DC New 52 Final week REVIEWS! Hardly the end!

30 Sep

And so we come to it folks… the final week of #1’s… (at least the main titles!) and what a crazy month it’s been! Some fantastic titles, we’ve been shocked, amused, horrified, saddened, fascinated and so much more over these 52 titles and its been a total blast reading and reviewing them all for you guys!
 

Granted I’m tired enough to almost never read a comic again – almost I said! – but it feels well worth it for our fellow comic addicts out there.
We all hope you enjoyed this rundown the last few weeks and stick around, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming before you know it, but will continue to cover your new favourite DC titles as they come out.
Share your likes and dislikes kids, let us know what you want to hear more about and we’ll mark of the release dates on our calenders just for you.
Now sit back and enjoy this finale round of #1’s reviewed! (AND AS ALWAYS, CLICK FOR NICE BIG VERSIONS OF THE COVERS!!)
All-Star Western
(Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Drawn by Moritat)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 10/10)
In a lot of ways I was expecting exceptional things from this book, especially given my love for the lead character – Jonah Hex – and that the creative team writing it were masters with his stories. And man do they deliver! Bringing a high-plains drifter style bounty hunter with a penchant for always getting his man and extreme violence – all while keeping to his own unique moral code – to a new, gritty and crazy place like Gotham City (in its early days) has been handled brilliantly! Toss in a weird serial-killer mystery, no shortage of action and intrigue or character exploration and an awesome ending to boot makes this yet another of the best of the reboot in my view! And honestly, the art is so damn good and suitable to the feel and narrative that I almost didnt realise how little I was thinking about it, flowing organically with the tale until certain things just catch your eye!
Anubhav (Score 8.1/10)
This being my first exposure to Jonah Hex, it definitely makes me wanna read the back issues. There’s a solid introduction to Jonah’s no-nonsense attitude. Also welcome is his team up, with Amadeus Arkham, which roots the story firmly in DC (& Gotham City) continuity. Moritat and his art team give us a splendid noir look for the book, and shows great variety throughout.
Aquaman
(Written by Geoff Johns, Drawn by Ivan Reis)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7.5/10)
A most interesting beginning to the newly reborn aquatic superhero and King of Atlantis. I was not entirely sure what to expect from this book, I trust Johns’ skill and know he has a lot of love for the character but was unsure how much would be rebooted and how much carried over from the recently reborn Aquaman from Brightest Day. To start with, the art really stood out for me in this issue – good clean and crisp art that really fits the super-hero style and therefore works great here. The story does a good turn in giving us his origin story fairly concisely, showing us a new more powerful (and bulletproof??) Aquaman at a turning point in his life/career. There are even a couple of great humour moments that people familiar with the character a bit will really get some laughs out of – though anyone could – and a strange, looming threat keeps some excitement up for the next issue.
Anubhav (Score 9.8/10)
It’s easy to make fun of Aquaman. Sure he has some absurd superpowers and may have been handled in a pretty bad way before this, but then again, Geoff Johns just proved that there’s no such thing as a bad character. DC has been trying to make Aquaman badass for pretty much decades now, but it looks like Johns has found the right formula. Instead of changing the character to look or sound badass, he tackles all the problems associated with him head on, in much the same way Morrison did to Animal Man. The second half of this issue’s success story is artist Ivan Reis, who gives one solid panel after another, showing the characters having very real emotions and expressions, while drawing the heck out of Sea Monsters. I want issue 2 yesterday.
Batman – The Dark Knight
(Written by Paul Jenkins & David Finch, Drawn by David Finch)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 4.5/10)
One of the more surprising titles for me in some ways. I was to be honest expecting this to be a total waste of time story-wise because I have been quite unimpressed by the issues of this title prior to the reboot and was surprised it was kept as part of the reboot. Finch’s art is still really good though, I’ll admit that, and he really seems to have a nice feel for the Batman art and dark feel making the book nice to look at regardless. The story was the surprise for me though – it actually didn’t read badly at all and while no award winner, was decent enough that I thought for a moment about adding it to my pull-list. But then I reached the pay-off, the finale reveal/moment and as much as I would love to share it, I can’t spoil it. It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. Sure, maybe I’m over-reacting and they have good plans ahead – but this was so bad (for me) that it made the Catwoman issue ending seem great by comparison.
