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CSBG Archive

She Has No Head! – The Comics Project, Part 2!

Welcome back to The Comics Project, where I asked 22 non-comics readers and lapsed comics readers* to pick out an issue of the new DCU 52 and report back.  Head over to Part One if you’d like to read a full introduction for the project. Without further ado, let’s dig in!

As always, beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the book!

NAME: Jennifer G.

BOOK: Batwoman #1

AGE: 26

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

OCCUPATION: currently? I’m a Jill-of-all-trades.

PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? Kelly’s Comic book project, Parts 1 & 2 (a Wonder Woman comic and then Batwoman: Elegy); Archie comics as a kid for long car trips; various web comics; Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? I did. Kelly gave me some background when she found out how much I loved Batwoman: Elegy, and I’d kept myself vaguely in-the-know through AfterEllen’s regular updates informing the public when the eff our lesbian superhero book would finally be released.

IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? I was intrigued – after reading Elegy I definitely wanted to find out what happened. But probably not enough to seek out the book myself.

WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? A few other titles interested me as well, but again, not enough to seek them out on my own.

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Curse you, Kelly. Curse you. I now have to budget $3/month for each new issue of Batwoman. Actually, it’s more like $2.40, because with my subscriber’s discount I save a little on each issue. Did you catch that Kelly? I am now a subscriber. The store is going to put aside an issue for me each month in a little folder with my name on it. Look what you’ve done to me. Look what I’ve become. [Ed. Note: YES! My life is now complete! I have created a comic book reader!  Bwahahahhaa!]

WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? Hmm, let’s see. Kate Kane’s a hot, red-headed, half-Jewish, lesbian superhero who is haunted by her super-villain twin sister? Yeah, I have no idea what makes me interested in reading this book.

WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?  IF SO, WHY? I would have been happy to read Voodoo also, who’s apparently the only woman of color with her own series. Also she’s bisexual. And badass. (I’m such a sucker for queer women in media.)

DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? Yes. This book is fantastic. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Attention to detail in both the art and the writing make each page a pleasure. It’s got emotion and depth and life, and, well, I’m very impressed.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? I loved that it truly did take off from where Elegy ends. I mean, sure a new villain is introduced, a new side-kick, etc. But there’s a lot of continuity. Kate’s pissed at her dad, which makes perfect sense coming off of what happened in Elegy (I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t yet read it). That allows for a character arc more developed that what I see in half the tv shows out there. (TV being my only true understanding of the serial form.)

More continuity: Kate’s current romantic interest is the same from Elegy–the hot cop who wore the tux to the G.C.P.D. Charity Ball. Though she still holds a torch for one Renee Montoya (a character who appears to be the talk of the town in the comic book underworld for not being granted her own title).

Also, there’s one frame all the way to the right on page…umm..why are there not page numbers? Well, turn to page 25 if you count like I do. You see Kate’s angry face peering out behind her little cousin-slash-sidekick? Yeah, that’s my favorite thing about this book.

WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Kate’s gray skin. I don’t understand why she is so anemic.

IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? I would think a new reader could jump in. There’s enough re-cap and exposition that I wouldn’t expect someone to be lost. The exposition, by the way, is surprisingly well written. You almost don’t realize what the writers are sneaking by you. That said, there is one two-page spread in particular that contains artwork that visually tells some more detail of Kate’s past. There’s no way a new reader could glean the story from those images. But I don’t know if you really need to understand all the details. The re-caps are probably enough.

DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? I’m pretty sure, after reading this book, that I would more than enjoy other titles (if they were as well-written and well-drawn as this one). But I think I will avoid checking them out for fear of a growing addiction.

IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? I would much prefer to read this in a digital form. I am invested in the visual and textual story, and I want to know What Happens Next. But I have no desire to fill up a bookshelf with old issues. However, I’m kind of excited to see what kind of comic book reader I’ll be. Will I find myself referring to previous issues? Will I be annoyed by having to trek out to the comic book store every four weeks? Will I even remember? How badly will I miss my $2.60? It’s kind of an unknown. A digital copy would be an easy and welcome known, but perhaps not an adventure quite like being a (gulp) subscriber. [Ed. Note: After talking further with Jennifer, I've sussed out that what she really has is indeed a PULL, since she'll be going into the store to pick it up every week.  This is even better as I can try to push more comics on her!]

