Published on September 16th, 2011 | by Michael Harris1
A Week Late #13: DC Reboot – Week 3
I take on the third week of DC #1’s and try not to lose my enthusiasm for doing these weekly reviews. Sorry I’m late again. Also, sorry John and Aaron, I cuss a little bit in this one.
Children, be warned.
I shall first review the final two that I didn’t get to from last week:
Static Shock #1
Written by SCOTT McDANIEL & JOHN ROZUM
Art by SCOTT McDANIEL
I want Static to succeed more than any other book here. Even more than Animal Man, because I think that Static has been severely mistreated by DC at every instance. He hasn’t been given the attention that he deserves in the main DCU despite being a great character, and he’s almost always canceled at the first opportunity despite books of far lower quality being continued. This issue shows a lot of the potential that there is for a Static book. First, I love that Hardware is his mentor and guide in this iteration. I’m also a fan of him being moved out of Dakota City (not so keen on him moving INTO New York City, but it doesn’t bug me too much) because even the thought of Dakota is a sleepy sort of affair to me as someone who lives close to L.A. Rozum and McDaniel do some great stuff with the character right off the bat, making it a very science-friendly story, but with Mr. Terrific having an eerily similar fight to Statics, there’s going to be stiff competition over which one won’t actually be canceled.
Rating: 7.5/10 (Room for improvement)
Green Arrow #1
Written by J. T. KRUL
Art by DAN JURGENS
Krul…the name usually sends shivers up my spine, but he surprised the hell out of me. A lot of the books in the reboot have done that. Surprise seems to be a theme. Not always for the better, mind you, but a lot of just mistaken ideas about how good or bad a book was gonna be. Krul pulls out a damn good story here, going with a very young, very Smallville of Oliver Queen. His tech equipment and fighting ability in this book made him seem more like Batman than I ever expected him to. I like this. Dammit. I like it.
Rating: 8/10 (Downgraded for “Q-Core”)
Onto this week’s books:
Batman and Robin #1
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by PATRICK GLEASON
It could have been so beautiful. I wanted so much to read a book where Damien was being a little prick trying to earn Bruce’s trust and Bruce had to put up with him. Instead we get an overprotective Batman, Damien being more than capable, if a little careless in his methods, and a lot of vague references to a history which I’m not sure about. I don’t know what sections of the last few years of Batman that they’ve held onto. Bruce has been recently portrayed as absolutely on-the-ball. He’s been all over the world setting up Batman Inc. and still had time to check up on everything in Gotham. He had time to watch Tim and make sure he didn’t go over the edge, he had time to take care of the Gates of Gotham problem, but he seemed so unsure of himself near the end of this issue and Damien, instead of being a lovable scamp who is too smart for his own good but its ok because he doesn’t understand normal people, is an complete jerkass. He’s trying to fit in with his father but he shits on all of these memories that Bruce is trying to share with him. Its obviously a big moment, but he can’t even try to be sentimental. He’s not being unfeeling robot, he’s being a prick. Another issue of note is, I HAVE BATMAN’S PASSWORDS!!! Also, an issue I will address again later is the over-explanation. When you’re pulling radioactive material out of a big pool full of radioactive rods with radioactivity signs all around and you’re wearing radioactive containment suits, you don’t have to explicitly say that you’re pulling irradiated material out of this radioactive pool for a radioactive experiment. RADIOACTIVE! DANGER! WE’RE BAD PEOPLE! BATMAN SHOULD STOP US! ALSO, WE’RE GOING TO SAY EACH OTHER’S NAMES EVERY TIME WE TALK TO EACH OTHER BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE DO!
Rating: 8/10 (For obviousness and such, but sill awesome Batman)
Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III & W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art by J.H. WILLIAMS III
Colors by DAVE STEWART
Wow. I thought either the art or the story would suffer with Williams pulling double-duty but this could have fit right in to the Rucka books. As always with Williams’ work, the layouts were amazing and the varying art-styles work perfectly with the superhero/citizen dynamic. At one point in the story there is a bit of a jump to Batwoman training Firebird which felt awkward, but other than that the pacing was wonderful and the dialogue felt true. Blackman has done a wonderful job continuing the tone of the Rucka books that was so perfect. Its rare that you get a superhero book where you can call it poetic, but this book pulls it off. Batwoman also continues to face off against villians that are a bit out of the ordinary with La Llorona. I can’t wait for issue two, because this is my favorite thing this week.
