When I heard about the new 52 and dcbservice.com had all #1 and #2 issues bundled for only $80, I had to get them. I was really excited to rip into them and read them all. I have now read all 104 first two issues of DC’s new 52 and have done quick reviews for all of them. Which ones did I love? Which ones did I hate? How does my feeling about the book match up to yours?
BATGIRL #1 by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes – Cover by Adam Hughes
Barbara Gordon is back in action as Batgirl. Having regained the use of her legs, she’s trying to live a nice, normal life which includes moving in with a roommate. But when she puts one the costume she can’t shake the fear – she can’t forget the bullet that took her legs from her for three long years.
GOOD: Barbara Gordon as Batgirl written by Gail Simone who has done more Barbara stories than anyone else. A new, deadly villain, The Mirror is introduced.
BAD: The roommate is expectedly eccentric and unexpectedly annoying. The scene with Barbara and her father seemed forced. It might have been a better scene if her father went with her to the new place and helped her move a few boxes while trading glances (Jim giving her an “Is she serious?” and Barbara shrugging). Then, of course, he has to go to work so Barbara’s batcycle is safe from discovery
BATGIRL #2 by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes – Cover by Adam Hughes
Batgirl clashes with Mirror, trying to stop him before he kills again.
GOOD: Gail Simone does a great job digging into Barbara’s fears and regrets while moving the story forward. It’s a great story.
BAD: Mirror’s origin doesn’t make much sense given that a tragedy causes him to create tragedies for others.
VERDICT: The roommate actually grew on me in the second issue. If I based my opinion on #1, I probably wouldn’t be back for #2 but judging the title by #1 and #2, I’m going to be back for #3.
BATMAN #1 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion
Batman puts down a jail break at Arkham with Nightwing’s help then rushes off so Bruce Wayne can give the Gotham elite his vision of Gotham’s future. But Batman’s day takes a turn for the worse when the evidence of a murder points to Dick Grayson.
GOOD: The best of the Batman titles, this book gives us Batman, Bruce Wayne, Robin, and two former Robins (now Red Robin and Nightwing). The book has great writing and artwork. Having Dick disguised as the Joker to catch a corrupt Arkham guard was clever.
BATMAN #2 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion
Batman quickly rules out Dick Grayson as a suspect. Then Bruce Wayne has to keep the Court of Owls from claiming its next victim: himself.
GOOD: The guardians of Wayne Tower adds a great layer of mythology to the Wayne Family as it suggests that the Waynes have always tried to protect the people of Gotham.
VERDICT: Great story and great art. Batman himself couldn’t keep me away from #3.
BATMAN AND ROBIN #1 by Peter Tomasi, Pat Gleason, and Mick Gray
Immediately we are introduced to Batman Inc’s Moscow affiliate who is quickly killed by a new villain who is sporting the bat logo and who knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. Most of our time is spent listening to Bruce and Damian bicker but we get a lot of back story. Dick, Jason, and Tim were Robins previously and Batman’s ‘No killing’ policy is intact.
GOOD: Instead of going to crime alley on the anniversary of his parent’s death (the worst day of their lives), Bruce has decided to honor their on their wedding anniversary (the happiest day of their lives). Bruce wants to let go of dwelling on their deaths and celebrate the people they were when they were alive.
BAD: Batman & Robin bickering. I didn’t like Damian a whole lot before that that’s not likely to change.
BATMAN AND ROBIN #2 by Peter Tomasi, Pat Gleason, and Mick Gray
Damian was raised an assassin and Bruce and Alfred worry that their mentorship might not be enough to reform him.
GOOD: It’s a great examination of Bruce & Alfred’s feelings about Damian. Morgan seems like a genuine threat to Bruce.
BAD: This should have been issue #1. It was a better introduction to the dynamic between Bruce and Damian.
VERDICT: It’s an okay title but I’m not a Damian fan and I’m not really impressed by the story. I might get #3 but I feel like that’s unlikely.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1 by David Finch, Paul Jenkins, and Richard Friend
Life is hectic - Batman’s rogues are breaking out of Arkham and a detective is investigating Bruce Wayne’s illicit funding of Batman’s activities. Batman’s juggling a lot including a new and improved Two-Face.
GOOD: Jaina Hudson – a new love interest? Batman goes into Arkham with police backup who shoot at inmates – old DCU Batman would have gone in alone or treated the cops like amateurs.
BAD: On the way to fundraiser, Batman changes into Bruce, stows his Bat-Gear in a duffle bag but when he gets there, he doesn’t have the bag. Where did it go? What is the starting price of a batarang on eBay for the lucky finder?
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #2 by David Finch, Paul Jenkins, and Richard Friend
Gotham is trying to deal with an Arkham Asylum jail break where all the escapees have been injected with a drug that has made them all super strong and removed all of their fear.
GOOD: Bone-crunching action. There’s a nice moment with Batman & Commissioner Gordon. Nice quick check-in on the rest of the Bat-cast fighting for their lives against various villains.
BAD: I’m still not sure how this fits in with Detective Comics’ Joker story. And Damian shows fear? Note to Batman editor: Damian doesn’t stammer and suggest to Nightwing that they need backup. EVER. Instead, Damian should glare and tell Nightwing, “I tried it your way, now I go for the eyes.” Damian is a trained assassin – fear is a foreign feeling to him. As editor you should read Batman and Robin #1 & #2 for reference.
VERDICT: With all the great Bat-titles out there, I don’t think I’ll be back for #3. The first two issues were good but not great.
BATWING #1 by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver
David Zamvimbi is a police officer in Africa by day but prowls the night as Batwing. In a corrupt system he might be the only honest person left, but he as 2 things going for him: 1) his dedication to the law and 2) crime-fighting equipment from Batman himself. And he’s going to need both to survive.
GOOD: Batwing is obviously trusted by Batman. In the old DCU – no matter what was going on, Batman was always in charge. When Batman and Batwing find Massacre’s handiwork, Batman doesn’t take charge. Instead, he asks, “How do you want to proceed, Batwing?” And when one of the dead victims turns out to be one of Africa’s original super heroes, the mystery gets more intriguing. This is a great new character.
BAD: Nothing yet.
BATWING #2 by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver
He was unable to keep Massacre from killing 23 of his fellow officers and running him through with a machete…and Batwing is pissed off.
GOOD: Massacre is a truly threatening engine of death. The story is fantastic. This is how you establish a new character with a strong motivation, threatening villain, and an interesting supporting cast.
BAD: Why is Massacre going after former members of a superhero team The Kingdom? I know it’s a part of the mystery but with this buildup, the reason better be compelling.
VERDICT: I’ll be back for #3 because Batwing tells Massacre at the end of #2, “I’m going to beat you until you can’t stand up.” How can I miss that?
BATWOMAN #1 by J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder
Kids are being kidnapped and killed and the evidence points to an urban myth. Lucky for Gotham, Batwoman is on the case. Unfortunately for her, Black Mask is in charge of the DEO and has assigned Agent Chase to find out who she is under the mask.
GOOD: There’s a nice moment where Kate Kane is looking at Detective Montoya’s photo and the panel is black & white except Montoya’s photo. I do remember Kate & Montoya dated in 52 or Countdown (I can’t remember which). And there’s a cameo of Batman.
BAD: I wasn’t that familiar with Batwoman and the breakneck introduction to her and her supporting cast was incredibly confusing. I don’t know Flamebird either but she was a Titan? When? Are she and Batwoman related? And as for Batwoman’s father and the ton of back story we get in a two page span which made me say out loud, “What the hell is going on?”
