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Let’s Talk About the DC # 1s: 9/14/11

So last week’s post is here.   Brian Cronin’s review of JLA # 1 is here. Greg Burgas’ review of ALL th3 52 will be here as soon as he finishes.

Last week a bunch of the DC number ones sold out before I came waltzing into the shop a day late.  This week, I decided to be more vigilant. So there I was, totally camped out in front of the comic shop way before it opened, all dressed in my pjs and nightcap, wielding Mister Groofus the Teddy Bear and ordering breakfast pizza via delviery.

End result?  FOUR of this weeks crop of DC relaunch books were sold out before the shop even opened.

So it’s up to you guys to review BATMAN AND ROBIN, FRANKENSTEIN, SUICIDE SQUAD and… GRIFTER?  Whatcha think?

(Seriously?  I live in a world where people care that much about the… *counts on fingers* seventh awesomest WildC.A.T?  Can I just assume that everything I know is wrong and reality is a lie?  This was totally not worth it.  I’m never getting out of bed early again.)

But here’s what I thought of the other nine.

Green Lantern # 1  (Sinestro Part One) by Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke (artist), Christian Alamy and Tom Nguyen (inks), David Baron (colorist), and Sal Cipriano  (letterer).  22 pp.

Premise: Green Lantern – the space cop with a magic ring –   is already super popular.  Let’s just keep on keepin’ on with what we’re doin’, and not change a thing.  Oh, except Hal Jordan isn’t (a) Green Lantern anymore, and his arch-enemy Sinestro totally is.

Review: Total cheat.  Unfair.  So all these other books have to put together a premise, assemble a cast of characters and, hell, build a world in the space of one issue.  Meanwhile, THIS creative team (who have already done umpteen issues of GREEN LANTERN) get to cruise along and put out GREEN LANTERN issue (umpteen + 1), except they get to lie and CALL it number one and gain (umpteen * 7 google) copies sold.   This dastardly approach does mean that the big pants-on-fire liarbutts have produced the most slickly professional of the # 1s I’ve reviewed, but it also means that this is the # 1 #1 that would most benefit from having read a buncha comics before-hand.  Preferably the last 67 issues of Green Lantern.  Although I’d strongly recommend the one where Kona:  Monarch of Monster Isle fights a giant cat, hint for Silver Age September, Cronin.

Although GREEN LANTERN # 1 does feature a definite demotion-related shift in tone:  In the last Green Lantern series, Hal Jordan fought space zombies.   In this issue, Hal reads his mail.  In the last series, he fought evil space kitty-cats.  In this issue he eats dinner with his girlfriend.  Surprisingly, I think I prefer the latter approach.  This issue completely held my attention,  and the dinner date sequence even dragged an honest-t’-God guffaw outta me, which usually requires AT LEAST a video of a giraffe trying to hump a jeep.

Sadly, the more punchsplody-centric sequences don’t work so well.   Sinestro kills some dude in space and Hal Jordan beats up his neighbor for being a damn dirty actor (NOT QUITE ACCURATE SPOILERS)  but compared to the immaculately designed and paced sequences in MEN OF WAR and ACTION COMICS I raved about last week the action sequences here are short and sweet lacking in scope compared to the World’s May Live!  World’s May Die! 6,000 Green Lanterns vs. 6,000,000 space zombies fights of years past.  It’s a surprisingly quiet start to a new GL book.

Buy the Next One?

Oh crap, Steve Sunu over at Robot 6 is using the exact same format for his reviews.   I didn’t notice ’till just now.  Luckily, I’m too lazy to change.

The target audience for this book seems to be people who are already buying GREEN LANTERN, and that exludes yers truly.  EXCEPT…  The last page has absolutely the best cliffhanger I’ve read from any of the # 1s so far (I heard DETECTIVE was good too and DON’T SPOIL IT!) so I think I’m gonna have to stick around for one more.

Red Lanterns  (With Blood and Rage) by Why Peter Milligan, WHY? (writer), Ed Benes (artist), Rob Hunter (inks), Nathan Eyring  (letterer), and Carlos M. Mangual  (letterer).  20 pp.

Premise: The Red Lanterns are like the heroic Green Lanterns except pissed off all the time.  And not heroic.  And red.  Yuh-huh.   And there’s a cat!

Review: So what I really want from a RED LANTERNS comics is a big two-page spread of Puss-Puss, the Hangry Kitty Cat all causing havoc and playing “ball of string” with someone’s kidneys and ‘testines, and page two and three of this book delivered exactly that!  So I can’t absolutely hate this comic.

No matter how much I’d like too.

The rest of it….  Christ, what can you DO with this book?   The Red Lanterns are a bunch of one note characters who are – by definition – one note in exactly the same way. I called BATWING a helluva hard book to write last week, but the Batman of Africa guys have a walk in candy park compared to trying to make the Red Lanterns interesting.   Here’s the plot:  There’s this Red Lantern, and he’s the boss Red Lantern, and he kills some guys, and then he’s not that angry and he’s all “damn, am I angry enough to be the boss of the Red Lanterns ohshit angst!?” , then he looks at a dead guy, then he gets All ANGRY LIKE REALLY REALLY UP-THE-BUTT ANGRY again, and then he’s gonna fight another red lantern the end.  And that HAS to pass for character development because that’s all you freakin’ got to work with!  (Also there’s a fight on earth and a flashback which makes Red Lantern into the Punisher in space.  Both of these are dumb.)

But, really, how is it even possible to write this book and make it un-horrible?   I was playing the fanfiction game all day at work, and I have a couple marginally vestigal ideas for how y’might make a Red Lantern comic work.

But I’d like to hear your ideas.  So

Challenge of the Day: Pitch a RED LANTERNS comic that isn’t terrible.

Buy # 2? I might be tempted if there’s a Puss Puss the Hangry Cat variant.  Otherwise… Peter Milligan is, no lie, my favorite living comic scripter and there’s always a chance he might pull something interesting out of this mess.  But I’m not dropping three bucks on a maybe.

Legion Lost (Run From Tomorrow:  Part One:  Present Tense:)Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods (By.   That’s what it says in the credits.  “By.”  They either wrote and drew the book, or they’re coming out of the closet.), Brand Anderson (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer).  20p.

