Category Archives: Reviews – DC

A New 52 Review: The Ravagers #1

Variant coverThe Ravagers #1
“Children of Destiny”
Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencils: Ian Churchill
Inks: Norm Rapmund & Ian Churchill
Colors: Alex Sollazzo
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover artists: Churchill (regular)/Brett Booth & Rapmund (variant)
Editor: Pat McCallum & Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

While I knew going in this wasn’t going to be the sort of comic book I normally enjoy, the first sign something was amiss was apparent on the cover, with the six protagonists all identified with bold captions. It’s not often one sees that incorporated into cover art, at least not in a composition such as this one. Still, I kept an open mind, interested in how DC and its creative talent have reinvented some familiar and not-so familiar characters. Unfortunately, this comic is exactly what it appears to be: an inaccessible, uber-violent exercise in “Kewl” comics storytelling of the mid-1990s. In other words, it’s an example of How Not to Do Comics. I hope DC will be content with circulations numbers at the same level of Teen Titans, because there isn’t a prayer of this title bringing in any more readers than that. And it’s far more likely The Ravagers will find itself kicked to the curb to make way for another wave of New 52 titles in the future.

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A New 52 Review: Batman Incorporated v.2 #1

Variant coverBatman Incorporated v.2 #1
“Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan, Part One: Demon Star”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artists: Burnham (regular)/Frank Quitely (variant)
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

While Grant Morrison acknowledges in this script some of the events from various Batman comics he didn’t write, what he really does here is pick up where he left off in the first volume of Batman and Robin. In that series, he impressed readers with his presentation of a new dynamic between the Dynamic Duo. In that previous project, Batman was Dick Grayson, the original Robin, and the new Robin was a genetically engineered child assassin. The dark and light aspects of the pairing were reversed. Now Morrison has Bruce Wayne back, and the Dynamic Duo is the Dark and Dismal Duo. Peter J. Tomasi has been doing some solid work with the two characters in the New 52 incarnation of Batman and Robin, but Morrison has something else in store here. His focus isn’t so much on character but on plot, but given the scope and inventiveness of that plot, it’s a worthwhile read. More importantly, Morrison’s Batman work has served as a great spotlight for Chris Burnham, who quickly went from being an unknown illustrator with a couple of obscure graphic novels under his belt to a go-to talent for DC.

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A New 52 Review: DC Universe Presents #9

DC Universe Presents #9
“Savage, Part One: Daddy’s Little Girl”
Writer: James Robinson
Artist/Colors: Bernard Chang
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover artist: Ryan Sook
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Well, this series has only struck out once in three times at bat. James Robinson’s reinterpretation of Vandal Savage is the third feature to grace the pages of this series, which offers stories spotlighting different characters by different creative teams. There’s an undeniable Silence of the Lambs riff at play in this story, but the familial dynamic keeps it from seeming derivative. The writer blends the serial-killer genre with the periphery of that of the super-hero (or villain, to be more precise), and the result is thoroughly entertaining. While I enjoyed the strong, new female protagonist Robinson introduces here, what stands out as the greatest strength of the issue is Bernard Chang’s artwork. He did such a great job on the inaugural Deadman story arc in DC Universe Presents and on this new one, it seems to me DC ought to just make him the regular artist for the series across the board. Chang is a skilled comics artist whose traditional style nevertheless boasts a great deal of nuance and impact when the story calls for it.

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A New 52 Review: Worlds’ Finest #1

Variant coverWorlds’ Finest #1
“Rebirth”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Pencils: George Perez & Kevin Maguire
Inks: Scott Koblish & Kevin Maguire
Colors: Hi-Fi & Rosemary Cheetham
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover artists: Perez (regular)/Maguire (variant)
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Of the four New 52 second-wave titles to debut this past week, this one offers the most traditional, purest approach to the super-hero genre, and consequently, it’s a thoroughly fun title. It also stands out as writer Paul Levitz’s strongest work since leaving his executive position at DC Comics and returning to writing full-time. The strength of his storytelling stems from a couple of sources: a strong friendship built on a shared tragedy, and the disparate ways those two friends chose to deal with it. What will like draw a number of readers to this book is the strength of the artistic talent. George Perez and Kevin Maguire are deservedly popular artists, and they demonstrate here why they’re so sought after. The writer and artists aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, but they’re building on a solid foundation. Despite the cosmic catalyst of dimensional displacement and the title’s connection to the continuities of two different worlds, at its heart, Worlds’ Finest is about a friendship that’s strengthened due to a shared obstacle.

