Andrew Reviews the DCnU!

Detective Comics Comics     I have a history of being a Marvel guy. I’ve never taken some hard stance in the imaginary war, but DC comics has never quite been my bag, other than the occasional exception.
But with DC’s recent decision to hit the big red “reset” button and relaunch EVERY series at #1, they’re clearly making a big push to try and get more people on board. So I might as well give it a shot, right?
I probably won’t read every one of the 52 first issues, but I’ll try and get as many as I can, and share my impressions in this blog. Just a quick impressions of the introductory issues. I’ll designate each issue as either:
HOT – A great book that I’ll definitely be continuing, represented by Fire’s positive attitude.
LUKEWARM – A little iffy, but I’ll give it a few issues to find it’s footing. Pro level apathy from Raven.
COLD – Not thank you sir. Captain Cold disapproves.
Let’s get started!

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Justice League #1
Writer: Geoff Jones
Artist: Jim Lee

The DCnU starts off with the debut of the new Justice League, though we don’t actually get to see the League in the first issue. #1 is primarily just a team up between Batman andGreen Lantern. While I’m the last person to generally complain about modern decompression in comics, I feel a little gypped not getting to see most of the team. Considering this is out big re-introduction to these characters, it feels like these 2 guys are the only ones that are being presented to sell it to us.

Beyond that, this first arc is a flashback tale, showing us how the team was formed, so the characters may not be the best representation of their current selves. Batman’s the snotty jerk he’s been for a while now, and GL is kind of a rube. I didn’t really like either of them. Offering a bigger spread of characters might provide more chances to connect with at least one member. More so, they also don’t do much to set up the major event that will bring these guys together, beyond the name“Darkseid” coming up.

This isn’t an awful comic by any stretch. It’s a decent enough character piece (albeit with sort of unlikeable characters), and Lee’s art is good enough (but it can be fairly cluttered feeling at times). Ultimately, it just comes up short for a book by DC’s top creators, meant to try and propel this universe into a new generation. Being “alright” isn’t quite good enough. It needed to be great. Here’s hoping the seasoned team behind it can pull it upward from here.

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Batgirl #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ardian Syaf

Of the revamped characters in DC’s new line, Batgirl was by far the most controversial. Original Batgirl Barbara Gordon, over 20 years since confined to a wheelchair after being shot in the spine by the Joker, could now walk once more, and was taking up her old mantle.

Surprisingly, the choice was not to undo her previous condition by way of continuity revamp, but her time without the use of her legs stands as cannon, and the story largely revolves around her readjusting to having her old life back. It’s an interesting story not often told.      The details of how she regained the ability to walk is so far unrevealed, but seeing Babs trying to start a new life for herself while never forgetting her previous one is very real angle.

As much as I respect the approach, the book doesn’t sell totally on it’s premise. The book’s voice is a little hard to place. The crime-fighting segments are fairly dark and a little brutal, not unlike other books in the Batman family, while sometimes coming directly after a more lighthearted moment (such as a motorcycle in an elevator) that’s more reminiscent of the previous series under this title. I not quite sure what the book wants to be yet.

The art doesn’t help much. It’s perfectly servicable, and in line with what seems to be the Batman standard, but doesn’t really grab me, or let me know how to feel about a lot of scenes. The title page is a big shot of Batgirl swinging along with a huge smile on her face, but the sky behind her paints a dark cloud full of foreboding lightning. What are you trying to tell me?

I’m willing to give Batgirl a chance, I just hope it figures out the mood it’s trying to convey, or at least plays with the dichotomy a bit better.

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Green Arrow #1
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Dan Jurgens

Aww man. Green Arrow is one of the few DC properties that I’ve been a big fan of in the past, and having not read the book in a few years, I was hoping that this would grab me. Not… uh…. not so much.

