Wayland chimes in on the first weeks of new #1′s.
The DC-nU has started in full swing this week, with the first massive drop of number ones. There are various hints of what’s in the past, as none of this is really a “start” for any of these characters, maybe barring Action Comics. In fact, that seems to me to be an area where they contradict themselves. It’s supposed to be more accessible for the “new” readers, but there already seems to be a good bit of back story for everyone that doesn’t necessarily jibe with what we’ve read before.Thanks to my local comic shop being amazingly generous (thank you Laughing Ogre/Phoenix Comics of Fairfax, VA), I have all of this week’s number ones. As a very long term DC fan with admittedly mixed feelings about the reboot, these are my rankings and quick commentary about them:Static Shock by Scott McDaniel:my greatest fears about this book when it was first announced were alleviated when they took Felicia Henderson off the title. Then I heard they were taking Static out of Dakota, and got even more worried. I was very pleasantly surprised by this title. It’s well written, there’s respect for his history, and there is a good reason he’s in New York. He’s also working with at least one other Milestone hero, which thrills me as I think they’ve been treated badly since DC got them. My pick for best of the week, although I still don’t like them changing the name to reflect the long off the air cartoon. Batgirl by Gail Simone: I am a rabid Gail fan, and admit it. I also had a lot of misgivings about this book. This first issue was ok. Not Gail’s best writing, and many many unanswered questions. Barbara was shot three years ago (a time frame that also pops up in Animal Man). Her time as Oracle is vaguely hinted at, but not exactly established, and there’s no mention at all of the Birds of Prey, Barbara’s home for so many years. Her speech patterns seem a bit weird, but it has potential, although I’m not a big of fan of the apparent deus ex machina healing of Barbara.Batwingby Judd Winick:
Winick is a polarizing writer, and I’ve found him to be hit or miss. Here, he’s on. Batwing is a new hero starting out in Africa, and an agent of Batman, Inc. Batman himself pops up a few times, but isn’t telling him what to do, he’s teaching, an important difference. I find his “secret ID” to be a good and interesting choice, and see potential here.
Green Arrow by J T Krul:
This book, to me, can’t quite decide what it wants to be. It almost seems to be the reverse of the Birds of Prey- an entire team of support for one field agent (GA). It’s written well, and has some interesting ideas, but it almost seems like it’s too tech heavy. Ollie is almost a walking utility belt. I do like that his back up team have different takes on everything (one urging him to blow up the villains’ car and be done with it, one having grave reservations about designing weapons at all). As a lifetime archer myself, I find his collapsible compound bow laughable. We also get the apparently obligatory hints about some tragedy in Ollie’s past that makes him feel the need to be Green Arrow now.
Detective Comics by Tony Daniel:
A decent Batman tale. I don’t like some aspects of the Great Leap Backwards, and Batman being hunted by the police, yet again, is a bit irksome. I also really don’t care for his armored redesign. But, Daniel writes Batman well, and he’s starting with the Joker, who he also does quite well. About my only major gripe is that since this is clearly neither the Batman’s beginning, nor his first dance with Joker, you’d think he’d have a counter-agent for Joker’s gas, which he doesn’t seem to.
Hawk and Dove by Sterling Gates:
There are bits and pieces of different history of Hawk and Dove in this start up issue. It’s Hank Hall and Dawn Granger. Don Hall was the first Dove, and is now dead, apparently in this world’s version of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. There is no mention of Holly Granger, who was Hawk for a time in the old DC. The heroes are in Washington DC, as they were in the 90s series, and Georgetown is mentioned a lot, where they went to school. For fans of more recent continuity, Dove is involved with Deadman, as seen in Brightest Day (Deadman may be second to Batman for “in the most books in DC-Nu”, JL Dark, JL, here…). Hawk is still a bit obnoxious, and we’ve moved back to he doesn’t quite trust Dove. Of course, she’s also keeping secrets from him, so maybe he has good reason to. We also see Kestrel, a big villain from the 90s series.
