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Graeme Takes On The New 52. All At Once.

Graeme McMillan

You know, before DC Comics so politely sent me the entire run of the New 52 launch issues, I don’t think that I’d ever read an entire month’s worth of a superhero universe before. I have to say, it’s kind of exhausting. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to try and run down very quick capsule reviews of all 52 right here, right now, as Fatboy Slim once said many many years ago oh God I am so old.

ACTION COMICS #1: In retrospect, maybe my favorite of all 52 books, this one feels like it actually understands how to reboot a concept without overwhelming the reader with information or assuming that they already know everything; Grant Morrison’s script has some of his shorthand dialogue, but it’s dense and filled with “action” throughout, and this feels like a satisfying chunk of comics that also lays the groundwork for future stories. Very Good.

ALL STAR WESTERN #1: It’s heresy amongst the comicsinternet to admit that I’m not a massive fan of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Jonah Hex, but it’s never really done a lot for me. That said, this felt solidly Good, setting up the new status quo for the character – and offering enough introduction to the character for new readers – with some really nice art by Moritat. I’m amused by yet another “Gotham is built upon conspiracy and evil” storyline so soon after last month’s finale of Batman: Gates of Gotham, though.

ANIMAL MAN #1: Oh, this was so almost good. Jeff Lemire’s writing is… good, I think, although I feel like he stumbles on the more domestic side of things here, and I like the subtle repositioning of this series as a horror book. But the art is just not serving the writing well at all; Travel Foreman can be an interesting stylist, but he ruins scenes here, most importantly – and, I think, damningly – the final page, which is robbed of its full impact by some weird staging that basically wastes the top half of the page. Also not helping, the inks by Dan Green (which veer between too heavy and almost weightlessly light) and some very dull, flat colors by Lovern Kindzierski. Eh, then, because of the art.

AQUAMAN #1: Yes, Geoff, I get it: Aquaman isn’t a comedy punchline anymore. I would’ve preferred it if we’d had a chance to decide that for ourselves instead of suffering through the “blogger interview” midway through the book, but overall, this is a pretty Good first issue, setting out its pitch, introducing its characters and having a decent enough hook for the next few issues. That said, if you were reading Brightest Day, you pretty much know what’s in here already; this is very much a continuation of what was happening with the character in that book.

BATGIRL #1: I don’t know if this was flop sweat or something else, but this just didn’t work as well as I’d been expecting it to. Maybe because it’s so joyless, something that writer Gail Simone didn’t seem to have a problem expressing with the character in Birds of Prey, but there really is something very… rushed and filled and self-important about this issue that made it feel like you were being hurriedly brought up to speed by someone who wanted you to know how serious everything was. World’s dumbest cliffhanger, too. Eh.

BATMAN #1: Greg Capullo’s art is surprisingly nice – Yes, a little too MacFarlane for my tastes, still, but what can you do? – and Scott Snyder’s story is… I don’t know. Nice, but somewhat slight, perhaps? I’ll be coming back for a second issue, but I think that’s more down to goodwill for the creative team than anything having particularly wowed me with this debut. Okay, I guess.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #1: Now this was much more my speed, perhaps because I enjoyed this version of Batman more – One who seems to be dealing with his trauma after X number of years processing survivor guilt as Batman, instead of just burying it – than the one in Batman or Detective (And, really, I can’t believe that a linewide reboot didn’t result in a slightly more consistent portrayal of Batman. He feels like a different character everytime he appears, like Superman. That doesn’t seem like a good thing to me), or perhaps because there was more of an urgency on display here than in Snyder’s title. Either way, Good, and a much better “first issue” than the last time Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason took over the book.

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1: Talking of wildly varying characterizations, this book… uh… exists. I don’t know what to say about it. If you want a generic Image-style take on Batman, complete with pouty mouths from David Finch and overdone dialogue by Paul Jenkins, this is for you, I guess. I was completely underwhelmed, and laughed out loud as the kids say at the reveal of “One-Face” at the end of the book, especially because he still has half of his face scarred. Awful, but I’m sure it’ll have its audience. Oh, and Jaina Hudson is the new Jezebel Jet.

BATWING #1: The first of the “This was much better than I expected” books of the 52, I found myself drawn into this more than I’d thought I would. Maybe it was Judd Winick’s take on the character and his secret identity (A cop working outside of the system, because the system is so corrupt), or perhaps it was Ben Oliver’s lovely, weirdly hazily dream-like artwork, but this convinced me to try the second issue, which I really wouldn’t have thought would’ve been the case. A low Good, perhaps, but I have to say: This feels much more like a mini-series than an ongoing, already.

BATWOMAN #1: This, however, was a letdown. Not because it wasn’t Good, because it was. But I’d been expecting more, spoiled by Greg Rucka’s run on Detective. The writing here – by artist JH Williams and co-writer Hayden Blackman – was fine, and hit all the right notes, but didn’t surprise me or have the emotional depth that Rucka’s had, and the art, while beautiful, also lacked the impact or purpose of the original run. Even though I’ll be back for future issues, and even though I enjoyed this, I found myself disappointed nonetheless. That’s what I get for having high expectations.

