The New 52 From A Newbie’s Perspective [The Sequel!]: Part 1

So a while back, I wrote a review of the first six issues of a bunch of the DC NU titles. For a quick recap, you can find those here:

http://acomicbookblog.com/2012/03/the-new-52-from-a-newbies-kinda-perspective-part-1/

http://acomicbookblog.com/2012/03/the-new-52-from-a-newbies-kinda-perspective-part-2/

http://acomicbookblog.com/2012/04/the-new-52-from-a-newbies-kinda-perspective-part-3/

Well another six months have passed and I’m back again for the second half of DC’s relaunch year. Has it gotten better? Or has the same ridiculousness continued to be spewed. Only one way to find out, and that is to read on.

So once again, I am not a DC fan or collector. I do however have a solid general knowledge of the post Crisis universe and all of the heroes and villains of that era. I know all of the major occurrences and have every major “event” that has happened since then. So with the help of my local comic shop, who keeps a reading set available at all times, I was able to read up on where the DC NU is headed after an entire year of issues. Let the high praise/carnage begin again.

Action Comics
With such a terrible first six, I really wasn’t looking forward to the next six. But maybe, just maybe the writer would actually put in some effort and write a decent group of stories. Maybe he would actually expand on the main character and give him a deeper supporting cast. Maybe???

Or then again, maybe not. Once again, I was completely disappointed with these books. The Braniac story ended rather dully. Sure there was some action, FINALLY. But still, it was extremely confusing as to what Superman can really do. There is still no real origin to him. It’s been a year and we still don’t know where this character came from, what his youth was like, or where he gets his moral compass from. What happened to his parents? What are the extents of his powers? Why does he need a suit of armor? He’s F’n Superman for god’s sake. And once again, why the hell do you need to create a full comic interlude about an alternate earth Superman? We don’t care. You barely told us anything about this Superman, now we have to wonder about another one? What’s funny is that the other Superman actually had his origin told in the issue. Captain Comet got an origin, but not Superman? On top of the poor expansion on the Superman character, Luthor was also ignored. And as an additional insult to a supporting cast that does not exist, Clark Kent was killed off too. Then his new alter ego was killed off three issues later. WTF? What’s the point of that? Stop wasting pages with nonsensical crap that gets forgotten or erased two seconds later and write a more coherent story. Expand on the supporting cast. Hell, have some actual fight scenes. Because so far, this is the worst Superman run I have ever read. (Not that I read a lot of Superman in general) One last little bit of confusion. Why are the Justice League here? If this book takes place when Superman just arrives in Metropolis, hasn’t the Justice League not been formed yet? Continuity, people. Look it up. It’s been your downfall for decades. Especially the Green Lantern reference, since the current Green Lantern series is a direct pre reboot continuation with absolutely no changes while the Justice League is a 100% reboot. Both things cannot occur at the same time. And why does Superman look like he’s 12 in some panels and older in others? He looks like a child when he is surrounded by the Justice League. Lois definitely seems older than him. So many little things that make absolutely no sense makes this title a bust for me. Which is really sad for the flagship title of a company.

Final Grade: F

Superboy
I was incredibly surprised at how much I enjoyed the first six issues of this series. (Mainly because of the Teen Titans) Can the joy continue?

In my opinion, this title will not be able to stand on the lead character alone. Every issue has a Teen Titans guest appearance. First it was the Culling crossover, (which was AWESOME), then Wonder Girl shows up and crosses with Teen Titans. Then Bunker appears. Issue 12 was the first time Kon-El has a chance to shine in the title and it was ok. We need more of these solo stories to help solidify Superboy as the star of the series. The title of this series is Superboy, not Superboy and special guest. I do enjoy the writing and the art is phenomenal, but its been a year and there is no growth to Superboy as an individual. I do like that we are getting some expansion on Superboy’s powers and how they work. I like the interactions he has with the Titans, especially Wonder Girl and Red Robin. The little hints of mystery also adds to the appeal of this book. Just let Kon-El grow some more individually and this could be a great series.