Ollie Queen has been aged down significantly, cast as a young genius whose company is the world’s leader in fake DCU tech toys, like the “Q-phone” and the “Q-pad”. He’s basically a young Steve Jobs as a superhero. But beyond his quiver of high-tech arrows and a 2-man support team back at his headquarters, I’m not sure what he’s all about. Other than a vague line about some tragedy in his past, they don’t give us much motivation for this energized young hero.

The issue reads pretty bland. There’s nothing bad, I guess, but it just doesn’t give anything to latch on to. The characters are just there to deliver lines, with no personality to speak of, and the action is all by the numbers. It’s biggest crime is just being totally forgettable.

Wait, no. It’s greatest crime is getting rid of Ollie’s beard. You don’t loose a beard that amazing. CRIME.

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Justice League International #1
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Aaron Lopresti

Now that is getting a team together! In contrast to it’s sister book, Justice League International gets the ball rolling right away, and uses that momentum. By the fifth page, we’re introduced to the basics of all the main characters, and most of them are fleshed out, and likable, by the end of the issue.

This fresh start for the JLI re-imagines it as a secondary League formed by and for the U.N. Security Council, to have a super-hero team at their disposal.With a roster of heroes from different countries like Russia, China, and Norway, the team is placed in the hands of the attention craving Booster Gold. An always enjoyable fan-favorite, Booster quickly finds himself in over his head dealing with the dueling egos on the team, and his own weaknesses as a leader. The rest of the team is made up of big personalities, like the hot tempered Green Lantern Guy Guardner, self-absorbed Brit Godiva, or goofy stereotype Russian, Rocket Red.

With a simple and succinct introduction, an interesting hook, simple yet great artwork and storytelling, a diverse cast to latch onto, and a great sense of fun, this turned out to be the Justice League book I was looking for. Fire can recommend her own book:

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Static Shock #1
Writers: Scott McDaniel/John Rozum
Artist: Scott McDaniel

Another book I was really hoping to like, since I liked the cartoon and have been waiting for DC to really take advantage of the character. Despite being a prime candidate for the full reboot treatment, Static instead starts with a new status quo, moved out of his hometown of Dakota, and now living in New York, interning at S.T.A.R. Labs. How and why he got there is another matter.

The issue doesn’t provide much of any quick rundown on the character’s basics, which is surprising for lesser known character, especially if they aren’t starting from square one. I’m not super clear on how or why the Hawkins family moved to New York. There’s some strange mention made about Virgil’s sisters, but they seem fine, so it’s a little confusing what problem they’re implying. If they wanted to create a mystery, they don’t do a great job of letting us know it’s supposed to be one.

Ultimately, the issue is just a little long-winded and more than a little confusing. I understand wanting to jump strait into the action, but for a book with this much exposition, I’m not sure what’s really going on. It lacks in real story where it counts. Here’s hoping it can turn around, but going by this issue, I’m not sure I’ll stick around to find out.

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Legion Lost #1
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Pete Woods

“Legion Lost” epitomizes a growing problem I’m having with these issues. Not that it isn’t good, but it feels like a good second issue.

First of all, I must say that this is some of my favorite art so far in the 52. Woods kills it. It’s a great style halfway between traditional action comic art and a Saturday morning flair. Nice and simple with loads of personality.

But back to my point. This is issue one, but at no point does the narrative give us an idea who or what the Legion of Super-HeroesARE, if you didn’t already know. Which is doubly weird as this was released before the main “Legion” title. And beyond that, we can figure out they’ve traveled back in time to catch a convict and prevent some manner of pathogen from being released, but I couldn’t tell you the origins of either.

Beyond these problems, I did really enjoy the book, and while I’m still not sure what the grander scheme of the series is, I feel like it’ll turn toward the better once it gets into it.

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Batwoman #1
Writers: J.H. Williams III/W. Haden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III

Look, the minute this came out, it went from“The New 52!” to being called “Batwoman and 51 other books!” This book, a follow-up to the character’s exploits in Detective Comicsa while back, has been in production for a while. Originally planned to be released earlier in the year, it was held off on and pushed back to be part of the 52.

