Let’s Start From The Beginning . . .

This journey began for me September 7th of this past year, 2011, as a result of DC’s reboot.  I started writing my thoughts on the issues they were putting out for several reasons: firstly, to help me externalize my frustration or elation at the drastic changes to my favorite imprint, and secondly to help my friends who were taking this opportunity to jump on the comic book bandwagon determine what is good and perhaps get some background into each of the titles.  With that in mind I am going to reproduce all my reviews.  They tend to be self referential, owing to the sequential nature of the subject material.  Since you wouldn’t really get the full picture of my review of say Green Lantern #5 without reading those of the previous four, I’ll give everyone who wants the chance to reference the older material.  If you want to just pick up with the current weeks, that’s cool too.  (Note: Justice League #1 actually came out the previous week on August 31, but is included here to make it simpler.)

  • Action Comics #1 was alright. I was really uncomfortable at the beginning where Superman went AWOL in the office building and beat up all those people.  That’s just too raw.  Part of his charm in the past came from the fact that he was always so calm and collected and he always displayed such reserve despite the horrible people he was fighting, with the belief that the people he was up against were good somewhere deep down.  Its “Super” naive and you almost pity him for it, but when you look at it, its what makes him work. And what makes it the more interesting when he does lose his cool, because you get to see what could even do that.  We’ll see how that pans out. Maybe the Superman title will portray him more refined.
  • Detective Comics #1 was pretty damn good!!!  It was written and drawn by the best.  Writer/artist Tony Daniel wrote a good, high octane, cryptic tale of the Dark Knight, but the reboot made it a bit jarring.  One of the things that has made Daniel’s stories good in the past is continuity, which it seems he couldn’t use.  This gimped him a little bit. If you haven’t read it: HOLY SHIT!!! THE LAST PANEL!!! WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!  He had to make up a villain, of whom we haven’t seen his face yet, but the Joker is the main dude we get to follow, and I don’t know if Daniel has ever written the Joker before, but he did an aces job of it here. He drew him for Grant Morrison in Batman R.I.P.  Anyway, he did an awesome job in both the story and the smooth as silk artwork.  If there was anything awkward blame Johns, Lee, and Didio.
  • Justice League #1 piqued my interest and the mention of Darkseid is quite honestly the one thing that I am really interested in.  They knew how to push my buttons.  The thing that bothers me a lot is that the tone was really off.  Batman is dark, but he’s not an asshole and I am afraid they may have pushed that too far in that direction.  Same with Green Lantern. He was a bit off.  And Superman, hitting first and coming out with attitude seemed very uncharacteristic.  What I am afraid of is they are going to make the comics edgier like people tried to do in the 90’s (especially Wildstorm) which bastardized a lot of  the integrity of the characters.  In the Secret Origins of DC documentary they lambasted that decade as almost destroying the comic medium, and the iconic book Kingdom Come by Mark Waid was written about where that kind of storytelling would lead to.  Superman and the classic DC heroes stepped aside and let the edgier heroes who were nothing short of thugs and villains posing as heroes enforce justice their way and the world almost ends prompting a war between Superheroes and Humanity.  I’m praying they use restraint, because many writers and artists that were brought in from Wildstorm are all about that shit and from the previews it seems like they are bringing that stuff to the table.  I hope not.

    Tony Daniel's Joker from "Batman R.I.P"