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A New 52 Review: G.I. Combat #1

G.I. Combat #1
“The War That Time Forgot”
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Ariel Olivetti

“The Unknown Soldier”
Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Dan Panosian
Colors: Rob Schwager

Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Brett Booth (regular)/Ariel Olivetti (variant)
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

Of all of the entries in DC’s second wave of New 52 titles, this was the most curious. When G.I. Combat was announced as one of the six replacement titles, it seemed an odd move to move this title into the slot of the cancelled Men of War. Furthermore, the two features DC planned for the revived G.I. Combat — “The War That Time Forgot” and “Unknown Soldier” — had both been the subject of scuttled reinventions in titles of the same name. Nevertheless, I went into this debut issue with an open mind, as it features the work of some creators — notably Ariel Olivetti and the writing team of Gray and Palmiotti — I normally enjoy.

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A New 52 Review: Dial H #1

Variant coverDial H #1
“What’s the 411?”
Writer: China Mieville
Artist: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Tanya & Richard Horie
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover artists: Brian Bolland (regular)/David Finch & Richard Friend (variant)
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

You couldn’t find a better target audience than me for this new title. I’ve loved the “Dial H for H-E-R-O” concept since I discovered it in Adventure Comics in the 1980s in a stint by Marv Wolfman, Carmine Infantino and Don Heck. I never submitted a hero for inclusion in the book, but I devoured every issue and marvelled at how DC accepted ideas from its readership. Skip forward a decade or two, and I was gobbling up just about every title being offered by DC’s Vertigo imprint, headed by Karen Berger, the mature-readers’ brand’s editor, who also happens to be editing this new spin on the H-Dial (heh, “spin”). I suppose if I was familiar with China Mieville’s prose works, I’d represent the perfect demographic trifecta. Admittedly, I was receptive to this book going in, but one could argue I had high expectations as well. Well, if I did, Mieville and artist Mateus Santolouco lived up to them. Despite my love for the title concept, I really didn’t know what was in store for me, and what I found was unreal, unconventional and unique. The creators have crafted something dark but goofy, surreal but grounded.

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A New 52 Review: Earth 2 #1

Earth 2 #1
“The Price of Victory”
Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Nicola Scott
Inks: Trevor Scott
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado (regular)/Bryan Hitch (variant)
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

When DC announced Earth 2 would be a part of its second wave of New 52 titles, I was thrilled. There were rumors of the book long before the official announcement, so I was already a bit keyed up for it. I’m a huge fan of DC’s Golden Age characters and the Silver Age notion of World War II super-heroes’ adventures taking place on “Earth 2.” Hell, one of the purchases I made at the same time as picking up the first issue of Earth 2 was Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1. In any case, as the weeks passed and we neared the release date of this new project, the promotional images made it increasingly clearer writer James Robinson wasn’t restoring the icons of DC’s Golden Age to their former glory. Earth 2 isn’t a bad comic book. It’s actually quite a bit of fun, the kind of thing that made comics released under DC’s Elseworlds imprint years ago such a success. The problem with the book is the title and the creators’ decision not to fulfill the promise that title makes. Those hopeful for the return of the Justice Society of America and other related characters will be somewhat disappointed with what they find here as a result.

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A Manhattan Project

Captain Atom #s 2-5
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artist: Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US per issue

I undertook last fall to review all 52 first issues of DC’s relaunched lineup, which it dubbed “the New 52.” It was a lot of comics, and as a result, I reviewed a lot of comics I never would have read otherwise. Among them was Captain Atom #1, to which I had a lukewarm reaction. In my review of the first issue, I dismissed the series, positing the title character was “a standard super-hero now, and aside from the terminal nature of his powers, he doesn’t seem particularly special anymore. Captain Atom #1 is, unfortunately, a rather boring read, and I’d rather my super-hero comics be campy or cheesy than boring any day of the week.”