BATWOMAN #2 by J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder
Batwoman is trying to solve the Weeping Woman case while beginning a relationship with the detective in charge of the case.
GOOD: The beginning has a fight where every hit is boxed and in that box you see an x-ray of something like fist on ribcage or elbow on wrist.
BAD: I still have no idea who the Colonel is in relation to Flamebird or what Flamebird’s relation (besides sidekick) to Batwoman is. The art might be great for a coming but it’s going to be a pain to read in TPB (where a word bubble in the center of the page will get lost). And the budding relationship isn’t very interesting.
VERDICT: It’s hard to read and I don’t like the characters. I’ll pass on #3.
BIRDS OF PREY #1 by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz
Black Canary is wanted for murder but still fighting crime. She’s trying to recruit a team and so far she’s only got Starling – but a meeting with Barbara Gordon puts her on track to add Katana.
GOOD: It’s nice to see the sisterly love the Birds shared is still there and, despite being wanted for murder, Barbara believes in her innocence.
BAD: Who is Starling? Does she have powers and how did she end up on the Birds?
BIRDS OF PREY #2 by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz
The reporter the Birds were trying to protect is dead. Canary and Starling are getting to the bottom of it with their new teammate, Katana.
GOOD: The second issue is better than the first and Katana’s introduction, while quirky, isn’t offputting. And Starling is growing on me.
BAD: I know Barbara Gordon is Batgirl again but I miss Oracle. And I’m not liking Poison Ivy’s new look.
VERDICT: Though the title only has one core member from the old title and a complete different feel – it’s going to be well worth picking up #3.
CATWOMAN #1 by Judd Winick and Guillem March
Selina Kyle flees from thugs invading her apartment before it’s firebombed. Staying in a ‘borrowed’ penthouse apartment, she runs into the one person who can find her – the world’s greatest detective – Batman. And they have sex!
GOOD: I didn’t read much Catwoman so I don’t know if Lola and Renald are new characters but both are interesting. Catwoman has always been a wild character but Winick gives her an anchor with Lola, the start of an interesting backstory with Renald, and a complicated relationship with Batman. I liked the Alias-style undercover disguise and her ability to speak Russian.
BAD: Another 30 days for #2.
CATWOMAN #2 by Judd Winick and Guillem March
Catwoman sets two Russian clans against each other but her victory is short-lived as she returns home to find Lola dead and Bone ambushes her.
GOOD: The fun-loving Catwoman has never been this much fun to read.
BAD: Lola didn’t last long.
VERDICT: I’ll try a few more issues to see if it stays this good.
DETECTIVE COMICS #1 by Tony Daniel
It’s Batman vs Joker for the 1st time in the new DC Universe.
GOOD: Tony Daniel is a good artist and writer. There’s a nice horror twist at the end of the 1st issue with Dollmaker. Some things never change – the bat signal, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred are here to welcome me back to the Bat-universe. And the Joker is actually dangerous enough to stab Batman a few times.
BAD: Nothing so far.
DETECTIVE COMICS #2 by Tony Daniel
The Dollmaker and his family are making an impact. First they cut off Joker’s face – now it’s Gordon’s turn.
GOOD: Holy cow! Tony Daniel is a double threat as writer and artist. And he’s good at mixing in horror to Batman’s world and he’s not afraid to hurt the main cast in permanent ways (if you don’t believe me, look at the last page of this book).
BAD: No way. I say something bad and Tony Daniel will send Dollmaker after me.
VERDICT: I’m in. I have to read the rest of this arc.
NIGHTWING #1 by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows
After donning Batman’s cowl for awhile, Dick Grayson is back to being Nightwing. A new villain is gunning for Dick Grayson – not Nightwing.
GOOD: New villain is deadly, mysterious, and cool looking. Great scene when Dick visits his old friends whose circus has come to Gotham.
BAD: I was hoping Dick subbing for Bruce was going to be erased in this new universe because I didn’t like the storyline.
NIGHTWING #2 by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows
Mr. Haly, the owner of Haly’s Circus, is dying and gives Dick complete ownership of the circus and all its assets. And when Saiko’s search for Dick Grayson leads him to Mr. Haly, he learns about Dick’s life as Nightwing and, even as Nightwing comes to the rescue, Mr. Haley pays the ultimate price.
GOOD: Dick inherits the circus he loved and hooks up with a girl he grew up with while he was there.
VERDICT: I’m not a Nightwing fan but this book is really good. I’ll see how this arc ends before deciding to continue.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1 by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort
Red Hood and Starfire break Roy Harper out of a foreign prison and then enjoy a lot of R&R. But when the members of the All Caste are killed, Jason heads to the Himalayas to investigate and avenge them.
GOOD: I like the idea of Jason & Roy – two former sidekicks with dark periods in their past – teaming up. I like Jason, Roy, and Starfire’s new looks.
BAD: I hat this take on Starfire as an alien with a long memory for what she’s been through but a short memory of who her friends are. Seriously – when Roy asks about Dick Grayson, despite the fact she dated him, she has no idea who he is. At best, this version of Starfire is disrespectful – at worst it is misogynistic. And while I mostly enjoy Kenneth Rocafort’s arte, the breakout scene with its jarring panels was distracting and annoying. Sometimes I didn’t know what he was drawing.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #2 by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort
Jason returns to the ‘Hundred Acres of All’ to find ‘The All Caste,’ his teachers and mentors have been killed and become animated corpses.
GOOD: We get to see some more of Jason & Roy’s personality. The ‘All Caste’ adds a layer of backstory to Jason that doesn’t involve Batman.
VERDICT: I’m either going to love or hate this title. For now, I’ll pick up issue #3.
DC UNIVERSE TITLES
AQUAMAN #1 by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado
Aquaman is a joke. From late night comics to Saturday Night Live skits, he gets no respect. But Aquaman and Mera have decided to live above water in Boston. That’s a good thing because, love him or laugh at him, the city’s going to need him when a race of creatures from the depths of the ocean discover that humans are tasty.
GOOD: Great reintroduction to the character with a story that has normal people saying things to him that fanboys have said forever. Geoff Johns uses the fan’s apathy and disrespect for Aquaman to his advantage by addressing it while also reestablishing him as the A-list hero DC wants him to be. This is a great story with enough flashbacks to his history to give you a better understanding of the character without bogging him down in backstory. The artwork when Aquaman & Mera are talking while waves break is incredible – easily the best drawn, inked, and colored pages I’ve seen in a while. I hate Aquaman and even I’m thinking I might try this title for a few more issues. Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis are magic.
BAD: I don’t know if I like him traveling via super-powered jumping. I’d prefer it if he could fly.
AQUAMAN #2 by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado
Aquaman and Mera are settling into living out of the water but it’s not long before they’re drawn into a battle with sea monsters.
GOOD: I like everything about this book.
VERDICT: Geoff Johns does a great job capitalizing on all the misconceptions about Aquaman while giving readers a grounded, noble pair of heroes. I didn’t think it was possible but…I’m an Aquaman fan!
BLUE BEETLE #1 by Tony Bedard and Ig Guara – Cover by Tyler Kirkham and Sal Regla
Jamie is a high school kid who has just been bonded to an alien super-weapon.
GOOD: Fantastic reintroduction to Jamie, Paco, and Brenda. I loved this title in the old DCU and look forward to it in the new DCU.
BAD: I don’t know why they were standing there covering their privates in the beginning of the book. What am I missing?
BLUE BEETLE #2 by Tony Bedard and Ig Guara – Cover by Tyler Kirkham and Sal Regla
Jamie’s first adventure in the armor is scary and confusing but he manages to beat down the super villains, save Paco, and keep the armor from killing anyone.
