Category Archives: The New 52 Review Project

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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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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A New 52 Review: Justice League #1

Variant coverJustice League #1
“Justice League, Part One”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artists: Lee & Williams (regular)/David Finch & Richard Friend (variant)
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US (comic only)/$4.99 US (digital combo pack)

We already know Justice League #1, from a sales perspective, is a huge success. Its initial orders topped 200,000, and its sales will likely remain strong as long as DC keeps its two top talents on the book. But the question is: the story any good? While this comic book appears set to break sales records for 2011, the story’s not going to blow anyone’s mind. There’s no moment in the first issue that’s going to keep people talking non-stop until the next issue. Nevertheless, Johns turns in an entertaining first issue that focuses more on how the characters interact, and that’s a good thing. But the really good news is just how accessible this first issue is. The whole point of “the New 52” is to attract new and lapsed readers to comics, and this initial step in the relaunch initiative is one that’s headed in the right direction to achieve that goal.

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An Almost New 52 Review: Flashpoint #5

Variant coverFlashpoint #5
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Sandra Hope & Jesse Delperdang
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Cover artists: Andy Kubert & Sandra Hope (regular)/Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (variant)
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

In some ways, Flashpoint #5 is exactly what people expect it to be: a bridge between DC’s past continuity to the world in which the publisher is setting its “New 52.” So in some respects, it’s a utilitarian comic book, a tool used in the construction of DC’s new “home,” so to speak. But the good news is that Johns doesn’t forget to tell a story here. While the conflict between the Atlanteans and Amazons that seems to have defined the world of Flashpoint goes unresolved in this climax, Johns finally explores the cosmic manipulations that led to the creation of the alternate timeline, and the answer is surprising. Not only is the source of the problem an unexpected one, the catalyst for the changes is one stemming from characterization, not some villainous plot to destroy reality or rule the world.

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52 Comics, 52 Reviews

With its “New 52” line of comics, DC Comics has promised everything old is new again with its super-hero properties, so I’m turning my critical eye to all 52 first issues this fall.

I plan to review each and every one of DC’s “New 52” releases in September here on Eye on Comics. With DC’s relaunch of its entire super-hero line, its comics and some creators are going to be unknown quantities to a number of readers, both new and old. I intend these reviews to be something of a guide for those with an interest in some or even all of the titles, not just in terms of content but also in quality.

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