Following my Deathstroke / Suicide Squad #1’s and Nightwing / Red Hood & The Outlaws #1’s double reviews, comes my third double review of the DC Comics Relaunch New 52. This one focuses on DC’s teen team books in Teen Titans and the Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men.
Here we go…
Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1: This has been penciller-turned-writer Ethan Van Sciver’s baby. He convinced fan fave Gail Simone to co-write the book with him and DC convinced, I’m sure quite easily, Yildiray Cinar to join them on interior art chores. Like with Teen Titans, FoF is a ground zero origin issue packed with teen angst, drama, action and suspense.
The book opens right in the thick of things with a group of black ops hired guns in search of the last unauthorized magnetic vile containing the Firestorm protocol. The book, like many of DC’s New 52 starts violently, but unlike many of DC’s #1’s this happens mostly off-panel with the clever use of shadow. We learn through the course of the book that these operatives have found the other three protocol viles already, for a mysterious corporation, and that the last one seems to be in the vicinity of a “suitable genetic set”… guess who they are. :)
In-between all the action, we get introduced to African American kid genius and high school reporter Jason Rusch as well as star Caucasian Quarterback jock Ronald (Ronnie) Raymond; opposites in every sense of the word. For some reason they are attracted to one another figuratively and easily fall into dislike with one another and argue pretty much every panel since they’re formally introduced in the book.
In the midst of their latest argument, the black ops thugs visit their high school looking for the last vile of the Firestorm protocol. Jason seemingly had a relationship with a genius named Dr. Martin Stein (a nice nod to the pre-Flashpoint DCU) who gave it to him for safe-keeping in the case of an emergency (I imagine its because Jason is one part of the identified genetic set teased earlier, but I’m not sure if Ronnie was an intended part of that “set” or not. We’ll likely find out more on that in the coming issues). To defend himself, and to stop any more of his class mates from getting killed by the black ops goons, Jason triggers the Firestorm protocol and both he and Ronald go ‘splody and become two very different Firestorms: one red and one yellow like on the book’s gorgeous cover by co-plotter and fan fave artist Van Sciver.
Well, the boys continue to bicker and argue which becomes deadly now that they both wield such immense nuclear based power. Jason seems more adept and uses his powers to transmute things around his jock antagonist while Ronnie uses raw blasts with his powers against his nerd opponent; Jason the Dove, Ronnie the Hawk. :)
The book ends with the two seemingly becoming unstable and manifesting the “Frankenstorm” (my term) we also see on the book’s cover… a slang slinging assumed villain named Fury. So, the title of the book can be taken literally.
This was a very satisfying, action-packed, intriguing read. In addition to the above, we get glimpses of the New DCU’s other Firestorm protocol bearers (which confirms my theory from several months ago right down to the number of ‘Storms in the DCU), five in total plus Jason and Ronnie. We also get some cool physics babble (ok, maybe not “cool”, but if you watch TV’s The Big Bang Theory, you’ll be familiar with all of the science terms used in the book).
The book is well paced, with the appropriate balance between super-heroics and the secret identity / human moments of our protagonists, plus a cliff-hanger that really has me wanting issue #2 out next week.
The art of Cinar is just amazing and services the story so well. The pastel-like coloring of Steve Buccellato (the brother of Brian Buccellato the co-writer of the new Flash title) deserves a mention as it really enhances the book’s feel.
Fury of Firestorm is the best book out in Week 4 of the DC Comics Relaunch New 52 and certainly in the Top 5 of all of DC’s new #1’s. I’m really excited about this book and can’t wait for next month! Kudos to the creative time. Well done all around.
Teen Titans #1: Scott Lobdell takes on his third DC Comics Relaunch “New 52″ title this week with the much anticipated Teen Titans #1 drawn by penciller extraordinaire Brett Booth. While Lobdell’s Red Hood and The Outlaws garnered the most attention particularly over the, um, nature of the team’s “interactions”, his Superboy title is the one that is expected to cross-over literally and thematically with the Teen Titans.
