East of Gotham: The 10 Best of the New 52 DC Comics Relaunch



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And finally, it’s time for the best of the best.  After discussing the pleasant surprises and crushing disappointments of the New 52, I’ll now reveal my ten favorite books to come out of the relaunch.

10. Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette (read the full review here)

This could hardly have been better done given the backstory and hurdles this would have to climb.  Featuring a history that would make Cable cringe and a backlog of classic stories that includes Alan Moore, Scott Snyder managed to not only tell a compelling tale, but make it stand alone AND explain the basic history of the character.  And I hate the character, usually.  Not this time though.  Snyder can apparently do no wrong.

9. Resurrection Man by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino (read the full review here)

Abnett and Lanning just make fun comics.  This wasn’t the best of the bunch, or, really even that close, but it did manage to introduce a full plot and give us plenty of room to grow.  And the issue has both melodrama and fun.  There’s something for everyone here, and I fully expect this to get better and better until everyone will want to use this character.

8.The Men of War by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick (read the full review here)

Two of my favorite comics are GI Joe and Nick Fury.  Men of War continues the tradition of these fellows, and gives us a really good story about a top notch soldier in a world with superheroes.  In a really cool moment, a mission goes bust as a cape starts wreaking havoc and I was utterly hooked here.  The backup story being good is just icing, because this is a seriously strong comic.

7. Green Lantern and the New Guardians by Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham (read the full review here)

Kyle is easily my favorite Lantern, and among my favorite DC characters overall, so to see his history and stature preserved in the new universe caused an absolute sigh of relief.  Add in that we have a potentially interesting plot with a good mystery and, well, this is a winning issue.  The characterization really makes it work, and the adventurous tone helps, as well. Indeed, without a rather gratuitous gutting, this might even be higher up the list.

6. Nightwing by Kyle Higgins and Eddie Barrows (read the full review here)

Dick Grayson is my favorite DC character, bar none.  I was concerned for this book given the ugly new costume, the fact that he’s randomly no longer Batman, and that Higgins was unproven with his Deathstroke nearly as bad as his Gates of Gotham was good.  If the high ranking doesn’t tell you how that concern worked out, try the review in the title, as it’s mine as well.

5. Batwoman by JH Williams III and W Haden Blackman (read the full review here)

The best artist in the business might not be as skilled a writer as Greg Rucka, but he’s better at pacing for a single issue.  This made me care about the character more than ever before, and the dialogue, in particular, was sharp in revealing both backstory and characterization.  The selling point remains the art, but the story is more-or-less keeping pace to making this a must-read.

4. Flash by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato (read the full review here)

The only relaunch book that can stand with Batwoman in terms of art is another book that’s absolutely stellar at visual storytelling and creating likable characters.  This one, however, really relaunches the main character’s life.  Flash is Barry Allen, single and likable, both for the first time in a long, long time.  A nice sci-fi plot on top of awesome art and good characterization have me liking a character I’ve always hated.  Well played, Manapul.

3. Demon Knights by Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves (read the full review here)

Paul Cornell is awesome.  This Connan/Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones/Dungeons and Dragons style tale gives us sweeping, epic adventure with superpowers.  The fun is just dripping off the page as we get new looks at old favorites from the Demon to Vandal Savage.  There are still plenty left to introduce here, but everyone got at least a small intro and seems somewhere between amusingly entertaining and utterly badass.  This is, shall we say, to the book’s benefit.

2. Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (read the full review here)

Scott Snyder can do no wrong, being the only man to get on the list twice.  His Batman is both a stellar introduction to the status quo and a great introduction to the important characters, all ten or so of them.  Snyder covers a ton of ground in this issue, even managing to introduce a compelling mystery plot about a framed character.  Truly, this is a wonderful book, and, honestly, probably the best of the new 52.

1. Action Comics #1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales (read the full review here)

As good as Batman was, it couldn’t touch the sheer joy coming off the page in Action Comics #1.  This  is, quite simply, the most fun I’ve had with a comic in recent memory and it cements Grant Morrison as my favorite Superman writer ever.  Going back to the earliest days of the character is something I’ve simply never seen done in this manner.  The frenetic pace is matched by the wonderful art.  This is what the relaunch should be about.  This is Superman.  This is DC Comics.

 

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