Category Archives: The New 52 Review Project

A New 52 Review: Mister Terrific #1

Mister Terrific #1
“Software Update”
Writer: Eric Wallace
Pencils: Gianluca Gugliotta
Inks: Wayne Faucher
Colors: Mike Atiyeh
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover artist: J.G. Jones
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I was thrilled when DC announced this as one of the New 52 titles as part of its revitalized line of super-hero comics. I’ve always been a fan of this incarnation of Mr. Terrific. I love the notion of a hero whose super-power is really his intellect. I’m also a fan of the Justice Society and DC’s “generational” heroes, but that connection to a heroic legacy seems to be the one element that’s been removed from the character in the relaunch. Nevertheless, I thought Terrific was an unconventional but good choice in DC’s effort to offer a more diverse array of characters starring in their own titles. After reading this debut issue, I see potential in the storytelling, and I like the shift in the title character as a solo player rather than a member of a team. But some unfortunate plotting choices and exaggerated artwork ultimately led to a disappointing reading experience. Despite my affection for the character, I don’t expect I’ll be reading Mister Terrific beyond this opening installment.

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A New 52 Review: Legion Lost #1

Legion Lost #1
“Run From Tomorrow, Part One: Present Tense”
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist/Cover artist: Pete Woods
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Travis Lanham
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I’m a longtime Legion of Super-Heroes fan and have been ever since I first discovered the property in DC reprint digests in the late 1970s or early ’80s. I’ve always found the large cast of characters and their diversity — both in terms of culture, attitude and powers — to be fun and interesting. I’m not a fanatical fan, though — I’m no completist and have passed on big runs of Legion titles, such as adult-Legion Giffen run and the more recent Jim Shooter-penned stint. I’m a discerning Legion fan, and after reading Legion Lost #1, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be sticking with this title for a little while. Nevertheless, I don’t think this was a particularly strong entry in DC’s New 52 line, as it fails in one of the publisher’s stated goals of appealing to a wider audience. Readers familiar with these characters will likely enjoy the book, but Nicieza’s script doesn’t offer as complete an introduction to the characters and the Legion concept as it should. Furthermore, unlike most of the New 52 titles, this one seems strongly linked to previous DC continuity, and the characters might even be aware of the meta-fictional shift in the DC Universe.

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A New 52 Review: Superboy #1

Superboy #1
“The Clone”
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: R.B. Silva
Inks: Rob Lean
Colors: Richard & Tanya Horie
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover artist: Eric Canete
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

When I read Hawk & Dove #1 last week, I knew going in I wasn’t going to enjoy the book. I’m not a fan of Rob Liefeld’s work, and I found nothing in his latest effort to change my mind about his art. A short time ago, I had a similar expectation when I took out my copy of Superboy #1. As I was about to read it, I figured going in this wouldn’t be my thing. Writer Scott Lobdell’s hasn’t appealed to me in the past, and I didn’t expect his latest endeavor would either. Boy, was I wrong. Lobdell tells a compelling story about the dangers of science and capitalism running unchecked. Sure, the cloning angle is hardly the most original sci-fi premise, but Lobdell updates the Superboy-as-a-clone concept with a more mature, chilling and complex edge. Those familiar with the origin of the previous incarnation of the title character from the early 1990s will recognize a number of elements, but there are a lot of new bits adorning this reinterpretation. Like many other comics readers, I was put off by the images of the rebooted Teen Titans series (to which this series is linked), but after reading Lobdell’s plot and script for Superboy #1, I find I’m actually intrigued by the possibilities in the new status quo for DC’s iconic teen-hero characters.

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A New 52 Review: Deathstroke #1

Deathstroke #1
“Back to Basics”
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Art Thibert
Colors: Jason Wright
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artist: Simon Bisley
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Man, that was just awful.

