Monday, September 12, 2011

52 Pick Up for 09/07/11

With all the new titles DC is releasing for their line-wide September revamp, it can be hard to know what is and what isn't worth buying.  Therefore, we here at the Weekly Crisis would like to help you navigate the DCnU, so we are taking it upon ourselves to help you separate the wheat from the chaff.  Every week, another edition of 52 Pick Up will go live, providing you with our thoughts on the most recent crop of titles.

We find ourselves at the end of the first full week of new DC titles, and it's clear that September is going to be a busy month.  DC dropped thirteen brand-new comics on the stands, including the much anticipated Action Comics #1, a slew of Batbooks, Animal Man #1, and all those other books that you may or may not have been eagerly awaiting.  Hit the jump to see what we thought of this smorgasbord of titles!

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales & Rick Bryant

The one and only Grant Morrison (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN) returns to Superman, joined by sensational artist Rags Morales (IDENTITY CRISIS), to bring you tales of The Man of Steel unlike any you’ve ever read! This extra-sized debut issue is the cornerstone of the entire DC Universe!

Ryan: I am not a Superman guy. I actually usually joke at the character's expense because I just don't get him. I wasn't sure I ever would. Then along came All Star Superman and I love that story. Each month it floored me so based on those credits alone, Morrison had me on board with this title. I am more than prepared to give him 3 issues to win me over.

After this first issue, I can report, I'm digging this book. I like the idea of this being a simpler Superman. This is a strange Morrison Golden Age update and I like the ambition of trying something new. I don't care how it interlocks into continuity, I just don't. I care if this is a good story or not and if I enjoy it. I'm sure I can piece it into the larger DCnU narrative but what's most important is that I can open it up and have a blast. I really liked the art of Rags Morales. I'm not sure I've read anything with him in there before and I had no idea what to expect. There's a scratchy MAD magazine style to his line that makes this world feel like it's not a superhero world. That's fitting considering Superman doesn't feel like a superhero here but more like some sort of justice vigilante.

Verdict - Buy It. This comic feels like a Superman reboot should. It's like Morrison is out to instill the youthful things we love about Superman while still making it a fun comic. This title could very well be the heart of the whole relaunch.

Grant: Grant Morrison and Rags Morales have done it.  They've made the monthly adventures of Superman something worth reading again.  It's only one issue, but the pair are off to a terrific start.

The Superman we meet is similar to the one we know, but he's really been taken back to his roots.  He's once again fighting for the working class, just like he was during the original Siegel and Shuster issues, taking the law into his own hands when he deems it necessary.  This is an angrier Superman who isn't quite as happy with the establishment.  It might not sound like a major thing, but it really changes the tone of the book.  Superman is still trying to do what's right for people, but he doesn't have quite the same amount of patience or understanding as he once did.

The story and the action moves quickly, and it's all for the good.  Morrison comfortably establishes who his Superman and Clark Kent are, and Morales keeps pace along every step of the way.  His art is a great addition to this title, doing a lot of narrative heavy lifting throughout.  His layouts are solid and the action pieces flow smoothly.  I'm still not sold on the blanket cape, but I do enjoy Supes' workboots.  A nice little  character design nod to the character's new focus.

Verdict - Buy It.  This isn't quite as complex as you might be used to from Morrison (at least not yet), but that's quite alright.  This is a great comic by the creative team and looks to be one of the great series for the new 52.

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Travel Foreman & Dan Green

Buddy Baker has gone from “super” man to family man – but is he strong enough to hold his family together when Maxine, his young daughter, starts to manifest her own dangerous powers? Find out in this dramatic new series from writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Travel Foreman (The Immortal Iron Fist).

Ryan: We have a winner already. This is my pick for the best DCnU 52 book (though, admittedly, I haven't cast as wide a net as some of the others). Everyone needs to put aside what they think they know about Animal Man and just come to this book fresh. It's a superhero horror tale (a genre not nearly exploited enough as it should be) and the tone is metered out perfectly and builds right to the last page.

