Resurrection Man #1

Once again, this is a character I have no experience with. I’ve heard of him, and the premise is intriguing: each time Resurrection Man dies, he returns to life with a different superpower.

This is a good introduction to the character, and shows that he has a lot of history, without relying on it in any way. We find out that he has died many times in the past, and now there are people after him – for some reason – because he won’t stay dead.

This issue did a lot to pique my interest, so I’ll definitely be sticking with it for now. Many of DC’s comics intended for “mature audiences” (if comic book fans can be called that) have been pretty good, so hopefully this will live up to its potential.

Verdict: I shall return! (Get it?)

Superboy #1

As you should be expecting by now, this issue sets up Superboy’s backstory. His powers, who he is, where he comes from. This version, like the most recent previous version of the character, is a hybrid clone of Superman and a human – probably Lex Luthor again.

Overall, this was kinda…meh. Maybe it’ll turn into something good, but there wasn’t really anything here that stuck out as particularly interesting. It wasn’t bad either though. Besides Superboy, there aren’t any other characters here that I recognize, except for Lois Lane’s brief (and bizarre) appearance.

I wish I had more to say about this, but I don’t. At least the art is nice and clean.

Verdict: Meh. Maybe the next one will be better.

Deathstroke #1

So apparently, some people really like Deathstroke. I’ve never really known why; there are plenty of other martial-arts killing machines out there. Sure, he’s a formidable opponent for the “good guys”, but what makes the character interesting?

Well, this comic does a great job of explaining that to new readers. He’s one of those nigh-unkillable, tough-as-nails, gruff on the inside and outside types, who inspires fear and respect from everyone he encounters. He also seems to be about 50-60 years old, which means he’s got tons of experience and knowledge. And I also like his matter-of-fact, don’t-get-in-my-way attitude.

It’s really hard to say what interested me the most in this issue. I liked how Deathstroke was forced to work with a small group of smartass teenagers, so it’s too bad that idea won’t be expanded further. It’s too early for me to even begin to guess where this story is heading, but this issue has me interested enough to check out the next issue.

The art is quite nice too, and the artists definitely know how to keep their foreground art from being drowned out by their background art, and using color and silhouettes to accentuate their characters.

Verdict: Strangely interesting.

Green Lantern Corps #1

Oh no, there’s some sort of powerful, evil force terrorizing the galaxy! Again! And rather than confront it with all the power that we have, let’s instead send an eclectic, ragtag team of second-stringers to investigate!

I’m really not trying to rip on this book. It’s fun, and I’m sure I’ll continue to enjoy it each month. But I can’t ignore how well-worn the premise is so far. It’s a great premise though, and I usually enjoy it when I see it, whether it’s Star Wars or Firefly or whatever. It’s basically Seven Samurai in space. The building blocks are in place for a good story, and I’m sure we’ll get one.

I’m not really sure what the writers were going for, having Gardner and Stewart trying to fit into the world of the 9-to-5ers on Earth, but fortunately it doesn’t last long. Also, why are there characters on the front cover who aren’t even in the book, like Kilowog and Sten?

Verdict: Guaranteed fun.

Suicide Squad #1

I’ve heard a lot of really good things about the Suicide Squad comics. The guys over at the Geekbox have raved about it on their podcasts for years. But personally, I’ve never read it before now.

The premise is pretty clever: the Squad is made up of several supervillains who are being forced to work for the government on secret, extremely dangerous and bloody missions. This iteration features Deadshot, a very slutted-up Harley Quinn, a shark guy, and a few others I’ve never heard of before.

The comic does a good job of introducing the many characters, though there’s obviously not a lot of room to convey very much information yet. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more character development in future issues.

I don’t really care for the new “Harlot Quinn” design, though I do agree that the old costume, designed for the Batman Animated Series, needed an update. This look seems much closer to how Harley looks in the Arkham Asylum/Arkham City games, but I didn’t care for that either. They’ve made her too brutal and mercenary, although if there were more of an explanation for that, it’d be ok.

Also, I don’t like how they’ve sexified Amanda Waller, the government agent who gives the Suicide Squad their orders. She used to be short and fat, but now she’s tall and thin. Bah.

Anyway, this issue was pretty intriguing, and I think I’m going to go back and read the old SS series…right after I finish the rest of the New 52, and Fables, and Sandman, and Blue Beetle, and several other comics I’ve got on my stack right now.

Verdict: Shows a lot of promise.

Batwoman #1

I didn’t even know there was a “Batwoman” until about half a year ago.  Since then, I’ve read a few stories with her as a secondary character, such as 52 and the new Batman & Robin stuff (if I remember correctly), but never anything where she was the star of the show, until now.

So far, I don’t really know what to think about this. The comic does a good job of introducing some of the major players of the Batwoman world (which, shockingly enough, overlaps significantly with the Batman world). She seems like an interesting character, but I really can’t tell if I’ll keep up with this book or not. I don’t yet know if it’s “my thing”.

The artwork is brilliant, and may be the best I’ve seen in the New 52 so far. There’s very chaotic, clever paneling, and some very surreal imagery.

Verdict: Hard to say, but I’ll give it another try.

fMRI used to read signals in visual cortex and reconstruct them into video

Wow, this is quite a surprise. This type of research is extremely interesting to me, because it shows how close we're getting to recording our vision, thoughts, and dreams - not to mention controlling computers with our minds and broadcasting thoughts to other people.

