DC Comics’ First 52 in Review by Indie Writer, Dale Wilson part 05

This was going to be it. The last week of The New 52 by DC Comics. At this point, it was a job buying all of the comics, reading and swapping them. But we were still digging it, enjoying new books, new twists on old books and swapping opinions. I was glad to see an end to the tunnel but I was also a little let down that I was not going to be able to finish several of the stories that I had started. I don’t buy floppies – that’s a blog for later – and the hardcovers had to come out – comics marketing strategy – before the trade paperbacks.

All-Star Western 1: Inventive. When DC first restarted Jonah Hex a few years ago, I was a fan. It was good stuff and I liked the unspoken Clint Eastwood as Jonah Hex. Eventually the title dried up a little for me when it started to become predictable so I dropped it. With this new All-Star Western, the character and his world are new and interesting again. Dropping the most bad-ass cowboy into a Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper story is brilliant. Also – Moritat is one of the most amazing artists in the biz and that does not hurt my opinion of the book at all. Great read.

All-Star Western 1Aquaman 1: Revenge? Take an otherwise disrespected water-hero, make his world a little dark, show that he is kick-ass, reiterate that he does not talk to fish and make him a romantic, what do you have? A healthy remake of what used to be a key character for DC. I liked it. I liked that he was super-strong, that he carried a slick trident and that he seemed to be a family-man (an interesting trait). I also really dug that the villains were a little creepy and dark. So what’s the problem? It’s pushing the character but right now, I don’t see it pushing the medium and I just don’t have any interest in the book.

Batman: The Dark Knight 1: Batman Was Darker. Back to Batman, again. I’m not going to recap the problem I have with his recurring iconography but I will say that there was another break-out at Arkham Asylum – wasn’t that part of the problem in another Batman book? Maybe not – they do all blend together after all and maybe it was the same breakout. Either way, that place needs new security. My gripes and gratuitous shots of women’s legs and butts aside, the book looks good and reads well, there’s just not a whole lot here for me. They are not doing anything particularly new with the character of Batman – although, they do seem to be experimenting with the villains again, and I get bored with repetitious characters and story-lines.

Blackhawks 1: Well-Done But Not My Thing. Blackhawks is one of those strange para-military science fiction team books where everyone dresses in similar but personalized uniforms. In some ways, it’s exactly what I’d love to see in this kind of book – somehow more realistic. It’s also pretty well-executed – good writing with smart art but for some reason, I feel no inclination toward this book. Why? Because it’s exactly what it needs to be and is missing quirks. I need some specific idiosyncrasies. Maybe. I’m not 100% certain why this book is not on my pull list but I can say that it is well crafted. Oh, and how does Andrew Lincoln keep his glasses on?Blackhawks 1

The Flash 1: Not Very Quick. Yeah, I’m a minimalist but is it too much to ask that a book about a fast-guy be smooth and sleek? The art is often overly functional in that it does little more than drive the story along and then there are moments when the art is great but the bad parts out weight the good parts. A particular thing that really bothers me is that there is a flashback where we are supposed to gain empathize with the main character and learn about a new, important character and it only takes up half a page. Regardless of my disdain for a location transition to happen in the middle of a page, it really bothers me that I a supposed to care about a character after a half page of flashback. The book is also awfully wordy and I get that this is at least a little intentional in that a fast man is probably at least a little jittery but it is not sustaining. I’m also not all that interested in the accidental slipping away to change costumes; it just comes off as silly and a few decades old. This book would have probably been pretty good in a past decade but is not very interesting to me today.

The Fury of Firestorm 1: Batgirl Was Better. I know that it is pretty unfair to judge one title against another but that was my first reaction to having read this book. I was interested in Firestorm because the main character is a cool, unconventional hero with an interesting background but also because Gail Simone had crafted such a surprisingly smart book with Batgirl. But The Fury of Firestorm seemed to be missing some of what made Batgirl good. I think that my biggest hangup about this book was that the two main personalities that went into forging this new incarnation of Firestorm were too easy – high school/social stereotypes. And maybe they are going to flush these characters out as the book progresses but I probably won’t be reading it.

Green Lantern: New Guardians 1: Another Green Lantern Success. As I’ve said before with great unpopularity, I am not a Hal Jordan fan. That having been repeated, I did find New Guardians 1 interesting in that it seemed to build on the rainbow of new ring possibilities with lots of cool aliens and other fun. What is my problem with this book (because I always seem to have a problem with every book)? Why does Earth have to be the center of the universe? Have we not proven already that it is not? I mean, in the real world. I know that writers try to tie readers to books by giving them something they can understand, something they can hold onto but aren’t there plenty of books out there that don’t use Earth as the way-station for all important activity in the massive universe? Anyway, New Guardians is well crafted good writing and art with a jump right into action fun and twists and turns to bring readers back.