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NAME: Jonathan

BOOK: Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

AGE: 27

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

OCCUPATION: Filmmaker

PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? Comics when I was younger (mostly Batman, Legends of the Dark Knight.  Several graphic novels as an adult, including Preacher, Black Hole, Persepolis and several others

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? No I did not.

IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? I became aware of it through a friend in my writer’s group who follows the industry as a fan, comics writer, and blogger.  It didn’t make much of, if any impression on me.

WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. No.

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Yes, there are some I’d like to check out, particularly some of the supernatural themed ones such as Voodoo and Demon Knights.

WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I liked the description as it gave me a sense that it would be a conflicted anti-hero story with darker, supernatural elements.  I also grew up on the old Universal monster flicks so there was also a nostalgia element to the selection.

WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?  IF SO, WHY? I was very interested in Voodoo as my first pick, but I missed out on it.  I was interested in it for similar reasons as Frankenstein: AoS; anti-hero elements in the description, with promise of dark supernatural elements.  I was more interested in Voodoo though because it advertised itself with more ambiguous morality, greater mystery and intrigue, and I would have rather read a comic with a female protagonist.

DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? I wasn’t a huge fan of Frankenstein: AoS.  There were certain elements I liked.  The Lovecraftian monsters were a nice surprise I wasn’t expecting and while the opening was a little schlocky, it was also enjoyable, in part because it was schlocky.  It gave the impression it was going to be like a violent, gritty, yet fun bloody B-movie romp.

On the other hand so much of this issue was clunky, awkward exposition where very few characters sounded like real people.  The long explanations of technologies and back stories was particularly painful, as it often sounded like children describing crazy, imaginary technology during playtime.  The sci-fi, miniature, Death Star science headquarters was particularly over-the-top and took me out of things.

I was on the fence with the monster team.  Artistically there are some great panels of them and it’s kind of fun seeing these characters of my childhood reinvented, but their time often shared Frankenstein: AoS’s same recurring problem of awkward, unnecessary exposition and failure to talk realistically (in my opinion being a monster and talking like a normal person is not mutually exclusive).

Another overall drawback is that the whole thing felt a bit too much like Hellboy – down to the whole super-natural monster crew that fights other, eldritch monsters – and any comparisons to Hellboy will only hurt this comic series.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? The artwork during the battle at the end was very well done and a pleasure to look at, from the action to the portrayals of the classic movie monsters.  I enjoyed the drawings of the monsters attacking town too.  As I mentioned above very Lovecraftian.

WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? If I had to pick one thing it would be the inability of the characters to speak like actual people.

IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? It was easy understanding everything.  If anything the creators were far too worried about explaining things to new readers, as there are a lot of unnecessary and clunky descriptions and sections of exposition.

DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? I’m a little curious where things are going but I’m not that interested.  The hooks are good enough, but the writing was dull.

IF SO, WILL YOU BUY THE NEXT ISSUE WHEN IT RELEASES NEXT MONTH? No.

DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? I am interested in other titles, but more based on their own descriptions.  My interest in the other titles is not related to Frankenstein: AoS.

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF INTERESTED IN OTHER TITLES, WILL YOU ACTUALLY BUY THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY RELEASE IN THE COMING WEEKS? I am considering buying Voodoo.

IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? Possibly, but probably not.

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NAME: Loretto Seles

BOOK: Resurrection Man #1

AGE: 34

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

OCCUPATION: Architect

PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? Watchmen, an old 80′s series called Psi-Force (can someone confirm for me if that was cool or not?), as well as Casanova #3, and Exit Wounds courtesy of Ms. Thompson’s Ladies Comic Project.

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? I had heard the words being spoken somewhere but truly had no understanding of what they meant before this. Even well into the project, I guess my mind is still a little fuzzy on the exact scope of the “relaunching.” Having never read any of these books though, it didn’t much matter to me what was new and what was the same.

WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. No.

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. I am interested in following the series I picked – Resurrection Man. I’ll also probably read whatever books end up in the house. [Ed. Note: Loretto's husband Andrew participated in Part 1 and is planning to buy several new books]

WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I went solely by the descriptions this time. A few stood out for me, and it wasn’t an easy pick. In the end, a hero that keeps getting killed off sounded like a solid choice for an interesting read. I love Final Destinations 1-3.

WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?  IF SO, WHY? My backup choice was Suicide Squad because anyone who knows me can tell you that “ragtag team of misfits forced to band together” is one of my all-time favorite genres (possibly second only to “con men outconning each other”). I don’t know who Harley Quinn and King Shark are, but I’m betting they do not get along! Grifter, Mister Terrific and Demon Knights were also contenders, the first two for the promise of something a little different (as with Resurrection Man) and the last for the ragtag team thing again.

DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? I really enjoyed it. I liked this experience better than reading Casanova. I was able to immerse myself in the story more and found the artwork much much more engaging. This first issue was pretty successful in pulling you right in and giving you a proper sample of the hero’s capabilities: he dies twice and resurrects with two vastly different powers. It rightly sets up the two forces that are after him and the extremes they will go to. The tone is a little heavy, but I can’t very well expect a guy that dies every couple of days to have much of a sense of humor.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? I thought the artwork looked great. Pardon my ignorance, but I had somehow come to expect a kind of minimalist, semi-anime stylization from comic books today. Whether that’s a completely off-base misconception, I’m not sure, but I actually thought I would prefer that in every case…you know, something different to chew on, some artistic expression. Instead, here I was happily surprised by how the rich detail and realistic renderings made the art so much more enjoyable to look at. The faces especially were fun to study. They all looked like portraits of real people. I guess there’s always a space reserved in my heart for solid technical draftsmanship.

WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? It was far too short. How do you guys do this? Waiting a month between these shavings of a story? It’s like watching a movie five minutes at a time. As for something more specific to this book, I guess I would say that not all the panels were drawn with the same laborious care. I think I did more of a skimming through on the action shots. I also mentioned earlier the intense mood of the story. It didn’t bother me this time, but I wonder if it might just become a bit too much in the future.

IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? I think so. Nothing too difficult to digest here. Of course the length only allows for the barest of setups, but there’s enough to sink your teeth into and not too many wtfs to leave you feeling empty at the end.

DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST? Again, not enough that frustration superseded enjoyment. The story was pretty easy to follow, though there are still plenty of unanswered questions (Why do Heaven and Hell want his soul? Who’s good and who’s bad? Is anyone good or bad?)

DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? It does, though maybe waiting until more issues have come out or they get compiled in a collection is more appealing so I can just tear through a bunch in one go. This is also how I tend to get into that TV series I’ve never seen that everyone’s talking about.

IF SO, WILL YOU BUY THE NEXT ISSUE WHEN IT RELEASES NEXT MONTH? Right now, yes, but I have a pretty short memory. If next month rolls around without me having picked this up again, it’s totally likely I will have forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES?  IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE (AND LIST TITLES IF YOU CAN). I guess I would still be interested in the other titles I was considering – Grifter, Demon Knights, & Mister Terrific (minus Suicide Squad thanks to Kelly’s “tweet review”). It does make me interested in seeking them out (but by that, I mean “in the house”) other comics with this same flavor of drawing style if only to get to do more ogling.

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF INTERESTED IN OTHER TITLES, WILL YOU ACTUALLY BUY THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY RELEASE IN THE COMING WEEKS? I think I may still be a few “Comics Projects” away from actually going out on my own accord and buying single comic book issues.

IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? This option appeals to my laziness and cheapness, the only hump being the lack of iPad or similar. I think if hard copies came in my mailbox for the same lower price, I would stick with hard copy. I can’t imagine the digital reading experience beating being able to flip through a comic book any which way you please, which is really most of the fun. [Ed. Note: You CAN get comics delivered to your mailbox Loretto...and usually for a discount! Check it out!]

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NAME: TK42ONE

LINK(S):  The Daily Mile

BOOK: Grifter #1

AGE: 34

LOCATION: King George, VA

OCCUPATION: Technical Support

PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? My first comic was GI Joe back in the 80s. Only one or two. After that, I would read X-Men during my “lunch” break during a night shift job.  I was in my late teens then. As an “adult” now, I stick to online comic strips (like Garfield) and graphic novel stories (like FreakAngels).

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Nope. Don’t really follow the more mainstream comic arena, especially printed comics.

WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Nope.

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Some of them sounded interesting enough, like Men of War, Resurrection Man, All-Star Western, and Blackhawks. And Grifter of course.

WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? Partly because the others that I wanted were already taken. But as to why Grifter was on my short list, it was his cool mask. Not quite like the other typical super-hero masks.

WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?  IF SO, WHY? Men of War looked like GI Joe, so I figured it would be like a flashback to my childhood. Resurrection Man looked like a zombie tale. Not my favorite genre but interesting enough to capture my attention. All-Star Western because I sometimes feel that I should have been a cowboy in another life. And Blackhawks because the cover just looked cool.

DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? Yes, I did like it. It gave me flashes of Sawyer from LOST and his exploits as a con man. However Grifter had aliens. Or something that wasn’t quite human. But the story was strong enough to keep me reading and wanting more.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? The mask at the end!

WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? The jump from the plane. It went a bit beyond the plausible. Obviously the alien being did the same, but I expected that (or something like it). But jumping from a plane mid-flight and surviving impact with water? Ehh, I don’t think so. Aliens kidnapping you and doing experiments? Sure, no problem.

IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? I think so. I’ve never heard of or seen the Grifter character before and the story worked for me. Some of the panels made it look like there was more to the story (aside from the alien) so I felt like there was a need to read more.

DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A LAPSED READER THAT WANTS TO RETURN? I guess so. I’m not sure what happened in the past but I think they should be able to start again.

DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? I was pretty much lost the entire time. And I expected that to some degree since the story is new to me. I learned a bit about the main character, but his female counterpart was a mystery. And I got the impression there was more to the story with her.

DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? Buy is a strong word. And to be honest, I don’t think I’ll buy the comic. Partly because of the money involved with a series but mostly because my reading queue is massive enough.

IF IT DID NOT INTRIGUE YOU, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY NOT? Trick questions here. It intrigued me enough to want to continue reading the series but not enough to want to buy it. Can I get partial credit here?

DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? I’d like to try out the other titles I listed above. At least to get a taste of the story to see what it’s about.

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF INTERESTED IN OTHER TITLES, WILL YOU ACTUALLY BUY THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY RELEASE IN THE COMING WEEKS? Would I buy any of them? Maybe. If it were a good enough story.

IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? Now that would be an even harder decision to make. I spend most of my day in front of a computer and read 90% of my books on a Kindle so any digital version is instantly appealing. But since my Kindle is black and white, comics won’t work there. And I’m not buying an iPad. So it would need to be available on the computer. And if the price were right, I’d certainly bite.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS/CRITIQUE/PRAISE/CRITICISMS: I got a kick out of how the comic was shipped. The envelope was loaded with comic stamps! But seriously, about the comic, my favorite panel was the last where he puts his mask on. But I was disappointed that the cover scene wasn’t actually in this particular issue. Kind of wanted to see some guns blazing!

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NAME: DeAnne Millais

LINK(S):  dandeeXD

BOOK: Mister Terrific #1

AGE: 38

LOCATION: Los Angeles

OCCUPATION: Event Planner

PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? Just my fond memories of The Adventures of Big Boy, and my recent foray into the comics world thanks to Kelly and the Ladies Comics Projects (Black Widow #6 and Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, respectively)

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? I had no idea.

WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. To be honest, no.

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. I am interested in reading more about Mister Terrific, thanks to the solid set up and the handy cliff-hanger.  ;)

WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? Most definitely the title and cover, followed by a brief investigation into the plot summary.  The cover art is striking and dynamic, and a title like “Mister Terrific” sounds rather cheeky.  It reminded me of my 12-year-old self when I briefly had a fondness for professional wrestling during its glory days in the 80’s (Andre the Giant, anyone?).  My favorite wrestlers at the time included Brutus the Barber Beefcake (so cute!) and Mr. Wonderful (also cute, until he turned bad!).  Then, I read that Mister Terrific is both a scientific genius and an eligible bachelor – what’s not to like?!

WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?  IF SO, WHY? This was my first and only choice – my eye was immediately drawn to the cover because of the art and the title.

DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? I did like it!  So many interesting things about it!  Looking at the small image of the cover during the selection process, I didn’t realize that Mister Terrific is African American.  I don’t know if I can think of another African American superhero off the top of my head, so that was a nice surprise.  I thought the artwork was good, and the cover art wasn’t too divergent from the rest of the book to frustrate me with a sense of false advertising.  There were some fun pop cultural references to Dr. Who and other mentions.  The exposition was clear and effortless for the most part, and brought me right up to speed with regard to the character, what his motivations are, and what he’s dealing with at the present moment.  It seems his “ladies’ man” status can appeal to guys, while his backstory can offer a way for women to connect with him. And I like the emphases on science, education, intelligence and hard work, which are all great lessons for kids and adults alike.