Final Grade: B

Teen Titans
First 6? LOVED THEM. Next six?????

In my opinion, this really is the best team book out there other than JLI. I love seeing all of these kids working together and actually acting their age. The writer has done a wonderful job giving each of them individuality and great backstories. I love the mystery behind Kid Flash and Wonder Girl. Solstice is a great character. I really want to know more about her. I do wish we had some origins. Also, the attempts to tie Red Robin to Batman raises a continuity issue. Does this mean that there were no other Teen Titans before this team? Dick Grayson never formed a team, even though Roy Harper mentioned a connection in Red Hood and the Outlaws? Definitely some confusion going on. But let’s shelf that for now. This title really had some awesome action and team building harmony. The villain and the foreshadowing was great. I do want to give the writers of the DC NU a huge thumbs up for their attempt to tie in a lot of the titles to each other. That is how you properly build a universe. I just wish there weren’t so many continuity issues. The overall art was fantastic once again. Really cool action splashes and battle scenes. I really love Harvest’s look. He really dominates the pages he is on with his menacing appearance. I would definitely keep collecting this title for a long time.

Final Grade: A

The Ravagers
Spinning out of the Teen Titans series comes a group of refugees fighting to survive in a world that wants them dead.

In my opinion, this book is not as strong as the series it spun out off. I have read four issues so far and it all seems a blur. I know that there is a big connection in this book to the characters from the old Image series Gen 13. The problem is that Fairchild does not appeal to me as a character. She is a weak leader who keeps second guessing herself. There is way too much inner monologueing. The villains are the only cool characters in the bunch. We all know Rose will eventually switch sides so let’s cut to the chase and have it happen already. Top it off with Gar, AKA Beast Boy, one of the oldest members of the pre DC Nu Teen Titans being completely revamped is not something that works for me. The art is spectacular but does not carry the book. We need to see some more growth of this ragtag group as a team. We need a real leader to show up or for Fairchild to grow a pair and take command. Also, an origin for Ms. Fairchild would be useful as well. I’ll keep on reading but without some improvements, I don’t think this will be a series I can get into.

Final Grade: B-

Green Arrow
The first six issues were all right. A great Green Hornet (whoops, I meant Arrow) story with some pretty cool action. Can it get better?

In my opinion, this book has fallen off a cliff. The Skylarks story was complete lunacy. There was absolutely no sense of fear or dread. No suspense at all. I think Ollie just treated the entire situation as a joke where he got to play with his arrows and get some ass. No point whatsoever. From there we get some random robot/cyborg story that felt completely out of place in a Green Arrow comic. From there, we get a decent sort of story that can actually contribute to Ollie’s future growth and transformation into the anti-establishment people’s champion that we all know and love. We end it with some random tale from another country. What really upsets me is the horrible way the stories no longer flow. There is no connection between any of the one and done tales. There is no continuity. At least they reference Justice League to give the reader some sort of timeline so they know that these books are part of continuity and not some random tale of the past. Still, the first 6 issues were definitely better written, laid out, and thought out. Even the art looked better in the first six. If I was a fan, I would be done with this series.

Final Grade: F

Deathstroke
Deathstroke meets his match. Twice.

In my opinion, this book is improving. The first story arc ended kind of boringly. Nothing spectacular. Everybody lives. Ho hum. Then we had a really nice character issue where we get a peek into Deathstroke’s inner drive and motivation. It was a nice heart warming moment. Then the big change happens. Rob Liefeld takes over. I was dreading this and feared it would be the death of this series. (The man can draw with the best of them but his storytelling is sometimes lacking) What I found when I actually dove into the arc is the return of one of my favorite DC characters ever. Lobo, the DC NU version. He is just as psychotic and bad ass as the regular one. And twice as funny. The battle between the two was incredible and really sucked me into this title. Now with Zealot, of Wildcats fame, being a possible supporting character, it makes the book even better. I also like how we’re expanding on Deathstroke’s powers and abilities. The armor reveal was completely unexpected, and makes me want to know more. How did he get it? Where did his powers come from? God, if only we had an origin to add some history to this character. But that lack seems to be a constant throughout the DC NU. Still, I loved the Lobo story arc and am now actually looking forward to what comes next. .