BIRDS OF PREY #1: I’m not sure why, but this felt like it had too much space in it, if that makes any sense. What’s here is fine, it’s a perfectly Okay comic book, but it feels too empty for some reason, like something is missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something isn’t quite right, like it’s only half of the intended story or something.

BLACKHAWKS #1: I love Mike Costa’s Cobra series for IDW, which is why it depressed me so much to realize how much I didn’t like this first issue (The art by Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley didn’t help; it’s overly busy and not quirky enough to make me want to keep paying attention). You can’t fault him for throwing the reader in as everything’s already happening, but I didn’t find any character particularly interesting, mysterious or even distinctive enough to care about, and as a result, the whole thing left me cold. Awful, sadly.

BLUE BEETLE #1: On the podcast, I said this was like the Blue Beetle we had before, but less so. Tony Bedard and Ig Guara make all the right moves, but it lacks the heart or originality to make me want to come back for issue 2. Eh.

CAPTAIN ATOM #1: Hey, everyone who’s always wished that there was a Doctor Manhattan solo title spinning out from Watchmen, now you have your dream book. Sadly, it’s written by JT Krul – who ruins the goodwill he’d built up from an Okay first issue by ending with a stupid “Is Captain Atom about to die?” cliffhanger (It’s his first issue, so I think that question answers itself) – but, on the plus side, the art by Freddie Williams II is very nice indeed. If it gets smarter in future issues, it could end up being worth checking back in with in future, I suspect.

CATWOMAN #1: Oh, man, haven’t I said enough about this already? Cheesecakey pandering with a depressingly unsexy tone and annoyingly passive lead character. Awful.

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS: DEADMAN #1: I swear to God, this is like a black hole in my brain. I have read this book multiple times, and it really refuses to stay in there. Pretty much the definition of Eh for me, although I’ll say that Bernard Chang never really gets the credit for his work that he deserves. I’d love to see him paired with less garish colorists sometime.

DEATHSTROKE #1: Fun last-minute twist aside, there’s little in this book that appeals: I don’t care about the character or the machismo on display, and Joe Bennett has always been hit-or-miss (with an emphasis on the latter) for me. Eh.

DEMON KNIGHTS #1: Punny title aside, Paul Cornell pretty much won me over with the sense of humor on display in this one, much like Jon Rogers did the same in IDW’s Dungeons and Dragons book (which this is oddly reminiscent of, it has to be said). Weirdly parochial, but all the better for it. Very Good.

DETECTIVE COMICS #1: Tony “Salvador” Daniel – Has he ever used his middle name before? – aims high and doesn’t quite make it, but oh man, can you see him try. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this, but there’s nothing particularly right, either; it all feels familiar, and more workmanlike than previous attempts. Having Daniel be writer/artist on a Batbook when you also have David Finch doing the same elsewhere in the same franchise feels a bit weird to me, for some reason; I feel like Daniel comes off worse, even though he’s better at deadlines and arguably better as a writer, too. Eh, and that’s only because I wasn’t as appalled by the final page as many were.

THE FLASH #1: After the disappointment of the last Flash run, color me shocked to have enjoyed this as much as I did. Francis Manapul’s art is just great – that opening double page splash! The page of Barry in his apartment! – and it turns out that his writing (along with Brian Buccellato) is much faster-paced and more fun than Geoff Johns’ on this book. I like the new Barry Allen, and love his relationship to Iris in this new continuity. More of this, please. Very Good.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1: Another frustratingly “almost” effort from Jeff Lemire – I know where he’s going! I just wish he’d made it there! – with equally frustrating art from Alberto Ponticelli, which is just a little too scratchy for its own good (and, like Travel Foreman in Animal Man, a little off in the framing when it really counts). There’s a lot to like here, so I’m tempted to put this down to first issue nerves and hope that this book ends up sorting itself out down the line. That said, this is Okay, and I think that the just-finished Xombi played in the same sandbox in a much more entertaining and original way…

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MEN #1: Of the two Gail Simone books this month, this is the more enjoyable, but it has almost as much crammed into it as Batgirl, leading to a weirdly claustrophobic feeling. That said, I like the new spin on the concept (and the title), and wonder where, exactly, we’re going from the end of this issue. Is this going to be DC’s second attempt at doing a Hulk book? Yildiray Cinar’s art is weirdly reminiscent of Francis Manipul’s as far as the inks go, but I’m not sure if it fits here just yet… All in all, an Okay start, but with the potential for either greatness or creative dead-ending within the year.

GREEN ARROW #1: It’s as if JT Krul, Dan Jurgens and George Perez set out to create the most generic, boring superhero book imaginable… and succeeded. Crap.

GREEN LANTERN #1: Considering how self-important (and self-conscious) this title had become before the relaunch, it’s surprising that Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke manage to essentially play this first issue for laughs and get away with it. Good, although I found myself wishing that the last page had been held back for a few months, if only because I really enjoyed seeing dick Hal Jordan so much.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1: I was always going to be a sucker for this book; John Stewart and Guy Gardner are my favorite Green Lanterns, Peter Tomasi’s previous run on the title was something I really enjoyed, and there’s no Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner to harsh my buzz. Sure enough, I really dug this; uberviolent opening aside, I appreciated the “this is where our leads are” intros before the mystery was revealed, and the final page felt weighty and dramatic enough to bring me back next issue. Sure, Fernando Pasarin’s art feels like a little bit of a letdown after that Doug Mahnke cover, but it’s still pretty great in a “Bryan Hitch but more approachable” way. Very Good, for me.

GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1: And then there’s this. This is just a bit of mess, whether it’s the loss of the “some time ago” caption at the opener explaining that the book opens with a flashback, or the failure to really explain who all the different Lantern characters are, it seems sloppy and at odds with the other Lantern books, and Tyler Kirkham’s art doesn’t necessarily help, either. Awful.

GRIFTER #1: Finally answering that eternal fanboy question “What do you get if you cross Sawyer from Lost with ROM, Space Knight,” this is Okay for those of you who enjoy this kind of thing; Nathan Edmonson’s script is a bit light on explaining things, but I suspect that’s intentional, and CAFU’s art seems too polite for the story being told for my tastes. I don’t know; there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s also nothing that feels especially compelling about it, either, if that makes sense. I think Fringe probably does this kind of thing better, really.

HAWK & DOVE #1: I wanted to like this book so much, and then Rob Liefeld couldn’t stop himself reminding me that he’s a terrible, terrible artist. Everything happens at crazy angles! People’s mouths change size without explanation! Everyone looks permanently in pain because of all the scratches on their bodies! It’s a shame, because you get the feeling that Sterling Gates is really trying to work with Liefeld’s energy, but he’s overwhelmed by it on this issue. Truly, unhappily Awful.

I, VAMPIRE #1: On the plus side, Andrea Sorrentino could pass as fake Jae Lee if the position ever opens up. On the minus side, this is worryingly murky in terms of story (and storytelling; it’s not just Joshua Hale Fialkov’s script here, the art really does it no favors), and reads like someone’s idea of doomed romance a la Twilight, but even more melodramatic. I’m sure there is a massive audience for this, but I found it pretty Eh at best.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1: Hey, remember when everyone was talking about this book? Well, not much has changed since then. I like it, for what it is; I like dick Hal Jordan, I think there’s a reasonably strong mystery introduced and I don’t care that the entire team isn’t in there despite the cover. But I’d be lying if I said I thought it was more than just Good; there were other books that the relaunch could have led with that seem better suited for all-new readers and a heavy media blitz.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1: It’s not quite Shade Peter Milligan – or, for that matter, Secret Seven Milligan – but there’s the potential for getting there with this opener (I really liked the perversity of the Kathy reveal), and Mikel Janin’s art is lovely. Slightly underwhelming, I’ve got a lot of faith that this Good first issue will turn out to be a very good series.

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1: Potentially Green Arrow‘s main competitor in the “most generic superhero comic” race – And Dan Jurgens is involved with this one, as well! Clearly, this is karma for killing Superman twenty years ago – this just feels like a subpar fill-in to a comic from some point in the 1980s, complete with inexplicable Margaret Thatcher cameo appearance. Considering the potential for a JLI series spinning out of the surprisingly strong Generation Lost mini, this is a tiny bit heartbreaking. Awful.

LEGION LOST #1: The good: Pete Woods’ art is just amazing here, really, really great stuff. The bad: Unless you’re a Legion fan already, this is likely entirely impenetrable stuff. I love the Legion, and this almost made no sense to me whatsoever. It doesn’t help that important things happen off-panel (So, Timber Wolf just picked up the bad guy and no-one tried to stop him?), the characters have no real introduction and just way too much happens to let the reader have any time to make sense of it on first, second or even third reading, because there’s not enough space in the book for everything. What it ends up as, then, is a good-looking mess. That’s what we call Awful round these here parts.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1: I’ve really, really tried to convince myself that New Levitz Legion is just like Old Levitz Legion, but I think this is the issue when I realized I couldn’t keep it up. I’m unsure whether it’s Levitz or his circumstance, but everything feels so jumpy and fractured that there’s no chance – or, it seems, space – to build up the long running soap operatics that I loved the first time around, with everything ending up sacrificed for whatever big storyline that I find myself uninterested in. Eh as much as I wish it were otherwise.

MEN OF WAR #1: Someone, somewhere, found this to be more than some generic “Are you really a man?” cliches wrapped around a superhero mystery, but it wasn’t me. Awful, and the back-up strip was even worse.

MISTER TERRIFIC #1: Another book that I really, really wanted to like – Although that’s almost entirely down to the original release info containing the hilariously melodramatic line about him fighting “science gone bad!” – and the actual book… kind of lived up to my expectations, perhaps? There’s a lot to like here (The new origin, with a time travel mystery replacing the Spectre’s telling him “Hey, that white guy? You should rip him off,” for example), but it doesn’t come together properly, and ends with a cliffhanger that just makes no sense in a first issue (“Is this character acting weird? How would you know! You’ve just met him. Tune in next month to find out if he is or not!”). But… Again, maybe it’s goodwill, but even though this was just Okay, I’m holding out hope for better soon.

NIGHTWING #1: I came to really like Dick Grayson when he was Batman, so why do I find almost everything in his new title feeling like it’s a step backwards? Whether it’s Dick visiting the circus again, or telling us how good it is to feel like himself, all of it feels more forced and less genuine than it should. Eh, and most of my fondness for the character disappears entirely as he disappears behind a pile of dialogue and sentiment we’ve heard before.

