DC Comics’ First 52 in Review by Indie Writer, Dale Wilson part 04

We were officially in the heat of it. Every Wednesday, my buddies and I were buying books, trading others, talking about what was happening in what and which books we were going to continue reading. We were kids again – it was nice. The guys were reading all kinds of books they had never considered before and I was studying everything. Back in the day, I was a marvel fan so I knew the universe pretty damn well – I was the kid that read all of the history books and loved every second of it. It was only in the last few years that I had started understanding DC’s approach to supers. And now, I was seeing The New 52 as a way of getting an early grasp of much of the universe.

Batman 1: I have not been shy about my disdain for Batman appearing in every book. I essentially see it as writers/DC Comics relying on iconography rather than trying to create new characters that are just as interesting as old ones but that is a gripe for later. That having been said, Batman is good – well-constructed and smart with appropriate transitions and a smartly put together reveal. The art is smooth with appropriate changes to distinguish different times in Bruce Wayne’s life. In some ways, this book is really frustrating because it’s well done but I want new characters in my reading so I won’t be buying this Trade Paperback.

Birds of Prey 1Birds of Prey 1: Action-packed Fun. Admittedly, I had some trouble with a few of the right-side-of-the-book location transitions and surprise-reveals but overall, I really dug this book. Great drive. Cool art and fun writing drew me in and a roller coaster ride kept me. And the not-overly-sexy but still cool main characters also give the book points – look at the cover and recognize how much skin isn’t shown. This book kicks ass, it does not sell ass.

Blue Beetle 1: A Good Beginning. Action-packed, cool alien beginning and a Green Lantern Corps mention, smooth art and generally good writing with an introduction to the human side of what will be the new guy wearing the Blue Beetle guise. I was really keen on the unusual villains, their powers and costumes seemed strange and enticing. This makes for a good core superhero book but I as with some of the other well-done but otherwise uninteresting and not very challenging books, I don’t have a whole lot of reason to look forward to reading it any further.

Captain Atom 1: All the Right Atoms. The first thing that strikes me about this book is how appropriate the art style is for the story and character. Nicely done. This book has solid writing if a little dialogue heavy and as I said, the art is appropriate but also well done. The panel layouts stick out as smart and page/location transitions are strong. What is my concern about the book? That the main character is a science project in a bottle with a limited amount of access to other characters which means a limited number of relationships that can easily be built. This concern is further compounded by the amount of internal dialogue that appears in the book. Worth reading in the book? Sure but it may have a limited shelf-life.

Catwoman 1: Much Ado About Sex. There were a lot of complaints and conversations bantered around Facebook and what not concerning how this book ends – Catwoman and Batman make a cross-species porn. So what. Catwoman’s book/character is cheapened by her being a single-dimensional character with nothing but sex to sell her books. I can’t help but feel that DC sometimes only has a single character to “make books worth buying” – Batman. In the end, I don’t care that DC has cheapened another female character – they do it all the time. I’m really just getting tired of Batman being the only character that can do anything interesting in the DCU. I’d think that Bruceman would be tired at this point too – when does he sleep? After sex with Catwoman? Probably not.Catwoman 1

DC Universe Presents 1: HAHA, The Deadman Book. Why do I laugh when I talk about this book? I’m not really sure. Deadman just kinda feels like a 70s (first premiered in 1967) character that never grew up DC seems to refuse to update his look (that of a superhero circus act) and keeps putting him books – comes off as “one of those relatives.” Said and done, I dig that the character is dark and strange and that they are pushing pretty hard to make him interesting. Since I don’t know much about the history of the character and there’s a lot of “voice-over,” the read is a little confusing. I also feel like the Iraq War reference is somehow too easy. I feel no need to read any further.

Green Lantern Corps 1: What Green Lantern Should Be. Aliens and willpower. A series of super-powerful extra terrestrial Green Lanterns have been offed by some mysterious assassin in black. The human Green Lanterns are bored on Earth so they come in just in time to rescue Oa. I sound a little sour about this and I am. With the vast imagination that we all have, can’t we imagine incredible worlds with creatures alien to ourselves but with similarities enough that we can see them as metaphors for ourselves – sure, why now? But other than humans coming to the rescue, I dig this book.

Legion of Super-Heroes 1: Cool But Busy. Again, my inclination is to explore new worlds, unusual characters and teams so this book automatically gets extra points from me. We are however, dropped right into the middle of storylines and character interaction that seem to require some knowledge of previous books in order to properly understand what is happening. This book also drops the reader right into the entire team which means a good bit of jumping around from location to location. There’s also a ton of dialogue and character description boxes that make the pages a little busy at time, causing some clunkiness in the way the book reads. Overall, I am intrigued by the characters and team but not sure that this is the place for me to start reading.

Nightwing 1: A Batman Alternative. Strong book with good page placement, not too rushed, strong art. There is only one page payout foible that bothers me. Otherwise, I like it. Look, he’s essentially Batman but with a different costume so that DC Comics can have Batman but not Batman. It’s really no different than Midnighter (an interesting take on Batman). OK, I will leave my seeming-hatred for Batman for another article (honestly, I don’t hate him). In the end, I like the book and if I am in the mood for a Batman fix, rather than feeding the beast of conservatism, I will give Nightwing a try.

Red Hood and The Outlaws 1: Overshadowed by More Sex. Is this book any good? It’s hard to know with all of the online sex-scandal hype and Playboy like-images of Starfire. Is there something wrong with Starfire’s promiscuity? No, not really. But the way she is portrayed is definitely problematic to me – there is not a single image of her in the book that is not objectifying. So, what’s wrong with that? Other than the objectification of the character, it takes away from what might otherwise be a good book. The writing is not altogether bad and the art is actually pretty interesting. There are even a few characters including another woman named Essence that in her few seconds of appearance, she is at least relatively interesting. In the end, this book comes off as having potential but cluttered by soft-core porn.Supergirl 1

Supergirl 1: Super-surprise. This book felt so efficient. Smooth. Although I do like this book, my first, immediate thought is that I am happy that she is no longer wearing the cheerleader skirt – that thing was just icky and kept me away from the book for many years, no matter who was writing or drawing it. Am I completely happy with the bathing suit look? No but the skirt is gone and we can all rejoice that much. About why the book flows so well: it is certainly in part due to the wonderful sense of space that the art provides; it is in no way cluttered and that is just exquisite. The writing is simple and straight forward, also without clutter. It is basically Supergirl landing on a new planet, discovering where she is, that she is crazy-powerful and facing off against a bunch of mega-powerful mecha-suits. One flaw aside form the swimsuit aspect not being perfect? Superman’s center-of-the-DC-Universe-beside-Batman appearance. Otherwise, I am buying this trade paperback.

Wonder Woman 1: Not Azzarello’s Best. Look, I don’t expect everything he writes to be 100 Bullets goo but he did set the bar, right? It is an interesting new take on an old standard super-heroine, tying her contemporary heroics into a crazy mythical world but how does that make her want to fight alongside Superman and Batman? We’ll leave that up to the DC writers. It’s also pretty damn dark considering how Godfather they went to open a portal to Earth. I also like the overall personality that they gave the lead-damsel in distress. OK, here we go again, what’s wrong? Did the damsel in distress really need to be dragged around in her underwear and why does Wonder Woman wear a corset? I was a fan of the pants with legs. Sure, Wonder Woman’s look is probably an editorial/corporate choice that Azzarello had no control over but it is sad nevertheless. As a bit of an addendum, I will admit that I liked the book more when I went back to it after some time and I will consider buying/reading the trade paperback.

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