This past Wednesday marked week two of DC Comics’ ‘New 52′ relaunch! The relaunch, which will be taking place all throughout the month of September, is essentially a complete reboot of the entire DC Universe. Each week this month DC Comics is giving readers a slew of brand new #1 titles to check out! Last weeks batch (all reviewed here) included all new Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #1, but what books do we have to look forward to this week? Better yet, which books being released this week should you be buying? Comic Booked has the complete rundown!
Batman & Robin #1- With the DC Universe rebooting, most books are starting fresh from what seems to be the very beginning. Only two franchises seem to be mostly untouched by the relaunch this month, and one of those two franchises is Batman. Batman books are staying mostly the same, with a few minor tweaks here and there. This week we see a brand new Batman & Robin #1, with an all new team made up of established characters we already know and love (well, Damian is a bit of a mixed bag, but most of us love him by now). While the most recent previous Batman & Robin title featured Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne as Batman and Robin, this time around we’re getting the father/son team up of Bruce and Damian Wayne. So how do they work out as the dynamic duo?
Let me start by saying I loved the pairing of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. They played off each other fantastically for the last few years of Batman & Robin, and I’m sad to see them split up like this. That said, Bruce and Damian look like they’re going to be a bit boring to read as a team. Bruce is a bit too controlling with his “my way or the highway” routine (as he always has been) and Damian is just too focused on trying to gain his fathers approval. Damian isn’t exactly helping himself gain his fathers approval by constantly disobeying orders, but that’s just his personality. I’m hoping that some new kind of dynamic comes forth as the series continues, but as it stands I’m really not enjoying this pairing at all. I do, however, like pretty much everything else about this book.
Peter J. Tomasi’s writing keeps you interested in what’s going on while trying to set the tone for the book, which opens and closes on a mysterious new villain that seems set on wiping Bruce Wayne’s Batman Inc. from existence. The artwork, provided by Patrick Gleason, compliments Tomasi’s writing well. Gleason gives readers quite a few memorable panels of Damian.
Buy it?- If you’re going to be reading DC Comics at all, Batman & Robin really is essential reading. If you aren’t into Batman at all then clearly this isn’t the book for you, but I think Batman & Robin should be on the higher end of the spectrum with this months relaunched titles! It also helps a bit for those that are against the reboot as it is one of the few books that feel like the regular old DCU and not like the DCnU.
Batwoman #1- For months well before any kind of DC reboot was talked about, Batwoman #1 was a comic book whose name was on the lips of many fans. The title saw numerous delays that kept anxious fans waiting and excited to get their hands on this book. Now, having read the first issue, the only words I can really muster are “what the hell did I just read?”
The artwork on this book is beautiful. J.H. Williams and Dave Stewart should be incredibly proud of how good this book looks, because visually it looks spectacular. Unfortunately Williams also co-wrote the book, alongside W. Haden Blackman, and I’m still uncertain what to make of it. The story is incredibly confusing and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for any kind of book trying to be a ‘Bat‘-title. I like Batwoman as a character and it’s nice to see the former Teen Titan Flamebird as her new sidekick of sorts, but I really don’t get what this book is trying to do.
Buy it?- It could just be me, but this book didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. I’d say it’s likely one of those books you can pass on unless you’re a die-hard fan of the character.
Deathstroke #1- With all the new books coming out this month, Deathstroke was one I’ve personally been looking forward to. I loved the Deathstroke Flashpoint mini series and feel like an ongoing title starring the best mercenary in the DCU sounds almost too good to be true. Luckily, Death stroke #1 was everything I dreamed of and more!
The thing I love the most about a character like Deathstroke is that he doesn’t pull any punches. He’s a brilliant strategist and a master of most fighting styles; kind of like Batman without a sense of morals. Deathstroke goes wherever the money takes him and does whatever job is willing to pay. Writer Kyle Higgins seems to have a firm grasp of the character and starts off this series with a great look into how Deathstroke works. The ending of this issue is particularly satisfying and stays true to character. Joe Bennet’s artwork gets the job done and is a great fit for Higgins script.
Slade’s new costume is pretty cool, as he was one of those characters that were well overdue for an update in that department. The interior artwork of the issue is pretty inconsistent with the costume design we’ve been seeing on cover art previews for a few months now, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wasn’t really happy with the preview designs that DC has been showing off, but the actual costume being used in the issue looks great!
Buy it?- I’d say yes. It could just be me giving the title preferential treatment, but I thought Deathstroke #1 was a great read and did justice to the character. I’m really looking forward to seeing this series continue!
