DC Comics Relaunch: Breaking It All Down (Part 1 of 5)

By Mike Maillaro & Grey Scherl

Over the last week or so, Grey and myself must have sent back and forth dozens of texts talking about the DC Relaunch. Over the next few days, we’re going to break down the 52 new series coming from DC starting in September. This list is alphabetical and on the last day, we’ll talk a bit about out thoughts on the relaunch as a whole. So, appropriately let’s get started with DC’s “first superhero!”

(UPDATED: Check out Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and and Day 5 which are now up.)

Now, on to Day 1…

1. Action Comics

What DC Says: This September, New York Times bestselling writer Grant Morrison (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN) joins with sensational artist Rags Morales to bring you tales of The Man of Tomorrow unlike any you’ve ever read before in ACTION COMICS #1. This momentous first issue will set in motion the history of the DC Universe as Superman defends a world that doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.

The first Action Comics #1 is now the most sought-after comic book of all time. This September, one of comics’ most imaginative storytellers will make history again in Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’ ACTION COMICS #1.

What Grey says: Superman is why I read comics, he was the character that drew me in during my youth, and for all the creative changes (both good and bad), I’m never too far away from him. Unfortunately, Superman has been…kinda crappy since Johns left a few years ago. He hasn’t mattered, he has just…existed. Superman has long since needed a royal shot in the arm, and I feel that Grant Morrison is the one man capable of reinvigorating the worlds greatest hero. It’s time for him to be iconic again, and not just an icon. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

What Skitch says: How can I possibly say no to Grant Morrison and Rags Morales? I collected Superman for a long time, but unlike Batman, I just kind of got bored and stopped. And I don’t obsess with numbering like a lot of people. This sounds like a great take on Superman, and I dig the reworked costume. Curious about him being the first superhero and what that means for the DC. I mean, he was the first superhero originally. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

2. All-Star Western

What DC Says:Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Featuring back-up stories starring DC’s other western heroes, ALL-STAR WESTERN #1 will be written by the fan-favorite Jonah Hex team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and illustrated by Moritat.

What Grey says: I’m a fan of Jimmy Palmoitti, but I hate Westerns (and always have). I’ve no doubt that this will be a good book, but it’s just not for me. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

What Skitch says: I really love Western Comics. Jonah Hex’s last series was just great, and I loved Ostrander’s work on Apache Skies and Blaze of Glory. I am really glad that DC is doing a whole book focused on Western stories. This is easily one of the series I am most excited about. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

3. Animal Man

What DC Says:Buddy Baker has gone from “super” man to family man – but is he strong enough to hold his family together when Maxine, his young daughter, starts to manifest her own dangerous powers? Find out in ANIMAL MAN #1, the start of a dramatic new series by acclaimed writer Jeff Lemire and artists Travel Foreman and Dan Green.

What Grey says: On one hand, Morrison’s run decades ago made me a fan of Buddy Baker. On the other, aside from 52, I have never cared about him otherwise. Jeff Lemire doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in me, but I am interested to see what he does with a more…Vertigo friendly property. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Maybe.

What Skitch says: I actually was really uncertain about this one. Sounds like a cool legacy book, which is always a plus to me. That said, I have no real connection to Animal Man. I probably will end up picking it up, but I just can’t commit. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Maybe.

4. Aquaman

What DC Says:Geoff Johns, one of comics’ greatest storytellers, reunites with GREEN LANTERN and BRIGHTEST DAY collaborator Ivan Reis to bring you a thrilling new take on the fan-favorite hero of the sea in AQUAMAN #1. The cover to issue #1 is by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado.

What Grey says: Geoff John writing Aquaman…Ivan Reis and Joe Prado drawing Aquaman…I imagine this creative team (at least Johns) will go twelve issues, not unlike the recent run on Flash. Now Johns might not be perfect, but if this book resembles Green Lantern or Action Comics instead of Flash? Should be great. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

What Skitch says: My wife’s favorite character. I miss the hook and beard, but I’ll likely check it out. Just please no waterbearer crap. PLEASE!! Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Maybe

5. Batgirl

What DC Says:Batgirl’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as dark secrets from her past in BATGIRL #1, the stunning debut issue from fan-favorite writer Gail Simone and artists Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes.

