Daily Archives: September 10, 2011

A New 52 Review: Hawk & Dove #1

Hawk & Dove #1
“First Strikes”
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist/Cover artist: Rob Liefeld
Colors: Matt Yackey
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Though he’s been writing for DC Comics for a little while now, I’m not familiar with the work of Sterling Gates. I’d heard some good things about his work on the recently cancelled Supergirl series (to be relaunched later this month), so I was interested in what he might have to offer as one of the creators tapped to help DC make its New 52 initiative a reality. Mind you, I was disappointed he was paired with artist Rob Liefeld, whose work I am familiar with. Liefeld’s emphasis on style above all else has never really appealed to me, but I understood why he was granted this assignment. Of all the super-hero artwork he’s ever given the medium, some of his earliest work — specifically, his work on a Hawk & Dove mini-series from the late 1980s — was the most attractive. His style has changed significantly since that time, though, and I wasn’t taken with what I found here. I wish I could say differently about Gates’ script, but that disappoints as well. This new Hawk & Dove is exactly what readers expect it to be. I wasn’t expecting much, but I’m sure Liefeld fans will get what they’re looking for.

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A New 52 Review: Batgirl #1

Batgirl #1
“Shattered”
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Vincente Cifuentes
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover artist: Adam Hughes
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Batgirl has proven to be one of the more controversial entries in DC’s New 52 initiative, as it reverted the super-hero publisher’s most prominent disabled character back to full function and health. Honestly, I understand why so many were disappointed with the decision to make Barbara Gordon Batgirl again, because I think the character blossomed as Oracle, the wheelchair-bound hacker to the super-heroes. I welcomed the notion of a disabled heroine as well. I have a brother with cerebral palsy whose mobility is dependent on an electric wheelchair. However, when this title was announced with its controversial change for the title character’s status quo, I was nevertheless interested because it’s penned by Gail Simone. Aside from John Ostrander and the late Kim Yale, who came up with the Oracle concept in Suicide Squad more than two decades ago, no other writer has done more to develop the character of Barbara Gordon or knows her better than Simone. This first issue sets the stage for the series, reintroduces the audience to Barbara Gordon and introduces it to her new supporting cast and a cool new villain. There’s nothing particularly novel or extraordinary about this comic book, but it’s solid genre fare that succeeds as an intriguing starting point to appeal to new and old readers alike.

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A New 52 Review: Swamp Thing #1

Swamp Thing #1
“Raise Dem Bones”
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist/Cover artist: Yanick Paquette
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: John J. Hill
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

DC’s decision to “reclaim” Swamp Thing from its Vertigo imprint and restore the character to a place in its super-hero universe is an understandable one. It’s been years since the property has been much of a draw as a Vertigo title, and at its zenith of popularity under the guidance of Alan Moore, it was firmly rooted in the DC Universe. It’s apparent from this first issue that writer Scott Snyder plans to follow in Moore’s footsteps. There’s plenty of stark horror, but there are a number of super-hero elements as well. But Snyder is also able to do something different, as Alec Holland — the man, not the monster — is a major player in the new direction for the Swamp Thing drama. The problem with this new direction is how it’s chained by years of continuity. Snyder’s script isn’t accessible at all to those who are unfamiliar with the character, his history from the 1970s and ’80s and more recent developments in Brightest Day. There’s some solid writing and attractive artwork in this comic book, but as a draw for new and/or lapsed comics readers, it fails. Snyder’s script is more challenging and compelling than, say, Geoff Johns’ story from Justice League #1, but it’s far less welcoming.

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