It’s been roughly two weeks since comic book fans had their last glance at the DC Universe as we’ve known it for the better part of the last 30 years. Last week DC Comics launched their company wide universe reboot with the release of Justice League #1 (which I’ve included below with this weeks releases). This week they followed up with the release of the first thirteen of the ‘New 52’ #1 books they will be premiering over the course of the month of September. If you haven’t read any of the new DC books yet, or were uncertain as to which ones to pick up, have no fear! Comic Booked is here with Bullet Reviews of every single new #1 from the DC reboot!
Action Comics #1- The original Action Comics is largely considered to be the granddaddy of all comic books. It is also considered to be the definitive ‘dawn’ of the superhero comic. This week the series sees its first #1 issue since 1938 after a successful 904 issue run over the better part of the past century. So how does this new premiere issue stack up against the last 900+ issues? Better yet, does it live up to the name ‘Action Comics’?
After reading the first issue if the DCnU’s Action Comics, I have to admit I was incredibly under whelmed. It wasn’t necessarily BAD, but it wasn’t at all what was expected either. I’ll be the first to say that I’ve never been a huge Superman fan, but that isn’t why I found the book to be lacking. It could be the writing (which throws me off because I generally love most of Morrison’s work), the artwork (which again is kind of surprising considering I’m a fan of Morales as well), or maybe just the overall tone of the book. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made this book feel like it was less than it should be.
I love that Morrison is taking Superman back to his roots and his early days as a hero, showing him going after actual ‘wrong-doers’ rather than just super criminals. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the book opens with the man of steel going after your average two-bit criminals and using some of his more ’extreme’ measures while trying to get a confession out of their leader. It just isn’t really what you’d expect from a book starring everyone’s favorite Kryptonian. A lot of the faces you’d expect to see in a Superman story pop up throughout the issue, with Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Lex Luthor all making their DCnU premieres in this issue. It’s pretty interesting to see a modernized take on Superman’s early days as a superhero as he learns the ropes of what he does, but this first issue doesn’t give a lot of insight as to the direction this book is heading.
Buy it? - This one is kind of hit or miss. If you’re really into Superman, I’d say buy it, but if you’re only a fan in passing you’re probably better off waiting until the main Superman title hits shelves in a few weeks!
Animal Man #1- I’ll openly admit from the start, I’ve never read a single Animal Man comic prior to this book. I know the character from DC’s 52 maxi-series a few years back, but that’s the extent of my experience with the character. That said, holy crap this book was awesome. Animal Man was hands down one of the best of this week’s batch of ‘New 52’ books.
Animal Man isn’t quite your usual superhero comic book; rather it is a drama/supernatural thriller that happens to feature a character that is a superhero. Writer Jeff Lemire takes Animal Man back to his darker roots in a book that very closely resembles the Animal Man series of the 1980’s, portraying a character that is still adjusting to his life as a civilian after spending years as a hero to the masses. While Buddy Baker (aka Animal Man) still dabbles in super-heroism, he’s mostly retired from crime fighting in favor of being a family man. I found it incredibly interesting to see how one would go back to having a ‘normal’ life after having gone on countless intergalactic adventures and saving the multi-verse.
While the majority of the book is basic ‘normal people doing normal things’, when the chances arrive, artist Travel Foreman’s visuals are nothing short of stunning. The creative pairing of Lemire and Foreman looks to be bringing Animal Man to the forefront of the DC comics relaunch.
Buy it? - Definitely. Again, Animal Man was easily one of the best reads in this first batch of new books from DC Comics. Even if you’re remotely curious, pick it up. Animal Man is one of those books that is going to need all the support it can get to keep going. It would be a crime to let this book fall to the sidelines and get canceled prematurely.
