By The Mighty Monarch 1 Comments
I haven't been able to keep up with reviewing all of the New 52 this year, but I've still been keeping up with all of them (Save PLegion of Super-Heroes because it bores me beyond all reason.) I DO plan on going back to fill in the gaps I missed to finally have the claim to fame of 'Reviewed the entire first two years of the New 52,' but for now I've decided to represent my reading of all of them (save two unfortunate series') with this retrospective look at the entire second year of each series, scoring them overall out of 10. Keep in mind this is subject to opinion, and you may or may not agree with some of my stronger praise or hate; I do tend to go a little overboard with the enthusiasm, but these are still solid representative of what series I did or didn't like.
Action Comics 8/10
The second year began incredibly strong, Morrison's epic run concluded with a string of amazing issues, save the weak #14. #13 was definitely a personal favorite, but the last few issues held an incredible sense of scale to the conflict, definitely a Morrison kind of conclusion. After that was the short-lived Andy Diggle/Tony Daniel run which had a so-so ending, but through most of the rest had excellent artwork and perfect character work, especially on the part of Lex Luthor. The new Co-Feature's been much better as well, giving us seldom seen adventures of Jor-El and Lana before they were even married. The main reason this goes down to an 8, however, is the last few issues of the year by Scott Lobdell and Tyler Kirkham. They're certainly earning the name 'Action' comics, but the plotting and pacing was pretty weak. They have one more issue and then Greg Pak takes over, so I'm looking forward to improvement back to at least a 9/10 hopefully.
Adventures of Superman 9/10
Just like Legends of the Dark Knight, Adventures of Superman is made up of 3 10-page stories each issue, some form one big story, others are just short tales; always each story is done by a different author/artist team. We're only a few issues in, but so far we've seen a LOT of excellent short Superman stories. This is the best Superman I've read in the New 52 aside from Morrison's Action Comics
All-Star Western 10/10
Moritat's artwork significantly improved, very suddenly during the Zero Issue, and it's carried on throughout the second year. His art was already a great fit, but now there's more detail and dynamism in it. The stories have also began varying in length, as opposed to the fairly standard 3-issue arcs of the first year. A good chunk of the second year that's carrying over into the third is Jonah's sudden and unwilling time displacement into the present day. While his western stories are excellent with plenty of characters to come back to, there's so much interesting stuff and new psychological areas to explore in the present. All-Star Western continues to be one of the peaks of the New 52.
Ame-Comi Girls 7/10
A very hit-or-miss kind of series, especially in the beginning where each character got a different artist for their issue. Power-Girl's issue was dull to the point of crap, but then Supergirl's was incredible, with the best possible artwork for the series. It's interesting how this series is very much intended to be a fanservice kind of title, yet Gray/Palmiotti have managed to inject tons of great character work and wide-reach plotting. The main problem is the constant artist change, that and the fact that after the first arc it just continued to expand and expand while mostly ignoring all the characters it spent all that time establishing. It just started to feel a bit detached from itself and I think that's why it was ultimately cancelled. Still worth looking into.
Animal Man 9/10
The first year of Animal Man was excellent, with lots of unique elements to it, especially exploring Buddy's family as much as Buddy himself; and that might be partly why Animal Man's part of Rotworld just didn't work as well as Swamp Thing's, or the rest of the series. That, and Steve Pugh's artwork tended to vary in quality, frequently dipping into just bad at times during the crossover. But once he got home, the series went right back to where it started, lots of heavy emotions, creepy imagery, and family drama. If Rotworld was turning you off, I urge you to give it a second chance, it gets right back to the quality it began with almost immediately afterwards.
While I mildly criticized Aquaman's first year for being way too focused on big flashy action while eschewing and avoiding chances to dig for deeper storytelling, I still really enjoyed it aside from a few bad issues. Year 2, Geoff Johns has completely turned things around. Throne of Atlantis had a lot of problems through most of it, especially in terms of far too may characters being far too rash and idiotic; but it ended very strong, and actually justified the crossover with a major impact on both series'. Since then, Aquaman has significantly toned down the action for tons of plot development, character development, and unique politics. Paul Pellitier isn't quite as great an artist as Ivan Reis, but he's grown to be a very good fit for Aquaman. The added depth has put this series much higher on my list, and I can actually respect it in addition to enjoying it.