The New 52 From A Newbie’s Perspective [The Sequel!]: Part 2

Here is part two of my second round of reviews of the DC reboot. Let the high praise and/or carnage continue.

Justice League
What a sad thing that the flagship title of the DC Nu happened to be it’s biggest disappointment. Let’s see if the second story arc can make up for the multiple mistakes of the first.

In my opinion, this second arc is a vast improvement on the first, but still falls way short of being worthy of the Magnificent Six (+ Cyborg). There is still a massive mistake in this title. That mistake is that the characters in it are being written as individuals and not as a team. This is the Justice League. They are supposed to work as a team. I don’t care how solo each individual is, the whole point of this book is seeing the BEST super heroes of the Dc Nu work together. JLI and JLD have it right. Why can’t this title? Is Geoff Johns incapable of writing a team book? We know the answer to that is no. His Green Lantern books shows great skill with teams and teamwork. For some reason, that just doesn’t seem to translate here. There is still too much focus on one character per issue. It really isn’t until issue 12 that the TEAM dynamic actually starts to emerge. As for the kiss heard around the world, who gives a crap? It’s not edgy or earth shattering. It’s actually logical. Why not have these two hook up? They are perfect for each other. This is a reboot and Clark and Lois are a non issue in any of the solo Superman books so it’s not like its ground breaking material here. What I am really, really enjoying is the Shazam supplemental story. I really like watching this character grow and mature as he is about to earn his powers. Really nice stuff. There is a small issue that I do have. Pandora was introduced in issue #6. Shouldn’t we have at least a few pages devoted to her in issue #12? Also, what about the mystery character with the skull pin from #6? No more mention of that either? I hate when plot threads are created but left hanging for months on end. Johns does the same thing at the end of issue #12. Hopefully we’ll get to address some of those previews. At least the art is top notch, as can be expected from Jim Lee.

Final Grade: B-

Earth 2
I could not pass in this one folks. THE ORIGINAL team of super heroes. FINALLY!! Will this be worthy of JSA titles of old? Or will the reboot just completely destroy my love of the greatest group of super heroes of all time?

In my opinion, this books works. It really fires off on all cylinders. It does what Justice League failed miserably to do. It shows you on the cover what you are going to get and then it actually delivers in spades. I love the story behind the death of the holy trinity and the birth of the new age of Super Heroes. It kind of paralleled the first story arc in the Justice League so the extreme difference to how this war ends was catastrophic. I also love how each issue is dedicated to the origin of another hero in the JSA. I don’t really care that the characters themselves are being completely rewritten, personality wise, as long as they keep the same names. I really like the villain. Could he possibly be a servant to the ROT from Animal Man/Swamp Thing? That would be a really cool connection and possibly lead to a future meeting between the heroes of Earth 2 and our Earth. (Another Crisis maybe??) In any case, I can’t wait to see where this title is going and how each of these somewhat new characters will grow and mature. Finally, a reboot book that has gotten it perfectly correct on all levels.

Final Grade: A+

Justice League International
The first six showcased the best of what a team book starting from scratch should look like. Will the greatness continue?

In my opinion, this title has been incredible each and every issue. What a crying shame that is is cancelled. There was actual team dynamics. There was great chemistry between the teammates. There was loads of emotion and suffering as the team went through growing pains. The writing was spot on. No one got the spotlight or the lead role. Everything was going fine. We had a death and a replacement. (Not an original death though, since Rocket Red was killed off before during the Millennium crossover “event”. So that was my one little snag in an otherwise perfect title) All typical stuff for a great book. I liked the crossover with Firestorm and OMAC. It allowed the reader some exposure to other DC Nu characters. Something that has been consistent throughout the entire reboot and a great marketing scheme. I really loved the Annual and watching the complete destruction of everything that was built up in the first year. I guess the writers figured that if you’re going to go out, might as well leave a bloody battered carcass behind so everyone remembers you were there. What a tremendous series and truly a devastating loss now that it’s gone.

Final Grade: A

Justice League Dark
The first six were confusing, but cool. Now, with a vampire crossover, and some new members, can this weird title keep up the good work?

In my opinion, this was still a pretty decent read. I just wish Constantine wasn’t the main focus of the book. I want some less focus on him and some more on the rest of his teammates, I think this title would be a lot more entertaining. If I wanted to read a book with Constantine as the lead character, I’d go read Hellblazer. The I, Vampire crossover was surprisingly good and was pretty action packed. I loved the new members, especially Timothy Hunter. When the Books of Magic were mentioned, I immediately recalled the old Vertigo series of the same name. The returns of the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets had me, a massive Sandman fan, jumping out of my seat. Not happy that Cain wasn’t their host but you can’t have it all. I’m really glad how this title is incorporating and reinvigorating all of those great titles of old. The story itself was a nice roller coaster ride of betrayals, mystery and magic. The mystery villain behind it all definitely has me guessing and extremely looking forward to the big reveal. I’m also extremely happy by all of the familiar faces that keep popping up every issue. Some great classic heores and villains are being dusted off and given another chance at the spotlight. Let’s hope the trend continues because so far, this series is pretty awesome.

