Week 5 (Oct. 5. 2011)

Because it was so much fun last month, I’m going to continue writing these reviews throughout October, or at least that is my plan.  I’ve dropped five titles this month from the original 52 and probably will whittle off quite a few more before December.  But here goes the dive into the Second volumes of DC’s relaunch:

  • Action Comics I was shaky on last month and still am uncertain.  Its entertaining for sure, but there is an “unreality” about it.  Yes, I know that statement seems absurd on several levels, not least of which that its a comic about a super powered humanoid alien, but what I mean is that the Superman books in the past have always had a certain feel to them that this one seems to divorce itself from. Not saying that’s bad, but it is a little disconcerting.  I don’t know, maybe its just in a warming up period.  The thing that throws me is that they say they are trying to get back to the character’s roots in the original run, but it still seems a little far-fetched that the characterization so far would equate to the vintage they are citing.  But I will admit that as of yet, I haven’t read Golden Age Superman so I might be full of shit.  Either way, it did have an assholic Luthor and the introduction of some very interesting elements from Superman’s mythos, so I’ll remain onboard and waiting for some resolution.  What does piss me off is that the title itself was the same length as a regular DC title, but they added a bunch of notes and solicitations at the end and bumped the price up to $3.99.  Fuck that noise!!!  You screw around with the character, fine,  but don’t give us cockamamie arguments for it in endnotes and then charge us more for it.  Apologies should be free, not a privilege we have to pay for.  Assholes . . .
  • Detective Comics is perhaps one of the titles I looked forward to the most.   Tony Daniel is the man, and his Gotham is a Gotham I want to read about for years to come.  It has the right blend of action, cunning detection on the part of one of DC’s greatest Detectives, a little bit of romance, and a very large helping of the brutal and macabre, all of which simmer down into a rich, full bodied Batman story.  The “Dollmaker,” as the solicitations dub him, is an interesting character, albeit a little “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”/”Wrong Turn.”  However, I think that the way Daniel handles the material assimilates it well into the Batman universe.  Every issue ends with a “WTF” moment and this one is equally as potent as the final image of the Joker’s pegged up face in Detective Comics #1′s final frame.

    Batman meets the Dollmaker and his children in Daniel's "Detective Comics #2"

  • Batwing #2 continues off its meteoric first issue.  We see the fate of  David after the first issue’s “WTF” moment.  We see the fate of Office Okuru.  Massacre’s plan starts to unfold, and we see the steel of the title’s protagonist as he is faced against that threat.  The opening page of Batman briefing Batwing on what it takes to be a “Bat Man” truly accentuates the course of David’s struggle throughout the issue.  Watching this African policeman step up to become something iconic despite his limitations as a mortal man is often laced with deja vu but uniqueness as well.  In just two issues David Zamvimbi is already on the road to being an iconic DC character.
  • Red Lanterns #2 . . . Oh MY GOD!!!  This is IT!!!  This comic could be one of the few perfect comics.  It follows the first issue sinuously, yet can stand alone and be read by itself, unaccompanied and lose none of its poignancy.  It leads into another issue, but without reading that issue, you still have the sense that it said something so very profound that it need not elaborate on it, though the elaboration cannot do anything but continue its predecessor’s excellence.  The Red Lanterns topically are looked at as evil and villains.  Blinded by rage and merely monsters fashioned from the horror of existence.  Not so.  Peter Milligan (The Handsomest Man in Comics) brings out a stunningly complex representation of that fallacy, taking us inside the mind of Atrocitus, a Shakespearean hero in the vein of Hamlet, thinking over vengeance and DEEPLY philosophizing it.  Vengeance and rage aren’t simple. They can seem so on the outside, but from the inside they are mired in perspective and situationalism. How then does one validate rage?  Where does justice lie within this archaic, anarchic principle?  Milligan, through Atrocitus, takes us to a planet that could be Iraq with American soldiers intervening, Palestine with Israeli soldiers interloping, or Vietnam, or any other “trouble” region and shows us the rage of both sides generated by ignorance in an anti-war statement that for a 21 page comic was incredibly profound and thorough.  Atrocitus enacts his mandate of revenge, but like Hamlet, narrates his inner thoughts to the dead body of his most hated adversary which he keeps as a trophy and a confidant. Through his “discussions” with the corpse of a true monster he navigates the murky waters of rage and vengeance trying to not become that which made him into the instrument of vengeance.  He kills so that others need not have to become what he has become.  This title is AMAZING!!! AMAZING!!! AMAZING!!!  Even if you don’t give a shit about comics, this is a superhero comic that should fucking be taught in school and be put into the hands of politicians and Governmental Leaders around the world.  Although it is about instruments of rage and hatred, it begs the question of how much of pain and suffering is avoidable . . .

