27
Sep
2011
The Watchtower
DC The New 52 Reviews Week 3
Chris
Here they are! Week 3 reviews! On the whole this week was a dramatic improvement from last week. 3 down, One to go!

Superboy #1
-Scott Lobdell
-R.B. Silva
Special Note, this book was actually part of last week's batch of new 52 titles but I seem to have forgot about it when putting together my list for reviews, which is telling of my impressions of the book. It wasn't a bad issue, but due to a couple plot devices, it just felt like not very much happens. By now it's no spoiler to reveal that Rose Wilson is part of the extended cast of this book, which pleases me given the interesting dynamic these two were beginning to develop toward the end of Krul's Teen Titans. There are so many misdirects and mysteries introduced in this issue that it is impossible to really get a handle on Superboy's character. It is an intriguing book, and I can definitely see it improving over time, but there just isn't a lot in this particular issue to sink your teeth into.
Grade: C+
Status: I think I will look to Teen Titans for my Scott Lobdell and Superboy fix.

Batman #1
-Scott Snyder
-Greg Capullo
Snyder knocked this one out of the park but then again, would you expect anything less from the man who has been melting face on Detective Comics for the past year. This issue has everything you could possibly want from a Batman comic: action, detective work, classic villains, great exchanges with Gordon and Harvey Bullock, cameos from most all of the Robins, and a twist ending that makes you wonder just what Batman is up against this time. Greg Capullo really nails the Batman scenes, but the stuff featuring Bruce Wayne interacting with high society leaves a little to be desired, particularly in terms of Dick's height. This book is awesome, go read it.
Grade: A
Status: This is the hero we need and deserve.

Birds of Prey #1
-Duane Scwierzynski
-Jesus Saiz
Of all the properties that have suffered more than benefitted from the relaunch, I think this might be one of the worst. The heart of this series was the deep bonds of friendship that existed between Barbara Gordon and Dinah Lance, and eventually grew to include Helena Bartenelli. Removing both Barbara and Helena from the book, and trying to replacing them with a completely new character and just expecting the fans to buy that she has a similarly compelling relationship with Dinah is not exactly a recipe for success. Duane Scwierzynski could have countered this uphill battle with some hard hitting, fast paced, non-stop, gritty crime action that his novels are known for, but what we receive instead is some pretty standard comic fair, and a first issue that plays it too accessible and safe to really be interesting. Jesus Saiz's art is phenomenal though, he handles the fight scenes with particular skill, and his character work is always a joy to behold.
Grade: C+
Status: Call me when somebody gets the original members of the band back together.


Blue Beetle #1
-Tony Bedard
-Ig Guara
After a gripping opening sequence that does a great job of setting up the power and danger of the Blue Beetle scarab, the issue loses a lot of steam when we fast forward to the present day and are reintroduced to our hero and main cast. This series is following the "wipe the slate clean" approach to the DC relaunch, so forget pretty much everything you knew, as the old origin story changeth again. This book has the annoying tendency of hitting you over the head with a baseball bat with the words "Mira! Look at how diverse the new DCU is!" etched into it, as characters will speak certain lines and words in spanish for no particular reason. Either have them speak in consistent spanish or consistent english, cuz right now it reads like annoying Gambit dialogue and comes off as just borderline ridiculous enough to not to be offensive. Ig Guara's art is pretty decent, however he fairs much better with the alien stuff than he does with the high schoolers who all look like they would be arrested if they set foot on an actualy high school campus (they look old!).
Grade: C
Status: No, gracias

Captain Atom #1
-J.T. Krul
-Freddie Williams II
After multiple attempts to make the character relevant by turning him evil or stranding him in the multiverse, DC turns to the most iconic interpretation of the character, Dr. Manhatten from Watchmen for inspiration, and the result actually kinda pays off. Krul continues to build on the feelings of isolationAtom was experiencing in Generation Lost, and explores the characters concern at his seemingly ever increasing power levels. Williams II turns in artwork that can be best described as ethereal and haunting. The end result is some of the best work I have seen out of these two creators to date, leaving me to see them in a whole new light.
Grade: B-
Status: I'm gonna be keeping an eye on this one, it's not there yet, but I see some real potential for this to be the surprise fan favorite of the new 52.

Catwoman #1
-Judd Winick
-Guillem March
Of the two issues that caused a major stir about sexism at DC and comics in general this week, I found this one to be the less offensive of the two. Guillem March's art did over-sexualize the character to the degree of parody, and Winick's closing scene was a bit, um, questionable. However I did like the rest of Winick's script for the most part. The opening scene was kinda fun, although I could see PETA having a problem with it, and I like that this isn't a traditional superhero comic, it's all about Catwoman being a super thief. That being said the book is in the unenviable position of having something of an infamous reputation now. Continuing the current tone and plans will make the book a lightning rod for controversy, pulling in the reigns may make the book a little too safe to be interesting. If I know Winick, he's fine playing the lightning rod, look for more of the same.
Grade: C
Status: This one will have to land on its feet with out the benefit of my money

DCU Presents #1
-Paul Jenkins
-Bernard Chang
Man, if you take one thing away from this issue, it's that Boston Brand's afterlife sucks. There is a morose air of depression and regret that lingers on these pages. By issue's end Jenkins has so thoroughly familiarized Brand's character and current plight with the audience that the startling cliffhanger makes perfect sense. Bernard Chang turns in some really solid artwork especially given the unenviable task of having to draw carnival crowd scenes. Not the flashiest book on the stands, but some really solid character work and story telling can be found here.
Grade: B
Status: Hey if I had deep pockets, I'd take possession of this book, but I don't. I recommend giving it a look though.

