Monthly Archives: September 2011

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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A New 52 Review: Action Comics #1

Variant coverAction Comics #1
“Superman Versus the City of Tomorrow”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Rags Morales
Inks: Rick Bryant
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artists: Morales (regular)/Jim Lee & Scott Williams (variant)
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

While the renumbering of Action Comics to accommodate the marketing goals of DC’s New 52 imitative has been a point of contention for some, given the nature of writer Grant Morrison’s plot and script, it’s apt. He’s taking Superman back to his roots, after all, offering a vision of the Man of Steel that mirrors the original incarnation of the character from the 1938 version of Action #1. While Superman is seen as a symbol of the establishment — a friend recently told me he sees the “real” Superman as a paternal figure — creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster originally presented as a rebel, as a vigilante who stopped and punished those the law let skate by. Superman was originally a threat to the establishment, and Morrison’s reinterpretation here looks back at and updates the concept for the 21st century. While the idealism the character exhibits in this comic book will be familiar to many, the youth and brashness Morrison instills in him will seem unusual and unconventional to many as well. I suspect this take on the Last Son of Krypton will be a polarizing one, but DC can count me as being firmly in the camp that welcomes the shift.

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So What Do DC Creators Think of All the New 52 Hubbub?

I’ve written a number of times about DC’s New 52 initiative, sometimes praising its boldness, the PR moves it’s made, even some storytelling choices. I’ve also criticized some of its decisions and missteps. But what I’ve written has been nothing as compared to what other comics readers and commentators have posted all over the corners of the Internet dedicated to comic books. Some have sworn off DC’s super-hero titles altogether, for example, and others dismissing the New 52 as a stunt that will fail from the start (though that argument seems to have been proven wrong already, at least from a short-term perspective).

DC officials have touted, defended and explained the New 52 and associated decisions, always trying to keep a sunny disposition as they do so. Creators involved with the 52 new titles have done so as well, both online and at various convention appearances this summer.

But what do they really think about the chorus of negativity that’s inevitably to be found online. The following panel from the upcoming Justice League International (written by Dan Jurgens and illustrated by Aaron Lopresti) might offer some insight…

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In the Event of an Event

About a week or so before the release of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, which marked the beginning of a new era at DC Comics, I had a realization about one way in which the publisher could market its new line of super-hero comics, at least to those who still buy comics but few or no DC titles. It struck me that by starting over most of its more recognizable properties from Square One (the successful Green Lantern and Batman franchises being the exceptions), DC was avoiding the kind of story/sales gimmick that has been the bane of super-hero comics for years: the crossover event.

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