DC’s new 52! Week 3-in-double-review!!

16 Sep

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Batman and Robin
(Written by Peter J. Tomasi, Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
One of the bigger name titles starts off this week – an ongoing series being renumbered to a new volume, unlike many of the entirely new titles in this DC reboot. This was a title I was both anticipating but also solidly weary about. Kick-started previously by Grant Morrison to bring the world the Dick-Damian version of the Dynamic Duo, this new series has a lot to live up to and more so being that it is also the first real time given to the Wayne father-son dynamic since Damien first being introduced. It was this dynamic and the direction Bruce’s character takes that makes me hopeful for this as a series/book, because it was the characters and their relationship that marked the awesomeness of the original series. The friction between the two leads was well portrayed and I was glad to see it touch on the Batman Inc. part of things but I don’t much care for what I see of the villain here. The art was good and went well with the story but nothing spectacular. Still has a lot of potential, but as a first issue, I would say only ‘good’.
Anubhav (Score 9.0/10)
God Damian Wayne has got to be the awesomest Robin yet. Peter Tomasi gives us a very good issue illustrating the Father-Son relationship between Bruce and Damain and moving Batman’s character plenty of leaps forward by showing him finally looking ahead to the future instead of the past, while Damian debates the need for looking back to the fateful day in Bruce’s childhood repeatedly. Some solid character interactions in the backdrop of an engaging plot makes this issue a total win. Patrick Gleason delivers just the right amount of Noir required in the book, in a way that the art doesn’t distract readers too much from the characterisations.
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(Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman, Drawn by J.H. Williams III )
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 9/10)
Hands down this is one of the titles I most anticipated – and while it is not the same as Williams run on the character with Rucka on Detective Comics, it takes from that and has come back in a great form here. I was unsure about Williams writing skills for this but he and his new partner-in-crime really bring a great story to life that complements the art beautifully (for Williams work on Kate Kane’s stories I would buy the books, he’s that awesome) and really, the story is an eerily intense one that grabs you from the first page and grips. Urban-legend, ghostly-serial-killer, murder, mystery, strong characterisations and fantastic art makes this a must read this week for all fans, DC or otherwise. And I appreciated the finale, keeping the title clear of Batman entirely we get a brief moment with him and a promise of things to come.
Anubhav (Score 8.5/10)
This being my first real exposure to the character, I have to say I’m very pleasantly surprised. With an overall spooky tone with both script and art, JH Williams 3 has provided one of the strongest debuts of the new 52. As with Batgirl and Detective Comics last week, this manages to make sure the reader is gonna stay aboard for a while. However, one negative I would associate with this issue, as well as every other non-Batman Bat-family title, is the appearance of Batman. In my humble opinion, DC needs to let all these characters step out of Bruce’s shadow and gradually become their own thing, kinda like Dick Grayson did by moving from Robin to Nightwing. Great issue, nevertheless.
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(Written by Kyle Higgins, Drawn by Joe Bennett)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 5.5/10)
I have to admit, this title gets a far better score then I was expecting because it actually surprised me a little. For the longest time I’ve felt that this is a character who is terribly under-appreciated and wasted on books like Teen Titans and side-lined. Slade Wilson is by design one of the scariest men on the planet – a smart, tactical genius with enhanced speed, strength and all that jazz; essentially (to quote this book), “A major damn bad-a**!” And while it will starkly divide readers I think, this book to me was just a flat out action-fest and shamelessly so! It follows a crotchety Deathstroke working the job and unhappy throughout and we stick with the book mostly for the action, the somewhat curious story-line and the slightly cliché but amusing characters. The pay-off is the books finale making this a good intro to a potentially lethally entertaining book. The art is far from brilliant but works well enough so far, but if the book carries on the way I think it will, I hope Joe can really get dirty and violent!