Demon Knights #1- I have to take a moment to applaud DC for bringing readers a series like this. It’s kind of a stretch from the titles they usually publish, and it’s nice to see them give us some diversity in the selection of titles they’re offering. Demon Knights is a fantasy title set in the dark ages in Europe, featuring the Demon Etrigan, Xanadu, Shining Knight and more! Fan favorite immortal Vandal Savage even makes an appearance!
The story itself here is a bit muddled and confusing, but it’s not a terrible read. While some vague origins are offered early in the issue, the main part of the book reads like you walked in halfway through the story. This may just be because of the setting of the title, but it is fairly confusing regardless. Diogenes Neves’ artwork is beautiful throughout the issue and translates Paul Cornell’s story perfectly to the page. It’s like Neves’ was born to illustrate Etrigan, because I’ve never seen The Demon look better!
Buy it?- Eh. It’s nice to see some variety in DC’s New 52 offerings, but this one is kind of hit or miss. You’re either going to love it or hate it. While the story is confusing, I think this title has a lot of potential. I’ll be giving it the same ‘three issues to grab my attention’ policy that I’m giving to most of the new titles.
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #1- This title can be summed up in one word- Hellboy. Yes, as many people had suspected, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is essentially DC’s answer to Dark Horse’s Hellboy. I’m honestly just surprised a title like this took so long to exist! This new ongoing series from Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli feels pretty similar to the Frankenstein Flashpoint miniseries, so if you enjoyed that you’ll probably love this book.
Ponticelli’s artwork leaves a lot to be desired, but it isn’t so bad that the book is unreadable. Lemire’s superb writing more than makes up for the poor art direction in this title. He quickly asserts S.H.A.D.E.(Super Human Advanced Defense Executives) as the DCU’s version of the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research & Defense). S.H.A.D.E. is full of interesting characters, but this series seems to have put together a team of characters based around a “classic monsters” theme. They’ve got a vampire, a werewolf, a sea creature and even a mummy! Not to mention our titular hero, Frankenstein.
Overall this issue was a great read and sets up what looks to be a really cool new horror themed series in the DCU. Aside from a brief appearance by Ray Palmer (a.k.a. The Atom), this book doesn’t appear to be very tied into the rest of the DCU, so it looks to be a really cool stand alone series.
Buy It?- If you’re a fan of Hellboy or similarly themed series, this is a must have book. It’s quirky and different (as expected) and it has a ton of personality packed into a fantastic package. I’d say definitely give this series a go!
Green Lantern #1- Green Lantern is one of the few series I’m not really happy with in this reboot. This series pretty much picks up right after the last Green Lantern storyline ended, making the whole reboot feel like a bit of a cop out. When rebooting the DCU, I feel like DC should have gone all out or not bothered at all. Green Lantern is pretty much the exact same book as it has been for the past few years (which is in no way something I’m complaining about) with a brand new #1. It’s not that I’m disappointed with the series, as much as I’m disappointed with the handling of the reboot here.
Geoff Johns’ writing is fantastic (as usual) and Doug Mahnke’s artwork still works great for the Green Lantern series. That’s the only problem with this title is the fact that it isn’t really being relaunched or reboted aside from the numbering. This issue takes place immediately following the events of the War of the Green Lanterns storyline from a few weeks back. Literally nothing has really changed in this series relaunch aside from who the actual Green Lantern of sector 2814 actually is; which was shown at the end of the aforementioned War of the Green Lanterns storyline anyway.
Buy it?- If you’ve been reading Green Lantern the past few years (which you probably should have been) then you should have no problem picking this title up. If you haven’t and have never really read a Green Lantern book before, you might want to go back and pick up a few trades of the previous Green Lantern series before jumping into this one. Green Lantern has such a rich history, and is apparently one of only two DC franchises that managed to keep it’s history almost completely in tact. If you haven’t read Green Lantern before you may want to pass on this one, as it will be fairly confusing.
Grifter #1- Last year, the DC Universe fused with the Wildstorm Universe, creating one omniversal existence for all the characters contained within either original universe. Grifter, originally from Jim Lee’s Wild C.A.T.S. was one of the few Wildstorm characters that managed to pull his own title out of the reboot (with the only other Wildstorm series being Stormwatch). So what makes Grifter so special?
Grifter appears to be an action packed conspiracy story based around the telepathic former Wild C.A.T.S. character trying to figure out what happened during a stretch of time that he inexplicably can’t remember after he was abducted by aliens. Yes, you read that correctly. This is another series where it’s clear what DC was going for with it, but the execution really could have been better. CAFU’s artwork is one of the few things that makes this book worth reading. The “people possessed by aliens” conspiracy theory feels kind of flat and doesn’t make for a very interesting read.