As a gigantic fan of the previous run, I’ve been waiting forever for this book. It was worth the wait. Even without original writer Greg Rucka, it feels just as enjoyable as it did before. Williams’ art is amazing as ever, and it seems like he’s as capable a writer, with help from Blackman.

The continuing story of Kate Kane, former solider turned crime fighter is highly engaging and a visual feast. It’s also a more character-driven affair then most Bat-books. I could sit here all day typing words of praise, but you get the idea. You want to be reading this.

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Swamp Thing #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette

The return of the Swamp Thing has been built up for a while, and it’s final payoff seems to be worth the wait. Bizarre environmental phenomena are occurring around the world, and even Superman is at a loss, turning to the only man he thinks can solve the mystery, Dr. Alec Holland, former biologist, sort-of-former plant monster, and current construction worker. But Alec doesn’t seem interested in helping.

Swamp Thing has a pretty rich history, but the new series does a pretty great job setting up things for newbies. We know that Alec used to be… something strange, and he doesn’t intend to go back. But the bizarre past is coming back at him full steam.

The intriguing setup, fantastic art, and some truely spooky horror scenes plant a fantastic seed of curiosity to keep you coming back.

… I’m very sorry for those plant puns. I’m writing a lot of reviews here.

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Action Comics #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Rags Morales

I was a little skeptical of the big Supermanreboot at first. Action Comics is specifically going back and telling stories of a younger Supes, just a few months settles in Metropolis, wearing not a full costume, but a jeans and t-shirt look. Early info painted the picture of, and I quote, “A more cynical Superman for a more cynical time,”which didn’t sound particularly enjoyable to someone that appreciates a more sincere outlook form characters like this.

But I have to admit, they sold me. The younger, somewhat naive Superman, attempting to use his powers and reputation to stop white collar crime as much as he saves lives directly, is pretty fascinating. He clearly thinks he’s pretty bad-ass and on his way to fixing the world, but the narrative seems to be asking questions about those concepts than it is telling us about them, so it feels like it’s prime to set up a bigger character arc.

Morrison has a reputation of writing some pretty great Superman, and he keeps it up here, even in this new context. Morales’ art isn’t my own preference, but it’s definitely solid, and evocative of a certain Americana feel that sets the the mood of the book nicely.

And look, there’s this one part when Superman smashes a tank with a wrecking ball. COME ON.

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Detective Comics #1
Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Artist: Tony S. Daniel

The sister book to Action Comics isn’t quite as impressive, unfortunately. Besides the fact that this and “Batman” have flip-flopped creative teams, there hasn’t been much of a shake up on this front. Writer/artist Tony Daniel continues his Batman run with a dark, violentBatman vs. Joker story.

Have you read a Batman story at any point in your life? Then you can skip this. Batman is brooding and monologue-y, and the Joker is crazy and murderous. That’s about it. Beyond a kind of grisly cliffhanger, it reads like every Batman story ever written. I sort of forgot the whole thing when it was over. It just seems unnecessary.

Despite Daniel being both writer and artist, there’s some odd storytelling issues. The fight scenes are oddly paced, seeming to skip steps, making it somewhat confusing. Also, there’s this scene that’s paced and worded so oddly, it made half the internet think that they made Alfred a hologram construct. I don’t know how you do that. (I’m pretty sure he isn’t a hologram. I THINK. It’s weird that I’m still not sure is what I’m saying.)

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Mister Terrific #1
Writer: Eric Wallace
Artist: Gianluca Gugliotta

I didn’t have much of an idea what to expect out of Mister Terrific. I was hoping to like it, but that didn’t seem to pan out.

As opposed to many of these books, Terrific at least has the sense to give you a nice simple description of the character’s origin and setup, but does so in such a matter-of-fact way that it simultaneously lets you know everything and nothing about the hero. I can tell you about his dead wife and the fact he’s angry about that, but I can’t tell you I felt much for him. Which is a shame, because I like the character’s whole concept and vibe.

