Comic Judgment: Surprises and Comeback Kids

As we’ve all discovered by now, the quality of the relaunched DC books has been all over the map, ranging from the brilliant to the WTF? That’s about what I expected. There’s no need for me to write another mash note to Batwoman, Action Comics, Wonder Woman or even Batman and Robin, so on to the rest of the DCnU buy pile we go! For purposes of this post, I’m focusing on some books that I had previously dismissed or that were initially letdowns. A few have been dropped, but that’s a story for another day.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

The Surprises
Despite some well-documented flubs, one of the nice things about the relaunch is that it has given readers an opportunity to see some characters with fresh eyes. Aquaman and the Flash (Barry Allen) have long occupied that list of characters I don’t care about, but the buzz around their books was too loud to ignore. Lo and behold, the kudos are well-deserved.

After establishing that Aquaman is a badass in spite of everyone’s fish jokes, Geoff Johns dives (sorry) right into a thrilling story involving some disgusting sea creatures who who are chowing down at the Unsuspecting Human Buffet. I love a good husband-wife team, so the idea of Arthur and Mera making a new life among the landlubbers works for me. And these two have so much swag, putting to rest any notions of them being useless out of water. Ivan Reis’ art (gloriously colored by Rod Reis) as bold and gorgeous as ever, so this is pretty much a slam-dunk.

As for the Flash, I can’t go so far as to say that I’m suddenly fascinated by Barry (Team Wally!). However, co-writer /artist Francis Manapul is doing some rock-star visual storytelling here. The illustrations sizzle with the kind of energy befitting the Fastest Man Alive, and the composition of certain pages/panels really grabs your attention. The narrative isn’t the most memorable, but issue #1 was so much fun overall that I’m definitely along for the ride.

The Comeback Kids
I was so sure I was dropping Justice League after that uneventful and frankly disappointing first issue. Then I would up reading #2 and, well, it turned out to be a hoot. The buddy-movie dialogue between Green Lantern and the Flash was quite amusing, as was their needling of Batman (“A tool,” according to Hal). After establishing that all the heroes gathered so far have superpowers, Flash asks Batman flat-out, “What can you do?” “I can keep us on point,” Batman growls. Snap! It’s probably not a good sign that I’d forgotten Vic Stone’s presence entirely until I re-read the book. However, Wonder Woman is making her JL debut in issue #3, so I’m in for at least one more round.

If not for the presence of Tim Drake, I’d have dropped Teen Titans with no remorse based on that tired first issue. Issue #2 fares much better because the story now feels like it’s headed somewhere. The premise of metahuman teens being recruited for either execution or corruption is pretty interesting, and there’s some snappy dialogue. I appreciate Scott Lobdell’s efforts to give Cassie Sandsmark a distinctive personality, but I feel like she’s just a watered down version of my beloved bad girl Ravager, who is nowhere to be found. Oh, well. TT is still on the pull list for now.

What’s your scorecard so far?

7 thoughts on “Comic Judgment: Surprises and Comeback Kids

  1. I’m glad to hear Justice League gets better in the second issue, because I’m definitely rooting for it. I have only gotten the chance to check out some of the Relaunch issues, but will be heading to my LCS (which is now, obnoxiously, 30 minutes away from where I live) this weekend and can’t wait to stock up. :) My pull list is still looking pretty big, though, so I’ll have to pace myself. Haha.
    Also, I’m glad Tim’s “feathers” look less cheesy than before. I’m still not sure how I feel about them, but they aren’t nearly as bad as what I expected, so I’m willing to give it a shot. Cassandra’s new uniform is pretty badass, though, so I’m happy with that much.
    Oh, and Kristy’s right, Rose is in Superboy, but they’re supposed to be collided with the Titans in another issue or two. So you should be seeing them soon.

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  2. My scorecard is huge right now, but its not the size, it’s the quality…..anyways.

    For sake of space I’ll also just mention my surprises:
    Animal Man & Swamp Thing are almost two sides of the same coin. Both deal with horror, both deal with nature, both are freaking awesome. So awesome in fact that I’ve gone to my local library and started getting out earlier acclaimed runs on each title.

    Justice League Dark: This was a on-again-off-again title for awhile now but after the first issue it’s permanently on. Magic based:check. Zatanna and Xanadu on the team:check. Constantine is surly:check, check. The gorgeous art helps too.

    Demon Knights & Stormwatch: I love team books that you can’t just quite pin down. One is a fantasy romp the other could hold the secrets of the DCnU. Vandal Savage wanting to eat a “dragon” was just too funny.

    I, Vampire, Aquaman, Voodoo, Blackhawks, Birds of Prey I didn’t expect to keep but I liked them all too much to drop. Batwoman was always a sure thing and Frankenstein Agent of SHADE looked weird enough for me too. Also I’ve been clamoring for another Resurrection Man for years. So there ‘ya go. I’m also thinking about All-Star Western due to good buzz and Scott Snyder’s Batman based on his Swamp Thing and American Vampire writing.

    It’s safe to say I love the New 52, well, a lot of them anyhow.

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