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nu52 – wk 2: The Self-Made

All the super-power-less characters — two Bats, a grifter, and the terrific.

BATMAN & ROBIN #1: Much like the Lantern books, this really read to me like “the next issue of B&R”. I did like the impatient Damien scenes while Bruce explains how his message should be about life and not death, but other than that, this was a pretty standard-form bat-comic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I have very little to say, other than… OK.


BATWOMAN #1: I had a real shudder of pure joy upon reading this. Man, is it agonizingly beautiful! It also felt to me just packed fulla content, but maybe that’s because I was lingering so long with so many of the pages. J. H. Williams is an incredibly exceptional artist, and his writing is perfectly fine as well. Either way, this is the second of the nu52 which I loved loved loved — this was purely EXCELLENT win, all the way, through and through, and we hope for a long long life for this title.


GRIFTER #1: “It’s THEY LIVE starring ‘Sawyer’ from LOST!” was probably the pitch? Though, actually, when I heard the premise the first time, MY flash was to ROM, SPACE-KNIGHT, because what are these mark-2 Daemonites except for effectively being Dire Wraiths? Not to keep harping on the continuity thing, but I have a pretty hard time understanding how a “timeline merge” transforms the very fundamental nature of an entire species? Annnnnnyway, as a way of preserving a trademark, when you can’t keep any of the individual bits of that trademark other than (I guess) the mask and the name, I thought this did a perfectly adequate job. But, this doesn’t feel like a “comic” to me — it feels like a pitch for a weekly TV show that just happens to be in comic form. None of that is bad, per se, nor is the comic bad, but I’m not so sure this one can or will sustain itself past twelve issues or so? All in all, I thought it was perfectly EH.


MISTER TERRIFIC #1: I am, for the life of me, wondering just what the hell this was all about. The meta stuff, I mean. Did someone already have a MT pitch in hand that the serial numbers could be filled off of easily? Was it 4 am in the last days before they had to announce the books, and they were at book #51, and no one could come up with any better, so they just said “sure, sounds great!” Was it that someone argued there had to be a JSA-connection somewhere, even though there couldn’t be an actual JSA?

MT *is* certainly an unique character — a smart, technologically-competent black man who is also an atheist — that’s cool, not something you really see in media anywhere is it? But once you remove the legacy aspects of the JSA connection, I think the seams really start to show. Seriously, what grown man (seriously, especially a black man) is going to call himself “Mister Terrific”, without it being a legacy name? Same thing with the “Fair Play” : I liked that on a Golden Age character, just the same way I liked Ma Hunkle with the souppot on her head becoming “the Red Tornado”, but that’s seriously NOT a c21 name.

Even putting that all aside, I really didn’t like this comic very much — I thought “The third smartest man” (who, um, is actually Amadeus Cho) was written pretty dumb — in a way that a lack of specificity there wouldn’t have bothered me; and a non-visual power for your antagonist like the mind or emotion control here is largely anti-superhero comics. Lots and lots of set-up, no real payoffs, I was pretty disapointed.

What’s… well not funny, but not really ironic either, dunno the right term really… is that I was opining to several customers, in the weeks before any of these books coming out, that I was holding out the most hope for the “odd” books like GRIFTER or MISTER TERRIFIC because, historically, the best comics DC publishes tend to come from the fringes where you didn’t expect anything whatsoever. Things like Morrison’s ANIMAL MAN, or Ostrander’s SUICIDE SQUAD, or the Cary Bates CAPTAIN ATOM (seriously? Those first three years? What a great run!), or even why-do-people-forget-it-started-firmly-in-the-DCU Gaiman’s SANDMAN were all more vital, and transformative to the greater-DCU, then any monthly-ongoing run of Superman or Batman comics. So, yeah, all the more disappointing that this comic didn’t elevate itself out above the pack.

Of what I have read so far, I am thinking this will be the first one cancelled. I may have hated HAWK & DOVE, but there are a contingent of people who like Rob Liefeld to pieces, enough to maybe get that title past year 1. MT, on the other hand, has to solely last on its own merits, of which I find few. It was an AWFUL comic.



As always: what do YOU think?