Maybe it all could have been saved by a strong supporting cast. But that’s maybe the biggest failing. There’s 3 supporting characters. 2 of them show up in the last scene, and while they were referenced earlier in the issue, I have no idea who they are ot how the relate to Terrificat all, which seems crazy. The third is Karen Star, formerly (Still? Will-be-again-later?) Power Girl. She’s not, maybe, a superhero at the moment, but I guess she’s having casual sex with Terrific? So there’s that? I don’t know.

The point is the book was dull and a little confusing. Also, was it just me or did it have almost the exact same opening as Static Shock? Weird.

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Deathstroke #1
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Joe Bennett

Alright, so in spite of myself, I found myself kind of enjoying Deathstroke. It’s not the kind of thing I’m really down with, normally. The super bad-ass who does bad-ass things and everyone stands around and calls him a bad-ass.

But for what it is, it’s fun enough. Superstar mercenary Slade Wilson finds himself on an imposable mission that leads him to some mysterious people that seem to be screwing him around, which he intends to put a stop to. If you’re into the sort of dark, bloody action it’s selling, you should have a good time with it. The twist ending reveals the book has a dark sense of humor about itself I was afraid it might not have.

I’m giving it the middle of the road grade, but larely because I’m not into it personally. Again, if it sounds like your bag, give it a shot.

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Batman And Robin #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

Though it is a returning title, Batman And Robin has a somewhat new feeling to it. It stars Bruce Wayne and his son Damian, the current Robin, as opposed to it’s previous volume, which stared Dick Grayson as Batman alongside Damian.

The Bat-Dad/Bat-Son angle is certainly a fresh take, and it’s a decent book all around, my personal love/hate relationship with Batman notwithstanding. (It’s a little bit melodramatic at times. Bruce’s broody monologue skills have not dulled over the years.) Beyond the interesting premise, it doesn’t do much to keep me around though. There’s a setup for a new villain, but it’s so far detached from the A-story.

I’m sounding a little negative, but it’s mostly just apathy. It takes a lot to get me into a Batman book, because I’m the opposite of everyone else in the world. It’s really a fine book, if you like Batman. Whatever. (I should stop writing these at 1:30 AM. Oh well.)

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Supergirl #1
Writer: Michael Green/Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar

A pleasant surprise! Supergirl starts right at the beginning, with Kara’s pod landing on earth, and her waking up to the strange vistas of Russia. Also robots. Those turn out to be alarming.

The issue is just a single scene of Kara’s immediate confrontation with earth forces upon waking up, and the decompression is kind of refreshing. So many of these books have been so concerned with getting off and running too fast, and have stumbled for it. Supergirl is a nice simple story that let’s us connect to the character enough to come back and see what the grander story will be.

The biggest draw is most likely the art. I don’t know that I’ve seen much, or any, of Asrar’s art before now, but the man draws comicswell. Quite well. Great expression and emotion. A joy to look at!

Now if we could just do something about the lower half of her costume…

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Blue Beetle #1
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Ig Guara

As far as full-on reboots of characters go, I’m not quite sure why Jaime Reyes, the modern version of the Blue Beetle, was on the chop block. The character has only been around since 2006, and his previous (canceled) series only ran 36 issues, the collections of with are still in print.

THAT SAID, the revamped version of the character is off to a solid start. The creative team obviously doesn’t seem to want to fix what ain’t broken, as the character, as well as his supporting cast, villains, and basic concept are exactly the same.

While the original book was one of my favorite superhero books of the last decade, and making whiny comparisons would be easy, taking it on it’s own merits, the new Blue Beetle is a solid start. It’s fun superhero action with a great cast and plenty of potential. As long as they don’t spend too much retreading the ground of their predecessors and find some fun new ideas to play with, it seems like a good bet.

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Wonder Woman #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

Well, alright then! I’ve attempted to get myself interested in Wonder Woman on and off for a while now, but it’s never quite stuck. I think we have a winner here though! Azzarello and Chiang deliver an amazing first impression, steeping itself in the Greek mythology aspect, which is a big draw for me.

