The New DC Universe: Week 1 Reviews

Well DC gave me a nice little softball warm up last week with only the release of Justice League. This week we get crazy busy with the release of 13 new number ones. Now we are getting serious. I admit last week’s Justice League wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. I came into this week very excited. A whole slew of comics I had high hopes for. This is the week we start to see how serious DC was about hooking new readers with quality comics. There was no way Justice League was going to fail. Not the case this week. Some legitimate sleepers in this bunch. This week the power ranking starts to mean something. If you end up at the bottom this week you might be in trouble of getting voted off my DC island. Let’s get at it already.

Action Comics #1

Written by GRANT MORRISON; Art by RAGS MORALES and RICK BRYANT; Cover by RAGS MORALES

I need to give a couple disclaimers here. One, is I have never liked Superman in comic form. There are exceptions. Every so often somebody does something different but for the most part Superman has always bored me. Two, is I love Grant Morrison. I would read Archie comic books if he wrote them. I was very interested to see what he had up his sleeve for Superman and I was not disappointed. Besides making Superman younger, he also made him a tiny bit arrogant and sarcastic. This was without a doubt my favorite Superman story ever. I had low expectations and was completely blown away. The story was great. The dialog really snapped. It was accessible to new readers and Lex Luthor was alive and nasty. Did I mention the art is fantastic? The last page of the story left me excited for what will happen next. This was a hard trick but Morrison made Superman feel young and relevant. 10 out of 10.

Animal Man #1

Written by JEFF LEMIRE; Art by TRAVEL FOREMAN and DAN GREEN; Cover by TRAVEL FOREMAN

Animal Man has had a very mixed history in the DC Universe. Grant Morrison changed the way I thought about comics with his run on Animal Man. Still one of my favorite series ever. Then there was the mini-series which recently came out and was one of the worst comics I have ever read. I had no real idea what to expect here other than the fact Jeff Lemire was writing the book. I love his book Sweet Tooth so I was hoping he could deliver a great Animal Man. Did he ever. A spectacular book and a great story. The book focuses on Animal Man and his family. It starts very much a domestic super hero book and quickly spirals into an urban horror story. Some of the images in the book are haunting. Another great example of what this relaunch is about. This is a book for anyone who likes horror. The book is different but I have a feeling it will be the comic book everyone is telling their friends, “If you read just one relaunch, make sure you read Animal Man.” 10 out of 10.

Batgirl #1

Written by GAIL SIMONE; Art by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES; Cover by ADAM HUGHES

Of all the relaunch books this one had the most controversy surrounding it. Barbara Gordon returning as Batgirl. If you are a non-comic reader you are not going to care but fans of Barbara Gordon’s other incarnation Oracle were rightfully pissed. You see the old Barbara was crippled by the Joker but continued to operate as a super hero despite being in a wheel chair. The new one is out of the wheel chair although it is part of her past. I understood why people were mad but tried to approach the book with an open mind. I like Gail Simone as a writer and expected she would tell a good story. I think she did just that. I still think Oracle is a more interesting character but this book was a good read. The art was solid and it had some wonderful dialog. I liked the doubt Batgirl carries with her and I can really see Gail doing some interesting stuff in future issues. 8 out of 10.

Batwing #1

Written by JUDD WINICK; Art and cover by BEN OLIVER

Really had no clue what to expect of this book. I loved that it was set in Africa. It has always been a pet peeve of mine how there never seems to be many super heroes in other countries. This doesn’t completely fix it but it is a nice touch. I also wondered, why another book in the Batman family? I understand how important Batman is in the DC Universe. I also understand this is an attempt to add a little racial diversity into comics. Truthfully, I would have gone with Black Lightning in his own book before creating a new bat character. The story was intriguing and I liked the art but I really wasn’t sold on the comic. It was an average superhero book. They’re going to have to do something more to keep my attention. 7 out of 10.

Detective Comics #1

Written by TONY S. DANIEL; Art by TONY S. DANIEL and RYAN WINN; Cover by TONY S. DANIEL

The first solo Batman book out the door. I have liked Tony Daniel’s art in the past but I can’t remember if I have ever read a book written by him. For the most part I was not impressed with the story (except for the ending which I thought was great). It was a typical Batman book. The external dialog wasn’t that great. The internal dialog was much better felt a little like a noir novel. Art was good but nothing we haven’t seen before. Overall, I was a little underwhelmed with my first Batman book.  Really should have been a bang up book, they gave him the Joker to work with. 7 out of 10.

