By TheOptimist 0 Comments
The first week of the new DC universe is upon us, complete with 13 new titles. My plan, as it stands right now, is to get a review of each issue published, although I'd like to make them detailed enough that they are actually of value, and given responsibilities beyond the wide world of comics that might not be possible. Nevertheless, this is my aim. I was incredibly excited for these titles and was sure to basically love them all. In order to develop different levels of my critique, I intended to limit the number of titles that would be receiving my highest rating, so that my five stars would actually mean something. My aim was to limit myself to a maximum of five titles with 5 stars, five titles with four stars and any number of 3 star or lower titles. Now that I've finished the stack, I'm going to be honest and say that this system will NOT work for me, despite my aspirations. And this is probably my greatest compliment to the new DC universe thus far. I simply can't limit myself to those numbers as they stand right now. In lieu of getting my full detailed reviews out right away, here are my thoughts on the titles of week 1:
Action Comics: An excellent comic book of both story and art. This is clever but accessible Grant, the one least likely to tick people off, even if it means playing it safe at a point or two. Superman is really someone new here, and I'm already aching to know more about him. Rags Morales sells it here as well, bringing his A game. This was the first one I read this week and it worked as a perfect appetizer for the slew to come, sharp, epic and wonderfully crafted.
Animal Man: This book pulled more of an independent feel than the other titles, which worked well for Lemire's script, Foreman's story and the concept of Animal Man in general. The creep factor of the ending was really well delivered.
Batgirl: Yeah. This comic was cool. Controversy is sure to surround it. But you gotta admit, Babs is really cool in this issue. She is awesome, cute, funny, intelligent... regardless of the direction... it was really fun to read. On the subject of her condition, Simone nailed the handling of the issue, side-stepping it with a gentle tongue stick at the readers, daring them to ask the question and force them to keep coming back for more.
Batwing: One of the more wild card titles of this batch, it paid off rather solidly. I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was a rather well crafted comic. Not having any backstory on the character really actually makes the story sizzle and pop and I was already wondering about all of the unknown features of this newly constructed world of African superheroics. I wanted to know more, so badly that when the incredibly shocking ending occurred I was left seething at the fact that I had to wait a whole month for more.
Detective Comics: Given the most recent run on Batman and the early critical praise for this first issue, my expectations were low (sometimes when people praise a title, I intentionally lower my expectations because, well, I don't believe them, yet). This was a really nice surprise. The ending is unnervingly gruesome, a compliment in this case. Although apprehensive, I can't wait to see what comes next. And I suppose apprehension is exactly what they're looking for in a mystery-style title.
Green Arrow: The first part of the issue held a very standard current for me, which given the magnitude of other stories was actually nice to have for a bit as a sort of break. Too much epic in one day was wearing me out. Nevertheless, that hurt my initial impression of the title... although the ending had me pleasantly intrigued once again, with a sort of 'ooh' and 'ahh' sense of wondering.
Hawk and Dove: Of course, people are ready to tear this title to shreds. But given the nature of the title... I think this was the perfect book to have Liefeld on if ever there was one. The exaggerative hyper-masculine and warped vision of femininity goes hand in hand with exactly what this book sets out from the start, that dynamic of contrasting extremist elements. Makes for a great action piece, and Sterling Gates does an excellent job of writing to the strengths of his artist. With that bang out of the gate, hopefully we'll see the emphasis on his writer's craft take over against the focus on the artistic element.
Justice League International: When I began reading this comic, it felt much the same as the one I read right before it, that being Green Arrow. They both felt like the standard monthlies that are rolled out, which isn't intended as an insult, but it isn't really flattering, given the flair of some of the other titles. However, once we got to the metatextual elements of the development of a new DC universe title, I started to get tingles of real joy. I got some really nice laughs out of this issue (intentional ones, not at the title's expense).
Men of War: I'm not a war title guy. But this comic showed me how, maybe, I could be. The emotional beats are there. The introspective analysis matched with the dramatic action flare of combat are there. And tension, this comic is absolutely to the brim with it, by my reading. Especially because I'm unfamiliar with the generals of the genre format, I had no idea what was coming at me on the next page, which given the two endings, makes for a really potent read.
O.M.A.C: Probably the biggest shocker of the week for me. Don't get me wrong, I still had hopes for this series... but this was a lot cooler than I had expected. Kudos to Mr. Didio, I think that this might actually be the perfect niche for him. And the Kirby element of the art is the perfect accent.
Static Shock: Pleasantly surprising. Didn't blow me away, but it really felt like a more kid friendly comic, not making too many huge leaps but enough to still be engaging to read. The art style helps to retain some of the charm generated by the animated element and from what level of prior exposure I have had to the character, I think that it would've mad the Icon community proud.
Stormwatch: Paul Cornell is one of my top watches right now, so I had admittedly high expectations for this title. It is also the one I recommended for people to give a shot. It met those expectations in the end, but didn't quite blow them away. It was good, solid and worth every penny... but given my (probably unreasonably) high expectations for the book, it didn't shatter me quite the way some of the others did. Still, don't read these thoughts the wrong way, it takes one of the higher spots on my list this week.
Swamp Thing: Favorite of the Week. As near to perfect in execution as I could imagine. Story is compelling and left me dying for the next issue. Art is phenomenal.