OMAC #1: If it wasn’t for Superboy, this might have been the best surprise of all 52 books. Somehow, Keith Giffen and Dan Didio manage to channel Kirby’s sense of fun, if not his sense of originality – This is a reboot of an existing concept, after all – by smooshing together Office Space, the Hulk and the original OMAC to come up with something that feels like it owes as much to Giffen’s own Ambush Bug as it does Kirby, and it… weirdly… works. It’s very much not for everyone, but I think that’s true of the original OMAC as well. It’s an odd feeling to think that Dan Didio came up with one of the most individual and arguably the most fun of all of the New 52 books, but there you go. Very Good, and long may it stick around.

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1: I think we can also file under “Things I’ve said too much about,” but short version: Not for me even before we hit the “Starfire is an amnesiac bimbo nymphomanic” thing. Crap.

RED LANTERNS #1: If Ed Benes wasn’t drawing this book, I have the strangest feeling I would have actually liked it, because Peter Milligan’s script – or, more properly, his narration – is weirdly compelling here, and feels oddly subversive to all the Geoff Johnserisms in the scenes surrounding it. If he ends up carrying that further in future issues, I could see this becoming a sleeper hit for the the cool kids who are perfectly okay with women who can twist their bodies to simultaneously show off their butts and their breasts at the same time. Eh, with chances for better later.

RESURRECTION MAN #1: Clearly, it’s books dealing with life after death that I have a problem with. Like the Deadman book, this one also barely registers after multiple re-reads. Eh, then.

THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1: For everyone who ever thought “What would make Hawkman awesome would be if his armor and wings came out through his pores like Warren Ellis’ Iron Man!” then this is apparently the book for you. For the rest of us, this is a book where Hawkman tries to burn his costume for some unknown reason, then gets attacked by it, and then it turns out it’s living inside him or something. It really is as bad as it sounds, although Philip Tan’s watercolor art is rather nice in places. Awful, though.

STATIC SHOCK #1: It’s modern Spider-Man, with the rest of the Milestone universe seemingly playing the supporting cast. It’s surprising just how ready I was for that book, without ever realizing it. Good, although I’m already worried about it, now that we know that John Rozum is off the book by #4.

STORMWATCH #1: Like Batgirl, it’s possible that this book fails because the writer was far too aware of what they had to do; there’s too much empty exposition in this issue, and it’s an issue that needed useful exposition. Paul Cornell doesn’t quite catch the tone of Warren Ellis’ characters, and the disconnect is obvious in a way that isn’t obvious; no-one sounds quite right, and everything feels off-kilter as a result. It’s a book that simultaneously feels dense and sparse, and Miguel Sepulveda’s art, static and heavy, doesn’t help with that feeling. A low Eh, and it should be much better.

SUICIDE SQUAD #1: Forget skinny Amanda Waller; this book has way bigger problems. You know, things like an awkward structure (Not helped by multiple artists working on the same issue), a ridiculous set-up and thoroughly flat characterization throughout. Disappointingly Awful.

SUPERBOY #1: I was genuinely surprised by how much this book feels like science-fiction instead of a superhero book, at least in this first issue, and how there’s an interesting lack of moral certainty at show just yet (I’m sure that’ll change in time). With RB Silva’s clean art and Scott Lobdell’s strongest script for the relaunch by far, this is Good stuff.

SUPERGIRL #1: This is also surprisingly Good. A complete reboot for the character, and a chance to start from a personality closer to Sterling Gates’ work with the character – Probably the character’s most recent high point – instead of the wishy-washiness of the origins of the previous version, this issue isn’t showy in the slightest, but gets the job done nonetheless.

SUPERMAN #1: Oh, oh, oh. Oh, Superman. I guess, if nothing else, this issue does provide an alternative to Action Comics, mainly in that Action was really good, and this isn’t. Where to start? The confusing opening (Is the new Daily Planet built? It would appear so on page 2, but I’m still not sure if that was meant to be a glimpse into the future or not. If it had been rebuilt, would the previous site still have the remains of the old one?), the hilarious scenes of Lois et al discussing journalism (“Print is dying!“), Clark being bitter and mean to Lois, the genuinely horrible examples of Clark’s journalism… There is so much wrong with this issue, but primarily I think the underlying structure is the biggest problem: Too much is, again, forced into too small a space, and this time, it’s combined with a super brawl that is neither exciting or even interesting, leaving the impression that Superman’s life is dull, full of sniping arguments and a ham-fisted idea of how journalism works. It’s a mess, and one not saved by Jesus Merino’s sterling attempts on art. Awful, and maybe the biggest disappontment of the bunch.

SWAMP THING #1: Talking of wordy, this is another overly-verbose book that could’ve easily dialed back the exposition to sensible levels and become infinitely better as a result (The whole Superman scene in particular felt unnecessary). That said, like Animal Man, the horror tone works and there’s definite potential here. Okay, but greedily, I wanted more.

TEEN TITANS #1: It’s a slow start, true, but I’ll admit to being sucked in to Scott Lobdell’s plan of essentially running one story between this and Superboy – although that final scene in both books has different dialogue and staging in some parts, which seems a completely avoidable mistake to me – and enjoyed this much more than I was expecting from early previews. A high Okay – I still have my issues with Brett Booth’s art, I’m sorry – and I might even keep going on this, at least until the entire team is together.