I, Vampire 1: Joshua Hale Fialkov. Even though I was “buying and reading all of The New 52”, I almost did not read this book. Based on the title, I lived in absolute fear that it was going to be sparkly. But wow, it turned out to be interesting and new – particularly for a vampire book in today’s market. The writing and art were smooth, it is not a superhero book and it is a horror-alternative so I am leaning toward picking up this trade paperback.

Justice League Dark 1: Predictable Mystery. Can there possibly be a problem that The Holy Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman can’t handle? Well, maybe. So who would you call in then? Justice League Dark, right. Sure. Where do you find this team? Dig up some Vertigo characters – haha. But, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Do I sound like I have a problem with this book? No, not really. I guess my problem is with the publishers. I don’t know why they have this book in the DCU. What is the point? Not sure. Just leave the characters in Vertigo where they will get the appropriate editorial love. My concern is simple in the end: Will John Constantine be allowed to smoke and cuss? I just hope that Justice League Dark is not what the people in the team call it.

The Savage Hawkman 1: Biggest Disappointment. There is something about me that loves this character concept and I feel like it has never been treated correctly. Let’s put it this way, I read (past tense because it is not part of The New 52) Justice Society of America because Hawkman was one of the key characters. So, here we go. In the new book, they’ve made him Wolverine, kinda. They have put his weapons and costume in his body so that he can Hawk-out at any point and does not have to suit up. I like when he wore armor and felt like a warrior because of it. And would Carter Hall really destroy all of his weapons and with only a bottle of gasoline and a flare gun? The story really just bothers me a good bit with a bunch of jumping around, some unnecessary coincidences, a seemingly ultimately powerful new villain and a poor cliffhanger.

The Savage Hawkman 1Superman 1: Over-written. I’m really not sure what to say about this book. There is SO much text, I feel like nothing is left of interpretation, the editor needed to do some slashing and I came out not really caring. There is voice-over at the same time at dialogue and Superman inner dialogue and in one panel, we get both inner dialogue and voice-over. What are the perks of this book? The overshadowed art is nice, the twists and turns of the new Superman are relatively interesting and Lois Lane is more interesting than I remember her from older books.

Teen Titans 1: Super-powered Mini-Me’s. How do you capitalize on your existing popular heroes without just making another Justice League or individual character spin-off? Make the Muppet Baby version by taking the existing characters, changing them very little and making them younger. Yawn. Complaining done, the book is done pretty well. The art is nice, the writing is pretty good. I might be interested in reading more if the characters weren’t so boringly 1% and white bread.

Voodoo 1: All The Right Parts. Sexist pun aside, the book is pretty well crafted if not for the overt audience-catering of the making a book about an exotic-beauty-stripper. Much of this book looks like the lingerie magazines that most of the audience was looking at before they were able to get a hold of at least a soft core porn mag or had the gumption to look at nudies on the web and clear the browser cache afterward. This book is particularly frustrating to me because I was a WildCATS fan from back in the day, I liked Voodoo, the art, page/panel layout and even the mystery of the book are well done and interesting but I cannot keep reading a book that essentially just proves that sex sells.

What did I learn after all of this? There are lots of straight forward books that are well done but I’m just not that interested in them. The holy-trinity of the DCU permeates everything in DC Comics; it maintains the audience that can come back to something they know and love but it constrains he growth into new markets and concepts of thought. There is plenty of sexism/sex being sold as part of the existing iconography. But there are also some well-crafted books that live within and break the bounds of all of the positive and negative things that I have mentioned above.

Who am I to speak so blatantly of DC Comics and the DCU? How can I bash and praise the luminaries in the same series of paragraphs? I am an opinionated lover of the comic book medium, having been reading comics off and on for as long as I can remember. I have been a comic book small publisher for more than 5 years now having published mostly my own material but I have also ventured into publishing works by friends/co-creators. I have published my own and other people’s works online at http://www.MagnificentCreatures.com and in print at http://www.DWAPproductions.com. I have a literature and language degree from Webster University where I also minored in comparative religion. I also work at The Search Agency as a creative editor focusing in SEM and have dabbled in the study of SEO. I write, I market, I write, I think.

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