As for dislikes, there are just a few, though some are rather strong dislikes.  First, I have no idea what his superpowers are – I saw three orbs surrounding him, but they weren’t explained.  Neither was the presence of a young boy in Mister Terrific’s life named Jamaal.  Who is he and why is he there?  I assume these things will be explained in #2.  But more importantly, I take issue with the use of female “cat fighting” over Mister Terrific, which I think is ridiculous, and I must admit I have an issue with the clear message that Mister Terrific is an atheist who believes in science alone.  As comics appeal to both adults and kids, I would encourage neutrality on topics of religion – unless a particular comic was geared toward a religious group purposefully.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Definitely the storyline, as well as the hero himself.  I like the aspects of science, the psychological motivations, and the focus on intelligence and achievement through your own work (rather than something out of your control or given to you). 

WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Even with a reboot, it still falls into bad habits with regard to how it represents women, like so many comics before it.  Here, the female characters are not central to the story, and just about every female presented was insulted or challenged either by a man or a fellow woman.  Too bad the creators didn’t take this opportunity to change female representation for the better here.

IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? Absolutely – it’s very easy to jump right in thanks to the clear exposition.

DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? Everything was very clear with the exception of who the character Jamaal is and what Mister Terrific’s technological powers are (the orbs).

DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? Absolutely – this is a fresh character (to me) who has 21st century relevance and an interesting story.  I’d like to know more.

IF SO, WILL YOU BUY THE NEXT ISSUE WHEN IT RELEASES NEXT MONTH? I don’t know that I’d order a copy, but I might be inclined to pick up an issue if I went into the comics store, or see if there is an easy online version that I can access. [Ed. Note: There is a digital version DeAnne - you can read online, or on a mobile device]

DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES?  IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE (AND LIST TITLES IF YOU CAN). Not really – I don’t have time to get involved in lots of stories.  I think one or two might intrigue me, but I don’t see myself delving into all sorts of titles.

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NAME: Kelley F

BOOK: Deathstroke #1

AGE: 19

LOCATION: Michigan

OCCUPATION: Student

PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? The last two Ladies Comics Projects!

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? I had no idea this was happening! When I first found out I thought it was pretty cool, but with my ridiculously limited comic book knowledge, I only expected there to be a few books on our list of choices. Well.. I sure was wrong about that.

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t just because I’ve never been extremely interested in comics. I have a tendency to put a comic down and never pick it back up.

WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I thought it looked really interesting! Deathstroke is a comic that I had never heard of, so I wanted to try something totally fresh. And I didn’t want a sissy comic.. a.k.a., one that was rated below “teen”. I tend to like intense, sometimes gory stuff.

WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?  IF SO, WHY? Another one I looked at a lot was I, Vampire. Don’t you dare think that I’m a Twilight fan! I just thought it would be interesting to read about a mystical being rather than someone who puts on a suit and suddenly has superpowers. I also thought about Voodoo…probably just because I thought the title was really cool. And the main character is a girl! I love it.

DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? I thought Deathstroke was a little strange… It seemed to whip through the plot really quickly, and the attitude of Slade kind of pissed me off at points. For example, at the end of the story he goes crazy and takes out three teenagers because he sees them as competition! He seemed very dramatic. I wish things were explained a little better (like what was in the briefcase, although I’m sure that’s answered in other parts of the series), and once again, I wish that time had been taken to draw out the story a little bit more.  The “capture the briefcase and destroy the enemy plane” scene went ridiculously quickly, so it seemed a little unrealistic. Is it weird for me to say I didn’t like how it was unrealistic when it’s comic books I’m talking about? (small joke)

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? I loved the artwork! Talk about details.

WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? How quickly the story moved.

IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? I would say it’d be better for a person who has read comic books before. I had to reread the first few pages a couple times because I couldn’t figure out who was saying what, in relation to what. So no, I would not suggest this to someone who was new to comics.

DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? Yes! Like I mentioned above, figuring out what exactly was going on in the first few pages was frustrating. But after that, it was smooth sailing.

DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY?   I am intrigued.. But I probably won’t buy the next one. Simply for the fact that I’m not in love with comics (yet).

DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES?  IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE (AND LIST TITLES IF YOU CAN). I might actually look into Voodoo, because it still sounds interesting.

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF INTERESTED IN OTHER TITLES, WILL YOU ACTUALLY BUY THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY RELEASE IN THE COMING WEEKS? Maybe! It depends on if I remember to look them up :)

IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? Hmm.. the price probably wouldn’t make a difference, although having it digitally would be nice. But you don’t want to get me started on digital books; I could go on for hours about how much I hate those! :)

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NAME: Nora

BOOK: Green Lantern #1

AGE: 29

LOCATION: Brooklyn

OCCUPATION: Library school student

PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? Graphic novels, yes.  Comics, just Fables which I read for last year’s Ladies Comics Project, (and Betty & Veronica and the Archie comics in general when I was a wee thing.)

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? No.

WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Can’t say I was, but…!

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?  PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE.  Maybe into reading Catwoman - wasn’t she a librarian by day? Meow. [Ed. Note:  you're thinking of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl Nora!]

WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? Um, kind of just because I remembered that there was a movie about it this summer so it was on my radar.

WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?  IF SO, WHY? I would have read Batman or Catwoman, just because I have never read those but (again) have seen the movies so I’m curious.

DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? I did. Well, I liked the beginning. Because it was so righteous and ridiculous.  The meeting with Sinestro and the Guardians was like, whoa! there are small blue men floating in the air, there is a neon green ring on a neon green chain! there is stuff about oaths, and redemption, and then one of the guardians that looks like Beethoven gets his brain zapped by the other blue men! Ahhhh.  I think that was the first page.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? When Carol Miss Ferriss throws her drink into Hal’s face after he asks her for money.  You know, a friend just asked me for money, and when I read that I was like, shoo, I should have done that.   Also, when  Sinestro and Hal have their incredibly significant Good Vs. Evil meeting in the hallway of Hal’s apartment building.  That seemed like such a pedestrian setting for this meeting it’s too funny.  Which maybe is more of a criticism, but it started me to thinking about whether Sinestro can teleport himself because I can’t imagine him really opening a door for himself that is too boring for him. [Ed. Note: Nora, you are hilarious]

WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? The Ads.  Are they a necessary evil, what’s going on here?

IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? Well, being a new reader, I’d say, yes, except for the ads.  Why can’t they just go in the back?  If it’s an issue that you’d keep, which I’m assuming this most definitely is, then you keep it and go back to it and can pour through all of the ads or listings for events later.  It takes away so much from the whole thing to have an Onion News Network ad right in the middle of my reading experience.  I really did not like that.

DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? I mean, there were some holes I just assumed would be filled it at some point-like, Hal being a pilot and having a crashing history.  I didn’t get that but I just assumed I would at some point. 

DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? Honestly, if someone made it extremely convenient for me to get a hold of I’d enjoy it, but I can’t say I’m going to go out of my way to buy one.

IF IT DID NOT INTRIGUE YOU, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY NOT? Everything’s a bit too intensely clear-cut for me, in the illustration and the storyline, which I guess made it hard for me to get into.  It seems very classic – Good vs. Evil, Humans vs. Aliens, the Lady and Her Man, who she just bailed out of jail but he won’t propose! The set up is just a little too much for me.  I guess I like things that are a little more vague and complicated.  That may be a personal failing, though.  (Ha.)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS/CRITIQUE/PRAISE/CRITICISMS: I would say, part of the lure of reading graphic novels or comics for me is that it’s a pretty complete experience – it’s the text and illustration and your imagination working to put voices and movement to the whole thing.  Having the ads in there was so disruptive I felt like I was checking my yahoo email account, which is like a case study for how too annoy your users with pop-ups.  I’m not a savvy comic book reader, so I don’t know if this is par for the course, but I don’t remember this from Fables, and no graphic novel I’ve read had them.  Is there a good explanation for this?  Is this normal? [Ed. Note: This is normal for "floppies". Collected Trades and Graphic Novels either do not have ads, or have a few, usually for the company producing the book, at the end]

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So…survey says?

Surprising!

