Mmmm! That's good Ultra Nerd!


Cover of the Week: Jerry the Robot

Dark Horse Presents #5: the cover that made me drop $7.99 in an already pricey comic week
I was transfixed by the cover of this week's Dark Horse Presents #5. When I opened the delivery of comics I gazed down at the morose sci-fi image of infinite despair and was as hypnotized by the cover as the robot Jerry was by the dazzling, never-ending array of stars before him. Eric Powell has been a favorite of mine since I got the first Dark Horse issue of the Goon. By the time the eponymous zombie-killing hood had a team-up with Hellboy I was a devotee and would pick up anything either written by or featuring the artwork of the backwoods Tennessee comic prodigy.
Here it is unobstructed by print, etc.
The image captures a lot. The strong focus of a being with a gun to their own head is an instant attention-grabber. It's the first thing you notice about this amazing cover. Then your eye is drawn out the the circle of stars which frame the lone figure in an almost messianic celestial array. The implication of indefinite and perhaps eternal solitude is immediate as planets and celestial bodies spin out into the infinite unknown. As a viewer you empathize with the idea of loneliness so deep and so great that death is preferable. The interior of a spaceship is obvious and that thought evaporates as you take in more details of the isolated space traveler. At first the globe helmet seems to imply a stereotypical space hero of a bygone era but upon closer inspection the mechanisms and odd techno-ports under the glass reveal the traveler to be a robot. This is the revelation that takes this good cover and makes it an amazing one. The back of the robot's head is not a throwback to sci-fi imagery past like the automaton's arms and legs and instrument-laden torso. The head is unique, a new and inhuman Powell creation. Yet within the confines of that synthetic calculating machine lie emotions as fragile and understandable and human as any the viewer has felt. Feelings of abandonment, anxiety, boredom, and despair are all evident in the tableau and beautifully conveyed. The final, omni-present detail that is the frosting on the cake was the last thing I noticed: the hash marks.
Scrawled all around the ship are lines to mark the passing of time. They are everywhere like a gospel of depression and seclusion carved into the walls and floor of a prison cell. Again, the fact that a robot, an unthinking and unfeeling creation did this to mark the days resonates profoundly. It is such a human act that it seems almost anachronistic for a robot to do. Wouldn't the robot have some sort of internal clock? Does time matter to a robot the way it does to us? Can they even perceive the passing of time the way that we do as biological beings? All these questions are starkly and unequivocally answered in this picture with the plethora of manic lines that harken back to the Count of Monte Cristo and the Man in the Iron Mask. Powell brings all of this together in a single 7 x 10 frame... This is the beauty of comics and I love it!
The story that the cover is inspired by is written and drawn by Powell and lives up to the cover. Jerry the robot is an interesting character and his trek across the stars is an interesting and amusing tale that lacks none of Powell's trademark wit, vulgarity, and tongue-in-cheek moral lessons. The issue also features an all-star crew of other creators contributing shorts that make this book a real value even at a whopping $7.99.
On a final note I can't help but see the Kirby influence on the depiction of space on the cover. The layout of planets and the fiery energy exploding out from the sun all harken back to the cosmic arrays of Jack Kirby from books like OMAC, Silver Surfer, and New Gods. It is still in the beautiful Powell style, I just can't help but notice the influence and perhaps homage to the King.
I highly recommend Dark Horse #5 - On shelves at JC Comics and other fine comic retailers now!


DC New Genesis : Week 4

DC stays strong in the final week of new #1's. This week had only one strike and a quarter of the books I was indifferent to/not interested in turned out to be really engrossing or had a hook that was compelling enough to get me to want the second issue.

All-Star Western
I think this was my favorite title of the week (definitely top three). Jonah Hex finds himself in Gotham on the path of a serial killer and he pummels his way through the industrial-era bat-burg in search of answers. In stark contrast to Hex is the narrator Amadeus Arkham, psychologist and future founder of the infamous eponymous asylum. Arkham spends the issue analyzing both the clues left by the killer and the rough and tumble cowboy who he's been partnered with. The book doesn't teeter into overused cop/detective or cowboy stereotypes but rather fascinatingly blends subtle aspects of both to create a very unique kind of comic story. The art is slightly cartoonish but very good. It keeps the level of violence seeming less brutal than it is (in a good way). A more graphic artist might make the sequences with the murdered prostitutes too much to handle. But the architecture of old Gotham, the attire of the characters, and the tone and setting of the whole book are conveyed excellently by Moritat.

