I haven’t had much exposure to Nightwing beyond his occasional appearances in Batman comics, but I’ve had plenty of exposure to the man behind the mask, Dick Grayson. He’s the original Robin. He filled in as Batman for a while. So, I didn’t know what to expect from a solo Nightwing book, besides Batmanesque crimefighting and daring-do. And that’s exactly what we got. No complaints here.
This book also does a great job of filling in new readers about Grayson’s past and present, when his old circus returns to town. And the new villain is pretty cool – sort of a Special Forces version of Wolverine.
My only complaint is that they changed the color of the symbol on Nightwing’s chest. I liked it better in blue.
Verdict: Cool. Looking forward to more.
This re-introduces Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle, which seems entirely unnecessary to me. He was introduced in his own series just five years ago, and those books were great. I know a lot of people don’t care for this new version of the 72-year-old superhero, but I was surprised by how much I wound up liking him.
The first, "The Man Who Laughs", tells the story of Batman's first encounter with the Joker. In fact, it would make a lot of sense to read this right after Batman: Year One. This is where Batman first realizes the danger of the "supervillain".
The second, "Made of Wood", takes place at the opposite end of Batman's career. Commissioner Gordon has retired, Batman is still working, and a 50-year-old mystery pops up. I thought it was great how Alan Scott (the Golden Age Green Lantern) was depicted here, as Gotham's protector in the 40's and 50's (I guess he didn't do a very good job). His interactions with Batman are great, and they clearly have a lot of history with each other. I've always thought Scott was a character that should just "fade away" because I didn't think he was relevant anymore, but this helped me to see his potential as a character. It also reminds you how awesome Gordon is, as if you need a reminder.
Captain Atom is one of those characters who’s not familiar to mainstream audiences. In fact, he sounds like a stereotypical Cold War superhero. And…that’s true in a lot of ways. But I’ve come to like the character, first through his appearances on the Justice League animated series, and recently through the Justice League International: Generation Lost series. I thought he was great as part of the JLI, so I’m sorry to see that he’s no longer with the team.
I can’t talk about Captain Atom without bringing up his connection to Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen. Atom and several other Charlton Comics characters were going to be the main characters in Watchmen, but new characters were created instead, closely based on the originals. Atom has never reached the godlike power of Manhattan, but he can fly, absorb energy, and blast people with energy.
However, this comic seems to be taking the character in some interesting new directions. His powers are growing and changing, and he finds himself able to manipulate matter itself at the atomic level. And he has commented in the past about feeling more and more disconnected from humanity, which makes me wonder if DC is gradually making him into Doctor Manhattan (not literally, of course). That’s one of the big mysteries that this series seems poised to address.
Anyway, he’s a surprisingly likable character, and I do want to see where this goes.
Verdict: Sure, why not?
It surprises even myself to admit that I’ve read very few Superman comics in my life. I watched his most recent animated series, I watched the Justice League series, and I’ve read numerous cross-over comics with him in them, but the only time I’ve ever read a Superman comic was the “Superman: Sacrifice” TPB (which is excellent, by the way).
I’ve heard some good things about previous Birds of Prey books, but I’ve never read one. I’m familiar with most of the previous members of the team, but in this book, they seem to be down to just two: Black Canary and Starling. I’m assuming they’ll add more members eventually, because two of them are on the cover (though they’re not actually in this book).
Like all the other New 52 books, this one is setting up a new story. In fact, I’m getting a little tired of reading the beginning of dozens of new stories without being able to continue on yet. But I can’t complain too much.
The story here is pretty simple, but interesting: Canary and Starling rescue a journalist, who seems to be part of a mystery. And what started as a small mystery soon becomes a large mystery.
Verdict: Sure, I’ll pick it up again
This is basically Batman getting back to Batmaning. Bruce Wayne returns as Gotham’s full-time Batman after Dick Grayson had been filling in for him during the last year or so. The book opens with Batman kicking ass in the middle of Arkham, fighting his way through his rogues gallery. Then the Joker shows up, and the unexpected happens. That was really cool, and I don’t want to spoil that part, but the payoff was a little disappointing.
In fact, you can tell that Heath Ledger got a lot of his inspiration for his Joker performance in Dark Knight from this book. This Joker isn't the goofy trickster of the past, but the scarred, scary, insane, violent psycho.
The most intriguing part was that we get a first-hand look at Gotham's complex world of crime, told through the eyes of the criminals themselves - not through Batman's eyes, like we usually do. In fact, Batman is barely in this, though his presence is felt throughout.
On the other hand, the second half is...meh. It's pretty scattershot, and I'm not really sure how these stories are supposed to connect, or IF they're supposed to connect. There's a lot of stuff that gets touched on in Batman: R.I.P., but it's even more confusing and hard to follow than that was.
The first half shows how great Morrison's writing can be. The second half shows how damned difficult Morrison's writing can be.