Anubhav (Score 4.6/10)
No DC, adding Paul Jenkins as co-plotter had absolutely no effect. This one’s only for David Finch fanatics, who provides one beautifully gritty page after another, so much so that I’d prefer Finch making a series of posters instead of a self-authored comic book. The story revolves around an Arkham breakout (again) and GCPD snooping into Bruce Wayne’s Batman business (again). Yeah the story isn’t much but you can always buy it off a $1 bin for the art. Or just read Batman #1 from last week again.
Blackhawks
(Written by Mike Costa, Drawn by Graham Nolan & Ken Lashley)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
This book was little bit of a black-box for me in that I was not sure what to expect. My familiarity with Blackhawks is largely limited to Lady Blackhawk of the earlier Birds of Prey comics and I got the impression that this would be just another version of DC’s old The Web comics which were decent enough. What I got was a nicely drawn action-adventure romp following a covert agency of soldiers that made me think of a cross between G.I.Joe and S.H.I.E.L.D at one point. The artists do a good job of making some really dynamic and fun art and the uniforms and character designs seem quite nice to me, me like! Story-wise its a good blend of elements and spends a good amount of time among them including team members which is always a pain for team-books. Worth a read and if it carries on this way I will rate it higher and read it regularly.
Anubhav (Score /10)
Personally run
Green Lantern: New Guardians
(Written by Tony Bedard, Drawn by Tyler Kirkham)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
I have to admit I was little let-down in some ways with this book. Perhaps I expected too much too soon, but Im a bit split about it. The book starts off giving us an intro to the origin of our lead character – Kyle Rayner a.k.a. Green Lantern – and then leads into some very beautifully rendered pages of various Lanterns (not just green) in some pretty stressful situations, and all of this then leads right back to Kyle as he finds himself at the edge of the frying-pan looking into the fire with no way back. A decent read with a good ending and I understand needing to give Kyle an origin and make the book more reader friendly – but to me it felt like they could have easily shortened the origin story to take less of the book and given us more Lantern action so that it did not feel quite so much like “Over already? What?!?” Will be checking out the next issue because its still a good read and concept, but hopefully the next issue will up the pace and get into the real mystery that is the driving force of this adventure!
Anubhav (Score 6.9/10)
In the first appearance of Kyle Rayner in the DCnU, writer Tony Bedard seems to have chosen the middle path between introducing the characters anew and making them follow from where we last saw them. The beginning of the issue involves Ganthet making a Kyle a lantern, while the other half involves rings from the other corps choosing Kyle Rayner. The plot generates interest, but just doesn’t have too much awesome-factor. It’s just out and out storytelling. Art, meanwhile, is largely unimpressive, considering the solid stuff we’ve seen in Green Lantern. Kirkham needs to work on expressions ASAP.
I, Vampire
(Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Drawn by Andrea Sorrentino)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7.5/10)
Thank you lord for non-sparkly, geniune homo-vampirus once again!One of the bigger surprises for me of the reboot, I expected to seriously dislike but actually find myself wanting to read #2. Too early to tell how good or bad this book will turn out to be eventually. A slower book then most in the reboot, with gore and action but again in smaller doses, with more time spent expanding on the characterisations and the world they inhabit in the DCU. Still a little unclear in the end, we essentially see the falling out between Andrew and Mary – two uber-vampires on opposing sides of an argument. Lovers for ages who now fall apart because she wants a war to take over the world and he doesn’t. Could be cheesy and horrible, but its handled nicely I feel and while a bit confusing at moments (though thats more the letterer’s fault) it is not hard to understand and leads to an ending that promises much of interest. The REAL selling point for this book though? THE ART! Andrea just blows me away, the style, the feel and the colours just drew me in and were almost mesmerising in a way. She has really given this book a distinctive look and feel from every other in the “New 52” – now if Fialkov can keep writing a good enough story, DC might have a sleeper hit on their hands here.