This is one of the books I was most looking forward to and while I don't think it was perfect it was quite good. The opening scene of Aquaman intervening in an armored car heist is great. It lays out Aquaman's level of power (as well as establishing that cops and criminals alike don't have very much respect for poor ol' Arthur). Aquaman appears to have gained the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound giving him Hulk-like mobility (with less destruction). This is a new power for Aquaman but makes sense since he is very strong. Johns also clears up some misnomers (He doesn't TALK to Fish, he telepathically commands them). This book was slow but that's ok. Go read the first issue of Green Lantern (the first volume John's did) and it's even slower. With ongoing books Geoff tends to lay things out and they snowball quickly into something awesome. Ivan Reis is exceptional as always on the art. His attention to detail is excellent, facial expressions are priceless, his briefly seen monster designs are cool, and his flare for action is almost unmatched. I'm hooked... Like a fish. Get it?!

Batman: the Dark Knight
BtDK is a showcase for the truly intricate, action-packed, and beautiful art of David Finch. Batman's cape coils and billows, lights flare, and women have tiny faces (sorry, that last one is a bit of a pet peeve). Mr. Finch is also onboard for writing duties which is a special treat for fans because it means his imagination is going to be set loose on the Bat-verse unfettered. But seriously, Finch is about as A-List as artists come and this book is his baby, so it's interesting to see what he wants to draw: Batman being awesome, sexy women, sexy female villains in bunny costumes, and Bane-d out Two-Face. Let me say that I've been spoiled with Batman from a story standpoint having just come off of Grant Morrison's epic run and having been enjoying the work of Scott Snyder. Next to these complex, multi-faceted stories BtDK is very straight forward (it seems) but that being said it's not bad. And coupled with that art? Ok, David. I'm onboard. Let's see where this is going. That being said there are four books that star Batman and I can't see myself continuing to drop $ for four Batmen a month. I have to say that this book might be the first on the chopping block as I am more story-oriented than art-oriented and this had the least compelling story out of Detective, Batman, and Batman & Robin.

Another title that I wasn't expecting much from that's surprised me in a very positive way. The ultra-secret airforce (?) squadron of fliers is fine but the real interesting aspect of the story in my opinion is the transformation of Kunoichi after she falls into a stew of radioactive chemicals a la the Joker. Her obvious struggle with the meta-human potential of her condition is fascinating even if her personal relationship with another pilot is fairly stereotypical. I feel the same way about the rest of the squadron though I will give them all a chance. The Irishman I expected to be another tired convention who appears to have at least a little more depth than I first anticipated. Likewise with the Gyrich-esque government character whose story with the possibility of public exposure was also fairly interesting. Their secret aerodrome the Aerie is very cool too. The art for the most part was very good but in the opening for the actions scenes it seemed a bit muddled and hard to understand. That does not bode well but it seems like this book has been having a rough time with creative teams and changes are due soon. I hope they're for the best. I suspected that Blackhawks was going to be a strike but much to my pleasant surprise I am looking forward to the next issue and the revelation of what is coming down the pipeline for the covert pilots of the DCU. Hawk-AAAAAH!

the Flash
Flash proved to be an interesting, visually engaging book that delves both into Barry Allen's persona and his past as well as being a showcase for the world of the speedforce. Francis Manapul proves that he is very much in tune with the Flash. Showing the Fastest Man Alive in constant motion, Manapul's double duty as writer and artist give him total control over Barry Allen and he makes the most of the Speedforce potential in this comic. One spread shows him all over a room doing a complete forensic analysis in the time it takes him to ignore a phone call from Iris (and Flash fans, prepare for a surprise on the Iris-Barry front). Manapul's art is deceptively simple, bold, and effective like Jeff Smith. With few lines his characters convey emotions crystal clearly- the genius beauty of an effective cartoonist. While I will admit I am bummed that this isn't Wally West (no reason he couldn't have just stayed the Flash and Barry remained dead) I think this has the makings of a great Flash series and was one of my favorite books of the week.

Fury of the Firestorms
Despite HUGE continuity changes I really liked Firestorms. Apparently in the New 52 neither Ronnie Raymond nor Jason Rusch has been Firestorm before. They both begin this new series as teens in high school (one a jock and one a nerd to fill an age old stereotype dichotomy) and each has something of a problem with the other. Honestly the racial tensions felt pretty natural and relevant for 2011. Also, Jason's girlfriend is still alive so $@{&@! you Blackest Night. I question the wisdom of deciding that Ronnie's past is all gone seeing as he's been around for 30+ years but DC has not been shy about letting everyone know that some changes are major in order to accommodate new readers and this is just one of those changes. While this is one of the biggest reboots I enjoyed it quite a lot, especially because I have never read a Firestorm series before and I look forward to this new genesis (hey, that's the name of this post) for both characters.

