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She Has No Head! – Some Totally Dated Mini Reviews Of The DCU 52…

Even though I’ve devoted the last four weeks of this column to the “New DCU 52″ via The Comics Project, I find myself itching to share some of my thoughts on the new 52 books that I read.  Which brings us here, to one more totally unnecessary post on the New DCU 52.

Thanks to The Comics Project I ended up reading 34 of the New 52.  Left to my own devices and interest I only would have read about 17 books, but since I had to read every issue that my readers picked, that meant an additional 13 issues.  Add another 4 books that I read but did not buy, and you end up with 34 books of the 52 in total, which is more than I ever expected to read.

So below are some condensed mini-reviews for everything I read.

Enjoy, and thanks for letting me express my neurotic need to share thoughts that are likely supremely dated at this point, considering we are nearly through all of the new DCU 52 number 2′s!

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BOOKS THAT I ALWAYS INTENDED TO READ & PURCHASE:


ANIMAL MAN #1. The Animal Man character intrigues me, and I love Travel Foreman’s art, so this held early interest for me.  And I was pleasantly surprised by what I found inside.  Though Foreman’s art was a bit inconsistent, it was sometimes mind-blowingly good and sometimes not quite there, in the end I found this very compelling both visually and from a story standpoint.  Like many I really enjoyed the normal family interactions.  I’m a bit confused by the creatures, but not enough for it to be off putting, and I was powerfully hooked by the cliffhanger.

RATING: 4.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING: Definitely.

BATMAN #1. Given how much I loved Scott Snyder’s run on Detective Comics this past year I was sad to see him leave Detective, but excited to pick this up.  Though Capullo’s art is not really my cup of tea (except for his very square-jawed Bruce which is always fun) it works here better than I thought and as expected Scott Snyder is doing excellent work.  It’s been a long time since I read the regular Batman title…it’s nice to be able to again.

RATING:  4.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Hell yes.

BATMAN & ROBIN #1. Since I adored issue #1 of this title a mere two years ago, this book had a lot to live up to.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it managed it.  Though there is obviously a lot to be mined in the relationship between Bruce and Damian, so far what we got in this #1 is not nearly as interesting as what Morrison and Quitely did in their #1 and the dynamic between Bruce and Damian pales in comparison to Dick and Damian.  This one feels like a real missed opportunity to be great, instead being just okay.  Some further thoughts on issue #1.

RATING:  3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Maybe [Update: I guess I should move this to "no" since I did not pick up the second issue]

BATWOMAN #1. A book I have been metaphorically waiting for pretty much my whole comics reading life…and more literally waiting for since it was announced in 2010.  But it has been worth the wait on both counts.  J.H. Williams III continues to push on form here while still turning in gorgeously well-conceived visuals and a good story.  So far the writing is holding up nicely as well. A  great book.  Some thoughts on the second issue.

RATING:  4.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Hell yes.

BLUE BEETLE #1. I want to support this character.  I want to like this book.  So far I’m having trouble doing both.  I wasn’t able to connect to much in the first issue and it felt like a lot going on, but with not much pay off.  Additionally while the art inside is quite nice, the covers are a very big turnoff.

RATING:  3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Tentatively yes, but only because I like Jaime Reyes, I really hope it gets better, and fast.

DC COMICS PRESENTS #1. I find Deadman very intriguing and want to like this book but the first issue left me quite cold.  Too many cliches and too much narration really dragged it down. But I like Deadman and I like artist Bernard Chang, so I’m going to give it another shot I think.  The covers by Ryan Sook have also been absolutely gorgeous.

RATING: 3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Tentatively yes, but like Blue Beetle, mostly because I like Deadman.  I’ll give it one more issue. [Update: I did read the second issue and liked it more than the first...so that bodes well]

DEMON KNIGHTS #1.  I like Paul Cornell and some of the characters in this and the fantasy elements intrigue me, but it didn’t quite work for me.  There were a few moments that almost hooked me, but on the whole I was just not impressed.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Unsure. I really wanted to like this book, but I really did not like it.  [Update: I did not pick up issue #2, so I guess that's a no]

I,VAMPIRE #1. This book really surprised me.  There were some clarity problems here – some technical – like the narrative text boxes that alternated red and pink for two different characters and were very difficult to tell apart – and art choices – two of the female characters looked far too similar – but beneath those issues were some really great ideas and one of the more creative and interesting books of the new DCU 52.  Add to that some absolutely stunning artwork and I’m definitely on the hook for future issues.  Some more detailed thoughts on issue #1.

RATING:  3.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Yes, I, Vampire, despite some flaws, was one of the more original books I read in the re-launch, plus the art is beautiful.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1. I really wanted to like this as Justice League, in theory, is a title I’d like to be reading.  There was some fun stuff in here but nothing exceptional that made me want to return.  I also found it very confusing considering the continuity I seemed to be absorbing in other books.  It felt decidedly out of synch to me and ultimately I was disappointed.

RATING:  2.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1. I had high hopes for this book and they weren’t quite met, but it’s still one of my favorite new books of the new 52.  I love the characters on the field and Peter Milligan well sets up those characters, plus the reason there’s a need for them to come together as a different kind of Justice League.  I’m excited to keep reading this book.  More thoughts on issue #1.

RATING: 4.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Yes, definitely.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1. This was a huge disappointment to me.  I’ve always been intrigued by Legion of Super-Heroes, but they have always felt really intractably buried in continuity and confusion so I’ve stayed away.  I was excited that this relaunch might be a perfect jumping on point for me.  It was just as intractable as I feared.  This was a straight up mess.  It might have been a good comic book for a fan of the characters who knew what was going on, but for a new reader it was impossible to decipher or connect to.  More thoughts on issue #1.

