DC COMICS: THE NEW 52 review by BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN
As the ďsecond waveĒ of new DC Comics hit the stands, I thought weíd weigh in on the how DC is doing so far. A couple of times a month, I take my wife Nicky to Beach Hut Deli and get her to drink a giant beer with me so Ö sheíll agree to go comic book shopping. You donít get a better guilty pleasure than buying a Catwoman comic book Ė with a pretty girl Ė when youíre pleasantly buzzed on Longboard brew.
I initially hesitated on jumping in (or getting sucked into) the new world of DCís 52 virgin titles. The circus began back in September of 2011, and I read the preview book that came out; some of the titles looked cool, while other ideas seemed unnecessary, to be expected.
The holidays gave me enough distraction to ignore the initial impulse to get hooked. I mean, what if they were all bad? That would be pretty sad for a company and cast of characters Iíve loved for most of my life.
Yet, the aspect of a new Aquaman comic kept the lure alive. Aquaman has had several different titles/incarnations and re-workings that, for the most part, havenít done the King of the Seven Seas much good. If you watch the Batman: Brave & the Bold animated series Ė thatís as awesome of an Aquaman as youíre ever likely to see Ė and that show has already been cancelled.
However, I am happy to say that Aquaman appears to be in pretty good hands at the moment, and most importantly, heís being treated with the respect this iconic character deserves.
Anyway, after missing the first few issues of the New 52 titles, I traded in some Mystery Island treasure to one of our Secret Society connections online and soon acquired all 52 first issues Ė and then some.
What follows is a basic yes/no opinion on the first wave of titles, six of which have already been (correctly) cut as the second wave rolls in ...
JUSTICE LEAGUE: YES. I was never a fan of Jim Leeís work, but I have to admit Ö I like his take on these characters. However, for me, the writing is more important. If there isnít a good storyline and well-written dialog, you can have the greatest artist in the world and youíd still be wasting your time. I have never read Geoff Johnsís work before, but heís clearly the most talented writer working for DC Comics at the moment Ė while serving as ďChief Creative Officer,Ē whatever that means. Good job, Geoff, and I never thought Iíd say this, but good job, Jim Lee!
Note: Captain Marvel ďShazam!Ē returns to the DC Universe in a Justice League backup story feature that began in issue no. 7 by Johns and artist Gary Frank, also very well done.
ACTION COMICS: NO. This comic is actually better than I thought it would be, but I donít like the way Lois Lane is handled, reminds of me that super lame Superman Returns movie.
ANIMAL MAN: NO. Iíve heard some people like this book, but I have no idea why; it seems a terrible retread of whatís gone on before, which had already become a bore. Let Animal Man be a superhero. He should join the JLI.
BATGIRL: NO. Batgirl is on the ďsort of goodĒ level of The Flash and Green Arrow comic books, a seemingly near miss. She should be hotter, way hotter. See: Batman TV show.
BATWING: NO. Just not that interesting. He recently joined Justice League International, so perhaps they can let this title go?
DETECTIVE COMICS: YES. This comic by Tony Daniel is probably the harshest and most crazy violent of all the New 52 comics. Very enjoyable. My only complaint is I donít like the way The Penguin was drawn in a recent issue. No biggy.
GREEN ARROW: NO. Again, this oneís almost a maybe, and Iíve read a handful of issues, but sadly, with even less interest than the Flash title. This Green Arrow doesnít feel right to me. He even tried to get into the Justice League but was turned down. Seems revealing enough.
HAWK & DOVE: NO. Really? Why not try Red Tornado? This title was thankfully cancelled.
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL: YES. Surprisingly good.
MEN OF WAR: NO. Not bad if you like war titles ... but Iím not surprised it was cancelled. For the record, it was the best of the books cut to make room for the second wave.
O.M.A.C.: NO. I barely understood what Jack Kirby was originally intending for this character. This new version is not interesting and was also cut/cancelled.
STATIC SHOCK: NO. Boring. Give us Black Lightning! This book has also graciously ended its short run.
STORMWATCH: NO. I donít get it; the only appeal is that it has Martian Manhunter.
SWAMP THING: NO. Wake me up when this book is cancelled.
BATMAN AND ROBIN: YES. Written by Peter Tomasi with art by Pat Gleason. This Robin is actually Batmanís son, so it gives it an interesting dynamic to explore.
BATWOMAN: NO. Iím not sure what itís all about. I think sheís a lesbian, so thatís kind of hot, but I didnít feel compelled to read more.
DEATHSTROKE: NO. A big whatever on this one.
DEMON KNIGHTS: YES. Iíve only read the first issue, but I thought it was decent, not amazing, but Iíd read more.
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E.: NO. A near miss.
GREEN LANTERN: YES. The Green Lantern comic is good, but not nearly as good as Geoff Johnsís other titles.