Rating: 9.5/10 (Because every page was a work of art.)
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by R.B. SILVA
I didn’t hate this book. I went into reading it absolutely expecting to hate it. So, at least its got that going for it. Lobdell does a fair job and doesn’t really mess anything up, but he doesn’t do anything special either. The story was predictable, I can even tell you that Miss Redhead is gonna die when Superboy escapes the facility. It hasn’t happened yet, I just know its going to because that’s the way this book seems to be going. No surprises. I did quite like Superboy’s initial monologue dealing with the new experiences. Also, SCIENCE DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY! It kind of bothers me that he went into the whole genetic knowledge thing. I get that certain behaviors and traits can be passed down and that you can inherit a certain amount of creativity or potential to learn or even a certain proficiency in say…math, but not specific facts. Its just bad writing. Have him use his powers to figure out things, or have him use the alien and human super-intelligences that he inherited to figure it out, don’t have the knowledge just magic its way into his head. Also, he is obviously shown to be developing into his own person, and is learning things at an amazing rate, but he doesn’t even glance at the burning building? Narcissism aside, that’s just idiocy.
Rating: 5/10 (For making me re-think purchasing Teen Titans)
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art by JOE BENNETT
I don’t know why I thought this might be a good idea. I read the promos. I really did. I said to myself…”Self, this might be a good book, you should spend your money on it because its gonna be amazing, sincerely Self.” Well, I’ve figured out that Self is a gorram idiot. Instead of a badass Deathstroke who takes on assassinations and other such badassery (who apparently he is, but we don’t see that) we see a Deathstroke who has an “agent”, an annoying “agent” who is worried about his “image” and who sets him up with a “team” of “idiots” to do a “job”…its not good. Why not show us him having to be absolutely awesome to assassinate someone and show a superhero fail? Why not show him being a mercenary and bodyguard against some supervillians because he was getting paid well enough to take out some supervillains?Nope, we get some middle of the road story that doesn’t want to take a stand on whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy. We get to see him kill a bunch of people because he didn’t like their faces and leave his “agent” alive because he’s so very good at his job (hint: he’s not). I had such high hopes for you on this one Higgins…such high hopes.
Rating: 4/10 (For neutering Slade where the Teen Titans failed so many times)
Demon Knights #1
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by DIOGENES NEVES
I would’ve picked this up solely on Paul Cornell writing, and I did, but the book brought a story that I’m excited to read issue two of. We see the origin of Jason Blood, (sort of) his introduction to Madam Xanadu, Vandal Savage being a barbarian, Altair the Assassin…I mean Al Jabr the ambassador, Sir Ystin – The Shining Knight (from Seven Soliders of Victory fame), Exoristos who appears to be a Themysciran, and a mystery archer who I’m betting is either Artemis or somebody much more obscure like Xu Tao. I knew this was going to be a team book, but I am really excited to read about this team, especially when the last page shows them fighting Dragons. How can that not be awesome? It seems like its going to be a long-play storyline, building into the larger narrative of the current DCU, so I’m looking forward to more great storytelling here.
Rating: 9/10 (Only a nine because Etrigan didn’t rhyme)
Frankensteing: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI
First, I love the art in this book. Its gritty, its got character, its got…chutzpah. However, the story bothers me. Much like a lot of this reboot, the book that it came from (the three part Frankenstein Flashpoint tie-in) was rendered absolutely pointless. They came out and told you this pretty good three-part series about Frankenstein finding out about his history with some other misfit monsters. This book re-introduces the same characters, only now they’re less dynamic, less developed, and more expendable. Also, we get a first look at Ray Palmer (pre-or-post-Atom, I’m not sure) doing some super-science stuff for S.H.A.D.E. I’d like to point out that this book handles super-science in its short moments better than a lot of the other DC books. I really did like this book, despite expecting not to. I didn’t know what Lemire was going to bring to the table after a good, but not great mini-series. My main beef with the book is still that the characters are exactly the same, yet absolutelly different than in the mini.
