About 9 months ago, I posted a "First Wave" round-up in which I gave "awards" to various New 52 titles that I had enjoyed since the relaunch. Once again, the time has come to stop and reflect on what we've seen so far. The purpose of this is to recognize the hard work of the folks who keep us entertained week-to-week and to promote discussion among those still aboard the New 52 train. Please keep in mind these "awards" are based solely on my personal opinions, but I would love to hear yours as well!
Note: The issues considered for awards varies for each series. Please refer to the "Series Ranking" section of this article to see a full list of included issues by series.
Favorite Group Overall - Batman
A well executed crossover event, two entries in the "Best Writing" category and two solid final arcs by Judd Winick earn the Bat-Family the top spot this year. The Night of Owls story did a good job of involving the entire Bat-Family without feeling unnatural or like an interruption in any of the books. Each of the tie-in issues had a similar feel but were unique enough to remain interesting, and it was easy to read any of the books in the event without feeling obligated to track all the others down. You didn't get any "Will Batman live or die? Find out in [Book that you don't really like or care about] #9". To top it off, the anchor of the event, Scott Snyder's Batman was quite excellent. And other books starring Batman like Dark Knight and Incorporated gave us solid stories not related to Owls, although you have to wonder how Batman has enough time to handle THIS many simultaneous menaces...
Least Favorite Group Overall - Young Justice
If Night of Owls was an example of a really good New 52 crossover, The Culling would have to be its complete opposite. For two months, three books were taken over by a sprawling, disjointed and ultimately unsatisfying story about a mysterious villain who needs an army of teenage superheroes for some reason. The inclusion of these issues in previously good series like Superboy and Legion Lost felt like an unwelcome interruption. Ironically, the book to come out of the Culling, The Ravagers, was actually pretty good. Good enough to keep Young Justice from getting the bottom spot next year? Only time will tell... It will pretty much have to support the group by itself since Legion Lost and Blue Beetle (the only book from this group I actually enjoyed) were just canceled.
Gold Medal - Scott Snyder (Batman)
Silver Medal - Tony Bedard (Blue Beetle)
Bronze Medal - Gregg Hurwitz (Batman: The Dark Knight)
Best Interior Art
Gold Medal - Mikel Janin (Justice League Dark)
Silver Medal - Sami Basri (Voodoo)
Bronze Medal - David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight)
Best Cover Art
Gold Medal - Ryan Sook (Justice League Dark,DC Universe Presents)
Silver Medal - Eddy Barrows (Nightwing)
Bronze Medal - Paul Renaud (Blue Beetle)
Best Writing Team Changes
Gold Medal - Batman: The Dark Knight #10 (Paul Jenkins to Gregg Hurwitz)
Silver Medal - Justice League Dark #9 (Peter Milligan to Jeff Lemire)
Bronze Medal - Superman #7 (George Perez to Keith Giffen & Dan Jurgens)
After reading these 52 series, Humanfly...
Was most pleasantly surprised by - Ravagers, Earth 2
Was most disappointed by - Legion Lost, Red Lanterns
Existing characters benefiting from New 52:
- Al Pratt & Terry Sloan (Earth 2)
- Vandal Savage (DC Universe Presents)
- Amadeus Arkham (All Star Western)
- Steve Trevor (Justice League)
- Heat Wave (Flash)
Existing characters hurt by New 52:
- Green Arrow (Green Arrow)
- Captain Comet (Action Comics)
- Power Girl (Worlds Finest)
- Omen (Teen Titans)
- Lobo (Deathstroke)
- Ganthet (Green Lantern, New Guardians)
Existing characters I'm waiting to see:
- Red Tornado - Hinted at in Earth 2
- Spartan - Hinted at in a couple books
- Geo-Force - Possibly in an upcoming Ravagers?
