DC Comics’ First 52 in Review by Indie Writer, Dale Wilson part 02

Back for the second week of The New 52, several of my friends from work and I visited a comic book store local to our workplace and bought a bunch of the books. It was cool to see guys that normally buy a single trade a month actually excited about going to the comic book store every week; even if they were buying mainstream titles – it’s “good for the economy” and good for the industry. I had few expectations from this week’s titles but ended up buying more than I had anticipated. I was to some degree excited about comics again and it felt good – even if I was going to pick them apart from a writer’s perspective like I always do.

Action Comics 1Action Comics 1: Big Red Surprise. I like the cocky, young Superman. It makes the character a lot more interesting – gives him realistic dimension. And it’s pretty cool to see Superman’s powers develop. All of these traits could be seen as a gimmick but it works. If mainstream comics is going to be about the same recurring circle of characters, it is nice to find new, interesting ways of seeing them. This one surprised me to have worked.

Animal Man 1: Left-over Vertigo Beauty. It was immediately a gripping story with superhero reference but creepy horror overtones – no, shadows. There was a surprising amount of talk about the book with acquaintances, on Facebook and around the stores but especially in our inner circle. This was probably the first book where I knew I’d buy the trade. Every so often, I read a book or watch a movie and say, “This is where the medium should be.” This was one of those times.

Batgirl 1: Wow. This book was really good. Generally smooth and well structured with action, suspense, and Batgirl-power; it was a fan-favorite among the 4 guys I read my books with. I had just a couple structural complaints where the right page was the transition between settings but otherwise, the book was really well put together. BTW – I made sure to tell Gail Simone on Facebook that I really liked her book and she seemed to appreciate that.Batgirl 1

Batwing 1: Good. Smooth and has great intent but came off a little flat and missing of presentation. For a book with this much action, I did not feel compelled by it and I would not have read issue 2 if I had not borrowed someone else’s. The in-story location and time transitions were handled correctly and the art is a nice change from the majority of other books but the verbal tone and storytelling through images left me not really caring.

Detective Comics 1: Feels Like Batman. Admittedly, I’m not a Batman follower so I probably could not tell you if they had done something new in this book but at the same time, it did not feel like they had done anything particularly new with the character. It did, however, feel like they were doing something a little new with the world and of course, Joker. He seemed a little more crazy. Well, his crazy seemed a little more focused or specific. The book was definitely dark and this surprised me a little. It made me wonder just how dark, The Dark Knight was going to be.

Green Arrow 1: Just Alright. He kinda just seems like Batman with a bow and arrow and green clothes that would really stick out in a hunt. The book is essentially a big fight that showcases what he can do and in the end, it sets up what will probably be his villains. The writing and art work well enough and in the end, it just kind of seems like a book serving a purpose, keeping a character around for the sake of keeping him around and servicing his fans. I felt pretty uninspired.

Hawk and Dove 1: Rob Leifeld. The man, the myth doing what he does best – draw in his unmistakably-his style. Say what you like about his talent or ability to finish drawing feet, he was comics in the 90s. And that’s pretty much what he does here, in the book that if I remember correctly is where he started to cut his teeth before heading over to Marvel where he would make a name for himself. If you are a fan of the characters, you might dig this book but I did not feel particularly driven to find out whether or not the characters survived the cliffhanger.

Justice League International 1: Quirky OK. In-story location and time transitions were jarring but it was nice that they generally kept the perspective to one person so that it was not confusing. There’s a lot going on in this book but it’s funnier than most of the other 52 so the weight of having a lot of characters does not get overwhelming. My big question in the end: could this book stand alone without Batman? He shows up in a lot of books and it makes him feel a little busy. Maybe it should not have been Bruce but one of the guys from his Bat-Company.

Men of War 1: War-torn. I’ve been a fan of Ivan Brandon since NYC Mech – if you have not read his early work on this title, do him a favor and buy/read it. Good stuff. As for MoW, I’m not generally a war story kind of reader but again, I am not devoted to superheroes for the sake of superheroes; if a book is good, a book is good. I liked the gruff realism of war with some superhero background in this book. The transitions were a little weak and usually jarring with the right page overwhelming the left. The art was necessarily graphic but a little stark at times.

O.M.A.C. 1: Meh. I’m not really into legend worship so I have a tough time with books that present new stories in old ways without some kind of inherent need – I don’t see the point. This is probably just me but I like to see progress and I prefer when the medium pushes into the future from where other have already stood. This book feels like it could have been a limited run gimmick title and no one would have been better or worse off for it. That having been said, transitions were poor and I get that some of them were intentional because that’s how they did it back in the day but again, we’ve progressed. It’s kind of neat to see Giffen warp his style to look like an older book but it’s not something I really want to keep seeing.

Static Shock 1: Sad. I knew the co-creator, Dwayne McDuffie. I would not say that he was a friend but he signed at our booth a few years in a row and I was a fan of his work from Damage Control until his untimely death this year. That having been said, I was excited to see his legacy continue on with Static getting a title in The New 52. But it was way overwritten and felt like their version of Spider-Man with quips and a kid trying to deal with his relatively new found powers. I also feel like Dwayne and other writers who touched the book had created a very interesting character and they could have continued with much of that as they did with several of the other New 52.

Swamp Thing 1Stormwatch 1: Failure of Character. I was a fan of Stormwatch when it was an Image/Wildstorm title and was glad to see it continue in The New 52 with some interesting twists and turns with the inclusion of Martian Manhunter, etc. But what was probably this book’s failure was that it seemed to have lost all of its history – although, one could argue that this version of the team is just one of the alternate universes that can be found through The Bleed…. The transitions in the book were hit and miss but there seemed to be too much going on. If they had focused on a single aspect of the team and slowly worked their way through the rest of the group, we’d have been better for it.

Swamp Thing 1: Out-Supered. It’s interesting that this book is called Swamp Thing as he is generally upstaged by Superman and his own villains until the very end. I get that this is a way of building suspense but other than setting up some interesting villains and getting Superman fans to read a book that otherwise will probably not have Superheroes, it does not serve the book very well. The transitions are hit and miss, the art is serviceable and the writing is alright but this is another book where we seem to have lost some strong history that could have been built on rather than forgotten.

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