Saturday, October 1, 2011

DC Comics The New 52 Week 4: 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: New Guardians #1
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Tyler Kirkham & Batt
Company: DC Comics
In the pantheon of Green Lantern titles that have come out of the New DCU, New Guardians, while flawed, comes out of the gate with a fairly successful first issue. Bedard introduces Kyle Rayner to the masses well enough, encapsulating what makes him different from the other Lantern bearers and then throwing him into a situation that he doesn't quite understand. There is a lot going on however, a mystery that seems to be snatching different rings from the other Rainbow Corps, that may seem a bit much for new readers. Other than that though, the story here is solid and has many moments that are great summations of heroism and what make characters tick. On the art front, Kirkham and Batt do an admirable job. It's nothing super, insanely awesome, but there's a solid enough structure to it. I found Rayner's ring slinging and the the constructs that he makes very energetic and fun though, and used quite well. All in all, New Guardians has a lot of promise. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here and how the different Corps are used.

I, Vampire #1
Writer: Joshua Fialkov
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Company: DC Comics
Immersed in a love/hate relationship between two vampires, it seems that the fate of the world and all those who inhabit it rests on the shoulders of  Andrew Stanton (our main character) and whether he can stop the Queen of Blood and her band of vampires from running rampant. Truthfully, while I figured this book would find a happy medium between the True Blood and Anne Rice flavor, something that would appeal to the masses, it really doesn't. Much of the story, the unbelievable and poorly executed love angle, feels sluggish and boring and quite confusing. Fialkov, who's worked on things like Vampirella and The Cleaners, fails to bring anything new to the table that makes the book stand out. I wanted to like the characters, but they come off cold and clinical. That makes a bit of sense because of the alien nature of who they are, but there's nothing for the reader to latch onto or care about. Sorrentino's artwork, which feels very much in the vein of Jae Lee, is another part of that problem. He's a talented artist, for sure, but it has a very static look to it. That coupled with very dreary, though aptly gothic, colors make the proceedings much less interesting than they should be. I really wanted this one to stand out among the crowd, but it doesn't. Instead it sort of ambles by and barely bares a fang.

Justice League Dark #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin
Company: DC Comics
Where Milligan dropped the ball a bit with Red Lanterns, he picks the pace up and casts a hefty magic spell that kicks things up a notch with the first issue of Justice League Dark. The cast of characters, pretty much a who's who of the magic world of the DCU, is equal parts dark, broody, and caustically delicious. Milligan is able to give readers a good handle on the majority of the characters as we delve into things. Having The Enchantress be the big bad at the moment is a bit of a rehash from his Flashpoint series, but I have to assume that something new will come of it. One of the biggest points in this issue is that he shows how many of the other heroes of the DCU, people like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, are affected by the utter devastation that magic can bring. It's a neat aspect that I wasn't expecting. Mike Janin, an artist that only recently has hit the comic book scene for me, does an excellent job here. The style leans heavily on a more photo reference-y nature, but there isn't a stiffness to it that becomes an issue. Instead, the thick line of his pencils lend to the doom filled styling of the story and the color tones, many pinks and purples and more subtle colors, do a great job of making things pop. Overall, Justice League Dark gets off to a good start. We'll see what sort of tricks are up Milligan and Janin's sleeve next time.

The Savage Hawkman #1
Writer: Tony Daniel
Artist: Phillip Tan
Company: DC Comics
Well, it was better than Detective Comics...I'll say that much. And I know that I'm in the minority of not caring much for that book. Still, I do like that approach that Daniel takes for this book. Unraveling the convoluted history that Carter Hall has had over the many years of his existence and trimming it down to a much more approachable and simple affair is a great idea. Daniel's approah, however, leaves a very METAL (i.e. Heavy Metal, not Nth Metal) taste in your mouth, which doesn't jibe with Hawkman. The book does follow a traditional heroes path, as it takes Carter from a person who no longer wants to be the hero he was to the point where he has to stand up against an enemy, as he's the only one who can. It isn't bad, but most of the story is very mundane and borders on being boring. Phillip Tan, who's work on Green Lantern recently was only okay, here steps it up and produces a much more vibrant and more rounded affair. There's more detail to it this go around and his style certainly has evolved. It all boils down to the story though. Art alone can't hold your attention. Daniel's story just doesn't have enough to it that wants to bring you back. Hawkman hits things, which is cool, but I had hoped for more.

