Monday, October 3, 2011

52 Pick Up for 09/28/11

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.

This is it, everybody!  The last week of DC's New 52!  And not a moment too soon!  As much of a pleasure as it's been to go through all of these titles, a saddenly high number of them have been rather poor.  Will that once again be the case for this final week, or will we be getting ourselves some surprising surprises?  We've got ourselves some new superteams, like the questionably named Justice League Dark, some old favourites, like Aquaman and Superman, and then a whole bucket load of other stuff.  Hit the jump to see how it all came together this time around!

Art and cover by MORITAT

Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Find out in this new series from HEX writers 
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with lush artwork by Moritat (THE SPIRIT)!

Grant: I was genuinely impressed with this opening issue from Gray, Palmiotti, and Moritat. The trope of prostitutes being killed by some mysterious murderer is about as tried as you can find, but the team manages to throw in some twists that make it feel relatively fresh.

The story is told from the perspective of Amadeus Arkham, and it ends up reading a bit like an awkward buddy cop flick. But in a good way. Amadeus is the cautious one who follows all the rules and Jonah Hex is obviously the one who does whatever the hell he wants. It makes for some funny moments, but most of all, it acts as a solid way to keep the plot moving forward. Amadeus' constant attempts to diagnose Jonah's neuroses is almost worth the price of admission alone.

The actual crime of the prostitute murderer is handled pretty well, all things considered. I found myself a little unhappy with it based mostly on all the other DC titles from this month that have treated and depicted women so poorly, but taken on its own merits, it could have been a lot worse. The story cliffhangers on a reveal that these series of grisly murders are a much bigger and wider problem than initially thought, and while this reveal is also a little cliche, it was presented well enough to pique my interest.

Moritat does some mighty fine work on art duties. The book is gritty and grimy, doing a great job imitating the atmosphere of the turn of the century Gotham that is depicted throughout. The colouring, done by Gabriel Bautista, is top notch, doing a great job of reinforcing the mood and atmosphere. Moritat really shines in the many, many fight scenes that we have in this book, as he finds a variety of ways of keeping Jonah's constant beat downs fresh and interesting. The juxtaposition of these scenes of violence with Amadeus' calculated attempts at pinning down Jonah's motivations are a nice little bonus.

Verdict - Check It. This book was pretty enjoyable. The story wasn't exactly the most innovative, but Gray and Palmiotti changed things up enough to keep the reader engaged, and Moritat provided some good looking pictures to compliment all that writing. If you're into gritty Western tales, this book is for you.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO

The superstar creators from BLACKEST NIGHT and BRIGHTEST DAY reunite to take AQUAMAN to amazing new depths!
Aquaman has renounced the throne of Atlantis – but the sea will not release Arthur Curry so easily.

Now, from a forgotten corner of the ocean emerges… The Trench! A broken race of creatures that should not exist, an unspeakable need driving them, The Tre
nch will be the most talked-about new characters in the DC Universe!

Ken: I wasn't planning on buying this book, but the positive news on the internet made me take a look after being bummed on Superman (see below). And this was a really good surprise, because I expected the book to flounder. Huh? Huh?

Johns' gameplan this issue is to simply get all the Aquaman jokes out of his system, and to kind of address Arthur being a punching bag of the hero community and how it doesn't really bother him. Yes, the way Johns has Arthur respond is rather stupid and kind of pointlessly hostile, but it gets away with it because throughout the issue all Arthur wants to do is fit in. The book basically consists of an evil in the shadows, Aquaman stops a robbery, then tries to eat dinner at a seafood restaurant only to be gawked at by everyone. And after talking with Mera (still married I think?), they decide to just kind of chill and give up being royalty. It's a simple start but that is really all Arthur needed. One thing that kept going through my mind was that this book kind of fills the void left by the old universe Superman; Arthur and Mera act like Clark and Lois did, where they use one another as a sound board for their problems, and they love each other.

Reis' art is really strong, and I want to say he's moving onto a much smoother style than he has on his GL and Blackest Night run. He's almost reaching an Alan Davis level with his facial expressions, and it helps that because there isn't a mask to hide Arthur's face, allowing for greater experimentation.

Verdict - Buy It. Much like Wonder Woman, it's a strong start that has me for another issue or two. I do get a feeling Johns might go overboard with the new villains in his usual fashion, but for this issue it was one of the lighter books of the relaunch, and something I wish to see more of in this era of fearing the metahuman.