RATING:  2.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No.

MISTER TERRIFIC #1. This is one of the books I was most excited to check out for the relaunch – like top three – even though I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  It is also the book I feel most let down by.  The writing was clunky and the art was terribly inconsistent. Mister Terrific comes off like a complete jackass for most of the book and Karen Starr has been reduced to a powerless friend with benefits.  The interaction between Terrific’s assistant and Starr was particularly disgusting – playing on lazy unfortunate stereotypes.  All this book has going for it was that amazing J.G. Jones cover.  Huge miss.

RATING:  1.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Unfortunately, no. I really hated this book, there’s no reason to come back for more.

NIGHTWING #1. This really disappointed me unfortunately.  It was a bit of an uphill battle to start with because I didn’t want Dick back in the Nightwing costume, but I tried to go in with an open mind.  But not much happened and the book was very overwritten.  Add to that the conflicting evidence of Dick spending a good portion of the book talking about how being Batman has made his technique “flawless” and then a few pages later inadvertently getting two cops killed.  Doesn’t seem flawless to me Dick.  Read more thoughts on issue #1.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Unsure. I really love Nightwing/Dick Grayson, but I intensely disliked this book [Update: I didn't buy the second issue, so I guess that's a no].

STATIC SHOCK #1. Another case of a book I really wanted to like and don’t dislike, but am not wowed by.  Not knowing much about Static Shock I didn’t find this book quite new reader friendly enough, but the interactions with Static and his family were great, and the writing in general had a nice energy.  Static comes off as a genius, without ever needing to tell us while as a comparison, Mister Terrific does feel the need to tell readers…repeatedly.  And who do you think I’m more inclined to believe?  The character that showed me his genius?  Or told it to me?  Yeah.  Read more thoughts on issue #1.

RATING:  3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Yes, but it’s only got another issue or two to get significantly better before I drop it.

STORMWATCH #1. Another title I want to like for the sake of the characters, but this first issue was a bit of a muddled mess.  Art and writing were not working together as I would have liked.  The story is a bit confusing as it drops you rather in the middle while still trying to introduce you to the characters, none of it quite worked.  The characters hold a lot of appeal for me however and it looks to be the only book with some out gay male characters so I will at least come back for a few more issues to see if it improves.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Yes, but it’s only got a few more issues before it gets cut from the team.

SWAMP THING #1. I’ve never really read Swamp Thing before so this was an exciting place for me to jump on.  Scott Snyder had a hard task in getting this up and running again and being both new reader friendly with all the convoluted history and also diving into the plot for long-time fans, but I think he juggled both nicely.  The first issue was a bit exposition heavy as a necessary evil, but his writing is good enough that it went down pretty easy, and he hooked in some great action, mystery, and horror to keep a reader coming back.  I’d say this was one of my big surprises of the relaunch but with Snyder and Paquette as the creative team I honestly expected nothing less than an excellent book.

RATING: 4.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Definitely.

WONDER WOMAN #1. Wonder Woman was my most anticipated book of the relaunch since her title has been a disappointing nightmare for the last year.  It was also the title I was most worried about, despite my fanatic love for Cliff Chiang’s art.  I was incredibly relieved when I found not only a superb comic book, but a superb Wonder Woman story that felt new and fresh and modern, but true to the Diana that I have so come to love.  More thoughts on issue #1.  Also, we interviewed Cliff Chiang on Episode #26 of 3 Chicks Review Comics!

RATING:  5.0

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Absolutely.  My favorite book of the relaunch.

BOOKS I ONLY READ AND PURCHASED BECAUSE OF THE COMICS PROJECT:


ALL-STAR WESTERN #1. This didn’t work for me. I’ve seen the “Jack The Ripper” type story too many times before to be excited by a similar tale unless there’s a great hook.  And maybe there will eventually be one, but it wasn’t evident yet and so there was little to entice me into a second issue.  Add to that the fact that there’s a really painful textbook “women in refrigerators” aspect to the story and I just couldn’t keep going.  The art was fantastic though.  Too bad.   

RATING: 2.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No. There was some good stuff here but it couldn’t overcome the stuff I really disliked.

AQUAMAN #1. As someone that doesn’t really care a whit about Aquaman and doesn’t really care a whit about Geoff  Johns I was supremely surprised to find I enjoyed this a little bit.  Though Johns went a bit overboard with the joke, in general his poking fun at Aquaman worked nicely, and I liked the way Aquaman himself was actually presented – i.e. a serious guy who just wants to do good work and live his life.  Additionally, the deep sea creatures set up as potential villains were pretty interesting.  I could have done without the jab at bloggers (does EVERYONE hate us?) as well as the sexy times on the rocks with Mera which was just weird. But I enjoyed this quite a bit and will maybe even buy the second issue.

RATING: 3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Against all odds, I’m considering it.

BIRDS OF PREY #1. This was the best surprise for me of the entire relaunch.  I was not expecting to like it at all and was pissed that Gail Simone wasn’t doing it. In fact, I only picked it up because Jesus Saiz draws the best chicks around and I wanted to see what he could do on the title.  But proof that sometimes change IS good, is that Swierczynski does great things here and Saiz draws his ass off.  Know what’s even more awesome?  Issue #2 was even better.  Further thoughts on issue #2.

RATING:  4.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Hell yes.