Anubhav (Score 9.1/10)
Twilight has scarred me for life. I, for the love of God, can never enjoy a vampire love story again. Or so I thought. Yes, this is that good. An angst ridden, dark love story between a vampire queen and a vampire hunter, its written and paced beautifully, though people more acclimatised to linear storytelling might have some problems. Its gritty, its dark and its twisted. The mix of grit and blood provided by Andrea Sorrentino’s art matches the tone of the book perfectly. Also, the Vampires in the book don’t sparkle.
Justice League Dark
(Written by Peter Milligan, Drawn by Mikel Janin)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 9.5/10)
One of the few titles to live up to the hype of fans like myself and to go beyond even that – frikkin’ loved it! Milligan once again shows his masterful skill as a story-teller introducing us to Zatanna, Shade, Madame Xanadu and the rest of the cast nice and easy while never compromising the story’s flow. In fact by the end I was amazed at how much story had been covered in this one issue – which made my earlier experience with New Guardians even more annoying. With art that really stands out nicely as being heroic like a super-hero story should with nice clean lines and such, while retaining a wispy and unusual element that works great with the story. Kudos Mikel! We see the beginnings of this ‘dark’ JL coming to life and the grave threat that see’s the big guns of DC (Supes, Wonder Woman, Batman and Cyborg in pleasantly surprising cameos) brought down with only the strange and not-so-heroic heroes of this title as a glimmer in the dark as evil magic threatens everything! (what else right?) It reminded me warmly of Shadowpact, another title that grew out of an event (Infinite Crisis) as an unexpected favourite and got its own monthly that I love till today. Maybe Im giving too much credit, but I would recommend this book to all who are not afraid of a slightly darker story now and again!
Anubhav (Score /10)
It looks like Peter Milligan has big plans for this series. We get introduced to all the characters and their status-quo’s through brief snippets while Milligan paints the bigger plot involving the Justice League fighting the Enchantress. Milligan finds the right voice for each character and packs in just enough weirdness to keep the reader hooked. I would have liked more face time for Constantine and Deadman, but guess that’ll have to wait. The real star however, is Michael Janin, who given us a gorgeous book, mixing right in with the tone of the story.
Superman
(Written by George Perez, Drawn by Jesus Merino)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8/10)
I have to admit in all honesty that I was expecting this book to be decent at best – but between this and the first issue of Action from two weeks past, my interest in reading a Superman book outside of an event has been rekindled for the first time in years! Credit to Perez who crafts a good tale of Superman (here in the present, unlike the past in Action) established AS Superman and fighting the bad-guys. The Daily Planet has been taken over by a businessman – Morgan Edge (old readers will remember him) – and Clark is having issues with it and with Lois, who in this new DCU neither Clark nor Kal-el are involved with at all. Lots of action and fighting and things that look like jobs for: SUPERMAN!, coupled with intelligent and quite dense story-development in just one-issue, we get a real treat here. And while I was unsure either way at first, I find myself really liking this new incarnation of his outfit and Merino really seems to have a feel for it and the character. Add in Perry White channelling Spock a little and I quite enjoyed this opening salvo. Altogether a nice read that makes me positive for whats to come.
Anubhav (Score 6/10)
George Perez is a master visual storyteller. There’s absolutely no denying it. However, judging purely from Superman #1, as a writer, he has strengths and he has weaknesses, the latter frequently overshadowing the former. First the good : Compression. In a day and age where both writers and publishers prefer long arc storytelling (I’m looking at you, Matt Fraction), Perez manages to pack in a good done-in-one story establishing the Superman status quo and planting threads for later issues simultaneously. Also, he looks like he has a plan for this series and isn’t just making up stuff as it goes along. However, the problems come with the fact that George Perez isn’t a legendary writer. He’s a legendary artist. And he’s pretty much written this issue the way you would expect an artist to. The story moves from point A to B smoothly, but in the process, we lose out on some precious characterisation, aside from a few panels here and there between Clark and Lois, that feel more like filler than conversation. Also, the issue could certainly have done better with more dialogue. Art is what you’d expect it to be with Perez doing breakdowns : Storytelling and Panel Work 101. The issue clocks in at just a notch above mediocre.