Rating: 8.5/10 (Great story, lots of potential)
Green Lantern #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art by DOUG MAHNKE
Why do we get promised a book where Hal Jordan is no longer the Green Lantern, where Sinestro is the Green Lantern for this sector again and is on the cover a book, and end up with a book where Sinestro gets all of three pages (beginning and end) and Hal the entire middle of the book to moan and complain and figure out what life means now that he’s ruined everything else by being a dickhole? Did he learn anything by having his life pretty much ruined by his dickhole-ery? No. He still jumps across a building without thinking and ruins his life further. Why can’t Geoff Johns write a story where Hal has some personal growth and doesn’t stagnate in the same stupid behaviors? Why does everything always work out in the end for Hal Jordan despite everybody knowing exactly what is wrong with him and that he’s obviously not going to change? Because hell yes, that’s why. Because Geoff Johns doesn’t need to know about characterization and plot when you’ve got a ring that can make your fist into a bigger fist, but green. Also, Sinestro is going to get Hal his ring back. That sure lasted a while. Good job on that one.
Rating: 6/10 (For giving me hope of a non-Hal Jordan-centric book, and then giving me a Hal Jordan-centric book)
Written by NATHAN EDMONSON
Art by CAFU
My main problem with this story didn’t have to do with the narrative. It was that Grifter, a character that we’re supposed to be following in this book isn’t identified as having existed before this book until the last page. See, in origin stories, you’re supposed to get reasons why this character has his own story, you’re supposed to know why he’s a compelling character and not just some guy. Sure, he gets experimented on, sure he’s a con man, but he’s not special otherwise that we see. The military guys call him a “former Delta agent” which explains nothing, and on the last page he puts on his Grifter mask which has no significance to a new reader because you don’t know his history as Grifter, his training with Coda or his time with the WildC.A.T.s. The first issue of a story is supposed to hook the reader, make them want to read issue two. After this one, I regret the high praise I was willing to give it a few weeks ago.
Rating: 5/10 (For removing Grifter from a Grifter story)
Legion Lost #1
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA
Art by PETE WOODS
Again, for an origin story, an introduction for new readers, which this obviously is, you want to spend a little bit of time adjusting the reader to the new world. Fabian Nicieza does this fairly well in Legion Lost. He gets the characters with varying powers introduced, shows the predicament that they’re in and shows a vague, but dangerous threat that they must deal with. However, I have never really been a fan of Legion books, and this is a Legion b-team. I don’t particularly care about any of these characters as they’re all equally out-of-place and detached from the 21st century. They also all seem to have the same personality quirks of being overly analytical and quick to get disoriented. I might have read it wrong, but I just don’t think the characters were given enough differences. I might read a second and third issue on this, but I don’t see how its going to be very popular.
Rating: 7/10 (A fair story, but without a proper draw for a new reader)
Mr. Terrific #1
Written by ERIC WALLACE
Art by GIANLUCA GUGLIOTTA
I don’t know what to feel about this one. On one hand, DC finally has a book that legitimately explores super science concepts like pocket dimensions that Marvel has been handling for years now. On the other hand, about halfway through, the narrative jumps to a party where everything goes tits-up and Mr. Terrific goes unexpectedly crazy. It can be good if the storytelling gets a bit more cohesive or at least straightforward. While I’m talking about this, I’d like to point out a gripe that I have with a lot of these reboot books: the dialogue is way too on-the-nose. If you magnetize a villian, you don’t have to explain how and why you magnetized his metal suit.