Green Lantern: New Guardians
The Green Lantern family of titles while one of the smallest is also the strongest of the New 52 and New Guardians is no exception. While the story of rings leaving their users became a little repetitive it did not get tired. In fact, it's a very easy way to introduce new readers to the variously colored Corps without overwhelming them. Also, the brief recap of Kyle's origin wasn't unwelcome. The art in this book was perfectly acceptable but wasn't as standout good as a lot of the new titles. That being said, it wasn't bad. Especially Kyle and his facial expressions which conveyed a lot of emotion. The two-page spread of Kyle creating monumental green construction workers to catch a falling crane is also artfully done and reminds us why Kyle Rayner is THE BEST GREEN LANTERN (You heard me, Hal fans. Bring it). And in this issue a whole lot of trouble drops right in our poor protagonist's lap along with a bunch of rainbow ring-slingers. I can't wait for more and am so pleased that Kyle has his own title once more.

I, Vampire
I did not know what to expect from this book. Classic Vampire tale? Twilight ripoff? Ode to the original? True Blood ripoff? Something completely new, startling, and enthralling? It turned out to be that last one. Andrea Sorrentino's art reminded me of Jae Lee's; dark pallets, brooding and atmospheric with stark blacks running rampant like grim shadows over every page. Utterly perfect for the terrifying story. Andrew Bennett is unfamiliar save for his benevolent attitude towards humanity and trademark streak of white hair but proves nonetheless to be a sympathetic contemporary vampire protagonist. Besides, it's so cool to hear two vampires talking about attacking the mortal world en masse with the powers of darkness and one saying "You think you and your army stand a chance against Superman and a half-dozen Green Lanterns and Wonder Woman?" Mary, Queen of Blood is an interesting antagonist and spending the issue cutting back and forth between their last night together (giving hints to their history) and the morning their war begins was very well done. I look forward to next issue!

Justice League: Dark
Peter Milligan's Flashpoint Shade series wasn't my favorite and while I liked the concept of JLD I didn't exactly have my hopes up. Shame on me. Milligan brings terror to the world of the New 52 in a way we haven't seen before and all through poor little June Moone. Enchantress employs her magic in unique and devastating ways like having thousands of copies of her make suicide runs onto the freeway or having a storm of teeth attack the JLA "Superman! You're being cut to ribbons"! The team itself is just what you'd want from a group of messed up loners brought together by horrendous arcane odds. John Constantine the Hellblazer is only briefly glimpsed but Shade the Changing Man gets a scene in which his madness is discussed. Madame Xanadu also opens the title, making this the second New 52 book in which she is prominently featured. Deadman is briefly glimpsed and it appears that June Moone is seeking him out or is drawn to him for some reason. And how do all of these offbeat mages come together? We will have to wait and see. Overall this first issue was good but is obviously just set up for great things to come.

Savage Hawkman
This is certainly a new take on Hawkman. The story opens with Carter Hall burning his Hawkman gear a fiery hawk avatar rises from the inferno and consumes our protagonist. When he is confronted by some alien mummy slime-turned monster the Nth metal grows out the pores of his skin and forms his new "cool" armor. I don't dislike it, but the claw thing and the shoulder plate bring to mind the old Hawkman JLA Action Figure (now you can't unsee it). I like the weird archeology, though. The black slime villain is cool too and I am interested to see what the uncovered alien craft holds for the future. As with the majority of the New 52 the art is exceedingly fine. Philip Tan's style has seemed to refine his style even further and I liked his work on this book better than I did his arc on Batman and Robin.

This was probably the least good of the Superman family of titles (note: it's still good. I simply enjoyed Action, Supergirl, and Boy more). Frankly, it was underwhelming for me. The battle felt like a classic Superman kind of sequence and was good but something about the issue didn't click for me. I have trouble objectively judging the ending of the book as it was revealed back in August so without the shock the "surprise finale" felt lackluster. However, other readers may feel differently. The page that ties in to Stormwatch was pretty cool though and the style of the Himalaya-sized alien (?) and the mystery of the horn he sounds has me intrigued. Also, I like that Galaxy Communications is being featured both in Superman and in Action comics since that's a reference to the Fourth World and Jack Kirby's run on Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. More hints to the impending invasion from Apokolips? I can only hope.

Teen Titans
Another BIG reboot for the DCU. The last run of Teen Titans which began with Geoff Johns (when I began reading TT) has never happened. Totally gone it seems. Kid Flash appears to be as novice as they come and Wonder Girl and Red Robin have never met before. Superboy is still in his lab too (see Superboy #1). The story itself is ok. Red Robin and other teen heroes are being hunted down by a shady (government?) organization spurred on by incidents of reckless young vigilantes (see: Kid Flash). This incites Robin to gather the Teen Titans for mutual protection and supervision/training. Lobdell manages to not turn any of his female characters into mindless sexpots, so that's a plus also. The costume designs didn't bother me in the interior art but I am still not crazy about the aesthetic displayed on the cover.