Every good horror story needs an invested audience and we quickly warm to the dynamic of the Baker family. Lemire places us into this domicile quickly and effortlessly without ever making a big deal out of any of it. The superheroics play out well - Baker's use of animal powers is inspired. Then, right toward the end of the issue, things get a little purple hazy. The horror kicks in, at the perfect moment, and it takes you back. There are actually elements at play here that will shock you.

Verdict - Must Read. Seriously, book of the week. I guess I should caveat and say, book of the week if you dig on brilliant horror superhero tales. If that's your flavour then prepare to OD on awesome.

Ken: I think I'm with Ryan on this one, it won the week for the stuff I picked up, not just the DC books. I enjoyed the panel layouts Foreman provided, I love the idea that married superheroes doesn't make them lame or old (cough, Supermarriage, cough), and the way Buddy uses his powers are novel and makes you want to see more. And who knew dog barks could be so freaky? Plus, the twist at the end, which was hinted at nicely throughout the issue, works. It's not completely creepy, but it does make you stand back a bit and go "that's not right."

Verdict - Must Read. You get what you pay for in this issue, and it does what I wish more #1's would do; establish the hero, his supporting cast, mix in some action, and then lure you into the second issue with a hook. So many books miss many of these points, but Animal Man gets them all.

Matt: I really don't want to repeat all that my blog-mates have said, but this really is a very, very good book. It shows a great deal of promise, with plenty of dangling story lines likely to show up in the future. Lemire did a wonderful job of touching on all the aspects of Animal Man's life, and all of them are equally interesting. The dynamics he build with Buddy and his family are a breath of fresh air. Just like the original Fantastic Four stories, this shows you that despite people being family, they sometimes can't stand each other. I also enjoyed Lemire's fourth-wall breaking, a callback to Morrison's stay on the title, where he is the interviewer on the article that Animal Man is reading. Trevor Foreman's art took me a while to get used to, but once I did, I completely appreciated it. There's a certain surreal quality to it that fits the tone of the tale. The costume does look a bit silly, and I'm wondering why they went back to the blue and white, but maybe it will be explained down the road.

Verdict - Must Read. The strongest book out of the gate by far. Get in on this while you can, as it's bound to get even better as Lemire and Foreman continue to explore this character.

Grant: I've already made my love for Jeff Lemire abundantly clear, and this book is a perfect example of why I like him so much. The man is something of an expert on writing familial relationships, and he's taken full advantage of that skill for this title. This isn't so much a book about Animal Man the superhero as it is about Buddy Baker, family man (who just happens to have superpowers). Throughout the book's entirety, this is what's emphasized, and it's great.

I also found Travel Foreman's art off-putting at first, but I warmed to it as the story progressed. His style is very different, and while it sometimes looks a bit odd, I think it ultimately fit the tone of the book. I was especially impressed with the dream sequences towards the end of the issue. Some genuinely creepy stuff going on, and Foreman's style really put it over the top.

Verdict - Must Read. You're probably getting the idea at this point, but I would also call this one book of the week. It's good for new and old readers, tells a compelling story, and is different from the regular superhero fare. I can't wait to see where this one goes.

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Adrian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes

Yes, it’s really happening!
Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl – and she’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as the dark secrets from her past. You won’t want to miss this stunning debut issue from fan-favorite BIRDS OF PREY writer Gail Simone!

Grant: I was expecting to really like Batgirl.  Gail Simone is among my favourite writers, Adrian Syaf's art looked pretty solid, and while I was unsure about taking Barbara out of her wheelchair, I figured this would probably be the best creative team to make this work.  And I think it did work, but there are still some growing pains to overcome at this point.  I did like this book, but not nearly as much as I thought I would.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Bab's characterization, I think moving into her own apartment with quirky roommate could be a fun decision, and the new bad guy, the Mirror, seems interesting, but there were some moments that didn't quite click.  The Mirror's introduction was kind of off, some of the art appeared to be a tad rushed, and the concluding moment with the police officer berating Batgirl really didn't make all that much sense.

Verdict - Check It.  This wasn't the strongest issue ever, but it definitely had some strong points.  I'll likely be back for at least one more try, but if it doesn't pick up a little bit, I will be hard pressed to rationalize buying this when there are so many other books that DC is releasing that I preferred.  Go with your gut on this one.