Anubhav (Score 2.8/10)
Okay, we get it, Slade Wilson’s a badass. That’s about all the characterisation you’re gonna get out of this issue. As the first issue of an ongoing, this issue completely fails to generate interest. The process of showing Deathstroke’s badaassery is way too drawn out so much to the fact that it gets quite boring and unnecessary, especially when one considers the fact that one dialogue from Nick Fury in Hickman’s Secret Warriors is gonna get you a much better effect. The issue could certainly have used better plotting, as the story about the titular character working on an assassination with a bunch of kids is way too dull. The art isn’t too bad but not too good either, just delivering on some safe illustrations and storytelling options. Only for Deathstroke fans.
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Demon Knights
(Written by Paul Cornell, Drawn by Diogenes Neves)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 10/10)
Another of DC’s new “Dark” line of books after Swamp Thing and Animal Man – Most definitely one of the most fun books I’ve read in the DC relaunch and once again it is Cornell delivering a rollicking ride. He seems to really have a feel for team books going by this and last weeks Stormwatch and the eclectic and fun mix of characters he has selected for both. Here he brings together iconic and fan-favourite demon Etrigan, Madame Xanadu from the Vertigo books in an intriguing role, Shining Knight who was a character with much potential last seen in the epic Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison way-back-when. Giving just enough of a set-up and some hints to get the ball rolling and then throwing it into a really high gear by issues end, this is the single must-read choice for me out of this entire week! And Neves was a pleasant surprise, I was not sure what to expect, but though shaky at first, the art style works amazingly with the medieval setting and I look forward to many more issues to come!
Anubhav (Score 8.4/10)
After the mediocre Stormwatch last week, Paul Cornell’s other team book, Demon Knights is off to a much better start. Opening in King Arthur’s England and showing the quite literal bonding of Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon, the book gives us some pretty good storytelling, even if the whole point of the series may not be completely clear yet to a new reader. The rest of the main cast is teased in the second half of the book, which takes place during the dark ages. Greatly aiding the storytelling and the mystical tone of the book is the art by Diogenes Neves, who delivers one excellent panel after another. This might actually turn out to be the most good-looking book in the reboot.
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Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E
(Written by Jeff Lemire, Drawn by Alberto Ponticelli)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8/10)
Yet another of the books on my “must read” short-list for this reboot, this book was good fun and filled with loads of potential but not quite as good yet as I was hoping. I have to remind myself however that the scribe of this book is Lemire who is not always a fast-paced story-teller, but consistently a great one. Here we are introduced to Frankenstein and the agency of SHADE that is yet another super-secret super-spy agency but with a super-natural twist to it – and with a gentle introduction to our title hero, we cover the basics (which almost starts to feel too word heavy) but then before you can get bored of the exposition, we meet the Creature Commandos, and from there the mystical and guts-to-the-walls action kicks into gear – all leading to a great first issue finale. Great story and suitably cool and gritty art, this is a series to watch out for in the coming months.
Anubhav (Score 7.0/10)
To be honest, I was expecting a SHIELD ripoff, only with Frankenstein in it. Instead, we get one heck of a package combining fantastical elements and modern day espionage. The sheer absurdity of the concept is what really hits you and Jeff Lemire deserves credit for pulling this off convincingly. Frankenstein ends up as a good fun read amongst all the seriousness in the other titles of the reboot. Alberto Ponticelli hits just the right tone for this book, mixing grit and absurdity very effectively.
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Green Lantern
(Written by Geoff Johns, Drawn by Doug Mahnke)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6/10)
Besides my belief that Johns can tell a good story and the understanding that he can write one hell of a great GL story, I had little to look forward to in this issue to be honest. I love what he’s done with the franchise but this last move was one that gave me a moments pause because its a dangerous move to make, one that goes back to a core concept of the franchise as a whole and shakes it – Sinestro and Hal Jordan, Fear vs. Will, Yellow vs. Green. But I was happy to find that Johns does not rush in and in fact gives us what looks like a great start to some serious character work on Sinestro, something sorely needed because he is one that gets those far too rarely and not well enough most times. Very much a personal journey as we find Sinestro trying to figure out what to do with his new status as a Green Lantern bearer, his ruthlessness and all intact, Hal Jordan a mere mortal on Earth dealing with his life and the Guardians sliding further into crazy-ville. Makes for a good start, hope the pay-off lives up to the potential because there are way too many ways this could be screwed up. The art is at par with the previous volume of the title and Mahnke maintains his quality so no complaints there.