Superman #1
Writer: George Perez
Artist: Jesus Merino
Company: DC Comics
Compared to Action Comics, Superman disappoints. Utterly. I wanted to like it. Heck, I was primed to like it. George Perez was the man behind the brilliant relaunch to Wonder Woman back in the late 80's, and it's still a run that I return to and enjoy on a regular basis. It had a style of storytelling, a metre and rhythm that made it stand apart from its brethren. This book, and how it approaches Superman, feels off. It's stuck in the past, at least style wise, and Perez, known for his sometimes heavy prose, creates pages that are fit to burst with text bubbles and narrative captions that are so dense that they completely distract from a story that should have been energetic, vibrant, and action packed. The story itself sees the demoliton of The Daily Planet, introduces new takes on Lois, Perry, Jimmy, Clark, and Morgan Edge. It's sadly light on action, but there is a Fire Monster for Superman to trade blows with, though it doesn't do much to really engage the reader in the fight. Merino does a fine job here though. The panel structure is tight, with Perez providing layouts, but there are moments where the art pops and I think the design work and structure to Merino's backgrounds is great. It really is disheartening though. I was hoping to have a great sister book to Action Comics, one that put forth copious amounts of action and fun. This Superman, however, is a bit of a snooze fest.

Teen Titans #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Brett Booth
Company: DC Comics
An instance where there are good ideas here that aren't executed very well. Scott Lobdell, the man behind Generation X and the most recent Superboy relaunch, fumbles the football a bit with this one. His Tim Drake, made more of a computer hacker threat than outright superhero, is a bit weird, but having him be the driving force that gathers a team to fight a faceless government entity works rather well. I also am fond of the way that he introduces Cassie Sandsmark. The backstory of her being more of a petty thief on the run adds something to her character. That said, the dialogue throughout is a bit heavy handed and has a slightly dated element to it. Then there is the art. I will say that to date, this is probably the best that we've seen from artist Brett Booth. His work in the past on things like Anita Blake haven't been all that impressive, but here he shows a bit more energy and a slight change to his style. It isn't a huge improvement, but the storytelling has become much clearer and the panels don't feel as "messy" as they have. I still don't agree with many of the costume changes, but with the tone that's being set up, I do understand what they're going for. Still, much of the issue misses the mark. That doesn't mean I'm not curious to see what happens next though.

Voodoo #1
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Sami Basri
Company: DC Comics
A surprise, as I wasn't expecting much from this first issue of Voodoo. I in fact know very little about the character, other than she was a stripper in her first incarnation in the pages of WildC.A.T.S. That element hasn't gone the way-side with this version. The good thing is that writer Ron (Green Lantern) Marz takes that idea and actually puts thought into it. Yes, the sexual nature of working in such a place is broached, as is sex in general, but there's more going on her than just T&A. Voodoo's character is actually well thought out and that she has a reason for doing what she's doing makes sense. There is also a nice supporting cast being fleshed out in the guise of a special agent. Basri's art is very stunning. It has an almost Gene Ha meets J.G. Jones effect to it that I really enjoy. It's sultry, which it needs to be, but he's also able to bring a nice horror element to it. I will also point out that his anatomy, something that can be overlooked so often, is spot on. His characters move realistically and the addition of Jessica Kholinne's gorgeous colors makes things even better. A very solid opener. It's a bit of a bottle issue, with the majority of the time spent in a strip club, but at no point is it boring as there's a lot going on. Color me interested to see where Marz takes this.

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