Batgirl #1- Of all of the books being relaunched this week, few of them have the amount of hype surrounding them as Batgirl. While some of you may say “why Batgirl?”, anyone who has been reading DC books over the past two decades will tell you how mind blowing it is to have Barbara Gordon wearing the Batgirl costume again. The character was shot in the spine 23 years ago in 1988’s The Killing Joke and has been wheelchair bound ever since; not that it stopped her from being a hero. Barbara Gordon spent the better part of the past twenty years helping Batman, Robin, Nightwing and any number of other heroes as The Oracle; a super plugged-in hero that could find any and all information about anything. Until the reboot, former female Robin Stephanie Brown had been running around in the Batgirl suit under Barbara’s tutelage, but now with the all new Batgirl #1, Barbara Gordon is suddenly able to walk again and Stephanie Brown is nowhere to be seen. So how does it all work?
The series opens with a quick recap of the past few years of Barbara’s life; with DC being quick to explain away the fact that she is able to walk again all the sudden. We find out she had been wheelchair bound for about three years in DC Universe time, and had still spent time as The Oracle, so the reboot didn’t entirely wipe her history away. It just seems frivolous to take such a strong positive female role model and change her back into what she used to be. It’s like putting training wheels back on a bicycle (although that seems a highly reversed and inappropriate analogy for this situation).
Writer Gail Simone does her best to bring Barbara back into the saddle as Batgirl, and as one would expect Simone does a fantastic job of it! Artist Ardian Syaf manages to catch all the right tones as the story progresses, making this another great pairing on DC’s part. The pair also introduces a brand new villain the DCU (nU or otherwise), who could very well become a major player in the Gotham City crime scene. Only time will tell on that one though!
Buy it? - The book reads really well and is definitely worth looking into. It’s been selling out at most retailers for good reason and will likely continue to be a great series for as long as this creative pairing lasts.
Batwing #1- Batwing is one of the only books that remains spinning out of Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc. series/storyline.; which is apparently still alive and well even though the entire DC Universe has been rebooted. Batwing is the story of David Zamvimbi, the ‘Batman of Africa’. He’s got a ton of cool gear and the right attitude going forward to make a name for himself in the DCnU, but will it be enough to keep the series going?
The problem with Batwing is that it doesn’t really have anything to make it stand out. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from it- Batman in Africa. So we’ve got a new guy in a bat suit (which is actually a lot more reminiscent of the Batman Beyond suit than the current Batman suit) in a new setting. That’s about the entire gist of it. He even has his own version of Alfred back in his base of operations. The book reads pretty much just like any other Batman book would, except that our titular hero is of African descent. The fact that it reads like pretty much every other Batman book isn’t necessarily a bad thing though when you think about it.
Buy it? - This is another one that is kind of hit or miss. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t particularly good either. There are so many books being released from DC this month that this is one you could probably manage to skip over. Unless you’re a hardcore Batman fan and can’t get enough of the Dark Knight and his team, this book is one to pass on.
Detective Comics #1- For the relaunch of DC’s flagship title, Detective Comics, they pulled out all the stops and went all out to bring us a new and exciting story that hooks you in from the first panel and doesn’t ease up until the last. Detective Comics #1 was easily the best read in this first batch of books and does exactly the sort of thing that DC wanted to do with the reboot- it breathes new life into an old franchise and makes it feel new and exciting again.
Classic Batman villain The Joker makes his DCnU premiere here, and he doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. The book opens and closes with the Joker’s wretched smile and leaves you on the edge of your seat to eagerly await the next issue. Batman is still early on in his career, chasing the joker for what seems to be the first time, while the joker himself is even darker and more twisted than ever. The book showcases Batman’s intelligence rather than just his physical strength, showing readers why he’s ‘the world’s greatest detective’. It’s also nice to see a slightly younger looking Commissioner Gordon making an appearance here.
Writer Tony S. Daniel and artist Ryan Winn go to show another example of perfect creative pairing on DC’s part with this relaunch. Daniel’s writing makes it impossible to put this book down until you’ve read cover to cover, and Winn’s artwork make the entire ride an enjoyable experience. Even though it’s only the first issue, this looks to be one of the darkest Batman storyline’s that the DCU (nU or otherwise) has ever seen. It’s nice to see DC keeping to what the fans want instead of just gearing towards children as many were expecting.