Buy it?- This book is another one that’s probably safe to say you can pass on. The art is good, but that’s really this titles only redeeming quality. It’s nice to see the Wildstorm universe living on inside the DCU, but it’s hard to see this title surviving for very long.
Legion Lost #1- I’ve never in my entire life been able to actually get into the Legion of Superhero books. I can’t quite figure out exactly what it is about them, but I could just never actually find myself wanting to keep reading any of those titles consistently. I’d like to think that DC may have finally won me over with the all new Legion Lost.
From what I understand, Legion Lost is another one of those series that managed to survive the jump into the reboot without a whole hell of a lot changing. Because the series involves time travel, some fans are already speculating that this series may have been kept alive as a ‘back door’ of sorts to the original DCU in case the reboot doesn’t work the way that the DC higher ups want it to.
So far, one issue in, and I’m already really excited to see where this series goes next. It features an interesting cast of characters (two of which actually don’t make it to the end of this first issue) and sets itself up as a story of survival for a team of stranded time travelers.
Buy it?- Legion Lost is yet another book that seems to set itself apart from the mainstream DCU during the relaunch, and it definitely seems like it’s worth reading. I’d say give this one a go.
Mister Terrific #1- There isn’t a whole lot to be said about the all new Mister Terrific #1. Surprisingly, DC decided not to bring back the JSA in their initial New 52 launch (although it was later revealed that they will return in an all new series later this fall) yet Mister Terrific is getting his own title. Why? Who knows.
This is one of those titles that had a lot of potential but seems to have fallen flat on its face. The writing, courtesy Eric Wallace, feels lazy, cluttered and uncertain as to where it wants to go. The book isn’t helped at all by Gianluca Gugliotta’s artwork, which looks great at times but more often than not looks awkward and lazy as well. It feels like DC is going for a sort of ‘Iron Man’ type series (sans armor, obviously) with Mister Terrific here, but it doesn’t really do what they want it to.
This book also suffers from the ‘people possessed by something mysterious’ syndrome, much like the Grifter series mentioned above. You’d think DC would be a little more careful about making sure two books didn’t have similar storylines happening so early into the reboot.
Buy it?- This book is probably the worst of this weeks releases. While not nearly as bad as last weeks O.M.A.C., but it’s still pretty terrible. Pass on Mister Terrific, who entirely fails to live up to his name.
Red lanterns #1- While setting up 2009’s epic Blackest Night event, DC comics established several all new colored Lantern Corps of the Emotional Spectrum. Of these, the clear runaway hit seems to have been the Red Lanterns, who are now receiving their own all new ongoing series!
Fan favorites Atrocitus, Dex-Starr, Bleez and more all show up in this premiere issue of what looks to be one of the more interesting new series coming out of this universe-wide reboot. What is surprising is that in a book based around the idea of rage and violence, we get a lot more dialogue than we do action and gore. Rather than just showing the Red Lanterns massacring people (which granted, we do get a bit of), writer Peter Milligan gives readers a much more character driven story than anyone really was expecting, which is a great sign of things to come with this series.
Ed Benes artwork is a perfect fit for this series and is truly a sight to behold. As you read through the pages you can’t help but have fun. For all of their rage, the Red Lanterns a truly a tragic set of characters. It looks as though this series will be great fun to keep up with.
Buy it?- If you’ve been following Green Lantern the past few years then this series should be easy enough to jump into. It’s definitely worth picking up and giving at least this first issue a read if you’re uncertain. I’m really looking forward to the next issue personally and would definitely recommend picking up this series.
Resurrection Man #1- Resurrection Man is one of the few new titles from DC that actually feels like a brand new book. It reads like nothing else I’ve seen from DC in a while, and it’s actually really invigorating! Resurrection Man is the story of a Mitch Shelly, a man with the ability to die and then to be miraculously resurrected seconds (or sometimes minutes) later with an all new superpower (which is randomly generated each time he dies). While the character has been around since the late 1990’s, he’s barely been utilized for the better part of the last decade. He made a breif appearance during the Brightest Day event, but Resurrection Man is hardly what one would call a ‘prevalent character’.
So how does his new book fair? For a character I know literally next to nothing about, this title sure managed to reel me in pretty quickly. Our titular hero wakes up on a mortuary slab and proceeds to go about his day, figuring out his new powers (considering they’re new to him every time he resurrects) and trying to figure out why he is where he is. You see, every time he awakens, he has these compulsions as to what purpose he serves, or what his ‘mission’ in that area is.
Midway through our story, we find out that there is an ongoing war between heaven and hell for the soul of Resurrection Man, which is apparently way overdue. While that plotline sounds like something out of a bad movie (*COUGH* Constantine *COUGH*), the way that this book executes the story is what keeps the book an interesting read. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning seem to be setting up what will likely be a very ‘Vertigo-esque’ title in the standard DCU and I for one can’t wait to see what happens next.