What Grey says: Stephanie Brown is my Batgirl and she’s written by Bryan Q. Miller. However, I’ve been reading Barbra Gordon as written by Gail Simone pretty much constantly since 2003. Sure, she’s been Oracle, and in the chair, and far more interesting than the potential Batgirl character in my eyes, but it al boils down to the fact that I trust Gail to not treat this title like bad fan fiction. Now, will I drop it if I don’t like it? Sure, but I feel like Gail deserves at least the first arc. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes.

What Skitch says:Barbara as Batgirl is a huge step backwards as far as I am concerned. Oracle was a unique and strong role for her, now she’s back to being another Batman wanna-be. Definitely passing on this one.  Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

6. Batman

What DC Says:In the first BATMAN #1 since 1930, New York Times bestselling writer Scott Snyder teams up with superstar artist Greg Capullo in his DC Comics debut! In the series, Bruce Wayne once again becomes the only character taking on the Batman name.

What Grey says: Scott Snyder is coming off of an amazing run on Detective Comics, and while yes, he was using Dick Grayson, I can’t imagine Bruce replacing him will change that. On top of that, Capullo is the kind of artist that I’ve wanted to see on Batman for a while. Like David Finch, only he’s smart enough to just draw and not try and write. Snyder is the selling point here, and he’s a damn good one. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

What Skitch says: At one point, I had runs of Batman and Detective Comics stretching just about 25 years. But too many bad stories made me break those runs. As a result, Batman is a very hard sell for me. That said, I will likely check out the first few issues of Batman and hope that it’s actually good again. Don’t break my heart again, DC! Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Maybe

7. Batman and Robin

What DC Says:In BATMAN AND ROBIN #1, the acclaimed creative team of Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason will explore the family dynamic of the Caped Crusader as Bruce Wayne battles the Gotham underworld with the help of his son, Damian, in the role of Robin.

What Grey says: Tomasi and Gleason had an interesting three parter on the book that they never really started. I mean, I guess it makes sense now that they would hold off for the reboot and just use Bruce instead of Dick, but it does make me wonder why they were announced for the previous volume at all. I really like the creative team, and I’ve been following them since Green Lantern Corps, so yes, I’m quite interested in them handling the father-son dynamic of Bruce and Damian. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

What Skitch says:They don’t need four Batman books starring Bruce Wayne. If they wanted Bruce and Damien to team together, they should have made it in Batman or Tec. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

8. Batman: The Dark Knight

What DC Says:In BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT, superstar artist David Finch writes and draws a twisted adventure that pulls Bruce Wayne deep into the halls of the famed Arkham Asylum, a jail for Gotham City’s most dangerous and criminally deranged. Finch will team up with collaborator Jay Fabok on pencils.

What Grey says: The book was created to showcase David Finch on art, as he’s a natural Batman artist. However, now he’s writing it while another guy draws it. With Finch it’s pencils or bust, so that makes this book a big bust in my book. Especially since the two issues we’ve seen of the first attempt have done nothing but axe murder momentum. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

What Skitch says: See my comments on Batman and Robin. This is a completely unneccessary title. Will not buy. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

9. Batwing

What DC Says:This September, join with us in this historic moment when the first black character to wear the Batman mantle will be the first to star in his own ongoing series. BATWING will be written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Ben Oliver.

What Grey says: I’m a Judd Winick fan, I think Ben Oliver is a very talented artist, and I love the Batman Inc concept. That said, I don’t care about the Batman of Northern Africa. At all. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

What Skitch says: I am all for creating strong minority characters, but they should stand on their own. I just can’t bring myself to care about this character. Sorry, Batwing, you’re definitely on the will not buy list.  Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

10. Batwoman

What DC Says:The highly-anticipated new series from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder begins in BATWOMAN #1.