VOODOO #1: You know, deep within this book, there’s an interesting idea about an alien invasion happening in plain sight, with the alien as the central character. But getting there in this case means working through a lot of gender politics that’s trying to have its cake and eat it at the same time (“Yeah, this is cheesecake, but look, the strippers are real women with class and babysitter problems and shit! But here’s some more T&A anyway!”), and… I’m just not interested, ultimately. Awful.

WONDER WOMAN #1: Holy crap, it’s the last book. I was beginning to think this would never end. And it’s ending on a high note, too; sure, Brian Azzarello’s script is sharp and fast-paced (if a little short on explanations, but there’s time for those later), but this is entirely Cliff Chiang’s show, and he doesn’t even vaguely fail to deliver. This is a wonderful looking book – Matt Wilson’s colors help considerably – and all the moreso because there’s nothing else like it on the DC stands right now. The mythical quality of the story seems on a different scale to all the other New 52 books as well, and the strong individuality of the book makes it feel more like an event… and that’s a nice feeling for a Wonder Woman book to have. Very Good, and one of the best books of the line so far.

Now, as the saying goes: What did you think?

24 Responses to “ Graeme Takes On The New 52. All At Once. ”

  1. “LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1: I’ve really, really tried to convince myself that New Levitz Legion is just like Old Levitz Legion, but I think this is the issue when I realized I couldn’t keep it up. I’m unsure whether it’s Levitz or his circumstance, but everything feels so jumpy and fractured that there’s no chance – or, it seems, space – to build up the long running soap operatics that I loved the first time around, with everything ending up sacrificed for whatever big storyline that I find myself uninterested in. Eh as much as I wish it were otherwise.”

    Ditto on all counts. I’ve decided to drop it, making this the first time since Zero Hour that I haven’t bought Legion if it was being published. That I’m dropping it *with Levitz writing* is pretty shocking to me.

  2. Sorry Graeme, but the art in Animal Man was fantastic. Especially the coloring.

  3. I think that you should take a day or two off from reading comics; you may have four-color poisoning from injesting all of the New 52-ness. :)

    I’ve read only two of the three books I pre ordered (Batman, Swamp Thing and All Star Western) and wasn’t horrified or blown away. Haven’t decided how long I’m going to stick around, and the just plain awfulness of some of the other books is leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth for the whole thing.

    After a long, long time, I might be ready to part ways with buying (new) comics on a monthly basis. Not there yet, but we’ll see.

  4. Generally agree with you, but no very good for Superboy?

    I am still hoping that Stormwatch, Mr Terrific, Animal Man, Frankenstein and Firestorm work for me after 4 issues.

    I would like to try GLC based on your review but how long until Geoff Jones decides to hijack the title to tell the story of Carol Ferris cutting off Aquaman’s hand as they fight over a turquoise ring or something?

  5. (Broken record): Grifter was not okay! It was the worst!

    At least it was the worst comic I bought. I mean, I knew better than to buy Catwoman.

    Supergirl’s a close second, but there’s nothing affirmatively bad about it, just that it was so facile. It had one effective moment for me, really (“There’s something wrong with the sun.”) and everything else was boring and, other than the last page, frankly unnecessary.

    Positivity: I enjoyed that Barry Allen comic more than I could have ever expected. I think I might have brain cancer. And I liked Animal Man a lot more than you did, I thought it was “excellent.” Deadman and Demon Knights were good too. Interestingly, I only got those last two today, after having passed over them; but they’re amongst the few I expect to buy next month.

  6. Because of my limited budget I tried around a dozen of the first issues and think … think … I’ve managed to whittle it down to about four or five that I’ll likely be collecting from now until they get cancelled/end/creative teams change/I get bored.
    -Justice League – I own a bunch of Geoff Johns’ books so I know I’ve found the guy entertaining, but I’ve also been disappointed in his work as well (Green Lantern, Blackest Night, Flash, Flashpoint). But his presence, combined with Jim Lee’s art, combined with my pining for a big deal relaunch of the Classic League, make this a must buy for me.
    – OMAC – Totally agree with the review. This was just so much fun both as a new #1 issue, a reboot of a cool Kirby concept and an homage to The King. Frankly, this could be a far better homage to Kirby than Busiek’s “Kirby: Genesis.”
    – Frankenstein – Loved it. This was a great mashup of Morrison’s wonderful interpretation of the monster, of the classic Creature Commandos stories from the 1980s, and of a bunch of really great sci-fi ideas. Oh yeah, and if Ray Palmer becomes a mainstay supporting character, that’s icing on the cake. The only thing that bugged me was the opening scene with the dog. I love animals and thought it was gratitous.
    – Flash – I have two Flash runs in my collection. The Silver Age stories and Morrison’s few issues from over a decade ago. So it’s not like I’m longing for a Flash series. But Manapul’s artwork is beautiful, which is really key to selling a character who for years was drawn by the awesome Carmine Infantino. And, frankly, while I’m often skeptical of new writers (particularly those who are artists) in this case I was hoping Manapul’s pulling double duty would also bring a freshness to the book. And indeed it did. I’m so glad, based on interviews, that he and his co-writer want this to be a fun, fast, sciency book.
    Demon Knights – Really liked this first issue. It threw a lot at the reader, but when I closed the back cover I really felt as if I’d just been immersed in this wonderfully thought-out new world. Plus, The Demon is a favorite character of mine.

