Posted by Don MacPherson on December 9th, 2011
Welcome back for the second in my four-part series examining DC’s New 52 line and how I feel about them a couple of months after my initial run of reviews of all of the first issues. Some of the titles remain in favor, some have fallen out. I remain disinterested in some, and there are a couple that didn’t click for me at first but have managed to pique my interest since my exposure to the first installments.
In the first part of this series, I made my way through the 52 titles in alphabetical order, so let’s continue on as such…
Captain Atom: I’ve only read the first issue of this series, but I have to admit some curiosity about it in the months since it began. I rather liked the spectral redesign of the title character, and the Dr. Manhattan-esque take on the character certainly has some potential. I looked at a few preview pages of the third issue online last month, in part due to the Flash appearance in that issue, and the open sequence of Captain Atom performing miracle-like good deeds was compelling. I’m not curious enough about the book to buy subsequent issues at full price, but the next time my local comics retailer has a sale, I might take the opportunity to see if Captain Atom is a title I should reconsider.
Catwoman: I watched the animated incarnation of Batman: Year One recently, and in that story, Selina Kyle is much less exposed than she was in the first issue of this series — and she was a hooker in the Year One plot. I haven’t heard if the T&A factor has been toned down in subsequent issues, and I haven’t bothered to thumb through any since the first issue — nor have I had any interest in doing so.
DC Universe Presents: The first issue of this series was my favorite of all of the New 52 #1s, and while the second and third episodes weren’t quite ass challenging and compelling, they still struck me as strong and entertaining comics storytelling. The story seems rather unconnected to the rest of New 52 continuity — there’s no reference to Deadman’s relationship with Dove, for example, unlike Hawk and Dove and Justice League Dark — and it seems to explore a pantheon of mythic figures and monsters outside of the context of a shared super-hero universe. In any case, this story of a ghost’s rebellion against its maker is proving to be a great opening story arc. As for the next story arc, I’m willing to see what Dan DiDio and Jerry Ordway have to offer in the form of a new interpretation of the Challengers of the Unknown.
Deathstroke: I don’t know what’s been going on this title after the first issue, and I’m not all that interested to find out. I was surprised to find the New 52 incarnation of the character in The Shade, as it seemed as though that series was set in DC’s pre-New 52 world.
Demon Knights: I was quite surprised by the first issue of this series, as I’m not usually one for sword-and-sorcery fare (the Lord of the Rings flicks bored me to death). But writer Paul Cornell instilled such strong and even fun personalities in the protagonists, I, like many others, was won over. I’ve been following the series, but I’m a bit disappointed the story is progressing so slowly. The town in which the heroes find themselves has been under siege by evil forces for three issues now, and they’ve yet to encounter the main villains or even come together to form the team suggested in the title of the series. If something doesn’t happen soon, I’ll be saying good night to the Demon Knights.
Detective Comics: I found the storytelling in the first issue of this series derivative, clunky and gratuitously violent, and as such, I didn’t have any interest in seeing what might unfold in later issues. I don’t think DC is missing my $2.99, though. The book has proven to be a major hit, and it seems to me because there are a good number of people out there interested in such a gory vision of Gotham City.
Flash: The second issue of the series was even better than the first, as Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have managed to present and explore the title character’s super-speed powers in new and unconventional ways. The third issue, unfortunately, stood out as a major misstep, as the story lurched forward without providing enough context to enjoy and appreciate key elements. I’m still on board with the series, hoping the problems in the third issue were an aberration.
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.: Though this book is far from the clever and inventive storytelling writer Jeff Lemire is delivering with Animal Man, there’s a campiness and bombastic quality to this story of monsters-as-heroes that’s a lot of fun. Furthermore, the over-the-top super-science is amusing as well. Alberto Ponticelli’s harsh style suits the monstrous heroes quite well. While the storytelling doesn’t feel particularly new or novel, it’s solidly entertaining. I’m content to continue with this title for the time being.
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men: This new title has a lot going for it. Gail Simone’s been a personal favorite for some time. The status quo for the title character(s) has been shaken up considerably. And the antagonistic relationship between the two protagonists promised to bring an interesting dynamic to the book. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the first issue, my interest wanted with the next two episodes. My problem was how the plot seemed to eliminate quickly any potential for normal lives and therefore grounded elements to which the reader could relate. After three issues, I dropped this title. Given the recent announcement Ethan Van Sciver will illustrate a couple of upcoming issues with no co-writer Joe Harris, there’s a chance I might revisit the book, but until then, I’m sure I’m not going to miss it.
Green Arrow: While I loved the meticulous detail George Perez brought to the art in the first issue with his sharp inking, overall, there was nothing in that debut from writer J.T. Krul and penciller Dan Jurgens that grabbed my attention. Everything about it was generic in nature. I haven’t even thumbed through an issue since the first, but I do plan on checking out the seventh issue. Writer Ann Nocenti is coming on board as the book’s new writer (following Jurgens, who’s taking over from Krul shortly). Nocenti is a writer who’s often offered smart and unusual writing in the past, and I’m curious to see in what direction she’ll take this character.
Green Lantern: The reason for Geoff Johns’ popularity among DC’s readers was made abundantly clear when this title was relaunched in September. By casting a villain the title role of the hero, he brought renewed vigor to a book that was already fun and full of energy (both literally and figuratively). Even better was the fact the story wasn’t really about Sinestro’s redemption. It’s the strong characterization and new, uncomfortable roles for Sinestro and Hal Jordan that makes this book one of the first I read when a new issue is released.
Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: New Guardians: Both the Batman and Green Lantern franchise remained, for the most part, unchanged through the New 52 relaunch, and before September’s publishing initiative, I was a fan of the entire GL line. As such, I looked forward not only to the main title, but these two spinoffs. While I enjoyed the strong characterization in the first issue of GL Corps and was intrigued by the premise in New Guardians, I ended up dropping both titles after the third issues. The emphasis on characterization in Corps was lost, replaced by an unnecessary violent confrontation with a fairly generic enemy (yet another with an as-yet unknown, historical beef with the Lanterns). And despite my appreciation of the Lanterns of Many Colors concept, New Guardians ended up being… awkward and cheesy; I don’t know exactly why the book wasn’t working for me, but I do know I didn’t want to plunk down three bucks every month to read it.
Click here to read the next part in this series, and keep an eye out for Part 4 in the coming days.
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