Finding herself protecting a woman with a mysterious connection to the gods, Wonder Woman herself doesn’t feel like she says all that much, but her actions tell you all you need to know. Speak softly and carry a big stick. She’s written as pure regal confidence, and drawn as a massively imposing force. She’s pretty cool.

I haven’t been using images in these reviews, but this one panel pretty much sums up my feelings on the book:

It’s not even that she’s headbutting the centaur, it’s the fact she does it so precisely, you can tell she’s done it many times before. It’sold hat.

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Batman #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

God, this is already the third Batman book I’ve reviewed? Yeesh. Luckily, it’s also the best one! Snyder (who used to write Detective Comics, now he writes the other one!), gives us easily the best setup issue of the bunch. In the opening scene, Batman has a gigantic brawl with nearly his entire rogues gallery. Then, throughout the issue, we get introduced to a supporting cast of 9 or 10 characters, while never feeling rushed or lost.

It pushes all the best Bat-buttons while never feeling cliched or trying to hard. It’s got all the dark, crazy, Batman fun you could want, and if you’re into the Dark Knight from the movies or cartoons, it seems like a great issue to ease you into the comic’s world.

I don’t know when the last time I read a Batman book was, but I think I’m gonna stay with this one for a while. That should say something!

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Animal Man #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman

(Note: This was a week one book, but it was sold out, so I’m just now getting to it.)

And as such! I’d heard all the hype around this book, and they were dead on! Animal Manhas a history of some pretty lofty material under it’s belt (notably, the Grant Morrison run of the late 80’s), so writer Jeff Lemire had quite a bit to live up to. He’s not trying to hit the same notes, but seem to be playing on the same album. I should not try metaphors.

The book starts off pretty lighthearted, with Buddy Baker dealing with his family and odd professional life, the character’s signature aspect, but as the book moves along, the darkness creeps in. Once you get into Buddy’s dream sequence at the end, you find that it’s, in fact,horrifying. The fact that this is largely a horror story hits you like a brick, and if you’re into that sort of thing, should hook you pretty hard.

I wasn’t quite sure about Foreman’s art at first, but his subtle change in style as the issue becomes darker and darker in tone is pretty impressive. By the end, he really feels like a great match for the subject matter.

Final note: Great book, but how has Animal Man’s kid not got a haircut since 1990? A mullet? Really?

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Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela

The Legion has a maybe overblown reputation of being extremely confusing and cluttered with a staggering amount of characters. I’ve felt like that’s a bad rap it didn’t fully deserve. It’s fairly straightforward. A bunch of super-heroes in the far flung future. It’s Teen Titans meets Star Trek. Easy!

This issue, however, seems like they really wanted to make sure they validated all those rumors. It’s about as far as you can get from being a “number one” issue. Picking up pretty much where they left off before the reboot, they don’t do much of anything to offer an introduction. We get a lot of scenes featuring some new members, but even that viewpoint doesn’t ease you into anything. There’s 20+ members in the issue, and many of them don’t even get a name boxes.

And to offer a personal nitpick: They let the two new members act as bait specifically because the public doesn’t know they are members. But both of those members have HUGE legion belt buckles on. Nobody sees those? Nonsense!

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Men of War
Writer: Ivan Bradon/Jonathan Vankin
Artist: Tom Derenick/Phil Winslade

Hoo-rah! This is a book about soldiers and war and things I’m not usually interested in. So that’s not a strong start is it? Men of War is something of an anthology-esque book. The main feature follows soldier Joe Rock (grandson of legendary WWII character Sgt. Rock) and his squad as they find themselves as the normal soldiers in extra-normal situations. Army men in a world of superheroes has a neat hook, but I can’t bring myself to be interested. The characters are your normal stock army types, and the art fails to catch my eye.