The Flash
(Written & Drawn by Francis Manapul)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
Definitely better then expected – I take back my initial reservation and give Manapul due credit for crafting an engaging first issue. We join The Flash (Barry Allen) as he navigates a regular day for him as hero of Central City and police forensic investigator, only to have things turned more then a little upside down by an unexpected death and an even more unexpected identity to the deceased, all giving us a good kickstart. His art of course is fantastic and I really like his rendering of Flash and in general, like a perfect showcase of his talent. Add in that he is doing what I would love to be able to – draw the story I write making my page exactly how it is envisioned – and you have one roller-coaster of a visual treat. Barry Allen has always been a bit of divisive Flash, being the original and then being compared to Wally West who was much loved (like Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner somewhat) and is now Flash no-more. He doesn’t even seem to exist anymore, so the real challenge is going to be making and keeping Allen’s character interesting, something many people have felt was his weak point unlike Wally. All signs point to a good book, the only question remains whether Manapul can maintain a good story till the finish line!
Anubhav (Score 7.3/10)
Francis Manapul is DC’s Marcos Martin and Oliver Coipel combined. Compared with the other two artist-penned issues of the week, Manapul’s flash comes on top purely because of the stronger script. The story is good, character work is excellent and artwork is mind blowing. See, Manapul knows where to put his panels, and it is that strength that is on display in this issue. Good debut.
The Fury of Firestorm
(Written by Ethan Van Sciver &Gail Simone, Drawn by Yildiray Cinar)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 4/10)
Better then expected, but still utter rot in the end. At least thats what it feels like by the time I reached the ending. I guess perhaps this will appeal far better to new readers then most, but for me it was a real let-down, more so since it actually gave me a glimmer of hope in the early parts. Cinar does a fantastic job with the art and the intense action scenes in the last 1/3rd of the book was exceptional. Even the story was fairly decent while it stuck to the two characters that prior to the reboot joined to create Firestorm – Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch. Even the over-the-top bad-guys at the start come off well enough, for psychotics anyway. Unfortunately they work for an evil cabal of some sort who are after this new variation of the Firestorm which has been converted from a theoretical “Firestorm Matrix” that made the one we knew, to a special formula using some heavy science to explain (I like it but its not necessary and becomes too much) leading to more then one Firestorm (many in all likelihood) and an ending that left such a bad taste in my mouth that I actually wished I had a comic to throw away instead of digital version. I trust the writing ability of Simone so she might still surprise me, but as it stands, if this issue was the decider I would drop it in an instant.
Anubhav (Score 4.8/10)
The issue revolves around Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond, polar opposites of the high school ecosystem, discovering mutual hatred and then coming together to form the titular hero. I’m of the belief that teenage angst is one of the most difficult concepts to be portrayed in a comic book, and it is due to this reason that the comic book falls flat. There are some good monologues, but nothing really to make the reader care, as the characters sound a little too whiny. The art is essentially hit and miss, with highs coming in the form of character interactions, and the one big low coming on the last page.
The Savage Hawkman
(Written by Tony S. Daniel, Drawn by Philip Tan)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 7/10)
When I saw the solicit and the cover art for this book I was expecting it to be a bad-a** reboot of Hawkman, but it appears to be much more. At least to start with it does not delve beyond the surface into an origin story, instead morphing into a re-origin of sorts with a failed Hawkman/Carter Hall symbolically and literally burying his super-hero aspect, only to have it um.. backfire. We then get a whole NEW Hawkman that in my view is what this character deserves. A unique concept from the beginning and with every incarnation, a mainstay of so many great stories over the years and yet he has always been a second tier hero at most. Now I see the potential being taken advantage of for the first time in ages these past couple of years and it culminates in this exciting issue that made me really want to read the second. A grim and power-hungry new villain (one Im not familiar with anyway) and dark and grim art that follows the mood set by the covers nicely, I quite like – however the pencilling is a little off at moments, specially human faces, and though the colouring is so good it overshadows it, this is something they need to work on.