GRIFTER: NO. Iím surprised this book got made, and Iím surprised it wasnít on the cancellation list.
LEGION LOST: NO. Pointless, maybe the worst of the new titles.
MISTER TERRIFIC: NO. This version of Mr. Terrific should have ceased to exist with the old universe. His costume is hideous. His comic is boring and already cancelled.
RED LANTERNS: NO. This book seems to rely too much on a concept previous to the New 52, but not well enough established for old time readers who are just now rejoining the fun.
RESURRECTION MAN: NO. Iíve already forgotten almost everything about this book.
SUICIDE SQUAD: YES. Harley Quinn is back! Fun stuff!
BATMAN: YES. The new Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is really solid. I think itís the Batman most people want. Iím not a fan of any of the Batman movies. For me, the filmmakers havenít even come close to making a better Batman than the one we had on television in the 1960s. Sure, it was an action ďcomedy,Ē and silly at times, but so damn good on so many levels. However, the new Batman titles are great if you want the ďseriousĒ Batman and he doesnít look like the rubber-helmeted dork of the new films.
BIRDS OF PREY: NO. Another title with missed potential.
BLUE BEETLE: NO. Iím glad that DC is attempting to do a Blue Beetle comic book. This one isnít for me.
CAPTAIN ATOM: NO. Come on, if you're going to dig out the Charlton heroes, let's have a kickass pulp-style version of The Question. I volunteer BMH for scripting duties.
CATWOMAN: YES. This is one of my favorite new DC titles, a truly great take on Catwoman, and yes, sheís hot: by Judd Winick and Guillem March.
DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS: YES. I like this idea and hope they make good choices as they reintroduce different concepts.
GREEN LANTERN CORP.: NO. This should be a backup title or consigned to the Green Lantern Annual.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: NO. A convoluted mess.
NIGHTWING: NO. Yawn.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTWLAWS: NO. I donít want to see Speedy outside of the Teen Titans or Green Arrow. This doesnít work for me.
SUPERGIRL: NO. I read more than one issue and I canít understand why this comic looks so bad. The art is really not correct for this character and zero hotness factor.
WONDER WOMAN: NO. Sadly, this book doesnít work for me in terms of the writing or the art. Wonder Woman is awesome in the Justice League title, so thereís still hope, but I would recommend a different team.
ALL-STAR WESTERN: YES. If you like Jonah Hex or westerns in general or the Batman titles Ė this oneís for you. Plus, you get great backup stories featuring different characters from DC's western universe.
AQUAMAN: YES. Geoff Johns again. So far, pretty great stuff Ė drawn by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. You get an Aquaman that pays correct homage to his roots and a far cry from the weird hook-handed, bearded, train-wreck of past days. Plus, Mera really kicks ass while looking wonderful.
BATMAN: THE DARK NIGHT: YES. Really fun stuff by David Finch and Paul Jenkins. (Greg Hurwitz takes over writing in issue 10). I love the new White Rabbit character and was only disturbed that DC got her into print before Mort Todd and I offered our own ďBad Bunnie.Ē Stay tuned to your favorite Mystery Island website for more details soon ...
BLACKHAWKS: NO. Boring = cancelled.
THE FLASH: NO. I almost want to put ďmaybeĒ on this one, as I sort of like it, but itís just not interesting enough to give a clear thumbís up. Iíve read four or five issues at this point and itís just not as good as it should be; however, Gorilla Grodd returned in the latest issues and that was ... pretty good. So ... yeah, maybe.
THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN: NO. I donít even remember what happened in the first issue, but I did not feel compelled to pick up the second issue.
GREEN LANTERN: THE NEW GUARDIANS: NO. DC is trying to do way too much with the Green Lantern universe while ignoring other opportunities.
I, VAMPIRE: NO. As if.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: YES. I'm sort of giving this one a free pass as it's a "Justice League" title, but Iíve only read the first issue and my mind could change on this one. For all I know, it may be less interesting than The Flash.
THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN: NO. This could be a good title. I just donít understand when a character is rebooted badly so many times.
SUPERMAN: NO. Not a George Perez fan. I think heís wrong for this book. Superman needs a super team.
TEEN TITANS: NO. Wrong characters, poorly conceived, should be more of a homage to the past teams while making it seem fresh.
VOODOO: NO. Hotness factor ruined by the fact that she's in reality an ugly alien.
So, thatís 13 yes and 39 no votes. Actually, thatís not too bad. I went from buying zero DC titles to now potentially reading more than a dozen, and thereís more to come. Good job, DC!
Weíre going to post a link to this article on good olí Facebook, so if you have any questions, disagreements, or anything to add, please feel to free to drop by the Mystery Island page and leave a comment.
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ďDC Comics: New 52" review by Bradley Mason Hamlin.
Edited by Lucy Hell. © 2012 by Mystery Island Publications. Published: 07.15.12.
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All images of DC Comics used here for promotional purposes.
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