GOOD: The cast of the original is back and while I feel like some of it is treading on familiar ground, I have to keep in mind that the original wasn’t very old and the story was already fantastic and so is this one.
VERDICT: Sign me up for #3.
CAPTAIN ATOM #1 by JT Krul and Freddie Williams III – Cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
Captain Atom is surprised when he takes down a guy in robot armor by turning the metal into dust and his hand begins to dissipate. The experts say using his powers could kill him but he has to deal with a nuclear reactor breach and a volcano that’s sprung up in New York.
GOOD: I can’t think of anything.
BAD: The new look is weird, Captain Atom has no personality, he has a boring supporting cast, the story is boring, and the art is lousy.
CAPTAIN ATOM #2 by JT Krul and Freddie Williams III – Cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
Captain Atom saves New York from a volcano then eradicates a tumor from a young patient.
GOOD: Captain Atom eradicating a tumor was a clever use of the character and his powers.
BAD: It’s boring.
VERDICT: No more for me.
DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1 by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang – Cover by Ryan Sook
Introducing Boston Brand! After a lifetime of being a selfish jerk, he’s made to atone in the afterlife. But as his “assignments” get more vague, he reaches out to the one person who can answer his questions.
GOOD: Deadman was always pretty boring but Paul Jenkins does a good job making me care about and root for this character while giving me some ‘Quantum Leap’-like action.
BAD: “Lizzie Carpenter, who was afraid of the next thing she would create.” What? Why? That’s interesting! Tell me more – but that’s all we get.
DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #2 by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang – Cover by Ryan Sook
Deadman finds himself in a club full of things that go bump in the night – and they can see him.
VERDICT: You couldn’t pay me to suffer through #3.
DEATHSTROKE #1 by Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett and Art Thibert – Cover by Simon Bisley
Deathstroke is killing targets and the competition. Employers think he’s lost his edge so Slade is going to turn it up and prove he’s the world’s deadliest mercenary.
GOOD: Cool new costume (the only one made him look like a circus performer).
BAD: It’s boring.
DEATHSTROKE #2 by Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett and Art Thibert – Cover by Simon Bisley
Deathstroke scores favorable reputation points by killing a lot of people on live TV.
GOOD: Great action scenes.
BAD: It’s a solo title with Deathstroke. And it’s boring.
VERDICT: I won’t be back for #3.
GREEN ARROW #1 by JT Krul, Dan Jurgens, and George Perez – Cover by Dave Wilkins
Oliver Queen is running a company and fighting crime. Unfortunately for Ollie, a group of super-villains, known for taping their crimes for the internet, has their sights set on him.
GOOD: A younger Ollie whose costume is Smallville-esque. He has interesting new villains and supporting characters. This Ollie is focused on being a hero and isn’t abrasive like his original DCU counterpart. I’ve been a Green Arrow reader since Kevin Smith brought him back to life and I’m okay with this new take.
BAD: George Perez as inker? The art is great but surely there are better uses of his talent (see Superman #1).
GREEN ARROW #2 by JT Krul, Dan Jurgens, and George Perez – Cover by Dave Wilkins
When a group of villains film themselves killing someone, Green Arrow goes after them, completely aware that it’s a trap and that he’ll be outnumbered.
GOOD: Great classic superhero action with modern themes. The idea of villains putting their exploits on the internet isn’t new and the art takes me back to the 90’s but those two things are really entertaining and engaging in this title.
BAD: I can’t think of anything.
VERDICT: Great reboot – I’ll be back for #3.
GRIFTER #1 by Nathan Edmondson, CAFU and Jason Gorder
Cole Cash is a grafter until the day aliens kidnap him and he wakes up 17 days later before the aliens can finish their work. The alien experiments have left Cole with the ability to hear their thoughts. Now, with the US military and the aliens looking for him, Cole Cash becomes The Grifter.
GOOD: Grifter is one of my favorite characters. I already can’t wait for him to team up with other heroes in the new DCU including his old teammate and current stranger, Voodoo.
BAD: The story suggests Cole is a good grafter but doesn’t really establish how good he might be by example. I was a huge fan of his original origin with Team 7 and I would have enjoyed seeing a Cole Cash whose back story included Backlash and Deathblow (they might still do it, they didn’t say where he picked up his skills).
GRIFTER #2 by Nathan Edmondson, CAFU and Jason Gorder
It’s brother VS brother as Max is put on Cole’s trail. With his brother and Daemonites after him, how long can Cole run?
GOOD: High octane action in the Wacky Wildstory Way (I just made that up)!
BAD: For an alien race that’s remained hidden, they’ve revealed themselves twice in full view of people and cameras (in #1 on the plane and #2 the cop in the diner uses upper-strength, calls Cole a “human” and glows blue).
VERDICT: I love The Grifter – he’s one of my favorite characters and the story’s pretty good but after two issues it’s hard to regard the Daemonites as threatening. I’m on the fence as to whether to get #3.
HAWK AND DOVE #1 by Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld
Hawk & Dove. The Avatar of War & the Avatar of Peace. The duo foil a science terrorist’s plot while we learn about their origin.
GOOD: Interesting story and origin. I collected Brightest Day which is really the only experience I’ve had with Hawk & Dove.
BAD: The pair has been together for a few years when the story opens and Hawk complains about everything Dove does. Hopefully it’s just a one issue bitch session because he misses his brother, the original Dove. Now that Deadman is undead again, the relationship with Dove is just creepy. And shouldn’t Liefeld be working on Image United #4. Image United #3 took 8 months to come out – is #4 going to take that long? Is a six issue mini series really going to take 3 years to tell? I hope DC has another artist lined up – no one should have to wait 8 months for Hawk & Dove #3.
HAWK AND DOVE #2 by Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld
Condor has found a murderous partner in Swan. Their first order of business: kill Hawk & Dove.
GOOD: Much better than #1 – the banter between Hawk & Dove is more business-like and friendly.
BAD: Dove and Deadman fighting. It’s weird enough he’s still dating her while being a ghost but Dove treats him like he isn’t a fellow hero who could help out (of course this issue might have happened after Justice League Dark #2).
VERDICT: It’s pretty good but I’m just not that into it. I’ll pass on #3.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams
NOTE: I reviewed this book in back in September.
Batman meets Green Lantern and the pair team up to investigate an alien device which leads them to…Superman!
GOOD: Geoff Johns does a great job with the characters. We’re about to get Cyborg’s origin story – I don’t even know what his origin was so I’m excited to see it. I love Green Lantern’s constructs. This Green Lantern doesn’t hit you with a block or make a bubble shield; he hits you with a fire truck and shields you with large riot police holding shields. It’s awesome.
Bad: Nothing (now that I’ve read all of the first two issues).
JUSTICE LEAGUE #2 by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams
Batman and Green Lantern’s investigation into an alien artifact leads them to Superman but he’s more powerful than they can handle so Green Lantern calls in The Flash.
GOOD: Exciting first team up and getting to see them get to know each other is awesome.
BAD: When Green Lantern calls Flash in the middle of the fight, urgently asking for help, Flash hesitates and they talk while Green Lantern and Batman take a pounding from Superman when he could have been there in less than a second to help them.
VERDICT: I’m addicted. I’ll be back for #3 and beyond.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1 by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin
June Moone is in trouble. Demons are appearing to her, dozens of her magical doppelgangers are dying while trying to cross a busy freeway and the evidence points to Enchantress who Batman believes has gone insane. When Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg take a crack at her and fail – The Dark Justice League will have to assemble to save the day. Unfortunately, Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, Deadman, Shade, and John Constantine aren’t a team yet.