Grant: Ken's spot on with his take on this issue. It's lighthearted and gets all the criticism and jokes about its lead character out of the way in the first few pages so that the rest of the series can focus on Aquaman being heroic. It's an interesting move on Johns' part, and I think it worked really well. Aquaman's deadpan throughout the issue really sells everyone else's complete overreactions to everything that's going on, and while this will get old if it goes on any longer, it makes for a good number one.

I was also a big fan of Aquaman and Mera's interaction. I think it's a shame that DC seems to be of the opinion that couples don't make for good comics, because their back and forth was one of the highlights of this book for me. While the villains don't really seem like anything that special, but that doesn't mean that they won't be good once Aquaman starts fighting them down the line (although The Trench is quite possibly the worst name possible). At the very least, they look pretty cool, as does the rest of this book, with Ivan Reis putting in a solid effort here. Indeed, while everyone is making fun of how uncool / lame Aquaman is, Aurthur Curry spends the entire issue looking absolutely awesome. I'm won over by his depiction of Aquaman alone.

Verdict - Buy It. This comic was far more fun than I was expecting. I really appreciated that it didn't necessarily take itself too seriously, spending the time to address the many complaints about Aquaman that have built up over the years. I'm sold on the concept and I will be back to see if Johns can make good on it.


The Dark Knight struggles against a deadly – yet strangely familiar – foe in this phenomenal debut issue from superstar writer/artist David Finch (BRIGHTEST DAY, ACTION COMICS)!
As a mysterious figure slinks through the halls of Arkham Asylum, Batman must fight his way through a gauntlet of psychos, and Bruce Wayne f
aces the unexpected legal ramifications of Batman Incorporated!

Grant: This book opens with some captions explaining that "fear is a cannibal that feeds on itself". It's a sentiment that sounds kind of nice at first glance, but if you think about it for more than half a second, you realize that it is totally meaningless. And that's pretty much the story of the writing for this issue. There's a whole bunch of things that seem kind of alright at first glance, but once you spend any amount of time examining them, it quickly becomes clear that there is absolutely zero substance behind these words. The writing is not very good.

The art fairs a bit better, which shouldn't be terribly surprising, since David Finch is an artist after all, but it's still not that great. Frankly, this book looks like any other mediocre Batman title that's come out in the last ten or twenty years. There's not much happening hear to distinguish it from the many comics that have come before. And although most of the pages look fine, there are some notable gaffs, including Jania Hudson wearing an absolutely terrible outfit and Two-Face looking like The Hulk (see also: "You can call me One-Face now." Who thought that piece of dialogue was a good idea?).

However, bad writing and passable art aside, the worst part of this book is that it doesn't do anything new. Seriously, nothing happens in this title that didn't already happen in Scott Snyder's Batman. Bruce Wayne gives a speech in front of a whole bunch of people at a gala? Scott Snyder's Batman did it. There's a jailbreak at Arkham? Scott Snyder's Batman did that too. Batman fights some villains? Yep, Scott Snyder's Batman has that one covered as well. The complaint that the market is being flooded with Bat-titles is a legitimate one, and this title proves that there's too much Batman going on right now.

Verdict - Avoid It. This book is bad. There's really no redeeming value here. The writing is lacking, the art is forgettable, and the story offers nothing new. If you're wanting a Batman book, read Scott Snyder's Batman. That's really all you need.

Written by MIKE COSTA
Art and cover by KEN LASHLEY

Welcome to a world waging a new kind of war that’s faster and more brutal than ever before. It’s fought by those who would make the innocent their targets, using computers, smart weapons and laser-guided missiles. The new enemy is hard to find – and closer to home than we think.
Between us and them stand the Blackhawks, an elite force of military specialists e
quipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us.

Grant: This is the book I wanted to read when I opened up Men of War earlier this month. While Men of War claimed that it would show modern day warfare in the wake of superheroes, this comic actually makes good on the promise, providing a fun and interesting look into what that could potentially look like.

The Blackhawks are reimagined as a UN-sanctioned strikeforce that deals with the worst of the worst. This issue opens with the team in the middle of trying to shutdown some meta-equipped terrorists in Kazakhstan, and it makes for an pretty darn exciting set piece. The reader gets to see a number of the starring characters do some badass stuff, like beat down bad guys and survive against impossible odds. I've compared a few of the new DC books over the course of this month to action movies, but this comic is probably the best example of that. There's a lot of action going on and just enough reason offered to mostly explain why it's happening without too much difficulty.