  • Batgirl #1 was very good and quite an eye opener as we find out how she’s not in a wheelchair anymore.  Kind of deus-ex-machina, but the way they swung it made sense in a comic book way, without bending the bounds of possibility. If you read it you will know what I mean. Overall, I liked it.  It had the same feel as Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey series.  In fact I think in some places she slapped a on a new costume and shifted abilities and plagiarized herself, but I could just be being over critical.  Apart from a slight shift in reality, it didn’t jar me overly and I feel like it lays a nice groundwork for the return of the character, whether Simone continues on it for several years or merely several months. And they weren’t whistlin’ Dixie, The Killing Joke was still a major part of the Batgirl storyline, as evinced by the last panel.
  • Green Arrow #1 was NOT what I expected. UGH!!! Maybe I need to acclimate, but ‘Oy-vey.”  This one I need to research.  Before J.T. Krul took over GA the first time, I am pretty sure he said in an interview “We wanted to get Green Arrow divorced and living in the woods because he had gotten too complacent and had all these people in his life supporting him.  Green Arrow is a loner. The edgier stories where he’s lost his fortune and is out against the world with nothing but his bow were the best stories. I wanted to get back to those.”  That run was possibly the best Green Arrow in twenty years. In this: He’s rich, he jetsets to Paris and he’s got a goddamn earbud connecting him to a support team working in his company, i.e. he’s told people his secret identity. This is a case of, I’ve seen what this writer can do with the character and he can do allot. So the only common factor of why he would go against his initial instincts which he was passionate about and why his story sucked would be external forces dictating the material he has to work with.  Again, I’m pointing the finger at management.
  • Swamp Thing#1 was outstanding!  Written by the great Scott Snyder, it had all the earmarks of his work: super well thought out, intelligent introspection on the part of protagonist, i.e. panels about the violence of the plant kingdom of biology, and very slasher/horror film elements comprising the story’s backdrop.  I have little interest in the character, especially of late after Brightest Day, but somehow Snyder makes me care. Superman’s portrayal in this is another WTF moment. I mean who the hell IS Superman. They are making it sound like either he died in the past, which DID HE?!  Is the Doomsday fight retained in canon?  There are all sorts of allusions, especially to the past of Swamp Thing as well, that you have to ask whether Brightest Day and its spinoff, Brightest Day Aftermath: Search for Swamp Thing happened, and if it did how do they reconcile that portrayal of Superman with this one. Too many questions. But AWESOME comic by Snyder. I’m a subscriber to Swamp Thing now.
  • Justice League International #1 was another one that intrigued me.  I love the writer, Dan Jurgens, a lot (P.S. He killed Superman in the 90’s) and the artist isn’t too bad either.  They introduced this earlier in the year and I am guessing before they rebooted because while it was SUPPOSED TO BE led by Maxwell Lord again, which would have been EPIC!!!  They now have it led by some non-super-psycho, non-super-powered bureaucrat on the UN Security Council and it just lacks flavor. Plus I think they retrofitted half the characters in the League but not the other half and did an awkward job explaining what was what, but in full fairness to Dan Jurgens, sorting it out would be a Herculean task considering the shit storm this reboot has done to the continuity, so no judgement on his part, finger pointed in a familiar direction.  I like most of the characters and there are some fantastic second stringers that are rife with potential. i.e. Rocket Red (Soviet Super Hero, think Iron Man with broken English), August General in Iron (Chinese Superman who is like Iron Man I suppose except its not a suit, his skin straight up is oxidized iron), Fire and Ice (VERY NICE!!! Hot Norwegian and Brazilian duo), Lady Godiva (British. I have no idea. Hair?), and Guy Gardner at some point.  Plus Batman is trying on the sly to help the leader, Booster Gold, look good because Batman secretly is pretty tight with Booster. I am intrigued by this and hope it retains some of the past interesting elements.
  • Hawk and Dove #1 just was . . .  The writer, Sterling Gates, had a stellar run on Supergirl and made me care about her a great deal.  I don’t really care about this team but the writer is awesome.  Artist Rob Liefeld is ok.  He’s one of the Wildstorm contingents that makes me nervous.  I am afraid that DC is going to become Wildstorm, which in most instances is not cool.  Liefeld was one of the most distinctive Wildstorm guys in the 90’s.  However, here he drew a decent comic, so no complaints right now.  I also like the Deadman angle that was retained.  I won’t spoil it for those who intend to read Brightest Day, but just know that I think that this is still cannon too somehow.  I have no idea what else to say about this, so I will give it an unemphatic, but not overly strained thumbs up.
  • Animal Man #1 is hard to peg.  Ok, I have read a few series that involve him. The original stuff is really patchy cause he’s a  D-List property from the 70’s.  Grant Morrison was given him and made the series a Knock OUT hit.  The next time the character showed ups was in 52. He was one of the main characters in the series and after is was over I was all about Buddy Baker. There was a series after that called Countdown to Adventure  that he was in and it was really great as well. There was a Death of Animal Man series that took place in the like the 2020’s I think. Really good. (His daughter becomes a lesbian and his son goes to med school.)  I love Jeff Lemire and he’s done incredible things with Superboy and the Atom.  Hated Superboy (Connor Kent) until I read his 8 issue series that this P.O.S reboot cancelled. Awesome stuff, but I digress. His Buddy Baker seems a bit awkward and I think that was exacerbated by the artwork. I hate to be a prick, but it didn’t work for me. Despite what the interviews in the back said, I wasn’t feeling it. Maybe the bizarre art style is supposed to mirror the eeriness of “The Red”, but it was really distracting for me.  This series is a maybe for me. We will see. “The Red” concept and the Hunters Three do have promise, I suppose.  I repeat, “We’ll see . . .”
  • Batwing #1 was great.  Judd Winick rocks as a Bat Family writer and he brought some straight up excellence to this title.  Morrison created Batwing, but Winick made him fly. (Was that too corny and/or cliche?) Ben Oliver’s art was really good too in the realism of his style that lent itself well to the horrors of modern Africa that I assume this book and this character were created to reveal.  The overarching template of a Batman spin off are there, but unique.  This was the first time we even found out who was under the mask and armor, what his name is, what his life is like, what he does in his civilian identity, etc., and Winick provided it in short, concise order while still packing in action and adventure.  And oh yeah: HOLY SHIT!!! THE LAST PANEL!!! WHAT THE F**K!?!?!  If you are a good Bat writer this is what I will usually say.

