Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!) – 12.28.11
I just wanted to start with a point that I’ve been meaning to make for a while now: I really appreciate the new dedication from both DC and Marvel to actually shipping their titles ON TIME now that the digital era is here. Especially DC, who had been getting especially sloppy and treating release dates as suggestions in the past few years. It’s good to know that certain titles are going to be available at the same time every month, even if it means changing up the art team to get it done. Deadlines are a fact of life in just about every other profession, and comics should be no exception.
Anyway, this week is pretty packed, as Marvel has some interesting offerings yet again and I add another new title to the New 52 pull list after some good recommendations. I did read Secret Avengers #20 but time travel stories give me a headache, so it wasn’t really my thing.
I didn’t get #47 until a while after release date last month, but suffice it to say that Evil Deadpool decides that killing a child is the best way to assert his evilness and really tork off Deadpool, so Deadpool comes up with the, uh, brilliant plan of doing it himself, but doing it first. Captain America is already of the opinion that he’s a homicidal terrorist, and dealing with both Deadpools doesn’t sway his opinion any. #48 deals with Deadpool actually having to deal with the mechanics of kidnapping the son of the police chief and holding him hostage, including a really quality poop joke and the toughest tetrapalegic Interpol agent you’ll ever meet. Meanwhile, Evil Deadpool also kidnaps a child, but decides to screw over his employer by not killing him, because he has something even MORE evil in mind. This all sounds very dark, but I was pretty much giggling through the whole thing, as Daniel Way really has a good grasp of comic timing (like Deadpool battling Cap with his own shield and SUCCEEDING!) and you can’t really take any of the threats too seriously anyway. However, given that Deadpool is a wanted fugitive who is now being considered a terrorist, murderer, and kidnapper, there’s really only one way left to go with the character, which previews for #50 are pretty much saying straight out. I mean, his name is DEADpool, right?
Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent
Speaking of death, this series was on a few peoples’ “Best of 2011” lists, and since I’m such a giant fanboy for 100 Bullets I thought I’d give it a look. Plus hey, it’s only 4 issues instead of 100, so it’s easier to digest in one sitting. And yeah, I totally agree with the high rankings it’s getting. Ed Brubaker has created a wonderfully dark tale here, about an All-American boy named Riley Richards who marries the rich dream girl and then comes to regret it. The story is kind of a noir version of Archie, with the unlucky heiress Felicity playing the part of Veronica, the wholesome Lizzie as Betty, and Jughead becoming a junkie named Freakout. But the really wonderful thing here is the unconventional structure, as Riley escapes his miserable existence by dreaming his world into Archie-style comic strips that definitely aren’t for kids. Riley actually comes up with an ingenious plan to murder his cheating wife and get away scot-free, but really the details of the murder plot aren’t the important things with this story arc. It’s watching Riley descend from wholesome boy-next-door into whatever he turns into at the end. Kind of sad and wonderful at the same time, I wanted to immediately go out and read more of Criminal when I was done, and that’s the highest compliment I can pay it.
All-Star Western #4
Luckily my fears about Dr. Arkham getting written out of the book were unfounded, as he immediately returns. Whew. Jonah Hex, after dispatching the outlaws from the last issue, takes on a rare morally-driven job. Children are going missing from the shantytowns of Gotham, and the police don’t care…and neither does Hex. $50,000 changes his mind, however, and soon he and Arkham are scouring the sewers while Hex shows off surprising detective skills. The backup story is the introduction of a new character, The Barbary Ghost. Loved the Hex story, and I’m kind of meh on the backup. Hex and Arkham are such a bizarre buddy-cop movie that you have to love it, although this felt like a place-holder issue. I keep hoping for a Bat Lash revival in the back pages, though.
Aquadog! The briskly-paced “Trench” storyline wraps up with Aquaman further cementing his new badass and respectable rep among the surface-dwellers. He and Mera go deep, deep, DEEP into the ocean to discover just where the people-eating monsters are coming from, and the truth is kind of sad, really. Aquaman does what he needs to do because he’s a hero and that’s what happens when you don the spandex. This one sets up a big new arc about what happened to Atlantis, and they get a dog. AQUADOG! This book continues to impress.
Justice League Dark #4
The nice thing about being so early in the New 52 is that I can always go back and quickly catch up with titles that are getting good reviews, like this one. After dropping Firestorm and The Dark Knight, I have space on my pull list, and this seemed like as good a replacement as any. And this is…not bad. I’ve never had much of a fondness for any of the characters involved, but I know most of them. The first four issues deal with The Enchantress going more than a little nuts, dragging disparate people together like Shade The Changing Man, John Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman. That’s a pretty good cross-section of magic heroes, although you’d think The Spectre or Phantom Stranger would be lurking around as well. Much like the main Justice League title, they’re taking their time getting everyone together into a team here, but that’s the nature of the beast these days. Constantine gets some good zingers, Zatanna has some quality slutty costumes going on, it’s all reasonably enjoyable stuff. I’ll stick with it for now.
I think I’m just gonna leave this for now and come back when Giffen takes over at #7. This is supposed to be SUPERMAN, not, I dunno, SuperExposition. Talk, talk, talk is all you get here, with Superman discovering that the elemental alien things are telepathic now, and we still don’t know what the deal is yet. Just let Perez draw it and get someone else to write, please!
The Flash #4
This would be the origin issue for Mob Rule, as the art is pretty wonderful, like Batwoman-level wonderful. Finally the weird interactions with Manuel and his clone-things make sense, as we flash back and learn where they came from. The panel layout, with Manuel getting various appendages chopped off as a form of torture, actually forms the shapes of the hands and arms in question. Of course, Flash himself is mostly absent from this issue, what with him getting shot in the head at the end of the last issue (SPOILER: He’s not really dead.) I thought the Mob Rule stuff was a pretty interesting origin, but the present-day plot does nothing for me, so I enjoyed it as a standalone issue and the art is great, but this is getting weaker as an ongoing series. Still hanging in there, though.
Teen Titans #4
I’m liking this book more and more as we progress. The team is really coming together now, as Red Robin brings together the newbies while Superboy brawls with (don’t call her) Wonder Girl in Times Square. There’s some great interplay between Robin and Kid Flash (“Is that my sweatshirt?”) leading to a funny payoff at the end, and everyone comes together for the first time for the big showdown. This is the kind of light-hearted, easy dialogue that Red Hood really should be, although I’m still having trouble getting a handle on what exactly Superboy is supposed to be. The most intriguing thing to me is the mystery behind Kid Flash, as his origins are now unknown to himself. Could “Bart” just be a made-up name for another speedster conspicuous by his absence? I hope so.
No clear winner among the new releases this week, but man do yourself a favor and pick up Last Of The Innocent.