From this opening scene, things slow down to give a better look into who these many characters are. The characterization is a little thin (the badass girl is too badass to see the doctor and the by-the-book guy is really cautious), but it's enough. In the midst of a secret romance between two team members, there's a quick look into what will presumably be the big bad of the first arc that mostly serves to show how badass the bad guy (read: they're real badass) and the badass girl realizes that she may have developed superpowers, which is apparently a bad thing in this context.

The art goes well with the story, as the book has a loose and frenetic style that fits in pretty well with the quick storytelling. It's not really important why the action is happening; what matters is that there's enough reason given for the reader to be ready for more action.

Verdict - Check It. This book is mindless fun, which is all well and good, but I can't rationalize picking up any more issues of this series. As nice as being able to just sit back and enjoy some gunplay and explosions is, there are simply too many better series coming out from DC for me to be able to afford to fit in something like Blackhawks, which is a shame, but that's what DC gets for dropping 52 titles in four weeks.

Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL

The Fastest Man Alive returns to his own monthly series from the writer/artist team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato! The Flash knows he can’t be everywhere at once, but what happens when he faces an all-n
ew villain who really can! As if that’s not bad enough, this villain is a close friend!

Grant: This is a fine, if not great, opening to the latest Flash series.  Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato don't really push the envelope with this first chapter, but they do manage to tell a good, if simple, story.

Criminals try to steal MacGuffin. Flash stops them. One of them dies and happens to be an old friend of Barry. Investigating this, Barry discovers that his friend is still alive and has been cloned a whole bunch.  While there's a certain complexity there, this is, admittedly, pretty run-of-the-mill for comic books, but that's perfectly fine. Although their story doesn't necessarily set the whole on fire, it does pose some interesting questions and offers enough to the reader to warrant picking up the next issue to see what's next. It also functions as a pretty decent book for someone new to comics, which is something that has been been forgotten far too often this month.

That being said, the real saving grace of this title is the art. Manapul doesn't quite outdo himself in this issue #1, but his regular art is head and shoulders above a lot of other stuff that comes out nowadays. There are a few moments throughout the issue that really hint at what's to come, including the opening two-page splash or the page of Barry trying to save the criminal's life. It's clear that Manapul is just warming up, and I cannot wait to see when he hits his full stride (Geddit? Running jokes in a Flash review? Ken's not the only one who can do this kind of thing.).

Verdict - Buy It. This book's writing isn't necessarily anything to write home about, but when you consider that it's being written by the artist and colourist, it looks pretty good compared to other artists acting as writers (*cough* Batman: The Dark Knight *cough*). Either way, the art is the reason to pick this book up. Francis Manapul is one of the best artists currently working at DC, and any book he does should be in your pull list, this one included.

Written by TONY BEDARD
Art and cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT

Kyle Rayner has assembled the most powerful team in all the universe, selected from the full spectrum of corps. But can he even keep this volatile group together?

Grant: Let me start by pointing out that this solicitation is completely false.  Kyle Rayner has done nothing to assemble this team of "Guardians".  That doesn't happen.  At all.  Now that that's out of the way, let me talk about the issue itself.

I've been asking and asking if DC really needs more than one Green Lantern series, and this one might be the closest to answering that question in the affirmative. It's by no means perfect, but this book is perhaps best placed to having a chance at being understood by new readers. The book starts with Kyle's origin being quickly retold in five or six pages, and while it is a little rushed, it would probably be pretty helpful to anyone who doesn't know who he is (such as the new readers that DC continually claims they're seeking).

That done, we go into a couple of vignettes of random characters from the other Corps having their rings suddenly abandon them and head towards Sector 2814 (Earth's sector). These were actually pretty neat, and acted as a good example of the "show, don't tell" doctrine that seems to be ignored so often. For reasons not yet explained, they all head towards Kyle, and before he can figured out what's going on, a few members from the other Corps show up accusing him of stealing rings. Fighting ensues.

It's a pretty interesting idea, and one that I would be willing to follow through to the next issue if I wasn't already being inundated by other DC comic books. As it stands, I'll have to find out what happens through internet chatter, because I can't justify spending the three dollars for #2.

Verdict - Check It. If you've been looking for that fabled second good Green Lantern title, I think you'll be pleased with this one. The writing does the job and the art is also quite good. However, if you aren't looking for some multi-coloured superheroics, you can skip this title pretty easily.


For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree – and she plans t
o start with the heroes of the DCU!

Grant: Umm, how does this fit in wider continuity, like at all? This is a book that's straight up about vampires, including one that hopes to kill off the entire human race so that vampires can reign supreme. The book opens with pretty much all of Boston having been slaughtered. I feel like something that big would have come up in one of the other books, but apart from a passing reference to Superman and Wonder Woman, there's nothing that links this to the rest of the shared universe. And to be honest, there isn't really a need for I, Vampire to take place in the wider DC world.