When DC announced Deathstroke the Terminator was one of the characters to be featured in its New 52 lineup, I was surprised and taken aback, but then I remembered the character had a solo title back in the 1990s that ran for a few years. It seemed as though DC was looking for an anti-hero archetype for its new line. The notion didn’t appeal to me, but there’s definitely an audience for that sort of thing. But there isn’t one for this material, or at least there shouldn’t be. The title character isn’t depicted as an anti-hero at all. He’s an unrepentant, uncaring, unsympathetic killer, and nothing else. There isn’t a single redeemable character to be found in this first issue, and what’s worse, writer Kyle Higgins doesn’t even hint at what the story is about. The plotting doesn’t just feature distasteful, gratuitous violence, it’s executed poorly. Those familiar with Deathstroke won’t really recognize the same man in this title, and those new to the character won’t find any pertinent information about him here either.

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A New 52 Review: Suicide Squad #1

Suicide Squad #1
“Kicked in the Teeth”
Writer: Adam Glass
Pencils: Federico Dallocchio & Ransom Getty
Inks: Dallocchio & Scott Hanna
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover artist: Ryan Benjamin
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

This issue opens with repeated depictions of torture, and not super-hero genre torture. Rats, torches, jumper cables, cattle prods… it’s an ugly scene. Sure, those being subjected to the torture are villains, but it’s an ugly, distasteful scene, and I wonder if it’ll turn off some readers who are giving DC a first or renewed look given the popularity of its New 52 initiative.

That being said, I liked this first issue. Even the torture stuff. Despite the rating of T+ on the cover, this is a comic book for adults, and it’s for adults with specific tastes. I enjoy dark storytelling from time to time. I think delving into the dark side of humanity through pop culture is just as important as heartening, bright and funny entertainment. The dirty deeds that unfold in this comic book are the sort of thing one might find on TV on such shows as Criminal Minds, 24, and some HBO or AMC dramas, so I don’t think it crosses the line. Furthermore, while the cover art is more cartoony than what one will find inside the comic, it doesn’t mislead the consumer as to what sort of story he or she can expect. But the torture isn’t what made this an interesting read for me. Instead, it was Glass’ initial examination of some broken characters, about bad people who are the way they are for a reason.

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A New 52 Review: Green Lantern #1

Variant coverGreen Lantern #1
“Sinestro, Part One”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy & Tom Nguyen
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado (regular)/Greg Capullo (variant)
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

When the previous incarnation of this series wrapped up with the revelation that Sinestro would be filling the title role and not Hal Jordan, I was excited to see what came next. While I’m not so naive to think this is a permanent shake-up in the property’s status quo, casting the villain the role of the title hero is a novel idea. The story picks up where it left off a couple of months ago, so this isn’t the most accessible of the New 52 comics, but it’s not impenetrable for new readers either. What makes this first issue so interesting and compelling is its focus on characterization, and not just on Sinestro. Hal Jordan is still going strong, and his story arc helps to bring the cosmic action and conflict of the Green Lantern Corps down to earth. If that weren’t enough, this issue features some of the strongest, crispest art we’ve seen from Doug Mahnke is some time. Green Lantern is still clearly a labor of love for Geoff Johns, and given the strength of this issue, I have no doubt this title will remain one of the publisher’s top sellers.

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A New 52 Review: Static Shock #1

Static Shock #1
“Recharged”
Writers: Scott McDaniel & John Rozum
Pencils/Cover artist: Scott McDaniel
Inks: Jonathan Glapion & Le Beau Underwood
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Harvey Richards
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

The other day, I got to thinking, and it occurred to me that in some ways, Static is a lot of Aquaman. Yes, Aquaman. (Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this.)

Both characters have been featured prominently in cartoons and as such have penetrated the pop-culture consciousness beyond the world of comics. With Aquaman, it was in the various Super Friends cartoons. With Static, it was in his own well-received show, Static Shock (from which subsequent comic series derived their titles). That recognizability factor is fairly rare for comics characters, so it stands to reason these characters ought to be mainstays of the medium that spawned them. But titles featuring the two heroes have had limited success, and I’m there are critics out there who feel they can’t sustain an audience’s interest for all that long. DC’s New 52 initiative is giving both properties another shot, and given the popularity of the program among comic-shop customers (at least in an immediate sense), maybe this will be the time things click for Static. But honestly, after reading this first issue, I doubt it. It’s a solid super-hero book, but it treats its title character like any number of other similar characters. This was a fun read, but it didn’t feel special or particularly unique.