DEATHSTROKE #1. I didn’t have much interest in this before or after reading it.  The pacing seemed a bit off to me and it ended abruptly, add to that the fact that Deathstroke spends most the issue trying to convince readers that he’s a badass.  As I said with Mister Terrific, it’s a lot more convincing if I can get there on my own, rather than be force fed the “truth.”  I’m torn on the ending.  I appreciated that it was unexpected, but again, it all seemed designed to make him seem hardcore and all I ended up thinking was that he was kind of a dick. 

RATING: 2.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No. There’s nothing for me here.

FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1. The idea of this is great and the execution wasn’t bad, but it didn’t quite fire on all cylinders for me.  Worse, Frankenstein (which, shouldn’t it be “the monster”?) seemed like the least interesting character of the bunch.  There are great ideas to be explored here, but I can’t figure out if they’re going to actually be explored or just sit there unused on the page.  I’ll give it another couple issues before I decide. 

RATING:  3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING: Yes, I’ll give it another couple issues.  [Update: I did in fact pick up the second issue, but I didn't like it as much as issue #1, so this title gets one more shot to improve before it's benched]

GREEN LANTERN #1. I could just say “ditto” to everything I wrote for Aquaman except add that I liked Aquaman quite a bit more, perhaps because he seemed like less of a douchebag than Hal to his “love interest.”

RATING: 3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Probably not [Update: I did not pick up the second issue, so I guess that's a no]

GRIFTER #1. Man, I really wanted to like this.  I liked Grifter very much as a teenager and loved the push and pull of his complicated relationship with Zealot, but this was full of so much fail, including some straight up illogical plot points.  There’s a whole thing where Grifter loses time – he thinks it’s been 17 minutes and he’s going to be late for a plane – but it turns out it’s been 17 days – or 17 hours, it’s not entirely clear – yet he sill gets on the plane…well, I don’t know what kind of airport security Grifter is used to but that seems shockingly unlikely in this day and age.  Too much stuff like that overwhelmed a not that great book in the first place.

RATING:  2.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No, definitely not.  Despite being interested in Grifter as a character, there’s nothing I liked about this.

O.M.A.C. #1. Yeah, I just didn’t get this at all.  There was nothing horribly offensive in it or anything and I like Giffen’s art (other than the silly OMAC design) but I honestly just had trouble getting through it. It’s not for me.

RATING: 2.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Definitely not.

RESURRECTION MAN #1. I like the concept of Resurrection Man and I thought it was well explained here, but something just didn’t grab me about the execution on the whole. The art was fine and the writing wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t ring out as something I felt I had to keep reading.  Not being wowed by this plus having remembered from the cover solicits that I intensely disliked some of the imagery from future issues left me pretty uninterested in keeping on with the book.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Unsure.  [Update: I flipped through the second issue and found far more I disliked than liked, so I passed]

SUICIDE SQUAD #1. This cover told me instantly that I was unlikely to like what I found inside.  And in a nice bit of honesty, the cover didn’t lie.  Inside was just torture porn and disappointment wrapped in unnecessarily sexy costumes and ‘The Wall’ being de-aged, prettied up, and slimmed down.  She also seems like more of a jerk. This was a terrible disappointment all around, especially considering the fact that this book is apparently “filling the need” that Secret Six, a far superior book, used to fill.  It is definitely not “filling the need” for this fan.

RATING:  0.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Hell to the NO.

THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1. So…I haven’t read a lot of Hawkman…but why does he think that such powerful armor can just be taken to the forest and burned up?  Perhaps I missed something but that fact threw me off in the first few pages and I never was able to recover.  In addition the dialogue was pretty clunky and overwrought and the art sometimes was beautiful and sometimes felt rushed and messy. 

RATING: 2.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No.

THE FLASH #1. This was such a pleasant surprise.  It read easily, even for a fan less familiar with the intricacies of The Flash.  The art was fun and well-paced and the story was smart.  This is a definite addition to my reading that I hadn’t expected.

RATING: 4.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Yes, definitely.

VOODOO #1. This didn’t work for me on so many levels it’s shocking.  Beyond the race issues, which are extremely problematic, I just don’t see how presenting Pris this way, with no POV and agency of her own was a smart move, especially if you were going to start out with her as a stripper. She is objectified to the hilt here in a way that is painfully uncomfortable, which is to say not only visually but as a story device we see her through the eyes of everyone but Pris herself – the clients watch her and talk about her, the FBI agent watches her and talks about her (for a chunk of the book even about her TO her), hell, even the waitress talks about her. I also had a huge mental leap to make on the very first page, because the text does not match up with the visuals at all in a way that makes it clear from page one that they are going for maximum wank factor rather than telling the best and most accurate story they can tell.  Beyond the problems outlined above I found some of the dialogue really unbelievable.  There were some nice visual choices, and some very not nice visual choices. Separately, I don’t understand the point of starting with Pris as a stripper if she’s then going to quit…because who is your audience then?  If after issue #1 you’re changing some fundamental things about the book (i.e. she’s no longer a stripper) then people who loved this first issue are in for something different which maybe they will love and maybe they won’t love…you’ll have to see…but then people that didn’t like this first issue (yours truly) are likely not coming back for issue #2 regardless.  So who is your audience? You grabbed one and lost the other, but now you’re fundamentally changing some things that likely really turned a lot of people off?  What’s the point?  More thoughts on issue #1.

RATING:  0.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No, absolutely not.