Imagine a future where people walk around with recording devices implanted in their heads, saving everything they see as video or streaming it onto the internet. Then imagine being able to review your recorded memories at a later time. That would go a long way toward fixing the problems we have with our faulty, imperfect, malleable memories. Add that to the recent findings that people are relying on computers (or smartphones) to remember things for them, and it looks like biological memory storage may one day become obsolete.

Examining DC’s New 52

When DC announced that they were effectively “rebooting” their entire comics lineup, I admit I was a little disappointed. I finally started getting familiar with the DC universe’s considerable backstory, and now they were going to toss much of it away? Argh.

But I can see why they do it, and if they can do it well, I’m more than happy to play along. Having a major jumping-on point can be quite useful to a lot of people, especially me.

Anyway, I decided to check out every single new Issue #1 that DC is publishing – all 52 of them – and offer my thoughts on each one. Many of these characters are unfamiliar to me, or they’ve changed, or whatever. But some I’m very familiar with (hello, Batman) and I could be pretty irritated if they change too much. Let’s take a look.

Continue reading

Green Lantern #1

This kicks off immediately where the War of the Green Lanterns storyline ended. Hal Jordan has been kicked out of the Corps, Mogo is dead, and Sinestro is now a Green Lantern.

I was really looking forward to seeing what Sinestro would do, now that he’s sorta back in the Corps again, and this book doesn’t disappoint. The uneasy truce between him and the Guardians is quite interesting, and in a way he even works for them again by protecting his sector of space (which he does anyway). He also learns how volatile his own Corps is without him there to guide it, so it seems likely that he’ll eventually have to fight its new leaders to regain power, which probably means he’ll team up with Hal eventually.

I don’t know what else to say about this book. It’s fun, and it has everything I love about the Green Lantern comics. The only downside is that the scenes with Hal are mostly forgettable – possibly on purpose.

Verdict: Great fun. What else can I say?

Red Lanterns #1

The Red Lantern Corps is a pretty new group of characters, and we don’t actually know very much about them. As the Green Lantern Corps gets its power from the emotion of Will, the Red Lanterns get their power from the emotion of Rage.

It’s easy to look at them as another group of “bad guys”, and I was afraid that DC would treat them as such, but fortunately that’s not the case (so far). The writers seem to recognize that rage isn’t necessarily evil – though it can certainly be used for evil – just as will isn’t purely good.

The book opens with a great two-page spread of my favorite Red Lantern, Dex-Starr (a very pissed-off housecat from Earth), attacking a group of alien sadists. And that begins to show you what the ethics of the Red Lantern Corps is shaping up to be. They don’t inflict unnecessary pain, but they willingly kill those who are “evil”.

The book also seems to show that Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns, is going to try to shape the corps into a more disciplined, goal-oriented bunch. The other lanterns, however, seem content to mindlessly fight against each other in their downtime.

This is one I’m definitely going to follow, because it seems like such a cool concept, and I really like the (few) established characters.

Verdict: Love it. Keep it coming.

Green Arrow #1

I’ve never really gotten into the Green Arrow comics, but I’m not sure why. I really liked him on the Justice League animated series, and on Smallville, and in the animated short that was released with Superman/Shazam, and even various crossover books, especially Identity Crisis. But I’ve never read an actual Green Arrow comic, before now.

It’s easy for people to overlook him too. He’s a billionaire playboy who wears a mask, has no superpowers, fights crime with well-honed martial arts skills, and uses a wide assortment of gadgets to take down his opponents. If that sounds appealing to you, you’re probably already reading Batman.

But what I like about Green Arrow are the things that make him different from Batman. For starters, he’s “ranged DPS”, not “melee DPS”. He also has more of a sense of humor, and he’s a liberal, which can lead to some pretty interesting philosophical discussions (and differences) between him and other characters.

The New 52 reboot seems to have altered him very slightly. His company, Queen Industries, seems to be more like Apple, with a focus on consumer electronics (Q-Pad, Q-Phone, etc.), which makes Oliver Queen a crime-fighting Steve Jobs in a way. He also doesn’t have his awesome goatee anymore, and I hope they add it back soon.

He has also been moved to Seattle, which is something I’ve noticed DC has done with a lot of other characters. They seem to be trying to ground these comics in the real world, in real cities, rather than having them take place in fictional places like “Star City”. (Obviously, they couldn’t get rid of Metropolis and Gotham.)

This comic is introductory, as are all the other New 52 comics, but gives new readers a good idea of what Green Arrow’s abilities and style are, and introduces the audience to some other characters – allies and enemies. I have no idea if any of them are new or returning characters, so it’s quite likely that I’m missing something.

Verdict: Could be pretty fun.

Men of War #1

I don’t know what this is. I don’t know if this is an old comic series making a return, or a brand new one. I don’t know if these characters have ever been seen before. Unlike all the other New 52 comics I’ve read so far, I’m completely unfamiliar with everything about Men of War.

That said, what’s here is pretty compelling, if you like military-based comics. You get a little backstory on a couple soldiers, lots of military talk, and a pretty cool night-time airdrop operation. Unfortunately, this isn’t really my “thing”. I don’t want to discourage others from checking it out if it sounds interesting to them, because it really is well-done.

The one thing that might keep me interested is the very limited “superhero” element to the story so far. The team encounters some sort of superbeing that flies extremely fast in a big red blur, and can smash stuff apart without injury. Sounds like Superman to me, although I don’t think it would make sense for him to be in this. Maybe it’s Captain Atom? Or somebody new, or someone I haven’t thought of yet. That mystery is basically the only thing that makes me want to read the next one.

Verdict: Seems great, but it’s not for me.