Thursday, September 22, 2011

DC Comics The New 52 Week 3: Part 2

Well, the wait is finally over!  The New DCU is upon us, and whether you're ready or not, this week sees the release of 13 all new series.  It's strange, exciting, and truly a great time to be a fan of the medium of comics.  Now, on the review side, I'm trying to be as spoiler free as possible with these reviews, mainly due to the fact that experiencing them yourself is paramount.  I'm also going to try to do full reviews for a lot of these new series, though time constraints and my current sanity level will prevent me from doing all of them.  That said, in these The New 52 Articles, I'll give you a quick rundown of what was good, what was not so good, and what are the books to seek out.  So without further ado, TO THE BOOKS!

Green Lantern Corps #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Fernando Pasarin
Company: DC Comics
While I have really enjoyed Green Lantern Corps in the past, this "relaunch" (which isn't one by the way) felt like a travesty on pretty much every level except the art.  Fernando Pasarin's work, as it has been in the past with things like Brightest Day and The Outsiders, delivers. His characters are simple, his action breathes and lives in very readable ways, and he has a knack for drawing cool looking alien Green Lanterns. So yes, the art was nice. Beyond that, disappointment abounds. Tomasi is usually a go to guy for cool stories, as seen in his other issues of the same title, but this one felt like all of the characters had gotten out of bed on the wrong foot. It doesn't seem to be able to figure out what it wants to be. The over the top gore fest, which includes several Lanterns getting the chop, the weird side story involving Guy and Jon trying (and failing) to find Earth jobs instead of being heroes and saving people...It all feels a bit out of touch and not the kind of way you want to introduce new readers to your characters. Almost as if it's trying to be funny or cute at times but that's counterpointed with alien heads and torsos flying at you the very next panel. Like I said, this is definitely not a relaunch of the book, it merely continues on with the story that's been told for the past few years. Hopefully, we'll get back to the quality that we've received in previous issues next time.

Legion of Super Heroes #1
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela
Company: DC Comics
The Good: Francis Portela. His smooth and animated style, a style that caught my eye with his work on the Supervillian Team-Up: M.O.D.O.K.s Eleven, breathes a bit of new life into the characters of the Legion of Superheroes. There's also a certain level of detail to the work that to an extent, makes the uber complicated story a little bit easier to comprehend. 
The Bad: The exclusivity of the issue. The lack of action. The odd notion that having characters that many people are being introduced for the first time going incognito. There's a hefty list with this issue. Really, what could have been a solid action opener that allowed people to finally get a handle on what makes this team so cool, instead we get a book that is mired in continuity, an espionage story that feels sluggish, and a plethora of characters that aren't introduced with much more than a caption above their head.
Conclusion: Levitz continues to not be the guy for this book. This was a missed opportunity to inject some life into these bones. But no, this one's a slog to get through, and not a fun slog either.

Nightwing #1
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Company: DC Comics
While there's nothing too exciting going on in this one, seeing Nightwing back in his own duds and being a little more happy go lucky guy, is refreshing in a way. Higgins returns to almost a Dixon like approach to the property, allowing for some darkness and a new villain to hit the scene, but mainly focusing on Dick's character and how he returns to being Nightwing after having been Batman for a year or so. Seeing the return of Haly's Circus is an interesting plot point, but as a friend pointed out, it would have been nice to see said circus be updated a little. Barrows, one of the main artists for the series 52, really brings his A game with this one. Nightwing, in motion, looks fantastic but his classic, almost scratchier J.G. Jones like line and eye for detail adds to the overall effect of the story. He also just knows how to draw action that pops. If you've been a fan of Nightwing over the years, or just happened to pick this up on a whim, there's a lot to like. It's very new reader friendly and delivers things that people want.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Company: DC Comics
In many ways, this felt almost like two different books thrown together and deep fried to a half golden, half burnt sheen. Red Hood, despite having his origins tied so heavily into Infinite Crisis (though with the reboot, we don't know if that still counts), I've found myself really enjoying the character. That hasn't changed with this book. The opener, which sees him "rescue" Arsenal from a hasty execution, has a great buddy cop feel to it that really worked. Yes, it's over the top and sort of exploitational, but not in a way that feels egregious. Lobdell's take on Starfire however, does fit that bill to a T. It's a major step backwards for her and it feels wrong for the character in so many ways. The other things in the issue, stuff that eludes to a shadowy group, is a step in the right direction. Rocafort, who's been handling art duties on Action Comics for a little while, is a bit rocky. He certainly has a Top Cow vibe in his work, which comes out heavily among the sex crazed scenes with Starfire, but his rough style has a great ability to sell top notch action that feels gritty. A mix of hit and so far off the mark that you didn't even hit the broad side of a barn. I have one question to ask: Why wasn't Judd Winick given this book?

Supergirl #1
Writers: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Company: DC Comics
Effectively, this comic amounts to a single "chase" scene from front to back as we see Kara Zor-El drop out of the sky via meteorite. It's an origin story, not mired down by enormous chunks of backstory, but I question the whole idea behind it when they could have easily come up with some other route, something fresher and containing that new car smell, that these #1 issues should have. Green and Johnson, writers who are more known for their television credits like Smallville, are able to put forth a decent action story while at the same time getting across Kara's emotional status and confusion. Asrar, who burst on to the comics scene with the book Dynamo 5, has continued to get better and better. It's a little light on backgrounds, but his loose pencils evoke a great sense of action and he has a particular knack for drawing great character emotion. Truthfully though, while it is a decent enough opener, there isn't much here to get a complete feel for what the book will be about. Because of that, I now shall take up the banner of, "Wait and see."

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