BOOKS I READ BUT DID NOT PURCHASE:


CATWOMAN #1. My dislike of this book was not a surprise to me.  Given the creative team of Judd Winick and Guillem March I knew this was unlikely to be a good book for me.  Add to that all the promotional interviews and solicit text I read about this book in advance of its release and I knew to avoid it like the plague.  The first issue was unfortunately very much in line with what I expected based on what I knew about it before it came out.  It is endlessly disappointing to me that DC is putting out a Catwoman book that I can’t read.  Very sad.

RATING: 1.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  No, absolutely not.

HAWK & DOVE #1. Like many people I felt compelled to check out the spectacle of Rob Liefeld drawing a monthly book again. Like many people I had a good laugh and don’t need to come back. 

RATING:  0.5. Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Hell to the NO.

RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #1. A had a lot of problems with this, most of which were very well articulated by Laura Hudson on Comics Alliance, so I won’t repeat them all.  Suffice to say that I’m not even a big Teen Titans reader and still Starfire did not read accurately to what I know of the character.  And if she’s supposed to be new and improved for the relaunch…then I had trouble seeing that as well.  I get that not every single book has to be the kind of book I can personally get behind, but when you have a major relaunch that touts diversity and one would assume is trying to get things right, it’s unfortunate to put out a book that feels like the equivalent of a girl being passed around while frat guys high five their awesome luck at finding a cipher sex doll with no memory.  Doesn’t send a great message. 

RATING: 0.5 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  HELL to the NO.

SUPERGIRL #1. This was incredibly decompressed, even for me, and I tend to like a little decompression.  However, the visuals by Mahmud Asrar were absolutely stunning. That alone is enough to keep me checking this out.  It’s also nice that the book is one of the few I read that feels YA friendly and could be given to a younger audience.

RATING: 3.0 Stars

WILL I CONTINUE READING:  Undecided.  I LOVE the art in this book.  Not sure what else I love.  [Update - I did pick up issue #2, but I'm still unsure - though the art in Issue #2 continues to be excellent, the decompressed story is a huge problem.  Six bucks into this story literally almost nothing has happened. Not a good sign]

BOOKS I DID NOT READ OR PURCHASE, BUT WISH I HAD:


ACTION COMICS #1.

WHY DID I SKIP IT:  This is the sole title I wish I had picked up based on what I’ve heard since it released.  I didn’t pick it up because I’m just not much of a Superman fan, one of the few exceptions being Morrison and Quitely’s All-Star Superman which I liked very much but didn’t love as much as everyone else seemed to.  In truth the t-shirt with the tiny baby cape SEWN INTO IT is a huge mental leap for me…much larger than believing an alien that looks like Clark might crash land on earth and become a superhero…so it’s hard for me to move past something so ridiculous looking. Still, wish I had tried this.  And I’ll be picking it up in trade if it continues to get good reviews.

The rest of the books I feel confident I made the right choice in skipping, usually because I have no interest in the creator on board, and occasionally just because the subject matter or characters aren’t terribly interesting to me.  Did I miss the best book in the entire re-launch?  I’m sure you’ll tell me.

SOME CONCLUSION-Y THOUGHTS:

First and foremost its impossible to ignore, whether you like the new DCU 52 or not, the press they’ve gotten as a result of this re-launch has been impressive. Even someone like me, not horribly excited by the idea, has devoted seven columns to the subject over the past five months in the form of The Comics Project, this post and two others last June.  Not only has their coverage been impressive, but they really have seemed to try their best to get the word out via other media and to readers that don’t necessarily troll comics boards the way we do.  And that is a big deal.  I don’t know if much will come of it, but the effort has been considerable and sometimes you need those baby steps.

Of course, I didn’t see a lot of push in female focused markets – Jezebel would have been a great site to get some pieces on in order to tap into a bunch of smart ladies – but then again, DC admitted up front that they weren’t interested in that market, so I suppose it’s no surprise.  Disappointing though.  If you’re going to go for new readers, I don’t know why you’d ignore 50% of your potential field.  On the whole I’m pretty disappointed and frustrated by DC and the “New 52″ given how many issues there continue to be regarding diversity and sexism, and I’m sorry to say, quality comics in general.  I suppose given a lot of the content it’s no surprise that they didn’t go after women readers…it would have been silly to try given that at least four of them with big female roles are quite offensive.

In the end, twelve of these books have rated picking up a second issue for me and I think all of those so far have rated a third issue…so almost a third of what I read worked enough for me to keep spending money on them.  More importantly, I would say that though my pull list has become smaller than it was pre-relaunch, with the exception of Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics (which I was in love with) I am much more excited about some of these books than I have been about most of DC Comics in a long time.  And really, it’s hard to put a price on how much it’s worth to me to have a great Wonder Woman book every month.

My biggest disappointment of the relaunch is that a big percentage of the solo female titles that I would very much like to be reading – Catwoman, Voodoo, and Batgirl, as well as a team book I’d very much like to be reading – Suicide Squad – are among the most offensive to me in the bunch and thus ultimately are passes.  I don’t expect every book to be just exactly my cup of tea, but it’s disappointing nonetheless to have to sit on the sidelines for books I’d very much have liked to fall in love with.

My biggest happiness of the relaunch (other than the revelation that is Wonder Woman) is the marketing push that DC did outside of our small comics reading fan circles.  I wish they were interested in more readers that weren’t 18 – 32 year old white males, but you have to start somewhere I suppose.