The backup feature about a pair of Navy Seals doesn’t offer much either. If you’re into Call of Duty or such materials, maybe you’ll get a kick out of editor’s notes telling you what H.V.T. stands for, but not me! Maybe if it had been more weird-war, G.I. Robot or Haunted Tank type stuff.

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All-Star Western #1
Writer: Justin Grey/Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Moritat

The other themed anthology book, (or it will be as of issue 2, having backup tales of other DC western heroes) is All-Star Western. The main feature being the travels of DC’s signature wild west “hero”, Jonah Hex.

I’ve read enough of Grey and Palmiotti’s previous Hex title to know they’d keep up the quality regardless of name change, and I was right. Finding himself in 1880’s Gotham City. Hex is on the trail of a Jack the Ripper type killer, teaming up with eventual asylum founderAmadeus Arkham.

It’s a great start to the mystery, and the pairing of the two characters works great. The cerebral Arkham’s diary telling the story and presenting the doctor’s attempts at evaluating the scarred gunslinger he’s been thrust together with. A fabulous setup that promises to deliver a great, unique western/mystery story.

Moritat’s art is fantastic, but special note should also go to colourist Gabriel Bautista’s amazing work. The washed out palette speaks volume for the setting and mood, without making the art seem unwelcomely old-fashioned.

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Blackhawks #1
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Graham Nolan/Ken Lashley

Like “Men of War”, Blackhawks is another World War 2 based property reinterpreted in modern day. The modern Hawks are a super-secret, live-in-a-mountainside type black ops group of special agents, tasked with taking down the most dangerous threats to humanity.

I didn’t really know what to expect out of this one, but was surprised to find a crazy, G.I. Joe styled action romp. It’s simple, popcorn comic. Not amazing, but inoffensive, and fun for what it is.

By the issue’s end, we get two different twists that set up what we can assume will be the fist bits of story. And, while interesting bits of business, I fell like they both come at us a little soon in the series. Not that we don’t get introduced to everything decently, but it feels like they had enough to work with that we didn’t need to rush into mixing it up. Oh well.

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Batman: The Dark Knight #1
Writer: David Finch/Paul Jenkins
Artist: David Finch

Oh God guys, I’m reading another Batmanbook. My brain is shutting down. I really don’t want to be super negitive, but after 3 other Bat-books, the fourth, not surprisingly, doesn’t have much to offer. Batman spins overblown narration on top of stock plot points.

No, really. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but this feels like it’s just the same plot as “Batman” #1, but in reverse, and not as interesting. In “Batman”, Bats stops a riot at Arkham, and then goes to a fundraiser. In “Dark Knight”, he goes to a fundraiser and THEN stops a riot at Arkham. TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

But really, this might be okay. It’s just redugdant. Seems like it’s more of an editorial issue, allowing these books to coexist if they don’t have anything different to say.

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Aquaman #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis

If you’ve been around the internet, or…. I don’t know, life I guess, you may have heard some jokes about Aquman being kind of a sucky superhero. For the record, these accusations are unfounded. There’s really nothing wrong with Aquaman, other than that he isn’t Batman, which is really what I feel is people’s problem.

However unfounded, the constant jokes have clearly gotten to Aquaman, and his new creative team. As great a team of creators as Johns and Reis are, they spend almost the entire first issue trying to convince you that Aquaman is super cool in a somewhat backwards fashion. The whole issue is normal people rolling up on Aquaman and asking him why he sucks so bad, to which he replies with a glare.

I get the meta take they’re doing, addressing the reputation head on, but when you have the people of the DC Universe acting the way we do, it breaks the reality for me. I don’t care if the guy talks to fish or not, he’s basically a living god among men who’s helped saved the world numerous times, and people just walk up and tell him he’s lame? He’s carrying a huge trident for God’s sake!

While I feel like it’s a really weird and self-defeating angle to come at the first issue from, the creators have a solid track record, so it should get better from here. As long as they move on from telling us how he doesn’t suck, and prove it instead.

