Week 4 (Sept. 28, 2011)

So here comes Week 4 and the end of the new DC titles:

  • Superman #1 was interesting.  It definitely wasn’t bad.  It featured a very action packed, seemingly self-contained plot from start to finish, that not only drew the readers attention with Superman’s fight against the enigmatic villain, but also set the status quo of the “Super-Books” by showing the hierarchy of where the time honored characters now fall.  Lois isn’t the intrepid newspaper reporter anymore.  Jimmy seemingly isn’t just a photojournalist, but also a television camera man.  In fact, one major product of the reboot is DC addressing the anachronistic nature of the Planet’s print media swiftly becoming a dinosaur.  Apropos, the article that Clark writes about the “Super” goings on of his fight with the monstrous interloper is printed online, as well as in the paper.  This paradigm shift could be autobiographical of DC who is also experimenting with online digital distribution as a major tenet of their relaunch this month. Overall, the changes seem to be to extreme, but no more so than some that have been made in the past.  The major one that hits hard is Lois no longer being married to Clark or knowing his secret identity.  They REALLY hammered that point in in the final scene of the issue, almost brutally so.  I liked it, not psychotically, but it will do and it featured allot of interesting elements as well.  The tying in of the horn from Stormwatch and the meaning of its being blown intrigues me and is possibly the only reason I will buy issue 2 of the latter title.  Good marketing DC.  Tethering a weak title thematically to a stronger one. I’ll play your game . . .

    The Lanterns clash in "Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1" drawn by Tyler Kirkham.

  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 is an interesting case.  First off, I REALLY like it.  However, I am uncertain whether others will.  It had a pretty threadbare plot, only really revealing a problem, not exploring the full breadth of its potential.  At the same time I won’t say that it was written poorly because of this.  It may have been done in service of hitching new people onboard.  As a longtime GL reader I am aware of who these characters are, what their backstory is, and what they are capable of.  Having read the story arc in the main Green Lantern title that this series shares its name with, I know the potential for a series team up of a Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet Lantern (and know how awkwardly it is that I just called an Indigo tribesman a Lantern and a Star Sapphire a Violent Lantern) so I have no problem weathering it until next issue to find out what’s going on and hopefully get a more substantial story line. For those jumping on, this series did have some things that catered to them, starting with a fresh retelling (not rebooting) of Kyle’s origin and induction into the Green Lantern Corps, as well as dialogue that explains the Yellow, Red, and Star Sapphire Corps’ mission statements.  Orange, Blue, and Indigo were noticeable absent, but that may be for another day and shed light on elements of the plot we shouldn’t know yet.  I’m just trying to be positive and have faith, because the promise is there and its budding in what we did see in the issue.  Bleez, Glomulus, Arkhillo, Munk, and Fatality are such AWESOME yet rarely utilized Characters that I am bursting at the seams for them to get center stage and kick ass as they were “born” to . . .
  • Aquaman #1 was classic Geoff Johns.  I liked it A LOT!  This issue was Johns doing what he does best, taking a lesser appreciated, over the top character and grounding them, reestablishing their innate awesomeness.  No character in comics (NONE!!!) gets more shit than Aquaman.  His one power that people know about, aside from underwater breathing, is talking to fish, which admittedly is laughable, and his weakness is severe dehydration.  This makes for a ridiculous character, but this first issue debunks all preconceived notions and reintroduces the character and his origin stunningly. Aquaman stops a heist on land and flashes a policeman a dirty look when the latter asks him if he “wants a glass of water.”  Thus Johns removes his dehydration weakness, just like he took the Green Lanterns’ absurd sounding, abstruse weakness to the color yellow.  He also tells us that he doesn’t “talk to fish”, he controls fish, dolphins and whales excluded.  The story is tight, it sets the stage to a larger storyline with some ominous panels.  I hope that the new aqualad, Keldur’ahm, comes into the picture, because he was one of my favorite pre-reboot creations.  Definitely one to buy and follow.  This series is going to redeem Aquaman and make him an A-lister again.
  • Flash is yet another incredible series that came out and met all my expectations, if not exceeded them.  Like Superman above, in this series Barry Allen’s longtime wife, Iris, is retconned to a state of ignorance to his dual identity and obviously no longer married to him.  It opens with him on a date with his coworker, Patty Spivot. Not to be rude to Iris, but  I like the idea of Patty and Barry dating. Patty is a very interesting, under-utilized character with great potential.  Shake it up.  Peter Parker had Gwen Stacy, Felicia Hardy, and Mary-Jane Watson. I think that Patty, who’s pined for Barry in the previous runs, deserves a shot at being his girlfriend, and that that wouldn’t be sacrilege.  The plot of this first issue also is well done, with a distinct beginning, middle, and end, while keeping that final scene open ended for the coming issues.  Francis Manapul, who drew the last series, writes an almost seamless follow up and really has his finger on the pulse of what a good Flash comic should be.  Brilliantly executed.  The splash page in the center is one thing that also blew me away.  It was almost on level with the Eisner Spirit splashes that the title was iconic for, and perhaps this was an homage to it, in fact I am sure of it.  This also backs up my point that a lot of times artists make the best writers, because they have a better mind for narrating visually to create grand visions like that which I just mentioned, right from the start. I can’t stop saying good things about this series.  Sign me up for the rest of his and Brian Buccellato’s run.