For quick reference, here’s a rack up of the titles via rating:

Wonder Woman #1 – 5.0 Stars

Batman #1 – 4.5 Stars

Batwoman #1 – 4.5 Stars

Animal Man #1 – 4.0 Stars

Birds of Prey #1 – 4.0 Stars

Justice League Dark #1 – 4.0 Stars

Swamp Thing #1 – 4.0 Stars

The Flash # 1 – 4.0 Stars

I, Vampire #1 – 3.5 Stars

Aquaman #1 – 3.0 Stars

Batman & Robin #1 – 3.0 Stars

Blue Beetle #1 – 3.0 Stars

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 – 3.0 Stars

Green Lantern #1 – 3.0 Stars

Static Shock #1 – 3.0 Stars

Supergirl #1 – 3.0 Stars

All-Star Western #1 – 2.5 Stars

DC Comics Presents #1 – 2.5 Stars

Demon Knights #1 – 2.5 Stars

Justice League #1 – 2.5 Stars

Nightwing #1 – 2.5 Stars

Resurrection Man #1 – 2.5 Stars

Stormwatch #1 – 2.5 Stars

Deathstroke #1 – 2.0 Stars

Grifter #1 – 2.0 Stars

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 – 2.0 Stars

O.M.A.C. #1 – 2.0 Stars

The Savage Hawkman #1 – 2.0 Stars

Catwoman #1 – 1.0 Stars

Mister Terrific #1 – 1.0 Stars

Hawk & Dove #1 – 0.5 Stars

Red Hood & The Outlaws #1 – 0.5 Stars

Suicide Squad #1 – 0.5 Stars

Voodoo #1 – 0.5 Stars

35 Comments

[...] on over to She Has No Head! today for some (totally dated!) mini-reviews of all the books I read from DC’s “New [...]

Demon Knights #2 was a great book and better than the first; it’s got a bit more development of the characters and plays well as both action and comedy. (I quite like Vandal Savage played for laughs.) Worth at least a thumb-through.

Voodoo is black? I always thought she was cuban or hispanic. Doesn’t sway me one way or another anyways.

When she made her first appearance, she was a stripper. Correct me if I’m wrong, but after she joined the WildC.A.T.S. did she continue stripping? Then the progress of the book would be the same as when she made her first and subsequent appearances.

Seriously, the over-analyzation of the new 52 is getting ridiculous.

Maybe me being only half black helped me like Voodoo. And yeah, Blake, she continued stripping in some stories. Alan Moore had her stripping it in his Voodoo mini.

This is going to sound like a stupid complaint (and it probably is), but why not use a 10 point scoring-scale instead of a 5 point scale if you want to give half stars.

I agree that Birds of Prey was the biggest surprise. It was the one that I liked the best, even though I’ve never read BOP before. I like Black Canary’s new costume a lot. I think her old one looked a little ridiculous; it made no sense for Black Canary to dress like that. I like the new armored look much better.

I don’t know how much DC really wanted to get new readers. I think maybe they trying to get the people (like me) who occasionally read their trades to start buying monthly. Before the relaunch I was only reading Batgirl in trade. Last month I bought 5 of their books and will keep buying 2 of them in singles. That’s a win for them and a loss for my meager budget.

I definitely think you’re missing the boat on Superboy. I found this relaunch to have 8-10 Really Good books, and you read and agreed with me on all of them except Action and Superboy. The best way I can describe Lobdell on Superboy is that it doesn’t remotely feel like the same writer as Red Hood. The story is compelling and paced well, the art is clean, dynamic, and functions perfectly for the story, and Caitlin Fairchild and Rose Wilson are very well used and written female characters. If your comic shop isn’t sold out of Superboy #1, I strongly recommend it. It just beat out I, Vampire as my biggest surprise of the new 52.

I found we pretty much agreed on everything else, except I liked All-Star Western and Demon Knights better than you did.

The one disappointing thing about this column, though, was that I was really expecting some extended thoughts on Batgirl, and feel like that will standout as a missed opportunity with your readers.

So you are disappointed in Batgirl even though you haven’t read it? On what do you base your opinion?

@Thad: Maybe I’ll try another issue of Demon Knights, a few friends have said it was good/better and I like Cornell.

@Third Man: I’ll take a look for Superboy #1. I heard the second issue was very disappointing though…no?

@Marionette: I’m disappointed in Batgirl because i do not support Barbara Gordon being Batgirl again. I also intensely dislike Syaf’s art.

I agree with many of your reviews. However, I really liked Supergirl and Demon Knights and added them to my pull list.

Supergirl is slow in the beginning, but I believe it’s setting itself up to be a really fun series. The art is amazing even if the writing is sparse. For a female lead comic, this is what I’m looking for.

I was very wary about Demon Knights, and the first issue wasn’t great. But Vandal Savage is hilarious in the second issue and that sold me right away. Although it’s a large cast that I know nearly nothing about, I find it to be pretty fun.

Other than that, I think you were spot on.

Wow, the books I like, you’re “meh” to “bleh” about.

Still, it’d be a funny old world if we were all the same.

I’m disappointed in Batgirl because i do not support Barbara Gordon being Batgirl again.

I’m curious about the reasons for that. Is one of them because Batgirl is a derivative heroine, while Oracle wasn’t?

Also, on a somewhat-related topic: I saw after clicking one of your links that you’d reviewed AVENGERS #18. My reaction was dramatically different, for two reasons:

1) Bendis is repeating himself with the DNA angle: first, the Skrulls in SECRET INVASION, now Osborn, and he made his own DNA capture bit in NEW AVENGERS #17 superfluous.