Ben Oliver's cover of "Batwing #1"

  • OMAC #1 blew my sock off!!!  Didio did a good job writing it (if Keith Giffen didn’t have something to do with it, because I’m guessing he cowrote it, though that is uncomfirmed by me at this time) and Giffen drew it TREMENDOUSLY!!!  The thing you all have to understand, OMAC was created by Jack Kirby.  Jack Kirby is like untouchable. You don’t fuck with Jack Kirby.  If you f*ck with Jack Kirby a fatwa is placed on you and you are hunted like a dog until you are killed to assuage your heresy.  The way this book was done was TOTALLY Kirby-esque, right down to the nicknames all the collaborators had in the books credits.  Kirby wrote, drew and edited his books so he would give himself a relevant nickname and one to whoever was working with him (usually inking).  It was almost exactly like the original series, except with a modern touch instead of a near futuristic setting. Keith Giffen, who I assume was a late protege of Kirby’s, does his art in a near perfect mimic of the master’s style, so the feel is definitely there.  Mokkari was in there, which I find awesome yet strange.  Mokkari is NOT an OMAC character.  He’s a New God.  Still Kirby mind you, still works in the shadows of Cadmus mind you, but not an OMACcharacter.  I don’t dislike this in the least.  If anything I am intrigued.  Right off the bat they have brought out Darkseid and Mokkari, so something is brewing on the New God front, which is music to my ears.  I love the New Gods.  Brother Eye is really sinister though, or seemingly so, which he never was in the Kirby book, but was prior to Infinite Crisis and whatever . . .  Its a good book. I am adding it to my future pull list where it will stay for a long time I think.

    Keith Giffen's "OMAC"

  • Stormwatch #1 was part of the experimental group of the reboot. I have very little knowledge of this title. I know they monitor the world and superheroes and Midnighter and Apollo are a hardcore duo who also are a gay married couple.  I know the Engineer is a hot robot chick. So ends my knowledge.  I know Paul Cornell is a brilliant “can’t fail” writer, but that is a separate point.  I couldn’t jump onto this book.  It wasn’t as easy to just jump on as the reboot was allegedly supposed to make things for new readers.  The Horn they mentioned seems interesting and may have been mentioned in Final Crisis.  Bears looking into. I am confused right now and not in a good way. I will hold on and hope it works out, which I have faith in Cornell to do, but again my finger is pointing not in his direction.
  • Men of War #1, what can I say?  I got it because it features Sgt. Rock, whose one of the those characters that is resurrected in a new guise every once in awhile.  Great background character, allot of history and ambiance.  He’s almost an archetype and not a solid character like say Batman, or Superman, or Animal Man, etc.  This one isn’t a reboot, but continuation.  Frank Rock was his grandfather and still fought in WWII.  Joseph Rock is the new soldier who is made Sarge at the end of the issue. This one feels timeless to me. The old Men of War series was a straight war comic made for the men who fought in the US Army who were the ones who read comics a lot on the front lines.  Those comics were for them about people like them, not crazy super powered dudes, but real guys.  This one is too. Its about modern warfare and how f*cked up it is.  I couldn’t relate to any of the stories, but damn were they authentic and damn were the characters rounded, flawed, and believable.  I might get some more. Whether I like it or not, there is no arguing that it IS a good comic.
  • Static Shock #1fizzled in my opinion.  Not the biggest fan of the character, not a big fan of the writer/artist, Scott McDaniel.  Why’d I get it?  I got all the others so what the hell.  Whelmed.  That’s pretty much it.  Whelmed.  Not drawn well at all, and not particularly well written. I don’t even know if the physics they discuss are sound.  Kinda shoddy.This is my fair and honest view of the first week of DC Comics’ Reboot.

Illustration Credits:

Batman #680: Drawn by Tony Daniel, Colored by Guy Major, Inked Sandu Florea

Batwing #1: Art by Ben Oliver, Colored by Brian Reber

OMAC #1: Drawn by Keith Giffen, Colored by Hi-Fi, Inked by Scott Koblish

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