Buy it?- If you’re into most of the titles published under the Vertigo label, you’ll love Resurrection Man. It’s a dark drama that gives us further proof that DC is extending their universe into the horror and fantasy realm. I’d definitely recommend Resurrection Man as a buy.
Suicide Squad #1- Of all the new DC books being released this month, few of them have as much controversy surrounding them as Suicide Squad. But why all the controversy? What could be so controversial about this title that fans have been ranting and raving since the cover art for this issue first premiered? And why, after the book released, has the fan community erupted into an even bigger uproar? Suicide Squad is essentially the story of a group of ‘reformed’ villains that are being forced to do the Government’s bidding after a micro-bomb was implanted in the back of each of their necks. Essentially, the Government is using this super powered beings as expendable agents to take care of their own dirty work.
This concept isn’t exactly anything new (and neither is the Suicide Squad title), so why all the outcry from fans? The problem herein lies in the characters. Classic characters have been completely redesigned and repurposed for this title, and fans don’t seem to want any part of it. Iconic character designs like that of Harley Quinn and even Amanda Waller have been ‘sexed up’ to seem more appealing, but one has to ask why? The latter character, Amanda Waller, was a short, stout, overweight brick-house of a woman in the original DCU, while now in the DCnU she is a tall, slender woman like most generic female designs in comics. Why the change? She’s been an important character that demanded (and received) respect for the past 20+ years of her existence in the DCU as a short, middle aged fat woman. Hell, even Batman respected her! It’s like saying that fat people don’t belong, which is a terrible message to be putting out there.
So now the question is, aside from all the controversy, how does this book fair? Writer Adam Glass does a fine job explaining the origins of this new iteration of the Suicide Squad, having selected a wide and varied range of characters for the team this time around. I particularly enjoy seeing King Shark taking part in team based missions like this alongside other great characters like Deadshot and El Diablo. It should make for another fun read coming out of the DCnU. Federico Dallocchio, Ransom Getty and Scott Hanna keep the artwork jumping around from page to page and it makes the book flow a little differently than most, but it really works for this title. It isn’t incredibly noticeable at first, but it’s an interesting choice to have different characters stories told by different artists as the book goes on. Aside from most of the character redesigns (which I’m going to assume aren’t the fault of these particular artists), the artwork on this title is great.
Buy it?- While I enjoyed this title, I don’t think it’s the book for everybody. DC may be turning off a lot of longtime fans with a book that so drastically changes so many classic characters like this, but if you can look past that to see the book for what it is and not what you wish it was, you may actually really enjoy Suicide Squad. I’d say give the first issue a go and see how you feel about it from there.
Superboy #1- Back in the early 1990’s, DC Comics released what was, at the time, one of the most controversial comic book stories of all time- The Death Of Superman. That’s right, they killed off the ultimate good guy, the Man of Steel. Yes, they brought him back not too long after, but during that down period while Superman was still ‘dead’, four new heroes rose up to fill his shoes as the hero of Metropolis while he was gone. One of those heroes, was Superboy; the Half-Kryptonian/Half-Human clone of Superman.
Now, almost two decades later we’re seeing the all new completely rebooted and relaunched Superboy. DC decided that apparently he was one of those characters that was going to get the complete ‘do-over’ treatment; much like the rest of the Superman family of characters. This first issue, we see the creation and the ‘birth’ of the DCnU Superboy. We see the exact moment he gains sentience and realizes he’s going to have to prove himself if he wants to survive and not be discarded like some failed experiment. We also see the premiere of the DCnU’s version of Rose Wilson (aka Ravager, who is also the daughter of Slade Wilson/Deathstroke), who looks as though she has two eyes again!
Writer Scott Lobdell tells us the tale of a clone who is just trying to survive, struggling to find his place in a world he wasn’t necessarily meant for, but is stuck in anyway. This new Superboy is willing to do whatever he has to in order to be accepted and to fit into his role in this new world. He isn’t exactly the heroic type either, but I won’t give away too many details on that matter just yet. You’ll have to pick up the book to find out! R.B. Silva’s artwork is pretty solid overall and is a good fit for this series. It seems really clean cut, but then again so is the world that our new Superboy lives in.
Buy it?- Superboy wasn’t by any means the best offering from this weeks batch of ‘New 52’ books, but it wasn’t the worst either. If you’re planning on reading the upcoming Teen Titans title or are in general a fan of Superboy, I’d say this is going to be a must read. Otherwise, you’re probably fine passing on it.
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!