Anubhav (Score 8.7/10)
Hal Jordan must totally hate not being a Green Lantern anymore. After a less than impressive track record of late, this one’s a total return to form for Geoff Johns in the title he turned into a firm A-lister. Nothing that’s gonna be talked about for years, but definitely an engaging first chapter which is successful in adding the title to people’s pull lists for at least a couple months. Johns provides some solid character work on the de-ringed Hal and green again Sinestro. Doug Mahnke and the rest of the art team hits it out of the park with the space based action sequences involved in the issue as while also showing a good sense of theatre in the more dramatical Earth-based scenes. Excellent debut.
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(Written by Nathan Edmonson, Drawn by Cafu)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8.5/10)
After his amazing work on Who is Jake Ellis? I was very excited to see a Grifter book by Edmonson and he does not disappoint. For those not familiar with him, Grifter used to be another Wildstorm character who is being brought into the fold and is a great choice for a solo series in my humble opinion – an opinion solidly justified by this first issue. A bit of an origin story and a definite mystery, all wrapped up in a gritty, almost-noir adventure we follow our hero on his quest as he seems to be unravelling before our very eyes. Gripping right from the first page to the last, for fans of less-capes and more driven story-lines I would definitely recommend this book. And of course Cafu I’ve been a fan of from his work on T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents and he continues his stellar artistic performance here.
Anubhav (Score 7.7/10)
The issue manages to accumulate the reader’s interest and intrigue while simultaneously giving us an origin tale for the con man who starts hearing voices in his head. The ongoing mystery is enough for readers to buy at least the next few issues, if only to find out what is going on. Nathan Edmondson, after ‘Who is Jake Ellis?’ delivers a story of similar fashion and in addition to that, there is also a little blend of Lost and Morning Glories in the whole thing. CAFU gives some great free flowing panels while also providing good widescreen action.
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Legion Lost
(Written by Fabian Nicieza, Drawn by Pete Woods)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
This book is definitely the least new-reader friendly out of all the 27 books released by DC thus far – of course I think this works as a counter-balance for fans of the franchise. Let me explain – this book is part of the “Legion of Super-heroes” stable and its always been one of the most divisive books in that it has either very ardent fans or people not interested at all. This one is for the fans most certainly. Using a tool from earlier Legion incarnations/stories, we are at the arrival and earliest moments of a group of future super-heroes who get dumped in the present and are unable to return to their own time. Too much detail, a large cast and an unclear intention of narrative makes this a weak book as a starter and only as someone familiar with the characters and at least the most recent Legion adventures was I able to enjoy this book – if not a regular reader of the Legion books, approach with caution and I would say wait for the other Legion book in this reboot. The art is fairly good but nothing I would write home about, I found the colouring was more interesting in the visuals. Nicieza is a great writer and I trust he has a plan here, he just better not draw it out too much or he will lose a lot of readers.
Anubhav (Score 2.0/10)
How exactly is this issue supposed to bring in new readers? We jump into the issue at one random point when the legion crash lands into the present and then start looking for some guy called Alastor who we earlier saw getting Hulked-out. Fabian Nicieza does very little to make the reader familiar with the cast which makes this a nightmarishly dull first time read. On the other hand, Pete Woods gives the book a good almost cartoonish feel without compromising on seriousness overall. However, it’s safe to say that the art, while good, is not good enough to salvage the issue.