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Ben Oliver

Africa, a land of beauty – and of great horror. A land of creation and conflict. It is in desperate need of a defender, and from the ranks of Batman Incorporated comes a soldier to carry on the legacy of The Dark Knight in the most tumultuous region on Earth. Meet Batwing, the Batman of Africa!

Grant: Now here's a book that takes advantage of hypothetically having a batch of new readers paging through it. While Batwing was reintroduced in Batman Inc. under Grant Morrison's watch, he had yet to get any serious face time in any of DC's books. Judd Winick and Ben Oliver get the honours of introducing the character to readers, and they knock it out of the park.

We get to meet our hero, David Zavimbe, see his first mission with Batman, meet his first nemesis, Masscare, and get ourselves a pretty interesting initial mystery. There's a also an intriguing supporting cast, some sweet actions scenes, and quality character development. The fact that the book happens to also be visually stunning is another big help. As much as Animal Man is my favourite book from this week, Batwing is easily the prettiest. I want to frame Oliver's work and put it up on my wall to admire all day long.

Verdict - Must Read. This book is at great risk of getting lost in the shuffle.  The creative team isn't terribly well-known.  The character is even more obscure.  In theory, it might not look like a winning combination, but in practice, it makes for a great reading experience.  Winick and Oliver are making the most of their blank slate, and I think that this book is going to do some great things.  I'd wholeheartedly recommend getting in on the ground floor.

Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Tony S. Daniel & Ryan Winn

DC’s flagship title is relaunched for the first time ever, with new Batman adventures from acclaimed writer/ artist Tony S. Daniel!
A killer called The Gotham Ripper is on the loose on Batman’s home turf – leading The Dark Knight on a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Ryan: I wasn't going to get this but a mixture of my shop keeping my order from Snyder's 'Tec run and my wife picking up my books this week meant it slipped through. I went in with little expectations and was mildly surprised and impressed.

I didn't realise Tony Daniel was drawing this one as well. That's a big task and I hope he can keep it up. I miss author/artist solo books. This is a decent Batman tale. It feels like people think others want a Batman tale to feel - if that makes sense. There's lots of Batman inner monologue full of gristle and determination. The Joker is being used straight up, no point burying the lead. The action is fun, the story is neat, and that last page certainly is something. Nasty and many will be drawn in next week just to see what happens. I don't know if I will be among that crowd purely for budgeting purposes.

Verdict - Check It. There are a few storytelling issues I had but the overall tone and pace is decent. This is a fun and enjoyable Batman romp - what a pity it is then so violent because it otherwise has the prospects to be a title we could hand out to others. I feel this one will hit a niche market share well and everyone else might look away. I hope it finds its legs, it deserves to as much as anything else.

Grant: I never would have bought this title if I wasn't looking at all 52 book this month, so that's a small victory for DC.  What more, Tony Daniel actually managed to impress me with this issue.  He still isn't on the same playing field as a Morrison or a Snyder, but this is far better than anything else I have read by him.    His writing has clearly come a long way.  And not only did he write this book, he provided a lot of the art, which is a lot crisper than it has been when he's taken on both writing and art duties.  I'm impressed at his ability to juggle the two, though I echo Ryan's concern at how long Daniel will be able to keep it up.

Verdict - Check It.  Although it's a good book, it isn't anything special.  Once again, the sheer number of books DC is putting out means I won't be coming back for the second act.  I thought the story was interesting and was taken off-guard by the conclusion, but I wasn't wowed enough to add this to my monthly pull list when there are so many better Bat-titles already there.

Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

Green Arrow is on the hunt. Driven by inner demons, Ollie Queen travels the world and brings outlaws to justice…by breaking every law.
Now, armed with cutting-edge weaponry and illegally gained intel (courtesy of his team at QCore), Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.

Grant: At the end of reading Green Arrow, I was left wondering what the point was.  I appreciate that J.T. Krul and Dan Jurgens have tried something new and made a real change in the Green Arrow world, giving Oliver Queen and Queen Industries a new lease on life, but while the character now finds himself with a brand-new supporting cast and what I assume are fresh villains, none of that manages to hide that this comic just isn't very good.