19 Responses to “ nu52 – wk 2: The Self-Made ”

  1. “I had a real shudder of pure joy upon reading this.”

    Maybe you should put the artwork vibrator down long enough to realize that this issue of Batwoman is practically indecipherable and the character as presented has NOTHING going for it besides the art, which I find more pretentious than engrossing.


  2. Mister Terrific put me in an odd place, like Green Arrow did – I was reading the book and quite enjoying the set-up/concept, but the way it was all playing out… not so much.
    Exact same characters, exact same concept but with different teams – I’d be on board.

    One thing I found quite odd in Mister Terrific, and I’m not sure what to make of it, is that two of the black characters (MT is one) seemed really touchy about race. MT felt the need to point out he is black – in England to another black person – and his assistant believes black women are made tougher than white women, and thinks this is a-ok to say to people at fancy parties.
    I’m shocked that the super-rich carry a chips on their shoulders.
    If they had to go through the lottery system for schools from Ultimate Spider-Man #1, I could understand resentment to the entire world, but it seemed a little odd in this book.
    That said, I still kind of want to get the next issue, as I like the set-up, but I doubt the writer can deliver.

    I can’t wait to read reviews of Suicide Squad on this site!
    Adam Glass isn’t going to settle for having the worst book of the year with Legion Of Doom, he’s going to have the two worst books of the year, thanks to Suicide Squad!

  3. I really enjoyed Batwoman quite a lot. Of course, I read the Batwoman run in Detective Comics when that came out, so I had no problem following along. I can see how someone who hasn’t read the character before might be at a loss.

    I definitely noticed Rucka’s absence from the book. It wasn’t bad by any means, but the pacing was a little off. It definitely started a lot of plotlines, which I think is part of what felt off to me — it didn’t seem to slow down long enough to develop anything. Also, that infodump toward the end was a little amateurish.

    Having said that, the art does go a long way toward mitigating those (fairly minor) flaws. With art as beautiful and evocative as JHW3’s, I can overlook a lot. The real test will be when the other artist (sorry, I can’t remember her name) takes over for the next art.

  4. Also known as “the next arc,” thank you very much.

  5. Yes, the book is a little less for Rucka’s absence but the art more than made up for it, with solid storytelling from the writing team. It’s this and Action Comics for me so far.

  6. Holy cow, Grifter got an EH? I’d have gone awful or even crap myself. Why is there a shelf full of hats unattended in an apparently depopulated New Orleans? Why is he putting on a mask? Why did an interesting concept become completely unambiguous and boring?

  7. “even why-do-people-forget-it-started-firmly-in-the-DCU Gaiman’s SANDMAN”

    We don´t forget it, we like to ignore it :-)

    What is the appeal of a book like Grifter? The character couldn´t sustain his own title at Wildstorm, like (Stormwatch), so why now?

  8. Williams is a nice enough craftsman, but not an exceptional artist. (plus he is overdoing panel design and layout)

    People like for instance Risso, convey much more with less.

  9. @ Mike: I haven’t read any Batwoman before this (except for her appearances in 52). I found this story to be pretty straight forward… not indecipherable or hard to follow in the slightest. Urban legend ghost lady is kidnapping kids… Kate is training Bette… Batman shows up… slight detour to accommodate Agent Chase (yay!) and romantic subplot.
    And the beautiful, inventive artwork… while splashing all over the page was never difficult to follow at all due to the careful placement of text boxes and word balloons. It doesn’t get much better than this. I’m totally in for the next issue!

  10. “I found this story to be pretty straight forward… not indecipherable or hard to follow”

    Different strokes and all, but…

    1. Why does Batwoman look like the Joker?
    2. Why does she fight crime?
    3. Why does she wear a Bat-costume to do it?


  11. @MBunge

    To answer your questions as succinctly as possible:

    1. That was a visual choice by Rucka and Williams III. They were trying to suggest a succubus look.

    2. Fighting crime is Kate’s way of serving society, given that she got kicked out of the armed forces courtesy of DADT. Also, it’s her way of responding to the kidnapping that resulted in the death of her mother and the supposed death of her twin sister.