While last week’s installment was 75% lapsed readers and only one reader that seemed committed to really continuing with reading and buying, this week’s installment has only one reader with a significant amount of comics experience, and yet, overall, I would say that these results are fairly positive.  While only one reader here is definitely going to read more and has actually made the steps to do so (which, let’s not kid ourselves, is huge), the rest seemed to go pretty easy on what they read.  Many of them liked their books far more than I did, which I find interesting. Did readers familiar with monthly comics expect more from the comics because they know what comics are capable of thus had higher expectations? Or were they more critical of the concept because they’re tired of being jerked around with relaunches?  Or maybe as comics readers we’re just way too fussy in general?  It’s hard to know.  But at the end of the day, all that matters is who is going to come back and plunk down money, online or print.

So far we’ve had 12 comics readers in this experiment and 2 are going to keep reading (by which I mean spending their own money), which is about 16% which is a pretty good rate of return. Another two readers are likely to keep reading, but only if the books are around.  I’m not sure we can count that as a full win, but it’s worth mentioning.  The rest, though they seem to have liked well- enough what they read, weren’t sufficiently impressed or don’t have the time or money or drive to seek these books out. I can’t really blame them.  Loretto makes a good point about reading a story like this in slivers and how it feels like watching a movie in five minute increments.  Is the future of comics for new readers really in ad-free trades?  Several of the readers have complained about advertisements.  As a longtime reader it’s something I stopped paying attention to a long time ago, but it keeps coming up for new readers.  Trades kill both those birds with one stone – longer bits of a story – sometimes even a complete one – and no distracting ads.

It’s all very interesting.

Thanks as always to all my participants and to Tara Abbamondi for the lovely Comics Project illustration.

Make sure to come back next week for Part 3 and reviews of Batman #1, Wonder Woman #1, Nightwing #1, and Birds of Prey #1.

*One of the readers (who was supposed to review Suicide Squad #1) this week had to drop out, which means we now have 21 readers.

22 Comments

[...] The Comics Project continues this week on She Has No Head! with new readers tackling new books from the new DCU 52. [...]

Always fascinated by these. Whether it’s positive or negative, I’m always amused by the disconnect between what DC THINKS readers want and what they actually respond to. (I’m also amazed you can get that many people tro commit to actually responding.)

Intriguing reading, as in previous installments. I find it fascinating that the things we take for granted in super-hero comics (e.g. black & white morality, unrealistic dialogue, ads) are so foreign to the participants.

To this longtime comic book reader, i’s hilarious that everyone wants to read Voodoo. Of all the characters to get new series, she’s the one whose inclusion is the most surprising. I mean, even Alan Moore couldn’t make her work! Lo & behold, there’s potential mass-market appeal! I sincerely hope the new Voodoo series is good.

an old 80?s series called Psi-Force (can someone confirm for me if that was cool or not?)

I think it wasn’t cool, but I liked it too.

Enjoyed this installment.

It made me want to go pick up Mr. Terrific since I liked all the positive things mentioned and the negatives aren’t things that bother me. I see a trip to the comic store in my near future.

@Greg: Thanks! You and me both on the fascination tip…it’s always so bizarre to see something you’re familiar with through someone else’s very new eyes.

@Mike: Of all the fascinating things about this experiment, the Voodoo thing blows me away the most. So strange!

@Scott: I almost offered to send you my issue of Mr. Terrific…but of course I already gave DeAnne my copy.

Ya know, ads…. I kinda like them. It stretches out the reading experience, it gives me something to ponder if I need a break from the story, and I find them easy to ignore if I really so desire. Then again, I’ve been reading comics for about 25 years and I learned to filter out the ads a long time ago.

But I do have a question about ads… a question I assume that only someone at Marvel or DC’s promotional/ad sales dept. could answer — why do the books cost so damn much if they’re packed with ads? I guess that all depends on how much the ads cost… but if the companies are getting $5,000 per ad per book (does that sound reasonable?), and there are 4-5 corporate non-internal ads per comic, that’s at least $20,000 per book… let’s say the average non-relaunch book prints 40,000 copies (maybe even more like 35,000)… doesn’t that cover a huge chunk (if not all) of the print run? I know there are a ton of other costs in there, and I’m not advocating that creative be paid a single penny less. I’m just wondering how corporate comics can cost so much when they’re still selling ad space.