There's a lot going on throughout the issue, but at no point within the book does any of it manages to feel all that important or worthwhile. It reads more like a story-by-numbers comic, with the requisite fights, conflicts, and quips, but it doesn't seem like any of the creators were terribly interested in what was going on in this book. Everything comes off as somewhat lifeless and we're left with a comic that has some good ideas, but fails to really do anything with them.

Verdict - Skip It. This book is pure mediocrity. It doesn't do anything particularly novel, and it's tried, and tired, narrative falls flat. For a title with so much emphasis on archery, this one misses the mark (cue groans).

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Rob Liefeld

Hank Hall is not happy. He’s not happy to have Dawn Granger as a new partner in his war on crime. He’s not happy that she’s dating the ghostly Super Hero, Deadman. He’s not happy to learn that someone is trying to plunge the United States into a new civil war! Now it’s up to Hawk and Dove to root out the forces behind this conflict and stop them before they turn the U.S. into a wasteland!

Grant: I'm not going to lie, while I enjoyed the Dove and Deadman story angle from Brightest Day, I've never really cared for Hawk. And while I enjoyed Sterling Gates on Supergirl, I've never been much of a fan of Rob Liefeld's art style.

I came in only half-interested, and the book failed to do anything that could have won me over. The whole thing comes off as kind of clunky and incomplete. Gates' writing is surprisingly raw, Liefeld's art is as off-putting as I expected, and all in all, this issue was a bit of a mess. Even the thing I was interested in (namely, Dove and Deadman) were pretty boring, and the main challenge for the heroes doesn't really make any sense at this point in the narrative. I came in with low expectations, but the book didn't do all that much to meet them.

Verdict - Avoid It. This is was not a good comic. The pitch must have looked pretty great, because the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Definite pass.

Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan

With the growing presence of super beings around the world, the United Nations resolves to create a new group called Justice League International.

Batman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron, Fire, Ice, Vixen and Rocket Red are charged with promoting unity and trust – but can they reach that goal without killing each other first?

Matt: I have to give points for some things to this title, as it manages to assemble the whole team in one single issue, set out its place and role in the universe, and gives it a first mission in the same space that Justice League only introduced two characters. There are some clever ideas here, such as Batman being an unofficial member of the team, observing them and making sure that everything is on the level. By the way, the missing person on the cover turns out to be Lady Godiva. No idea why it was removed...

However, there is some mediocrity to this whole enterprise that can't be denied. There is no single moment that you can point at and say "Wow, this is what is going to make me come back next month" or recommend it to other people. It's completely serviceable, but nothing that blew me away. I don't think I'll be coming back next month, not because it's bad, but because it's not good either. 

Verdict - Check It. Your mileage may vary, but I particularly didn't find anything to love here. I personally didn't enjoy it, almost warranting a "Byrne It." as the verdict, but some other people might enjoy it more than me.

Grant: Like Matt, I was left with a lot of questions after reading this book. Questions like, "why wasn't Judd Winick, who did such great things with Justice League: Generation Lost, tapped to write this thing?" Or "why did the disgruntled citizens feel that blowing up the Hall of Justice was the correct course of action?" Or most importantly, "who thought that Booster Gold's new costume was a good idea?"

Seriously though, this book just doesn't really work. There's a whole lot of things going on, but nothing really makes all that sense. The opening pitch by Andre Briggs to convince the United Nations that they needed a Justice League International was a serviceable way to introduce all the characters, but it came off as rather bland and the issue never really recovered any momentum. The conflict between Guy Gardiner and Booster Gold is not given nearly enough space to feel like anything more than contrived drama. And the "big threat" the team faces never seems all that threatening and is cheapened all the more when it's revealed that there's actually a far larger non-threatening monster underneath the initial non-threatening monsters.