Premise: Teenage superheroes from the future, lost in the present.

Review: Wellllll now.  Isn’t this the “picked-last-for-kickballest team of Legionaires you ever saw?  Wildfire’s cool.  Dawnstar’s okay.  But then you got Timber Wolf, Chameleon Girl, freaking Tyroc? I guess Matter Eater Lad and  Bouncing Boy were busy or somethin’.  But if this is a first issue aimed at new readers, they might not know how much Tyroc sucks ( a lot) and approach it with an open mind.

Except…

I had a good feeling about this coming in, but… no.  It’s not the weak roster that hurts the book, it’s  the fact that the book isn’t very good that hurts the book.  I figured this would be a fairly traditional fish outta water superhero story, but it’s not even that  –  it’s not really anything.  I really dig the slightly-erring-on-the-cartoonish-side look of Pete Wood’s characters, and there are a couple great scenes (Love the little girl with the pink bear!) but at the end we have a bunch of undefined characters (two of which are killed or at least “killed” for no reason by the end), wandering around an undefined setting – Red Lake Falls Minnesota, but we never get a sense of what it’s like to live there or what  the town is like  when it isn’t being ravaged by a giant spacemonster – for reasons that took me three readings to piece together.

And I know this is the nitpickiest of nitpicks, but it really bothered me.   There’s one panel where Dawnstar throws up, and it took me a good couple minutes to figure out if the panel was showing puke or if she was throwing up behind a bush.  (Spoilers:  Puke.  Green, bushy-shaped puke.  I’m pretty sure.)  I believe it was Art Spiegelman who said “The first rule of comic storytelling is to make sure your puke doesn’t look like your bushes.”  And that’s completely violated here.

Purchase the Next One: Nuh-uh.

Mister Terrific ( Software Update) Eric Wallace (writer), Gianluca Gugliotta (penciller), Wayne Faucher (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), 20 pp.

Premise: Genius superhero Michael Holt fights evil… with science!  And has a bunch of girlfriends… with science!

Review: See, now this one has a bunch of cool ideas all floating around.  I like the idea of a science-based superhero without a fetish –  Mr. T’s got no suit of armor or black-out bombs or power gloves or what-have-you.  He’s a pure unfocused gadgeteer, which is both rare and cool.  (All my Iron Man pitches I have never shown anyone have Tony sans armor.)  The villain’s plan to turn regular schlubs into raging, evil, super-geniuses is likewise inspired.  And I dig the idea of superhero romantic comedy –  it’s a nice antidote to the Bendis Avengers or Johns Green Lantern style comics where superheroes only interact with other superheroes.    There’s a lot to like here, or at least I liked it.  But there’s a but…

PAUSE FOR CONTINUITY QUESTIONS: Hey, does this comic take place on Earth-Two.  If not, is that the Earth One Power Girl?  Is the rich CEO thing completely new?  Didn’t she used to live in an apartment with her cat?   Also, what the hell is the green stuff in the bowl in front of her on page ten?

……  and I just can’t shake the feeling that the craft isn’t quite  there yet.  Artist Guglotta makes me think that his stuff could look really cool if he just tightened it up a little bit and gave his characters just a little more neck.   And there are some strange pacing decisions –  I can’t believe I’m arguing for more decompression, but there’s an origin sequence that’s the centerpiece of the story and it’s blown through in just a couple pages and it needs more.  Let’s get some reaction shots, establish a mood of desolation and new purpose, don’t just blow through the symbolic rebirth of your main character in four pages!   This is important!  Give it some room to breathe!

Aaaaaand then there’s the racey dialog.  I’m fine with the idea of a superhero book that’s about racial and class consciousness… I honestly think that superhero books can be about anything. But when dealing with potentially touchy subject matter you’ve gotta have (A) a capacity for subtlety that runs contrary to the genre’s usual bombast (B) a facility for using symbol and metaphor and (C) you gotta write really good.

In other words.   “I get it.  It’s because I’m a white girl, isn’t it.”   “And I’m a black woman which means I’m built to handle things you can’t even imagine, or never had to.  No, it’s because you’re rich.  A corporate worth of over three hundred and forty million according to Forbes.”    Just ain’t gonna cut it, dialog-wise.

Get the Next One: I might, but the upcoming artist roulette turns me off.  If DC could keep the same couple guys on schedule and let ‘em build up a head of steam this might get good, but instead we have three different artists on the next three issues.  Pass.

Demon Knights IN Seven Against Death Paul Cornell (writer), Diogenes Neves (Penciller), Oclair Albert (inker), Marcelo Maiolo (colorist) amd Jared H Fletcher letterer

Premise: There are these knights.  And one of them’s a demon.  This book doesn’t really have a history, so I know just about as much it as you do.

Review: I went in expecting to really like this –  honestly, due to the novel premise this was just ’bout my most anticipated of the new 52 –  and I did like it!  Or maybe I should say that *I* liked it, ’cause it’s hard to argue that this is a spectacular example of narrative craft.

Mostly I responded to the tone.  It wasn’t all emo Superman crying again or post-Watchmen grim and gritty.  Demon Knights is friendly, afable, and British.

“Holy kippers, you lot like barbarian invasions, right!  Here’s a barbarian invasion for yez!  Bangers and mash!  And ‘ow bout some dinosaurs!  You blokes is quite partial to dinosaurs, innit!  I’ll give you some dinosaurs!  And a demon baby!  And ‘ere’s a centaur!  And Merlin!  And some cross-dressing!  Bloody good show, wot!  Let’s haf a soccer riot!”

(What?  I totally know a bunch of British people!  I am a world traveller!  I used to watch British shows on the telly all the time when I was in the Domican Republic!)

Another plus in it’s favor:  Neves does a really good job with the art, giving the Demon Knights a sense of “living in a fully realized world” that BATWING or LEGION LOST lacked.   Backgrounds!  I love you!

And, oooh, on this page there’s a map!  That’s so fantasy novel great!