Voodoo was one of the titles I was most interested in when they announced all this. She was always my favorite WildCATs character. Looking forward to getting that book.

Re ads…I am a long time comic reader and I hate the ads in comics. They really disrupt the flow of the story for me. (Ads on the inside front/back cover aren’t so bad, but all the rest…ugh.) I bought one of the new DC titles digitally and was surprised to realize there are no ads! This alone made me REALLY interested in digital comics. Problem is, I really love my neighborhood comic store.

The interest in Vodoo isn’t that suprising being that it’s different from what a non comic reader would think of when they think of comics ( superhero comics) yet it’s familiar from a type of story perspective ( horror mystery with female protagonist ).

I still wish DC had been more diverse in their title selection. Most of the 52 can be placed with either the superhero or horror label.

Good to see that completely new readers are enjoying the books.

Love this series.

Cool site. I wrote about some superheroes with silly powers on my site. Stop by if you could use a super laugh.

At a comic convention just this weekend, I figured I might check out a few of the relaunches. All the vendors were selling them for ridiculous prices. I thought the point was to have plenty of comics so new readers could get them. Digital looks pretty good now. Actually, that may have been one of DC’s aims…

Surprised that it’s a big deal about Mr Terrific being an atheist and “believing in science”. Is this an American thing?

@Everyone: Thanks for all the support, glad you’re all enjoying it as I am.

@Nick Evans: I don’t think we can call one person taking issue with atheism being promoted in a comic an “American thing”.

This is a great idea for a column keep up the good work!

another great post! man, the interest in Voodoo is really intriguing. i like Loretto’s reaction to the floppies, i totally agree!!! i hate reading 20-25 pages at a time, too, i really don’t know why i bother sometimes and i can definitely see the format being an obstacle for new people. i think mostly why i personally still read a few floppies is that when is disposability: when i dislike a monthly comic, i can toss it in the recycle bin or whatever instead of being stuck with a book. i’m curious what readers in this project who disliked their comic did with it.

This column is awesome.

I find the frustration with the ads incredible. Like any long-time reader, I totally tune them out. I even kind of miss them now that I’ve been reading the DC relaunch on my iPad. I did not anticipate any reaction to them whatsoever on the part of new readers.

But in retrospect, it kind of makes sense. It would be like someone who only watched recorded television their entire lives having to go back to the 1970s or something and watch pre-VCR, live-broadcast only television. Personally, I’d lose my mind if I had to watch an hour television show without being able to fastforward the commercials.

I also find it amusing that some of the readers feel the stories move too quickly, or aren’t complete enough. You should send them an old Stan Lee / Jack Kirby comic… a typical one of those were dense enough to carry enough plot for a two year run nowadays, and had more words crammed into them than a five year run of a modern comic!

I’ve been reading comics since 1972 and I still hate the ads. :) At least in the ’70s it was easy to get into the pattern of the ads they were on the same pages in every issue for years) and skip them entirely at Marvel.

Atheist? Okay, I’m off the fence – I have to check out <Mr. Terrific now!

I don’t have a problem with atheism – that’s not the issue – I just would prefer neutrality on that subject in comics directed towards kids. You can totally prop up science without need for also propping up atheism, but that’s just me. I love the fact that Mr. Terrific promotes intellect and science and reason. :)

And, of course, my novice review is based on a first read of a comic that’s totally new to me, so I’m focusing primarily on the hero and the general storyline. Not sure if Mr. Terrific will appeal to comic book aficionados, but I thought it was a fun character with a fresh story. ;)

@JoeMac

I also find it amusing that some of the readers feel the stories move too quickly, or aren’t complete enough. You should send them an old Stan Lee / Jack Kirby comic… a typical one of those were dense enough to carry enough plot for a two year run nowadays, and had more words crammed into them than a five year run of a modern comic!
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I agree. Growing up there wasn’t a comic book store anywhere close to where I lived, so I was limited to what I could find on the spin racks. I was lucky to find three issues of any given title a year, and finding two sequential issues was gold.

There was always a ton of story so I never felt like I was getting short-changed like I often do now. Too many stories today seem stretched and padded or completely sparse. And I seem to recall every book I read was new reader friendly. I never felt lost. You didn’t need a new # 1 to make a “jumping on point” for new readers. EVERY issue was a jumping on point for new readers.

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