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A New 52 Review: Green Arrow #1

Green Arrow #1
“Living a Life of Privilege”
Writer: J.T. Krul
Pencils: Dan Jurgens
Inks: George Perez
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artist: Dave Wilkins
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Some of DC’s characters have undergone soft reboots in the New 52 initiative, others have been left untouched and others still seem to have been rebuilt from the bottom up. Green Arrow falls in the latter category, and I can understand why DC opted for a radical change. At best, various Green Arrow titles have been mid-range sellers for DC, generally propped up with connections to events such as Identity Crisis and Brightest Day. Here, the creators set out to have the property and this new ongoing series stand up on its own. I find the younger vision of the title character here to be visually appealing, and I like DC’s willingness to adopt major change. But one can’t go so far as to suggest DC and the creators on this book have shaken things up. The unfortunate reality is that while the storytelling is capable and full of action, Green Arrow has been transformed into a rather generic super-hero character. Here, he’s Batman without the edge and with several “butlers” rather than one.

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A New 52 Review: Justice League International #1

Justice League International #1
“The Signal Masters, Part 1”
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils/Cover artist: Aaron Lopresti
Inks: Matt Ryan
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Editor: Rex Ogle
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

One of the many criticisms that arose upon the release of Justice League #1 was that the plotting was far too slow, that the characters that appear on the cover didn’t all appear in the first issue itself. Well, almost as an answer to those complaints, DC delivered Justice League International #1 just a week later after the flagship title, and this comic book should satisfy those who took issue with the decompressed storytelling in the main Justice League title. Writer Dan Jurgens offers a succinct “gathering of the team” scene and then takes his audience directly into some action. He and artist Aaron Lopresti present a fun super-hero story, but it’s also some fairly typical genre fare. Still, the simpler tone of the plotting might remind some readers of the Justice League of America comics of yesteryear. Replace some of these international heroes with the JLA lineup of the 1970s, and you’d have a classic Gerry Conway- or Len Wein-penned super-team story of the 1970s.

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A New 52 Review: Batwing #1

Batwing #1
“The Cradle of Civilization”
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist/Cover artist: Ben Oliver
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

One of DC’s stated goals with its New 52 relaunch initiative was to bring more diversity to its comics, to appeal to a wider audience. As such, a few titles featuring title characters of color were included in the New 52, and this is one of them. Batwing struck me as a surprising choice, unlike such characters as Mr. Terrific and Static Shock. Batwing has next to no history. He’s had maybe one or two previous appearances, as far as I know, as part of Grant Morrison’s “Batman Inc.” concept. I really didn’t know what to expect from this new book, but I did know it’s been some time since I was into Judd Winick’s super-hero writing. With this project, though, he delivers not only a solid introduction to an essentially new character but an intriguing mystery as well. Ben Oliver has had some exposure as of late on such projects as Alpha Flight and Flashpoint: Hal Jordan, but here, he demonstrates he’s developing as a comic artist quickly. This is the best work I’ve seen from him to date.

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A New 52 Review: O.M.A.C. #1

O.M.A.C. #1
“Office Management Amid Chaos”
Writers: Keith Giffen & Dan DiDio
Pencils: Giffen
Inks: Scott Koblish
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artists: Giffen & Koblish
Editor: Harvey Richards
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

This entry in the New 52 has been the object of some scorn and derision as a result of co-publisher Dan DiDio’s involvement as the series’ co-writer. I have to be honest: until I decided to do my New 52 Review Project, covering all 52 first issues, I had planned on passing on this title. After reading it, I’m pleased I didn’t. DiDio and Keith Giffen have crafted a love letter to the legendary Jack Kirby, who created the O.M.A.C. concept in the 1970s. This marks an interesting updating of the property, with a likeable, grounded protagonist and supporting cast. The creators also provide a strong, overt link to another Kirby creation, the Fourth World/New Gods, which have been out of commission since an ill-advised “Death of the New Gods” storyline from a few years ago. Fans of Giffen’s art style and of Kirby’s will love the visuals they’ll find here, and the brilliant, energetic colors bring a modern appeal to the old-school style in the line art. This was a fun read, nothing too heavy, but intriguing enough to get me to check out another issue. I think O.M.A.C. will surprise a few people.

