Week Three is another home run. There are most certainly Strikes this week (some unexpected ones) but as has been the case the good far outweighs the bad. And there are a few books this week that just blew me away. The smallest week (12 titles instead of 13) but with 75% out the whole new universe is taking shape. There are some nods to things happening in other titles (that's called continuity, kids) and surprises still abound. So without further ado, the highs and lows of week three:
The Batman title I was most looking forward to did not disappoint in the least! Hands down the best Batman title of the relaunch, Batman is mystery, action, bat-gadgets, insanity... Batman revisits/uses many Batman tropes but doesn't overindulge them, keeping the story fresh and exciting. The brawl in Arkham is awesome and almost not long enough. Commissioner Gordon has a great rooftop scene with the Caped Crusader and for the first time his restored hair color does not stand out as something strange. The best bat-tech is the insane Batcomputer contact lenses that allow Bruce to be on the computer at any time (prompting him at a crowded gala to say "*cough cough* Activate lip reading. *cough* I'm sorry, you were saying?"). There is something positive I want to say about almost every page in this book. Scott Snyder gets high marks on story, characterization, and dialogue. Greg Capullo, the artist reminds me a little of Humberto Ramos but not as cartoon-y and when he draws Batman in action it almost harkens to the strong lines and color contrasts and style of Batman the Animated Series. If you're a Bat-fan then this is it!
Birds of Prey
Not a bad read at all. I was a bit mystified as I read it the first time but by the end (the explosive and very tantalizing ending) things were clear. Black Canary is well done. She is strong and capable and seems like the seasoned ass-kicker she is. The new character of Starling is interesting (though she does seem designed to fit the mold of 'interesting') and she reminds me of Debra from Dexter - foul mouthed girl who likes to party but wants to do right. I also kinda dig her Suicide Girls tattoo costume. The story-telling style is a little jarring at first with new characters being dealt with but that's probably why we only get half the Birds in this issue. Jesus Saiz (artist) really impresses especially in the scene with the souped-up car smashing through a church. This is another one that I might have been able to put down were it not for the ending and all that it forebodes for Black Canary. Birds of Prey makes the cut.
Another origin story for Jaime Reyes and the last one seems like it was only yesterday. The opening of this comic is an awesome scene showing very quickly and succinctly what the Reach are and how the Scarab gets to Earth. However, we then get into the main character and find that the last series he starred in didn't happen and Flashpoint made his best friend a gangsta with considerably less weight problems. I was unhappy at first but I can only assume that editorial wanted Jaime to be Blue Beetle but needed his story to be told again not because of the quality of the first series (which was exceedingly excellent) but because their new readers won't know who this character is. So I am trying not to judge this book as a fan of the first and overall it was a good first issue. And I'll take a moment to extend a kudos to Jim Lee, Ig Guara, Ruy Jose, and whoever else is responsible for the awesome designs on the Brotherhood of Evil (especially Phobia). So I will wait for next month and hope.
I didn't think I would like this book and honestly I didn't love it but it wasn't bad. After Green Arrow I simply didn't have high hopes however I think J T Krul has a more interesting slant to Captain Atom than he did for that book. Plus, Freddie Williams II's art is ideal for this title. The energy constantly radiating off of Captain Atom is cool and he does a very good job of illustrating all the "nuclear effects" that the hero produces. I'm not sure what the clock (?) that flashes throughout the issue is. It was a little distracting and I hope that when it's revealed it's cool. In this issue Captain Atom has the classic superhero problem of "using your powers could kill you". As he goes to handle a volcano in New York City and the effects it has on the Indian Point Nuclear Plant he needs to deal with the whole pesky not-dying thing. The creepy Stephen Hawking-esque Dr Megala wasn't bad for the necessary exposition and I can only imagine that an issue soon will be titled "Megala-Maniac". Here's hoping. Captain Atom gets another month and I hope it lives up to the potential.
Oh my goodness... SO SEXY. Sexy in an awesome way. Guillem March the artist draws astonishingly curvaceous, slinky, sultry women. With cherry-red lips and pale skin galore Catwoman cannot help but entice. And writer Judd Winick certainly keeps her in situations where she finds a need to bear her flesh. From being chased out of her apartment half-naked, to attending a Russian mob sex soiree (to case the joint), to an encounter with Batman, Selina Kyle truly can be said to be DC's hottest heroine. Also, kudos to Judd Winick for continuing to carry the flag of diversity through the DCU by introducing a transsexual ex-showgirl named Lola as Catwoman's fence and informant. Haha. Overall Catwoman was one of my favorite books of the week. No complaints about the amount of girly bits and Catwoman claws the heck out of some bad dudes. Check it out.
DC Universe Presents : Deadman
One of my least favorite of the week and I was looking forward to this one. Bummer. This marks the first book I thought would be good that is a let-down. Mostly origin story, I didn't really feel for the character of Boston Brand. He didn't appeal to me the way that he did when he was written by Arnold Drake (and I'm sure not having Neal Adams doing the pencils is part of it too). The whole thing is bland and angst-y but without the usual morbid Deadman panache. Rama looks cool but only if you don't compare her to the original. I feel like that's the theme for this issue: it might seem cool if you haven't read the original. And it might. If you're new to Deadman then give it a whirl and see if you like it. I'll be giving this one a strike but not dropping the title completely. As this is an anthology book I won't read the Deadman arc for the next 4 issues and hope that the next story arc is more interesting.