So the problem is the writing:  It toes the line between a series of vignettes and an actual, narrativey narrative without comitting to either.  Which means.  That.  This.  Book.  Is.  Chop.  Op.  Ppy.   Start in Camelot.  Jump forward a couple of hun’ret years.  Stop the plot.  Introduce Vandal Savage.  Stop the plot.  Here’s a centaur!  Stop the plot.  And so on.

So I guess I’m arguing that, modern comics being what they are, that this is potentially a really good 1/6 of a trade or 1/47 of an extended run.

Buying the next issue: Yeah, I have to reward the most original concept in the line, and the good outweighs the bad in my mind.  I’m not recommending it to YOU, mind.  But I dug it.

DeathStroke (“Back to Basics”) Kyle Higgins (writer), Joe Bennet (Pencils), Art Thibert (Inker), Jason Wright (Colors) and Travis Lanham (Letters).  20 pp.

Premise: Mercenary killer kills people to death with comically large swords, and miraculously does not get mocked to tears with constant mastrubation and/or Billy Squier jokes.  So much for realism.

Review: So I’m going to start this review off by saying a nice thing before I get to the part where I say “threw up in my mouth a little bit.”  Here goes!   This is the most “done in one” of the 52 I’ve read so far, and it’s nice to know that it’s still possible to tell a full story in a single issue.

On the downside Ugh.  Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, UGH.    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Now, a concession.   I really like comics with the tone and originality of Demon Knights.  I really, truly hate comics like this, all ’90s grim ‘n gritty, so it’s hard for me to put aside my natural bias against…. things…… like….. this (that are horrible!) and figure out if it’s done well.

But I really don’t think so.

The initial tip-off was in the first three pages, wherein Deathstroke is referred  to as “the scariest Badass on the planet” and “A major damn badass.”   (OOOOOhhhhheers.  You said TWO swears.  Wow, you must be serious.  Damn bitch balls serious!)

Instead of listing his accomplishments (“He snuck into the top of the Empire State Building to kill the visiting Prime Minister of Namibia, slice ‘n dicing  his way through 36 American Policeman, 73 bodyguards, 2 police dogs and, somehow, an elephant” “Certain Americanized Hindu sects recognize him as an avatar of Kali and believe that to merely cross his path shortens one life-span by ten years”)  Higgins tells-not-shows us what a, well,  badass (A MAJOR DAMN BADASS WITH GRITTED TEETH!)  the title character is.   Having other characters talk about the coolness of the lead character is the worst way to establish said coolness, and repeatedly saying “badass” is the worst way to do that.  It’s dog crap mountain, squared.

What else we got?  A visual sequence that’s similar in conception to, but nowhere near as over the top (or interesting) as the one in last week’s HAWK AND DOVE #1.  An ending that precisely recalls a scene in Ennis and Dillon’s Punisher (first mini-series) that reminds me that I could be reading some decent comics. Even the logo is one of the very weakest of all the # 1s.

Y’know, I wash my hands of this.  I’m just gonna leave this one to you guys in the comments.   If there’s something good about DEATHSTROKE, can ya tell me?

Buy the next one: I might be showing my age here, but wasn’t it the Lemonheads who sang “Great Big No!”   Oh, (I can’t remember the name of the singer of the Lemonheads) how you understand me.

Resurrection Man (“Pronounced Dead” OR It took MarkAndrew five tries to spell Resurrection right.”) Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Fernando Dagnini (Art), Santi Arcas (Colors), Rob Leigh (Letters). 20 pp.

Premise: Mitch Shelley can come back from the dead.  And every time he does, he has a new super-power.  Neat!

Review: I dunno.  This is another one I wanted to like, but I’m pretty sure it would be more effective as storyboards for a movie than as an actual comic.  There’s a lot of “Wow, cool!” scenes contrasted by a a lot of “Why is the evil woman with comically misplaced breasts doing ballet poses during a hostage situation?  While sitting down?” scenes.  Well, fine, there’s only one of the latter but it’s still far too many.   The book LOOKS great – beautifully, abstractly colored and inked – until you start paying attention to the pencils and the anatomy (‘specially the female anatomy) which is just weird and the people who don’t move/act/interact with the world around them like flesh and blood humans.  My recommendation?  You’ll enjoy the book a lot more if you don’t pay attention.  Oh, and ANOTHER plane based action sequence, but at least it has somebody sucked into a jet engine. So THAT’S alright, then.

I don’t want to force anybody into life-changing decisions here, but this really would have been a killer movie.   Which is a serious improvement over “mediocre comic book.”

Buy the Next One: No.   I’ll flip through the trade to see if there’s a huge improvement, but I can’t commit baby.  I’m free as a bird!

Superboy In (The Clone) Scott Lobdell (writer), R. B. Silva (artist), Rob Leon (inker), the Hories (colorists?), Carlos M. Mangual (letterer).  20 pp.

Premise: A vat grown stem-cell baby is developed by the government and given super-powers from presumably nefarious purposes.  Hilarity ensues!

Review: So, check my work you guys.  Am I right?  Was this actually really good?   I hope not, ’cause  when I wrote my first 52 piece a few weeks back I made snide comments about Scott Lobdell and his writing skills and it would be … unfortunate… if I had to eat some crow.

But, nah, sometimes a fella has to man up and admit that he may have been slightly mistaken due to circumstances conspiring against him and the incompetence of his secretary and the increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere.   This was really, really good.   And, *sigh* worse yet, it’s really, really good and based on an extremely difficult-to-write around premise.  It’s the adventures of a boy floating in a tube of green amniotic-fluid type stuff –  Which, honestly, makes all the rest of these books look bad.  RED LANTERNS might be a difficult concept to put to page, but at least they can move around and vomit blood and stuff.  It helps that the other characters – Superboy’s scientist  “parents,” if you will – are  given actual motivations and unique dialog patterns and generally well written.  Heck, this whole book has a degree of clarity to it that lots of the other # 1s are lacking –  Lobdell and Silva will do things like give the most important character on the page a big panel all to themselves so that we know they’re important, or color-code the backgrounds so you can tell both the location and the tone of the action at a glance.

The worst thing about this comic?  It makes the REST of the number ones I’ve read look a little like amateur night at the old-run-down-theatre-cum-strip-club-eight-blocks-from-the-Apollo.

