DC Comics Relaunch New 52 Omnibus Review: Week 3 (Batman, Catwoman, Green Lantern, Red Hood & ALL)

Following my omnibus review of Week One, and Week Two of the New 52 DC Comics Relaunch, comes my take on Week Three and its 12 offerings. Just in time for Week Four! Let’s just get right into it.


WEEK THREE

Batman #1: Artist Greg Capullo joins DC and teams with fave Bat-writer Scott Snyder.

This is just a beautifully drawn book. Capullo’s redesigns of Arkham Asylum’s “finest” particularly Two-Face adds a more subtle horror and grit to Batman’s rogues. His Batman is dark, dynamic, with a hint of humanity under a cowl.

Alongside Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder to me gets the Batman mythos (Gates of Gotham is a MUST read mini-series people). Snyder imparts the book with equal doses of Batman AND Bruce Wayne which is a very nice touch. We also get to see the landscape of Gotham City with both personas as our guide. I enjoyed the time that was spent on Bruce Wayne and his vision for Gotham which will be an intriguing subplot. We also see interesting new “toys” for Batman and Nightwing, an thought-provoking family reunion of Robins, and a cliff-hanger that one knows is not what it seems.

I’m intrigued by the hints at Owl Man in this issue and future solicits. I think I’ll back for issue #2.

Birds of Prey #1: I have been a BIG fan of Jesus Saiz’ art since his amazing work on the critically acclaimed Manhunter series alongside under-used scribe Marc Andreyko (Note to DC – Use Marc somewhere in the New DCU!). So, I was eagerly waiting BOP #1 and hoping it was a book that would hook me on story as well as the art (the latter was a given).

Writer Duane Swierczynski brings readers a very new BOP. They are perceived criminals on-the-run, dealing justice. Even perennial do-gooder Black Canary is a wanted woman, striving to prove her innocence. The action scened in the book were a bit blasphemous, but attention-getting for sure. High octane action, very intriguing cliff-hanger, could quite possibly lead me to pop by for a visit next month. Maybe. Or not.

I wasn’t blown away by the story as I was the art. However, I am curious. So, I’m on the fence about BOP.

Blue Beetle #1: Tony Bedard has been one of DC’s unsung writing heroes for a while. I am glad he is front and center in the New 52 and working on a book that he injects with an authentic Latino feel. I found issue #1 to be a great ground-floor introduction to teen Jamie Reyes and his world. I didn’t read his previous series, but the character’s portrayal, as well as the Reach’s (the entities behind the Blue Beetle scarabs that empower their bearers), are consistent with their portrayal in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold Animated TV series. So, it wasn’t a jarring first issue from that standpoint, but it was jarring with the Spanish peppered in throughout the book. I understand why that was done, but as someone who can not speak Spanish, it didn’t seem to add to the story plot-wise, but perhaps it did contribute to feel of the book and the authenticity I spoke about earlier.

The pencils of Ig Guana matched the fun of the story. It didn’t blow me away, but the pencils conveyed the electricity in Bedard’s writing.

I am also disappointed at the seeming jettisoning of the Dan Garrett and Ted Kord elements of the Blue Beetle backstory. From the internet chatter, I understand that Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has confirmed that Ted Kord was not Blue Beetle in this new DCU, but I have not found a direct source yet. If that is the case, I understand that Jamie Reyes as Blue Beetle, without his forbearers, is less complicated story-wise and reinforces the “youngness” of the DCU, but if this is the case I can’t help but feel something significant has been lost.

Unfortunately, I am not a fan of the new Blue Beetle character, despite his popularity, and important role model status for young Latinos.

Captain Atom #1: Writer J.T. Krul thrusts us right into the action with this book. Captain Atom seemingly has been a hero for a bit of time already, but he is still new to his role. The character seems to be a hybrid between the 1980s Captain Atom, The 1980s Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, and…. any generation’s Firestorm. Despite being intrigued by Krul’s story, and the humanity of Nathaniel Adam and the consequences of his heroism, I couldn’t help but wonder why in this new DCU does part of his powers resemble the transmutation shtick of Firestorm, but on a lesser scale?

I am a fan of Freddie William’s stylized art style. It conveys the appropriate energy and vibrancy. His facial expressions are evocative and his action scenes are dynamic.

I’m intrigued enough by the book’s cliff-hanger and by how Captain Atom will be differentiated from Firestorm, that I will be back next month for issue #2.

Catwoman #1: She’s a thief and friends-with-benefits with Batman. Judd Winick’s story was ho-hum, but the art was amazing intended to “bring the sexy back” as Justin Timberlake would say. This is a visual feast by Guillem March, but Winick is the let down with this book with a flat plot and an overdone cliff-hanger climax that overshadows some decent characterization by the writer. What happened to subtly in comics? Despite the great art, I won’t be back for issue #2.

DC Universe Presents #1: Paul Jenkins gives us a very human and vibrant story about (a) Deadman. This is very much an origin issue with a less-than-heroic cliff-hanger to cap it off. However, I loved how Deadman was “popping between” live bodies as a self-directed medium for himself close to the book’s end.