GOOD: I like Zatanna (though I didn’t like her solo series) and I’m not real familiar with the rest of the cast. I know a little about Deadman because of the Brightest Day series. The story did a pretty good job letting me know a little bit about each character (except Constantine) and making me care about them.
BAD: Constantine’s intro could have been better handled – maybe even pushed back to #2 – since he literally appears out of nowhere without explanation. Also the JLA getting attacked by teeth was weird – I’d have preferred demons or something like that.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #2 by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin
While Zatanna and Constantine do their thing, June reaches Deadman for help.
GOOD: It’s gutsy for Peter Milligan to do something radically different with Deadman and Dove’s relationship.
BAD: I’m still not sure what Zatanna or Constantine are doing or why Zatanna sees a street covered in vines but it looks normal to everyone else. And I thought Madame Xanadu was one of the good guys but it doesn’t look that way now.
VERDICT: I like Zatanna and the fresh take on Deadman and Dove. I’m on the fence because I still don’t really know what’s going on with the story or how the pieces fit together.
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1 by Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti, and Matt Ryan
It’s Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, Vixen, Rocket Red, August General in Iron, and Godiva led by…Booster Gold? And Batman himself says to give Booster chance? The United Nations as taken the Hall of Justice and assembled their own team, but to what end? Batman wants to know.
GOOD: Batman is actually friendly and not harshly judging everyone and everything – I’m glad we’ve reversed all that ‘grim-&-gritty-dark-hero’ crap and given him a personality again. Hopefully we’ll get to see Guy/Ice stories. Surprisingly, Booster makes a good leader (or not surprisingly since this is a new universe).
BAD: Max Lord isn’t the guy assembling the team. Max was extremely compelling as the guy who formed the team, betrayed them, and became their main villain. And, since this is a new universe, why not have Ted Kord back on the team? Is two Blue Beetles in the DCU too many?
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #2 by Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti, and Matt Ryan
When the JLI’s first mission sets them against an unbeatable foe, Booster Gold does the only thing that makes sense: retreat.
GOOD: This issue does a great job showing how these heroes come together despite the fact they have little to nothing in common. I like that they’ve already teased a Guy/Ice romance and I’m intrigued by the possible Booster Gold/Godiva relationship too.
BAD: The Hall of Justice destroyed? I understand the purpose of the relaunch is to do away with convention and introduce new, fresh ideas. So far the Daily Planet and the Hall of Justice have been demolished. I can’t wait to see what a new Hall of Justice will look like.
VERDICT: This is a team book at its best. I’ll be back for #3.
LEGION LOST #1 by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods
A team of Legionnaires travels back through time to stop someone from their own time from releasing a pathogen that kills humans. The mission goes sideways when the Legion’s timesphere explodes and strands them on earth in the past. With a villain who is spreading a pathogen and no way to get back to their own time, the team has two questions: 1) “Are we infected?” and 2) “What do we do now?”
GOOD: I became a big Legion when Mark Waid wrote the title. It’s a great team and a great story.
BAD: Why does Alastor want to kill everyone?
LEGION LOST #2 by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods
Alastor’s virus has claimed its first victim and turned Dr. Scanlon into an energy-based being like Wildfire.
GOOD: I like the way the action is balanced with the team’s sense of isolation. I like how these characters interact.
VERDICT: A great new take on the Legion where they are trapped in the past trying to deal with a virus they couldn’t keep from being released. The premise could get old but for now I’m in for #3.
LEGION OF SUPERHEROES #1 by Paul Levitz and Francis Portela
It’s the Legion doing what they do best – protecting the galaxy.
GOOD: Thanks to the events in Legion Lost, the rest of the team has to cope with the loss of that team. I’m a Legion fan and liked seeing all the team members (especially Dawnstar who I haven’t seen in action for years).
BAD: There is SO MUCH going on that it’s hard to keep track of it.
LEGION OF SUPERHEROES #2 by Paul Levitz and Francis Portela – Cover by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story
Daxamites versus the Legion.
GOOD: It’s the Legion!
BAD: It’s still a little busy with pockets of characters doing different things.
VERDICT: I like the Legion and I know it might take a few issues to get the flow but I’m sticking to it. Issue #3 – here I come.
MISTER TERRIFIC #1 by Eric Wallace, Gianluca Gugliotta, and Wayne Faucher – Cover by JG Jones
Mister Terrific is the 3rd smartest person in the world. He’s a successful and respected businessman and superhero. But a mental attack leaves him violent and that’s only the beginning of his problem with new villain, Brainstorm.
GOOD: In the original DCU, I considered Mr. Terrific boring. I read Justice Society but I didn’t really care about that character. In this book he’s a fully formed character who has an interesting origin, life, and supporting cast.
BAD: I didn’t get the exchange between Karen and Aleeka or Karen’s reaction at the end of the exchange. In the absence of inflection, I need clear dialogue.
MISTER TERRIFIC #2 by Eric Wallace, Gianluca Gugliotta, and Wayne Faucher – Cover by JG Jones
Mister Terrific finds a way to fight off Brainstorm’s attack. But when Mister Terrific confronts Brainstorm, he turns an entire mall full of people against him.
GOOD: Mister Terrific is good in his own title. I like the way the character’s life is set up.
BAD: The weird way 2 different girls are throwing themselves at him and I don’t know if he’s oblivious but he doesn’t seem to like one more than the other.
VERDICT: An interesting character who is definitely poised to be a major player in this new DCU but the title isn’t interesting enough for me to stick with it. I might get an issue from time to time depending on who he’s teamed up with.
OMAC #1 by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen
Kevin Kho has been recruited by Brother Eye to be OMAC – and his first mission is to get access to Cadmus’s underground mainframe. How will Kevin handle being OMAC and what does Brother Eye want?
GOOD: Dan DiDio isn’t a bad writer. This is an entertaining story and Kieth Giffen does a great job making the art as Kirby-esque as possible.
BAD: Nothing so far – it’s fun to see a Jack Kirby creation reintroduced with all the weird villains.
OMAC #2 by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen
Kevin Kho is having trouble accepting that he’s been turned into OMAC and that he’s little more than a slave to Brother Eye. When Kevin finds himself in the midst of a battle between the police and Amazing Man – he needs Brother Eye to change him into OMAC.
GOOD: Great Kirby-esque art.
BAD: The story was boring and didn’t reveal much. OMAC does something to Amazing Man to stop the battle but what was that?
VERDICT: Even the intro to Max Lord can’t bring me back for #3. I’m not really rooting for Kevin and there aren’t any likable or relatable characters.
STATIC SHOCK #1 by Scott McDaniel, John Rozum, and Jonathan Glapion
Static is new to New York City but not to being a hero. Hardware is his mentor and he’s going to need the help against the super-powered Slate Gang.
GOOD: Fantastic reintroduction into the new DCU and a great use for two cornerstones of the old Milestone line – Static and Hardware. And in the opening fight with Sunspot, Static is Spider-Man funny.
BAD: Five of the Slate Gang remind me of Power Rangers when you first see them.
STATIC SHOCK #2 by Scott McDaniel, John Rozum, and Andy Owens – Cover by Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi
Virule manages to sever Static’s arm but he’s stunned when the arm seems to heal immediately. Instead of taking a breather, Static takes on Virule and the Slater Gang.
GOOD: We find out his sister has a clone so no one knows which is the real sister because neither will admit to being the clone.
BAD: His powers aren’t clearly defined.
