A Week Late and a Few Dollars Short JLA_1

Published on August 11th, 2011 | by Michael Harris

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A Week Late #7: DC Reboot Part 1

Yes, I’m going to comment on it too. It seemed a fitting thing to talk about in my return to the columning business. But I’m gonna talk a little controversy and say that this might be just what DC needs.

DC comics has had a less than stellar record over the past few years. Of their major heroes (Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Teen Titans, Red Robin, etc.) there are only a few that have consistently good books.

THE BUILDUP:

Superman and Wonder Woman went to hell with J. Michael Straczynski skipping his way down paycheck lane. The guy has written some damn good stories in the past, but John Cassaday has also drawn some damn good comics in the past and that hasn’t happened in a while.

Green Lantern & Green Lantern Corps. lost my interest after Blackest Night when Johns pulled the “Wait, there’s another prophecy that I didn’t tell you about!” card. It will usually work in a book, but after a major event that was supposed to affect the entire DCU (which it didn’t) and more than 50 issuThes of hinting up to the Blackest Night events, I felt a bit annoyed that it was all nothing more than a stepping stone for Johns to tell the story he really wanted to tell in Brightest Day (which is one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever paid for) and Flashpoint (which I can’t bring myself to give a damn about).

The Flash, if you’ll remember, was one of my favorite books of last year. Johns and Manapul had created a beautiful little arc about Barry Allen figuring out where he stood in the world after the events of Final Crisis/Rebirth/Blackest Night and realigning himself with the life that he had before the Crisis on Infinite Earths. I’ve quite liked it up until The Reverse Flash appeared. For some reason or another, I’ve always disliked the character. Maybe its due to the fact that he hates Barry Allen even though he should hate Wally West. Maybe its because his origin story plays like a poorly written Dr. Who storyline (wibbledy-wobbledy timey-wimey). Or maybe its because his name is Professor Zoom. I don’t know, he’s just never worked for me. Also, they keep giving him new powers to make him interesting, which is just lazy writing.

Batman has gone through some pretty intense changes over these past few years and if anything about this whole reboot has me miffed, its that DC has decided that it doesn’t dislike all of the changes that have happened recently, just some of them. Its absolutely ok for Damian Wayne to be Robin, and for Jason Todd to be The Red Hood, but Barbara Gordon is back on her feet, Dick Grayson is Nightwing again, Tim Drake has goddamn wings, and Batman, Inc.? I have no idea if that is going to exist or be brushed under the table.

DC created a continuity that was suffering under the weight of its own complexities. After Final Crisis and Blackest Night, no one really knew exactly what was going on outside of each comics’ isolated world. How was the Batman affected by Brightest Day? Does Superman care about Batman, Inc.? Does Green Lantern have a say in Superman giving up his citizenship? Why doesn’t anyone help Green Lantern with his defense of the entire universe? I understand the need for a dramatic realignment of the DCU, and I understand that they are trying very hard to keep to their “No More Crisis Books” promise, but Flahpoint shouldn’t be treated as anything other than what it is…an excuse to etch-a-sketch the DCU without calling it a crisis.

THE BOOKS:

Its a task, but I’ve split the DCU relaunch into 3 parts. I’ll be going over each title, the creative team and the story if I can. I’ll give a rating of whether I’m going to buy it (DOOM!) pass for a later date (POSSIBLE DOOM!) or pass completely (NO DOOM FOR YOU!).

JLA #1

1. JLA #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and Cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS

I quite like some of the stuff Geoff Johns has done. I enjoyed the hell out of Green Lantern before Blackest Night happened. I even enjoyed The Flash with Francis Manapul and tolerated Brightest Day and so far Flashpoint has been ok. It has interesting ideas and, though its a bit messy, I like where its going. I have faith that with a bit of direction, this could be a great book. That being said, Jim Lee has been rather disappointing as of late. He hasn’t done any solid comic work for about a decade, his most recent work has been either covers (Invincible et. al), a few select pages (Image United, JLA, etc.), and the regrettable All-Star Batman & Robin. His art is still some pretty stuff to look at, but its well known that the man cannot keep to a schedule. I don’t see this book, with this team, reaching 10 issues.