Rating: 6.5/10 (For referencing snooker in a comic book)
Red Lanterns #1
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by ED BENES
I know that some people like Ed Benes. Most of the time, I can wholeheartedly agree that he is a damn good artist. However, he is also quite well known for drawing unrealistic, hyper-sexualized women who generally detract from the overall narrative. Just google search Ed Benes and only 4 pictures on the first page aren’t women looking “sexy” and as Aaron put so very well yesterday, this makes every other comic book reader look bad and not be taken seriously. That art does not belong in mainstream comics. There are other books where you can do that, any of the Executive Assistant books, for example, or Lady Mechanika, which is more than a little gratuitous. Now, onto the book. Despite my rant, Benes has quite a lot of restraint in this book and while Bleez gets her share of exhibitionary stances and angles that show off her assets, it didn’t really detract from the story. This is mostly because I didn’t care about the story in the first place. I’ve said before that I like Peter Milligan quite a lot, but this book is going nowhere. We’re supposed to feel bad for the rage-and-hate filled monster from space who kills people because the other rage-and-hate-filled monsters from space don’t want to listen to him anymore? No. Atrocitus was an alright character during all of the rainbow lantern madness, he constantly ripped on Hal Jordan which made him O.K. in my book, but here, he’s just boring. Not even Dex-Starr made me care about this book. Also, “take care, it’s spiteful” is bad…bad writing.
Rating: 4/10 (Bad idea from the start, didn’t prove me wrong)
Resurrection Man #1
Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
DnA made me buy this book. They also made me murder a guy, but I don’t think that’ll hold up in court. Also, like the murder, I don’t regret buying this book. It was a solid story, nothing amazing really but enough to bring me in for issue #2. You get your character introduction, a nice little narrative on his motivations and how his powers work, and a clear enemy. Well…not clear because the enemy is Angels? Demons? Both? Definitely crazy people with teardrop tattoos who reference a higher power and souls…so maybe gang members? I just know that they are pissed at him and his delicious shiny soul.
Rating: 8/10 (For finally putting the hooded mystery woman in the foreground of a panel)
Suicide Squad #1
Written by ADAM GLASS
Art by FEDERICO DALLOCCHIO
There are very few people who I’d expect to be able to match Gail Simone’s madness and wit. Secret Six was disturbing and funny at the same time, while not losing any of the drama and tension, not an easy thing to do. Adam Glass makes a fine offering in this issue. I was worried reading this that it was going to be entirely centered on Harley Quinn, not necessarily an awful thing, but popularity of a character does not equate to quality of a character. She’s always been the annoying sidekick to The Joker, and in Gotham City Sirens she was the annoying sidekick to Catwoman. She has some great dramatic moments, but they never equated to much past those moments. That being said, I’ve always thought she’d do really well in a team book like Secret Six. She’s sadistic enough to hang with the villains but she’s cutesy enough to entertain those looking for a more lighthearted book. Glass does a great job, however, of balancing the character-time in this issue. Harley and Deadshot share the spotlight, and while I miss Catman and Bane, I think this can actually be a great book. The new costumes don’t bother me either, I really didn’t have any loyalty to the red, white, and black anyways. I really look forward to seeing where this book goes, especially with the way this issue ends.
Rating: 8.5/10 (For making me not cringe at Harley Quinn for a second or two)
On the Marvel side of things I also picked up:
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Art by SARA PICHELLI
Not much happens in this one, but unlike with Grifter, that’s ok. We learn that Osborne is trying to recreate Spider-Man,we get to see the development of the new Spider-Man, and we see a crazy Douglas Adams spider being accidentally stolen by Ultimates universe Deadpool. Then we meet the new alliteratively named Spider-Man…boy, who is a down on his luck city boy who’s good for nothing uncle gets him Spider-Man-ed by way of said accidentally stolen Douglas Adams spider. Also, he can turn invisible. The End.
Uncanny X-Force #15
Written by RICK REMENDER
Art by JEROME OPENA
Colors by DEAN WHITE
The best book Marvel is putting out is still great as the X-Force deals with a lot of not-ok going on in the Age of Apocalypse universe. Words collapsing, life seeds, death seeds, crazy Archangel, and time manipulation. All wonderful.
Here Comes Daredevil #3
Written by MARK WAID
Art by PAOLO RIVERA & JOE RIVERA
Colors by JAVIER RODRIGUEZ
A book that I picked up on a whim and have absolutely loved gets a finish to a (first?) story arc. Matt Murdock is back as Daredevil and is trying to figure stuff out after having been possessed by a demon known collectively as a “bad major story event”. Post-Shadowland Daredevil has to handle being untrusted by superheroes and the public alike because of his possession. All of this happens while Paolo & Joe Rivera do some amazing artwork. I can’t wait to read more.