VERDICT: It’s an interesting character but the story is hit-and-miss. I won’t be back for #3.
STORMWATCH #1 by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda
Stormwatch has been protecting our world from alien threats for hundreds of years and they are in desperate need of Apollo, one of the most powerful superhumans on the planet, to help save the world but they have two problems: Apollo doesn’t wanna and he’s just joined Midnighters’ quest to kill every evil bastard on the planet.
GOOD: Martian Manhunter serving on both the JLA and Stormwatch reaffirms that Stormwatch exists in the new DCU.
BAD: Some of the powers aren’t explained very well or at all and we don’t get much of an intro on anyone because multiple teams are doing different things. The weird adventures aren’t exciting, they’re just weird.
STORMWATCH #2 by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda
Can the team recruit Apollo and Midnighter in time to fight…the moon?
GOOD: It’s not your typical suiperher book.
BAD: It’s way out there. It’s hard to take the situations or characters seriously when, with the exception of Martian Manhunter, I don’t know them well enough to care.
VERDICT: This title isn’t for me.
SUICIDE SQUAD #1 by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio, and Ransom Getty – Cover by Ryan Benjamin
Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Black Spider, Voltaic, and King Shark have passed their initiation and their first mission is to kill a stadium full of people.
GOOD: The story was intense and violent – everything you’d want in a book centered around villains. Great flashbacks with Batman & Black Canary. A great story and introduction.
BAD: Nothing yet.
SUICIDE SQUAD #2 by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio, and Ransom Getty – Cover by Ryan Benjamin
The Suicide Squad is dropped into a stadium full of techno-zombies to retrieve a package and one member isn’t coming back.
GOOD: Deadshot is as ruthless as ever and Harley’s as crazy as ever.
BAD: The rest of the team is boring.
VERDICT: It’s not my kind of title and it’s boring. I’ll pass on #3
TEEN TITANS #1 by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund
NOWHERE is snatching super-powered teens. Red Robin escapes their attempt to grab him and sets out to recruit others who are also targets staring with Wonder Girl.
GOOD: Great reintroduction to Kid Flash, Red Robin, and Wonder Girl. While Bart is the same old Bart and Tim is a little more confident, Cassie seems to have gotten a new origin/personality. I can’t wait to see Superboy join the team. Finally a title worthy of Brett Booth’s amazing artwork.
BAD: For someone trained by Batman, Tim’s a little bit sloppy - the bad guys get into his penthouse and he’s not wearing his mask (he didn’t see them coming AND they know his secret identity?).
TEEN TITANS #2 by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund
Now that Red Robin’s certain that NOWHERE isn’t pursuing Wonder Girl, he sets his sites on Skitter. Skitter is a new metahuman who isn’t adjusting well to her situation. Meanwhile, Kid Flash breaks out of his cell and discovers something disturbing.
GOOD: The scenes with Time and Cassie getting to know each other were great. I like that the team is forming and that some members haven’t met each other yet.
VERDICT: I’ve been complaining that, despite the relaunch, most heroes seem to know each other already – so how great is it to have these characters meeting for the first time and bonding before our eyes? I’ll definitely be back for a long time to watch this team form, bond, and become family.
THE FLASH #1 by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
When an old friend of The Flash’s dies while committing a robbery, he discovers that it is a clone – and that there are a lot of his clones running around. What is going on and where is his real friend?
GOOD: No origin – just straight to the story (the origin is summed up on the introduction page). Barry Allen is the main character and his life as The Flash is second.
BAD: When he vibrates through the street and into the sewer, there’s no explanation to a new reader that lets them know he can vibrate through solid objects.
THE FLASH #2 by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Flash sets out to get to the bottom of a cloning project that has made many copies of his friend. And he’s learning about augmented cognition which is allowing him to see things a few moments before they happen.
GOOD: Making Barry single leaves him open to date anyone. The opening action sequence ends with Flash saying, “I don’t ask twice,” which was kick ass.
BAD: Sometimes I don’t know what’s going on – on one page he’s hearing about augmented cognition and on the next page he’s doing it.
VERDICT: It’s okay. Without threatening the Flash with real villains or putting anything at stake, the book is boring. Still, it’s a lot better than the version of the Flash who had kids.
THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1 by Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone, and Yildiray Cinar
Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch are schoolmates but they are not friends. When they become Firestorm, they will have to work together against a larger threat.
GOOD: Two different Firestorms instead of one guy driving and the other in his head. This story reintroduces Ronnie and Jason without all the complicated history they had with each other in the original DCU. The bad guys in this are actually scary the first few times they show up.
BAD: Professor Stein is killed before the issue begins and Jason was the only on eof the pair to know him. Maybe Ronnie and Jason’s parents will be guides in this title but I would have liked it if he acted like their Giles (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I would have looked forward to Ronnie & Professor Stein building their ‘father & son’-like relationship.
THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #2 by Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone, and Yildiray Cinar
Ronnie and Jason are trying to survive and get along. Neither will be easy as they’ve just survived an attack from the Dog Team only to run into Team Hyena.
GOOD: Two Firestorms.
BAD: The Hulk-like thing formed by both Firestorms.
VERDICT: While I like the idea of two Firestorms and watching them become real heroes, I’m not attached to either character. I might try them down the road but I’ll just say no to #3.
THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1 by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan
Carter Hall is Hawkman – but he doesn’t want to be. When Carter tries to destroy the Hawman harness, the nth metal becomes a part of him.
GOOD: Nothing I can think of. The story and the character suck. I liked the original DCU Hawkman.
BAD: Carter has almost no personality or life. No reason given for wanting to destroy the uniform. The nth metal burning him and becoming a part of him and magically transporting him home isn’t much of an origin. It’s a really boring story.
THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #2 by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan
Carter vs Morphicus.
GOOD: Ugh. Nothing.
BAD: I still don’t know why he wanted the costume gone or how much he knows about the costume.
VERDICT: I’ll pass on getting #3.
WONDER WOMAN #1 by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang
Diana must protect a woman carrying Zeus’ child.
GOOD: This is Wonder Woman the way she is meant to be – maiming monsters and going for the kill.
BAD: I find mythology dry and there was a lot that I didn’t really get or care to get.
WONDER WOMAN #2 by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang
Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island to better protect Hermes and Zola but Hera sends Strife after her.
GOOD: A definitive Wonder Woman origin.
VERDICT: No more for me.
GREEN LANTERN TITLES
GREEN LANTERN #1 by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy – Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis
Hal Jordan has been stripped of his ring even as a green ring as chosen Sinestro. Both men are struggling with their new roles. Hal is broke, behind on his rent, and still quick to run into harm’s way. Meanwhile, in his absence, the Yellow Lanterns have enslaved Sinestro’s homeworld of Korugar. Sinestro despises the green ring but despises the betrayal of his old army even more so he offers Hal Jordan a deal.
GOOD: A fresh take on Green Lantern’s origin story. This time, instead of Sinestro being an honored member of the Corps and Hal being the new recruit, Sinistro is a disgraced member given a chance at redemption while Hal is the one stripped of the ring. Also, Carol, who is Star Sapphire hasn’t put on her ring in a while and she and Hal are dating.
BAD: The Guardians are always boring and I have no idea what the deal is with them jumping Ganthet. *Yawn*
GREEN LANTERN #2 by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy
Sinestro needs Hal’s help to free Korugar so he creates a ring for Hal. The strings attached? Sinestro can turn off Hal’s ring whenever he wants and Hal can’t hurt him with it.
GOOD: I’m not a big Hal Jordan fan but this was the most intense confrontation between Hal & Sinestro than I’ve ever read before. I really thought Sinestro was going to let people die in a bridge collapse while Hal watched, powerless to do anything.