In regards to the new costume designs and team, I’m mostly ok with it. Aquaman hasn’t looked better in years, The Flash, GL, and Wonder Woman costume updates are ok, Cyborg is still pretty much Cyborg, Superman is a bit young for my liking, but that might mean they’re moving him to less of a leadership role in the league and more towards an uncertain hero, which might mean great things or contrived things. Batman is still Batman, and I am eternally thankful for that. I don’t quite know if there are going to be any major character changes, but everything looks fairly solid and I’m looking forward to reading it despite any reservations I have.

Verdict: DOOM!

Action Comics #1

2. Action Comics #1
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art by RAGS MORALES and RICK BRYANT

I’ve had my issues in the past with Grant Morrison. He writes stories that are beautifully weaved through with mystery and subtle references that aren’t revealed until the final pages, he also writes stories that I (among others) find to be tedious and ostentatious. He can write brilliant stuff like Batman & Robin, or something that I just struggle through, like Final Crisis. Animal Man was brilliant (while riding that line of excessive preachiness that he straddles so much) but I still haven’t finished The Invisibles because of its overtones of Grant Morrison being better than you. I think Morrison will do a great job with this flagship title though. He’ll bring some creative writing that Superman has been missing for quite some time and he’s the perfect man to keep DC’s first comic going at the moment. Rags, I haven’t seen too much of, but that’s mostly because he hasn’t done much. I liked Infinite Crisis, I liked Identity Crisis, and his recent work on First Wave has been pretty damn good. I have no worries about the artist here.

I have no clue about what the story is going to be, the cover looks like an older Superman. The jeans are…eh, but I don’t worry too much about it, at least not as much as the picture from Zac Snyder’s Superman worried me.

Verdict: DOOM!

Superman #1

3. Superman #1
Written by GEORGE PEREZ
Art by JESUS MERINO

DC is showing a love for the artist-as-writer idea. I’m not sure how I feel about this. It might be Jim Lee’s influence as a top man at DC, more of DiDio’s madness as a top man at DC, or just general madness from everyone at DC, but its a strange choice to be sure. Perez is really an unknown as a writer. He draws a hell of a splash page and has drawn Superman at some of his finest moments, but I really don’t know how I feel about this one. Jesus Merino is a capable artist and while his exact style isn’t my favorite, I think he’ll draw the shit out of this if the book is going to be as visually oriented as I imagine.

The story hints at classic Superman stories far removed from the political madness we’ve seen recently and more of what should be in a Superman story: Superman beating up things that only he can beat up and being an all-around good guy.

Verdict: POSSIBLE DOOM!

Superboy #1

4. Superboy #1
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by RB SILVA and ROB LEAN

Scott Lobdell isn’t a name you see much. Its not for any particular reason, he just hasn’t done much mainstream stuff as of late. His work is solid and sometimes pretty damn good and sometimes absolutely terrible. He’s an odd choice because he’s an unknown to a lot of the younger crowd of casual comic readers and I don’t like that he’s been given three books to write. If DC was going for new talent and an open call for writers and artists, you’d think they’d spread it around a bit more, but they’ve gone with some markedly odd choices for 60% of their books. I think he can do a good job on Superboy if he doesn’t get lost in Teen Titans and Red Hood & The Outlaws. RB Silva, though, is a pretty damn amazing artist and I’ve loved everything that I’ve seen of his.

The story: I don’t know. Its the same Superboy story that I’ve read 6 times already. Johns and Manapul did a fine job of covering this in 4 issues in Adventure Comics a year or so ago. I don’t know why we always need to see him struggling over his origin. Its great, but damn is it getting old. I’ve also heard rumors that this is one of two different Superboys that will be in the DCU, how that works, I don’t know, but it sounds awful.