    3. As Kate’s father Jake said, wearing a Bat-costume quickly symbolizes that she’s one of the good guys.

    My only concern about this inaugural issue is the photograph of Kate’s former lover Renee Montoya in that display case. Is it for cops who’ve shown exceptional service…or cops who have been killed in the line of duty? If the latter, I will be very angry at DC’s decision.

  12. While I disagree about the art on Batwoman, I do see what MBunge is saying about the story. I think there’s a difference between a poorly explained plot and a poorly explained premise. A lot of these DCnU books have plots that are not hard to jump into and are explained decently enough, but it’s the actual premises that are poorly explained and feel impenetrable. That was my problem with Batwoman too. I could follow the present-day occurrences but I couldn’t follow the established premises.

    She apparently has some kind of working relationship to Batman. What is it? They appear to be in a panel together. So how independent is she from him? Does she work for him? And a lot of other questions I had about her as well were not answered. This is coming from someone who has never read a Batwoman comic before, which I assume is the kind of reader DC is hoping this reboot will grab.

  13. I’m a little surprised at the hate for Mister Terrific. I can’t argue against the logic of publishing it; I don’t know why it exists, either. But to me it was a sharp book with maybe some unfortunate art, and I liked it enough to buy into the series for the time being. I felt like the dialogue and narration had a snap to it that wasn’t overly self-aware like say Gail Simone. I may have to re-read it and speak to my therapist and/or spiritual advisor.

  14. Amadeus Cho is actually the seventh smartest person in the world. Also, it’s a different world (apologies to Jasmine Guy).


    Michael Holt is the 3rd smartest guy in DC behind (allegedly) Lex and Bruce, IIRC.

  15. @MBunge: I’m sympathetic to the complaint that this may not have been an ideal first issue for the BATWOMAN novice, but it seemed to me like a fairly decent compromise. This character has suffered from a whole series of false starts — an early introduction (in 52) and a bunch of company hoo-hah about the 1st lesbian superheroine that led to exactly nothing for months and years, an initial series (in DETECTIVE) that was essentially a protracted frame for an origin story, a #0 that reintroduced the character yet again, and this #1 which was endlessly delayed (partly in order to mesh with the Nu 52).

    The worst thing would have been yet ANOTHER entry point narrative. By now, JHWIII & co. pretty much HAD to dive in to the story, guns blazing, and dole out back-story along the way for newcomers, or risk alienating the fans who have been waiting FOREVER for this character to really get moving.

  16. SteveD, I think a good way to handle it, at least for this first month of releases, would have been to do what Marvel used to do at the very top of the first page in its books in the 70s and 80s. The “premise paragraph.” Do you remember those? A quick paragraph describing the protagonist, premise and hook of the book, followed by the sentence “Stan Lee Presents: [Insert Name Here!]

  17. How the hell do you rank the smartest people in the world? Do we currently do that in our world? What objective way is there to measure smartest people? It can’t just be an IQ test, so what is it? Also, the way he kept mentioning it seemed really arrogant, like something in the family of a “name drop.”

    The character seemed kind of arrogant and showoffy, yet at the same time seemed to have a chip on his shoulder, God knows why. In fact, I thought one of the defining traits about Mr. Terrific was that he DIDN’T have a chip on his shoulder.

  18. “Michael Holt is the 3rd smartest guy in DC behind (allegedly) Lex and Bruce, IIRC.”

    I think it’s supposed to be a mystery as to who is smarter than he is.

    IT does make you wonder though, why aren’t they making a book about THE smartest man?

    “In fact, I thought one of the defining traits about Mr. Terrific was that he DIDN’T have a chip on his shoulder.”

    Yup, it was part of the appeal.
    It’s weird that the guy with ‘Fair Play’ tattoos has a chip on his shoulder.
    (Could explain why he always stresses the ‘third smartest’ though).

  19. @T: I’m a huge proponent and fan of those old ’70s “Stan Lee Presents” headers! As a nascent comix fan, they gave me a bit of much-needed context to just barely prepare me for diving mid-story into some truly baffling-ass shit.

    (And I often lament that the downfall of Joss Whedon’s FIREFLY was that they never came up with a succinct old-school TREK style opener to explain the premise to newcomers!)

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