- Aqualad - Aqualad 1 has been hinted at in Aquaman, but no sign of Aqualad 2
- Miss Martian - Seen on a computer screen in Teen Titans #1
Most interesting new characters:
- Kassidy Sage (DC Universe Presents)
- The Others (Aquaman)
- Darwin Elias (Flash)
- Lincoln March (Batman)
- Bat-Cow (Batman Incorporated)
- Invictus (Green Lantern: New Guardians)
- Yo-Yo (Suicide Squad)
- Vyndktvx (Action Comics)
Least interesting new characters:
- Harvest (Teen Titans)
- David Graves (Justice League)
- Essence (Red Hood and the Outlaws)
- Rankorr (Red Lanterns)
Best: Aquaman was on a team before the Justice League
Worst: Tim Drake was never "Robin"
Series Ranking within group (top=best, bottom=worst)
Justice League Group
- Earth 2 (1-6,0)
- Wonder Woman (7-12)
- Flash (9-12,0,Annual)
- Aquaman (7-13)
- DC Universe Presents (9-12,0)
- Justice League International (7-12,Annual)
- Justice League (7-12)
- Savage Hawkman (9-16,0)
- Captain Atom (7-12,0)
- Worlds' Finest (1-5,0)
- Fury of Firestorm (7-12,0)
- Green Arrow (7-14)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (10-15,0)
- Batman (8-12,Annual)
- Batwing (7-12)
- Catwoman (7-12)
- Batman Incorporated (1-6,0)
- Nightwing (8-12)
- Birds of Prey (8-12,0)
- Batman and Robin (9-14,0)
- Batgirl (7-13,Annual)
- Red Hood and the Outlaws (8-14)
- Batwoman (6-11)
- Detective Comics (8-12,Annual)
- Supergirl (8-13,0)
- Superman (7-12,Annual)
- Action Comics (9-12,0,Annual)
- Superboy (8-13,0)
Green Lantern Group
- Green Lantern (7-12,Annual)
- Green Lantern: New Guardians (8-12)
- Green Lantern Corps (8-12)
- Red Lanterns (8-12)
The Dark Group
- Justice League Dark (7-13,0,Annual)
- Resurrection Man (8-12,0)
- Animal Man (7-12,Annual)
- I Vampire (7-12)
- Swamp Thing (8-12)
- Demon Knights (8-12,0)
- Dial H (1-6,0)
- Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE (8-12)
The Edge Group
- Suicide Squad (8-13)
- All-Star Western (7-12)
- Grifter (9-16,0)
- Voodoo (7-12,0)
- Deathstroke (9-14,0)
- Stormwatch (7-12)
- GI Combat (1-7,0)
Young Justice Group
- Blue Beetle (7-12)
- Ravagers (1-7,0)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (8-14,0)
- Teen Titans (8-12,Annual)
- Legion Lost (8-16,0)
Closing Thoughts on Canceled Series
At a convention, somebody (maybe Dan Didio) said that it was always hard to cancel a book because 'every book is somebody's favorite'. Blue Beetle might not be my favorite book, but I'm definitely upset its getting canceled. It had a lighter tone than most in the New 52, which made it refreshing to read. There was a lot of humor, but also a lot of realism. Jaime is just a regular kid who now has the ultimate WMD fused to his body and has no idea what to do. Sometimes he'll try to get advice from other superheroes like Kyle Rayner or Booster Gold and end up in a big mess. Sometimes he'll try to do what he thinks is right and ends up on the hero-bashing website "Superfail". Sometimes he'll argue with the AI of his scarab and end up saying something out loud that confuses or angers people (e.g. shouting "I am NOT aroused" when fighting Red Lantern Bleez). Whatever the situation, it was an entertaining read the whole way through and I'm sorry to see it go. Hopefully the character will be treated well in his new home: Threshold.
This book holds the distinction of being the first comic I was still buying on a monthly basis when it got canceled. I liked the first series and thought the returning writers did a good job making the new series similar but different. The fight between heaven and hell for Mitch's soul as well as his mysterious past at the "Lab" were interesting themes, and managed to keep me engaged through the last page of the final issue. Unlike many books that get canceled, this one did a good job resolving its plot points and tying up its loose ends without seeming like it was changing the direction of the book or rushing to reach the conclusion before cancelation. Farewell Mitch, hopefully you'll rise again soon!