Verdict: POSSIBLE DOOM!

Batman #1

5. Batman #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION

I’m a huge Scott Snyder fan. I would pick this up based solely on his work on American Vampire, but his recent run on Detective Comics with Jock has been stellar and Gates of Gotham has been great. Capullo, I’m not overly excited about because I’m just not a big fan of Spawn. I prefer him to MacFarlane, but its always been very over-the-top and I haven’t seen much of him drawing a more subdued, understated character like I think Snyder will write.

I have no idea about the story, but this is one of the few that I think will essentially continue straight out of the previous DC continuity. They have done too much with Batman over the past two years that’s been good to want to just abandon it like they’re probably doing with Superman.

Verdict: DOOM!

Detective Comics #1

6. Detective Comics #1
Written by TONY S. DANIEL
Art by TONY S. DANIEL and RYAN WINN

No. Just no. Tony Daniel writes boring stories. That’s just it. I haven’t really liked a thing that I’ve read of his and my reluctance towards this title is only compounded by the fact that he is writing and drawing it. I know that writer/artist is possible, but not at high quality and not on schedule. The same goes for David Finch. Daniel can draw a fair comic, and he’s done a good job of moving away from the Liefeld school of “Screw it, we’ll just add lines everywhere,” but its not at the point where he can do all the work on his own, stick to a schedule and make something that I want to read.

The story, hopefully, will continue where Snyder has left off and not go off on another Black Mask run that ends pretty much nowhere. The promo for the book uses the words “Ripper” and “game of cat and mouse”. I just am not excited about this.

Verdict: NO DOOM FOR YOU!

Batgirl #1

7. Batgirl #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES

I love Gail Simone. Seriously. I might kidnap and marry her against her will. Secret Six has been a consistently amazing book, Birds of Prey has been great and her Wonder Woman was actually readable (which is a Herculean task). In regards to art, this book has the best named team I’ve seen in a long forever. Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes have both done some good work, I’m not entirely familiar with either, but what I’ve seen I liked (apart from a few odd proportion issues in some of Syaf’s work). I think this might go very well with these talented people working on the comic.

The story, however, I’m not very fond of. I don’t mind that Barbara Gordon is back on her feet, but I don’t like that DC won’t take a stand on The Killing Joke not being canon anymore. They’re using Flashpoint as saying that the world is coming back as Barry Allen mis-remembered it, and trying to have their Batgirl-cake, and eat it too. Another dislike is the dismissal of Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, two great characters that have recently been shining in their comic appearances (Brown having only recently been revived) and are now being 86’ed by DC executives. I really want to like this one, but I think I’ll wait until someone else lets me know that it’s worth my money.

Verdict: POSSIBLE DOOM!

Batwoman #1

8. Batwoman #1
Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III and W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art and Cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III

Damn J.H. Williams for being so talented. It would make it much easier for me to dismiss this book for the same reasons as Detective Comics and Batman: The Dark Knight if he was any less talented. I don’t have any idea how he will write this book, but at least he has the help of Blackman, who I know well from his Star Wars work. I think the team is solid enough to get it done, I just hope it doesn’t fall behind on schedule.

Again, I am unsure as to how the reboot will affect the story of the character. This book has been pushed back over a year, cancelled, uncancelled and then pushed back again so I have no idea where they’re going to start. There was a #0 issue released a while back but anything pre-reboot is not set in stone.I’ve waited long enough for this book, there’s no reason for me not to try it out after this much investment of hope.

Verdict: DOOM!

Catwoman #1

9. Catwoman #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and Cover by GUILLEM MARCH

Oh, Judd, I wish you wrote a more consistent book. I was one of the few people who seemed to like your runs on Batman and I quite like your work on Power Girl and Green Arrow. I don’t know how you’re gonna handle Catwoman, but I assume that I’ll hear about it later and pick it up around issue 3. Guillem, I like your stuff, you draw pretty things and ladies that look soft. Keep it up.