I won’t spoil it –  I’m only spoiling the bad comics out of spite, really – but my favorite part of the issue is the “everything you know is wrong” fake-out towards the middle of the issue.  It’s the kind of thing you can only do in a first issue when you’re establishing the status quo.  But it’s the kind of thing that nobody else is doing!  They’re all just trying to establish the characters and what they’re doing, and quite a bit of ‘em fail at that simple task.

Buy the Next One? Helluva shock here, ’cause this was one of the titles I was least interested in.  But yes.  Absolutely.

Batwoman:  (Hydrology Part One:  Leaching) J. H. Williams III (co-writer and artist), W. Haden Blackman (co-writer),  Dave Stewart (colors), Todd Klein (letters.)

Premise: Batman inspired lesbian crime-fighter vs. truly, truly bizarre bad guys.

Review: Let’s get the obvious outta the way first.  I think J. H. III is the best artist working in mainstream comics today.  In terms of overall page design skill, that he’s the best artist to work in mainstream comics ever,  and I’m not quite sure who’s second.  (  George Perez?  Steranko?  Toth, because I assume there’s nothing he can’t do?)   And there are some holy-God-above Just B-r-e-a-t-h-t-a-k-i-n-g scenes here.   J. H. gives us Batwoman’s origin in just one corner of a two-page spread, sums up the events of the last Batwoman serial in the other corner, and uses the rest of the space to illustrate a verbal sparring match between Bats and her dad, which explains everything you need to know about Batwoman while establishing the character’s relationships and motivations.  One page.  And it’s beautiful.

But, well, that’s what I expected and that’s what I got, and I was slightly underwhelmed.  I guess I expected the book to cure thyroid cancer or do *CENSORED* to my *CENSORED* or something, and it didn’t happen.   I think the core problem, like the BATWOMAN serial in Detective, is that this book is fairly meticulously plotted.  Which is probably, in the long run, a good thing –  But it means that this book is gonna read a hell of a lot better in collected edition.  (I had similar problems with the last J. H. Batwoman story.  I dragged the single issues out of the dollar bin and said “That was okay” and bought the  hardcover collecting the same issues -and said “Wow.  That was the greatest thing ever.  That just _____ my __________.  Dag!”)  So it wasn’t like I’m gonna miss the first issue of BATWOMAN,  but

Buy the Next One? No.  But I’ll get the collected edition the week it comes out.  Promise.

This week’s Rankings:

10)  Deathstroke

9)  A stanky, stanky, puddle of stanky, stanky platypus vomit.

8) Red Lanterns

7)  Legion Lost

6Resurrection Man

5) Mister Terrific

4)  Green Lantern

3)  Demon Knights

2)  Batwoman

1)  Superboy

And I’m probably doing this again next week.

38 Comments

the emoticon for 8 is hilarious

8) 8) 8)

I do do SOME editing, and I did see that. But then I’m all “That’s too happy looking. I can’t change it.”

No Frankenstein? For shame.

Whoops, sorry, I skipped your intro and went straight into the reviews. But Frankenstein was awesome. It pretty much *CENSORED* my *CENSORED* and then some. Best of all, it’s totally different from every superhero comic ever in every way. Great stuff.

I personally hate the whole rainbow corps. concept, but death not an option and the book has to be written [and since you asked], the only way I could see the Red Lantern book ever working is this:

As a reader, I need to feel something for the characters (at the very least, sympathy); to me, the best way to do that, given their “one note” nature, is to create a situation where the Red Lanterns are seen as a problem that the Blues and Greens have to eliminate, so the two groups en masse go out to try to solve the red problem. This could mean capture or “curing”, since we know a blue can remove a red ring. Assume a large initial attack that scatters the Reds and then it boils down to blues and greens in smaller groups hunting them down.

Not only would it allow for some individual character development in a variety of side characters for red, blue, or green (including differences in the groups that we rarely get to see; yeah blue and green interact, but I would envision more of a full partnership here, which alters the dynamic), but you can develop the reds if some of them lost their rings so we could see what the issues are that drive the characters. And if, as they scatter across the universe, they happen to make their own allies (GL’s aren’t exactly loved by everyone), then you can build off of that. Or you could do the guerrilla warfare thing and have the reds, after regrouping a little, doing quick strikes on green and blue for a while as payback.

The reds aren’t dumb, and some who have had red rings have controlled the power to an extent; it’s just being able to convey that idea.

I’m not sure it would be the most compelling read, but given what there is to work with, it could probably be pulled off. In any case, I was pretty sure that this book existed solely to help out the GL cartoon that starts in November (the Reds are the main bads).

So does this guy get paid by marvel or is he just a fan?…boy

Guys, if you haven’t clicked the link for where Burgas’s reviews are going to end up, you should. Mmmm.

I’m not feeling so bad missing out on these issues. I wasn’t able to get to the LCS last week or this, but I’m not really seeing that I’m missing anything. Ah, I’ll see what I can find in cheapo bins after a while.

And hey, if you’ve got a local Barnes and Noble and missed some of the books at your LCS, check them out. They might have a few. AFTER the LCS, though!

Your enthusiastic review of Superboy noted, but I just don’t buy this is the book for me. Nice to know someone else this week did their job. Also, glad to see my lack of investment this week is otherwise the right choice. Well I did buy one. I picked up Batwomen and intended on feeling the way you did. However, the work was so good (and perhaps I am desperate for a good comic) that I will try my best to pick this up each month. I think I got lost in it’s quality and was seduced into a nostalgic moment of just a year ago (or whatever).

Here is my two cents on the 52, AKA dyslexic reviews by the overly qualified and personal:

Batwomen http://www.cranco.co/2011/09/dc-new-52batwomen-review-continued.html?m=1

and last weeks http://www.cranco.co/2011/09/dc-new-52-review-continued-search-for.html?m=1

I basically agree with your rankings. I’d flip Legion Lost and Mr. Terrific, but that’s just quibbling.

But you really should hunt down Suicide Squad, because it’s worse than Deathstroke. It’s a lot of effort to make a comic so awful.

Grifter was incomprehensible and boring, Batman and Robin was angsty and joyless, Frankenstein at least had promise, some people will like it, but it didn’t hook me.