Green Arrow #1

Written by J.T. KRUL; Art by DAN JURGENS and GEORGE PÈREZ; Cover by BRETT BOOTH and ROB HUNTER

This is about as complete of a reboot as you can get. The Green Arrow is much younger. Located in a different city and has a couple of behind the scenes no costumed side kicks. I thought the story was fairly well done from the stand point of starting over and giving new readers a chance to jump on board. The back story was quickly established. The art was good but not great. The dialog was again a little comic book clichéd and I am completely unsold on the behind the scenes side kicks. I thought they took up way too much of the book. Throw in some lame super villains and the book is just average. 7 out of 10.

Hawk & Dove #1

Written by STERLING GATES; Art and cover by ROB LIEFELD

This book had an interesting start. I liked the interplay on the plane. The first fight sequence was kind of cool. It was all down hill from there. I have never been a fan of Rob Liefeld’s art and this book didn’t change my mind. It isn’t terrible but something about it always makes me feel distracted. The back story in this comic was not good. When Hawk & Dove were not fighting, I was bored. I am guessing this book was already a hard sell but I don’t think they did anything which will make people want to come back for more. If you are a fan of Liefeld’s art there is at least something in the book for you. Number 2 will have to be considerably better. It wasn’t a complete failure but did nothing for me. 6 out of 10.

Justice League International #1

Written by DAN JURGENS; Art by AARON LOPRESTI and MATT RYAN; Cover by AARON LOPRESTI

Why is Batman in this book? Batman must be the worse loner ever. He is popping up everywhere and truthfully this book doesn’t need him. I like the international heroes. The art is average and the story is fairly run of the mill. I liked the humor. Sometimes hero comic books take themselves way too serious. My main problem is I saw nothing new. It was entertaining but it had a definite “been there done that” feel. 7 out of 10.

Men of War #1

Written by IVAN BRANDON; Art by TOM DERENICK; Cover by VIKTOR KALVACHEV

Really had no expectations with this book. Didn’t know the direction or the subject matter. It contains two stories which makes the book a tiny bit uneven. The front story by Ivan Brandon covers the soon the be Sergent Rock. It is a straight war story set in a world occupied by superheroes. I enjoyed it a lot. Very well written and a complete surprise to me. I love the mystery of where the superheroes are going to fit in. I love that it was a straight war story. By itself I would have given it a 9. I was not as enamored with the second story by Jonathan Vankin. It wasn’t terrible but it really didn’t compare story wise to the first one in the book. Plus, I was not a fan at all of the art in the second story. 8 out of 10 (back-up story pulled it down).

O.M.A.C. #1

Written by DAN DIDIO and KEITH GIFFEN; Art and cover by KEITH GIFFEN and SCOTT KOBLISH

I found this another curious choice for a relaunch book. I was excited to see Giffen was drawing it but had no idea what to expect out of DiDio’s writing. I didn’t hate it but it was another average book. The art was good but the story felt like a science fiction B movie (which isn’t always bad). The story was a run of the mill, out of control hero smashes everything in sight. I did like the little mystery being set up. I think there is potential here but the writing needs to pick up. In particular the dialog between characters (some of which actually made me groan. In a B movie kind of way). 7 out of 10 (but just barely).

Static Shock #1

Written by SCOTT McDANIEL and JOHN ROZUM; Art by SCOTT McDANIEL and JONATHAN GLAPION and LeBEAU UNDERWOOD

I will stick with my early question. Why an obscure hero (correction: not a new character as Whitney pointed out in the comments. I never saw the WB cartoon or any of his comic appearances) when you could have relaunched Black Lightning? This kid’s powers are even in the same ballpark. This book felt like an attempt to gain younger readers. It tried to give off the cool teenager vibe. I didn’t buy it and I would be surprised if any teenager does. Truthfully, I thought Action Comics gave off a much cooler teen vibe then this book did. The art was okay and some of the action sequences were cool but this book did not work for me. The second one will have to be much better. 5 out of 10.

Stormwatch #1

Written by PAUL CORNELL; Art and cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA

There have been times I have been a big fan of Stormwatch. When I heard it was being incorporated into the DC Universe I was skeptical, especially when I heard Martian Manhunter was joining them. It felt like a gimmick. Shows you what the hell I know because this book was great. Not only does Martian Manhunter fit but he feels like he completely belongs. The last page of this comic will make any former Stormwatch fans let out a yelp of joy. Even better was the story hints at what the hell may be happening in this new DC Universe. I liked the art. The story was great and it left me wanting more. This could easily end up being one of my favorites of the new 52. I really didn’t see that coming. 9 out of 10.