That was the last I thought I’d see of the relaunched series, but thanks to my local comics retailer’s efforts to clear out surplus backstock, I had the chance to sample subsequent issues at a bargain-basement price. I couldn’t resist revisit the book at a buck an issue. I discovered Captain Atom wasn’t the boring comic book I thought it to be. However, while I’m pleased I took a second look, I still wasn’t won over, finding the pacing to be lacking and the concepts being explored too strongly influenced by a landmark comic of the 1980s that DC’s about to mine for new stories and sales this summer.

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The Magic Is Gone

Justice League #7
“The Villain’s Journey, Prologue”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gene Ha
Colors: Art Lyon
Letters: Patrick Brosseau

“Shazam!”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano

Cover artists: Jim Lee & Scott Williams (regular)/Gary Frank (variant)
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US (regular)/$4.99 (digital combo pack)

The good news is this is the first issue of this series to deliver enough content to merit the $3.99 US cover price. With the main story and the backup, it finally feels as though we’re getting value for that extra dollar. Furthermore, writer Geoff Johns offers an unexpected story in the main piece, distinguishing this incarnation of the title team from past iterations of the super-hero group. But for every strength to be found in this issue, there seems to be an element that’s irksome and detracts from the reader’s enjoyment. And most of those elements are to be found in the thoroughly wrong-headed reinvention of the Shazam! property in the backup feature.

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Dark Shadows

The Shade #5
“Memoria Roja”
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Javier Pulido
Colors: Hilary Sycamore
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover artists: Tony Harris (regular)/Javier Pulido (variant)
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

As a fan of writer James Robinson’s Starman series of the 1990s, I, of course, have been enjoying this revisitation of some of the supporting characters from that landmark series. However, this issue stands out as particularly well crafted, and the reason has nothing to do with the Shade or any Starman elements. I had thought this comic marked the debut of a new super-hero, but a quick Google search reveals Robinson introduced La Sangre in the pages of Superman v.1 a couple of years ago. I missed that introduction, but I’m thrilled I got to discover the character here. La Sangre is a wonderful concept for a super-hero — a benevolent, centuries-old vampire frozen in the form of a teenager — but what really makes the character pop is the elegance Robinson instills in her with his dialogue. Adding to the appeal of this issue is the artwork by Javier Pulido, who conveys a number of exotic elements with seeming ease, all while toying with page layouts and figure movement.

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A New 52 Review: DC Universe Presents #6

Welcome to the return of Eye on Comics‘ New 52 Review Project, as we turn our attention to the reinvention of a classic DC property and its reintroduction to its revamped continuity.

DC Universe Presents #6
“Renewal”
Writers: Dan DiDio & Jerry Ordway
Pencils: Jerry Ordway
Inks: Ray McCarthy, Andy Lanning & Marlo Alquiza
Colors: Tony Avina
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artist: Ryan Sook
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I thought the Deadman story arc that launched this title, featuring rotating creative teams and spotlighted heroes, was one of the best things to come out of DC’s New 52 relaunch. Furthermore, I’m thoroughly enjoying O.M.A.C. as well, which is co-written by Dan DiDio. So when it was announced the second arc on DC Universe Presents would be penned by DiDio, featuring characters closely associated with the late Jack Kirby as well, I looked forward to what was in store. My anticipation dissipated after just a few pages, though. DiDio’s plot and scripting for this new spin on the Challengers of the Unknown is a scattered mess. His attempt to connect the premise with reality TV is clumsy, unclear and ultimately pointless. Furthermore, there’s an unnecessarily harsh tone in some of the plotting that makes the story a poor fit for the bright, clean style of artist Jerry Ordway. This was a poor choice to follow up the strong work writer Paul Jenkins and artist Bernard Chang did on the Deadman arc, and I anticipate it’ll adversely affect the book’s already soft sales.

