Saturday, October 8, 2011

DC Comics The New 52 - Quick Shots 10/8/11

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!

Action Comics #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Rags Morales & Brent Anderson
Company: DC Comics
Hands down, the best comic of the relaunch. Morrison continues to run full steam, head-on into excitement, adventure, and Action with this book, throwing around great concepts and ideas and character reworks like explosions of brilliant and flashy confetti bombs. The attitude of Superman is refreshing and adds a quality to the character that brings him into the new age while still keeping what makes him relevant alive. Morales and Anderson both bring top level work and are able to capture that sense of uncanny movement as Superman zips and zags and bashes his way out of captivity while at the same time providing a great new visual look to classic Superman iconography. Also, don't skip the interviews in the back!

Animal Man #2
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman
Company: DC Comics
A bit slower than the first issue, though such a thing doesn't really present much of a problem as the characters are really coming into their own. Horror is still the name of the game as we pick up right where we left off and see Buddy and Maxine traverse the wonderment of The Red in search of a "Life Tree", and let me tell you, the horror here is creepy and effective and downright unsettling. Foreman's sketchy linework is dead on brilliant and ratchets up the tense moment to moment work with creepy hippos giving birth to one another and tattoos that magically form a map all over our hero's body. Go Lemire. Go!

Batwing #2
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Ben Oliver
Company: DC Comics
Dour, dreadful, and not extremely fun. There should be a sense of wonderment about having a super hero in Africa, a sense of exploration that we don't normally see, but nope, all we get is the traditional story elements about tribesman killing each other and corrupt police officials. It's tedious, especially with the knowledge that Oliver is seriously bringing a nice look and feel to the paint-y style work for the book, but the story entrenched in violence and a character that feels somewhat ineffective and very un-Batman drags the book down to that I don't care level.

Detective Comics #2
Writer: Tony Daniel
Artists: Tony Daniel & Ryan Winn
Company: DC Comics
Better than the first issue, for sure, though it still isn't the Batman book that I want to see on the shelves. This skews to the genre of horror/suspense, a la Silence of the Lambs, rather quickly and puts Batman in that weird place where he was for most of Long Halloween, that place of being unable to stop the bad guys from winning and always arriving late. I did enjoy the first few pages of Bruce Wayne dealing with a new woman in his life though. Daniel is doing the cliffhangers well, which I know people are a fan of, and I do think that people are enjoying the dark approach that this book has. I merely can't count myself as being one of those fans.

Green Arrow #2
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Dan Jurgens & George Perez
Company: DC Comics
The worst thing that this book has going for it is its utter blandness in the form of its story. I still think that the Smallville version of Oliver Queen can work, but the cheese ball one-liners and the faceless villains that are providing our hero with some target practice invoke a great sense of yawntasticness and drains the excitement from the bones of the work. Jurgens & Perez's artwork feels a bit on the dated side too, though I think there is more energy in it and that the action scenes do have a fun nature to them.

Hawk & Dove #2
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Company: DC Comics
What did I just read? I mean really, I like Sterling Gates, but the story here is so convoluted and out of control (and not in a good way, mind you) that I stopped caring fairly quickly. The first issue had some interesting character moments, things like Dove's relationship with the original Dove and Boston Brand, but this time out we get things like torture, Condor, and TORTURE. Oh, and then there's Liefeld's art, which continues to become more and more outlandish by the second.

Justice League International #2
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan
Company: DC Comics
Front and center, Lopresti and Ryan's artwork is slick, fun, and evokes the sense of fun that you should get in a JLI book. I just wish the story itself had matched that same sense of fun, as we essentially get a Cobra Commander "RETREAT" moment from Canadian Booster Gold as a battle with a giant robot that's too big for their britches goes south, and back and forth snipes that feel flat and induce groan after groan. That said, I still enjoy Jurgens take on Batman and Guy Gardner, though two people do not make an entire team.