VERDICT: I wasn’t looking forward to this title but it’s shattered my expectations. I’m not just interested in Hal’s redemption but I’m hoping for Sinestro’s as well. I’ll be sticking around.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1 by Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna
Guy Gardner and John Stewart chose not to wear masks so neither have a secret identity and neither can live a normal life. Fortunately they’ve got a galaxy to protect to keep their mind off their problems. Unfortunately an unseen enemy has just annihilated a planet and murdered two Green Lanterns.
GOOD: I like seeing Guy and John’s personal lives and I really like the scene with them talking about not choosing masks and the consequence to their personal lives. As in Justice League International, this is a likeable Guy Gardner who’s still rough around the edges but isn’t obnoxious. And John Stewart seems more determined to uphold a strict moral code as an ex-soldier and Green Lantern. The story was great and the reintroduction to these two characters was amazing.
BAD: Nothing yet.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #2 by Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna – Cover by Alex Garner
The Corps investigate the murder of an entire world and two of their own. They wanted payback but when the enemy throws all their warriors at them, they will be lucky to survive.
GOOD: The stakes don’t get much higher. It’s nice to see some Lanterns suggesting revenge without someone jumping in with the moral high ground (i.e. “We have to bring them to justice”, “Lanterns don’t kill”, etc.).
VERDICT: While cosmic adventure isn’t really my thing, I’ll stick with it until the end of the arc and then I’ll decide whether or not to continue.
GREEN LANTERN: THE NEW GUARDIANS #1 by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham and Batt
Kyle Rayner is a Green Lanterns on earth but he’s just been recruited by the Yellow, Red, Orange, Blue, and Violet Lantern Corps and no one is happy about it.
GOOD: Kyle is my favorite Green Lantern (I collecting for a while when Judd Winick was writing it and for a while afterward until the title went back to Hal Jordan) so it’s nice to see him in the new DCU.
BAD: I haven’t read Green Lantern for years so I don’t know what all the different colors mean and there’s no explanations. At the beginning it shows Kyle being recruited. After a few pages it says ‘Present Day’ – I thought it was present day when the story opened so the transition was a little jarring. Based on the first couple of pages, I would have liked to have made that journey with Kyle from being recruited, to training, to full-fledged hero (even if that was only one arc that spanned a year before letting the character go on his own with #6 or #7).
GREEN LANTERN: THE NEW GUARDIANS #2 by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham, Harvey Tolibao, and Batt
Green Lantern Kyle Rayner – welcome to the Indigo Tribe and the Star Sapphire, Red, Blue, and Sinestro Corps!
GOOD: Kyle vs all the corps including his own.
BAD: Ganthet lobotomized and the Guardians acting like the enemy.
VERDICT: Kyle Rayner is my favorite Green Lantern so I’ll be tuning in until the end of the storyline before deciding if I’ll follow it further. So far I’m not completely convinced I’ll be getting it much longer.
RED LANTERNS #1 by Peter Milligan, Ed Benes and Rob Hunter.
Atrocitus is angry that Hal Jordan took out Kronos, the Guardian who destroyed his world and killed his family, before he could. Atrocitus renews his hat but his Red Lanterns might be ready to turn on him.
GOOD: I didn’t know much about them going in so it was good to get into Atrocitus’ origin. It was an interesting story.
BAD: I didn’t understand why the Red Lanterns fought each other – for practice or fun? I didn’t get it.
RED LANTERNS #2 by Peter Milligan, Ed Benes and Rob Hunter.
Atrocitus travels to Ghan IX to deliver vengeance for a little girl whose defenseless brothers were cut down by a foreign army.
GOOD: We get to see what function a Red Lantern serves while getting to know Atrocitus better.
BAD: It would have been more interesting if the little girl had gotten a red ring and avenger her brothers.
VERDICT: Kind of interesting but there aren’t any characters here to care about and I don’t know anything about their overall mission. I’ll pass on #3.
ACTION COMICS #1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales
While Superman features the hero as he is now and Justic League is set 5 years in the past, Action Comics features the adventures of a young Clark Kent and reintroduces us to Lex Luthor.
GOOD: This is a young and sort of reckless Superman who has to save the day while the police try to bring him in. Like Smallville, this is a Superman who hasn’t learned to fly yet and isn’t wearing his full costume yet.
BAD: The landlady asking Clark for late rent is a little too Peter Parker for me but it’s nice to see Clark with real problems other than crime-fighting.
ACTION COMICS #2 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales
Captured by the military, Clark is tortured by Lex Luthor.
GOOD: Dr. Irons quits the Steel Soldier project – are we seeing the beginning of Steel’s origin? Great confrontation between Lex & Clark.
BAD: Lois is almost worthless running around her father’s base while an old flame sulks because she’s not with him.
VERDICT: While I like the idea of a younger Superman trying to establish himself, the tone of the book is a little too dark in contrast to the Superman title. I get that Grant Morrison is taking advantage of how the military would really react to the presence of a super-strong alien – I just don’t want to read it.
SUPERBOY #1 by Scott Lobdell, R.B. Silva and Rob Lean – Cover by Eric Canete and Guy Major
Superboy, the DCU’s ultimate test tube baby is reintroduced. Cloned from a human and Superman’s DNA, he is completely aware of the many tests the scientists are running on him including playing along with their virtual simulations. When the man in charge of the lab needs a weapon to take down the Teen Titans, he gives Superboy his first mission.
GOOD: Wow. Where do I start? It’s a great reintroduction to a great character. We meet “Red,” a scientist who saves Superboy from being terminated and ends up in charge of him. “Red” is a genius red-head with glasses – could she be Caitlin Fairchild? And we get to meet Rose Wilson who is there to kill Superboy if he ever ‘snaps.’ In the virtual reality simulation, Rose is a teenage girl who interacts with Superboy and the real-life Rose tells “Red,” that the virtual reality version of her is a “total Mary Sue.” For those of you not hip to the fan-fiction world. A “Mary Sue” is a dream version of the writer. You can tell it’s a “Mary Sue” story when there’s a new character introduced that is smarter, better looking, more powerful, or more popular than the characters around them (for example, a new character in an X-Men fan fiction who beats up Wolverine, gets Professor X’s respect, and takes over the leadership mantle from Cyclops).
BAD: Superboy had the ability and awareness to leave whenever he wanted so did he stay for “Red” who he trusted or because there was something making him weak?
SUPERBOY #2 by Scott Lobdell, R.B. Silva and Rob Lean – Cover by Eric Canete and Nick Filardi
Superboy’s first mission ends in disaster.
GOOD: She’s a redhead with glasses, super smart, and her name is Caitlin. I THINK SHE’S CAITLIN FAIRCHILD!
BAD: If he can read minds and he’s more powerful than anyone there, why does Superboy stick around? And seriously, what could Rose really do as the person assigned to kill him if he gets out of hand? And the story in this second issue is boring.
VERDICT: I’m on the fence about whether it’s worth picking up #3 but I am curious to see where the story goes, the eventual first meeting with Superman, and finding out if the readhead is Caitlin Fairchild.
SUPERGIRL #1 by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Mahmud A. Asrar, and Dan Green
Kara has just arrived on Earth but before she has a chance to adjust she has to fight the large metal robots trying to capture her trying to control her new powers. Oh, and there’s that pesky language barrier.
GOOD: Great reintroduction to the character. I liked her fighting while discovering her powers against an enemy that isn’t really trying to hurt her, just subdue her. I loved how overwhelmed she was with the powers – the story did a great job of exploring her confusion as her powers came at her one at a time. The late arrival of Superman promises to show readers the first meeting between the two of them in this new universe.