Francis Manapul's luscious splash page from "Flash #1"

  • The Savage Hawkman #1 was entertaining.  I’ve never been the hugest fan of the character, so I might not be the best judge.  I really could have done with some back story.  Even a hint.  The status of the character is pretty unknown.  Is he cursed to live several lifetimes being reincarnated from a Third Dynasty Pharaoh, or is he a Thanagarian, or something completely new.  They don’t even hint, which bugs me.  They have a xenocentric conflict which points to a possible Thanagarian origin, but that’s hardly conclusive.  The artwork is cool and the story seems interesting, but there isn’t much to make a good observation off of.
  • Blackhawks #1 is a conundrum . . . It doesn’t feel right.  Its a modernization of the series, but the main characters aren’t there.  There is no Janos Prohaska, no Andre, no Olaf, no stereotypical Asian man . . .  However, despite the complete divorce from anything of the previous series, there was a lot of modern elements that were reminiscent of the series reboots of Doc SavageThe Spirit, and other series under the First Wave banner two years ago.  The premise seems solid. I alternated between intrigued and annoyed by the lack of familiarity, but I dunno . . .
  • Batman:The Dark Knight #1 was pretty sweet across the board.  David Finch, like Francis Manapul in the Flash, really gets the character he’s been drawing  and has channeled this into some very iconic storytelling.  His artwork is edgy, which works well with the plot, as his stories are equally as edgy.  He dwells a great deal on the grittier aspects of the Batman mythos, incorporating nightmarish versions of such villains as Clayface, the Reaper, Rag-Doll, Mr. Freeze, and most especially Two-Face.  Plus the introduction of the White Rabbit character juxtaposes cute against the terrifying, which is a very interesting, if not jarring reversal.   It has great potential, and the inclusion of the ne’er-do-well police lieutenant, Forbes, from his former five issue series of the same name makes me wonder if other seeds Finch planted at the end will bear fruit in this one. Either way, I’m gonna follow the white rabbit . . .

    David Finch's enigmatic White Rabbit from "Batman: The Dark Knight #1"

  • Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men #1 was a welcome surprise.  Another character I was familiar with, but didn’t really bother to seek out, well written and beautifully rendered.  What I like was that they retconned the series, taking the first Firestorm, Ronnie Raymond, and the second Firestorm, Jason Rusch, and having them both become a Firestorm that could combine into a larger Nuclear entity.  Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver did an awesome job on it.  The menace was well laid out. The protagonists were introduced in a thorough manner for readers old and new, and the basics of the comic’s premise were equally concise in their explanation. It wrapped itself up nicely while at the same time leaving enough mystery and action at the peak to entice the reader back.  I am certain that this one will deliver consistently over the next several months.
  • I, Vampire #1 was another case of “could get good, could just be shit.”  I like that the handling of vampires is classical in most ways, having them not just suck blood and turn into bats, but also become vapor, wolves, etc.  I am interested also that this series charts a massive vampire uprising on the outskirts of the DCU, with the main character mentioned, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lanterns.  The possibilities will either be great or awful.  Storywise, it was kind of hazy, but that could be on purpose and serve the flow of the narrative. It was an ok comic.
  • Teen Titans #1 was an extension of Superboy and the two series are married by ending scenes that parallel one another.  Superboy #1 ended with shots of the Teen Titans as the mysterious Man from N.O.W.H.E.R.E activates Superboy, and this issue, after showing the exploits of the budding Titans and what they have been put up against, returns to the same scene of the Man from N.O.W.H.E.R.E requisitioning Superboy.  The writing was fantastic, again showing what I tool I am for shit-talking Lobdell so bad before the books came out.  I liked it. I REALLY did! Tim Drake, who is one of my favorite characters, was written quite well.  Bart Allen was written spot on as well.  Cassandra Sandsmark, was changed drastically, and I was always ambivalent about her anyway, so I am waiting to see how she shapes up.  But all in all, I don’t think I mind her in this.  Tim Drake’s costume change is one of only two that I am very excited about, Supergirl being the other.  This series I think will be pretty damn sweet.
  • Ok, here we go . . . Justice League Dark #1  is the SHIT!!!  This is a hard-edged book of the magical denizens of the modern DCU (nice bookend to Demon Knights) written in wonderful psychedelia by the “handsomest man in comics.” (Note: Grant Morrison dubbed him thus.  I thought it was funny, so don’t get any ideas.)  The players on the board include Madame Xanadu (the narrator so far), Shade the Changing Man, June Moone, Zatanna, John Constantine, Deadman, and the Enchantress.  This basically is the same cast of characters from Flashpoint: Secret Seven.  In fact, I’m fairly certain he wrote that as a three issue sounding board for this venture.  It is spot on and has all the hallmarks of his previous work that have cemented his name as a masterful storyteller of the “twisted, trippy, 90’s Brit scene” comics.  When you read this, ever page is dark as FUCK and makes you truly FEEL the apocalyptic doom that is portended by each event witnessed.  The last frame is a splash page of the horror that awaits if the protagonists fail.  I got chills . . .

    Sami Basri's title page for "Voodoo #1"

  • Voodoo #1 was pretty damn good too.  I love Ron Marz as a writer and he delivers a story that seems to follow the basics of Voodoo’s human origin, but the actual backstory of the comic is WAY different from that in W.I.L.Dcats which leads me to wonder if both Grifter and Voodoo are independent of everything, or if they are related to one another, or what the story is.  I heard advance reviews that panned the book as chauvinistic because it takes place inside a strip club.  This may be true, but this whole thing wasn’t dreamed up a few weeks ago.  Voodoo has been a stripper since she was first written in the 90’s.  That said, save your bitching for the new shit coming out, not the established properties that are being rereleased.  I feel that all the stuff in the club wasn’t exploitative, but rather set the backdrop for the story, and am pretty sure that all those elements will not continue in the following issues, so haters can suck it!  The story did some interesting things and I will hear it out for a few more issues.
  • All-Star Western is Jonah Hex as he should should be.  I’ve read Palmiotti and Gray’s Jonah Hex‘s in the past, but they were always self contained stories in the sense that they lasted only an issue and that they were beholden to only his own stories. What made this one spectacular was that it takes place in Gotham in the 1880’s during a Jack the Ripper-esque murder spree and feels more like a Batman comic.  The cast of characters is all there: Dr. Amadeus Arkham, Alan Wayne, Mayor Cobblepot, the Gates Brothers, etc.  I think doubly why I like this is because I first was made aware of Jonah Hex in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series that I watched when I was but a wee lad, seeing him face off against Ra’s al Ghul during the Golden Spike Ceremony of the joining of the Transcontinental Railway.  It felt like it has come full circle now. Also the artwork of Moritat is amazing and adds a great deal of ambiance to the storytelling.  I loved his work on the now cancelled Spirit series and am excited to see him attached to a quality project.  Clearly DC has three amazing talents on this book, and though it, like Action Comics, costs the extra dollar, I’ll pay it for that quality I mentioned. This is the genuine article.

I dunno. This may have been the best week. I don’t know if I can qualify that, but there seemed to be a whole lot of awesome with only a  few sizzles.  The last week of the month might, as it usually is, be the week to watch.  Hope my rambling on about these books wasn’t annoying. Hope that I don’t sound like a douche bag, but these are my honest impressions.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1: Drawn by Tyler Kirkham, Colored by Nei Ruffino, Inked by Batt

The Flash #1: Art by Francis Manapul, Colored by Brain Buccellato

Batman:The Dark Knight #1: Drawn by David Finch, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Richard Friend

Voodoo #1: Art by Sami Basri, Colored by Jessica Kholinne

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