Justice League International
Although this book did not meet my initial expectations, it grew on me. I thought it was a good way of showcasing not-so-heavy hitters of the DCU. That being said, this book did have its problems. The government bureaucracy and nagging got tiresome pretty quickly. I was also not a fan of the rather abrupt roster change only 6 issues in which took 4 of the minor international heroes and the 2 supporting characters out of play and replaced them with characters who already had their own books. There were also a few inconsistencies with other books. A minor example: in JLI Batman is very supportive of Booster and his team, but in Justice League he tells Trevor they are an embarrassment and he wants them shut down. Ultimately, it seems like this book was canceled to make room for Justice League of America, so hopefully it will be worth it!
I had fairly lukewarm feelings about this book in the beginning, and actually enjoyed it better when Liefeld and Tieri took over. I think Tieri's humorous script fit the character well. However, I don't think this book did as good of a job at wrapping up once it knew it was getting canceled. There's a pretty abrupt story shift and the plots made less sense (possibly because of Liefeld's departure?), making it fairly obvious they had to scramble to think of some conclusion for the book that was different than the original plan. I guess I'll have to get my Wildstorm fix from Team 7 now...
I loved the first couple issues of this series (written by Ron Marz). They were edgy, sexy, filled with spy drama and managed to make me want to follow a character that I previously didn't care about. This was all thrown out the window after the creative team change. Suddenly, the character we had gotten to know was relegated to stereotypical "bad guy" while a new character was brought in to act as the hero. Within a couple more issues, the supporting staff Marz had introduced was killed off and replaced with a character from possibly the worst New 52 title (sorry Blackhawks...). It took a while for me to wash the bad taste out of my mouth and give this title another shot, and by that time it had been canceled. Looking back on it, the new writer did not do such a bad job. The book was still interesting and the artwork remained superb. Ultimately, I believe the blame for the demise of this series lies with the editors who wanted to take the title in "a new direction" from what had been a promising beginning.
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
I have to say, I'm not terribly disappointed to see this one go. When it first came out, I saw it as a weak link in an otherwise stellar Dark Group, despite the fact I greatly enjoyed the other books written by Lemire. When I returned to the series for this round-up, I found that I enjoyed Lemire's last couple issues, but did not enjoy the book as much after the creative team change. I am glad that Lemire has brought Frankenstein over to Justice League Dark so the character does not languish in limbo after cancelation. I actually think its a better fit for the character, to be in a loosely affiliated group of supernatural allies rather than beholden to Father Time and the government.
I was a fan of the old Captain Atom series written by Cary Bates, but have noticed that he has lacked a consistent characterization since then. One week, he'd be a hard-nosed no-nonsense soldier, the next week he'd be the next big supervillain, then he'd be a regular superhero again. The New 52 series gave a completely new feel to the character: basically his powers are at god-like levels and he spends much of the time trying to figure out what he is, how much humanity he has left and how much he should do with his powers. He reminded me a little too much of Dr. Manhattan, even though they are related I think its best if they remain distinct characters. I liked some of the concepts in this series (like Cap trying to cure cancer, and the repercussions of this), but I was not a fan of the artwork. The artwork, along with the slow and sometimes repetitive nature of this comic caused me to drop it.
Not too much to say on this one. I enjoyed the 'War that Time Forgot' stories, but did not care for the Unknown Soldier or Haunted Tank. I am not generally a fan of war titles, but this seemed like a good attempt by DC to give them another shot. Since this is the second war title in a row to be canceled in less than ten issues, I have to imagine it will be a while before we see another one in the DCU.
I enjoyed the first several issues of this series and was worried when I heard a new writer was coming on. To my relief, the first issue by DeFalco was really good, and I was happy to see the new direction the book was taking: essentially the Legionnaires trapped in the past trying to figure out how they're going to live in this world now that they've completed their mission. Unfortunately, that new direction only lasted one issue before the entire focus of the book shifted over to Harvest and stuff going on in Teen Titans. I would have been fine with Legion's inclusion in the "Culling" if it was just another bunch of teen heroes Harvest was trying to pick up and their association with him ended after those two issues. Instead, they made Harvest an integral part of the book and claimed that he was somehow responsible for all of them coming to the past and getting trapped there. If this book had focused more on the culture shock of being stuck 1000 years in the past, and less on love triangles, secrets and unfulfilled prophecies, I might have been sadder to see it go.