Green Lantern Corps #1
-Peter Tomasi
-Fernando Pasarin
Long time readers of the Green Lantern franchise might find this issue a little too acceptable, making it a bit boring at times, but that's really the only complaint you can level against this really solid relaunch from the time tested team of Tomasi and Pasarin. We see series leads Guy Gardner and John Stewart trying to adjust to civilian life on earth after what seemed like an endless stream of non stop crises. This doesn't really work out for either man, and they head back to what they know best: deep space and the call of duty. Pasarin turns in some excellent work both with the facial expressions of the two leads, and the fantastical alien designs and landscapes that this series will use heavily in months to come. For long time fans of Tomasi and the Green Lantern books, this isn't the most exciting issue, but I am confident the best is yet to come.
Grade: B+
Status: In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, Purchasing Issue Two, Will Make My Day Bright.

Legion of Superheroes #1
-Paul Levitz
-Francis Portela
This issue is not accessible. By any means. The #1 on the cover is a complete misdirect. Don't open the cover expecting a blank slate. That being said, as a fan of the Legion, and having a passing familiarity with the recent story lines, I loved this book. Levitz gives us a Legion unlike what we are used to: a skeleton crew that is quickly drafting in raw recruits in order to have a passing chance of protecting the whole freaking galaxy. Sorrow is the pervading atmosphere of this issue, as the Legion has experienced major losses of late. 7 Legionares disappeared into the past and are presumed dead (actually they are starring in Legion Lost). A couple were killed or injured at the end of last volume. And others including Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Colossal Boy have resigned. While Levitz did not make this a great jumping on point for new readers, I thought he did excel with the characters both old and new that now comprise the cast, and with establishing just how dire and difficult the Legion's job has become. I for one look forward to seeing just how the team can carry on in light of their many recent set backs. Francis Portela's art has improved by leaps and bound since his fill in work on the first volume of this title. His pencils are almost reminiscent of Frank Quietly in some panels, and I can't wait to see what he can do as the main artist on this title.
Grade: B+
Status: Given other reviews I have read, I will be one of the very few people picking up the second issue.

Nightwing #1
-Kyle Higgins
-Eddie Barrows
Kyle Higgins seamlessly takes the Dick Grayson baton from Scott Snyder and continues the great character study begun by Snyder on Detective and continued by both Snyder and Higgins on Gate of Gotham. Higgins had the unenviable task of putting Grayson back in the Nightwing costume after a fan favorite stint as Batman. Fortunately, Higgins and Barrows nail this transition as both narration and art reveal Dick's joy at the chance to be his own man again. Dick's time as Batman doesn't make the return to Nightwing a demotion, rather it's an elevation. Having shown that he can be Batman, it truly feels as if Dick has once and for all stepped out of Bruce's shadow and cemented his own identity. Reintroducing Haley's Circus was another great touch given the recent themes of how Gotham tests its heroes and I look forward to seeing where this story is going, and just how connected it is to Scott Snyder's Batman.
Grade: B+
Status: At the end of week 3 the budget is already getting tight, if a couple of books I have my eye on in week 4 disappoint, I will definitely swing back around to this title.

Red Hood and The Outlaws #1
-Scott Lobdell
-Kenneth Rocafort
THIS was the most controversial title of the week, and one flip through and it's easy to see why. Lobdell writes a Starfire that is the dream of 13 year old boys everywhere and insults women, fans of the character, and comics readers as a whole in the process. It's a shame too because the first few pages of this book reveal a very fun buddy dynamic between Jason Todd and Roy Harper. Their relationship is where the true potential of this series lies, and the introduction of Kori, both because of her power set (vastly more powerful than and able to easily take care of any problem that faces the guys) and her portrayal as a careless sexpot (blatant fan service and the kind of stunt that gives this medium a bad name) really runs what could have been a good book off the rails.
Grade: C-
Status: Unless there are some major changes to this book, buying it would be a crime.

Supergirl #1
-Michael Green and Mike Johnson
-Mahmud Asrar
Supergirl is a teenager, she should not be wearing that costume, I feel dirty overtime I look at it. That being said this was actually a pretty solid debut issue. We are quickly introduced to Kara, a young girl completely out of her element, but still capable of taking care of herself. Green and Johnson do a pretty solid job with the narration and establish a nice mystery right from the get go as to how Kara survived the destruction of Krypton and arrived in her present day circumstances. Asrar's art is similarly solid, aside from the costume. My only other complaint about the issue is that the fight scene takes up just a few too many pages that could have otherwise been devoted to some character work. I'm as surprised as you are but this is one to watch folks.
Grade: B
Status: I will be flipping through this one in the store next month, and keeping an eye on it thereafter. If the quality keeps up, this is ripe for a midyear replacement if some other books end up going downhill.

Wonder Woman #1
-Brian Azzerello
-Cliff Chiang
Wow. This was the first Wonder Woman comic I've read that I loved! Oh my god, did the creative team knock this one out of the park. Chiang's art is kinetic and foreboding. Azzerello nails Diana's character as a strong and confident warrior ready for any situation and not to be trifled with. The villains are as terrifying as Diana is formidable and in one issue Azzerello has begun to construct a world that is fascinating and totally niche for Diana. Do yourself a favor, check out this book, because if Azzerello and Chiang keep this up, this will go down in history as a defining run on the title and character.
Grade: A-
Status: Buying this book! You should too!
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