off and I’m just enjoying the books for whatever they have to offer. So far I have sampled ever single series and except for Static Shock I will try out issue #2, that book just did not cut it for me. This week the pros and cons and the issues I have with the new DCU are front and center, but it is nice to hear how much this is not only reviving DC, but has had an impact of generating excitement about other comics as well. Hopefully this is the start of a renaissance for comics and not just a short term impact from a marketing gimmick. Also I hope Marvel does not follow suit, as that would be lame.

Batman #1 by Scott Snyder, Greg Cappullo and Jonathan Glapion was a great start and is right now my favorite DC series. Scott just concluded a great run on Detective and for me, defined Dick Grayson as Batman and is now doing the same for Bruce Wayne as Batman. I loved what Grant Morrison did with Batman and I’m enjoying Scott’s work, what a great time to be a Batman fan. This issue reestablishes Batman as the detective and shows us that both Bruce and Batman are going to be an integral part of the book. The first half sets the status quo and starts off with Batman and Dick (disguised as the Joker) shutting down a breakout at Arkham. From there we move to establishing Bruce Wayne as trying to help start a revitalization effort for Gotham and next to a murder mystery with the main suspect being Dick Grayson. This is absolutely no way you could not want to come back for the next issue. Grep Capullo and Jonathan Glapion did a fantastic job on the art. The action, the gadgets, the horror of the murder, everything except for one panel was great. You can see my remarks about that here. Over the years Batman has gone through a lot of changes, but Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams were important to the book and Brubaker and Rucka did some good work on Batman, Grant Morrison breathed new life into the franchise and now we have Scott Snyder who has the potential to be one of the best writers on Batman ever, can’t wait for more.

Legion of Super Heroes #1 was pretty much a clean miss in my opinion, but I have not enjoyed Paul Levitz on this book and instead of making this a nice jumping on point it is mired in all the story lines that had gone on before and I can’t believe this book generated any new readers. After I read an issue of this series I almost immediately forget it and I know I continue to buy it out of my love for the characters and not because of its quality. The art is a little too busy at times, but I have to give credit to Francis Portela who did a great job with the art with all of those characters. This book has to be one of the toughest art assignments. 

Green Lantern Corps #1 was a fantastic book. Guy Gardner and John Stewart try to establish lives for themselves as civilians. They had no secret identities and therefore neither can pull together a private life. An unknown menace has killed at least four Green Lanterns and destroyed a world. Hal and John are leading the team to determine what happened and try to stop it. Peter Tomasi is doing great work and this book is actually the best GL book being done. Fernando Pasarina and Scott Hanna as pencil and ink artist respectively knocked it out of the park. Another book I can’t wait to see the next issue.

Captain Atom #1 was okay if not a little obtuse. It used the cliché of the hero dying at the end of the first issue, which is usually just a poor cliff hanger gimmick to try and hook readers. This book is on a short leash and we will see if it can get better over time. Freddie Williams II has adjusted his style again and this time I really loved it. His work this issue reminds me of someone else that I can’t recall at the moment but it has a better edge to it than his JSA All Star work, but maintains his ability to tell a story.

Blue Beetle #1 started off with the tale of the scarab that ends up taking over Jamie Hernandez. I thought it was all back story about the Blue Beetle I know, but I was wrong, this is a whole new origin and Jamie is just now becoming the Blue Beetle. A hard reset and yet totally familiar to what already happened to Jamie. The book was very well written and the art was good, but the story is so similar to what happened to Jamie before I was confused why we had to redo the origin if nothing really changed. It was great for new readers I guess, a little confusing for long time fans.

Catwoman #1 was rather different. All the subtle sexual overtones are out the window and are now front and center. From the half dressed Catwoman jumping out her window to the down and dirty scene of Batman and Catwoman having sex while being in costume this book was unafraid of being overtly a good girl type of book. It was funny in some ways because it also wanted to firmly establish that Selina does not know who Batman is anymore. For some reason the powers that be at DC think that was a problem. Having firmly established that she does not know who he is we can now establish that having sex with a stranger is fine. Yet Catwoman knowing who Batman is would be wrong? To me it is amusing what makes up obvious editorial mandates.  Still the book sets up the premise, someone is after her and she needs a new base of operations and needs jobs to generate living money. I’m back for more. Did you think Bruce carries Bat condoms?

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 was confusing. As a long time fan I know the convoluted histories of these three characters and after reading this I have no clue what history exist and what history does not. This Roy Harper is younger, not missing an arm and talks about being a failed sidekick. Failed sidekick, to whom, Green Arrow is now a younger guy, when did he have a sidekick? Starfire and Dick still slept together and they were an item? Yet Starfire now has a very different moral structure befitting her alien nature (being sarcastic here) and therefore sleeps with anybody. It is confusing because apparently Jason is an ex-Robin and now the Red Hood, but not like he used to be and the cohesiveness of the new DCU still is a big work in progress. Making Starfire an alien slut just did not sit well with me. It was like a teenage boy’s fantasy coming true and disrespectful to the character in my view. It was still enough interesting in this book to keep me coming back for more. Finally I have to say that for all my trepidation about Scott Lobdell he has done okay with his books to date.

Wow, even keeping it short and sweet, this post is getting too long, time to go to headlines for the rest of the line up form DC this week.

Wonder Woman #1, finally an original take on the character yet keeping her a warrior woman and steeped in Greek mythology. I enjoyed this issue, which will have tons of people who love or hate it as it is so different.

Birds of Prey #1, a brand new concept and more confusion since I think I know things about characters and I have no clue really. Familiar names and faces with unfamiliar back stories. It has great art by Jesus Saiz and a good opening story by Duane Swierczynski.  

Supergirl #1 had very good art by up and comer Mahmud Asrar. The story was thin as it was all mystery about how she got here. A hard re-set for Supergirl. 

Nightwing #1 seemed to tie into the first issue of Batman. In general I was okay with the comic, but this is going backwards for Dick Grayson, even worse it brings back Haley’s Circus. A nice start though and maybe I can readjust to Dick being back as Nightwing. The Bat family was reset a lot harder than I thought it would be. 

DCU Presents Deadman #1 was a wonderful first issue. True to Deadman’s roots but changing the character and the premise, yet remaining true to the character. Bernard Chang’s art is doing a decent job on the story and I’m looking forward to issue #2. 

One thing this week proves is that DC has a great line up of female characters with three books being solo female leads and one book an all female team. I’m always amazed that Marvel has never been able to hold a candle to DC in that arena. 

The new DCU is a fun place. I still have issues with some things and don’t like that my history with the characters is constantly being played with as some things are still true and some aren’t. This causes me to have assumptions that are inevitable with my “knowledge” about the characters, except all of that knowledge has to be suspect. Again, it is probably easier for new readers. All in all it has more life and energy then it has had as a line of books in decades. 

Next week wraps up the launch of the new DCU and hopefully will bring two long overdue hard covers, which I refuse to list this time. Coming out is All Star Western, American Vampire, Aquaman, Batman Dark Knight, Blackhawks, Flash, Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern New Guardians, I Vampire, Justice League Dark, Savage Hawkman, Superman, Teen Titans, Voodoo, Amazing Spider-Man, Annihilators Earth Fall, Astonishing X-Men, Captain America and Bucky, FF, Iron Man 2.0, Journey Into Mystery, Mighty Thor, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Spider-Island Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimates, Venom, Wolverine, X-Men Legacy, Rachel Rising, Last Phantom, Warlord of Marts, Breed III, Abe Sapien Devil Does Not Jest, Godzilla and Wulf. Damn these lists are too long. 

Come back next week and we will do this again.

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