Don’t worry, this won’t be as dramatic a change as last time. The design will still be the same, except I’m building it on another template framework, and I’m separating the reviews from the full articles. I write reviews far more often than I write articles, and they were crowding out the stuff I actually spend time and brainpower on.
Well, my work here is done. I’ve read and reviewed every single #1 issue in DC’s New 52 relaunch. It took me a lot longer than I anticipated, and it was much more difficult than I thought it would be, but here we are.
This book is getting a lot of attention for featuring two of DC’s most popular characters: Catwoman’s boobs. It really is quite ridiculous how over-sexualized this book is – and remember how much I defended DC’s treatment of Starfire in a previous review. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many bras in a single comic before.
But let’s ignore all that and just look at the story. The book hits the ground running, with Catwoman having her apartment invaded and blown up by skull-faced gunmen. Fortunately, she makes it out in time, shoving all 8 of her cats into a single travel case (which was pretty amusing).
The rest is…a bit confusing. Catwoman goes undercover at a dodgy nightclub, but I’m still not really sure why. Then she gets discovered, kills a few people (or at least severely wounds them), and fucks Batman – again, I’m not sure why.
Overall, it’s a weird, semi-uncomfortable book. I’ve never been a big Catwoman fan, and this doesn’t change that. I might read the next issue, but if I don’t, I won’t mind. I’m not saying it’s bad; it just doesn’t appeal to me.
Verdict: Maybe I’ll flip a coin
First of all, they made a big change to Etrigan: he doesn’t talk in rhyme anymore. Part of me is sad to see such an iconic part of the character go, but another part is glad to see it gone – reading those often-convoluted rhymes is a surprising hassle, and it really took me out of the story while trying to figure out the cadence.
And the book isn’t just about Etrigan either. This book shows us several of DC’s medieval-style characters coming together after the fall of Camelot. A few I recognize, like Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage. Others are probably established characters, but I’m not familiar with any of them yet.
It’s too early to see how much of a team-up book this will be, or what the group’s goals will be, or even if they’re going to try to do good or just go around killing stuff. After all, Etrigan isn’t really a hero (chaotic neutral at best) and Vandal Savage is usually a villain.
This turned out to be quite interesting, so I’ll definitely be checking out the next issue, at least.
Verdict: Another pleasant surprise
A little history: in the past couple years, there have been a few Batman series that have had occasionally-overlapping storylines. Those were “Batman & Robin” and “Batman Inc.”, which follow directly from “The Return of Bruce Wayne” and “Final Crisis”. And there’s a lot I’m leaving out. B&R featured Dick Grayson (the first Robin, formerly Nightwing) taking on the Batman mantle while Bruce is missing, and Damian Wayne (Bruce and Talia Al Ghul’s son) becoming the fifth Robin when Tim Drake (the third Robin) leaves to find Bruce.
They made a great team, because the usual dynamic of grim Batman and playful Robin was flipped on its head, with a more playful Batman and a grim Robin. But this issue shows that Bruce is back as Gotham’s Batman after establishing his “Batman Inc.”. So now it’s grim, calculating Batman and grim, impulsive Robin.
As always, Damian is an ornery little bastard. He would be annoying if he weren’t written so well, if he didn’t have the skills to back up his tough talk, and if he didn’t occasionally get the shit kicked out of him (I think he’s on his second or third spine).
Bruce is Bruce. This is the Batman we all know and love, but now he has to deal with being the parent of an angry youth raised in the art of assassination. They don’t really work as a team yet, which should lead to some very interesting situations in future issues.
This book seems to bring together the B&R and B:Inc storylines, with a cool new villain going around killing some of the international members of Batman Inc. No doubt Batman & Robin will eventually have to find a way to stop him/her.
I really enjoyed Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, but his stories were kinda hard to follow at times. Tomasi does a great job taking over, and it looks like we’ve got a great storyline to look forward to.
Verdict: It’s Batman. What more do you need to know?
Technically, this is called “DC Universe Presents: Deadman #1″. Presumably, the Deadman storyline will be short, and they’ll do another “DCU Presents” with a different character. (Batman Beyond, please!)