Buy it? - As a comic book reader, you would have to be a fool to pass on this book. It’s one of the best, if not the very best of these New 52 books that DC is releasing this month. Be sure to pick up Detective Comics #1 before it’s sold out forever!
Green Arrow #1- Green Arrow was one of those books that I wasn’t sure what to expect from. The character has been relaunched enough times that this book could have been anything, but thankfully what it ended up being was a well written modernized take on the character. Gone are the days of a curly goatee and a Robin Hood cap! This new Green Arrow much closer resembles his Smallville counterpart (albeit a bit older), which seems to work a lot better than the classic liberal that DC Comics fans are used to reading.
This version of Oliver Queen is a younger, sexier, globetrotting Green Arrow for a new generation. He’s the billionaire CEO of Queen Industries but he doesn’t seem to take himself very seriously. He’s almost like Batman if Batman actually had charm and an arrow theme. Writer J.T. Krul breathes new life into a dated character and actually manages to make Green Arrow fun again. Dan Jurgens’ artwork makes for a good pairing on this title, but it isn’t anything special.
The new tone and design for the character works a lot better than I had personally anticipated. I’ve been a fan of the Green Arrow character for a long time, but even I have to admit it’s nice to see him start over fresh with a new look and a new attitude for his new series. He may not be the Oliver Queen we know and love, but this new iteration of the character looks like he shouldn’t have too much trouble winning over fans.
Buy it? - I’d say yes. It isn’t the best book DC has to offer right now, but it’s definitely a fun read! I’ll personally be adding this one to my monthly pull list.
Hawk & Dove #1- Hawk & Dove was yet another one of those books where I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. As a longtime Teen Titans fan, I know the characters already, but I’ve never personally read them in their own book. This particular pairing is also fairly fresh and new again, having come out of DC’s epic 2009 Blackest Night event. This particular pairing of Hank Hall and Dawn Granger is still getting used to working as a team (although you’d think with a reboot/relaunch that their continuity would be different?) as Hawk & Dove. So how does their new book hold up?
Hawk & Dove starts off with the pair facing off against a new breed of terrorist, a terrorist opting to use monsters to get his message across rather than standard explosives or other weapons of mass destruction. The duo makes what looks to be a fairly dangerous new enemy early on in the book, and gains an equally powerful ally before the books end. It sets an interesting tone for a superhero book, but is overall a good read. Sterling Gates’ writing sets up what looks to be an interesting series, and for all the disdain that Rob Liefeld’s artwork usually generates, I can’t get enough of him drawing Hawk & Dove.
This series takes you back to the days where comics could just be fun and didn’t have to take every so seriously. The plot seems kind of ridiculous, but it really works for these characters. It’s like a good 90’s book for a new generation.
Buy it?- I’d say that it’s worth picking up at least this first issue to test the waters and see what you think of it. It isn’t going to win any awards for ‘best new title’, but it’s a fun read that very well may become a new fan favorite.
Justice League #1- There isn’t much to be said about the new Justice League #1 that hasn’t already been said. This was the book that relaunched the entire DCU after the Flashpoint event ended, and it set the bar high for the rest of the titles that were being rebooted. Justice League is being handled by DC’s personal dynamic duo creative team of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, so it’s almost impossible to see this book fail.
One important factor to keep in mind when reading Justice League is that it takes place about 5 years in continuity before the majority of the other DCnU titles, so it won’t have quite the same feel as a lot of these other new books. This title is giving readers an all new origin story to the worlds first real super team, how they first met, and how they learned to put egos aside and work together (although we’ve yet to actually see the later happen). It looks to be one of the better titles coming out of the reboot and so far has been nothing short of fantastic. Johns’ writing with Lee’s artwork makes for a book that is only just short of being perfect (and let’s face it, how often is anything 100% flawless?).