Final Grade: B+

I was not happy with all of the change in the first story arc. Can I get over my shock and actually allow myself to accept the changes so I can enjoy this series?

Turns out that I can. In my opinion, this was a really good read. Even with all of the changes and characters who I have only brief knowledge of, I actually enjoyed this second run of books much more than the first six. The biggest positive was the actual inclusion of a supporting cast and allowing Clark to interact with them. Lucy Lane is really cool. I’ve actually never heard of her before this and it was really cool to see how she fit into the Clark/Lois dynamic. One thing that becomes instantly apparent is that Lois does not love Superman yet. She is just a reporter doing her job. Jimmy is still a goofy little brother. And Lex is nowhere to be found. The entire Daemonite story arc was cool, especially the one in the Annual which ties in the myriad of alien super heroes currently living on the planet. What I found rather insulting was the references to the Thirteen Scions of Salvation. To me, a lifelong X-Men fan, it was a complete rip off of the Thirteen storyline set in place over 20 years ago when Master Mold predicted of 13 mutants that will be the saviors of the mutants and usher in a new era. Bad call on the naming there DC. Still, the action was intense and non-stop. The little episode in Russia gave Clark a little bit of character growth and allowed him to loosen up a bit. He was also faced with a moral dilemma that he handled rather well. The entire six issue run changed the mood of the series completely. It was no longer a one focus driven title. Now there are multiple storylines occurring at the same time. We are getting to see more and more of Superman’s powers and him learning to use them. There are multiple references to other DC books which allows for some semblance of continuity to be set in. The art is really nice too. This all looks really good for a book which started off rather slow and dull, and who’s sibling book Action is a complete waste of paper so far. If the trend continues, then I am definitely looking forward to this title.

Final Grade: B+

The first arc was the best read of all the Super titles. Will this trend continue, since Action sucked and Superman was just starting to pick up steam?

In my opinion, I really like this title. This feels like a reboot title should feel. We are getting in on the ground floor of a character and watching her being slowly developed into the character we all know and love. I like seeing her learn about her powers and her past. I love watching her try to fit into a strange new world that she knows nothing about. It’s an excellent example of what character growth is all about. Top that off with some incredible action and snippets of humor and we have a great read. Add to that the fact that the story arcs are not being dragged out any more and we actually get to see a lot of plot progression. The mystery of Kara’s past is being planted quite nicely and keeps the reader interested. The art is great. I like the intro of the Silver Banshee and the fact that a potential supporting cast is being created. Nothing defines a hero more than their arch enemy and how they interact with their supporting cast. Since we don’t have a real arch enemy yet, (though they are trying to create one with Simon Tycho), then the supporting cast becomes that much more vital. I’m a little confused as to why she hasn’t learned to speak the language yet. She is Supergirl. She should have that ability too. I guess she hasn’t developed that power yet. Soon, I guess. In any case, I love the current direction this book is taking and can’t wait to read some more. At least one Super book has gotten it right. Too bad it wasn’t all of them.

Final Grade: B+

The first story arc bored me to tears. Can the next one cause my low opinion of this title to change in a flash? (Like that? I used a pun. I am not scholastically challenged, even though reading this title makes me feel that way)

In my opinion, I still have no clue what I am reading. The new explanation for the Speed Force made no sense to me. It completely rewrites any and all of the past theories on the Speed Force. Theories that made actual sense. I do understand why this new direction was created for it. That way, if the DC Nu ever needs to go back to the old continuity, the Speed Force can actually cause that to happen. A back door to escape from in case another continuity disaster occurs. (Which from the looks of the books coming out now is a distinct possibility) The introduction of the Rogues, however, was extremely well done. I loved that each issue was devoted to a single Rogue which culminated in an origin and a resolution in the Annual. An excellent, well thought out bit of writing. The art was kind of so-so but you really can’t have everything, can you? I do think that the verbiage has also been brought down to a more everyman style of writing. Overall, the second story arc was very well done. Let’s hope the trend continues.

Final Grade: B+

The first six reminded of an A list comic doing C list material with no hope for the future. Will the next six finally sink this title to the bottom of the comic ocean or will Geoff Johns mount an incredible comeback?

In my opinion, this series has just risen from the ocean depths and exploded into a full tidal wave of greatness. (See, I can do the fish/water puns too) Geoff Johns is a very smart writer. What do you do with a one dimensional character that you have no clue how to write and make him more interesting? Why add a whole super team of supporting characters and create a past that is 100% brand new. This will allow you to stop focusing on the character you don’t know how to write, you know, the solo star of the book, and write something you actually can do, a team title. It makes you less dependent on any actual history for the character by just making one up of your own. Then add an awesome villain, like Black Manta, and a bunch of death and mystery, and you have a winner. I really enjoyed the backstory of the Others and learning more about Arthur’s past. I loved the sexual tension and the comedic situations that Arthur was put in because of it. For once, Geoff laid off the fish jokes and actually put some relevant humor in to the story. The race for the artifacts of Atlantis was great and added some suspense to the title. Top it off with action, tragedy, and some actual emotion, and this story arc has definitely been a complete success. Kudos for an incredible turnaround.