    Almost-but-not-quites for me: Action Comics, Batwoman, Animal Man, Resurrection Man, Green Lantern, All-Star Western. I guess it’s always possible that the second or third issues could win me over, but again, because of the finances, I really need to be choosy.

  7. I’m the kind of guy way more excited by HABIBI, the new L&R, the Kupperman TWAIN book (book of the year), etc, but I thought I’d be a sport and read some relaunch superhero comics.

    5 Stars:
    DAREDEVIL – This is the best of the bunch by a wide margin. I know it’s from a different month and a different company, but this book reminds me why I fell in love with comics and is a template on how to do a superhero comic. I’m sticking with this book even though it means going to a comic store to buy it.

    4 Stars:
    ANIMAL MAN – Lemire will forever have my good will due to the Essex County books. I thought this was pretty good – a very solid superhero comic with a lot of nice touches.

    DEMON KNIGHTS – This was a complete surprise. It was fun and charming enough where I didn’t even care about the cliches. I don’t know much about the characters yet, but I know enough.

    SWAMP THING – Snyder’s American Vampire is quite fun. I thought this was way better than it had any right to be. Parts were clunky, but hey, Swamp Thing is interesting for the first time since Moore.

    3 Stars:
    BATMAN – This was surprisingly enjoyable. The High point was the subtle hints of the relationship between Wayne and his boys. The rest was fun, but not like “Oh wow.”

    FRANKENSTEIN – This is a very obvious continuation of Morrison’s reinterpretation (or rip-off, whatever) of Hellboy/BPRD. And it’s nowhere near as good as the Mignola stuff, but it’s only been one issue. And really, more people should be ripping off Mignola, so I can’t hate.

    2 Stars:
    DEADMAN – This book kinda sucked, but it wasn’t as bad as many superhero comics I’ve read. It was competent, just boring as Hell. And what happened to all the potential Bernard Chang used to show? Blah.

    1 Star:
    DETECTIVE COMICS – What the Hell was this? Complete and utter trash is what it was. It actually made me sad because I could see the writer/artist guy trying *so* hard and just drowning. This is someone who needs to develop his skills with some mini-comics or something.

    JUSTICE LEAGUE – Boring and a bit condescending. It’s boring because nothing happens. Two guys snipe at each other, make corny comments, see an alien, and then decide “Superman’s an alien, let’s go ask him!” Isn’t that a bit prejudicial?

    SUICIDE SQUAD – This was terribly cliche and not charming. And what happened to the fun Harley Quinn from the cartoon show?

  8. @brian – Holy crap, that’s MY pull list for ‘will continue to buy’! Great minds and all that…

    Except I’ll add Batman, mostly because my kids really like Batman. Also, I didn’t buy that many #1s to begin with. The only #1 I bought which I won’t be coming back for is Stormwatch. I checked out a lot of others standing there in the store, but your pull list were mostly the only ones I actually bought.

    So out of DC’s ‘new 52’ I plan on continuing to pick up 6/month. That’s an infinite increase over 0/month. So congrats DC!

  9. Seriously. Why does Graeme even read superheroes at all?? BATWOMAN bad? SUPERMAN #1 bad, with superstrong Lois Lane, grumpy Clark, and weak-armed Supes?? FLASH aside, Jeez he acts like a nerdy virgin telling the prostitute he brought to prom to class it up. .
    Perhaps he should just start purchasing the books he chooses to “review”. Maybe then his ego will come back to earth.

  10. I’m really not sure why everyone seems to like DEMON KNIGHTS; the writing is rushed and choppy as hell. The “years ago” intro set at the fall of Camelot reads like a stuttering false start, and the “everyone meets at an inn” device is eye-rollingly bad – and apparently we’re supposed to be familiar enough with Shining Knight from Seven Soldiers to care about the character (since Cornell certainly doesn’t give us any reason to do so in this issue), but we’re not supposed to expect the character to actually, y’know, resemble the character “Shining Knight” who appeared in Seven Soldiers. And the villains are boringly generic baddies with no motivation for doing what they’re doing other than “ooo, they’re evil.” And the storytelling on the last page is for shit. Whatever, Paul Cornell.

  11. Also, Batwoman was great. Williams can write perfectly well, which is no surprise to anyone who’s seen his writing before (on his LotDK story with Seth Fisher, for instance). Rucka was not the exactly the draw on that Detective run, folks.

  12. Graeme, thanks very much for slogging through these 52 books. We (nearly) all appreciate it.

    I really liked Wonder Woman — it felt like it might end up with a lot in common with the great, aborted Rucka run. Very staccato writing, in a rough way, but I suspect it’ll even out.

    Supergirl: I might like the eventual status quo. It seems like good work, just too decompressed.

    Demon Knights: Not my thing. Characters felt completely off, and I know it’s a reboot, but I just wasn’t willing.

    Action: What you said.

