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nu52 – wk 3: Three that pleasently surprised me

Brian Hibbs

Remember what I said last week about sometimes the most interesting stuff in the DCU was sitting at the fringes? Yeah, that.

BLUE BEETLE #1: as far as I am concerned, this is the first “proper” first issue of the entire bunch released so far. It’s an origin story. It clearly sets up the protagonist and who he is and what he wants, as well as doing so for at least one antagonist (the suit, itself), AND an entire supporting cast! It made me want to see more when I got to the last page. Yeah, yeah, this was EXCELLENT and exactly what every one of these 52 should have been like: a complete “you’ve never seen this before” reboot that establishes the character completely on their own — neither of the two prior versions appear to have “ever happened”. That’s clear, that’s understandable, completely straight forward, and pretty fun. My one quibble is the constant switching between spanish and english — it doesn’t really work on the page for me. But, yeah, really a perfect first issue of a superhero comic. A pleasant surprise for Tony Bedard, a write who has not made me enthusiastic in the past.


CAPTAIN ATOM #1: Basically it is more DOCTOR MANHATTAN: THE COMIC BOOK (which is really kind of funny, considering), but yeah I liked this just fine, too. There’s no origin here, we’re eight months into his career here, if I’m reading that clock thing correctly, and I’m still not entirely sure the who and the what of everything — there’s the Doctor Megala from the Cary Bates run, but there isn’t any General Eiling that I noticed, is he “Captain Adam”, then? Or is it something else entirely? I couldn’t quite get why the clock did what it did (it wasn’t always forward counting), and I don’t necessarily feel for the protagonist yet, but yeah it was different in tone and mood and style than anything else in the 52 so far. There was also an intermittent effect (that I’m not 100% sure was intentional?) from Freddie Williams II, where CA himself is the only thing at times that looks “solid” while all the normal people have kind of hazy outlines. If it WAS intentional, then good job and nice counterpoint, but maybe make it a little more explicit. I want to rate this stronger than just GOOD, but I can’t quite make the leap to add the “very”, but either way I thought it worth a sample, at least.


DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1: Or what it should really be called: DEADMAN #1. This is only on for six or something? Well, I’m there for this run. It’s an interesting piece — it goes straight back to the original story, but leaves nicely ambiguous what might or might not have happened in the meantime. My reading of the story says probably BRIGHTEST DAY didn’t occur for this character, and he’s certainly not dating Dove. We’ve talked before about how, in some ways, these books are a series of of cheap R&D “and here’s how this can be a TV show”, and DEADMAN scores wonderfully on that front, going straight for a “Quantum Leap meets Medium” (Maybe? I’ve never seen the latter?) high concept that is wonderfully additive to any story that came before, yet while honoring them as possible any way. Excellent excellent job of threading that particular needle, Paul Jenkins! This was a VERY GOOD comic, I thought.


That’s me… what did YOU think?


8 Responses to “ nu52 – wk 3: Three that pleasently surprised me ”

  1. Blue Beetle was fine, except for the fact that it was a brand new origin story that really did nothing but re-establish EXACTLY the same characters and status quo the book had when it was cancelled for lack of readership. I mean, DC can retcon the Ted Kord Beetle out of existence…but we absolutely had to keep The Reach?

    You’re right that Captain Atom gets points for having it’s own voice…if you can overlook that the voice basically comes from throwing Dr. Manhattan, Firestorm and Dr. Solar into a blender and setting it on “liquify”.

    The first issue of DC Universe Presents read like one of those 30 second “Previously on…” montages that run at the start of some TV shows. I also have to question spending the whole comic setting up the Quantum Leap thing, only to apparently blow up that status quo on the last page. Is anyone really supposed to care about a radical change in direction when the story arc is only one issue old?

    They’re all light years better than Suicide Squad or Deathstroke, however.


  2. “My reading of the story says probably BRIGHTEST DAY didn’t occur for this character, and he’s certainly not dating Dove.”

    Which is weird given that he expressly is dating her in Hawk & Dove. There have been a couple of moments of discontinuity between the books it seems like but that’s not actually something I’m going to object to at all. Frankly I wish there were more (like the Batman from Batman #1 not being the same person as the Batman from Catwoman #1…)

  3. I thought Blue Beetle was an EH at best, but probably AWFUL. It’s a reboot of a character new enough that he didn’t need rebooting. It’s got that not-quite-racist Claremont style of writing minorities. It wastes a whole bunch of pages at the front of the book setting up the alien plot when it should be setting up the characters. Jaime shows the least personality of any character. It has none of the fun or cleverness of the last Blue Beetle series. Yeah, I know, it’s one issue in. But it doesn’t work for me.

    I was surprised how much I liked Freddie Williams’ art in Captain Atom, but the story reads more like a Firestorm comic.

    Reading Deadman felt like work.

  4. Wouldn’t call Beetle awful myself, but God, yes, it’s so Claremont I want to puke. I liked the alien set-up and the structure of the book. The attempt at Spanglish was both kind of annoying and felt inauthentic (maybe people do talk like that but I totally doubt it). I mean, write it in Spanish, or write it in English, or at *least* only alternate between clauses and not in the middle..

    I concur with MBunge, too; I liked Captain Atom a lot better when it was called Solar and Jim Shooter was writing it and get off my lawn, you punk kids. Seriously, Solar was great; Captain Atom, so-so. I did like how it felt like any given comic book you could’ve picked up in 1985 though.

    Didn’t read Deadman, but everyone says it’s really depressing and dark, so I kind of want to.

  5. I was not pleasantly surprised by any of these three. Deadman and Blue Beetle were the definition of average, forgettable superhero comics, pretty blah overall. Though I liked the scenes in Deadman where he transfers his consciousness from one body to another, spreading a sentence out over multiple people.

    And since Blue Beetle is about Hispanic characters, there has to be a gang member character. Wonderful.

    Captain Atom was probably the best of these three, purely on the basis of its very striking artwork, which I liked a lot. But there’s nothing else there except lousy writing and concepts cribbed from Alan Moore’s Watchmen. At one point, Captain Atom addresses a volcano (in New York City! disaster movie cliche alert!) as though he’s going to beat it up. That says it all, really.

  6. “Deadman and Blue Beetle were the definition of average, forgettable superhero comics”

    Let me speak up in defense of the average, forgettable superhero comic. I know I’d rather read something like this week’s Nightwing or Birds of Prey or even Blue Beetle than week 1’s Detective Comics where the Joker gets his face peeled off, week 2’s Batman and Robin where we see the Russian Batman crying and screaming with a ballgag in his mouth as he’s dissolved in a tub of acid or this week’s Deadman which, in a quest to be clever, doesn’t just ignore the maxim “show, don’t tell”, it metaphorically violates it with a rusty pipe.


  7. “At one point, Captain Atom addresses a volcano (in New York City!)”

    That sounds pretty awesome. You’ve sold me.

  8. “At one point, Captain Atom addresses a volcano”

    Ed Norton: Helllllo, volcano.

    Ralph Kramden: Will you cut that out!!!!!

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