I think this is the weakest week of the new 52. Definitely fewer good books than last week, and I’m excited about more books in weeks 3 and 4.

NuDC didn’t do so well in week two. Week one had a few really good ones.

Yeah, what Smokescreen wrote sounds like a good read. I’d ad that one of the remaining Red Lanterns hide on Earth, and seeks out angry people to add to the corps, and the book develops (partly) into an allegory for the anger and frustration that so many people of the world feels. The Old-Tea-Party-dude Red Lantern. The young-british-guy-just-jailed-for-participating-in-the-lootings-this-summer Red Lantern. The Syrian-Protester Red Lantern. That would be fun.

“Challenge of the Day: Pitch a RED LANTERNS comic that isn’t terrible.”

Okay, bear in mind that I’ve ignored most of what’s happened before. I don’t read Green Lantern. I didn’t read much of Blackest Night. I only know the broad strokes.

Red Lanterns is a good idea if the characters don’t always have to have the same emotion. Green Lantern works because “will” is not an emotion. You can give the Green Lanterns all sorts of experiences because, whether they are being willful or not, they can be happy/sad/angry/grieving/determined/etc.

If done well, Red Lanterns is about a group of people chosen to receive a powerful weapon. However, to effectively use that weapon, they have to surrender control a bit. They have to GET angry, not BE angry. Are they assigned the same duties as a Green Lantern, like a space cop squad? Sure, that would be a good idea. They have to do the job of space cops, but they have to be angry to make their guns work. Once a space cop is angry and their gun is firing, when does logic return? When does proper judgement come back?

If the lanterns are going to be space cops, Red Lanterns is a story about good cops having to be a bit dirty to do their job, and about dirty cops being given carte blanche to use their darker impulses.

I found Deathstroke to be surprisingly enjoyable, but I didn’t expect anything from it. It managed to tell just about a complete story in 20 pages and it featured Joe Bennett’s best art ever. And also, a scene where Deathstroke kicks a Clayface out of an airplane.

Meanwhile I found Superboy to be super-dull. Nothing happens, it renders its own scenes meaningless, and then it tells me to buy Teen Titans. No. And that characterization of Superboy is not a Superboy I recognize, nor one I want to read about.

Superboy wasn’t a book I’d originally planned to pick up. I only got it after finding out that Gen13’s Caitlin Fairchild was the scientist in charge of making him. Not because I’m a Gen13 fan (outside of Gail Simone’s tragically short run), but just because the novelty of using the character in this role was oddly appealing to me. I still didn’t expect to like it that much either, but it really impressed me. The set-up is intriguing, the character work was great, and even as someone who has never really gotten into Superboy I was really drawn in. Probably would’ve been my favorite book of the week if Demon Knights wasn’t so damn fun.

My list for the week:

1) Demon Knights
2) Superboy
3) Resurrection Man
4) Batwoman
5) Legion Lost
6) Green Lantern (again proving that Hal Jordan out of costume is as much fun as watching paint dry)
7) Red Lanterns
8) Mister Terrific
9) syphilis
10) Suicide Squad (way to get every single character in the book wrong, Adam Glass)

#s 7-10 are off my pull list. GL is on the fence and Legion Lost I’m sticking with for now because I like the franchise and the writer. The top four were definite winners and I’ll happily be back for more.

This was the more disappointing week of the two, but the quality did not drop so much that I would only ‘give GL one more chance’. It’s a proven hit and will only get better. These comics were not designed to explain the entire history of the characters in one issue, but to entertain you enough to continue on, and eventually get hooked.

Red Lanterns is going to be a tough issue but who better to make it work than WHY Peter Milligan WHY. Complaining Red lanterns are one tone is like saying there’s too much green in GL – the power to harness RAGE does not make these characters one-deminsional. They are angry, but like a green lantern, not defined by will, but by love, as you saw that Atrocitus’ origin is rooted in LOVE.

idk, feels like another cynical review. One person’s opinion. Why I bother reading these? I realized after I gave MY list on another blog, that these reviews are based on personal preferences, and reviewing a DC relaunch when one is a marvel fanboy is not quite an ideal editorial assignment. And how do I know you are a marvel fan boy? well this is CBR, home of Cup a Joe (vomit on my mouth) and Fridays with Axel (actually great guy!) – BUT blaming DC for sticking to their guns and replacing artists to insure shipping dates to fans is a hell of a way to penalize a writer and comic that you actually didn’t hate, kind of says it all.

My point though is not to disagree with you. I respect your list as I respect mine. I’m a DC fanboy so these comics are blowing me away, as the quality is tremendously improved. And I’m sure that DC would like to get more marvel readers, but it will take more old fans like me back into reading comics. And the ones that I am not liking, well, they have an entire fan base being catered too, that have been passionate about their comics.

I know NOTHING about Wildcats, and I have to say GRIFTER was the most pleasant surprise of all the comics I’ve read. So he’s the LEAST interesting Wildcat? Wow, I’ll have to look for some Wildcat trades.

And you MAY want to let us in on SUICIDE SQUAD when you read it. It’s as good as if gail Simone herself had created it, and Harley Quinn is most perfectly re-introduced. Night night Gotham City Sirens, enjoyed ya, but this is the new 52

idk, feels like another cynical review. One person’s opinion. Why I bother reading these? I realized after I gave MY list on another blog, that these reviews are based on personal preferences, and reviewing a DC relaunch when one is a marvel fanboy is not quite an ideal editorial assignment. And how do I know you are a marvel fan boy? well this is CBR, home of Cup a Joe (vomit on my mouth) and Fridays with Axel (actually great guy!)

Seriously, why do DC fans always have to go on websites accusing critics who don’t fawn over DC books of being Marvel suckups or apologists? I see it all the time and it’s ridiculous. So because Mark Andrew writes for CBR and CBR has a regular column by a Marvel editor, he must somehow be in Marvel’s corner?

It’s ironic because Mark Andrew is actually someone who has often defended DC comics to me whenever I bash them in the comments section on this blog.

I don’t know if it’s a change in the general population or if the medium of the internet just brings it to the forefront more than was possible in the past, but I feel like there’s an increasing sensitivity and inability to tolerate criticism out there. You automatically get called out as a “hater,” or people say “I’d like to see YOU do better!” or they call you some kind of apologist or just say “haters gonna hate” etc, etc.