Verdict - Skip It. This comic was all over the place, lacking any particular direction or focus at this point, which translates into a rather lackluster first issue. This book fails to offer any incentive to come back for more unless you were already a fan of some of the characters featured in this book, which is rather disappointing. Almost as disappointing as that awful costume they've stuck Booster Gold in. Seriously. It's hideous.

Written by Ivan Brandon & Jonathan Vankin
Art by Tom Derenick & Phil Winslade

On the ground and on the front lines, a young, headstrong soldier known as Joe Rock assumes command of Easy Company – a team of ex-military men turned contractors. Will they survive the battle-scarred landscape carved by the DCU's Super-Villains? Find out in this explosive new series from Ivan Brandon (Viking, DOC SAVAGE) and Tom Derenick (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

Grant: This title also really suffers from a lack of any sense of direction. There's two stories contained within this book, and neither of them feel like anything of note really happens.

The opening story by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick, featuring Sgt. Rock's present-day ancestor, Joseph Rock, has some interesting ideas and scenes, but they simply aren't given enough room to breathe and develop. I'd really love to see what warfare is like when metahumans are added to the equation, but we get only the smallest of glances here. I understand the idea of leaving the audience wanting more, but there's so little going on that I have no real interest in coming back. These pacing issues prevent the story from getting any real traction.

The back-up story, Navy SEALs: Human Shields, by Jonathan Vankin and Phil Winslade does not fare any better. It features some very over-written pages while trying to tell a simple story of a small SEAL team getting attacked by some stereotypical Middle Eastern enemy combatants. It feels like the book has some good intentions, trying to show that war is more complicated than good versus evil, but it's handled really poorly and ends up being pretty reductive.

Verdict - Avoid It. This book simply isn't worth $3.99. I would maybe consider a $2.99 price tag for a 20-page comic that featured a cleaned up and extended story by Brandon and Derenick, but as is, there's no reason to buy this.

Ron: I found this issue an interesting set-up for a War title, a genre that has been absent from the DC Universe line for many years. This is a slow-burning story that focuses on setting up a tone and cast of characters before the plot. A major part of DC's New 52 is diversifying the stories and settings that are in their comics. Men of War is much more grounded in reality than other DC books, even if it does have an appearance by a superhuman or two, and the artwork matches the gritty, moody tone.

While the $3.99 price tag may put you off, there is a back-up story which gives this book more value. I'm interested to see if the back-up stories will have any effect on the main narrative. Perhaps the authors could use the back-ups to tell the story from the perspective of enemy forces. In any case, Men of War definitely appeals to fans of the G.I. Joe series and Call of Duty video games. My 15 year-old Call of Duty obsessed brother chose this book to read out of the New 52 and really enjoyed it.

Verdict - Check It. If you're into superheroes and bright colors, this isn't the book for you. If you're a fan of war titles or games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, I would recommend giving this book a shot.

Written by Dan Didio & Keith Giffen
Art by Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish

The all-seeing Brother Eye satellite has unleashed a new beast upon the DC Universe in this smashing new series! Kevin Kho has become an unwilling participant in a war between Checkmate and Brother Eye as he is transformed into the One Machine Army Corp known only as O.M.A.C.!

Grant: From the moment I saw the ridiculous character design for O.M.A.C. (seriously, what is up with that giant mohawk?), I thought that this book was going to be a huge disaster. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is perhaps the most fun book in the entire relaunch (I know, right?).

The story opens on Cadmus Industries with some employees talking about their absent colleague, Kevin Kho, wondering where he could be. Unfortunately, their idle speculation is interrupted by the destructive appearance of O.M.A.C., who proceeds to break a whole bunch of stuff. Under the direction of Brother Eye, O.M.A.C. attacks the true Cadmus Project, which is a Kirby-ian mass of fantastic science and technology hidden beneath the earth. After some crazy fights and further destruction, Kevin Kho awakes to discover that he was O.M.A.C. all along!

The reveal may not have been super surprising (especially considering the solicitation), but the entire issue was a barrel of fun. We got to see O.M.A.C. fight a whole whack of guards, something called a Build-A-Friend, and a bunch of crazy-cool Gobblers, among other things. It was pretty great.