2) Washington’s stilted dialogue aside, her attitude toward the heroes is irrational. If she thinks the heroes are evil people, what are the villains they fight? Recall that in NEW AVENGERS #16.1, the guards in the Raft were turned into cultists who regarded Osborn as a savior without any explanations. Writing people who are irrational, and will do various things because they are irrational is one of the easiest possible routes for a writer to take in producing a story, short of writing about someone having a dream. That’s why bad writers rely on idiot plots: having someone act stupidly to cause a problem is much, much easier than having intelligent people deal with intelligent adversaries.

SRS

I had been on the fence bout Resurrection Man, not sure if it was just an excuse to do grpahic violence on a regular basis. Is that what you found in the second issue, or was it more the T&A assassins sprawled across the cover?

The old Resurrection Man series was better, so far, and I’m hoping it will get better. The Body Doubles have always been played up for laughs.

Suicide Squad VASTLY improved with the second issue, but then, anyone who has read anything else Duane S (I’m not even gonna attempt that last name) has written knows his stories start out a little slow and obvious, but get light years better.

@sandwich eater: I mostly used the 5 star review system as that is what we use for CBR reviews.

@SRS: I didn’t read Secret Invasion, and I haven’t been reading New Avengers since Deodato came on as the artist. So both of those issue specific/arc specific complaints are lost on me. Sorry.

I don’t really feel I know enough about the Doctor character or her ultimate goals to make a decision yet on whether she works as a villain or not. Time will tell. I still enjoyed the book. For me it was nice writing, exceptional art, and some solid character work.

@Baltimore Tom: It was a little of both, but I suppose the unnecessary T&A was the dealbreaker.

@Tom: ? Duane S didn’t write Suicide Squad…he’s writing Birds of Prey (which I’m loving). Suicide Squad is Adam Glass.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1. This was a huge disappointment to me. I’ve always been intrigued by Legion of Super-Heroes, but they have always felt really intractably buried in continuity and confusion so I’ve stayed away. I was excited that this relaunch might be a perfect jumping on point for me. It was just as intractable as I feared. This was a straight up mess. It might have been a good comic book for a fan of the characters who knew what was going on, but for a new reader it was impossible to decipher or connect to.

So many people have said this that it must be true, but I honestly didn’t see the problem.

Stipulated that I am anything but a new reader, and also stipulated that it wasn’t the most exciting comic ever created.

But you really didn’t need to know anything going into this issue. So either:
- Levitz wrote a comic that convinced readers that they needed to know stuff they didn’t need to know, or
- new readers all over the world were simply not open to the idea that they could understand this comic book
or some combination of the two.

It didn’t read like a first issue to me; it read like a middle issue. I can certainly see why it didn’t capture people’s imaginations. But I can’t see why it failed as dramatically as it did.

Thanks — I’ve usually found I agree with your assessments. If I hear differently, I might give it a try — but I can’t afford to just try everything, so it sounds like a pass for now.

@Matthew E:

I explain my issues with Legion of Super-Heroes in more detail here if you’re so inclined:
http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=3941

” 2) Washington’s stilted dialogue aside, her attitude toward the heroes is irrational. If she thinks the heroes are evil people, what are the villains they fight? Recall that in NEW AVENGERS #16.1, the guards in the Raft were turned into cultists who regarded Osborn as a savior without any explanations. Writing people who are irrational, and will do various things because they are irrational is one of the easiest possible routes for a writer to take in producing a story, short of writing about someone having a dream. That’s why bad writers rely on idiot plots: having someone act stupidly to cause a problem is much, much easier than having intelligent people deal with intelligent adversaries. ”

For all Osborn’s faults (and he’s got many, many, many of them), he’s a charismatic figure who acts, rather than reacts. By contrast, the Avengers react, rather than act. People tend to be drawn to dynamic personalities, even if they’re corrupted ones. It’s how the Republican Party stays relevant, and Norman is the biggest neo-con in the Marvel Universe. It also compares the Avengers negatively to the Democratic Party, with Steve Rogers taking Obama’s impotent-in-practice role.

This is an oversimplification of the real-world politics, but it’s the principle on which the new Hammer operates; people want a hero who makes them feel safe (while remaining ignorant to that hero’s sins), instead of one who can’t deal with hard realities (despite those realities being, y’know, hard and real).

@Kelly Thompson:

I read it, both when you first put it up and again just now. I don’t have the comic in front of me, but I believe that a lot of the questions you raised were actually answered, or semi-kinda-answered, in the issue itself. So the question is, what is it about the comic that put people off putting that stuff together?

It was a lot of characters to take aboard all at once, there’s no question about that.

Basically I don’t know. Something didn’t work.

One of the things you said in your review was, “it became clear that the characters were already embroiled in some ongoing clearly not relaunched storyline that isn’t explained but is constantly alluded to”. But they’re not! There was a storyline that came to an end, yes, and the characters mention a few bits of fallout from it, but the storyline starting in this issue is all new. But you weren’t the only person convinced that it wasn’t. I think maybe Levitz and DC assumed that readers would trust that they had everything they needed in front of them, and didn’t do anything to meet them halfway on that assumption.

I… I bought them all.