If you think his criticisms are off, attack the merits of his argument or present the reasons based on the content of the books you read (which you did do to some degree, to your credit). Don’t just moan that the review doesn’t have a right to exist because it’s “cynical.” You’re not entitled by the world to only be presented with favorable reviews of things you personally like. We all have to learn to accept that sometimes people can disagree with things we like for sincere, well thought-out and rational reasons, not just because they’re haters, apologists, or fanboys of the competition.

Wow talk about over reacting. Way to pick and choose the paragraph out of context, T. Notice that I didn’t like these comics either? A review can be negative and not laced with sarcasm. And I am entitled to post, and CBR can delete me if they find it inappropriate.

At # 9 – “9) A stanky, stanky, puddle of stanky, stanky platypus vomit.” – Red Lanterns

hmmm, cynical, kinda – maybe not. Sarcastic- yes, but entertaining!

-“Seriously, why do DC fans always have to go on websites accusing critics who don’t fawn over DC books of being Marvel suckups or apologists? I see it all the time and it’s ridiculous.”

Seriously, why do MARVEL fans always have to go on websites and slam posters who might have an opinion and not agree totally with the reviewer? I see it all the time and it’s ridiculous.

Looks like you just attacked a poster for some all in fun ribbing, who actually had some good points in there. The point that these reviews are completely entertainment and always biased, not just by the publisher but characters within a publisher is just lost on you. Missed that point, hunh? Maybe I’m just not great at expressing myself with words, or maybe you’re too emotionally involved?

CBR is not out to destroy DC comics. CBR is not FOX news. But it’s a marvel heavy site – a fact, not open to discussion.

I appreciate Mark’s article, entertaining and accurate for him, but I’m sure he doesn’t need you to defend him.

Your post did have very good points, but your idea that CBR and CSBG are partial to Marvel in their reviews is just hard for me to believe.

Yes, CBR has a “Cup a Joe” and “Fridays with Axel”, but I honestly haven’t read anything on this blog that showed a favoritism to Marvel (or DC, for that matter).

I liked the first week’s issues, hated most of the second week’s issues, so I’m half and half at this point. Still, so far I think it’s mostly good. Mr. Terrific however was proof that a black writer does not always do black characters justice, as that was some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever seen. “Thanks black man…,” “Is it because I’m a white girl?” “I’m a black woman and I’ve seen and deal with things…” HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. Worst of the batch to me so far. So awful in so many ways.

Chris, the context of the rest of your post doesn’t change the meaning of the paragraph I isolated. It still comes down to the idea that you think this was an unfairly cynical review due to the fact that Mark Andrew is unable to be objectively fair to these books because of his pro-Marvel bias, something that apparently everyone affiliated with CBR must have due to the presence of the Cup O’Joe and Axel Alonso columns.

Batman and Robin – Competent, shows promise, but I feel like DC and their gratuitous gore is getting worse and worse. Those guys at the end seem to be getting dissolved in acid and it was disturbing to me. But overall, it was okay. I’d read more.

Suicide Squad – It was okay. New reader friendly at least. Didn’t wow me or knock my socks off, but I didn’t roll my eyes, which for a Didio-era DC comic book is a big deal for me. I usually roll my eyes a lot when reading Didio-era DC books.

Green Lantern – Seems pretty Geoff Johnsy to me. I’m not really a Geoff Johns fan, but many people are, so I suppose this book is good for them at least. Not new reader friendly at all, but Johns fans will definitely like it and it makes good business sense not to scrap what’s been working.

Batwoman – Story wasn’t great but wasn’t bad either, and it didn’t seem as overly disturbing as most Batbooks so far have been. Even though the story was just decent, the art is so good I will get every issue.

Mr. Terrific – Awful. Awful, awful, awful dialogue. Banter between the onlookers? Awful. (“Nice bum”…”I can tell.”) Banter between onlookers and Mr. Terrific? Awful. (“Thank you black man…”) Internal monologue? Awful. (How many times can I guy outright brag about how smart he is before it just comes off really dickish?) Deathbed dialogue? Awful (Can we say B-movie cliche? “Keep teaching the world” The wife is just a human plot device, existing just to be killed and provide motivation in the most hamfisted way possible) But worst of all was the race and gender relations dialogue between Karen Starr and the black woman. (Is it because I’m a WHITE GIRL?” “And I’m a BLACK WOMAN and have had to deal with things you can’t BLAHBLAHBLAH”) Very insulting, patronizing and racist moment. Also, why is Karen a white GIRL but the other one is a black WOMAN? Picture if it was race and gender reversed and a black adult said I’m a black BOY and the white guy said Well I’m a white MAN. As a black man, I was optimistic to see a black man would be writing a black lead character because I find it can bring a better perspective to the characters, but this wasn’t the case at all here.

Frankenstein – decent book, shows potential, a little reminescent of Hellboy, but that’s fine. My only worry is whether or not this book will try too hard to have the Grant Morrison/Joe Casey hi-concept vibe that while interesting gets old quick without good characterization and personal relationship dynamics to flesh them out.

Red Lanterns – Horrible and gross. Blood vomiting everywhere. Ugh. Also, what are the Red Lanterns actual powers. Can they create constructs? I wish their abilities were better defined for new readers.

Legion Lost – not new reader friendly at all. In addition to not explaining who anybody was, even stuff that was supposed to be introduced in this issue and wasn’t a carryover from past books wasn’t explained well. A lot of dialogue and art choices had me rereading panels over and over again to understand what happened. I think it would have been better to introduce Legion Superheroes #1 first, then lay the seeds for Legion Lost in that.

Resurrection Man – decent enough for me to keep trying.

Grifter – I’m gonna stick with it, but it shows potential to get awful. The “They Live” riff is an interesting concept though.

Deathstroke – very one-note badass depiction. Trying just way too hard to establish his badassery. The word badass appeared way too much. And he’s so far from the nuanced and complex character Wolfman created. He’s just invincible and perfect and 100% mean badass. Can anyone see this Deathstroke having a sitdown with Changeling over coffee and making peace with his enemies like Wolfman’s did?