    Blue Beetle, Mr. Terrific, Static: All middling for me (I’d like Mr. Terrific better if they actually let him date Power Girl. That could be interesting). I’m gonna stick with these books through the first arcs, unless they truly, horribly misfire, because, you know, I wanna put a little money where my diversity-spoutin’ mouth is, and I’m interested enough in the characters for a start. Rozum leaving Static? Ugh.

    Batgirl fell short enough that my love of Simone will probably not outweigh my displeasure at the de-Oracle-ing of Barbara, and I’ll drop it.

    Nightwing: Liked it a little more than you did, but I completely see your points.

    Based on your reviews, I must check out Flash (I can’t believe I’m typing that). And I’ve meant to look at the Moritat western thing — his work as The Spirit was winding down was a true delight. Your review of Voodoo is intriguing, but not in a way that will make me read it. I have hopes for JL-Dark.

    Batwoman remains awesome, though. I passionately disagree with you on that one. The one 52 book I’m guaranteed to stay with, and WW’s next in line.

  13. I’m totally with M&S on Demon Knights …

  14. Between quoting Laurie Andersen’s “O, Superman” when others would have gone for the patent saccharine of the REM lyric, and having a cat named after Iceland’s seminal 4AD band, GUS GUS, I just wanted to commend Graeme’s alt music cred.

    Truly, a renaissance man.

  15. I agree on a whole lot of these, but couldn’t disagree more on Animal Man – the art is the star of that particular show, idiosyncratic and strange and wonderful. Best of all, Foreman shifts his style every few pages to suit the story’s tour of Animal Man’s life from domestic not-quite-bliss to some attempts at superheroics to the horror of the book’s freaky, chilling second half. The last page, in particular, is just great, dead space and all. I love the muted color palette too. It’s so refreshing to see a DC superhero book with such a personal style, both in art and storytelling.

    I didn’t think Batwoman was at all a step down from the Rucka/Williams issues, either. There were some spreads here as awesome as anything Williams was doing in the Detective Comics run.

  16. Excellent reviews, Graeme. I only checked out a handful of the new 52 but of the ones I read, these seem fair (and well-encapsulated, I must say). Thanks!

    All-Star Western: In many ways, this was the new 52 one I was looking forward to the most. On first read, I thought it was basically “Okay, let’s do From Hell with Jonah Hex in old-timey Gotham – BAM!” Just kind of a treatment and not a story/ good idea. But I read it again later and liked it much more. I really, really, really can’t stand the “Ah told you…” writing-an-accent style. This drove me insane when Claremont did it, and it still bugs me enough to not read a book I’d otherwise read because of it. But I guess I’ve mellowed because I didn’t really mind it too much. (I’d still prefer they just didn’t do it altogether; it serves no purpose. Somewhat-related: I also can’t stand when English-speaking actors play a foreigner in a film and speak English but with a “foreign” accent. Brad Pitt in 7 Years in Tibet is but one of many examples.) Anyway, I’ll keep tuning in.

    Justice League Dark. First impression – awesome logo. Then I opened it and the trouble began. I probably won’t be getting this one regularly. I’ll give it til issue 3, but not a very coherent or gripping opening, to me.

  17. I also really liked All-Star Western, but mainly because of the imminent return of my favorite Bat-villain.

  18. “I’m amused by yet another “Gotham is built upon conspiracy and evil” storyline so soon after last month’s finale of Batman: Gates of Gotham, though.”

    Funny thing is All-Star Western actually has a line of dialogue not only referencing Gates of Gotham, but also seems to establish that it takes place in between the story shown in Gates.

  19. And for the completely opposite reaction…

    SUPERMAN #1 – The best first issue of the reboot by a country mile. Nothing else even comes close. This book does everything every other first issue this month should have done and does it damn well. The classic cast in reintroduced but in a new situation as The Daily Planet has been taken over by a Rupert Murdoch-esque media conglomerate. As Superman battles an alien fire being in downtown Metropolis, the story is run straight through with a bunch of clever observations on the state of 21st century news in the age of Twitter. This is also a largely self-contained, done-in-one story with a beginning, a middle and an ending that beautifully establishes a new status quo between Clark Kent and Lois Lane. George Perez wrote this book and combined on the artwork with Jesus Merino and the old warhorse has shown every other creator in the business what it means to make a comic for the mainstream audience. Yes, the redesigned Superman costume is not an improvement and, like the other reworked outfits, will likely look very dated very quickly. Everything else here is excellent.

    And I think this review explains the difference.

    AQUAMAN #1 – Horribly decompressed. If it takes you longer than 5 minutes to blow through this book, go see a brain doctor ‘cause you’ve got a tumor growing in there or something. Putting that aside, this is one of the better efforts at taking advantage of the reboot to try and do something interesting. According to this issue, Aquaman the super-hero is as mocked and ridiculed in the DC Universe as Aquaman the comic book character is in our world. I don’t think anyone’s ever confronted the pop culture derision of Aquaman quite like this. The Sea King is also established as being strong enough to flip an armored car over his head and tough enough to get shot in the forehead and barely flinch. And he doesn’t talk to fish. As Aquaman himself points out, fish brains are too primitive for that. Atlantis also apparently exists but is considered a legend by the surface world. Mera’s still around but there doesn’t appear to be a dead Aquababy anywhere. This is as good an attempt as I’ve read to take a character, strip away all the garbage that’s accumulated on him over the decades and give him new purpose and integrity. In dining terms, the food is good but the portions are criminally small.