BAD: Nothing yet.
SUPERGIRL #2 by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Mahmud A. Asrar, and Dan Green
Supergirl meets Superman – who was a baby only three days ago to Kara. Between the shock of that, her powers, and being attacked, Superman has his hands full.
GOOD: Continues the great reintroduction of Supergirl. And there’s a mystery: she doesn’t know how she got there or that Krypton was destroyed.
VERDICT: I’ll be back for #3.
SUPERMAN #1 by George Perez and Jesus Merino
The Daily Planet has been demolished and a new Daily Planet has been built. Lois has been promoted to Executive Producer of the Planet’s news network while Clark sticks to print reporting on the city’s number one superhero: Superman.
GOOD: George Perez writes and provides the breakdowns for an amazing story. He does a great job reestablishing Clark Kent and his supporting cast. I love that Lois & Clark aren’t together anymore. I like that Lois’ snarky attitude has been replaced by a professional, confident, and sweet woman. And both Clark and Superman have personalities! Could I be considering collecting a Superman book? I never have before but if it’s this good I might have to.
SUPERMAN #2 by George Perez and Jesus Merino
When Superman is attacked by an enemy invisible to Kryptonian eyes, he has to rely on the media coverage to fight.
GOOD: Using the media coverage to fight an invisible enemy is something I haven’t seen before. The friendship between Lois & Clark is engaging. Now Clark has a Batcave-like computer station in the Fortress.
VERDICT: This is a fantastic book from the writing to the art. I’ll be back for #3.
ANIMAL MAN #1 by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman and Dan Green
Buddy Baker is a superhero/animal activist/actor who lives with his loving wife and kids in sunny San Diego (I wonder if he lives by me!). For years Buddy has been able to tap the morphogenetic field to use any nearby animal’s abilites. But what will he do when his young daughter develops the ability to reanimate dead animals?
GOOD: There’s a fake magazine article on page one that gives you a look at Buddy’s reality, experience, and personality. I was never an Animal Man fan so I can’t compare it to the original title but it’s a good story.
BAD: I can’t think of anything.
ANIMAL MAN #2 by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman and Dan Green
Buddy’s daughter, Maxine, is already more powerful than her father and she can hear the animals asking for help. Buddy & Maxine travel to the Red Place.
GOOD: Jeff Lemire does a great job handling the chaos of Buddy’s family’s reactions while keeping the story moving.
BAD: The story isn’t very interesting.
VERDICT: I’m not a fan of the supernatural and I don’t care about the Red Place or the old tree. I care about the family but the supernatural stuff is boring. I won’t be back for #3.
DEMON KNIGHTS #1 by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert – Cover by Tony Daniel
At the fall of Camelot, Merlin fuses the Demon Etrigan to a human. 400 years later, Mordru has his sights set on conquering Alba Sarum. Luckily , Etrigan and some powerful new allies happen to be there when the attack begins.
GOOD: It’s a good story and a take on Etrigan that I haven’t seen before (I have no idea what his original origin was). And Vandal Savage is great as a boisterous friend of Etrigan’s so it’s nice to see the new take on him as well (I imagine that in our present he becomes the stiff, arrogant, would-be conqueror that he is in the regular DC Universe.
BAD: I know the girl in the bar is Amazon but who is she? And I have a feeling the guy at the bar she stands up for is someone the reader should know but who is he?
DEMON KNIGHTS #2 by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert – Cover by Tony Daniel
Our heroes fight off dragons to save Alba Sarum but the aren’t off the hook yet.
GOOD: Interesting characters and story. The art is fantastic.
BAD: The dragons looked like T-Rex’s but they breathed fire. The villains have sent soldiers and dragons instead of proving why the heroes should be afraid of them.
VERDICT: While this accidental team is obviously more powerful than the villains, it’s still a fun title. I usually dislike period books but I like this title. I’ll have to flip through #3 to see how I feel but I’m pretty sure I want to finish the story arc.
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE #1 by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli – Cover by JG Jones
Monsters have invaded Bone Lake, Washington. SHADE sends their best agent but she disappears. With time running out before the US drops a nuke on the city to keep the monsters from spreading, Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos have to rescue Frankenstein’s Bride and any human survivors.
GOOD: A new organization with interesting characters who occupy a headquarters that is floating and miniaturized by Ray Palmer. It’s nice to have a touch of JLA mixed in with the horror-adventure.
BAD: There’s a weird character the creatures all call “Father” who generates a new body at random and is a little girl now and is in charge of the organization. There’s a lot of discussion about consequences surrounding creating life but since the characters seem to be several decades old, what’s the story there? A little foreshadowing of the back story perhaps?
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE #2 by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli – Cover by JG Jones
Frankenstein sets out to close a portal and ends up facing the demon army on the other side.
GOOD: Frankenstein is a fun character.
BAD: There’s a weird origin story and a weird main story with characters I don’t care about.
VERDICT: I’m not coming back for #3.
I, VAMPIRE #1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino – Cover by Jenny Frison
Andrew and May are vampires who have known each other for four centuries and love each other dearly. But while Andrew wants vampires to co-exist with humanity, Mary wants to rule the world. And Mary has just declared war.
GOOD: A different take on vampires. I’m not sure if this is their first appearance but I don’t know either of the main characters. I like how they don’t die in sunlight and they shapeshift into animals. I like that Andrew’s main enemy is someone he sired, someone he’s loved for so long, and someone who knows him enough to know his tactics. I laughed because Andrew and Mary start the story in bed together and I thought, one of them wants vampires to co-exist while the other wants to rule humans –this is what X-Men would be like if Magneto were female.
BAD: Story jumps around a bit – I can’t tell what order the scenes are in or who is fighting who or if he’s dreaming a lot of it. In order to keep readers, the story has to make sense and not make me work to put the scenes in order myself. A comic book is too small a format to be Quentin Tarentino with the stories.
I, VAMPIRE #2 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino – Cover by Jenny Frison
Mary, Queen of Blood, has declared war, martyring an army of vampires sending them to fight Andrew. In the short term, Mary loses soldiers. In the long run, this will make Andrew ‘public enemy number one’ to vampires.
GOOD: Great strategy by Mary.
BAD: The love story from the first issue ws engaging but neither character is interesting in this issue. And the art is still lousy.
VERDICT: I won’t be back for #3.
RESURRECTION MAN #1 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Fernando Dagnino – Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis
Resurrection Man comes back to life and hops a plane to Portland only to tangle with someone interested in his soul.
GOOD: I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with this character but it was interesting and compelling. And having different powers each time he resurrects is cool.
BAD: How does he know he has to go to Portland? Is it instinctual? And who/what killed him?
RESURRECTION MAN #2 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Fernando Dagnino – Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis
The Body Doubles show up to ‘contain’ Resurrection Man but his new power to become and control water is going to make it tough.
GOOD: Was interesting before the Body Doubles showed up.
BAD: The Body Doubles and a winged woman – how many characters are you going to thorw at me when I already don’t know what’s going on?
VERDICT: After 2 issues, I’m going to pass on getting any more.
SWAMP THING #1 by Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette
Dr. Alec Holland was a botanist who became Swamp Thing. Now that he’s back to normal he plans on staying that way if Swamp Thing will let him.
GOOD: I don’t know anything about the character and the story wasn’t so bogged down with hints about the past that it alienated me like it did with Batwoman #1. There’s a great conversation between Alec and Superman.