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Mister Terrific
(Written by Eric Wallace, Drawn by Gianluca Gugliotta)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 2/10)
I’m a big fan of the JSA (Justice Society of America) and was very bummed out by their being left out of the main universe in this reboot – though rumour that they will be in another book down the line as part of the multiverse was great news. Throw in the decision to make a solo book around Mr. Terrific from that team, a character who while great, has never been really given solo adventuring in my experience? Not a confidence builder for me. And sadly, while I was willing to give it a shot, this book was a disappointment. We follow government operative and all-round super-dude Mr. T as he fights the good fight and at first there is a slightly lighter and witty tone to the book that I actually liked, but then suddenly out of nowhere we get all brooding and serious and intense and apart from the jarring shift itself, the book just felt like it got weaker with every page – to the point where at the end I was barely able to read it and had to MAKE myself finish. A truly wasted book! Decent art too, wasted on a story that so far makes me not want to pick up #2!
Anubhav (Score 1.6/10)
If you thought people were mad about an African American Spider-Man, wait till they see this. There is so much that could have been done with the character : He’s a man of Science, an Atheist and a free thinker. Instead, the issue focuses mainly on the character’s origin in the form of a monologue flashback while the rest of the issue revolves around dull plot points and a mystery that gets focussed on for only a couple of pages. The writer seems to try too hard to make the character familiar to new readers and the book makes one lose interest in the process. As it turns out, a poor man’s Tony Stark-Reed Richards amalgamation does not make readers like a character automatically. Gugliotta’s art also has its fair share of problems with anatomy and expressions, although the first action sequence has some good visuals. Dissapointing read for the most part.
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Red Lanterns
(Written by Peter Milligan, Drawn by Ed Benes)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7.5/10)
Another hotly anticipated book, this title continues the trend from some of the other’s out so far as it shows the start of a character journey – albeit in this case a savage and bloody one. We follow Atrocitus post the “War of the Green Lanterns” story-arc as he is losing himself in the wake of Krona’s death and his Red Lantern Corp is getting ready to run wild, with the disturbingly hot Bleeze topping that list of potential-mutineers. Slower then one would have expected after the highly entertaining opening action sequences, the book builds story and all nicely and at the end I was eagerly wanting to see where Milligan would take this next! Ed Benes of course is of the Benes family of artists, all of whom are absolutely phenomenal and he does not disappoint in the least, really bringing the book to life nicely. Can’t wait for the next!
Anubhav (Score 4.3/10)
Talk about pointless. The debut issue of Red Lanterns achieves very little in plenty of time and pages. The plot revolves around Atrocitus trying to regain his rage after his disappointment of losing out on taking revenge from Krona courtesy Hal Jordan. Hardly anything happens in this issue, which makes it look pretty ugly when compared with the also released this week Green Lantern. The art is largely inconsistent with some good detailing in some panels and Blank backgrounds and bad anatomy in others. Not recommended.
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Ressurection Man
(Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Drawn by Fernando Dagnino)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8.5/10)
A true treat to read! Dan and Andy get to return to the character they created, one that developed a tremendous following among its fan-base, and they do not fall short in this first issue. Our hero is Mitch Shelley, a man who can never die – well not exactly, you see every time he dies he comes back to life and each time he has a new and random super-power. If this was not enough, he has been given a more intense story this time around with both Heaven and Hell gunning for his very soul. Another book that I would not expect unfamiliar readers to get into right off the bat unless the style/genre interests them, but I am very glad to see DC giving some due with books like these to their long-standing fans who are more deeply familiar with characters and things the more mainstream and casual fan may not even be aware about. Regarding the art, I do not know Dagnino’s work much but he does a good job of fitting the tone of the book and is consistent in his output – I hold out a lot of hope for this book.
Anubhav (Score 1.0/10)
I had some pretty good expectations from this series. Think about it, a man who comes back to life everytime he dies with a new ability. Under the right writer(Read Dan Abett and Andy Lanning), this can be a masterpiece. However, the depressing tone and the overall boring story beats go a long way in making this one of the lesser fancied titles out this week. With hardly any character development, the issue generates neither love nor hate, just indifference. The art also gives the same feeling, nothing revolutionary and nothing atrocious. ‘Meh’ book of the week.