Verdict - Buy It. I can't really put enough emphasis on how enjoyable this book was. It's classic comic book wackiness, and the creative team pulls out all the stops, refusing to apologize for it. I never thought I'd say this, but I cannot wait to see what's next for O.M.A.C. (even if he does have a ridiculous mohawk).

Written by Scott McDaniel & John Rozum
Art by Scott McDaniel & Jonathan Glapion

The brilliant, slightly awkward high school student Virgil Hawkins transforms into the cocky electromagnetic hero Static!
A mysterious tragedy forces the Hawkins family to relocate from Dakota to New York City! Virgil embarks upon new adventures in a new high school and a new internship at S.T.A.R. Labs!
As Static, he dons a new uniform and establishes a new secret headquarters! But is he ready to take on the new villains who lurk in New York City’s underworld?
Ken: This is the book you want when you think "why can't heroes be smarter when saving the day?" Virgil, using the brains that got him a part-time job at S.T.A.R. Labs in New York, successfully takes down an experimental device that ruins many New Yorkers day. But it doesn't really bring him down. His school ID photo? That bums him out, and trying to get a driver's license.

On top of Hardware showing up to be a mentor much like Tony Stark teased with the role with Peter Parker, this is a solid book that deserves a look from anyone who likes teen hero books like Ultimate Spider-Man and Blue Beetle. Add to it some lovely art by Scott McDaniel, who is using a bit more detail on facial expressions, and you've got what is simply a fun book.

Verdict - Buy It. There are books out there that do their job well. They don't draw much attention, they don't try and do anything crazy or shocking, they just keep their nose to the grind and deliver a fun read worth your money. This is one of those books, and hopefully it doesn't get lost in the relaunch wave. 

Grant: This book just didn't work for me. It had a bunch of good ingredients, including a hero who's still getting the hang of being a hero, a mysterious mentor to guide him along in the process, and a number of colourful villains for said hero to throw down with. But it just didn't come together in my mind. For whatever reason, I just couldn't get into Virgil Hawkins' story.

The art was pretty neat and made for some quality visuals the whole way through, but the writing failed to rope me in. I wanted to like Virgil, but I couldn't connect with him. While Static Shock is young, has a family, and is trying to do his best to be a hero, it just didn't quite feel genuine to me. It felt more like these things were put in as a substitute for taking the time to actually make Virgil a sympathetic character, and it didn't resonate with me.

Verdict - Check It. This book wasn't for me, but as you can see from Ken's thoughts, that doesn't mean it was necessarily bad. I won't be there for round two, but maybe you'll enjoy Static Shock's adventures more than I did.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Miguel Sepulveda

They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds...

Matt: Well, that was a bit underwhelming.  I'm not exactly sure what to think of this comic, as it's probably one of the most affected by the reboot, considering the Wildstorm universe folded into the DCU. 

Cornell brings some big ideas that I quite like, such as the contempt that Stormwatch have for the Justice League, saying that they are the real protectors of the Earth. Having them fight the Moon in upcoming issues is properly mix of wacky and high-concept, the kind of thing that Ellis established into this title early on. I'm not sure how I feel about Martian Manhunter's new personality though, as he threatens and tries to coerce a new member to join. And you might remember that Cornell said that there will be a connection between this and Demon Knights, and he wasn't lying. Makes me excited more for the other book than for this one though. Finally, Sepulveda is kind of a disappointment. While he showed a lot of potential years ago, he seems constricted by the need to use a LOT of photo reference. The characters feel like cut-outs on a fake background at times. It's not as bad as Greg Land, but it does take me out of the story.

Verdict - Check It. A very uneven start to this series, which shows potential but also some faults to it. My biggest issue is the art, which harms rather than enhance the storytelling going on. Stormwatch has one arc to win me over, otherwise it's being dropped. 

Grant: This was another disappointing book. Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda have a lot of ground to cover to establish what's going on with this Stormwatch group and who they all are, and the issue suffers for it. It becomes a series of talking heads, explaining who's who and what the many oncoming threats are, and all that exposition makes for a pretty unspectacular read.

