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The Last Week Of the First Year: A quick DC Survey

Brian Hibbs

Next week starts month #13 for the DCnu, so maybe it’s a good moment to take stock? Surprisingly, yes, it is, with what they shipped this week!

The star of the last week of the first year is, without question, Geoff Johns, as he has no less than four comics that has his name on them shipping. Yowsa!

Double Yowsa, two of those comics missed their master-planned  ship weeks, it must be awesome to be one of the bosses!

AQUAMAN #12:  So, here’s the thing: here we are at issue #12, and I couldn’t tell you one more thing about Aquaman than I could from #1 — he’s pissed off. That’s about that. This year has been fairly alright at giving Aquaman reasons to be pissed off, starting with the laughter of the civilians, the treachery of Mera’s people, Black Manta, and so on — but that’s not actually characterization; that’s just pushback.

Then there’s the terrible, casual violence. I mean, I know, I shouldn’t be surprised by violence in a Geoff Johns comic, I guess, but, yow, Arthur just whips his trident at Faceless Hood #302, totally gutting him. Ew. And totally 100% gratuitous.

I don’t hate reading this comic, or anything, but if I didn’t own a comic shop and have the ability to read what I like for free, I’d never have made it to the end of this first year, that’s certain. This comic is very EH.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE #12: On an individual comics level, I thought this was a reasonable enough production — probably GOOD, even — but it’s so beastly difficult to divorce reading this comic from the meta-narrative of the DC Universe, because this goes against just about everything that I want from this group of characters. They’re odd and clumsy and unsure, but not in an endearing “We’ll strive to get better!” kind of way, but in an uncomfortable and tortured way. And I just don’t think that suits these characters. That’s a Marvel thing — Superman, at the fifth year of his career should not be be a doubting, brooding alien. “Oh….sometimes, I feel… so…. alone!” Jesus, no, that’s not Superman. More on him later, I guess.

Same with Wonder Woman, who seems like an entirely different creature than the one in her own book. Then there’s the teaser for “Justice League of America”, which looks like “Justice League Extreme” to me. Ugh, way too soon for the spinoff, especially one with a market-confusing name like that.

Either way, I just don’t like these characters as presented in this comic book, even though it’s of a reasonably professional quality.

 

GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1: Now, this is really a model of how an annual should be — it’s the culmination of the last year of story, in all ways. THIS is GL #13, and sets off a new status quo for the book for a smidge at least.

Much like JL, I really don’t like what is happening in this comic — especially everything related to the Guardians of the Galaxy, where I think that they’re getting dangerously close to actually breaking the franchise here with the “everything you knew was a lie!” stuff going on here — but it done with solid enough craft, that it’s hard to say it isn’t at least technically GOOD. But I think I’m much much more interested in a new GL, then I am of any of this dangling-threads from “Blackest Night” stuff going on. Frankly, I think that Geoff really doesn’t have a solid post-BN game plan in the way that the build-up to it was.

I think I’ve said this before, but I for one, would like to have a few months of someone with a wish-making ring socking bank robbers in the jaw again — Green Lantern has kind of stopped being anything other than just technical things about Green Lanterns, which isn’t so exciting, really.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL ANNUAL #1: Annual # only, for that matter, since the parent book was actually cancelled.

This one is a weird one, since it seems to set a new storyline/direction for Blue Beetle (but this isn’t his comic… he wasn’t in it before this issue!), as well as what seemed to be erasing Booster Gold from continuity because of the kiss in JL #12 (wait, what?), which continues this weird string of feeling like they’re just making this shit up as the go along up there in the editorial offices.

Half of the characters seem crazy out-of-character to me — especially Guy, and the seemingly contradictory stuff with Booster (his conversation with Godiva insists he’s a fraud, but then in his last scene, it implies there’s a plan) — but it also wants to set up a new threat from Brother Eye and his new “programmer”, I dunno — this is all over the map. And I thought it was pretty EH for that.

 

SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1: And here’s another “Are they just making this shit up days before it prints”? This comic bears zero resemblance to what was solicited:

“• Abducted by a group of mysterious aliens, Superman is dragged to a remote alien galaxy to take part in THE GAMES, a world hopping game of cat-and-mouse where players are hunted for sport. • Can even the help of a mysterious new GREEN LANTERN overcome the might of an alien empire?””(W) Keith Giffen (A)  Cafu (CA) Tyler Kirkham, Matt Batt Banning”

Yeah, that’s not what is here — THIS is by Lobdell and Nicieza and Pascal Alixe, and seems to be happening in a different universe than JL (there’s a thought balloon that seems to be saying how much he loves Lois Lane, for example), but this is all about Hellspont, and Daemonites, and why they’re bad asses, and, oh did we mention that they’re responsible for the meta-gene on earth, no?

Then there’s a lot of checking in with all of the various aliens living on earth, but none of it amounts to anything, and we’re left with crying angsty Superman whining in space about he’s so alone and no one loves him and whatever.

Holy fuck, why is it that DC seems to have no idea whatsoever what to do with Superman, or what makes him appealing in the first place? He’s their flagship character, for crying out loud! (some wag suggested to me yesterday that they’re waiting for the new movie to see if they’ll tell them who Superman is)

I also have to wonder about this whole Daemonite-centric push that’s going on here — is this Boss Jim Lee insisting on something from the top down, or is this mid-level editors trying to suck up to the boss, I wonder? I’m not sure which would be worse, frankly, but I do know that the Daemonites in general, and Hellspont in particular, are really not a very interesting antagonist.