BAD: I don’t understand what Swamp Thing does or what his powers are – maybe I’ll find out next issue
SWAMP THING #2 by Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette
Dr. Alec Holland is approached by a Swamp Thing parliament member trying to recruit him again to fight against Sethe, a world-threatening force of decay and rot. Alec doesn’t want ot get involved but he might not have a choice because Sethe’s agents are trying to kill him.
GOOD: It’s a genuinely creepy title.
BAD: The conversation with Alec and the Swamp Thing was so long and boring that I skipped through it. I don’t know anything about Alec or his previous life so it’s hard to sympathize when he complains that being Swamp Thing had cost him so much.
VERDICT: It’s boring and I don’t get it. I’ll pass on getting #3.
VOODOO #1 by Ron Marz and Sami Basri
Voodoo is an alien trying to hide as a stripper where she can telepathically learn secrets from the military clientele about alien activity. When an agent discovers her secret, he’ll learn that she’s willing to kill to protect it. Of course he’ll only have a few seconds to let it sink in before he’s dead.
GOOD: I like the Wildcats so it’s good to see Voodoo get a solo series. The art was amazing and the story was pretty good.
BAD: We have no idea what Voodoo is trying to learn telepathically – is it something specific? I thought the two agents might have been someone like Spartan and Void or something. Voodoo’s dialogue was a little stiff – I’m not sure if she’s new to the planet and still trying to assimilate. The story didn’t really tell us a whole lot about Voodoo.
VOODOO #2 by Ron Marz and Sami Basri
Voodoo is trying to complete her mission but government agents want to catch and dissect her.
GOOD: Black Razors – another staple of the Wildstorm Universe.
BAD: We still don’t know what Voodoo’s mission is or how the government became so aware of who and what she is.
VERDICT: It might be worth a few more issues but it’s a little slow. I’m on the fence whether to get #3.
BLACKHAWKS #1 by Mike Costa, Graham Nolan, and Ken Lashley
Kunoici is having a bad day. After a successful Blackhawks mission where she’d been bitten by a terrorist, she starts developing meta-abilities. A quick scan gives her the news she didn’t want – she’s been infected by Nanocites.
GOOD: Kick ass team with a fun, fast-paced story. This team may have roots in the past (I don’t know that for sure yet) but they exist in present-day DCU.
BAD: Kunoici gets bitten two panels after she reacts to getting bitten.
BLACKHAWKS #2 by Mike Costa, Graham Nolan, and Trevor McCarthy – Cover by Ken Lashley
Kunoichi’s secret is out – she’s been infected with nanocites. Meanwhile the rest of the team has to contend with a powerful army who have mastered using the nanocites.
GOOD: The stakes are high and some members hover near death.
BAD: Considering how good #1 was, this was a little boring.
VERDICT: Pretty good but I’ll skip #3.
MEN OF WAR #1 by Ivan Brandon, Tom Derenick, Jonathan Vankin, and Phil Winslade – Cover by Viktor Kalvachev
Sgt. Rock’s grandson, Corporal Joseph Rock will be promoted to Sergeant if he can avoid enemy fire and super-powered skirmishes live long enough. Meanwhile a Navy SEAL team does its thing.
GOOD: Introducing a Sgt Rock (even if it’s not the original) into current continuity is great and the superhero battle serves to remind you that you’re still in the DC Universe where countries can employ super powered combatants.
BAD: It was hard to follow. There were no strong or interesting characters to root for. I was bored with the main story and the back up story. And this title is $3.99 so I had to pay 30% more to be bored.
MEN OF WAR #2 by Ivan Brandon, Tom Derenick, Jonathan Vankin, and Phil Winslade – Cover by Viktor Kalvachev
The continuing adventures of Sgt Rock and a team of Navy SEALs.
GOOD: Sgt Rock is cool no matter the decade.
BAD: The Sgt Rock story is confusing and hard to read. The Navy SEALs story is boring.
VERDICT: No more for me.
ALL-STAR WESTERN #1 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Moritat
The Gotham Butcher has just claimed another victim while Jonah Hex is in town. That’s bad news for the Gotham Butcher. Hex’s investigation leads to a secret society of Gotham’s wealthiest – but which one is the killer?
GOOD: Good story that doesn’t attempt to give Hex an origin – it just gets right to business. Mayor Cobblepot is an interesting connection to the present day Gotham.
BAD: Hex is fine in small doses but his attitude gets old (see The Punisher for more information on two-dimensional characters/one-trick ponies).
ALL-STAR WESTERN #2 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Moritat
Jonah Hex and Doctor Arkham have stumbled in on a group of Gotham’s wealthiest who are following the teachings of the crime bible. Let the body count begin.
GOOD: Hex kills a dozen men single-handed.
BAD: The back-up story.
VERDICT: Here’s the Jonah Hex formula: roll into town, get into a bar fight, find a villain, kill his men, kill him, then leave. I don’t need to get #3.
HUNTRESS #1 by Paul Levitz, Marcus To, and John Dell
Huntress travels to Italy to stop a shipment of contraband on its way to Gotham. When the contraband turns out to be women sold into slavery, she starts working her way to the top to stop it at the source.
GOOD: Fantastic reintroduction to a hero who is more independent and international then her original DCU counterpart. It’s a good story with gorgeous artwork.
BAD: I don’t know what Helena’s doing working with reporters but I am intrigued to find out who her connection at The Daily Planet is.
Not enough back-story-less origins. If you’re going to do an origin, do it. If you’re going to flashback to the origin, keep it simple.
Too many heroes already know each other – I was looking forward to a lot of first meetings.
The compelling reason Barbara Gordon can walk again better be real compelling.
Dark Knight #1 ends with an Arkham breakout and Batman #1 begins with a different Arkham breakout. To whoever is editing the bat-titles: WAKE UP. It makes no sense to have two breakouts that have nothing to do with one another in the same month – and confusing for the reader who’s trying to figure out what one breakout has to do with the other.
I would rather have DC Universe Presents introducing new characters into the DCU instead of dedicating time to characters very few people care about.
SO IS THIS A GOOD BEGINNING?
For a new reader, a lot of these books aren’t going to make sense because these characters have rich histories that get hinted at but aren’t fully explained. All the Batman cast’s baggage could fill a cargo jet and take years of stories to explain. Superman is a very clean beginning that doesn’t hint at a complicated past. Birds of Prey begins with Black Canary as wanted woman and Green Lantern begins with Hal Jordan after he’s been kicked out of the Green Lantern Corps. Seasoned fans might be excited about Birds of Prey and Green Lantern but new readers might be turned off by a story that isn’t more straight-forward.
As a long-time fan, I’m impressed by a lot of the fresh takes on the characters and all the possibilities. I’m happy that Green Arrow is younger and Black Canary is the same age which probably means that the long-time romance between the two is over. I’m happy that Clark isn’t dating Lois or married to her. Ever since Marvel and DC dumped the Comics Code Authority in favor of making the books reflect more of the content that was acceptable on prime time television and PG-13 movies, one thing has been missing: sex. I think Catwoman set the bar on that and hopefully the heroes personal lives will be just as exciting now as their superhero lives in this new universe.
In an industry where Marvel and DC were both doing big even driven stuff that was hit and mostly miss, relaunching the DCU is a great way to reinvigorate fan interest without another disposable mini-series that interrupts many other titles while they deal with whatever’s happening in the mini-series. For Marvel fans it looks like another year of garbage events like X-Tinction gearing up for X-Men Vs. Avengers (Cable hasn’t been gone for 2 years and they’ve already brought him back). It’s refreshing to see DC just trying to clean their continuity in order to tell quality stories.