Demon Knights – Good start, but I need to see more to know for sure. But I like the setting, the dialogue and the art so I’m optimistic.

Superboy – I don’t know if it was lowered expectations or what, but I was definitely impressed and pleased. I’m actually looking forward to Teen Titans now.

“Yes, CBR has a “Cup a Joe” and “Fridays with Axel”, but I honestly haven’t read anything on this blog that showed a favoritism to Marvel (or DC, for that matter).”

If you want to be really reductionist about it, Mark Andrews notwithstanding, CSBG is more a G-Mozz fansite than a Marvel or DC fansite. Or rather, the G-Mozz devotion bleeds into DC, like Mr Cronin’s very very very good annotations on FINAL CRISIS.

Not exactly criticism, more an observation I know I’m not the first to make here. I love this site! And the G-Mozz devotion is mainly on the smarter side of things (but it does tend to go blind every once in a while). I know if I was a part of this, it’ll all be Alan Moore stuff for me …

As for the DCnU titles this week … I wasn’t too happy with much of it. Standouts for me were BATWOMAN and GRIFTER, both for art and story. DEMON KNIGHTS was kinda bleh in the same way RESURRECTION MAN was kinda bleh, very early- to mid-90s confusion of tones (FATE, SCARE TACTICS, CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN, original RESURRECTION MAN) only not having enough talent to follow through. This week had a weirder set of books as opposed to last week being more vanilla, so I felt I was inclined to like this week more than last week, but I was wrong.

Marvel fan? Nah, I generally prefer DC to Marvel as an overall publishing entity, because they’re willing to put out weird shit like the CMX line, the Minx line, the Paradox press books… and reboot their entire line. Marvel seems a little more cautious… And boring.

I do generally prefer Marvel’s Top Tier characters (Spider-Man, Daredevil, Captain America) to DC’s top tier characters, but I like Ambush Bug, Deadman, Enemy Ace, the Secret Six (all versions), ALL the ’70s Kirby stuff and Young Heroes in Love more than Marvel’s B list.

But the “Marvel Zombie” idea of having a favorite corporation and integrating your identity with the success and/or failure of that corporation is completely alien to me. I don’t only wear NIKE brand shoes, I don’t only eat CAPTAIN CHUMMY brand frozen snow peas, I don’t only read MARVEL COMICS.

I care a lot

(Like, a lot. Like bordering on psychosis and completely unhealtily a lot )

about the works of individual creators who are published by the corporation, but I don’t understand the inner workings of the corporation well enough for me to ally myself with it in any way. I’m deeply loyal to individual people and deeply cynical towards organizations. Marvel comics doesn’t give a shit if I live or die, so I don’t feel any loyalty to it.

I care about Fantagraphics and Picturebox to a degree, because it seems like they’re trying to publish good art. Even if they do stuff I don’t like, I agree with the stated goal, and I believe they’re working towards it… .eh… at least half the time.

But DC and Marvel’s ultimate purpose is to make money for the corporation, which doesn’t affect me directly. Some people within the corporate collective care about the product produced, but making good comics isn’t the point of DC or Marvel. Their aims are to make a bunch of money for the corporation. Which is fine, but it doesn’t affect my life either positively or negatively. If they both ended tomorrow I’d say “A lot of people lost their jobs, including some people I know and others who I’m huge fans of as artists. That sucks” and that would be the sum total of my emotional reaction. The dissolution of the corporate brand wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.

So Cory’s absolutely right about “cynical,” at least.

You’re all wasting valuable electrons even debating something as stupid as “Comics Should Be Good is biased towards Marvel because Comic Book Resources has two columns by Marvel executives.”

Actually, in the distant past, we were all us before we were part of CBR.

Your response kind of lost me, but to you and Corey, whoever that is, I’m assuming it’s T? I’m sorry. BUT DID YOU NOT READ ANYTHING ELSE I WROTE? WHAT ABOUT THE COMICS??

In a further response- I thought I retracted the ‘cynical’ and ATTEMPTED to replace it with words like ‘entertaining’, ‘fun’, and ‘sarcastic’. So if I say, Mark, your review on Red lanterns sounded ‘pessimistic’, do I still get called out, or was it the fact i called you a ‘marvel fanboy’ that became offensive – it was a ribbing! I agreed with your reviews! I did not know that the word ‘fanboy’ has now become a derogatory word. I am a DC fanboy, and T’s rant about who I supposedly am, boggles me.

I APOLOGIZE. PLEASE FORGIVE.

I was labeling your REVIEW, not YOU as cynical, and if that was not the right word -PESSIMISTIC was probably? the better word. idk, you’re the writer. I thought I was making it clear that most comic reviews, are for entertainment, and not an example of proper literary analysis.

CBR is my browser’s default site. And I enjoy it. I am a retailer and read all comics. I really like Axel, and can’t stand Quesada (am I alone in this?). And that makes me a ‘hater’? Jesus, you’d think I had called you a commie bastard during the red scare, and Hollywod had come to your defense ;).

So I have learned my lesson. It was not my place to label you, and instead of igniting a discussion on Red Lanterns having nowhere to go and my lack of knowledge of Grifter, but enjoyment of the comic, I started a war in which i was labelled and described with complete inaccuracy. A ‘pessimistic’ review on red lanterns becomes a DC fanboy attack on Mark Andrews. Ridiculous

SO Again, FOR T or Corey, from the irritating DC fanboy who can’t take it when someone writes a negative review…I give you the following –

This weeks DC comics for me were TERRIBLY disappointing. There were only a few that I could even stand, Demon Knights – pretty good. Frankenstein and Suicide Squad – my two favorites, and Grifter and Res Man were fun for me. Everything else had plenty to complain about, even Batwoman. Green Lantern put me to sleep. Red Lantern was forgettable. Batman and Robin was annoying. But I’ll probably keep on with those. Superboy to me sucked. At least I can reread all of last weeks books.

If CSBG is biased towards anything, it’s towards Grant Morrison, Atomic Robo, and…. pie.

@Craig
That actually sounds like a MUCH better book than the one we got. At least Milligan is still firing on all cylinders with Hellblazer, because Red Lanterns is only slightly better than platypus vomit..