1. Wonder Woman (A couple bonus points for being darn near a complete reinvention, and also horse punching. I’ve read a LOT of Wonder Woman stuff, and a lot of it’s kind of terrible. This made me really happy.)
2. Batman (I’m sooo not a Batman guy, but this was really well written.)
3. Superboy (As of # 2, my favorite book of the line.)
4. Static Shock
5. Justice League Dark (Alright, the art was kind of photoshoppy, but Mikel Janin seemed game to draw whatever crazy shit Milligan came up with.)
6. Action Comics (Not the best book. I don’t know anyone who said it was. Good, though.)
7. Animal Man (But # 2 is my favorite of any single relaunch issue I’ve read so far.)
8. Batwoman (Will probably be my favorite in trade.)
9. All Star Western
10. Blue Beetle
11. The Flash
12. Justice League (It’s basically a team-up book!)
13. Green Arrow (Really liked it. Really was not expecting to.)
14. Stormwatch
15. Green Lantern
16. Demon Knights (The more I think about it, the more I agree with Burgas. If the setting is just window dressing, what’s the point?)
17. Justice League International
18. Birds of Prey (Also much better than I thought it was gonna be.)
19. OMAC (PUNCHING! Also: More punching.)
20. Frankenstien
21. Teen Titans
22. Superrrrrrrrrgirrrrrrrlllllllllll
23. Nightwing (# 2 destroyed me, though. SO GOOD!)
24. Green Lantern: New Guardians
25. Batman and Robin
26. Mister Terrific
27. Catwoman
28. Suicide Squad
29. Red Hood and the Outlaws
(I didn’t hate any of these. I’ll just group ‘em together.)
30. Resurrection Man
31. Batgirl
32. Men of War
33. I, Vampire (I know it’s cool to hate on Twilight, and I really want to be cool. Twilight blows, and this was waaay too Twilighty for me. I liked the art, I suppose.)
34. The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men: And the Chamber of Secret: 2: Electric Boogaloo. (Kinda crappy in a way I can’t quite put my finger on, and way too much title.)
35. Swamp Thing (What you called “Exposition heavy” I called boring. There were five good pages at the end that should have been the beginning. And the beginning should have been replaced by something way awesomer.. Or just reprint the Anatomy Lesson.)
36. Blackhawks (Having the Blackhawks not flying planes and gaining superpowers? You’re contributing to cultural generification and should be ashamed.)
37. DC Universe Presents: Deadman
(I like Deadman, but this was the boringest comic that ever boredomed. It’s possible all this set-up will pay off and it’ll read really well in trade. I wish Sook coulda done the interiors.)
38. Aquaman
39. Hawk and Dove
40. Batwing
41. Grifter
42. Captain Atom
43. Superman
44. Legion Lost
45. The Savage Hawkman (I had absolutely no emotional reaction to 41, 42, 43 or 45 at all. They were placed in random order. Legion Lost is in their because how much I liked it and how much I hated it totalled up to “completely blase”)
46. Voodoo (Yeah, I agree with what you and everyone have said, but there were some NEAT storytelling tricks used here. Shame about the writing and the art.)
47. Red Lanterns (Bonus points for completely unworkable premise.)
48. Detective Comics
49. Green Lantern Corps (Like a completely average pre-reboot book, with the “viscera” dial up a little above average. It is to yawn.)
50. Deathstroke
51. Legion of Super-Heroes (I think I’ve read the first issue of all the Legion reboots. Any part of any of them were better than any part of this. Even the ads for bubble gum.)

Well I’ve read all 52 #1s (and all the #2s so far) and my general assessment is that nearly every book was average to poor. I didn’t buy any as I’m switching to trade but there were only a few I would even consider getting. The only standouts were Wonder Woman and to a lesser extent Batman and The Flash.

As a relatively new DC reader I found most of the books just painfully average or impenetrable (Legion of Superheroes, which is funny since I previously had read Waid’s run on the title). It seems to me that if you already loved the character (Res Man for me) then those books may be enjoyable (with some major exceptions like Cap, Catwoman, etc) but without a horse in the race I just couldn’t care about most of these characters.

I decided I would give every #1 I picked up at least a #2 so I still have about 20 books I’m giving a look. Nightwing is more of the same, Green Lantern #2 I think is a big improvement over #1 and Catwoman #2 is way way worse than #1, and I agree with you about #1. I’m upset anyone associated at DC got any money for that nonsense.

Steven R. Stahl

October 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm

@SRS: I didn’t read Secret Invasion, and I haven’t been reading New Avengers since Deodato came on as the artist. So both of those issue specific/arc specific complaints are lost on me. Sorry.

I’m afraid that if you don’t read all of Bendis’s Avengers stories, you can’t appreciate the extent to which he repeats himself. The scenario he’s setting up with Osborn is nearly identical to the one in SECRET INVASION: cultists blindly following a leader (the Skrull queen in SECRET INVASION) who promises them control over things and the powers that the heroes have. He had the Hood pursue artificial power sources (the Eye of Agamotto, the Norn Stones, and the Infinity Gems) in three consecutive storylines. There’s a total absence of original ideas in the stories.

SRS

@MarkAndrew: wait, you said you bought them all but your list only numbers 51!! what’s the 52nd book and where is it?! haha.

@ross: I don’t know why it’s missing…but I think the missing one is Batman: The Dark Knight.

I kinda liked OMAC even though (okay, maybe BECAUSE) it’s all smash and blast in a funny confusing situation, kinda like an old 1970′s Hulk comic or Godzilla movie. Also, it’s not like the big blue Batman viral OMACS of the past few years, which were getting really old. The original Kirby OMAC was a very weird comic and I hope that this one gets much weirder, though it would be nice to develop more of a speaking role for the main character!

I found the Wonder Woman story a bit confusing as to who is talking (I really wish someone would bring back thought balloons, they are part of the language of comics) and too decompressed as not much really happened, but I liked Diana in it.

Much as I loved Paul Cornell’s Knight And Squire, I can’t really get into either of his new books.