Justice League International by Dan Jurgens:
The JLI is an odd grouping of heroes, and plot points that apparently have history but aren’t explained very well. The Hall of Justice shows up, and is apparently important enough to have people protest it being used for the new team, but we don’t know what it used to be. Many of the hero selections seem a bit random, but there are some good choices. It was an ok first issue, but I didn’t find anything really special here.
Stormwatch by Paul Cornell:
This marks the beginning of folding the Wildstorm Universe into the DCU. Historically, this has never gone well. Anyone seen the Freedom Fighters mentioned for the DCNU? The Marvels? Red Circle? Most of Milestone? The list goes on… Here, we learn that the world’s heroes are unaware of Stormwatch, or at least that’s what they think, but the Martian Manhunter is on this team, and used to be with the Justice League. So J’Onn is apparently taking a page from Batman’s book and keeping secrets. Most of this issue is about a menace on the moon, an attempt to recruit Apollo (who J’Onn says may be the most powerful person on the planet), and some oddness involving a giant horn. Maybe if you read Wildstorm in the past, more of this makes sense.
Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder:
This was confusing. Alec Holland used to be Swamp Thing, remembers being Swamp Thing, but now isn’t. He’s a human, hiding out as a construction worker, who can sense plants. Some odd event is apparently reanimating dead creatures, and killing live ones, which makes Superman visit Alec, who claims “I”m not Swamp Thing, Superman, I never was Swamp Thing.” Even though he has memories of that time. The issue ends with Alec apparently meeting Swamp Thing. A whole lot of “huh?” going on here, but nothing that I really feel the need to follow up on. And Superman’s new costume still looks really odd to me.
Animal Man by Jeff Lemire:
What is it with creepy kids? Seems like everyone loves to do them. As the apparently sole surviving marriage in the DC Nu, I had high hopes for Animal Man. He’s been around about three years, been in movies and a hero, a spokesman for animal rights, and now is getting back into both movies and hero-ing more. The family is believable, but frustrating, as his wife both encourages him to be a hero and tells him to let the police handle things in this same issue. Cliff seems unchanged, but Maxine is displaying odd powers, hinted at in Buddy’s dreams, that manifest on the last page in true creepy kid fashion, twisting something cute into something really disturbing. The art here seemed a bit washed out in several places, it almost looked like water colors.
Action Comics by Grant Morrison:
If you’re a fan of Morrison’s recent work, you can stop reading, as nothing I say will matter. Personally, I’m a fan of his earlier work and haven’t liked a lot of his more recent stuff. Action is set at the dawn of Superman’s career, and there are changes a-plenty. He has a homemade uniform (I’ve seen cos-players do better, like at DragonCon this past weekend), works for a different paper than Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, and seems to be a lot more tough guy and a lot less inspirational. He threatens a crime lord into confessing in this story, which yes is true to how he started in the 30s, but isn’t who he’s been for some time. Decades, really. The police are hunting him, and General Sam Lane has hired Luthor as a consultant to capture him. There is a nice scene of the a crowd he helped defending him, and Luthor comparing Superman (they know he’s an alien) to various invasive plant and animal species throughout history is a nice touch, points for that. But overall, I don’t like this version of the Man of Steel. Morrison has gone back to how he acted in his first appearances, from power limits (he can’t fly) to attitude. I didn’t really care for the change.
O.M.A.C. by Dan Didio:
OK, I’m not Dan’s biggest fan. That said, this is, at least, better than his horrid stint on Outsiders. It’s a solid action piece with very little by way of explanation as to what the heck is going on. A scientist named Kevin Kho has apparently been transformed into a powerhouse called, of course, OMAC, and doesn’t remember most of what happens while he rampages around, doing the bidding of a remote voice we eventually learn is Brother Eye. There are some interesting support characters, and this does introduce DC stand by Cadamus to the new world. But overall, nothing really wowed me. A lot of mindless action, with possible explanations coming later. My pick for worst of the week.
More on DC’s new universe @ acomicbookblog.com/tag/new-dcu