Anubhav (Score 6.3/10)
The issue sees Carter Hall trying to unsuccessfully get rid of his Hawkman persona, while discovery of an alien craft goes awry by the appearance of Venom – scratch that – some kinda black alien entity. The issue establishes the status quo for the hero, but in the process, like so many of the DCnU titles, fails to make the reader care for the character. Artist Philip Tan proves to be the better half of the creative team with some good visuals generating contrast between the normal and the abnormal. However, the writing is too off-putting to make this issue enjoyable.
Teen Titans
(Written by Scott Lobdell, Drawn by Brett Booth)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 6.5/10)
One of the most controversial books in the relaunch, this title took a lot of flack for discarding the backstory and reinventing the entire line-up and their costumes. After reading the Superboy #1 though I took heart because it was nicely handled and would (obviously) be tying into this book which it does within this issue itself. We get introduced to Kid Flash making a total ass of himself trying to be a glory-hound hero, Red Robin being himself which works for me cos I love that character and Cassie Sandsmark a.k.a. Wonder Girl who is new to all the super-heroing stuff. Feels a little short but is a fairly solid story overall, we get a good sense of the characters and the situation around them as Red Robin is trying to gather young heroes because many are being ‘disappeared’ and he and Cassie both get targeted leading to good fun for us! We even get to see the meek Caitlin Fairchild making me hope she gets added to the roster along with Superboy. Feels early to tell but worth checking out more – the art is good too, though the designs for Cassie and Kid Flash still look pretty weak to me, though Red Robins is decent enough. There is one moment with him being shot at that could have been better composed, small detail but its bugging me!
Anubhav (Score 8.1/10)
Teen Titans #1 gives us the second issue of the first kinda sorta crossover of the DCnU, with Robin recruiting Wonder Girl – much the same way with Batman and GL in Justice League #1 – while Kid Flash makes a total ass of himself. It’s a good first issue, showcasing the beginning of the Titans’ struggle against N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Some badass character moments for Red Robin and Wonder Girl cap out a well written issue. Brett Booth provides fantastic detail and amazing dynamic action to make this one a winner.
Voodoo
(Written by Ron Marz, Drawn by Sami Basri)
Akshay (Wayfarer Score: 8.5/10)
Damn killer opener! Ron Marz has always been among the better comic writers around in my view, though his style and story-telling tends to be within a limited range – a range in which thankfully Voodoo falls smack in the middle. A slow, deliberate narrative that you can’t help but be drawn into, helped in no small part by Basri’s oh-so-enticing renditions of the um… female anatomy. Damn… Anyway, for fans familiar with the character from her Wildstorm days, this will be a nice welcome back I think, yet a good mysterious opener for the new readers as well. How much of the original origin remains relevant here? How will they explain her powers and all that in this new status-quo? Is she good or evil? Toeing a fine line of grey characters, this book is one of the more interesting of the launch and flows nicely, even with the more shock/action/exciting moments being just a small portion of the story – yet you can’t help but just follow Voodoo’s path and be amused, astounded and intrigued by all that it is and all that is has the potential to become. Well worth a read and very promising!
Anubhav (Score 8.6/10)
This being my first exposure to the character, I am pretty intrigued. As in “what the hell is going on!?” intrigued. There’s plenty of skin in this issue, but what’s important is that it’s a in the background of solid character moments. The art adds a very slight real world tinge to the overall slow-paced story, while the real mysterious part comes towards the end. It’s a good issue, generating both interest and investment, so much so that I will be picking up subsequent issues just to find out what’s going on. Solid debut.
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