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Game Over

New Teen Titans: Games original hardcover graphic novel
Writers: Marv Wolfman & George Perez
Pencils/Cover artist: George Perez
Inks: Mike Perkins, Al Vey & Perez
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $24.99 US/$27.99 CAN

Despite being more than 20 years in the making, New Teen Titans: Games was pretty much overlooked when it was released in September. In just about any other given month before that moment in comics publishing, I think, a fair bit of hullabaloo and commentary would have followed its publication, given it reunited a classic creative team to craft a story a long time in the making featuring characters they co-created and/or popularized. But in September, DC also launched its New 52 line of titles, revamping and revitalizing its monthly periodical output. But Games should have merited some attention as well, as the resonance of Wolfman and Perez’s work with the Teen Titans goes far beyond the comics industry; interpretations of their work penetrated the mass pop-culture psyche with the anime-style Teen Titans cartoon from a few years back. And today, Cyborg has graduated from the ranks of teen heroes to a full-fledged Justice Leaguer, and “Nightwing” is a name with which a couple of generations of comics readers (and cartoon watchers) have grown up. Given that legacy, it’s all the more disappointing to discover not only a generic super-hero yarn that fails to capture the original strengths of the work upon which it was founded, but a poorly executed one.

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Parademon Activity

Variant coverJustice League #3
“Justice League, Part Three”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair, Hi-Fi & Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artists: Lee & Williams (regular)/Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion (variant)
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US (comic only)/$4.99 US (digital combo pack)

I wasn’t planning on writing a full of review of one of DC’s New 52 comics so soon after my New 52 Review Project in September (give or take a few days on either end of the month), but after reading this third issue of DC’s flagship title, I was struck by a number of thoughts and realized I could assemble a review easily. There are a number of elements in this comic book that are a lot of fun. The visuals are dynamic and exciting, and Johns’ take on Wonder Woman boasts a lot of personality and attitude. That being said, the storytelling overall is flawed. The pacing is slow, a key element just doesn’t fit in this context and too many pages are dedicated to splashes. The decompressed storytelling is quite frustrating, and it’s too bad, because using Darkseid as the catalyst and antagonist for the title team’s first adventure/mission is a great idea.

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A New 52 Review: Batman: The Dark Knight #1

Batman: The Dark Knight #1
“Knight Terrors”
Writers: Paul Jenkins & David Finch
Pencils: Finch
Inks: Richard Friend
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cipirano
Cover artists: Finch & Friend
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I figured when it came time for me to write this New 52 review, I’d be able to refer to my review of the same comic book (at least in name and number) from several months ago. Yes, this is the second Batman: The Dark Knight #1 released by DC Comics this year, both meant as vehicles to spotlight artist David Finch. But this comic book doesn’t suffer only from the fact that it’s a mirror image of itself — it also reflects two other solo Batman comics to be released by DC as part of its New 52 line. The plot is clearly meant to jibe with Scott Snyder’s script from Batman #1, and it unintentionally offers almost identical scenes as Tony S. Daniel’s Detective Comics #1. Whether one enjoyed those comics or not, it begs the question: what do we (or DC Comics, for that matter) need Batman: The Dark Knight #1 for? All that’s left is Finch’s artwork, and while it’s appropriately dark and intense, it borrows heavily from other influences and offers a ridiculous gratuitous vision of a young woman with apparently no qualms about the potential for public (and pubic) exposure.

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A New 52 Review: Green Lantern: New Guardians #1

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1
“Green Lantern: New Guardians, Part One”
Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Tyler Kirkham
Inks: Batt
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover artists: Kirkham & Batt
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

As I’ve noted in many reviews before, I’m a big fan of the Lantern Corps of Many Colors concept writer Geoff Johns brought to the Green Lantern titles in recent years, and of the four Green Lantern-related titles launched as a part of DC’s New 52, this is the one that capitalizes on the notion more than the others. That being said, it’s also weighed down by recent GL continuity more than those other titles as well (or just as much as Red Lanterns). That makes writer Tony Bedard’s choices in the opening flashback all the more puzzling. Ultimately, he’s trying to set the stage with this first issue, but as a result, one really doesn’t get a sense of what the story’s meant to be about. Obviously, the title and the cover image suggest the book will be about a team of Lanterns from each facet of the spectrum, but there’s no explanation of why they’ll remain a team or be dubbed the “New Guardians.” The art is capable and clear, but it’s a bit too extreme at times. Furthermore, it shows where DC is at in terms of creative influences and what it wants its super-hero books to look like overall.

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