DC Comics Relaunch: Top 5 1/2 New 52 Surprises (Batman, Green Lantern Families & More)

Now that we’re starting month four of the DC Comics Relaunch’s New 52, I thought I’d look back and identify the Top 5 1/2 Pleasant Surprises so far.

Now, there are critically acclaimed books like Action Comics and Batman that fandom expected would be solid. And, I personally was expecting books like Suicide Squad, Deathstroke, Stormwatch, and the Teen Titans to be good, so that’s why these books are NOT on the list. 🙂

So, what books were surprisingly good? Read on.

5. Red Lanterns:

This Peter Milligan penned and Ed Benes penciled Green Lantern spin-off series had heaps of potential.

After the first two issues, I was wondering when it would pick up because it really was a slow build and the classic example of writing for the trade paperback commonly known as decompressed story-telling.

However, November’s issue #3 really picked things up with the First Lady of the New Guardians (another new 52 book) Bleez gaining sanity in her “home book”. She joins Atroticus as a strong lieutenant… but is she manipulating events to her advantage?

Add that to the other subplot that will lead to a new human Red Lantern joining in 2012, and this book is surprisingly soaring after a painfully slow simmering start.

4. Red Hood and the Outlaws:

Writer Scott Lobdell continues to be a controversy magnet. Is that deserved? Well, if we put this in context, a vocal minority of online fans (the root word of “fanatic”, meaning “a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal“… very true ;)) hit the ‘net about a few panels of the first issue on Starfire, the buxom cosmic “Outlaw” princess. So, not only did the negative “buzz” help sales on the book, readers were welcomed by a very interesting new take on Red Hood’s post-Robin origin, that has kept readers intrigued.

The three Outlaws, Red Hood, Starfire and Arsenal, seem like a misfit group with Starfire being the original odd fit of a book I expected to be more street-level. But, with the All Caste and mystical/fantasy elements thrown in, I like that its difficult for readers to get ahead of the story. Its a crazy fun thrill ride.

Add to that the AMAZING art of Kenneth Rocafort, and DC Comics has a very solid, engaging read on its hands.

3. Detective Comics:

Tony Daniel is best known, still, as an accomplished artist despite some interesting writing assignments over the years. So, with the Detective Comics, the book that DC Comics the company is named after, being drawn AND written by Daniel many folks were wondering why Scott Snyder, DC’s acclaimed Bat-writer, wasn’t on the book instead.

All that changed with the amazing cliffhanger for Detective Comics #1 involving Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker in a most unexpected and intriguing way. Add to that the debut of the bizarre new Bat-rogue the Dollmaker, and Daniel has proved the naysayers wrong.

Daniel also is deliberately trying to establish a mysterious aura for the book as a writer and artist which makes sense for a book with the word “Detective” in the title. I’m digging Tony Daniel’s art because remains vibrant and fits the story he is telling. I’m hooked and curious about where’s he’s taking Batman in his Detective Comics run. And, I’m VERY curious abiout what’s up with the Joker.

2. Batwing:

Writer Judd Winick was DC’s first modern age controversial creator, in the pre-New 52 pre-Scott Lobdell DCU. 🙂 His books, for me, have been hit or miss.

Batwing was nowhere on my radar, but I sampled #1 since I was picking up all of DC’s new September 2011 #1’s. And, I was blown away. Now, the art of Ben Oliver really elevates the book for sure, but the tale of Africa’s Batman is a compelling on so many levels.

We get a backstory involving Africa’s first and now defunct super-team the Kingdom. That is a big appeal for me as I’m a big fan of legacy heroes and teams. They seem to have been around for “a while” before fading… and now are being hunted by the villain Massacre.

We also have a character with the mantle of the Bat, but nothing like Batman. However, the strength of character of Batwing and his alter ego David Zavimbe, overcoming pain and suffering to take on Massacre in a recent issue adds further ingredients to the creative stew that has me coming back for my monthly African literary meal.

1. All-Star Western:

Let me start off by saying, I don’t read Westerns. Well, scratch that… I didn’t read Westerns until I got my hands on All-Star Western.

I love what writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti are doing with the book. I didn’t read the Jonah Hex series before this, but I do have a friend that loved it and the vagabond character of Hex. In the new series we get a very good portrayal of the complex character of our lead. However, the book also becomes a Holmesian type drama with the addition of bookish Amadeus Arkham taking on the role of a Watson type wingman to Hex’s all-action, less talk, Holmes.

The appeal for me about the new series is also that it explores frontier Gotham City and also carries on with remanents of my fave pre-Flashpoint mini-series of 2011, Gates of Gotham (the trade paperback is due in stores February 1, 2012).

Moritat is one of DC’s top artists whose style helps the book establish its own visual prescene among the clutter on comic book shelves.

A highly recommended surprise with a rotating co-feature to boot.

1/2. Curse of Shazam co-feature in Justice League:

While this isn’t out yet, I was surprised to hear news that DC Comics was reigniting its co-features with a back-up in Justice League coming after the first arc wraps. That back-up will reestablish Captain Marvel (or Captain Thunder?) in the new DCU.

It won’t be the Power of Shazam, but the Curse of Shazam written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Gary Frank.

We’ve been teased by some key elements of this co-feature and its good that DC’s flagship book of Justice League will be the launching pad for, hopefully, a bright future for all of the old Fawcett Comics characters in DC Comics’s stable.

The Curse of Shazam, alongside the new JSA book coming next year, and the current crop of DC titles peppered with some of my fave properties over the years (Suicide Squad, Deathstroke, Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove, Teen Titans, Fury of Firestorm, Savage Hawkman & Captain Atom), means that DC Comics in 2012 will be publishing all of my fave properties at the same time.

I’m not sure that has ever happened before.

Sweet!


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