The good, the bad and the ugly in DC Comics’ The New 52

So, I realize that the title of this is a little misleading. It probably should have been something along the lines of “The Good, the Bad, and the Promising,” or “These Ones are Awesome and These Ones Not So Much.”  Either way, I hope this helps guide anyone who is interested in diving into the new DC universe. It doesn’t talk about all of the new 52 titles, but it touches on enough that it will hopefully serve as a good start.

 

The Good

"Action Comics #1" (dccomics.com)

“Action Comics”

Writer: Grant Morrison

Artist: Rags Morales

I have never been a fan of Superman. With the exception of the odd one-shot or mini-series, I really haven’t been able to warm up to Big Blue all that much. That being said, when I saw that Grant Morrison was going to write “Action Comics,” I knew that we were going to see a Superman that we had never seen before – and that’s exactly what we have here. Morrison has madeone of DC’s oldest characters  young again and has given him not only a new look, but some mad swag as well. Give a lot of credit to Rags Morales for Kal-El’s new look; it was a huge risk taking him out of his classic costume, but it pays off.  For long-time fans of Superman, this series may take some getting used to, but for newcomers it’s going to be an exciting ride.

 

 

 

"Batman #1" (dccomics.com)

“Batman”

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

Yet another big-time gamble that is paying off, thanks to a fantastic creative team in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Snyder’s writing is solid, starting the series off with a bang in the first pages of the first issue, which showcases a fantastic fight scene between the Dark Knight and the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Capullo’s art is crisp and sharp. At times it’s reminiscent of the style seen in the “Batman” animated series from the 90s, but with more detail and far darker than what we saw when we were kids. There also appears to be special attention given to Bruce Wayne’s time spent out of the costume. Sometimes when writers do this it can backfire – especially if they don’t really know how to make Wayne interesting – but that’s not the case here.  If you can only pick up one of the Bat Books, make it this one.

 

 

"Wonder Woman #1" (dccomics.com)

“Wonder Woman”

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Artist: Cliff Chiang

Brian Azzarello, writer of the acclaimed “Joker” one-shot that made one of the scariest villains in comics history even scarier, brings his trademark grit to everyone’s favourite Amazon.  So what can you expect from the series? Ass kickings. A lot of them. Azzarello brings Greek mythology into the modern day world, making “Wonder Woman” similar to the television series Xena: Warrior Princess.   The pacing is set at breakneck speed as Diana and a young woman, who is carrying the child of Zeus, fight off assassins sent by Zeus’ wife Hera. It’s fast, fun, and one of the best titles to come out of The New 52.

 

 

 

 

Also check out:Swamp Thing,”Batwoman,”Green Lantern,”Demon Knights,”Justice League,”Detective Comics” and “Animal Man.”

 

The Bad

 

"Deathstroke #1" (dccomics.com)

“Deathstroke”

Writer: Kyle Higgins

Artist: Joe Bennett

“Deathstroke” is probably one of the biggest badasses in the DC universe. Anyone who has read “Identity Crisis,” where he single-handedly beats the living piss out of the Justice League, will agree with this. And that’s what makes this series so bloody disappointing. Anyone who has a soft spot for Slade Wilson will know that on top of his ability to kill you 63 times before you hit the ground, his most deadly asset is his intellect. He is a master tactician, a mental warrior as much as he is a physical one. Unfortunately, the creative team to this series missed that. So far he appears to be little more than a greedy, one-dimensional thug. If you want a comic with very little story and a bunch of severed heads flying about, give this a shot. If not, run.

 

 

"Green Arrow #1" (dccomics.com)

“Green Arrow”

Writer: J.T. Krul

Artist: Dan Jurgens

I smelled trouble the moment I saw the cover art for this one. It’s understandable that the creative team for Green Arrow wanted to take him away from the whole I-look-like-Robin-Hood thing, but they’ve effectively sucked the charm right out of him. On top of the visual changes, Ollie Ollie’s great personality is also gone. Green Arrow was a character you could always count on being a wild card. He was one of the only guys in the Justice League who you knew would honestly speak his mind, even if it was something the rest didn’t want to hear. He was loud, opinionated and sometimes a little obnoxious, but you loved him for it because you knew that his moral compass was almost always true. Hopefully he’ll get his groove back in the weeks to come.

 

 

"Batman: The Dark Knight #1" (dccomics.com)

“Batman: The Dark Knight”

Writer: David Finch

Artist: Paul Jenkin

There are four titles in The New 52 dedicated to Batman. Four. So what happens when you have to think of four different stories involving the same character? Evidently, you get this piece of shit. Harsh words, but when you consider the calibre of the other three, this one looks like it was written by a high school student at best. The dialogue is bland and there are times when Batman does things that are uncharacteristic, leaving you wondering how firm the writer’s grasp of the character actually is. And the ending! The ending of the first issue feels like it was stolen from the Arkham Asylum video game storyline. And another thing! No, actually I’ll stop now. Just stay away from it.

 

 

 

Also steer clear of: “Hawk & Dove,” “Blue Beetle,” “Mister Terrific” and “Resurrection Man.”


The Promising

 

"Aquaman #1" (dccomics.com)

“Aquaman”

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Ivan Reis

Aquaman has long been the butt of everyone’s jokes in the DC universe and in this first issue, all-star writer Geoff Johns takes full advantage of that. As Aquaman goes about his business on the surface (you know, beating up bank robbers and getting fish and chips afterwards), many people flat out don’t take him seriously. But what Johns does throughout the course of the first issue is dispel many of the things that made Aquaman laughable to begin with, much in the same way he did with “Green Lantern”  when he took over that comic years ago. He is able to poke a little fun at Arthur, while at the same time showcasing parts of his personality that are going to make him fun to watch in the issues to come.

 

 

 

"All-Star Western #1" (dccomics.com)

“All-Star Western”

Writer: Justin Gray

Artist: Jimmy Palmiotti

This title is well worth the extra dollar in price. I was a little skeptical since I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the Western genre, but it isn’t your standard material. Want to see Jonah Hex and Dr. Amadeus Arkham (founder of Arkham Asylum) play good cop/bad cop while pursuing a serial killer through the streets of 19th century Gotham city? Then you’re certainly in for a treat with this one. The story thus far in filled with some intriguing twists and turns, and the art is pretty good, though a little boring at times in terms of colouring. I don’t know what’s in store once this story arc is finished, but if it’s anything like it is presently, you can count me in.

 

 

 

"Batwing #1" (dccomics.com)

“Batwing”

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Ben Oliver

A member of a ring of international crime fighters put in place by Batman himself, Batwing is one of the best things to come out of Grant Morrison’s run with “The Dark Knight.” Here we have a very unique character because his place of operation – the Democratic Republic of Congo – is so unlike any setting we’ve seen before in the Batman universe. One scene in the first issue has Batwing contemplating how he can strike fear in the hearts of criminals there when so many people in his country have grown numb due to the horrors they have already endured. Another strength of the title is its art. Ben Oliver’s work is smooth and pays less attention to flash and more to making the characters actually look like human beings, which is a welcomed change from other comics. Overall, “Batwing” is a pleasant surprise and certainly shouldn’t be missed.

 

Also keep an eye on:Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.,” “Justice League Dark,” “Supergirl,” “Teen Titans” and “DC Universe Presents: Deadman.”

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  • Show Comments (1)

  • joshgreen

    thanks for the reviews, pat – i reviewed swamp thing/animal man on fanboyscloset.com a while ago, but you already know they're good. i have to check superdude and batguy comics you recommended : )

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