Final Grade: B+

Suicide Squad
The first six issues was a roller coaster of death and betrayals. Will the next six keep the same formula?

In my opinion, this book is still awe-freaking-some. The whole joker/harley issue was just nuts. The writer is really digging deep into Harley’s psyche and showing us what a true insane person acts like. (I loved the little quickie origin that we got for her as well) I definitely enjoyed the whole traitor story arc. I kind of knew who it was immediately because of the obviousness of it, but still, the mystery was cool. I do love the complexity that is being added as the series grows. Lots of new levels of treachery for Amanda Waller and a backstory as to a mysterious past. I like the tie-in to Resurrection Man. This is definitely something that is a common theme among the DC NU. Always crossing over with another book so the reader can at least get a taste of some other DC title. Its smart business. The art is sensational. The violence is non-stop. The story is complex and cool. Definitely a great overall title.

Final Grade: A

Stormwatch
The team that protects the earth from the rest of the galaxy, I think. Plus the Martian Manhunter, or not.

In my opinion, this title is just terrible. I still know nothing about the characters. There is absolutely nothing about the series that appeals to me. I was not a Stormwatch reader when Image published it and I feel no connection to anything about the series now. Having the Martian Manhunter made the attempt of integrating the title into the DC world, but didn’t really succeed. At least not for me. Also, now that he’s gone, there really is absolutely no reason for me to read this book. That’s why I don’t plan to any more. Great art though, once again.

Final Grade: F

Animal Man
One of the best relaunches of the DC Nu keeps on going. Can the superior art, story, and weirdness of the first six issue continue?

In my opinion, HELL YES. This comic, along with it’s counterpart, Swamp Thing, is truly the best and most thought out concept of the entire DC Nu. The supernatural aspect is tremendous. The family dynamic is always present. The suspense and the pulse pounding story is incredible. Even though it has been a year long tale, I’m still very interested and yearning for more. It doesn’t feel stretched out or hollow. Each issue has some valid plot progression and adds growth to the entire tale. I love how Buddy’s family is in the thick of it as well. Really puts a more realistic spin to the insanity. Of course, the cross with the Swamp Thing makes this story even better, considering how good that book is right now as well. Top it off with incredibly detailed art and this book now becomes a visual wonderland too. I liked the cameo by JL Dark which further helped to cement this book into current DC continuity, something that is not overly apparent in all of the DC Nu books. The Rot concept is also incredibly cool. I definitely think it has something to do with the Black Lantern from Blackest Night, but only time will tell. To me, this is definitely a must read every single issue.

Final Grade: A+

Swamp Thing
The first six issues were a struggle of acceptance. Now that he’s taken the mantle, it’s time to take the fight to his enemies. Pity his enemies.

In my opinion, this title keeps on delivering the same greatness of the first six issues each and every month. The action and artwork is amazing. Really cool supernatural images. Very artistic visuals of shapes and colors. As for the story, that is extremely well done. Like Animal Man, each issue adds to the entire story. There are no throw away issues or wasted space. It’s the TPB writing mentality without the filler issues. The struggles that Alec is going through and the growth that he experiences in his acceptance of his fate is really interesting to read. His battle to retrieve the love of his life is very touching and draws in the reader. You want to root for this poor monster to succeed and thrive. The villain is awesome. The whole family dynamic is weird but adds layers to the story. Also, the tie in to Animal Man shows me that the writers really planned out this tale in detail. For any fan of supernatural stories, this one is a winner.

