So again in order of most anticipated to least, we have Batman, Legion Of Super-Heroes, Birds of Prey, Nightwing, Green Lantern Corps, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents: Deadman, Red Hood & the Outlaws, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
What defines Batman? Batman is a character defined by his villains, by his allies and by Gotham. All of these things come together to make Batman more than just a guy in a mask. The great thing about this book is that Scott Snyder knows this, and in one issue he takes the time to acknowledge all of them. In just one issue’s worth of space we see a bit of everything, both in Bruce Wayne’s world and in Batman’s. We see Batman the Dark Knight taking on the odds and surviving, we see his detective skills, and we also see Bruce Wayne the visionary and community leader. This issue may have an easier time than all the others, seeing as how everyone knows Batman, and Commissioner Gordon and Alfred, but like Detective Comics, this issue knows just how much to take for granted on the reader’s end. We get a great intro to many characters without slowing the pace of the story and we get to see Greg Capullo flex his muscles in the art department, taking on everything that Snyder gives him. This marks another home run in the Bat-family, and while there have been some titles that are better than others, in respect to the whole picture everything Bat-related has had a certain level of quality lately. Sadly for DC, this may leave them exactly where they were a few months back, Batman and company outselling everything else and comic readers dropping fringe titles just to keep everything Batman. Regardless I honestly can’t wait for the next issue, as I really want to see how this story develops.
Wonder Woman #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Wonder Woman is a book that has rarely been able to finds its stride in the last few years. Before reading this I really wasn’t sure what to expect, neither Brian Azzarello, nor Cliff Chiang would’ve been my first choice for this title. Azzarello seems to be taking this book in a darker direction, the gods are more vengeful and cruel and everyone is cut throat and self serving. Chiang’s art is different and while it suits the book, it’s a bit of a departure the sleek superhero style that has been used on Wonder Woman in recent years. The story jumps around a lot and sets up more questions than answers, presumably in Azzarello’s usual style he will slowly pull back the curtains and show us what’s going on. The action scenes are well executed and more suited to the mythological aspect this book it going with. My biggest issue is that it reads like an Elseworlds tale, I just don’t see how this Wonder Woman will go and play nicely in the Justice League after she is done dealing with the gods. It’s like trying to set up Ennis’ Punisher in the regular Marvel Universe, it just seems off. With that said, on it’s own this book is quite the ride, and maybe it’s just what Wonder Woman needs to help her reclaim her role in the trinity with Superman and Batman. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book I probably will not pick up the second issue, I’ll end up getting the trade or HC when it comes out, as I feel the book will be a lot more enjoyable to read in that format.
DC Universe Presents: Deadman #1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Bernard Chang
Deadman is one of those secondary characters that has floated in and around DC Comics for a while now, but I’ve never really paid attention to him until the recent Flashpoint miniseries. This new book is really odd and gets right to the point: Boston Brand dies while performing his acrobatics and upon his death is told by a goddess that he must atone for being a selfish human being or he will fall into an abyss. Deadman is born, inhabiting the lives of others and putting them on the right path, each time bringing himself one step closer to redemption. The conflict for the new book comes from the fact that all the people Deadman has inhabited lately don’t find a resolution to whatever issue they may be dealing with.This presents a problem for Deadman as he is not accomplishing anything and he reaches a point where he wants answers, so he decides to stop being used and goes on the offense. This whole story is really messed up, as Deadman watches over his next assignment explaining to us why he needs to help him. We assume that we are learning this so that we can watch Deadman save him, and it’s only at the end we see his true motives. This is not something I’d recommend to everyone, it’s dark and twisted and it feels like a slow burn, it’s a title that really demonstrates the diversity that DC is trying to achieve. DC Universe Presents Deadman has a lot of potential and I’m just hoping it finds the right audience to support it. I would recommend this to anyone trying out comics from the Dark section (Swamp Thing, Animal Man etc…) of DC’s relaunch.
Legion Of Superheroes #1
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela
Legion of Super-Heroes (LSH) is only one of those books that I’ve come to appreciate recently, despite them having a team dynamic and diversity that rivals the X-Men. First off, I don’t even know how long it’s been going on, but the little bio boxes that appear whenever a Legion member first shows up are incredibly simple and useful in this book. Legion Lost should’ve followed suit and I can think of a few other team books that should really start incorporating them. So the Legion of Super-Heroes follows a group of Legionnaires as they investigate Panoptes, a military watchworld. Panoptes was running surveillance for the Legion on the Dominators empire, until recently when communication ceased. The Legionnaires go about their mission and find that things are worse than anticipated. Paul Levitz has managed to find a voice for all these characters and knows how to craft a story without resorting to too much exposition. Francis Portela does a great job of creating alien worlds and gives us interesting bits of future technology, managing to cram a lot into each panel while not making it look too cluttered. The biggest problem is that new readers don’t have enough information to bring them up to speed on previous events, this book really being a continuation of Levitz’ previous LSH book. LSH is easily the better of the two Legion books in my opinion, and shows that good action/adventure comics can be written without resorting to gratuitous violence. While not new reader friendly, I would suggest picking up the first LSH hardcover and if you enjoy that then you can grab the second book before transitioning into the new ongoing series.
Red Hood & the Outlaws
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Red Hood and the Outlaws is like an action movie, it’s fun and over the top and doesn’t hold back. We start out with the Red Hood breaking Roy Harper out of prison, with an assist from Starfire, and from there we go to the three of them just chilling on the beach. While at the beach, Red Hood starts seeing a lady named Essence and goes on a mission to avenge a group called the All Caste, because the Unnamed have returned. This is all only vaguely explained and I presume we will learn more in the upcoming issues. Kenneth Rocafort’s art is very energetic and the colorist really did a good job making everything pop, Scott Lobdell seems like he’s just going to have fun with this weird team-up. This book really focus’ heavily on being visually appealing, it reads like a summer blockbuster movie. Older fans will have trouble with this book, one because most characters personalities have been changed to fit a very generic mold and two because this book is targeted at adolescents. Like most big budget summer movies you have to be up for taking the ride, there is a blatant amount of T & A and the action is over the top. The book shamelessly goes after a target demographic and this will likely make this one of the most divisive comics in the DC relaunch.
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Guillem March
Catwoman is a comic that tries to be something it shouldn’t, and while there are a couple of decent moments, there are more than a few problems overall. This is a book that doesn’t know when to stop, seeming to focus more on being softcore porn than telling a story. First of all I’m not sure if it’s Judd Winick who went out of his way to script the beginning or Guillem March who wanted to draw a half naked Catwoman, but after the first panel or two the whole thing becomes ridiculous. Over the course of the book, Catwoman has her place attacked, narrowly escapes, meets her friend for a job, goes on said job, narrowly escapes and then has sex with Batman. She amazingly manages to accomplish most of this while still half naked. This whole issue really needs to learn a lesson in restraint, “less is more” would’ve gone a long way into not only toning down the level of cheesecake but also gaining space to tell more of a story. Winick also has some very questionable dialogue as, to quote Catwoman, “some dudes who I’ve ragingly pissed off” doesn’t sound like something she would say at all. While I’ve been very happy with DC’s attempt at diversity, this story doesn’t really fill any niche, aside from fan fiction, and if that’s what you’re looking for then you can save some money and just search online. I enjoyed March’s art, but doubt that I’ll buy this book for the art alone when I might as well buy a pin-up book. The visuals will be as appealing and at least the book won’t pretend to be telling a story. A little side note for any new readers looking for some good Catwoman: DC announced a new format for the Ed Brubaker & Darwyn Cooke trades, with the first volume coming out in January and definitely worth the wait.