But let's back up a bit. The original I, Vampire was a 24 issue series that appeared in House of Mystery back in the early 80s that DC figured needed to be brought back because vampires were kind of a big deal five years ago. That being said, this first issue is actually kind of interesting. Joshua Hale Fialkov makes some good use of captions, having a conversation between Andrew and Mary last for the entirety of the book, providing a good driving force and just enough information for the reader to keep reading. It's well done, and works even better with the intense visuals by Andrea Sorrentino of the decimated Boston.

However, this again brings up the question of why this needs to fit into the world of the New 52. I feel like handcuffing this series to the rest of the DC Universe will really limit what can and can't happen. For example, while it looks like Boston didn't do too well, knowing that this is the world of Superman and Batman means that Mary has to fail in her goal to take over the world, because that just isn't in the cards. I was kind of interested in what's going on here, but the fact that this isn't a Vertigo series means that this story can only be so exciting, which I think will be a big problem for this gothic-fantasy series in the long run.

Verdict - Check It. It's not a bad opening issue, but I couldn't help being distracted by its insistence of fitting in with the world of the rest of the books coming out this month. I understand the business reason behind this, but I think it will be quite harmful to the creative possibilities, and once again, with so many other books coming out, I won't be coming back next month.


The witch known as The Enchantress has gone mad, unleashing forces that not even the combined powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg can stop. And if those heroes can’t handle the job, who will stand against this mystical madness?

Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine may b
e our only hope – but how can we put our trust in beings whose very presence makes ordinary people break out in a cold sweat?

Grant: Once again, this solicitation is only half accurate, but I suppose my disappointment is my fault for putting any faith in the solicitation.

Anyways, this comic is actually pretty fun, if a bit slow in the getting going. There's a bunch of wacky magic going on, and it's too much for the Justice League to handle, so it falls to a ragtag band of magic users to handle. That's about as far as this comic manages to get in its twenty pages, but the journey isn't too shabby. Peter Milligan comes up with some fun situations to work through, and Mikel Janin does some really good work on art. Seriously, this is among the better looking books of the New 52 in my opinion. He even makes Zatanna's new costume not look terrible, which is saying something.

However, the book has a bit of a problem of trying to juggle a few too many balls at the same time. There's so many subplots seemingly going on that it's hard to really make any headway in any of them, which leaves us with a bunch of different stories that could be interesting but aren't yet developed enough to be a sure thing. This is obviously not a good situation to be in when competing with 51 other comic books, and it will mean that I'm getting off at the ground floor for Justice League Dark.

See also: Justice League Dark? Is that really the best name anyone could come up with? Just use Shadowpact. People are already familiar with the name and it doesn't suck terribly. Yeesh.

Verdict - Check It. If you're into more magic-oriented books, you aren't going to find a better one than Justice League Dark. The way things are starting, I imagine a little patience will yield a pretty good payoff down the road, but I just don't have the time or money for it.

Written by TONY S. DANIEL
Art and cover by PHILIP TAN

Carter Hall’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job with an archaeologist who specializes in alien ruins – but will the doctor’s latest discovery spread an alien plague through New York City? No matter the personal cost, Carter Hall must don his wings and become the new, savage Hawkman to survive! Witness the start of a new action series from writer Tony S. Dan
iel and artist Philip Tan that will take Hawkman where no hero has flown before!

Grant: Wow. Tony Daniel really impressed me with this book. I've been very critical of his writing, but he genuinely turned in a solid comic, for the most part. While this book starts quite strong, the finish leaves a lot to be desired.

That being said, this book maybe has the best opening out of any of the titles from this month, as it opens with Carter Hall having been Hawkman for a rather long time, as he is in the process of trying to destroy the armour. Starting in medias res was an interesting and exciting choice, as it immediately grabs the reader's attention, causing them to wonder what was so bad about being Hawkman that destorying the suit was the only option. Things only get better when the armour explodes, seemingly swallowing Carter Hall in a fiery inferno. This was unlike anything I was expecting, and it was great.

From there, things slow down a little bit, focusing on the whole alien ruins deciphering aspect, as some other characters recover a sunken spaceship out of the ocean. This scene is all about moving pieces around for the rest of the story, but it fortunately doesn't last too long. We then jump back to Carter Hall's apartment, and it is slowly revealed that all is not well. He realizes that he's been out of commission for weeks and, among other things, now has a healing factor. It's kind of disconcerting, but he decides to go to work instead of worrying about it too much. Once there, it soon becomes evident that the spaceship wasn't as derelict as initially thought, as some pretty nefarious lifeform shows up and starts laying waste to the scientists.

And this is where the book takes a pretty big nose dive. The alien reveals that its name is Morphicus, which is about as bad a name as Justice League Dark, and then proceeds to start killing Hawkman. The book ends with the tagline "Next: Hawkman succumbs to Morphicus?!", which is maddening, because Hawkman will obviously not succumb to Morphicus. This book just started. This is the first issue. Hawkman doesn't die in the first issue of his self-titled series. Everyone and their grandma knows that this doesn't happen, so why do you have to pretend that it will? Seriously, there have been way too many books this month that have ended with the titular character "in grave danger". This is a tactic that hasn't been convincing for decades, so why is it happening in so many of these first issues?

Verdict - Check It. As much as I want to tell you to skip this title, it might actually be worth your while, cheap cliffhangers notwithstanding. This is by far the best I've ever seen from Tony Daniel, and if he can cut down on the cliche ricks, this could be a watershed moment for the overly complex Hawkman. It also doesn't hurt that Philip Tan absolutely kills it on art. This is a pretty good looking book.

Breakdowns and cover by GEORGE PEREZ

The new adventures of Superman begin here! What is The Man of Steel’s startling new status quo? How does it affect Lois Lane and The Daily Planet? There’s no time for answers now, because Superman must stop a monstrous threat to Metropolis – one that he somehow is the cause of!

Ken: First, let me just say that I appreciate that DC gave us 25 pages of story for the first issue, and that Merino is a good artist. But as for the rest of the book, well.....

This is a book that seemingly continues the string of bad luck the Superman title has had for almost the last two years. Perez's dialogue is not only bad, but there is just so much of it. For a man who is such a great artist and knows how to use pages to their fullest, Perez sure does fall into the trap of telling over showing, having two different trains of dialogue happening throughout the issue; the actual panel dialogue, and Clark Kent's news article telling the events of what we are seeing on each page. Even more odd is that Perez himself provided breakdowns of the pages, which means that even with establishing the page layout himself, he feels that isn't enough to tell the story. Perez the writer is basically unsure about Perez the artist.

The issue basically boils down to the Daily Planet getting a new owner, Kirby creation Morgan Edge (who has pulled an Ultimate Nick Fury). Edge in this new universe is very clearly supposed to be like Rupert Murdoch expanding his news empire and caring only about the money and ratings. Comics need to learn that hand rubbing amoral evil businessmen is such a worn out concept that there has to be something else to offer. Lois Lane is now in charge of this new TV network, and Clark is whiny about this. Even though this is supposed to be an older Clark than where Morrison is going in Action Comics, it sure feels like he hasn't really matured, in both his attitude and the way he carries himself. Mopey, angry Clark Kent is not a winning combination. Lois herself kind of feels like a caricature of what she is supposed to be, really paint by the numbers. All the supporting cast feels that way, to be honest. Just because they are younger and in more modern clothing doesn't hide this fact. The connection to Stormwatch #1 was a page that was rather pointless in terms of connecting to another series, so anyone looking to find out the big reveal should just read about it online, or check out Friday's Moments of the Week. As far as action goes, there was also a fight scene with a guy made out of fire but there was so many words ruining what we could clearly see on page, I kind of lost interest. Trust the artist to do their job.

Verdict - Avoid It. It just wasn't a good book, and didn't feel like Superman or at the very least Superman doing anything "super.". If you're going to throw everything away from the last 20 years, and this is the best thing you can do, I'm kind of puzzled as to why Superman needed to be rebooted. The worst thing the issue establishes is that Batman really is the top dog at DC right now in terms of creative teams and reader response, with Superman clearly in second (or third) place.

Grant: Once again, I feel like Ken is spot on here. This book had nothing Super in it at all. It was way too wordy and rather boring. It failed miserably in its attempt to be "edgy" and ended up with a bunch of wooden and forced characterizations of characters that everyone knows and loves. I can't really see any argument that shows why this interpretation was worth throwing away everything that had come before. Finally, why the heck is Lois sleeping with the sleazeball newscaster? She was one of DC's strongest female characters, and now she is reduced to an object of desire for Clark Kent. Classy, DC. Real classy.