  20. Wow, Graeme, I thought I was reading too many of the nü 52, & I only picked up half of them (which was way more than I expected). Kudos to you for your audacious, all-inclusive return to capsule reviews! Here’s how my mileage went:

    I really dug ACTION COMICS, SWAMP THING, & JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, so I’m onboard for at least the 1st story arcs of those. Same goes for GREEN LANTERN & BATWOMAN, which just continued from their previous incarnations that I was buying anyway.
    Books I liked enough to at least pick up a 2nd issue: DETECTIVE COMICS, DEMON KNIGHTS, WONDER WOMAN, ALL-STAR WESTERN, & BATMAN.
    And a few I enjoyed that I’m still on-the-fence about: THE FLASH, DC COMICS PRESENTS, & BATMAN AND ROBIN. In all honesty, these were probably as entertaining as BATMAN, which holds a bit more promise for me creator-wise.

    Biggest disappointment: SUPERMAN. Focusing on the Daily Planet characters through the prism of real-world issues facing journalism, with Superman a bit of an enigma seen only through Clark Kent, with his news articles providing third-person captions (remember those?) is an approach I could get behind, if only every aspect of this comic (besides the lovely art) wasn’t a complete failure.

    JUSTICE LEAGUE had the biggest numbers, & ACTION,
    deservedly, the highest accolades. But I think the biggest breakout success, the one that retailers & DC publishing completely underestimated, was the one book I really wanted but didn’t get because it sold out quickly everywhere: ANIMAL MAN. I expect once the 2nd printing comes out this will also surpass 100,000 copies, which is fairly amazing. Maybe it’ll be good, too.

  21. My two favorite titles were Animal Man and Batwoman.
    I also really liked the art on Batman (though I did find myself going ‘well done Capullo, I just need you to be a little less 90s Image’)
    And I found Demon Knights to be incomprehensible and Action comics to have really distracting bad art.

    Perhaps Im Bizzaro-Graeme (though I do agree the art on Wonder Woman was awesome)

  22. I disliked JLA. I felt it wasted all of its potential. Rather than being a flashback to the formation of the League, the opening arc should have shown the fully formed unit in action, saving the origin story for the second arc. Because with the rate at which the first issue was paced, we likely won’t have the full cast assembled until #12.

    Omac had AMAZING art, but zero story. It could have been written by ANYONE else and been more interesting. But the art was SO KIRBY!!! All hail Keith Giffen, the second coming of Jacob Kurtzberg.

    Like many of the previous commentors, I enjoyed the hell out of Animal Man. The art was perfect. And yet I found Swamp Thing to be just so blah. Especially with the hints of so much backstory. Just reboot it for christ’s sake, and spare me the psychodrama.

    Of course, Action Comics was one of the best books of the entire relaunch.

    I loved Snyder’s Batman. It was fun, whimsical, and finely crafted, introducing most of the supporting cast effortlessly, while simultaneously telling a good story. I found B&R to be so eh, I can’t even remember it. Detective was just Awful. And Dark Knight was even worse…seriously, that dialogue almost made it impossible to read, but I toughed it out to give the book a fair chance. That was a mistake.

    I actually enjoyed Men at War. I felt it was an interesting mix of standard war comic with superhero elements, and am curious to see where it goes. I liked the backup strip as well.

    Batwoman was OHMYGOD IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!! But I sorely miss Greg Rucka.

    I really enjoyed Demon Knights, especially its new takes on the characters of Etrigan and Vandal Savage. And I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much, which makes my enjoyment of it even greater!

    Wonder Woman was fantastic.

    Supergirl was fine, if a tad overly decompressed.

    The jobs element was ridiculous, and the same characterization could have easily been accomplished in a much less hackneyed fashion, but I enjoyed the buddy cop element of GLC. Yet I disliked GL, hated Red Lanterns, and couldn’t even make sense of New Guardians until someone told me that the first half of the issue was meant to be a flashback.

    Birds of Prey was interesting enough for me to want to check out the next issue or three. Whereas Batgirl was Awful – I expect more from Gail, which makes it somehow even worse.

    I was pleasantly surprised by Aquaman. He once sang “I know not even Peter David can make me cool”, but Johns might have accomplished that with this issue. Because that opening sequence with Aquaman foiling the armed car robbery was just amazing.

    Flash was also another pleasant surprise. Sure, it’s nothing special, but it’s a very well-told story.

    I wish the artists for Superboy and Teen Titans could be switched…I might then be able to feel confident enough to continue buying Titans…but as it is, I’m not going to be subscribing to either title.

    I certainly wasn’t expecting any less from All-Star Western, and was pleasantly surprised to be rewarded with MORE.

    Firestorm seems an intriguing concept…provided I can discern what that concept IS after the next issue or two.

    Justice League Dark is … interesting. I have enough faith in Milligan to give him some time to make his case with this book.

  23. RE: Graeme, brian, acespot – maybe I need to pick up OMAC if it’s still in the shop this week. Of course, Giffen channeling Kirby is nothing new, he’s just partying like he was 1979 (cue Prince).

  24. Don’t cast Blue Beetle aside just yet! Give it at least issue 2, preferably the first arc. It’ll really start to pick up.

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