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Suicide Squad
(Written by Adam Glass, Drawn by Federico Dallocchio)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 3.5/10)
I can honestly say this book is the one I’ve least been looking forward to in this relaunch – a large part of that being that I hate the new Harley Quinn and Deadshot redesigns, but also because this signalled the end of Secret Six which remains an infinitely superior book. And you know what? I was not off-the mark by much. Simply put – its a black-ops team made up of psychotics and lifers given a shot at redemption or death. Mediocre story-telling and character development that I’ve come to expect from Glass was as expected, the saving grace of this book though will be the fact that it’s a good black-ops unit kind of story which will actually be good for newer readers but not good for fans of the characters mutated in this book – the one decision though that really made me dislike this book (and its a small thing) was the decision to take an iconic character like Amanda “The Wall” Waller and redesign her to be a good-looking skinny babe. Thats just wrong and pandering to kiddish readers who like hot comic babes – just plain sad and a low point for an otherwise excellent character. The art was actually quite good and is the reason for my giving this book most of the score I have, but am I likely to read more then another issue or two out of curiosity? Not likely unless the book improves drastically.
Anubhav (Score 5.2/10)
As a Marvel fan, it’s safe to say I’ve read this story way too many times in the Thunderbolts, which immediately puts this issue, thanks to similarities in concept with Thunderbolts, off to a huge disadvantage due to being compared to a book that has been consistently providing good storylines. There is plenty of déjà vu throughout the issue which in a way inhibits any fun that might be had. However one scene that does stick out is the one wherevthe cast gets interrogated in terms which takes us deep into each of their character motivations. Dallocchio’s art, while mostly good, suffers from a subtle dullness, due to which the book fails to grab enough attention.
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(Written by Scott Lobdell, Drawn by R.B.Silva)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
I have to admit I’m a little torn about this book. Lobdell has taken various details from the Connor Kent character, brought in Rose Wilson (a.k.a. Ravager, daughter of Deathstroke in the old DCU) , the pre-amped up version of Caitlin Fairchild from Wildstorms Gen13 books and crafted an interesting origin story that definitely makes me want to come back for the next issue. The book has elements of the previous Superboy’s origin but builds a good character, concept and story-line that fits well with this new Universe and ties into the new Superman too (if only by reference thus far). Silva also has a nice feel for the book and his character designs actually look pretty decent, though he seems to have some issues with faces/expressions in a couple of panels here and there. Potentially a good addition to the Super-family franchise of books.
Anubhav (Score 7.7/10)
This one’s pretty interesting.With some similarities to the Project Superman Flashpoint tie-in, Superboy #1 makes for an interesting read. We get some solid characterisations as we are shown how test tube Superboy sees the world by way of his inner monologue. One more point to be raised is that the identity of the human cousin to the clone is not revealed in the book, even though most of fandom already knows his identity. An interesting plot twist could be changing that detail just give seasoned readers a good surprise. RB Silva gives us some pretty Kinetic art which flows well with the tone of the book. Worth a try.

One Response to “DC’s new 52! Week 3-in-double-review!!”

  1. Aalok Madhusudan Joshi September 17, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    @ Anubhav – I agree that the concept of the suicide squad might have been seen by you done to perfection with NEW THUNDERBOLTS…..that's what posterity gets you, as the SUICIDE SQUAD was a concept done from the 60s, when Marvel was just beginning to do their powerhouse titles…..then came the new SUICIDE SQUAD, by John Ostrander (now being collected for the first time) which itself took a cue from the DIRTY DOZEN.I am by no means stating that the current iteration of SUICIDE SQUAD is the benchmark against which all good comics should be judged, but as the predecessor to NEW THUNDERBOLTS, the idea of a SUICIDE SQUAD cannot, and should not be judged as being "read before and done before" in THUNDERBOLTS.

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