What Grey says: Fun fact; I hated the Rucka/Williams Detective Comics run with Batgirl. Maybe it was the complete lack of connection to the character they had been trying to push for a few years, maybe it was the nonsensical Alice in Wonderland story, or maybe it was that I didn’t like the art. This book is going to be great for a lot of people, but I’m not going to be one of them. Also, yet another artist jumping into the writers chair. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

What Skitch says:I know a lot of people are hyped about this book. I have no connection to Batwoman, but I’ll likely buy into the peer pressure and get this one. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

11. Birds of Prey

What DC Says:The Birds of Prey are Gotham City’s covert ops team, taking down the villains other heroes can’t touch. Mystery novelist ands comics writer Duane Swierczynski teams up with Jesus Saiz for BIRDS OF PREY #1, the first issue of the hard-hitting new series.

What Grey says: On one hand, it’s the Birds of Prey, and on the other, Gail isn’t writing them. The team looks interesting enough, and I have like Duane Swierczynski’s work on books like Cable and Iron Fist. This book could go either way, but I’ll probably officially decide as time gets closer. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Maybe

What Skitch says: Not exactly sure why they need to be a covert ops team in Gotham. Doesn’t Batman already do that? But, roster looks cool, so I will probably give it a try.  Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Maybe

12. Blackhawks

What DC Says:Blackhawk is an elite group of mercenaries made up of brave men from around the world equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us. A set of contemporary tales that battle the world’s gravest threats, BLACKHAWKS #1 will be written by Mike Costa and illustrated by Ken Lashley.

What Grey says: I…don’t care. I don’t know who Mike Costa is, I don’t feel the need for a GI Joe like book, and…I actually have this pegged as one of the first books to get canned. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? No

What Skitch says: Looks a little like GI Joe, which is one of my favorite comics. I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Also nice to see a bit of a quirky mainstream DC book. Westerns and war comics? It’s the 70’s all over again! Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

13. Blue Beetle

What DC Says:It’s not easy being Jaime Reyes. He has to deal with high school, family and all the drama that comes with being a teenager. Also, he’s linked to a powerful scarab created by an alien race who seek to subjugate planets – or annihilate them. It’s up to one teen hero to turn this instrument of destruction into a force for good in BLUE BEETLE #1, written by Tony Bedard (GREEN LANTERN CORPS) and illustrated by Ig Guara (FLASHPOINT: GRODD OF WAR) and Ruy Jose.

What Grey says: I didn’t read the first run for Jaime, but I did read his backups in Booster Gold, his stint in Teen Titans, and his run with the JLI in Generation Lost. I like him, he’s a good character. I also like Tony Bedard quite a bite and think he’s going to be one of DC’s rising star writers over the next few years as they amplify his profile. I’m excited for this one. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

What Skitch says: I love Jaime in Brave and the Bold. Glad to finally read a comic he stars in. Thanks DC for giving him his own series again so I can check it out. Bottom Line: Will I pick it up? Yes

Skitch Random Thoughts: It’s amusing to be that we’ve covered 13 of the 52 titles, and we are only up to B. Think that says a lot about how many Batman books DC is putting out. And that’s not even including Catwoman or Nightwing.

Of these 13, I have:

5 – Yes
4 – No
4 – Maybe

Considering I currently read no monthly DC comics, this is a huge step up. And this set was very Batman heavy which I have less interest in.

Grey’s Editor Notes: I’m a DC fanboy, admitted, but that said I’m not immediately on board for everything they do. I’m going to toss out that there are far too many Bat books hitting stands come September, especially since Bruce is in all of them again, but I won’t let that discount the good ones.

Of these 13 books, I have:

6 – Yes

5 – No

2 – Maybe

Unlike Skitch, I’m reading plenty of DC books currently. The only big changes for me, based on this list, is Birds of Prey is now a maybe, and I’m hard dropping Dark Knight. It is nice to have a concrete number of books I get from them though.

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