Friday, October 7, 2011

DC Comics: A Rebirth Part I

DC Comics: The New 52

As you have probably heard, a few months ago DC Comics made the decision to cancel all of their books and reboot the entire DC Universe. They did so by releasing 52 #1 issues of their entire line, which included their most popular books, some old favorites and a number of brand new titles. To be completely honest I have had mixed feelings about this decision and my views have changed considerably the past few weeks. But instead of debating the merits of a companywide reboot (why waste our time considering it’s happening whether we like it or not), I decided to embrace the change whole heartedly. Therefore, I made the somewhat ridiculous decision to pre-order all 52 #1 issues of DC's "New 52".

Well, the huge box of comics showed up at my front door step on Wednesday and I am going to attempt to read all 52 comics by Sunday. This way I can decide which books I want to keep reading since a few issue #2s were already released this week. Since so many of you have already read these comics I’ve decided to write up very brief reviews and grade each comic to give you a little insight as to how I chose which books to continue to read. Hope you enjoy!

Justice League Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Justice League #1 – This was by far the biggest disappointment of all the books I’ve read so far. Justice League is supposed to be DC’s flagship book with the company’s marquee creative team but this book was a complete dud! Literally nothing happened and they only introduced 2 characters (3 if you count a pre-Cyborg Vic Stone). This was not the best way to launch a much maligned companywide reboot. While I’d like to keep reading, this book seems to have been made for trade paperbacks. Grade: D-

Justice League International Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Justice League International #1 – This was the one book I was looking forward to the most. JLI has always been one of my favorite comics and Booster Gold is my favorite character (although I hate his new costume), so you know I was going to love this book no matter how bad it was. Again, not much happened in this issue, but it did a great job introducing the book’s large cast and explaining the formation of the Justice League International. Will definitely keep reading this book if for no other reason than I’m a fanboy. Grade: B+

Stormwatch Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Stormwatch #1 – Another book I was really looking forward to. I love that DC has completely integrated the Wildstorm universe and is keeping the Authority pretty much intact as a rebooted Stormwatch, especially since that’s how the was first formed. Throw in another favorite character of mine, the Martian Manhunter, and you’ve got a great read by Paul Cornell that really seems to be going somewhere. It’s just too bad the art sucked! Will definitely keep reading this one. Grade: Story A; Art C-

Action Comics Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Action Comics #1 – The Blot had high hopes for this one based on the creative team of Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. I haven’t read a Superman book in years but was intrigued by Morrison’s reboot of such an iconic character with a storied and rich history. So far so good…this story set 5 years in the past was interesting and so is Morrison’s take on Superman. Not sure I’d stick with this book long term, but I will definitely give it a second issue. Grade: A-

Animal Man Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Animal Man #1 – Buddy Baker is one of those C-list characters I always love reading. I’ve especially enjoyed his last few years of space adventures with Adam Strange and Starfire stemming from their storyline in 52. It was cool to see Animal Man’s newfound popularity and the push DC Comics has since given this new series. While not a traditional superhero book, this was definitely my favorite of the 10 “New 52” books I’ve ready so far. In my opinion Jeff Lemire is one of DC’s top writers and I am so glad the company finally merged the Vertigo universe with the main DCU. Not only did it bring back some really wonderful characters to the proper DC universe, but it gave some of DC’s top writing talent a bigger stage to shine on. Will definitely continue reading. Grade: A+

Aquaman Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Aquaman #1 – My biggest surprise from the “New 52” was how much I enjoyed Aquaman! I typically really enjoy Geoff Johns work and you can see his passion for the character in the story he’s crafted. I know Johns is a polarizing writing (you either love him or hate him), but I’m glad to see Arthur Curry finally get his due after so many horrible relaunches and reboots. Not sure I’ll be reading this long term, but will probably pick up issue #2. Grade: B+

All-Star Western Issue #1 Cover Artwork

All-Star Western #1 – Western comics are really not my thing, but how can you not love Jonah Hex!?! He really is such a complex character when written correctly and the team of Gray and Palmotti definitely know what they’re doing with this old school bounty hunter. I think this book might even have a shot at a long run with its setting now in Gotham and its many ties to Gotham’s future. While I enjoyed issue #1, I won’t be continuing with the book. If the book continues to receive rave reviews I might pick it up as a trade later on down the road. Grade: B

Blackhawks Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Blackhawks #1 – While I did not have huge expectations for Blackhawks, I was somewhat disappointed in the story. I’ve fallen in love with Mike Costa’s work on G.I. Joe: Cobra for IDW, and was hoping to really like Blackhawks. I think part of the problem was the fact that these are all new characters and I was hoping this series would tie into Blackhawk history more so than in name only. The cliffhanger also did not leave me wanting to find out what happens next. Will not continue reading. Grade: C

The Flash Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Flash #1 – Flash was one of the first comics I ever started reading consistently and have done so for most of my life (that’s over 20 years if you’re counting). I am a hardcore Wally West fan, and why DC Comics would choose to abandon Wally in favor of Barry Allen escapes me. This is a shortsighted decision made by met out of touch with their fan base. For most comic book readers Wally West is the only Flash they’ve ever known, and for most non-comic book readers who DC Comics is hoping to gain as readers with this reboot Wally West is their Flash (i.e. his inclusion in the Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice cartoons). To me this was a very short sighted decision that did not work prior to the reboot and it’s not going to work now. I hate Barry Allen as the DCU’s primary Flash and I hate the new costume. Will not be reading this book again. Grade: B

Demon Knights Issue #1 Cover Artwork

Demon Knights #1 – I don’t know why, but I was really looking forward to this comic. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Paul Cornell’s work, and so far I have to say it’s all true. I’m also a sucker for books set in the DC Universe’s past featuring their most famous mystical and immortal characters. It’s literally a who’s who of ancient characters, which I think is neat. Every page is chock full of Easter eggs for long time DC readers. I also have to commend Cornell for his decision to not have The Demon rhyme when he speaks. I am sure it was hard to ignore one of the character’s most iconic characteristics, but I can’t imagine reading this book every month with non¬stop rhymes. Will definitely continue reading this book. Grade: A-

Next up...the Batman books!
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