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A Little Guidance / Capsule Reviews on the First Two Weeks of the DC Comics 52 Reboot

I’m getting some traffic looking for recommendations on DC Comic’s “New 52” relaunch /reboot, so I suppose I probably ought to give some advice on it.  So far, I’ve found the majority of what I’ve read dull, but competent.  Mind you, I have no intention of reading anything by JT Krul, so don’t ask me about Green Arrow (I’ve heard mixed on that, but more bad than good).  By far, the worst thing I’ve read was that alleged Navy SEALs back-up in Men of War.  (Disclosure: I used to frequent a Navy SEAL owned and operated saloon when I lived in Chicago.  For that matter, every once in a while, I’d get drafted for some doorman duty.  I’ve had occasion to tip a glass with a SEAL or two, so just take my word for it that SEALs comic was a joke and a whiny joke at that.)

There’s an ongoing theme that many of these first issue amount to little more than prologues.  You aren’t sure where the book is necessarily going or if it’s going to be any good.  Some of it is decompressed story telling (Detective Comics, for instance could probably have been told in 4-5 pages).  Some of it is just setting up the premise.  Realistically, the economics of launching 52 double-sized issues isn’t something that would work out, so it is what it is.

There’s another ongoing theme that some of the books, particularly the team books, seemed like the dialogue was a little dumbed down.

The best of the lot?

I’m tempted to go with Animal Man.  I’m not really a fan of Jeff Lemire’s writing, so this one really snuck up on me.  Excellent artwork by Travel Foreman, so takes great pains to make his dream/vision sequences otherworldly.  I haven’t read that much Animal Man, but I could tell what’s going on in this horror book that’s about family but is neither a kiddie tale or yet another goth character estranged from the family.  Problems?  Well, at first blush, the threat/villains seemed to be similar to what was going on in Swamp Thing.  Then Lemire got interviewed and said: “Yeah. I don’t want to give away too much, too soon, but that’s a big part of the book and also a big part of what Scott Snyder is doing over on “Swamp Thing” with The Green. Our two books we’re kind of doing like sister titles; they are very connected, and while our separate storylines may start off being separate, and you can read each book separately, eventually, both of what we have planned merges into one big story which has greater implications for the DC Universe. Maxine and Alec Holland and Buddy are a big part of that.”

Which I took to mean it turns into a crossover later, and greater implications for the DC Universe means it could be more than just Swamp Thing and Animal Man in the crossover.  It could be an EVENT.

Sorry editorial, that just cost you a sale.  I can’t advise jumping on to anything earmarked for a crossover at this point.  Why do DC and Marvel try so hard to drive off people who just want to read a self-contained story?

Action Comics was very well constructed, but completely not to my taste.  Fortunately, all of the DC marketing department’s attempts to tie this series to Twilight (a comparison that seemed to drive sales for the Superman: Earth One graphic novel) seem to have been exaggerated.  The best way to explain Morrison’s take on Superman is start out with the Emo Superman from the Earth One graphic novel.  Dial down the Emo a little, dial up the angry hipster and cross-pollinate that anger with the social causes vigilante Superman from the first few issues of Action Comics in the late 1930s.  I see the basis.  It’s a legitimate basis.  I don’t want to read about surly hipster Superman, though.  Perhaps you do.  It’s a well-constructed comic, at any rate.

Green Lantern #1 makes it appear to be safe to go back to Green Lantern.  I dropped Green Lantern sometime around January, and this is the first Geoff Johns script I’ve really enjoyed in over a year.  To me, Johns lost something towards the end of Blackest Night.  When Blackest Night ended, it felt like GL was just treading water and maybe trying to cross into Brightest Day, which I couldn’t get past the second issue of.  A copy of his Dastardly Death of the Rogues Flash arc, courtesy of the public library, is sitting on my nightstand and I think it’s unreadable.  Less said about Flashpoint , the better.  New Green Lantern?  Back to form.

This issue of Green Lantern suffers greatly from not having any explanation for what’s going on.  I don’t know why Hal Jordan doesn’t have his Green Lantern ring anymore.   I don’t know why Sinestro is a Green Lantern.  But there appears to be a plot and the characters are moving like they did before Green Lantern got caught in crossover event land.  A pleasant surprise.

Batwoman shouldn’t even count as part of the relaunch.  This is the prettiest book of the bunch.  J. H. Williams  III is on the art, so you expect that.  It’s missing a little something for having Greg Rucka seemingly decide to just walk away from DC, but the direction is still there, the plot (involving what appears to be a fairly tale/urban legend run amok) is creepier than ever and it gets my full endorsement.


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