I really have no idea what to think about this. I like the direction DC has been going with her recently, devoted to Batman, but still independent and absolutely willing to steal whatever she wants. Don’t know if that will stay, but I might check it out later rather than sooner.

Verdict: POSSIBLE DOOM!

Red Hood And The Outlaws #1

10. Red Hood And The Outlaws #1
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art and Cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT

Same reservations that I had for Superboy. Scott Lobdell is going to be overworked. Another downside to this book is that there is almost zero motivation for me to read it based on the idea. Rocafort, I’m unfamiliar with. From what I see that he’s done, it looks like a lot of cover work and a lot of drawings of intense-looking ladies.

I’m so very unaffected by this comic because I dislike the return of Jason Todd in the first place. He was Batman’s failure. He was the one that he couldn’t save. He hung over Bruce’s head and made him question himself in a way that nothing else really did. He reminded you that Joker was not a lovable prankster-villain, and if people don’t remember, he was killed off because the fans just. Did.Not. Like. Jason Todd. He was whiny and disrespectful and exactly the opposite of the kind of person that Dick Grayson was, just he had less of a reason to be unhappy than Dick. I never liked Jason as a character and I like The Red Hood even less. This book seems absolutely pointless to me other than for DC to have their magic number of comic books.

Verdict: NO DOOM FOR YOU!

Batwing #1

11. Batwing #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and Cover by BEN OLIVER

I’m not going to comment on Judd Winick again, I have the same complaints. Ben Oliver, I’m unfamiliar with, but he looks like he can draw a pretty good comic.

Batwing, is a bad idea. If you created a new hero to be DC’s watchman over Africa, great. However, by making him a Bat-hero, you’re reducing both him and the entire idea behind your Batman reboot. Batman Incorporate started because Bruce wanted Batman to be an idea, not just a single hero. That’s why he left Dick as Batman in Gotham while he went around the world doing crazy World-Batman things.Why not have a comic that follows all of these Batmen if you’re going to keep the idea of Batman Inc. alive? Why just focus on this one? Why not give a comic to El Gaucho or keep Knight and Squire in a book somewhere? This just seems like a forced idea and one that won’t last longer than a few trade paperbacks worth.

Verdict: NO DOOM FOR YOU!

Nightwing #1

12. Nightwing #1
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art and Cover by EDDY BARROWS and JP MAYER

I like me some Dick Grayson. I also like me some Dick Grayson as Nightwing. I also like me Kyle Higgins because the very few comics that he’s done have been funderful (yes, I said it, now back off!). Eddy Barrows, I also like. He’s done some great stuff in the past few years.

I hate to be repetitive, but I have no idea what they’re keeping of Dick and what they’re abandoning. Was he ever Batman? Are his parents still dead? Why is he wearing red as Nightwing? How is it that comic writers still believe that there are so many traveling circuses? I know that I want to find these things out. In summation, I really want to read this book, if just to see Dick as Nightwing again.

Verdict: DOOM!

Batman And Robin #1

13. Batman And Robin #1
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and Cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY

Tomasi…not so much. I liked Green Lantern Corps, but not much else and it eventually became boring. Gleason, he’s worked with before but I’m not a huge fan of his style.

This is a very wait and see kind of book. I don’t know what to expect from it and I don’t really know if I want to be a part of it. I hope its good. I really do.

Verdict: POSSIBLE DOOM!

 
 

DC Universe Presents #1

14. DC Universe Presents #1
Written by PAUL JENKINS
Art by BERNARD CHANG

I didn’t think I would be, but I’m really excited for this book. I’m a big fan of the idea of no star in the book, just a bunch of stories about heroes that might be forgotten. I can see this leading to some amazing one-shot stories and guest writers/artists. This book will probably be a great launching point for new artists/writers as well who DC doesn’t quite want to give their own book yet. If they use this right, this could be the best thing DC pulls out of the relaunch.

Jenkins has done great work on Hellblazer and great work on The Hulk, however, he also created The Sentry, which nearly absolves him of all his acclaim. Chang has done some good work but I don’t know enough about his bibliography to say if he’ll make or break the series.

