Wednesday, October 12, 2011

DC Comics The New 52 - Quick Shots 10/12/11

Well, everyone take a quick sigh of relief. Catch your breath while you can, as the first month of DC's relaunch is finally over. 52 new books with new creative teams and new things to love or hate. Okay, break's over and the books keep on coming. Overall, I have to say that I'm pretty happy with the quality that we've seen. Sure, there have been a few books that have disappointed, but we expected that to some degree. There was no way that all 52 of them would hit the bulls-eye. What this article will try to do is provide a quick three or four sentence review of how each of the subsequent issues of the title fare. I wish that I could provide a more in depth look at each of them, but time is a harsh mistress and it seems to always run out. Anyways, to the books!

Batgirl #2
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Adrian Syaf
Company: DC Comics
Here's the thing about Gail Simone's Batgirl, it's decent but man oh man, where is the fun and the humor? It's all dire and depressing and hardcore, the jokes thrown in feel a bit clumsy, and it's missing one of the things that I had figured it wouldn't have a problem proliferating: Charm. I do like how Simone shows how smart Babs is and applies that in how she fights The Mirror and the mystery behind him, but the character seems mildly ineffective, which isn't how I typically think of Batgirl. On the other hand, Syaf is doing a stand up job on the art and his design for our villain is quite nice.

Batman & Robin #2
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Company: DC Comics
A decidedly stronger second issue by Tomasi & Gleason, one that is a vast improvement from the first issue and has me looking forward to the next. At the outset of this book, in some interview, I remember hearing that this title would examine the relationship between Bruce and his son. I thought that that was a cool notion, and the way that Tomasi writes that notion and the Bruce Wayne, Damien Wayne, and Alfred relationship here is realistic and layered and immensely engaging to witness. That coupled with a few fun nods to Batman continuity and Gleason's extreme talent and eye popping, street level visuals, and you get one hell of an outing.

Batwoman #2
Writer: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Company: DC Comics
This is a slow burn book, one that specifically focuses on characters over action. Don't take that the wrong way though, as there is action here, distinctly and beautifully rendered by Williams in an array of styles, but the items that are addressed seem personal to the characters. There's a level of coolness to seeing Cameron Chase interact with Captain Sawyer who in turn deals with Kate Kane. It's the best example of exploring the amazing boundaries of the new DCU, while also getting dose after dose of swanky art and cool mystery. This is the sort of thing that Batgirl should strive to be.

Deathstroke #2
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Joe Bennett
Company: DC Comics
Bloody and violent and fast paced, Deathstroke is the comic book equivalent of the gratuitous action flick that you're not really expecting to like, but once you're in your seat, you can't help but be entertained by the flashing lights and vast pools of blood that splay out on the screen. I will admit that this one's short on character development, but I like this EXTREME version of Slade Wilson, the type of guy who fights the faceless masses of a private army only for the hell of it, and find Bennett's artwork to be particularly on the nose in depicting the carnage.

Demon Knights #2
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Diogenes Neeves & Oclair Albert
Company: DC Comics
Barbarian Vandal Savage is by far one of the best new character directions that I've seen with this entire new DC relaunch. Picking up right where the last one left off, Demon Knights continues to feel like DCU fueled Dungeons & Dragons, high on laughs, action, and bad-assery. Cornell has gathered an interesting group of characters, normally nothing more than second or third stirngers, and makes you give a damn about them. Neeves and Albert have captured the fantasy vibe so well too and barrage you with cool thing after cool thing. Plus...DRAGONS! What's cooler than Dragons?

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #2
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Company: DC Comics
Last week, Frankenstein was the best of the week. This week is no different. Monster fighting mayhem, sci-fi nuttery, and one-liners that are memorable and executed with such skill make this book stand out among the pack. This issue is slightly slower than the last, focusing more on the town from the first issue and the secondary characters rather than Frankenstein, but this doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Ponticelli's artwork is still a bit looser than I'd like, but the way he's able to get the point of a particular panel across even when it's packed to the gills with stuff to look at, is an impressive artistic feat. Also, I absolutely love his monster design. He kills in that regard.