Final Grade: A-

Wonder Woman
After reading one long story for the first six issues, I was praying for a change and a shift in this title’s direction. Were my prayers answered?

In my opinion, this title has lost most of it’s appeal for me. What was potentially a cool story has now dragged for over a year with no end in sight. Don’t get me wrong. It is a pretty cool story. The problem is that it doesn’t really need Wonder Woman in it to be cool. You could take any god like character and interchange her with Diana and it would make absolutely no difference. The other issue I have with this title is it’s lack of position in the current DC Nu continuity. In fact, there is absolutely no connection between this title and any other DC characters. Unlike most of the other DC Nu titles, there is no crossover with any other book. It feels more like an Elseworlds story than a regular DC tale. At least it reached a conclusion and gave a small foreshadowing of a possible tie to the DC Nu. Not to mention that the action was pretty cool and the art was spectacular. Seeing the interpretations of the gods and the depictions of their domains was really nice. However, art alone cannot sustain any title. We need story. Relevant story. If this does not happen soon, this title will be just as irrelevant. And that is a very sad thing for such an iconic character.

Final Grade: C

I sort of liked the first six, until it got all complicated. Can the next six return this title to something fun?

Nope. Not gonna happen. In my opinion, this was just out of my depths. What started as a rip off of Species has turned into complete chaos for me. I don’t know or care who anyone is. All of the aliens and clones and family members are just way too much for me to process. For once, it was a case of information overload. I really lost any sense of curiosity I had for this title and completely stopped caring about any of the characters in it. A shame really if the goal of the writer was to create new fans. Oh well. Time to kiss this title goodbye. Still nice eye candy though.

Final Grade: D

Resurrection Man
The first six issues reminded me how potentially cool this character can be. It didn’t really deliver on that potential, but the potential was established. Also, there was a lot of visual T&A to enjoy. What will the next six bring?

In my opinion, this six issues was a vast improvement over the last six. There is still lots of eye candy to look it but a lot less of it. The villain, sort of, was an incredible reveal but raises more questions than actual answers. We still have no real idea who’s who or what’s actually going on. This lack of resolution makes the read a bit frustrating. Still, the action is always there. From cover to cover, something is always getting blown up, blasted, or shot at. I guess the writers want to keep your adrenaline pumping so you don’t question the lack of resolutions to multiple hanging plot threads. I did enjoy the guest appearance by the Suicide Squad. Another successful crossover to expose fans to another DC NU title. The art was still extremely clean and sexy. Drawing all of those myriad of powers is not an easy task, but the artist seems to be doing a great job depicting all of them. I just pray that the next story arc includes some sort of origin and a new purpose and direction for the main character. Otherwise, not even all the eye candy in the world will make me keep on getting this book.

Final Grade: B-

The Savage Hawkman
The first six were bad. Just bad. Any chance for redemption?

In my opinion, nope. Even with Liefeld and his usual lookalike band of villains and characters, nothing is going to save this title. Except for the last page of the last issue. Finally, with the appearance of Sheyera, and her reference of Katar Hol, we finally get some idea that this is the undying Hawkman. Maybe, after an origin is given to us, we can start to get behind this character. For now, absolutely nothing has made this title interesting. The action is repetitive. The villains are sub par. The story is bland and pointless. The art was actually pretty nice. I love the suit and how it transforms and shines. The detail work is tremendous. If only the story had half as much style. Oh well. I’ll read a few more just to see if anything happens but I wouldn’t bet my life on anything cool.

Final Grade: F

I, Vampire
I was initially impressed with the first few issues. Then it got repetitive. Will the next six be an improvement or more of the same?

In my opinion, this series has definitely improved heavily. The crossover with Justice League Dark definitely aided it immensely. The addition of a more diverse supporting cast helped too. The guest appearances by more DC staples was a plus as well. What really drove the return to greatness was the story. It definitely got a whole lot bigger and complex. The war against the zombie/vampire hybrids was really cool. The struggle against overwhelming odds is always a great focus for a story and this one had it in spades. The nice surprise ending was a great touch too. I also like how there are some cliffhangers that get placed strategically so the reader gets invested in the title. Not to mention the new slew of humor being written throughout the series keeps the read lively and entertaining. The one little problem I have with this title is that it really is one dimensional. There is no way this can be cleanly incorporated into the regular DC universe without massive backlash from the heroes. So that leaves this story with almost nowhere to go. Not the greatest potential for an ongoing title. I hope the next story arc can deal with that. At least the art is consistently great. For now, I’m still on this bandwagon.

Final Grade: B+


1 Comment

  1. Dan Mirsky says:

    I strongly disagree with your view on Aquaman. I am no longer buying the title due to it’s horrendous writing.

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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.