Verdict: DOOM!

Green Lantern #1

15. Green Lantern #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and CHRISTIAN ALAMY

Johns, despite my repeated requests, just will not leave Green Lantern alone. He keeps introducing new mythos that has barely been hinted at and has to be shoehorned into the story while pushing the idea that Hal Jordan is “teh rawkzors” [SARCASM] and everyone else obviously sucks except for Barry Allen, who is so much cooler than Wally West [/SARCASM]. I really am tired of the Book of Oa/Guardian/Rainbow Lantern shitake mushrooms. Sadly, the Green Lantern madness over the past few years, much like Batman, has had too much effort to be abandoned and will probably remain mostly unchanged.

I will say that Mahnke has consistently put out a good book, no matter what it is, he draws an amazing splash page with incredible amounts of detail and consideration of story. I just wish the writer could put out a story that wasn’t so unpleasant to read. If I hear that its better than the past year of issues has been, I might pick it up.

Verdict: POSSIBLE DOOM!

Green Lantern Corps #1

16. Green Lantern Corps #1
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by FERNANDO PASARIN and SCOTT HANNA

Again with the Tomasi…

This book will probably be better than the main GL series, just because Hal Jordan annoys me so damn much. However, that’s not saying much because I’m not really a fan of Guy Gardner or John Stewart either. Its very easy to write both characters wrong and I haven’t read anything of Tomasi’s recently that convinces me that I should care.

Verdict: NO DOOM FOR YOU!

 

Green Lanterns: New Guardians #1

17. Green Lanterns: New Guardians #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art and Cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT

The collective world of Kyle Rayner fans and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that Kyle was not only not being ignored by the restructure of DC, but he was being given his own book. I’m not a huge fan of the Rainbow Lantern idea. Yellow was fun, Red was interesting at first, Star Sapphires are…sexy?, and Larfleeze is perfection, but I can pretty much live a happy life without ever again seeing Saint Walker or Indigo 007 hanging around and being mysterious and/or frustrating.

I can ignore all of the faults because Kyle Rayner has his own book though. I’m good. Have Rob Liefeld draw it and Jeph Loeb write it and I’d probably still read a book that was based around Kyle Rayner being awesome.

Bedard has done some great stuff and Kirkham has done some good stuff. I’m looking forward to it.

Verdict: DOOM!

TOTAL FOR BOOKS:

DOOM! – 7
POSSIBLE DOOM! – 6
NO DOOM FOR YOU! – 4

So, what I’ve learned from this first batch is that DC is definitely going for a certain look with their comics at the moment. There’s no unique ideas so far in the artist choices. Playing it safe? Maybe.

DC is also trying their hardest to appeal to a crowd that they don’t currently appeal to. Books like Red Hood and the Outlaws are directed towards people who have no attachment to characters and are looking for books based on title and visuals alone.

Join me next week as I tackle the next 17 books. On the 24th, I’ll be talking about the final 18 books and giving my review of JLA #1.

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About the Author

Michael Harris

Michael is an insomniac, comic book aficionado, college student, novice guitar player, novice song singer, sarcastic and probably unstable, twenty-something, and all around good guy.



  • Sharp-O

    That was a damn fine article, Mike. Without Batgirl and Secret Six, I think I’m down to just the GL books for the reboot but I’ll be checking some of them out. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Sinestro now he’s the focus of the main GL book while Hal’s benched on Earth. I agree with GLC becoming boring and I’m far more excited by the prospect of Kyle’s book (characters we’ve not really explored yet) and Red Lanterns (because fuck what anybody else says, I want more Dex-Starr)

    Can’t wait for the next one! :D

  • John

    Love the DOOM! verdicts. Reading these book descriptions, some of the titles seem ok, and the art looks wonderful (especially the Batgirl cover), but just rebooting everything switches me off. Makes me cherish my comic book boxes even more. Highly looking forward to part two!

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