Green Lantern #2
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Dough Mahnke
Company: DC Comics
With Johns in charge of three books, you'd think that he would eventually drop the ball on one of them. That hasn't happened yet, as his retooled Green Lantern book feels reinvigorated and fresher than it's been in years. The way that Sinestro and Jordan butt heads and play off one another in this one, not to mention how they help each other in unexpected ways, makes for some top notch storytelling and Mahnke's ability to slickly portray alien on alien violence and then capture the complexities of each member's ring slinging while making it seem so smooth adds a whole new level of cool.

Grifter #2
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Cafu
Company: DC Comics
With a disappointing first issue under its belt, I was part of the way to writing this book off. I'm glad I didn't, as this issue was a much better outing than the last. We still haven't seen the action that I was expecting with the title and the pacing is still off, but I can see where things are going now and there are some neat ideas being put into practice here. Cafu's art, while good, doesn't quite work for me. It trends to being a bit too stiff and the coloring of the book makes much of it feel bland to some degree.

Legion Lost #2
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Pete Woods
Company: DC Comics
Boring. I don't want to be too harsh on this one, it really is the better of the two Legion books, but that isn't saying much. The problem is that there are several great ideas at work here, but the execution of said ideas is so muddled and weighted down by darkness that they don't have the time to shine. Woods is still providing a healthy dose of futuristic action horror, and doing it quite well, but the story is what's holding this one back. I'm hoping that it can unwind itself and really deliver on the potential that's there.

Mister Terrific #2
Writer: Eric Wallace
Artist: Gianluca Gugliotta
Company: DC Comics
My biggest complaint with this one is the art. Gugliotta is a fine artist, one who employs a more European style with great skill, but there's just something wrong with his storytelling. The slight abstractness of it doesn't help as some of the panels in this come off as unclear. Wallace's story continues to impress. It's standard stuff, with good guy versus bad guy, but there are lots of little small things that make it stand out. The science angle alone makes it more unique.

Resurrection Man #2
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Company: DC Comics
I got to say, without really much connection to the character of Mitch Shelly, in two short issues Abnett and Lanning have created one. Where the first issue summed up the characters powers and the "debate" between Heaven and Hell, this second issue explores Shelly's past. It's a fun exploration spiced up by some off the cuff action in the form of two, gun toting, women who are sent in to capture Shelly. With great art by Dagino (who I have never seen until now) and that DnA mixture of entertainment, you can't go wrong with this one.

Suicide Squad #2
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Federico Dallocchio & Andrei Bressan
Company: DC Comics
Darker than dark, this isn't you're old Suicide Squad anymore, it's in a class of its own. With a fun mixture of characters and some solid story construction that pits our team against an outbreak set in the confines of football stadium, this done in one story has a lot of villainous charm. Also, while people were griping about Harley's portrayal in the first issue, she was back to her old self with this one. It's one drawback is Dallocchio and Bressan's artwork, as there are times midst the chaos, where the action comes off as being unclear and messy.

Superboy #2
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: RB Silva
Company: DC Comics
While I do think there are a few Lobdell-isms that plague the story, the execution and the characters that have been chosen for this title make it interesting. It embraces the whole DCU / Wildstorm commingling, which I think more of these books should do, and Silva's artwork has a very animation style to it that allows more and more stuff to pop.  There's one scene, a key one that has to do with a certain Gen 13er, that could have been much clearer, but I am so far very impressed with this book.


  1. Batgirl is not one of the books I'm following, strangely enough, I am not a big fan Simone's work. Liked her Deadpool and that has been about it really. But that cover really reminds of the comic Ghost, especially with what I assume is the villain's silhouette.
    I was going to drop Frankenstein, first issue seemed like it was trying to hard too be weird rather than letting the weirdness flow, if that makes sense, but the second issue has captured my interest. Likewise I liked the second issue of Grifter better than the first, but not sure if I liked it enough to pick up the issue three. Also liked the second issue of Batwoman, some nice character building I thought, though I miss her dad. Resurrection Man continues to impress me, Demon Knights continues to be great fun, and that's about it for the books I picked up.

  2. Yeah Gray, I hadn't thought about it, but that cover does evoke a Ghost feel, which makes sense considering that Adam Hughes was one of the artists on that book.