There's a lot of grandstanding about how important or dire things are, but nothing really happens in this issue. People talk the whole time and then Midnighter shows up, punches everyone out, and asks Apollo if he wants to help him kill all the evil people on Earth. It's kind of underwhelming.

Verdict - Skip It. Realistically, Stormwatch didn't do anything to convince me it's worth reading. I'm still kind of interested in them having to fight the moon, but this issue does nothing to prove that it will be worth coming back for issue 2 to see that.

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Yanick Paquette

One of the world’s most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth!
Alec Holland has his life back…but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!

Ryan: Snyder is coming at Swamp Thing with all guns blazing. There's research and character and plenty of scenery for Paquette to chew. When Snyder opens up a page for Paquette to unleach on then the results are pretty damn great. It must be said that Nathan Fairbairn also does a hell of a job on colours.

As for the actual story, this starts a lot of things, hints at plenty, and makes for an intriguing debut. I'd rate this below Animal Man and yet the two make one deadly combo hit selection. The sequence with Superman that takes up a quarter of the issue, feels more about setting this into context (and dropping some neat characterisation) than it does about cutting loose. The very horrific details of this new and strange villain are certainly shocking and attention grabbing. These moments are the strongest of the issue.

Verdict - Buy It. Swamp Thing is going to be a hell of a book and the opening statements are all here. There's some creepy atmosphere, a hell of a villain, and a new lead character that I instantly care about.

Ken: I've never read much of Swamp Thing, mainly sticking to the movies and the cartoon. But Scott Snyder's name will get me to try anything, and I liked what I read. Of all the DC books I read this week, this felt like the one least affected by the relaunch. Superman seemed to be much like his old self, with the exception of his new costume which could have been changed after the fact. And that it springs right out of Brightest Day gives the sense that this was being worked on for a fall release, relaunch or not.

The villain is creepy, but not bloody. Holland's talk of botany while on his day job is fun but not obnoxious, and the art is top notch. A very strong start that has me ready to put down money for the next issue.

Verdict - Buy It. While not as jaw dropping good as any of Snyder's Detective Comics run, this book shows that Snyder can pretty much succeed with any character he is given, and definitely brings the creepiness in a way that connects to its spiritual home in Vertigo.

Matt: Now that's some good comics. The tone and subject matter is really in keeping with the original Alan Moore Swamp Thing issues. It has that Vertigo feel, but still features some of the most famous characters of the DC stable. Snyder sets up a really intriguing mystery with horror tinges, and this will probably be a very slow burn, but I am glad to enjoy the trip.

As good as the writing is, the art by Yannick Paquette is absolutely wonderful. I just love his figure work, and the rest of the art team brings their A-game as well. The thick lines and lush colours make for a really beautiful looking comic, with its own definite sense of style. At first glance it might seem to clash with Snyder's horror story, but they somehow make it work. If they can keep up the schedule, this is shaping up to be DC's best looking book.

Verdict - Must Read. The art is the best part of the book, but the story is no slouch either, and it was only slightly edged out by Animal Man. Definitely looking forward to see what this creative team will do with the character.

Grant: I don't have all that much to add to what my esteemed colleagues have already mentioned. The issue read like Scott Snyder's thesis of what he thinks Swamp Thing should be, and while it was perhaps a little exposition-heavy in places, it made for a good introduction to the character and some great promise of what will come next. On art, I must echo the many compliments above. Paquette is amazing in this book, doing great things in every single panel. The colour-work only helps to support the stunning art.

Verdict - Buy It. Again, a little slow due to all the introducing, I think this title will be going places. Give it a gander if you haven't.

Phew! Talk about a lot of books to go through! We hope you enjoyed the first complete round of 52 Pick Up here at the Weekly Crisis! What did you think of this week's offerings? Were the books what you were expecting? Has DC won you over to the "New 52"? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jon said...

Great review guys!

It's fun to see different points of view without feeling like you're reading a competition of "who's right".
I only read what interested me from the solicits, so I missed a few:

Animal man seems to be the ultimate winner of the week, and I couldn't agree more. I came into it half interested, and it blew me away.