    Assembly of Red Lanterns in "The Red Lanterns #2"

  • Swamp Thing #2 was as incredible as last month’s issue.  In this one Scott Snyder did what he does best, he set up a back story for the character to supplement the existing history and then tantalizes us with a recap of who the Swamp Thing was and who he could be.  Through this issues back story Snyder philosophized the “Green” further from that of Alan Moore’s run on the character, while also tying in the “Red,” which makes me wonder if this title is going to be connected to Animal Man down the road, as the “Red” is central to that series’ reboot.  I love this series.
  • Animal Man #2 was pretty much on par as last time.  It was interesting with what was established of the “Red” and the things going down with the animals around the world.  Again, the strange events seem similar, yet unrelated to the strange events of Swamp Thing. According to the latter, the “Green” is under attack by an outside force and could be destroyed.  In this series Maxine tells her dad that the “Red” is under attack and is on the verge of being destroyed.  It seems like plagiarism or a convention of storytelling that is yet to happen.  Its intriguing.  We’ll see how I feel when issue #3 comes out.
  • OMAC #2  continued on the tails of its first issue to follow in great fidelity the legacy and feel of Jack Kirby’s OMAC run.  There are the aforementioned differences of a sinister Brother Eye as well as a different OMAC, plus they changed the acronym from “One Man Army Corp” to “One Machine Attack Construct.”  Mokkari apparently is known to be staff member of Cadmus and not a clandestine agent of Darkseid (OR IS HE?!).  Lots of differences, but the story, the action, the plotting of story and action, are all Kirby-esque to the 9th power.  This series feels so authentic that I can’t say enough good things about it.  I am excited about the promise it brings and what the future holds.  Hopefully it will exceed the eight issues that the original run capped off at.
  • Justice League International is just fun.  It follows well off of the Booster Gold series and Justice League: Lost Generation, both of which were awesome series.  It goes without saying that Dan Jurgens does a good job writing it, as he created Booster Gold and wrote and drew most of these characters in their heyday of the early 90’s.  Aaron Lopresti picks up where he left off as artist of Justice League: Lost Generation and brings excellence to the visual look of the series.  All in all, this first arc is heating up with a truly menacing international plot of global ramifications and the characterization that comes off of it is fantastic.
  • Green Arrow #2, yet again, was pretty subpar.  This new incarnation lacks all the heart and depth that the last run had in spades. Which, as stated before, is really sad because its written by THE SAME GUY! I choose not to blame JT Krul, but rather DC.  Hopefully people unite and demand a change.  Either way. I probably won’t get it next month.  Or at least hold off on it.
  • Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #1 was a nice introduction to the Penguin. It shows both his hard knock past that molded him into the hard edged criminal that he has ultimately become, as well as showing very vividly how ruthless he is.  There is allot of malice in his soul, but there are glimmers of true humanity inside him.  The artwork also is very dark and shadowy, accentuating the shadowy figure that the Penguin is. Not since the 70’s has he really stepped out into the limelight to commit his crimes.  Since then he has “adapted” like he tells us of penguins themselves, into a creature that camouflages itself and remains hidden when it strikes. I enjoyed this and am intrigued what other gems lay in his past that writer Gregg Hurwitz is going to throw our way.  Its a five issue mini series, so there should be little breaking in time for the plot.
  • Huntress #1 I got because I have a very new appreciation for the writer, Paul Levitz, but most importantly because this same gentleman was also the one who created her.  Its always interesting seeing a venerated writer returning to their character years after the fact and after that character has been written and developed by others.  This book so far has not disappointed.  Its a jet set crime drama set in Naples with the feel of a Hitchcock film or more recently “The Tourist.”  The Huntress against the mafia in an international game of smuggling, power brokering, and omerta.  Perhaps cliche, but sometimes the classics are the best fodder for quality storytelling. So far Levitz hasn’t disappointed and I doubt the next five issue will disappoint.
  • Hawk & Dove is a strange case as its not spectacular, but there is something I like about it. I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe its the Liefeld artwork that hearkens back to the risque Wildstorm books I saw in friends’ collections in the early 90’s, or just the writing style of Sterling Gates, whom I followed during his Supergirl run.  The characters of Hawk and Dove aren’t super familiar to me, but I feel that he’s drawing from a rich past and that intrigues me.  Also the creation of mirrored villains in Condor and Swan is an interesting touch.  Throw in a Deadman and you got yourself a party.  We’ll see how that party plays out.

    Liefeld's Dove and Deadman against an unknown foe in "Hawk & Dove #2"

  • Stormwatch #2 got a little better.  Not a whole lot.  They glazed over the Cosmic Horn premise and didn’t elaborate on it, which was a let down because that was one of the things that kept me tethered.  There are some interesting premises presented and explored a little bit, but there is a lot of characterization missing.  Perhaps this is one of those cases where if I was familiar with the characters and their history I would be in it and engrossed in the plot, but my confusion is marring my enjoyment of it.  I am probably going to drop this one next month and just catch it around in graphic novel, perhaps reading the original series graphic novels in the interim.

Well that is Week 5 of the reboot.  Sorry if I got outta hand with the Red Lanterns review, but trust me it was good. Winner of the week.

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

Illustration Credits:

Detective #2: Drawn by Tony Daniel, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by Ryan Winn & Sandu Florea

Red Lanterns #2: Drawn by Ed Benes, Colored by Nathan Eyring, Inked by Rob Hunter

Hawk & Dove #2: Drawn by Rob Liefeld, Colored by Matt Yackey, Inked by Adelso Corona & Rob Liefeld

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