Swamp Thing #1

Written by SCOTT SNYDER; Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing showed what a gifted writer could do with a kind of silly concept. I mean it’s called Swamp Thing. Yet Moore elevated it to something more. I was happy to see Scott Snyder was working on this book. I like his work. It gave me hope to a return of the glory days of Swamp Thing. I am happy to say that while it wasn’t quite fantastic, it was very good. A nice mix of horror and mystery. If I had a fault it was the appearance of Superman in the book. I don’t mind Swamp Thing returning to the world of heroes in the DC Universe, it just felt a little forced. I would have preferred a much more subtle reminder that Swamp Thing was in the world of heroes again. On the other hand the book completely surprised me with its story. It kind of grabbed me and said “we are going here” and then pulled the rug out from under me. I can’t wait to see what Snyder does next. 8 out of 10.

DC Power Rankings

1) Animal Man – I was hoping this book would be great in Lemire’s hands and it was. The art was creepy and gave power to the excellent story.

2) Action Comics – A complete shock to me. Even with Morrison on board I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did.

3) Stormwatch – Exciting story and everything I had hoped the first Justice League would be. Left me wishing I had the second book.

4) Swamp Thing – A great start to a character I once really loved. It reads well for new readers and I like how they poked the old readers who thought they knew what was happening.

5) Batgirl – An above average bat book. Didn’t blow me away but a solid superhero comic.

6) Men of War – I hope the second story picks up a little because I have a feeling the Sergeant Rock storyline is going to only get better.

7) Justice LeagueClick for earlier review

8 ) Detective Comics – I was underwhelmed with the story. It wasn’t terrible but it read like every other standard Joker-Batman book.

9) Green Arrow – Not a blazing shot out of the cannon but there is hope. I like Green Arrow so I want this book to succeed.

10) Batwing – You could flip-flop this one with Green Arrow. They are about the same for me.

11) Justice League International – First thing this book needs to do is get rid of Batman. Then jump out of the box and try something new.

12) O.M.A.C. – I liked the art but I have always been a fan of Giffen. The book barely held together on the story front.

13) Hawk & Dove – Right now I see this book as an early possibility of getting voted off my DC island.

14) Static Shock – The art was okay but nothing else about this book caught my imagination. Could also easily be voted off my DC island.

About csdaley

C.S. Daley was born in California but has spent most of his life in his imagination. His first short story written in third grade, the now classic "Close Encounters of the Turd Kind," was sold to his next door neighbor for a quarter. The neighbor promptly demanded a refund. An unhealthy obsession with the writings of Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, and Terry Pratchett have left his mind warped and broken. He spends most of his evening swilling down coffee while tapping at a keyboard under the watchful eyes of his kittens. They are there to make sure he doesn't snap. He likes to write fantasy for adults and teens.

10 Responses to “The New DC Universe: Week 1 Reviews”

  1. I’m glad you’re reviewing these, I don’t have the budget to buy all 52. I do have one quibble. Static Shock isn’t a new hero at all. He was part of DC’s imprint Milestone Comics in the 90s, and even had an animated series in the late 90s/2000. While it’s obvious that he was DC’s response to Spiderman, he’s actually been a pretty great character.

  2. Nice job with the reviews. I read them all last night and have some thoughts on a few which I’ll be posting later today (I hope). I have some of the same thoughts as you but also a few contrasting opinions.

    Congratulations on getting through Week 1!

  3. Nice. What order did you read the Week 2 books in? Also, do you make a conscious effort to clear your mind from the previous book(s) before reading the next one? Or, to put it more plainly, did ACTION COMICS (or ANIMAL MAN) have an influence on how you read the other titles?

    • This is an excellent question. I read the books fairly random. I think Green Arrow first and Swamp Thing last. I don’t remember the exact order. I had to read them whenever I had a break so there was a good time distance between each. Also, I wrote the review before I read the next book. This created even more space between. I tried very hard to not let one book influence another when reviewing. Now when I power rated them I did directly compare them to each other to put them in my preferred order.

  4. Found this site thanks to John Scalzi’s blog. ;) Nice reviews. I’ve been doing a little bit of the same on my site. I was thinking about checking out Animal Man but the artwork just looks… I don’t know, unappealing? But it *does* have a horror quality to it that I liked. I might just pick it up after reading your review.

    And Stormwatch was awesome, loved it to bits.

    • I admit Animal Man’s art took a little getting used to but it is worth the ride. I read the book twice and liked it even more. Stormwatch was a huge surprise to me. I thought this book had fail written all over it. Glad you liked the reviews. Check back this Wednesday for the next round :)

  5. Guess I’ll be picking up Animal Man on Comixology then…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,293 other followers

%d bloggers like this: