*Editors Note: Comic-book aficionado and friend to Nerd Bastards, Jeremy Hudson has volunteered to read and review every first issue of DC’s New 52. Jeremy is a funny bastard and knows his shit. His reviews will inform and entertain. Enjoy.
Welcome to our first full week of the New DCU!
It’s seems to be off and running. Only one real issue published by the company in the past seven days with this new continuity things are pointing towards this being successful for DC comics, and maybe the industry as a whole. Digital copies are flying off whatever the internet equivalent of shelves are. Various websites are reporting tonnes of the new number ones are selling out and moving on to 2nd or 3rd printings. Heck, some are already popping up on eBay at near 10 times the cover price (as of this writing.) Pretty good when you take into account that until this past Wednesday, the most any of us and seen was Justice League #1 and the solicits and covers for the first month or so. What I can say on an anecdotal note is that I know of a few former avid comic readers that are coming back to check out the new 52 and my local comic shops seem to be selling a few more trades of the old DC.
So, that brings us to now, I’m in my inner sanctum (the room the wife has let me have as my nerd palace), I’m set and ready to dive into this weeks 13 issues. Some big issues, like the love them or hate them historical 2nd numbers ones of Action and Detective Comics and some possible surprises like “Bat Wing” or an All new OMAC and and very new take on Sgt. Rock in “Men of War”. Let’s see how this first week unfolds, shall we?
Here is your spoiler free quick rundown and top picks:
Buy Animal Man. Seriously. By far it was the stand out book this week. Obviously Action and Detective preform solidly and are not without their share of surprises. You should also pick up Justice League International and Men of War. JLI gave me exactly what I expected and I enjoyed in and Men of War hit me with what I didn’t see coming and I loved it.
In the worth looking into pile. This rather refreshing new take on Green Arrow, the return of Batgirl, an intriguing Stormwatch along with the ‘where are you going with this’ Static Shock and Batwing. All read really well, I was entertained for the most part and my interest was at least piqued.
Just falling off into the ‘why would they waste good paper on these’. Omac. I wanted to like you Omac, I really did. Same for you Swamp Thing, we had some good times in the past, didn’t we? Let’s just leave them there. Lastly, I am looking at you Hawk and Dove. Never darken my door step again.
Want to see why? then let’s head into spoiler country with the fast and furious reviews!
Men of War: Written by Ivan Brandon with art by Tom Derenick
Co-feature written by Jonathan Vankin with art by Phil Winslade
I have to say, this was issue was a very pleasant surprise. Ok, I will admit I was expecting Men of War to be a disappointment. I’ve never found modern war fiction to live up to WWII fiction. I don’t know why, but it’s never held the same punch for me. I grew up on war comics, my earliest experiences with the genre was ‘borrowing’ my older brothers G.I. Combat, Weird War Tales and of course, Sgt. Rock. I guess I came into this one with a bit of biased view, luckily it turned that around, Hard. On the exact page that I thought ‘this is good, but if they ever toss in Superman or some other cape they’ll ruin it’, well, the next page they did but the book still had me. This book made me feel at home, yet tingle with something ‘new’. Plus, the back-up story was just as perfect as the main. Well Men of War, we’ll be seeing you in issue two forsure.
Swamp Thing: Written by Scott Snyder with art by Yanick Paquette
This is one comic that has some big shoes to fill. Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing is really legendary and really why DC splintered the line off into the Vertigo imprint in the first place. So here we are with a new comic in this new continuity trying to bring Swampy back into the DCu fold. So why are they clearly referencing events that I can only assume happened in the OLD DCu with “Brightest Day: The Search for Swamp Thing” among other references to past story lines. That being said it was a fair shot at a horror comic, I guess. I’m just not really sold on it. The only real point that caught me in the whole issue was seeing a man pantiless Superman for the first time and internally debating if he really did just reference that one time he died. Good luck Swamp Thing. Maybe we’ll revisit you later… but not in issue #2.
Animal Man: Written by Jeff Lemire with art by Travel Foreman
Whoa. Alright, three issues into the first week and I am SOLD. It’s a great juxtaposition to my thoughts on Swamp Thing. Vertigo fans will know the link between the green and the red, and honestly it doesn’t matter. A VERY solid issue, and I can honestly say I am very excited to see where this goes. The character is presented in a fashion that I am familiar with and with a few nice additions that make me want more. The art is amazing, the writing is crisp and clear, you honestly quickly get into Buddy Bakers life fast and want to stay there. Plus the end is one of those rare cliff hangers that doesn’t feel cheap for needing to pick up the next issue. Welcome to the high water mark of the new 52. I will be here next month.
Static Shock: Written by Scott McDaniel and John Rozum with art by Scott McDaniel
This is another of the new 52 that immediately strikes a cord. It’s Static from the heart of Dwayne McDuffie, with hints of the Milestone Dakotaverse. If you do not know who McDuffie is, go to google right now, search him, read, learn. See? Yea, that dude. He did all that and more. Does that mean you should buy this book? I don’t know. I’m keeping this one as a close maybe for two reasons. One, its a teen superhero and those are usually a good bet (even if Static is really trying to hard to be DC’s Spiderman in his first issue) and two, this issue left me with a strong sense of adventure. That is why we read comic books, my friends.
Omac: Story and art by Keith Giffen and Dan DiDio
So, I really wanted to like this book. I honestly did. I am a HUGE Jack Kirby fan and I would have to say that Keith Giffen is undoubtedly my favorite professional in the comic industry today. Wow, could I not get into this book. It was choppy and disjointed. I found myself trying desperately to maintain interest. Just when I would find something I liked… it was beat down by something awkward and uncomfortable. Keith does an absolute amazing job making me remember Jack Kirby with his art in this book, but art alone won’t make me come back. I am sorry. I honestly am. Mr. Giffen has never done me wrong, so where did the wheels fall off the cart? Dan DiDo? He did kill Ted Kord, remember. I am kidding, sorta. I am tossing this in the revisit pile. Say hello to Swamp Thing, Omac. Maybe you two should try and find Ted Kord and ask him how to earn my love. I am kidding. Sorta.
Stormwatch: Written by Paul Cornell with art by Miguel Sepulveda
Jim Lee’s Wildstorm Universe is a complete mystery to me. Always has been. When I stopped reading comics in the 90’s, it was all fresh and new… and completely unread by me. I have the vague understanding of what it was from my simple interest in the industry, and now that I am hit with it as it is integrated into the the new DCu..? Mildly intrigued, and thats to put it mildly. Here is what earns it in the maybe pile. I love Martian Manhunter, granted I am luke warm on his characterization in this book and I have tonnes of Dr. Who fans that tell me Paul Cornell is the next big writer in comics. Oh hang on… he wrote for Coronation Street? Oh I am in for atleast one more issue.
Hawk & Dove: Written by Sterling Gates with art by Rob Liefeld
Oh boy. Hey, let’s hit the high points first. Sterling Gates connects the new book with the characters legacy page after page, heck there is even an off hand reference to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, I think… if that is still in canon, for a new DCu, the continuity is already confusing. People yell a lot. There are zombies. Some landmarks get beat up. Oh Rob Liefeld, why are you such a parody of yourself? Seriously, one day I want to take him through a shoe store, the real size of peoples feet will blow. his. mind! I would like to say I will revisit this title in future… but Hawk & Dove, get in line behind Omac, Swamp Thing and Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew should they show up.
Green Arrow: Written by J.T. Krul with art by Dan Jurgens
Wow, welcome to the first big surprise. This is really a ground up revamp for Ollie McQueen. New supporting cast, new motivation. I have to say this one might take a bit longer for me to digest. Part of my is already pining for our old Ollie. Left wing nutjob spouting off his crazy socialist retoritc, but part of me is interested in this new Steve Jobs with a Compound Bow nutjob spouting off his crazy socialist rhetoric. Dan Jurgens does solid duty on art and J.T. Krul’s story is good, but I have to admit I enjoyed the sides more than the man course. I will be watching this one, if the goat-tee comes back and he bitches out a Green Lantern, I will be in forsure.
Batwing: Written by Judd Winick with art by Ben Oliver
I have to say this is another big surprise. I knew of this character from his introduction in Batman Inc. but that’s about it. Coming in cold I have to say Judd Winick does not disappoint, the story is solid. Add in Ben Oliver’s absolutely amazing art and its really a strong issue. Except for one thing. I still don’t really know who Batwing is or care to for that matter. I see a solid story but it could be almost any character as the focus for it. The Kingdom was a very interesting addition, however hinting at superheroes I may learn about in the future when I don’t really know the title character yet falls a little short. We will keep a casual eye on you, Batwing.
Batgirl: Written by Gail Simone with art by Ardian Syaf
Spoiler Altert: she was Stephanie Brown, she’s not Batgirl. Either is Cassandra Cain. (k, lame joke but I had to). Welcome back Barbara Gordon and good luck Gail Simone. Oracle was a well loved character, this change back is going to be tough at times. Without going to far in the Babs out of the wheelchair controversy, I will say personally I questioned a DCu, new or otherwise without Oracle. That’s old news now and we have Gail Simone to explain it to us. I think she can, but it is a tall order. The Killing Joke still happened? Babs is starting out a new life and battling some demons to retake the mantle of Batgirl? Ok, That earns a slot on the watch list.
Detective Comics: Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel
DC Comics flagship titles relaunch honestly read like a standard meat and potatoes Batman comic to me. Very well written, solid. The art was great. Now don’t get me wrong, if you have never read a Batman comic… um, you’re not real and . Sure this makes a great jumping point for new readers, with a plot that looks like its going to be a very entertaining arc. It’s all movie friendly too with a nice blend or elements theatre goers will be used to. Just didn’t see any big surprises. Till the last page. WOW. the last page. If you haven’t seen or heard yet, I won’t spoil it but here is a clue. Think Joker and add that to your favorite Nic Cage/John Travolta Movie… Face…. Off… I am in for next month.
Justice League International: Written by Dan Jurgens with art by Aaron Lopresti
I will not lie, this is my most anticipated comic of the New 52. I say this one delivered. The team is up and running early in the book and it looks like a good set of b-listers. Perfect for the book really. The ‘how and why’ of the team makes sense too. The one thing that did get to me is some of the “we don’t get a long, isn’t this interesting” dialogue felt a little heavy handed. That and I still don’t like Booster Golds new costume. Love the fact that Rocket Red reads like the exact same Russian dude that was awesome in Justice League: Generation Lost. This one is locked on my list and that’s not just ’cause of Booster, This book has some great potential. Look forward to issue #2
Action Comics: Written by Grant Morrison with art by Rags Morales.
And this was what all the hype was about? Taking DC comics big blue boy scout back to the core and giving us something new. Take a big name writer like Morrison and fan favorite artist Rags Morales, give them the nod to retell that same old story we’ve seen six ways past Sunday and its just suppose to be good? I guess so. In an odd way this was my biggest surprise of the week. After all the hype, after hearing that it was going to be a ‘fresh take’ and a ‘modern cynical look at Superman’. I was prepared to be disappointed. I wasn’t. I love how it actually feels like those early 1930’s stories where Supes beats up abusive husbands and strong arms villains, ah the golden age. Things he’d never ever do in the silver age, but this isn’t the silver age anymore, it’s not the modern age either.
This really is the new DCu.
I think I like it here.
Next Week: I spend another Wednesday night staying up till dawn reading comic books and disappointing my lovely and understanding wife with the 2nd round of releases.
Batman And Robin, Batwoman, Deathstroke, Demon Knights, Frankenstein Agent Of Shade, Green Lantern, Grifter, Legion Lost, Mister Terrific, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Suicide Squad and, Superboy!