Green Lantern Corps
The Green Lantern books remain extremely high quality with this premiere issue of GL Corps. Opening with John Stewart and Guy Gardner on Earth and deciding that it's just not the place for them anymore both characters get suitable exposition without being heavy-handed. On the contrary, it's nice to see them (dysfunctionally) trying to deal with the average world. We get our first New 52 spread of Oa in all its glory... It looks a lot like the Oa from the movie but it's cool. There are some awesome-looking aliens in this book and Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna do a great job all around on the look of this book. I have only one minor complaint: No Kilowog!
Legion of Superheroes
STRIKE 1! STRIKE 2! STRIKE 3! YOU'RE OUT! Boring, confusing, not a #1 issue. This is the worst book of the relaunch in my opinion because it makes not even the pretense of being a new title. Clearly some very big, earth-shattering stuff happened in Legion of Superheroes just before the New 52 and instead of trying to play nice they figured "screw it. If they have no idea what's going on in our book with a cast of thousands, that takes place in the future, that's in the middle of a story... then too bad for them!" And it is too bad for me because of all the Young Justice titles I was most looking forward to the Legion ones and I will not even try issue #2 of this one. It almost makes me want to go back a week and give a Strike to Legion Lost too.
This book was quite good and honestly stands apart from the other New 52 books as it didn't fit the "new #1" mold that seems to have emerged from this event. Most titles introduce the hero, tease the big villain/threat, end with a big shocking surprise to get you hooked (like crack) and within this framework there have been many phenomenal books. Nightwing feels like he just picked up where he left off several years ago. It's just so natural to see him as Nightwing and the writing and art both reflect this. Nightwing takes down a thug with no real difficulty as he considers where Gotham has brought him. He goes to Haly's Circus and fights another costumed baddie (with cool sword gauntlets) but in my opinion this could just as easily be Nightwing #154 as #1. I do not think this will throw any new readers. Nightwing explains who he is and I think most people know anyway. It's just a good Nightwing story. The real treat is for returning readers because this book feel like coming home.
Red Hood and the Outlaws
So there are no more Outsiders and no Doom Patrol but that's ok because for off-beat heroes we've got the Outlaws... If by off-beat you mean murderous, sex-craved, drug addicted scumbags. I didn't hate this book and I'm not giving it a strike but it's not really my comic. I don't like the new take on Starfire (super-horny and apparently she dislikes humans enough to have forgotten about the Teen Titans) or her relationship with the Red Hood... or Arsenal. I am confused but interested in whatever the heck is going on with this cult that the Red Hood is involved with. Also, the mysterious smoky woman who spoke to him. I am incredulous of the computer guy who was so excited about a "Tamaranian on earth" when she's been there in public with the Titans for years. So, the book's not perfect but the banter is occasionally fun and the action is good. I generally stray away from non-Winick Red Hood stories but I will give this a chance and see if it can keep my interest... Or until Arsenal murders a cat. Whichever comes first.
I enjoyed Supergirl a lot. Like Superboy it's an origin story but it's a new and unseen take that incorporates some classic elements of the Supergirl mythos. The action is great. It's the level of Super-action that we have yet to see from the New 52 (as good as Action was, it's lower powered and Superboy has almost no action at all) and it's very welcome. Kryptonians going toe-to-toe with giant killer robots. The moment that the sun comes up is awesome! Also, we get vague hints to some New 52 history ("the Kansas Incident" and "Father always warned me about Zod"). The art by Mahmud Asrar conveys youth and vibrance and the designs of the robo battle suit was cool in a kinda classic comic fashion. Supergirl's "costume" is Kryptonian formal attire that she was due to wear to her graduation (I've always liked the idea of Superman's costumes as normal Kryptonian clothes). Supergirl herself is confused, lost, and unsure of herself. This story has been told before but the creative team seems talented and the new elements are interesting enough to keep me reading. I expect Supergirl to get better from this promising start.
Another one of my favorite books this week. Brian Azzarello seems incapable of disappointing and this story is masterfully told via three unwilling oracles. Cliff Chiang's mythological designs are awesome! Centaurs growing out of decapitated horses, Hermes with hollow eyes and bird feet, Apollo with black skin and glowing eyes. Wonder Woman herself is all that she should be. She's beautiful, powerful, big, unashamed, and confident. She shows compassion and competence at all points in this action-packed issue. While the story is original (at the same time as harkening back to Grecian tales) Wonder Woman herself seems largely unchanged and is simply reacting to the mad affairs of the Gods that she is pulled into. As with Nightwing this book did not need the same shocking, mind-blowing cliffhanger ending as many New 52 #1's. The ending is more elegant, revealing the reasons behind the issue's events and laying out the catalyst for the plot for the foreseeable future. Wonder Woman is definitely on my pull list without hesitation. Highly recommended.