Verdict - Avoid It. DC does yet another disservice to themselves, offering one of the worst interpretations of their marquee character that I've encountered in years. I know that some people seem to struggle with making Superman interesting, but why would you give the ongoing title to one of them? Sigh.

Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND

Tim Drake, Batman’s former sidekick, is back in action when an international organization seeks to capture, kill or co-opt super-powered teenagers.

As Red Robin, he’s going to have to team up with the mysterious and belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and the hyperactive speedster calling himself Kid Flash to stand any chance at all against a living, breathing weapon with roots in another world! They – along with a few other tortur
ed teen heroes – will be the Teen Titans in this new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men) and artist Brett Booth (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

Grant: Despite the bad press this series got based mostly around the rather awful costume designs for pretty much everyone on this team, this title isn't nearly as bad as you would expect. Unfortunately, it still isn't really good enough to warrant buying on a monthly basis.

We have yet another title that suffers from not actually featuring everyone featured on the cover, as this comic only has three of the characters you see here - and only two of them actually meet each other. The book opens with Kid Flash trying to help some firefighters fight a fire, but due to his inexperience, he actually makes things worse. It's kind of an interesting idea, but the execution leaves a little to be desired. The dialogue isn't all that great and the whole sequence frankly takes too much time for what it ends up accomplishing.

The book then jumps to Tim Drake who seems to be completely on his own and for some reason based in Lex Towers, a fact that isn't even addressed in the comic's text. He expands on the idea that teen heroes aren't trained and are often doing more harm than good, but before he can go anywhere with this, he's attacked by a clandestine organization that is abducting teen heroes that he knew was coming to get him. It seems like Lobdell was trying to go for a "Batman, the victory is in the preparation" moment, but it isn't explained enough to really make sense. Also, it seems like Tim might have just murdered some bad guys, which hardly seems ideal.

From there, Tim tries to recruit the new Wonder Girl and ultimately convinces her that teaming up probably isn't that bad of an idea. This sequence is probably the strongest part of the issue, and the comic likely would have benefited from spending more time developing these two characters. Unfortunately, spending too much time with something enjoyable isn't in the cards, and the comic quickly moves to the bad guy from earlier telling another character to "Release the Superboy" in a sequence that really only makes sense if you read Superboy #1 earlier this month.

Despite the fidgety narrative, the art on this book was pretty good. I don't really know Brett Booth's work, but he manages a fine superhero book. The panel layout and character work looks quite nice, and he even manages to make Red Robin's atrocious costume look semi-decent, which is saying a lot.

Verdict - Check It. Lobdell got three tries this month, and Teen Titans is by far his best effort. Unfortunately, it still has some big pacing issues, as the book spends way too much time on uninteresting stuff, and not nearly enough time with the good parts. However, I could actually see this book going somewhere interesting, in spite of these early missteps. If there weren't so many other, better books being released by DC, I might pick up Teen Titans #2. As it is, I'm going to have to call it quits on what could be a decent book.


Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond. These two high school students are worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super-science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control. The dark secrets of the murderous Dog Team and its Firestorm Protocol force them to put aside their differences to confront a threat so terrifying that it may lead to a new Cold War! Welcome to a major new vision of nuclear terror 
from writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone with astonishing art by Yildiray Cinar!

Grant: I'm really sad to tell you this, but this comic was pretty disappointing. Yildiray Cinar provided some pretty good art, but Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone didn't really hold up their end of the bargain when it comes to the issue's writing.

The book opens with a three page with some generic bad guys threatening a Turkish family in Istanbul in the hopes of finding some unnamed device. This whole sequence, while perhaps helpful for explaining some of what comes later in the issue, is really brutal. Like, the bad guys murder a boy's father before his eyes, which includes a bloody and slumping silhouette for the reader to enjoy, and then they proceed to murder the rest of the family just because. Considering that the book then spends the rest of the story following some high school students and that this book could have easily been marketed towards younger readers, this whole sequence seems pretty unnecessary in my mind.

Regardless, once we're done with that blood and gore, we get a rather by the numbers introduction to Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond in what is a pretty hard reboot of Firestorm. The two are attending the same high school, with Ronnie playing the part of the dumb but, good intentioned, jock and Jason playing the smart, and slightly self-righteous, nerd. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's serviceable, at least until the two finally meet each other. Jason goes to interview Ronnie for the school paper and the two get into an incredibly forced argument that eventually devolves into Jason pulling the racism card, claiming that Ronnie is a white bigot. I-it's not terribly convincing.