Or they just change it to the Aquaman from the “Batman: Brave and the Bold” cartoon. No argument there. Coolest guy ever.


Baller.

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Teen Titans #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Brett Booth

Of all the new books, I was dreading this the most. Teen Titans is my personal favorite DC title, and a combination of continuity rebooting and less than appealing art got me pretty worried. But it sort of turned out okay. It’s not a good book at all, but I had built it up in my head like it was going to give me cancer. So that’s… good?

Anyway, the book. A mysterious group called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is hunting teenage superheroes, and Red Robin (Tim Drake) starts to gather together some of his peers to fight against them. So essentially, it’s the plot of Gen13 with the cast of Young Justice. Yay?

The plot, while not bad, has been done before, and with few of the characters that make me love the title, and art that feels like it feel out of the early nineties in the worst way. It’s not awful, but just unappealing in the ways that steer me far away.

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Justice League Dark #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin

The third JL team is a pretty far departure from the other two. Justice League Darkseeks to gather together a team of DC’s more magical beings, many recently recovered from Vertigo. And we aren’t talking about whimsical, unicorns and sugar magic here. This is dark, sexy, drug magik. Magik with a hard k.

Following some freaky business seemingly caused by the mystical villain The Enchantress, several desperate magically inclined heroes make moves that will presumably bring them together as some loose sort of “team”. Among them, the magicianZatanna, who appears to be a member of the JL proper, who’s off on her own to handle the magical threat, and several loners like Deadman, Shade, and a PG-13 version of John Constantine. Clearly, a bunch of weirdos that’ll be fun to watch get together and probably hate each other.

If trippy magic nonsense and some seriously deranged individuals, it’s probably worth a look. And hey! Another JL books that introduces all the members in some fashion in the first issue. Madness!

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The Flash #1
Writer: Francis Manapul/Brian Buccellato
Artist: Francis Manapul/Brian Buccellato

Is The Flash the best book of the new 52? I won’t say, because I’m indecisive, but it’s sure as hell up there.

As one of many [/i]”artist now also writing the book as well”[/i] situations in the new DC, it was questionable if previous series artist Manapul could pull off the writing as well. But stepping up to the task, Manapul and his co-writer/colourist Buccellato step up to the plate and deliver an immensely satisfying superhero adventure title.

From the opening scene where Flash has a completely sweet transformation sequence (Side note: I don’t know what his suit is made out of now, but really, who cares?) followed by the beautiful 2-page, Eisner-esque title card/fight scene, and throughout the issue, it’s a sight to behold. Even if the scripting isn’t as tight as you might be used to, the storytelling is so solid it’s an amazing example of giving the artist free reign.

The panel layouts, the evocative colours, and the light, cheery line work are a joy. And the story is a fun, all-ages read that many other book from DC at the moment have failed to capitalize on. It’s simple comic book fun, and I mean that as the highest compliment. If you want a book to hand any kid, this is the one.

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Superman
Writer: George Pérez
Artist: George Pérez/Jesús Merino

Yet another artist-becomes-writer, industry art legend George Pérez now also writes the modern adventures of Superman. Despite being an artist writing for himself, Pérez seems strangely reluctant to let the art tell the story, with a truckload of narration making the issue feel somewhat congested. Maybe not all too suprising, as it read somewhat like an older style book like the ones Pérez drew for so many years.

With the Daily Planet sold to a major conglomerate, we find out normal cast split up, with Lois Lane (no longer married to Clark post-reboot) working as the EP on the TV news division, Jimmy seeming to work primarily on the web side, with only Clark left burning the torch at the paper. While the setup is interesting, Clark’s hollier-than-thou attitude about it is pretty contrived.

All in all, it’s an alright issue, bogged down by over-compression in the storytelling. But it’s greatest issue is perhaps the fact that Superman himself is something of a background element to the story. Despite all the narration, he’s somewhat out of character, and not terribly compelling. Nothing to write home about, but here’s hoping it can get better.

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