Saturday, September 24, 2011

DCnU Month One Review, part one

I was going to write a week by week review about my thoughts about the DC Relaunch, however, things have been hectic on the home front. My wife has a baby due with days of this writing and about two weeks ago, I was evacuated from my house for three days due to a pending flood.

This has given me time to split the review up in two blog posts and have an added feature: additional commentary from my brother, Tony. Tony is a comic book fan, but nowhere near to the extreme as I. No website research, no message board skewing, no nothing. He is reading a majority of these books for the first time and clean. His views are slightly edited by me for language and grammar only, as he just left random Post-It notes on the books as he returned them to me.

Now, I did not read all 26 new number ones released in the first two weeks, I only read eleven, which I feel is a pretty good sampling. All books listed below were on my initial pull list, except one, which was a maybe book. Also, since most of these books have been out for a bit, I will still try and keep the spoilers to a minimum. What stays for next month, what get's dropped, keep reading!

ACTION COMICS #1: It's Grant Morrison on Superman, with an origin story, kinda. Superman is taking down slum lords and corrupt business men, Clark works at a competing newspaper from Lois & Jimmy and Lex is helping the government try and take down Superman. There is enough in here for me to come back, with lots of nods to the history we already know. Good enough for me on issue two.
Tony's View: The 'Smallville' reference was lame. Want to see where it's going but Supes & Lex's new designs stink.

ANIMAL MAN #1: This is one that I flip flopped on for MONTHS before the actual relaunch. It was the preview pages on DC's blog that sold me on picking it up and I'm glad I did. Jeff Lemire does a great job with Buddy in both the super heroics and family stuff, Travel Foreman's art is beautiful and the ending is an awesome hook. A keeper!
Tony's View: AWESOME! Great story and art. Never thought I'd care about Animal Man

BATGIRL #1: One of the more controversial pre-relaunch books. Now, in the wake of such books as Catwoman and Red Hood & the Outlaws, the heat has died off this book. I for one am torn that Barbara is back as Batgirl, less for the loss of Oracle, but more of how awesome Stephanie Brown was as Batgirl. Nonetheless, this is Gail Simone writing, which I will check out regardless. I enjoy the new status quo and her mixing it up with a villain who is fixing mistakes of people who should have died (ala the Final Destination movies) will prove interesting.
Tony's View: Good story and explanation of Barbara's injury. Like idea of having roommate and secret identity stuff.

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1: JLI is one of my favorite runs of any comic in the history of the world. The Giffen/DeMatties penned stories are an all American classic. This relaunch, starring Booster Gold written by Dan Jurgens, who has been writing Booster for some time, so this should be great, right? It wasn't. There is not enough depth to the characters provided in the first issue, there is no real good reason for Batman to be on the team and it just left me with no real reason to care. The first casualty.
Tony's View: Just don't care. I wish Ted Kord was back with this reboot nonsense.

SWAMP THING #1: Scott Snyder is quick becoming one of my favorite writers and the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing is another classic. This goes back to Swampy and Alec Holland being separate entities and Yanick Paquette's art is killer. He even makes the new Superman armor look cool. Almost the best so far.
Tony's View: Really good. Great take on story of character and brings up questions you want to see answered.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #1: The almost perfect relaunch book. Batman & Green Lantern were the only two characters who didn't get shaken up too much in the relaunch. This is the Peter Tomasi/Patrick Gleason Bat book we were supposed to get months ago and it works. I liked the previous dynamic between Dick and Damien as more than Bruce and Damien, but this is a perfect "one and done" book with a nice hook at the end. Not perfect, but really good.
Tony's View: A little let down, not sure what I was expecting. Too much "I'm your father" and not enough "I'm Batman!"

BATWOMAN #1: My history with this book is storied in my own mind. Originally supposed to debut in "Summer 2010", then moved to "November 2010", then early 2011 and now finally, it arrives. Is it worth the wait? Well, the art is beautiful, but the story...the main issue is while part of the new 52, if you didn't read at the very least the zero issue published almost a year ago, you could be a bit lost. Still waiting to see how things pan out, but could be on thin ice.
Tony's View: Hated it! Don't know or car about the lead and the art makes her look like a goth vampire wanna be albino. Why does this book exist?

DEATHSTROKE #1: A maybe book, sold out at my shop, but was able to get a copy. The art was very nice and the initial premise was straightforward enough to hold my interest, let's see what Tony says:
Tony's View: Awesome! Never saw that ending coming. Would have liked a relationship with the Teen Titans. Or Ravager.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE #1: More from Jeff Lemire, spinning out of his Flashpoint mini series. There are literally 100 different things happening, all of them quirky and intriguing. Definitely worth keeping.
Tony's View: Interesting. New. Jaunty. Unorthodox. In short, I'm intrigued.

GREEN LANTERN #1: Essentially issue 68 of Geoff Johns' run on the book, with little change from the prior path the book was on. GL was one of my favorite books and Sinestro in the lead adds a whole new wrinkle that I love. But will this be difficult for someone who hasn't read the last six plus years of Johns' run on the book?
Tony's View: Might be the best of the New 52 books. If you saw that horrible Green Lantern movie and picked this up, you would know everything you needed to know. Quick story, great character descriptions.

RESURRECTION MAN #1: I dug the original Abnett & Lanning series from the 90's and was surprised to see this be one of the books chosen in the relaunch. While there is a complete story in this first issue with a good cliffhanger, but familiarity with the prior run makes the book much more enjoyable.
Tony's View: Saw the preview of this in other books and thought it looked like crap. Very surprised! Reads like a Dean Koontz novel. So many questions about him and his powers I want to know the answers too.

So after two weeks, we've lost one book (JLI) and Deathstroke has been added to the pull
list. One of the books I missed from week one, Men of War, may get a second look this weekend. Let me know what books you checked out and what ones you are looking forward to.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DCnU - First Impressions

So here it is. The moment of truth for DC Comics. This past Wednesday was the launch of their newly revamped universe. The goal of which is to get more people buying comics and keeping them doing so.

I can't talk about Justice League #1 without talking about Flashpoint #5 first, the last chapter of the miniseries that was supposed to kick start the new DCU.

As you may know from prior blog entries, I'm am an unabashed DC apologist. I will defend the most widely regarded poor decisions with a "wait and see" attitude. But I really didn't like the Flashpoint miniseries as a whole. In that it, to me, it failed to tell an interesting story well and cleaarly link to the new universe. There is a good story in there, but at five issues, it felt padded. A reviewer on Comics Beat summed it up best in saying if you read issues #1 and #5, you lose absolutely nothing from the main story. That's a problem.

I'm going to limit spoilers but Flashpoint has some good character moments for Barry and Bruce (especially at the very end). It all wraps up with Barry, in trying to right the wrongs of the Flashpoint universe, joining the DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm universes. They were separated to keep them weak from an unknown pending threat. That's Flashpoint #5 in a nutshell.

Now, onto Justice League #1. The online community seems to be split on this, but for me, I can sum it up in one word: FUN. Which is what the majority of team comic books should be: FUN! I want to see what happens next. If you have never read these books or characters in print before, I feel this was a great primer for new fans. The problem is a larger number of people reading this book are people who have been comic fans for YEARS and are coming in very jaded.

Let me know what you thought if you read Justice League #1. And if you haven't, why not? You don't even need to leave your house to get it with DC's new day and date digital offerings.

Next week, I will try to have my thoughts on Action Comics #1, Animal Man #1, Batgirl #1, Justice League International #1 and Swamp Thing #1.