Men of War #2
Writer: Ivan Brandon
Artist: Tom Derenick
Company: DC Comics
A bit of a misfire, I'm afraid, as Ivan Brandon brings forth a rather confusing and cobbled together continuation of his Joe Rock story. I want to like this, I want to enjoy the notion of an almost G.I. Joe set in the DC Universe dishing out pain to super villains, which there are elements of here, but it's a bit mired down in random flashbacks and other distractions to have much of an impact. Derenick's art is nice though and ably brings to life decent action and character emotion. The backup by Vankin and Winslade, which picks up exactly where the last one left off, needs more room to breathe than the 8 pages that its getting.

O.M.A.C. #2
Writers: Dan Didio & Keith Giffen
Artist: Keith Giffen
Company: DC Comics
Continues to be one of the most surprising books of the relaunch. Giffen and Didio continue to homage the classic Kirby comic in a lot of ways, though this outing does see a few more speed bumps than the last. At its core, this book is an action tale and seeing O.M.A.C. go toe to toe with another empowered character, even if he is being used a bit by Brother Eye (who seems to be at odds with the world) at this point, proves to be a lot of fun. My one gripe...Why did they have to change the acronym of O.M.A.C. I want my One Man Army Corps!

Red Lanterns #2
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Ed Benes & Rob Hunter
Company: DC Comics
As a friend pointed out to me after reading this issue, "The aliens in this book act exactly like humans in almost every regard. Why are they called aliens?" It's a weird statement/question to puzzle out, as I don't have the answer. I can see what Milligan is going for with this book, but he's doing it in a very slow, very uninteresting way. Atrocitus is a ferocious, awesome, and somewhat evil character, but he comes off a bit timid, if not a little perplexed with the predicament that he finds himself in. If there was ever a book that screamed the need for ACTION it would be Red Lanterns, but for the most part it's absent. Also, don't get me started on the Ed Benes artwork.

Static Shock #2
Writers: Scott McDaniel & John Rozum
Artist: Scott McDaniel
Company: DC Comics
A collection of interesting, ground floor, Peter Parker-esque super hero action combined with bizarre ideas and sometimes clunky artwork. This time out, Static's fight with our big green gorilla of an assassin (no, he's not really a gorilla...sadly) is a fine example of action done well. It's smart, there's a bit of fun to be had, and if you doubted it in any way shape or form, it shows Static being a flesh and blood super hero! Yay! The weirdness that I mentioned before comes from a side story involving his family life, specifically his sister and apparent clone of said sister. McDaniel's art on that story could have been much clearer and ultimately, it leaves you scratching your head. And not really in a good way.

Stormwatch #2
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda
Company: DC Comics
This issue is a bit frenetic and tends to drop you in the middle of an event, which isn't probably the best way to lure new readers into the world that you're creating, but that said, it was an enjoyable issue. That's mainly in part to the way that Cornell is structuring the story. It has a very similar feel to Captain Britain & MI13, and the way that he's handling not only a sentient moon who wants to destroy Earth, but the multiple cast members and all that they bring to bare, is fairly impressive. There's a steep learning curve with this one, but the gorgeous artwork helps.

Swamp Thing #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Company: DC Comics
Snyder continues what seems to be a long, lonely, and mayhem lined road for our resident hero, Alec Holland, this time dropping truth bombs and filling in the gaps as to the many aspects of what exactly makes a Swamp Thing a Swamp Thing. There are a few pages that are oddly laid out, but other than that, Paquette's artwork runs the gamut of cerebral and horrifying quite well. Like I said initially, this is going to be a slow burn of a comic. There will be ups and downs, but Snyder seems to have a plan, and the notion that this comic and Animal Man have some common ties bodes for an even more interesting time than originally thought.

1 comment:

  1. With you on most of these. Action continues to rock, and OMAC continues to be fun. Animal Man was good if a little slow. Liking Swamp Thing. But the one book that worked for me that didn't for you was JLI. After being underwhelmed by the first issue, I rather liked this issue. Booster's having to retreat was a pretty cool plot point I thought, as was the squabling as the new team feels things out. I while I do like Jurgen's take on Batman, he kinda didn't need to be there and it well could have been a stronger story without him.