Final Grade: A+

Demon Knights
Dungeons and Dragons meets the Dc Nu and the results are AWESOME.

In my opinion, this title is still one of the best book to emerge from the reboot. Just watching these characters from multiple backgrounds interact with each other is a blast each and every issue. Not to mention that their motives are always to be questioned which adds levels of surprise and shock to each issue. The action is fast paced and plentiful. The humor is scattered throughout the book, which makes the read that much more enjoyable. The art is stunning and reminiscent of the old Barry Windsor Smith style of Conan books. The stories are all fantasy based and feel exactly like a game of D&D. I really have absolutely nothing bad to say about this title. Any fantasy fan would be overjoyed after reading this title.

Final Grade: A+++


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7 Comments

  1. Uncaringmachine says:

    Wow, someone who actually likes what Liefeld has done with Deathstroke! I don’t care for his art, but I have been buying Deathstroke from the beginning. I actually felt that it has taken a severe dip in quality, but I’ll keep supporting it until they correct it.

  2. Okay, as the reviewer of ACTION COMICS, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address a few the issues you bring up in your review.

    First, and most easily, you can put your mind at rest regarding the League’s appearance in in the second arc. The first arc of JL also takes place 5 years ago, between the first and second arcs of ACTION, explaining their appearance here.

    Secondly, he needs armor in the early days because his power levels aren’t at God-Like yet, and as you saw in the first arc bombs, robots and such can still draw blood. Also, it’s a symbolic connection to his homeworld. And while I also agree that it’s silly for SUPERMAN of all people to wear armor, at least there’s an interally consistant reason within the story itself.

    As for the Origin, I don’t think anyone even remotely familiar with the character will be confused as to whether he’s from the future or if the Kents beat him everyday without being told. But for those that are, the interlude issues 5 and 6 showed the destruction of Krypton, the rocket flight to Earth, the adoption by the Kents, Pa Kent teaching Kid Clark about being a hero and making Clark promise, on his death bed, to never give up the fight for good.

    Not sure what else you’d need. And for those who DO need more than that, the back ups by Sholly Fisch have gone into even more depth regarding his time in Smallville.

    And wihle I’ve agreed that not enough time was spent building the relationships between Clark, Lois and JImmy at the beginning, again the back-ups have added to this, as did the recent Zero issue by Morrison himself.

    The interlude with President Superman did seem to come out of left field, but in a recent interview, Morrison hinted that it’ll tie into the end of his run on ACTION. Plus, it was just a really good story.

    Now, again, I’m not saying ACTION has been perfect. And I certainly believe you are entitled to your opinion of the story.

    I just wanted to take a minute and offer a counterpoint to those views, espeically for any other “newbies” out there who might not give this comic a chance based on your account of it.

    And I can safely say that this is NOT the worst Superman story I’ve ever read, and I’VE read almost all of them.

  3. Sherlock says:

    Hey, these articles are really brilliant. I enjoyed them the first time ’round and it’s awesome to see you taking a 2nd look.

    What’re the chances of “Marvel NOW! from a Newbie’s Perspective”? That would be really useful for me as I wanna get into Marvel.

  4. Victor Kutsenok says:

    Let me just say, uncaringmachine, that I am not a fan of what Liefeld did with Deathstroke, but a huge Lobo fan. If Lobo was not in the title, I might not have had as high praise as I did.

    Sherlock, I appreciate the love. As for Marvel NOW!, I’m not really a newbie there, but I can try to do a 1st story arc review on the relaunched titles. We’ll see.

    Phillip, I understand your passion in defending the book you are reviewing and the character you have a loving history with. However, and I blame the TPB mentality of writing for this, I still feel that this is not Superman. This is not the man who always does right. This is not the Superman that I have randomly read issues of for the past 30 years. There is way too much missing or different about the character and his supporting cast, especially Luthor. There are too many extreme changes to a character that needs no change at all. Maybe this is not the worst Superman story I’ve ever read, but it is definitely the worst interpretation of the character I’ve ever read.