Batgirl was the one I picked up just to have it, as I have been a pretty loud voice around here on how much I disagreed with the title out of principle. It wasn't as bad as I thought, and I seem to not hate it as much as most people, but I wouldn't say it floored me either. It impressed me, but maybe not enough to continue.

Swamp Thing was pretty neat. When he was introduced in Brightest Day I was really happy (despite the way it was done)only because he was there. I even read the 3 issue follow-up, and this does a pretty good job of following it. I can't wait to read more, as this issue felt like an introduction more than anything.

Stormwatch, I thought, was pretty awesome. It combines a lot of things that I have really enjoyed out of comics in the last 3 years (where started catching up to the Post Crisis DC Universe), and managed to do something new with Martian Manhunter, one of my favorite Leaguers. I have a feeling this will be the event book, and I am pretty much digging it.

JLI: eugh.

Action Comics: You guys said it all, for good or bad. I personally was disappointed by that comic, but not in the same way JLA disappointed me. JLA upset me because I just didn't find it to be very good. AC disapointed me maybe because I assumed it would be great. While there is a nice tweak of character, which is what a reboot should be for such an established character, but the whole thing left me a little indifferent. I will be back ( I do love Morrison), but I can't help but feel like this is a missed opportunity for now.

All in all: The books i liked easily didn't need the relaunch to exist, and I find myself confused in general: For a company priding itself on eliminating confusing continuity, as a continuity nerd, this seems more complex than it was, with all the different time starting points.

Klep said...

I love Gail Simone, but Batgirl was just bad. The villain is a blank page with insufficient motivation or method for selecting targets, the captioning is too confusing (at one point it switches from internal monolog to dialog within the same panel), the reason (or, rather, lack thereof) for Babs' recovery is pathetic, and the ending makes no sense whatsoever. It would have been bad enough to ask us to give up 20 years of characterization for a good comic, but this is an insult.

Animal Man, on the other hand, was quite intriguing. I didn't grab it at first, but when I heard how much positive buzz there was for it I made another trip. It was interesting in the beginning to see how superheroing had turned Buddy Baker into something of a C- or D-list celebrity, and the turn to horror was both surprising and rewarding. I'm really looking forward to how the story develops, and also to Buddy's son getting a haircut that isn't a mullet.

CombatSpoon86 said...

Swamp Thing and Animal Man were the top books last wk followed by Action. Good starts, I was praising Snyder and Lemire's work b4 the book even got released bc I trusted them to put out a quality book. So far so good keep it up.

Steven said...

I don't believe the villian in Swamp Thing is going to be new whatsoever. The whole flies thing screams Anton Arcane.

Also, Lemire's Animal Man looks to be far more influenced by the work Jamie Delano did on the book than anything Morrison ever did.

I am thinking the more aggressive Manhunter in Stormwatch is probably a personality change that could be attributed to the whole Flashpoint thing.

btownlegend said...

This is the problem with 52 new issues: high expectations. Animal Man and Swamp Thing are the winners, yet I feel Stormwatch and JLI will be alright as teams cannot be fleshed out in one issue.I think people also know Morrison will be judged on the whole story. In Austin Tx I still haven't seen a copy of Detective or Batgirl.

Bradley said...

Question for you guys- which is the "better" review grade: "Must Read" or "Buy It"?

Since "Must Read" is specifically not "Buy It", it would imply that you should make sure to read the book on the stands, but then leave it there and not bring it to the register.

And "Buy It" seems to intuitively include reading the book you've purchased, bust since it's specifically not "Must Read" it would imply that you're getting the book purely for investment purposes and should actually refrain from reading it so as to keep it in high grade as possible.

So which is better?

BDS said...

I was not as loving as you guys on Animal Man. I did like Action and Detective. Action really did come out and set the bar really high I think. I also had a big surprise in OMAC and will be adding it to the pull list. Men Of War I agreed with you on. I did a comment and separate post for the past two weeks and collected them at my Blog here.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Bradley - Must Read is the best grade for us. It's a book you must read, whereas Buy It means you should support it with you money, and then hopefully enjoy it.

Ivan said...

Guys, you might wanna go over the JLI solicitation.

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