While the cover of Teen Titans #1 is not a good gauge of what happens in the title, the cover is more of a promise of things to come, it does spotlight Booth’s dynamic and vibrant style.
The title feels a lot like Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Justice League in its slower more methodical pacing and its raison d’être. Teen Titans #1 is literally ground zero in the TT reboot.
The book opens with Kid Flash, presumably Bart Allen – although with (1) time travel shut in the DC Universe (DCU) post-Flashpoint, (2) Barry Allen and Iris West not married in the DC Universe, and (3) examples like Kyle Rayner’s Green Lantern origin having Major Force (a Captain Atom foil) removed from it due to the Captain Atom reboot – I really do wonder just who is under the mask of this low rent (initial costume-wise anyway) Kid Flash. Is it Wally West (unlikely) or Bart “West” or “Allen”? We’ll soon find out. I won’t spoil the scene, although it was included in DC Comics’ teasers for the book, but I will sum it up by saying “no good deed goes unpunished”. Kid Flash is most definitely a rookie.
We are then introduced to Tim Drake, grudgingly called “Red Robin”, and this where the team starts to take shape. Tim reluctantly starts sowing the seeds for the formation of the titled teen team to (a) protect the new super-powered teens popping up all over the world from themselves, and (b) protect them from Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. an organization hunting them down.
Tim Drake/Red Robin, formerly Batman’s third Robin after Dick Grayson (now Nightwing) and Jason Todd (now Red Hood), surveying the events of the DCU on several expensive flat screens since being billionaire Bruce Wayne’s ward has its privileges. He is portrayed in an aloof yet savvy manner with a spark of concern and humanity that makes his portrayal seem like a cross-between the Monitor from the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths and Oracle, DC’s former foremost information maven, from the from Birds of Prey. He is tracked down by Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E (as an aside, I always wonder whether in the intent is for readers to just pronounce this simply and quickly as “nowhere” or if the intent is to spell it out N—O—W—H…. I’ll go with the former since it’s easier). Interestingly his identity doesn’t seem blown. He’s maskless and obviously rich, yet for all of Bruce Wayne’s profile in this new DCU, Tim Drake his ward is not easily recognizable. This stretches credibility since in the real world – which comics aren’t, I grant you – in the internet age everyone one who wants to can know exactly with Brangelina’s kids look like. I can’t imagine Bruce and his “kids” have all been wiped off of the internet. That aside, Tim foils his potential captors and decides its time to get the band together… for the first time for the reasons I have mentioned.
Tim tracks down his first target who turns out to be on-the-run Cassandra Sandsmark; who is even more irritated by her nom du guerre of “Wonder Girl” then Tim is of his RR codename. Denials, car chase, explosion, action, and novice super-heroics by don’t-call-me-Wonder-Girl follows. Tim is also portrayed as quite resourceful with the “toys” what one would expect from someone in the inner circle of the Bat-family.
The books ends with a cliff-hanger akin to what Lobdell’s Superboy #1 ended with, which was wholly expected. However, to give Lobdell his due, you really don’t need to read Superboy #1 to “get” the end to TT #1. In a few short panels he is able to essentially give us a taste of Superboy’s new status quo as Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E.’s weapon of mass destruction. It’s done quite well.
Brett Booth’s pencils just rock in this title. His art is fluid and fun fitting well with the tone being set by Lobdell. There are heaps of character moments that Booth’s character facial expressions convey well – Booth “gets” that these are kids. I’m a HUGE fan of Booth’s art, despite his years in the industry, he gets better with each issue I read of his. He is a stable artist that evolves his style as needed to convey elements of the story he is given. Its still very much a Brett Booth book, and I love it.
The debut issue of the Teen Titans introduces us to the four pillars of the franchise and they are very much at the beginning of their careers save for Tim Drake. It also mixes humor, action, drama and suspense in an interesting brew that has me wondering where can Lobdell possibly go with this… in a good way.
I am so here next month for issue #2.