Suicide Squad was beyond stupid and I greatly resent slimming down and prettying up Waller (or Etta Candy in some WW runs) just because that’s what artists are used to drawing, apparently. Or the new, sluttier-looking Harley Quinn. Look at an artist’s crowd scenes to see how (or if) they draw regular non-costumed people. Similarly, the only thing I ever remotely liked about post-crisis Wonder Girl was that she was a skinny, non-busty kid, but within a few years of her introduction she was all tits and legs and pretty much impossible to tell from S-Girl besides costuming, depending on who’s drawing her.

I’m with Ganky! Thought balloons are great!!! Bendis used them really well in the first arc on Mighty Avengers, and I was sad to see that they didn’t make a major resurgence in superhero comics after that.

Kelly, I like reading reviews like this… ones that come from a very personal and subjective point of view. I get tired of reviews that try to attempt to be objective because then they start making generalizations about the readership, and lots of judgments come from an assumed collective POV that I can’t relate to. I’d much rather read something about your personal expectations and ensuing reading experience rather than someone grading the art and writing for me on an unidentified, unquantifiable ratings scale.

I agree with most of your reviews… except All-Star Western is a damn good book and Batgirl shoudl be judged based on its own merits rather than judging it on a character you liked that is no longer around.

Then there is Suicide Squad.

I love the whole concept of Suicide Squad… but this new comic is… icky.

My theory is that the old Suicide Squad worked because the idea of edgy was still fairly tame. Now if you did a SS book at the same level as the old one, it wouls seem no edgier than JLA or Avengers… so they push the envelope… right into incredibly bad taste.

I haven’t dropped it yet, simply because I hope it gets better.

@Rusty, I feel Suicide Squad worked because Ostrander really got you to care about the characters before the shit hit the fan. Also, it took it’s time to ease into the edginess thus giving us some time with the characters to get to know them. In the new version I see nothing but cardboared cut outs so really why should I care if they llive or die.

Interesting points and a good read. I like just about everything I’ve bought (29 titles). Legion Lost is the only #2 I didn’t pick up out of the original #1′s. My LCS sold out of everything so I didn’t get to try BOP #1 because it wasn’t on my pull list for the exact same reason that Kelly didn’t think she’d like it (No Gail Simone). I do have to say that I love OMAC but then again, I’m a Jack Kirby fan and I think that it channels Kirby nicely.

Just started collecting again after an absence of over a year, so 52 was a good opportunity for me to look at a variety of DC and see what I liked and wouldn’t go for.

BoP: Yep, still interested, still liking the title despite no Gail Simone. We’ll see if they can make me care about Katana, and I miss Babs as Oracle, but a good title. Keep.

LSH: Overall, interesting. I’m a big LSH junkie, though to the point of tracking down the stuff I missed during my personal hiatus. Knowing the characters and Levitz’s style makes it easier. Keep

Suicide Squad: Hate the “new” Wall. Sorta find the new Harley interesting, but the new costume is absurd. Interested in Deadshot like always, but that’s about it. I expect a SS issue to be dark, but this wasn’t good. Drop

Legion Lost: As a Legion guy I want to like this, but it’d better improve fast. So far this seems both pointless and a little lame. Keeping for now, will be dropping soon, I think. (and I love the Legion!)

Supergirl: Agree entirely with Kelly: far too decompressed. The reboot works for me, the confusion is good, the art is great…the pace is terrible. One more issue?

Teen Titans: This was pretty fun! I like the art, the plot looks ok and there are characters here I can like. Keep, I think.

GL Corps: I find Hal Jordan boring, and always enjoyed Guy Gardner in all his incarnations, so this was fun for me. Leaning towards it, in part because I want to see Guy & John teamed up for a while. Keep.

Outsiders: ignored it and feel like I missed nothing.

JLA: looks pretty, but does nothing for me. Not letting Lee/Williams art suck me in.

Sorry, wrote that comment after oral surgery, was still spacy. Adam Glass…what else has he done? I liked the 2nd issue of Suicide Squad, regardless, but after a while, this particular group will begin to grate.

Hi! I`m here only to tell you to at least give a quick look at the second Grifter issue. I thought the first one was terrible, so I didn`t plan on picking up the second. Since I’m enjoying very much “Who is Jake Ellis?” and I like stuff like “The Prisoner”, you know, when you don’t know what’s actually going on, but it’s ok not to know, I picked it up anyway, and found a much better written book than the first one.

I just read JLDark #2 and it’s REALLY hard to tell who’s saying what in the narration! Page one, girl on motorcycle apparently talking to herself, but apparently not, as it doesn’t quite seem to fit. Turns out the speaker is Xanadu, who only appears as a tiny headshot on the end of page 5, as the faded X in these purple captions is hard to read. Next page, Dove’s captions have a much darker big scripty D on all of them that’s so prominent that it looks like the first letter of every paragraph. In the bottom left of the center spread it really looks like she’s saying “Di try to imagine it.” And Constantine’s have a big C in his. At least it’s better than having the heroes’ logos on each, which really junks up a page, but thankfully these characters don’t all have logos! Maybe this is why it’s hard to have supporting casts of non-powered people these days?

Overall I’m still liking the book, though. Funny scenes with Deadman, whom I’ve never liked (Dove should stay mad at him), and it was good to see Constantine in the DCU again, getting his arse kicked as usual. By the exterior signs though, the artist seemingly drew the setting as London. Radeberger beer sign in a very English looking alehouse, and the Queen’s Hotel..

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