If you’re not clear, I thought this was a pretty AWFUL comic book.

 

FLASH ANNUAL #1: Like GL, a story-driven culmination annual, which is how they should be. One problem here is that I think most of the (ugh) draw of the book is Francis Manapul’s art, and he couldn’t do more than layouts for this one.

More broadly, I think Flash is possibly the most ill-served New 52 book with the “five year gap” — it’s really evident here as these Rogue’s share nothing more than names with any version that we know. They try gamely to fill in some of the backstory we’ve never read, as flashbacks, but it holds about as much dramatic weight as filled-in flashbacks could offer — that is, not much, really. These aren’t “our” Rogues.

Much like Aquaman, I haven’t any real sense of just who this Barry Allen is. It’s been masked by some downright heavenly art and layout (especially), but I really need to have an emotional investment in the characters that I read serialized fiction about.

And I barely have that for any DC character, a year later. I call this merely OK

 

That’s what I think at least, what about YOU?

-B

 

 

 

 

11 Responses to “ The Last Week Of the First Year: A quick DC Survey ”

  1. How do you feel about the art on JL? I found it much more distracting than on the Flash Annual

  2. I haven’t enjoyed much of the New 52 Universe. For about a year now I’ve been dreaming of the day DC announces that they will now be publishing a line of comics called DC Classic. It will feature classic versions of the DC heros not too long after the original crisis. I’d probably buy every book not written by Lobdel.

  3. “Green Lantern has kind of stopped being anything other than just technical things about Green Lanterns.”

    YES! This perfectly sums up everything about Green Lantern post-Blackest Night.

    Sometimes it’s enjoyable, though. War of the Green Lanterns was just flat-out insane, and there have been some good Sinestro moments post-New52. But it doesn’t feel like it’s really going anywhere, just retreading and hitting similar beats to what the series has been doing since 2004.

    I kind of liked this annual, and I kind of didn’t. With Johns and Van Sciver, I expected some kind of game-changer, ala Sinestro Corps War, or some personal work with the characters, like what Johns did with Kyle and Guy in Rebirth. Instead, it was basically Hal and Sinestro fighting Black Hand, and then ANOTHER new army of bad guys is introduced.

  4. I’ve been holding on to Green Lantern for a while just to see how Johns is going to deal with the Oans, but it’s gotten pretty old at this point and I’m starting to wonder if it will ever actually happen. All of these GL epics have had diminishing returns, and it’s really time to wind this particular saga down and expand the universe.

  5. Since the denizens of Oa are called Oans, I just realized the perfect word to describe Johns’ fascination with adding ever more mythology to Oa, the Guardians, and the various lanterns.

    Oanism.

  6. Well, I figure we’ve got maybe a year or two of Evil Guardians, and then we’ve now established a entire population of “Guardians in a Box” which can be whipped out to make them good again?

    The Green Lantern Corps is, I think, DC’s broadest possible property — it’s a concept you can do hard sci-fi, you can do westerns, you can do sword-and-sorcery, you can do police procedurals, you can do LITERALLY ANYTHING with it whatsoever. And, mostly, we’re just spending times talking about the Corps for the sake of the Corps. It’s a little crazy-making.

    My personal comics collection starts with REBIRTH and ends with BLACKEST NIGHT.

    -B

  7. Can someone please explain to me why Zen, Intergalactic Ninja showed up in the Green Lantern Annual?

  8. I think one of the problem with Green Lantern is that the structure of the series changed.

    everything from Rebirth up through #24 was laying groundwork and building toward the Sinestro Corps War in a rather organic manner.

    After that, it was “Uh oh, we have to deal with all these other lantern corps that suddenly appeared, and also there’s ancient prophecy of a Blackest Night.” An acceptable change.

    But after that, it was more secrets from the past. “Oh, all the other lantern corps have these ancient entities we need to find, and ancient evil Krona has awakened.”

    And again, now it’s, “The Guardians have busted into the ancient prison with the ancient Guardians to take out the ancient first Green Lantern.”

    The series is no longer building stories organically, but reaching into a newly mysterious past over and over again.

  9. On Flash: This quickly dropped from one of my favorites to a book I leave on the shelf now. Every story has been about the villain, not the title character, and while Mob Rule was at least a new villain with a fully developed story, the Rogues issues have been terrible–substituting easy gimmicks and superficial changes for all the backstory that built up with the old characters. The only thing that made this series tolerable was Manapul’s art, and that sets up a dangerous weakness when the inevitable fill-ins roll out. (I had the same problem with Wonder Woman.) If Manapul doesn’t even draw the annual then maybe it’s time to drop the series for good.

  10. That is the exact reason I stopped reading the GREEN LANTERN books after #6.
    Not to mention that there are way too many of them (counting Red Lanterns and New Guardians).

  11. (some wag suggested to me yesterday that they’re waiting for the new movie to see if they’ll tell them who Superman is)
    ———————–

    This rings true to me, intended by DC or not.

    Waiting for Superman, heh.

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