    Thanks for the comments guys, and please keep them coming.

  5. NCDawgfan says:

    Yeah, I gotta say, i’ve been really disappointed with Action Comics so far. It was one of the books I was most excited for when the new 52 got started. I’d never really read Morrison before, but I knew a bunch of people think he’s one of the best writers in comics. And I’ve always wanted a good jumping-on point to get into a Superman series. I’ve read every issue so far, and my reaction is pretty consistently, “What the hell is going on here?” In so many ways, it’s just not what I expect from a Superman comic. And while I know many people (especially Morrison fans) will say something like, “That’s what makes it so brilliant,” I just don’t but it. Snyder’s Batman is written in a way that can appeal to ANYONE — from someone who’s never even heard of Batman to life-long Bat-fans. And that’s precisely what I’d expect from one of DC’s signature books. My impression with Action Comics, though, is that it really only appeals to (a) Morrison disciples, and (b) life-long Superman fans. Unfortunately, I’m neither of those things. So I’m just patiently waiting for Morrison’s departure, and hoping for the best from the next writer.

  6. Tommy says:

    I dropped Action, too, it was not an accessible read for me. Morrison’s stuff is like that; some of it I love, some of it, no. What I did like about what he was doing was the one book stories and how he jumped around the timeline, that was refreshing.

  7. T. A. Ewart says:

    Action Comics has been inconsistent from the onset. There were two good issues: 2 & 12. Morrison tried to write it not only with a GA Superman, but with a GA style where 8 stories are packed into one issue. Ambitious, but it didn’t work. It didn’t help that Superman was portrayed so much differently in Justice League and Superman. The errors were legion: for instance, it’s said that Superman needed the suit to protect him from things while he was young and still developing (Morrison never said this, it was an explanation for the Superman comic, see the problem?). However, in issue 2, Superman’s clothing survives enough electric current to burn a hole in a couch with no problem (so does he by the way). He’s clocked running faster than a police car, and that speed, with the jumping and all, would destroy any pair of boots . . . even Timberlands! Superman appears in Justice League, which is supposed to be his first year as well, and takes out everyone but Darkseid with no problem. He obviously doesn’t need the suit, but the change has to be justified, even if it means insulting one’s intelligence.
    Did we really need another origin story? It broke no new ground, and did little to establish who this Superman is. Correction, it did NOTHING to establish who this Superman is in terms of core and character. The death of Clark’s father, the promise he makes to him on his deathbed are pivotal scenes that shouldn’t be ignored. Instead we saw a Jon Clark that approved of Clark using his abilities to perform impish pranks on those he felt deserving of a comeuppance. How heroic. What is more the President Superman story portrayed a Superman that was closer to what Superman is, than what we saw in the previous issues. Intelligent, confident, powerful, and a hero, not a bully or a jerk or a quitter (remember issue #3?).
    Ironically, the most recent issue of Action should have been the first, and this should have all been a Superboy story, reinventing the adventures of Superman, when he was a boy.

    Superboy? My Lord, what a disappointment! Why is he even wearing the “S”. This could be called Weapon S or S-boy, or anything else and it would make no difference.

    Oh, I haven’t reviewed for a bit because of my new, beautiful son. So all of you thinking those titles are up for grabs, back off. WAY OFF. Just kidding of course, but I did want to address me commenting, here, and not reviewing, there.

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I have been a comic collector and reader for 25 years. My major comic love is all things Marvel with the X-Men being at the top. I also dabble in anything and everything that catches my eye. Guess that makes me the "all over the place" reviewer. A title which I claim with pride. I am a happily married man of almost 10 years living in Brooklyn, NY with my wife and two amazing boys. I hope you enjoy my opinions and I look forward to reading and responding to any comments or criticisms.