Anyway, for those not familiar with Deadman, this does a great job of introducing him to new readers – like most of the other New 52 books do. He’s a former acrobat who was an asshole, then died, and now wanders the world as a ghost. Nobody can see him (except spiritualists), but he can possess anyone’s body and control them completely.
I got my first taste of Deadman during the Blackest Night and Brightest Day storylines, and I really liked him. He’s got some great jokes and has an odd “working man” attitude to everything, kinda like Hellboy.
That said, I don’t have the slightest idea who the blue alien lady is, or what his “mission” is, or if either were part of his past. Before 2009, I pretty much know nothing about Deadman. Fortunately, they don’t seem to have wiped out any of his most recent history, because his relationship with Dove is still ongoing (I don’t know if it’s mentioned in this book, but it’s definitely in Hawk & Dove #1).
Verdict: There’s enough to make me eager for more
Grifter is apparently some sort of con man (hence the name). And he might have a limited ability to read minds, or read alien minds, or something. And I guess he uses guns, and he’s some sort of vigilante. Seems like he’d fit in well with Red Hood & the Outlaws. Other than that, I don’t know.
Unfortunately, there’s not much for me to write about here. It sets up a good introduction to the character and his world, but it seems that any substantial information (like anything that tells us what the hell’s going on and who this guy is) will be coming in the second or third issue.
Verdict: I’ll give it another chance
I’ve never paid much attention to the Legion of Superheroes. They seem interesting, but the concept hasn’t really grabbed me. I watched the animated series when it was on, and that was cool, but I’ve never read any of the comics. And none of these characters were in the animated series.
They seem like cool characters, and there’s apparently some cool stuff going on, but it’s like having Christmas with a family you’ve never met before: you have no idea who anyone is, and you don’t know what they’re talking about.
There’s no effort given to introducing this book to a new audience; if you’re already familiar with the characters, great. You’ll probably enjoy it. It seems neat. But if you’re not, skip it. I wish I could say otherwise, but there’s just no way to get into this easily.
Verdict: Only for fans of the series
Some people have been freaking out about how Starfire looks and behaves in this comic. The basic complaint is that they slutted her up (like they definitely did with Harley Quinn), giving her a very revealing costume and making her promiscuous.
First, this is what she looks like in this comic:
Ok, that’s pretty risqué. But let’s take a look at her previous costumes. This is how she appears in 52 (2006):
There’s almost no difference! Granted, there’s less material covering her…uh…large orange cantaloupes… but there’s actually more material covering her shoulders. The costume is slightly more sexualized, but there are plenty of other costumes in the New 52 – for the females and the males – that have received the same treatment.
And just for fun, let’s look at one of her very first appearances, from 1982:
It’s the same thing! Her costume has barely changed in the past 30 years.
A lot of people have gotten up in arms about some parts of the comic that show her in a bikini. Fine. Here’s a part of one of those pages:
Funny how I haven’t seen anyone complaining about how the male characters are shown in skin-tight muscle shirts, or not wearing a shirt at all.
What about her promiscuity? Complaints have been made about how she hops into bed with a guy she barely knows, but I haven’t seen anyone complain about how that guy jumps into bed with a woman he barely knows. It’s that sort of double-standard that invalidates whatever claims of sexism these complainers are making. After all, if I man likes sex, he’s a stud, and if a woman likes sex, she’s a slut.
Look, maybe her costume is too objectifying, but it’s always been that way. There’s nothing new to see here. This is not the Teen Titans children’s cartoon version, and never has been.
Getting on with the review
With all that said, how is the comic itself?
I really like what’s here so far. I don’t know much about the Red Hood/Jason Todd, except that he used to be Robin and ran with Batman, but was killed by the Joker and raised from the dead by Ra’s Al Ghul (I think). I know even less about Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal/Roy Harper, except that he used to be Green Arrow’s sidekick and used to be a druggie. I don’t know why Red Hood is putting together this new team, why he wants Roy on it, or what Roy was doing in prison in the first place.
But anyway, this is a great start to the series. It does a great job of introducing the characters, and shows you what you’ll be getting: lots of crazy vigilante action. It’s a fun collection of characters, and it’ll be interesting to see who else they add to the team over time.
Verdict: A big orange surprise
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.