Anyways, the generic bad guys are revealed to be on the trail of the Firestorm Protocol, an item of near-infinite power that Jason has in his high school locker for some reason. Cornered by the bad guys, Jason unleashes the power and he and Ronnie both become Firestorm. As in, they are both Firestorm separately from each other. This was actually kind of interesting choice, to separate the two characters in such a literal manner, but this choice is quickly thrown away as the two fight and merge into the seemingly evil and crazy powerful Fury. I can understand what the creative team was trying to do, upping the ante early on to increase reader interest, but I was mostly disappointed that they threw all their cards on the table so early on. Now that the big bad has seemingly reared its head by the end of the first issue, where do we go from here?

Verdict - Skip It. This issue had some interesting ideas going on, but none of them were explored with any kind of depth, and the writing was surprisingly clunky. Seriously, the racial tension between Jason and Ronnie was really tacky and poorly done. I was expecting some big things, since Gail Simone was one of the driving creators behind this title, but this book was a pretty big disappointment. I won't be back too see what comes next.

Written by RON MARZ
Art and cover by SAMI BASRI

Who is Voodoo? Is she hero, villain – or both? Learn the truth about Priscilla Kitaen as she leaves a trail of violence across America. Discover the new DC
U through her eyes, because the things she sees are not always what they seem…

Grant: Ugh. DC, why do you keep doing this to us? On its own, Ron Marz's story about an alien-stripper (or whatever Voodoo is) isn't that bad. The plot is serviceable and the mystery is kind of interesting. However, when taken in the context of a month of comics that have pretty much failed at any and all depictions of women that could be defined as "acceptable", Voodoo is yet another offensive and disgusting comic from DC.

This entire issue is replete with women in various states of undress and titillating poses, and it's completely unacceptable. There's really on reason to warrant Voodoo being a stripper, aside from that being what Voodoo was in the original WildStorm book. Unfortunately, that's not a good enough reason to keep it in the reboot, and the whole thing comes off as gratuitous and sleazy.

The biggest shame of this is that Sami Basri is waste on this book. He did some stunning work on Power Girl with Judd Winick, but now instead of drawing some awesome superhero action, his talent is squandered drawing a bunch of scantily clad women posing like pinup girls.

Verdict - Byrne It. This comic, along with the Catwomans and Red Hoods of the month, is the proof that the New 52 is business as usual. DC had the chance to really change up their practices and gain new readers, but instead they completely bomb any and all depictions of women, immediately alienating at least half the population. Wonder Woman proved that it doesn't have to be this way, so how come none of the other books managed to do things right?

So there we have it.  DC barely manages to make it past the finish line at month's end, and the New 52 goes out with a whimper, not a bang.  What do you guys at home think?    Are we being too harsh?  Have we simply been driven mad by the sheer volume of new works this month, or was this week as disappointing as we present it to be?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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Phillyradiogeek said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you guys on Aquaman (yay) and The Dark Knight (yuck), but I couldn't disagree with you more on Superman. I enjoyed it much more than Action Comics (which put me in the minority, I know). Yes it was wordy, and that's a valid criticism, but I loved the action, and considering the news headlines of the last few years, I think sleazy super-rich businessmen still make for interesting villians.

The Planet's been bought by a sleazeball and Lois is in cahoots with him--why shouldn't Clark be pissed off? Clark's characterization makes sense to me.

I likely won't pick up Voodoo again, but I had no problem with the strip cluc setting, nor did I have a problem with Catwoman either (but I won't get into that here). I think the Amanda Waller situation is more disconcerting.

Anonymous said...

I think people today who complain about violence/sex in comics are, generally speaking, enormous hypocrites. I see a lot of people talk about how they were raised on Batman: TAS or the X-Men cartoon. I watched those at the same age, so that puts me in the same age group. At 12, I was reading Watchmen & the Dark Knight Returns, both comics featuring violence & nudity, & in the case of Watchmen, full-on sex. By 14 I was reading Sandman & Preacher. And I know I'm not the only one, because everyone of my comic friends was the same way.

All this concern for "younger" readers - who are we talking about here? If it's 12-13 year olds - well, if you think the biggest concern is them seeing half a breast in a comic book, you're as out of touch with young people as you claim DC is with their audience.

Klep said...

I think you were a bit harsh on JL: Dark. It definitely has a lot going on - maybe too much - but it definitely succeeded in making me interested in where it was going. I'm excited to see what comes next.

That was the only one of the new 52 I bought last week though, so I would agree they went out weakly. In particular I've already expressed my great dissatisfaction with DC's continued expressed sexism as seen last week in Voodoo. Hopefully books that treat women like sexual playthings will fail and swiftly be cancelled in favor of books like Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman, which do not. On that score, I have great hopes for the Huntress mini that starts this week.

patrick said...

