Review: DC Universe Presents #1 by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang

DC Universe Presents #1

Written by: Paul Jenkins
Art by: Bernard Chang
Lettering by:
Dave Sharpe
Colored by:

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note 1: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

Note 2:A close friend of mine has been suffering through cancer for the past two years. It seems he is taking a turn for the worse, so this has been a very difficult week for me. My prayers and wishes go out to his family.

I did not want to let Nexus or the readers down, so I am doing my reviews for this week, but I am not adding my usually “summaries” or images from the books. I will make every effort to get those edited into these reviews early next week. Thank you for understanding.

Anthology books have always had a lot of appeal to me. It’s the easiest way of getting introduced a wide variety of characters and creative teams. I loved when Marvel did Marvel Comics Presents, and DC with Legends of the DC Universe and Showcase. So I was glad when I saw that DC Universe Presents would be a part of the New 52.

It especially helped when I saw that Deadman would be the star of the first arc. I’ve been a fan of Deadman for years now. I was really glad that he got a much bigger profile during Blackest Night and Brightest Day. At the same time, I was concerned that DC was going to make this book real continuity heavy and hard to follow. Deadman’s appearance in Hawk and Dove (which was well done) definitely did not help those fears.

But Paul Jenkins wiped those fears clear pretty much from page one. If you have never read a Deadman book before, it is very easy for you to find your footing here. Deadman is a former acrobat who was arrogant in life. He was taken out by a sniper, and now in his death he can possess the bodies of other people to help them solve the problems in their own life.

At the same time, veteran fans of Deadman won’t be turned away. There does seem to be some changes to Deadman’s back story, but they are slipped in so subtly that it’s very easy to feel comfortable with this new status quo.

My only complaint about this book is that I would have liked to have seen a little more plot. We had 22 pages of introduction and set up. Like I said about Superboy a few weeks ago, it really felt more like an issue 0 or a feature in a Secret Files and Origins than a true first issue. But at the same time, the writing was so damn compelling it is real easy to excuse that. None of it felt like filler, and I always have a lot of respect for solid characterization.

Bernard Chang was phenomenal on this book. Despite being full of what could have easily been generic characters, Chang gave each such a distinctive look that made them feel like a unique and different character. This had to take a lot of care and work, and it really made this book stand out to me. And he definitely draws one of the best Deadmans I’ve ever seen. I actually met Bernard Chang at San Diego Comic Con, and was in a rush to get to a DC panel, so I only got an autograph and not a sketch. I am definitely kicking myself now.

DC hasn’t said if Jenkins and Chang will be staying on this book after the Deadman arc is over. I am a little torn on that myself. I do love seeing different creative teams on anthology books, but at the same time, the two of them seem to have a great chemistry and produced what was by far my favorite Relaunch book of the week. If they aren’t staying on DC Universe Presents, I really hope DC puts them together on another book real soon.

I also would like to see a lot more B or C list characters get featured here, maybe in backup stories.  I have always thought that anthology books should be treated like loss leaders, intending to spotlight more obscure characters and creative teams to help them find an audience.

DC Universe Presents is off to a great start, and I can’t wait to see what happens when the story starts moving forward. Jenkins seems to have some great ideas about what a Deadman story can be, and I am definitely on board!

Final Score: 8.5 It might have been nice for more to happen in this one, but we really learned everything there is to know about Deadman and the art is gorgeous. So it’s very hard to downgrade this book for that. I can’t wait to see where this story goes from here.

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