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A New 52 Review: Animal Man #1

Animal Man #1
“The Hunt, Part One: Warning From the Red”
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Pencils/Cover artist: Travel Foreman
Inks: Foreman & Dan Green
Colors: Lovern Kindzierski
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I’m still making my way through the first wave of DC’s New 52 comics, but thus far, it’s Animal Man that’s emerged as my favorite of the bunch, as the best-crafted new title. Writer Jeff Lemire crafts a story that challenges the reader, that explores nature through unnatural ideas, but it’s all kept grounded by a convincing cast of characters, relatable people we should all easily be able to recognize in our own lives and in ourselves. Lemire’s story reads like something Alan Moore would’ve written during his tenure on Swamp Thing in the 1980s. Fans of the Vertigo incarnation of Animal Man will find something weird and wonderful here that reminds them of the property’s time as a surreal, mature-readers’ title, and those used to more conventional super-hero fare will discover something new yet familiar at the same time. Lemire’s offbeat yet down-to-earth story is matched perfectly by Travel Foreman’s artwork, which boasts an equally dichotomous tone, capturing the bizarre and grotesque elements as clearly and adeptly as the everyday ones. Animal Man is not to be missed and could like emerge as the critical darling of the entire New 52 line.

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A New 52 Review: Stormwatch #1

Stormwatch #1
“The Dark Side, Part One”
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist/Cover artist: Miguel Sepulveda
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

You never know what you’re going to find from one of these inaugural New 52 titles to the next. Some pick up where DC left off before the relaunch, and others feature complete reboots. Stormwatch falls into the latter category. Still, writer Paul Cornell keeps where the property came from in mind. He’s got an unenviable task, competing against the landmark Stormwatch v.1 run by Warren Ellis and Tom Raney, not to mention the heralded runs on The Authority by Ellis, Bryan Hitch, Mark Millar and Frank Quitely. Cornell certainly captures the spirit of those comics, but some of his efforts to offer an accessible introduction to the retooled concept are clunky. Still, the big ideas that serve as the foundation for the first story arc are worthy of those old Stormwatch/Authority comics, enough to satisfy old fans and more than enough to impress new readers. Miguel Sepulveda is an up-and-coming talent, and this represents the best work I’ve seen from him thus far. He’s not Hitch or Quitely, but he does capture the edgy tone necessary for to make the adventures of these extreme characters and concepts work.

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A New 52 Review: Detective Comics #1

Detective Comics #1
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Tony Salvador Daniel
Inks: Ryan Winn
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

This cog in DC’s New 52 machine has generated a lot of buzz and has a number of readers excited, apparently over the possible alteration of an iconic character’s status quo. It’s much ado about nothing, though, and those who dazzled by what Tony Daniel has done here have been drawn in by a Kewl factor. Everything about this comic book — from the script to the art — is about flash over substance. Daniel doesn’t take any time to delve into characterization. Instead, the writing focuses on gritty, stilted dialogue, and the art borrows liberally from some of the more popular interpretations of the Batman from the past three decades. I’ll give Daniel credit, though. The villain that’s introduced (off-panel) in this issue is intriguing, and I want to learn more about him. But the premise also allows him to indulge in some over-the-top, gratuitous gore that I found off-putting. Though judging from the reported sellouts of the issue in comic shops, I’m in the minority on that point.

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A New 52 Review: Men of War #1

Men of War #1
“Joseph Rock”
Writer: Ivan Brandon
Artist: Tom Derenick
Colors: Matt Wilson

“Navy SEALs: Human Shields, Part 1 of 3”
Writer: Jonathan Vankin
Artist: Phil Winslade
Colors: Thomas Chu

Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artist: Viktor Kalvachev
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

Everyone likes to root for an underdog, and that’s why I had some interest in this title. I admit I’m not the biggest fan of war comics, but I do like the genre when it’s done well. But the reason this comic had my attention was that it’s something of a long shot for DC. While some of the creative teams on the New 52 are doing some unconventional and innovative things with certain DC characters, reviving and updating this war-comic title was a big gamble on the publisher’s part. This comic has a lot going for it: a striking cover image, an iconic name in the history of war comics and a connection to the more popular super-hero properties of the DC Universe. I think the problem with the book — and specifically with the main story — is that I really don’t know what it’s about yet.

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