Bernard Chang is the artist to watch in the New 52. He has been around for a while, but he is quietly competent and a master at his craft. Powerful action scenes and on top of that such a detail in his characters that some of the word balloons are unnecessary as Chang’s art conveys the emotions of some moments so well unadulterated.

Despite this rave review, I am not a fan of the Deadman character so won’t be back for issue #2. As he’s dating Dove, I imagine I’ll still see him in the Hawk and Dove series (he did pop by in that book’s #1 after all). While I will forgo this Deadman arc, I may pop by and sample the beginning of each new character arc of this book as I understand it will have revolving creative teams focusing on different characters in each arc.

Green Lantern Corps #1: Wow, what a violent start to the issue. Ok, you have my attention and perhaps my revulsion too. Peter J. Tomasi writes a really violent intro that sets up the villain(s?) of this GLC arc as quite a big deal. Once we get the maiming and bloodshed over, we get some great human moments with Guy Gardner and John Stewart trying to fit into real jobs. However, having no secret identity hinders both their attempts. Fernando Pasarin continues to grow as a penciller and really works well with Tomasi. Solely based on the non-GL moments of this book with Guy and John, I’ll probably be back for issue #2 next month.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1: Paul Levitz returns to the LOSH with new penciller in Francis Portela. The book picks up where his pre-Flashpoint Legion series ended. There were a lot of inside-baseball references to not just long-standing Legion lore, but to DCU lore that is unexplained, e.g. the various aliens referenced, why they might be threatening, etc. With more than 15 leads in the book which, it’s difficult for new and old readers to follow, let alone build a connection with any of them. I think Paul Levitz is a great writer, but I think there was a missed opportunity with this issue to make it more accessible for new and lapsed readers on top of the usual Legion diehards. Despite these criticisms – some decent art and character redesigns – and that I actually know what a Daxamite is, I remain curious why one poses such a threat to the LOSH at this time. So, I’m a maybe for issue #2. Maybe. Not?

Nightwing #1 plus Red Hood and the Outlaws #1: I did a double review of these books that can be found here. I think Kyle Higgins and Scott Lobdell have established an interesting cast and backstory in their respective books. And, each books feature amazing pencils by Eddy Barrows and Kenneth Rocafort respectively. Despite some controversies and some niggling issues with the latter book, overall the broader plot points of each book interest me so I’ll be back onboard for both next month. The link above goes into more detail on my thoughts on each book.

Supergirl #1: Michael Green and Mike Johnson reboot Supergirl’s origin from ground zero. Their story starts with Kara Zor-el waking up in frozen tundra wearing the “S” uniform that she believes she hasn’t earned yet. Her powers also kick-in in devastating ways as she tries to get her bearings and fend off robot attacks. There is a lot of action here that really helps readers emphasize with this scared – and newly powerful – young woman. Even without reading the book, fans can guess the cliff-hanger to it.

The pencils of Mahmud Asrar helped make Kara look like a real teenager and conveyed a softness which was a nice contrast to her powerful moments in the book.

Supergirl has not been a character I connected with pre-Flashpoint and, despite a fresh start for the character, I don’t anticipate being back for issue #2.

Wonder Woman #1: In my eyes, you could do no better than the Wonder Woman reboot of the 1980s that had George Perez heavily involved. However, this new 2011 edition of Wonder Woman #1 just might have changed my mind. Brian Azzarello brings a fresh new take to Wonder Woman and the Greek gods that empower her. This is not your typical super-heroine story, but a mythological suspense thriller with Wonder Woman at its core. I can honestly say that I have never read a story like this with WW, and I think that’s what makes it work. We do get your standard amazon fury from the lead, but everything else rings new, but true too.

I was sceptical going in about how the darker stylized art of penciller Cliff Chiang would work on the iconic Wonder Woman. I was pleasantly surprised that not only does Wonder Woman look like a Greek warrior demi-goddess, his art really fits the story being told by Azzarello.

I’m intrigued by this new take on WW, so much so that I’ll be back for issue #2.



THE TALLY: DC New 52 Week 2

BATMAN #1 – Continue
BIRDS OF PREY #1 – Pass
BLUE BEETLE #1 – Pass
CAPTAIN ATOM #1 – Continue
CATWOMAN #1 – Pass
DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1 – Pass
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1 – Continue
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1 – Pass
NIGHTWING #1 – Continue
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1 – Continue
SUPERGIRL #1 – Pass
WONDER WOMAN #1 – Continue

So, I’ll be continuing with 6 of 12 Week 3 offerings by DC. That’s a 50% success rate for DC – with me anyway for that week. That’s successive declines in each of the relaunch weeks, but I don’t think DC was expecting all readers to get everything going forward. With the first 3 weeks of the relaunch, I’m already reading more DC monthly titles than I have in years and I know I’ll have some from Week 4, which hit this Wednesday, to add to my pull list.

So, what do you think about the new 52 reviewed thus far?


STAYING CONNECTED

Some housekeeping items. 🙂

(1) I am now on twitter and can be found at BabosScribe.

(2) I am also on Facebook and can be found at BabosScribe.

Cheers!

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