For seriously? You thought Superboy was a good book? Are we reading the same book? And if not, can you lend me your copy of Superboy? Because what I read was pure CRAP.

Honestly, my primary criteria for marking a book as good is whether I can remember what happened in it the next day. And second is having had fun reading it. And Demon Knights was like that this week…followed by “Oh my God it’s so beautiful!” Batwoman, which, honestly, I couldn’t really figure out what was going on – but I enjoyed just letting the art wash over me and inundate my senses.

Last week was a bit better – it gave us two solid books: Action and Animal Man; one promising book: Men At War; and one book with awesome art and ZERO story: OMAC.

It’s not even just that the implication that Mark must be a Marvel fanboy that grinds, or that there’s groupthink here at CSBG (which, despite being linked at CBR, is a seemingly autonomous enterprise, or else Brian wouldn’t have let me write columns :) ), but the implication that there’s something more to it than just being a Marvel fanboy, that writing for CBR or CSBG means you’re being…nudged in a certain direction, or even outright paid off. And that’s the inference I got, that Mark was being overly negative because he’s SUPPOSED to be, not that, oh, I don’t know, the books are crap?

Besides, we all know Cronin’s in ARCHIE’S pocket ;)

By the by, does anyone else have problems with CBR’s main site? It seems like the tab closes and reopens on me, and I might have had computer problems because of it. I just get to CSBG from the links in my emails.

And to echo Bill, mmmm pie.

Red Lantern Challenge:
This is difficult, I have about 20 terrible ideas. Best would be something along the lines of them building a powerful corps and creating their own version of OA. This world and the corps is completely leveled by an even great force, like a war world or something. The books can then be based on replenishing their ranks with new characters. They can also be shown to be not totally evil, much like they were in brightest day as they hunt down the much larger evil.

Who’s “Corey?”

@Nismojo

You’re right. That IS a terrible idea. :)

Chris – Yeah, comments are a problem. It’s WAY easier to be able to post and edit until what you mean comes out sounding like what you mean. Certainly I took parts of your post the wrong way – I don’t wanna be all “It was late and I was tired” but “it was late and I was tired.”

And I wasn’t calling Red Lanterns platypus vomit. I was trying to say it was better than platypus vomit. (I DO like Dex-Starr a lot. He’s my second favorite G.L. character, now, next to Larfleeze.)

And that Deathstroke was worse, to try to goad people into defending it.

acespot and Bill Reed –

Lemme give SUPERBOY another pass. I think I got this.

Bill – I’m with you on the Teen Titans tie-in. Too much continuity, to early. But. I think there was a depth of content to SUPERBOY hadn’t seen from any other…. 17 or so books that I read. It’s at least touching on some big philosophical issues – What does it mean to be human? Is “reality” flexible? – And it did so fairly subtly – The stuff was there if you looked for it, but you didn’t need to engage with it to enjoy the story. I rate highly on depth of content.

M Bloom – Oh My Lord. That WAS Fairchild! HA! (Totally missed that.)

RED LANTERNS

Chris (again) – Yeah, they do have different motivations, but I don’t see any one Red Lantern reacting much differently from any OTHER Red Lantern to any given situation. Which, from an actual storytelling move-the-plot-forward sense makes them interchangeable. (Which is probably a better word than One Note.) Hal Jordan will deal with personal and superhero type problems differently than Guy Gardner would. Ditto Killiwog and Soranik Natu. Or, for that matter, Star Saphire and Fatality.

smokescreen – That’s not completely far removed from one of my thoughts – If you have a bunch of characters that aren’t RED LANTERNS that would make the book quite a bit more tolerable. And I like the idea of ratcheting up the tension by casting them as underdogs against a superior (I assume) force.

And I totally agree with

“The reds aren’t dumb, and some who have had red rings have controlled the power to an extent; it’s just being able to convey that idea.”

Frederik I am (as I said) deeply pro comics that are ABOUT something. That’s a damned interesting idea. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if Milligan (who’s generally very very good at “ABOUT”) did something like this a ways down the line.

Craig That’s really good ABOUT. Where’s the line between too much and too little self control – Especially in a situation where EITHER of them can kill you. I could absolutely see an ongoing series based on asking that question, and showing a bunch of different character’s answers. Nice!

Nismojo

Contrasting your evil-ish main characters against really, really evil bad guys has been done… But it absolutely works. I could see Green Lantern recruiting being interesting – What are the REJECTS like? And I would kind of like to see the Red Lantern OA, which would be like their idea of paradise.

There is already a red lantern oa. I believe its called ysmault. Not sure about spelling it but it was shown plenty of times before blackest night

On GL (in general, without trying to be snarky):

I really like the cop idea, but I like it better with the yellows.

I had conceivably thought that coming out of Blackest Night that a storyline they would have explored would have been a tenuous peace between yellow and green (seeing as Sinestro is somewhat “redeemed”…not forgiven, but at least altered somewhat; at least that’s my reading of it). Essentially, yellow and green have the same goals, they just go about it differently: green wants a democratic peace, yellow sees it as peace through fear (Sinestro even says he wants order through fear in the Sinestro Corps. War). From that, I thought that the storyline would have progressed organically where yellow and green call a truce for a while and both do the space cop thing, except yellow has no restrictions at all in enforcing order (which I’m not sure red is into). This would have led to the sorts of questions Craig raises, which are great ones if the premise of your book is “space cop” as Johns has said in the past.

Which is also why I see the Rainbow GL concept as wasted; look at this one message list and the amount of ideas for what the different aspects of GL-based rings could mean in terms of politics, authority, and the nature of anger and the stories it could engender (for example, with reds and piggybacking on Frederik’s suggestion, why not a story where two politically divergent beings get the rage fueled rings? the two characters would ostensibly feel anger and rage at each other, yet be on the same team…how would that work? What’s the end game? What does that tell us about our emotions or society?). I hope that this is where it could go, but I haven’t really seen it yet.

randypan the goatboy

October 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm

So is what you are saying tantamount to deathstroke being written in 1992 by rob Liefeld kind of suck..anytime someone has to remind you that a charachter named deathstroke is a badass…a damn hell badass

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