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nu52 – Wk 2: Men and Other Monsters

Brian Hibbs

Four this time: Death, Demons, Original Monsters, and Suicide.

(man, this commitment to review all 52 of these is really a slog! Not quite halfway!)

 

DEATHSTROKE #1: I don’t think it will be much of a surprise to say “I didn’t like that”, but I guess I’m not certain who a TITANS-less Deathstroke is for?

Actually, no, let me amend that, because Deathstroke tied to the Titans was always somewhat sad — he’s supposed to be a major bad-ass, master strategist, and so on, and a kid in red hot pants always lead his defeat. Sad, really.

But, Deathstroke without the Titans is kinda “just” a “bad-ass mercenary”, and those are kind of a dime a dozen. Especially in comics. So, for me, this needs something to clearly separate it from that pack — a visual, a sensahumor, dunno, something. Didn’t find anything like that here, just an amorality contest, which had the impact of rendering the character thoroughly unlikely (especially with that punchline) — interestingly, this is the first of the 52 I’ve read that doesn’t even try for a cliffhanger ending.

As a comic, I thought it was pretty AWFUL. As part of a linewide rebranding effort to create pitches for adaptation into TV shows, I thought it was OK.

 
DEMON KNIGHTS #1: This one, on the other hand, I thought worked admirably — disparate pre-gunpowder heroes thrown together as a team with plenty of funny and action, and I thought the “here’s who I am and where’s my power set” stuff all worked here in a way it simply didn’t in Cornell’s STORMWATCH. Probably because of the time period. Anyway, yeah, liked it a lot, it’s in my personal top three so far. A solid VERY GOOD.

 

FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF SHADE #1: Loved the setup, the idea machine, the worldbuilding, the characters, but I was very very iffy on the art. I want to see more of this book, but I’d like to see it with a cleaner and sleeker style Overall however: GOOD stuff, Maynard.

 

SUICIDE SQUAD #1: But we have to end this patch on a down note: ew.

The original (well, OK, the second version — the Ostrander version) Suicide Squad worked so well because of character interaction. I, for one, never really cared about the specifics of the missions or the plot — it was all about broken broken people rattling around in a barrel half-filled with napalm or some other metaphor there I’m not getting quite right. I guess I mean that they were at least as dangerous to each other as they were threatened by the storyteller. That’s a kind of magic of good writing, when the characters can kind of write themselves.

I don’t want to totally write this off with JUST the first issue, but judging  from this one, no, this is all about the plothammer. Before I had turned to page two I had guessed what the twist was going to be. I don’t mind brutality and torture in my comics, but I’m not a big fan of gratuitous brutality and torture.

Plus when I got to that last page shot of Amanda Waller? I threw up a little in my mouth. So, yeah, AWFUL from me.

Whew, just one more to go…. and then I’m just at the halfway point? *moan*

As always, what did YOU think?

 

-B

10 Responses to “ nu52 – Wk 2: Men and Other Monsters ”

  1. I loath the change to the Wall, and I don’t buy a single one of the arguments for it. Ms. Waller has had so many continuity and TV appearances she’s almost instantly identifiable – who would toss a recognizable design for the off-chance Halle Berry would play her? They did it to put another standard young supermodel in their book. No way around it.

  2. Wow, surprised and pleased to hear you liked DEMON KNIGHTS which sounded to me like a complete misfire and misuse of my favorite, Jason Blood. (Let me rephrase that — it sounded like yet ANOTHER misuse, in a long line of fumbling reboots!) Hopefully my LCS still has some copies kicking around.

    On the other hand, I was incredibly bummed out byFRANKENSTEIN. I decided to give this another shot, despite my disappointment in the FLASHPOINT Frankenstein series. I should be an easy sell for this — Frank was my fave of GM’s Seven Soldiers project and it would seem like its done-in-one mix of over-the-top mad science and heavy metal brooding would be fairly easy to pastiche. But Lemire seems overly enamored with his rare, truly wacko ideas (how many times do we have to be reminded about the miniature size of S.H.A.D.E. HQ) — without really knowing how to sell ‘em. The reference to “SHRINK TECHNOLOGY” on page 1 seemed to be a red flag for a rush write job or a sloppy edit — it cries out for a technobabble science term or using S.H.R.I.N.K. as an absurd acronym. And the monstrous threat — with the cliche Rockwell-gone-wrong opening — and the return of these lame sub-Saturday-morning-cartoon Creature Commandos, guh. (If I’d known they were resurfacing from the Flashpoint book, I never woulda bothered.) That with the sketchy-ass art made this an epic EH for me.

  3. “Frank was my fave of GM’s Seven Soldiers project”

    It would certainly benefit DC if somebody over there realized that GM’s Seven Soldiers wasn’t a smashing sales success and that selling a character like Frankenstein entirely on the basis that…

    1. Everybody read Seven Soldiers, and…

    2. Everybody loved it,

    is a problematic endeavor.

    Mike

  4. Not having read Seven Soldiers or the Flashpoint series, I picked up Frankenstein because it seemed like a goofy concept that could make for a fun book.

    The first issue was a very by-the-numbers first issue. Here’s our secret base! Here’s our overall purpose! Here’s our team! Here’s a generic threat for our first mission! And yes, it’s a Hellboy/Men in Black concept. But I was amused enough by the script and the ideas that I’ll probably stick with it for at least the first arc.

    On the art side – I didn’t hate it but, yeah, didn’t love it either…

  5. Frankenstein was excellent and fun. Between that and Animal Zman I’be found in Lemire a new favorite writer.

  6. Frankenstein was excellent and fun. Between that and Animal Man I’ve found in Lemire a new favorite writer.

  7. Lemire’s 3 Essex County books are some of the best comics ever made, especially the second, Ghost Stories. So he forever gets a look from me.

    I loved Seven Soldiers. Those are some of my favorite comics ever. I thought Lemire’s Frankenstein was a pretty run-of-the-mill BPRD rip-off. I’m happy he’s getting a paycheck and I’d rather he use the BPRD idea as opposed to anyone else, but still, it was a bit underwhelming. Not bad, just not great. I’ll check the next few issues, but I’m hoping he either fully embraces the BPRD concept or finds his own voice.

  8. Seven Soldiers Frankenstein was a great book. Of course mostly because of the lovely art. I would think that it is difficult to sustain in an ongoing.

    That Waller thing is just wrong on every level. Isn´t it enough that they have to put a fun-character like Harley Quinn through the wringer to f***k her up for the forseeable future?

  9. Demon Knights didn’t work for me at all. I see interesting bits, because Cornell is a good writer, but neither Jason Blood nor, most especially and unacceptably, Madame Xanadu seem in character. Nor (briefly as she’s shown) The Shining Knight. Madame Xanadu is eight miles out of character for any representation I’ve ever seen, and I’m especially distressed that all the great work Matt Wagner did on the character in the recent Vertigo series has been jettisoned.

  10. Ugh… picked up DEMON KNIGHTS, based on the review above and gotta say I was hugely disappointed. It struck me as a disjointed mess that got most of its juice from expecting readers to recognize & respond to the riffs on established characters. Hey, the Shining Knight! Look, Vandal Savage! All a very thin frosting on an absolutely generic fantasy genre “hail, fellow, well met” intersection of questers at a tavern, without any real sense of why these characters had any common cause.

    Maybe it’s just time for me to give up on Paul Cornell. He’s a writer whose stuff always sounds fantastic to me in the abstract — couldn’t wait to get my hands on WISDOM, was excited by the MI:13 stuff, was eager to see him pick up the baton on BATMAN & ROBIN — but I’m always left with a resounding sense of EH.

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