This book gives us Batman in the early stages of his career as a crime fighter, facing off against what appears to be masked man (or creature?) while both are being pursued by the Gotham City Police Department. As the battle continues across the rooftops we’re introduced to another kind of hero, one that is quite literally the polar opposite of the Dark Knight; Green Lantern! The Hal Jordan of the DCnU is as cocky and arrogant as they come, which makes the character a lot more enjoyable to read. He’s very reminiscent of his early silver age appearances and it’s great to see the character brought back to his roots. Oddly enough, this version feels a lot more like the version we saw in the live action film earlier this year. I don’t want to give away too much of what happens in between the opening few pages and the final panel of the book, but overall it makes for an interesting read that manages to pull you in.
I actually enjoyed that all the heroes of the Justice League weren’t just thrown into this first issue to get them there. This premiere issue was primarily focused on Batman and Green Lantern, with a brief appearance by Superman towards the end and a glimpse at the man that would eventually be Cyborg. I also thought the interactions between Green Lantern and Batman were a great preview of the tense relationship the pair are destined to have in the future. Overall this looks to be the beginning of a great series.
Buy it? - Definitely. While Detective Comics is the flagship title of the company, Justice League is the real face of what the DC Universe represents. It’s the team book that defines what team books are meant to be and it easily warrants being added to your monthly pull list.
Justice League International #1- Justice League International is one of those books that was defining of the era it was originally published; in this case the DCU of the 1980’s. Just like the rest of the DCU, JLI has been completely rebooted back to the start. The tone of the book and the majority of the cast of characters remain the same (although notably missing is the original Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, who is apparently non-existent in the DCnU), so the all new JLI looks to be just as much fun as the old series.
So why bother reading Justice League International if you’re already reading Justice League? For starters, aside from Batman (who is apparently omnipresent in the DCnU), it’s an entirely different cast of characters! We’ve got fan favorites like Booster Gold and Green Lantern Guy Gardner, with other great characters like Fire, Ice, Vixen, Rocket Red and August General In Iron rounding out the team! Aside from the fantastic cast of characters, JLI is being written by Dan Jurgens, who originally created Booster Gold!
Justice League International is just fun, plain and simple. It looks like it will be a great lighter toned companion book to the main Justice League series, which is a bit darker. If you like your superheroes fun instead of dark and brooding, JLI is the book for you!
Buy It? - Justice League International was another one of those books I just couldn’t help but fall in love with. I’d say definitely pick this one up!
Men Of War #1- This title is DC’s honest attempt at rebooting the long running Sgt. Rock series for a new generation while also tapping into the commercial success of modern warfare properties like the Call of Duty video game franchise. If there was ever a time to try and bring back military comics to the mainstream, it’s now!
The original Sgt. Rock character was an American solider hero during the World War II era. This time around we’re seeing the grandson of the original character during the wars that are currently happening in real life in the Middle East. While I’ve personally never been too into military comics, I think it’s interesting to see DC do a modern take on the genre. There isn’t much to be said about this first issue, as it seems to be used mostly to introduce us to the key characters of the series and establish who these people are. It’s great to see such a focus on character development over just straight action; especially in a comic set in war zones.
Buy it? - This is another one that’s kind of take it or leave it. For a first issue, it’s fairly interesting and makes you want to see what happens next, but it’s hard to tell where this series is going to go. It’s not a terrible book by any means, so if you’re into military themed stuff than you’ll love Men Of War!
O.M.A.C. #1- Okay… the less said here, probably the better. I’m not really sure what Dan Didio was thinking with this book, but O.M.A.C. is probably the worst title of this past week’s lot. That’s not saying a whole lot though, considering that the majority of the other titles released this past week have been astoundingly solid reads, but wow was O.M.A.C. terrible.
I don’t have a lot of experience with the O.M.A.C. characters personally outside of their appearance in 2005’s Infinite Crisis and a vague knowledge of the older O.M.A.C. character and series, but I have no idea exactly what DC is trying to do with this book. From what I understand it’s Dan Didio’s pet project that he’s been trying to bring back for a while and finally had his chance to, but I’m not certain that O.M.A.C. needed to be brought back at all. The book is poorly written and the artwork is pretty terrible.