Ign had a cool article up summarizing which books were worth it and they also ranked them from 1-52. Would be cool to see what you guys thought was best and worst. Good job guys keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Perez's Superman was truly disappointing, I can't imagine editorial believing this title would energize fans. Nothing inspiring about Superman in this and Lois comes off real tacky. And I really can't stand the trunk-less uniform. Some things you can't change too much.

Morrison's Superman is not much better. These comics read like bad Elseworlds interpretations, not new eras of continuity.

I hope the mystery woman in the hood resets everything soon.

Klep said...

Whoops, I forgot I actually picked up I, Vampire as well after hearing it defied expectations, and it certainly did. I was quite pleased with just about everything in the book. The dialog, art, and pacing all worked together creating a mood that was melancholy and sad right until the point where, as the kids say, shit got real. I'll be sticking with it for a bit.

@Anonymous2: I have no issues with books containing sex and/or violence. That's not a problem. The problem is when it's grossly exploitative, demeaning, and doesn't further the story. Unfortunately, that has been what's happened all-too-often in the DC reboot.

Anonymous said...

I guess I picked up the least number of 52 titles of anyone here. I only snagged "Resurrection Man" #1because of Abbnett & Lanning. If I went to a store on a weekly basis, maybe it would be higher. Green Lantern #1 could've made my pull list, but didn't. Aquaman seems very promising. I haven't seen Justice League Dark yet, but I'd like to see a Shade like that of Milligan's Vertigo run, but his "Secret Seven" mini didn't turn out as I hoped.

I wasn't crazy about the DCU before, but I still feel bad about the way DC One-More-Dayed the whole product line. It's particularly weird to accept the idea that the Dark Ages & the Jonah Hex Old West was in any way impacted by the death of Barry Allen's mom in the 20th century.

The Gaf said...

All-star Western was, imo, the best of the 52s so far. Great story, well written, using established characters in a new and fresh way.

Loved it.

Retcon Joe said...

As always your reviews are enlightening. I took a chance on Aquaman and liked most of it except the poor villain development. Savage Hawkman almost has me but again a strange alien goo, a la X-Files, villain just doesn't do it for me.

I agree with your thoughts on Superman. I was hoping for something a bit more simple. Perez does a good job introducing us to the new status quo but almost too much exposition (and people say Bendis is wordy).

Anyway, what can I say, I gave the New DCnU a stab. My top five... Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and Detective. Will I be back for issue #2? It all depends on my dollars and how slow Marvel and IDW are this month.

Brandon said...

Stop whining about sex and violence. It seems to me that every time you mention two books that don't depict women to your "sensitive" standards, you also mention two other books that do. For every violent book, DC also produces Blue Beetle, which is noticeably geared toward a younger audience. DC is producing a balanced line. You don't like sex and violence, stick to your kiddy books. Leave my action movie books alone. Not every comic reader is 12 years old, and shouldn't be treated as such. Nor does reaching a larger audience automatically mean high school students. Grow up and stop trying to make every damn book cookie cutter politically correct crap. You don't like it, fine. Move on and stop bashing it already.

Klep said...

@Brandon: Just because some of their books are good at portraying women doesn't excuse the ones that are terrible. In fact, it makes those books even worse because it proves that DC is capable of so much better. There's nothing "sensitive" about not wanting women portrayed as sex toys. The fact that I even have to type that sentence proves how big a problem sexism in comics and comics fandom is.

Ants said...

I actually really enjoyed the new Superman. He really did feel like an alien, which is refreshing. The only thing I didn't care for was the narration when the dialogue and the art really weren't doing their job of telling the story.

Anonymous said...

Why you critics gotta criticize? Why can't you just talk about comics you like and ignore the rest? I like my slutty super-heroines, and it makes me all frowny face when you bash it. Don't you know that us guys that see nothing wrong with taking the portrayal of women in comics back fifteen years are really sensitive? DC is just trying to expand their appeal to teen and twenty-something males, a demographic they're lacking?

Klep said...

@Ants: The problem with that idea is that Superman isn't supposed to feel like an alien. He's supposed to feel like a human with extraordinary powers. That's why his creators went to the extent of having him be raised from infancy in Kansas. He's not Kal-El. He's Clark Kent.

Also, I haven't read Superman #1, but I have difficulty understanding how you liked a book where you profess the dialog, narration, and art failed to carry the story.

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