Much like I said Hawk & Dove screamed “90’s book’ in the best ways, O.M.A.C. screams “90’s book” in the worst possible ways. The artwork is pretty hard to stomach at certain points, and the O.M.A.C. character redesign is pretty horrendous. I don’t know what the higher ups at DC were thinking with this title, but it stands out to me as the worst of the whole lot so far.
Buy it? - This book was pretty terrible, I’d say unless you’re trying to get a full set of the ‘New 52’ books, pass on O.M.A.C.
Static Shock #1- Static is back and he’s better than ever! The classic Milestone character makes his triumphant return with a brand new solo series after spending the last few years as a team member of the Teen Titans! With the DC Universe relaunching, Static has catapulted his way into a brand new solo book! The late Dwayne McDuffie, who created Static, would have been proud to see his creation reach such great heights!
Aside from being without his Teen Titans teammates (who it would seem he very likely doesn’t know at all in the DCnU), the biggest change for Static’s new solo book is the setting. Virgil Hawkins (Static) has been relocated from his usual Detroit setting to the bustling metropolis (not THE Metropolis) of New York City! That and he’s got a few upgrades to his own powers and the gear he’s using. Overall Static seems to be one of the characters to seriously be benefiting from this reboot (well, until the final panel of the book… you’ll see)!
Scott McDaniel and John Rozum make for a great creative pairing when it comes to writing this title, although McDaniel’s artwork could use some improvement. Overall the book is a fun read, but if you’ve never read the Static character before it doesn’t really bring anything special to the table.
Buy it?- This title is great if you’re a fan of Static at all, but if you’ve never read the character before it doesn’t quite give you a lot to work with. It’d be great to see this book stand on its own two feet, but something tells me this may be one of the few books that ends up slipping through the cracks without a proper fan base. I’ll be buying it personally but a lot of people could probably pass.
Stormwatch #1- Stormwatch was a book that I wasn’t sure what to expect from. I mean, the original Stormwatch series was essentially the Wildstorm Universe’s answer to the Justice League, but the DC Universe and Wildstorm Universe have since consolidated into one cohesive universe. So what does that make Stormwatch? And why is long time Justice League mainstay Martian Manhunter on this team instead of the Justice League itself?
I’ll be honest, I’ve never read the original Stormwatch series, so I have no idea how this new version stacks up against the old one. The premise seems to be “Justice League, on a galactic scale”; which could work fairly well as a series. I also wanted to note that the original series most recognizable characters, both Apollo and Midnighter, got decent redesigns for their costumes; although I’m unsure as to whether either of them really needed to be redesigned. Overall I think that Stormwatch has potential to be a good book, but it may take a few issues to really get there. So far it just feels like a bit of a muddled mess that isn’t sure what it wants to do with itself.
Buy it? - Take it or leave it. As I’ve said with most of the books so far, Stormwatch isn’t a bad title! If just hasn’t proven itself as a good title yet. It has potential, but it’s got to find its footing and let fans know what it’s trying to be.
Swamp Thing #1- Swamp Thing has what I’m going to call the most interesting opening of any of the ‘New 52’ books. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Swamp Thing character personally, but it’s been refreshing to have him back in the DCU and starring in his own title. I don’t want to give away too much about the story itself or explain WHY the first few pages are so captivating, but I found it impossible to put the book down once I started reading. I feel like even now I need to know what is going to happen next.
Swamp Thing firmly plants its horror roots (pun intended) in the DCnU and sets itself up as what looks to be yet another amazing new title. Scott Snyder’s writing is phenomenal and Yanick Paquette’s artwork leaves little to be desired. You can tell the creative team really has a feel for the character and the genre. I think what makes Swamp Thing so great is that the titular character doesn’t technically show up until the final page of the book, yet the story seems to carry itself effortlessly to get us to that point.
Buy it? - Hell yes. Swamp Thing is going to be one of the best new titles to spawn from the ‘New 52’ and brings a whole new level of horror to the mainstream DCU.
Be sure to keep tuned to Comic Booked every week in September for the full rundown on all of the ‘New 52′ books from DC Comics!