This is the final DC New 52 I'm reading. Voodoo suffers the harshest degree of reader fatigue, so maybe it's better than I think it is. It was ok. Your classic tale about a guy meeting a stripper only it turns out the stripper is a shapechanging alien. You've heard it a million times. But seriously, I went into Voodoo totally blind, not knowing what it was about or what to expect and I finished the issue saying to myself "well, that was interesting but I kinda don't care". The art and the script were fine I suppose but I am just not compelled by the story or the character. I'll give this one more shot with #2 but I can't see myself continuing to keep getting Voodoo. Sorry Ron Marz.


Stray Cats

This post, like Catwoman #1, is rated T+ for sexuality, violence, partial nudity, and sexual situations. Don't worry, I'm not involved in any of 'em. It's all Catwoman-related.
In the same week that we saw Starfire turn into a nigh-nude alien nympho in Red Hood and the Outlaws people cannot stop screaming about Catwoman #1. Although perhaps the fact that they're being read in the same sitting gets Catwoman caught up in the sexist squall that is RHatO.
Catwoman #1 was by far the most sexy comic of DC's new relaunch. There is a lot of partial nudity and sexual situations. It opens with Catwoman having to flee from her apartment only partially clothed and it ends with a Catwoman/Batman sex scene (well, more like a Catwoman/Batman seduction scene with a sex page). This has incensed the nerd community of the internet. And overall the arguments made are very compelling and astute.
Notably frequent in the criticism that we don't see the character's face until the third page. Before that it's all somewhat clad T & A (4 boob shots on the first page and a butt on the second). However, while this is very observant I think that Winick was just employing a superhero trope in a situation that set the tone for the story overall. Many comics open with seeing only parts of the hero before the full splash page reveal of the full hero and the action that's transpiring. How many Superman issues have opened with a panel of bullets bouncing off a shield, a panel of a hand crushing a gun, a panel of glowing red eyes and then the full page of Superman taking down a bankrobber singlehandedly. Only in this case it's Selina hurriedly putting on her outfit in a rush and grabbing her cats because bad dudes are bustin' down her door.
I mean, we all know that Batman and Catwoman hook up. That's no secret. Even the discriminating Darwyn Cooke in the 2000's series had a highly sexed relationship. And it's been going on for ages. Catwoman in the 90's was all globe-like breasts and bikini poses. Seriously, it's been 20 years since this moment of unbridled sexiness:
So, on to all the other sexy bits.

"This is not about women wanting things; it's about men wanting them to do things, and that takes something that should be really empowering - the idea that women can own their own sexuality - and transforms it into another male fantasy. It takes away the actual power of the women and turns their 'sexual liberation' and turns it into another way for dudes to get off"
-The ever-talented Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance

I have heard the argument made that this issue tried to empower Catwoman and failed. That by making her the aggressor in the situation it's just some fanboy wet dream. From a story point-of-view I don't think that Catwoman was looking to be empowered or even gratified. I feel like doing it with Batman was a destructive decision based on a need for relief/distraction from the insane night she just had. As everyone points out, she's half-clad in the beginning of the issue. We can only imagine that Selina was sitting around with her cats after a long night of stealing and then she gets attacked in her home. Most people after a case of home invasion/explosion break down immediately. Selina goes looking for some cash to get back on her feet again. That's a logical response, not an emotional one. She's repressing all of the stress and horror of what's just happened to her. Then, at the Russian sex party, she sees someone from her past who obviously did some terrible things to her when she was a prostitute (pre-Catwoman). This dredges up even more emotional baggage for her and she violently attacks this guy. There's a whole page of her cutting him up with her fingernails (no one mentions this scene despite the violence of it). Then she goes home and finds Batman. This is the first time since all this began that she finds someone to lean on. A bastion of strength in the storm she's just been caught up in. How does she respond? Well she dealt with it like one would expect a catburglar convict ex-prostitute in a full-body leather suit might.
I don't think this is out of character or out of the question considering the content of the first issue. Overall I thought it was a well done scene between the long-time foes/lovers/allies (the "it's complicated" relationship status was MADE for them).

Finally there's the issue of the gratuity of the final page. Was it necessary to see Catwoman and Batman in the act?
Sidebar: they are in the act, right? That's seems to be the moment that l'il Bruce slides into Selina's batcave? ... If you will. ... Penetration.
There is no doubt that this series is far more sexual than any Catwoman we've seen before. As I've said before, I enjoy it and don't feel like it's exploitive with the exception of the last page. In my opinion that final image takes a step over the line into the pornographic. Initially I'll admit I was titillated. I was tittering like a schoolgirl telling fellow fans about it. However the more I consider it and see the image the more I consider it going too far. Like the Batman of the past the story might have been better served to stop a page before or at least be more tasteful in the way it is depicted and the imagery used. It does look slightly slash-art. I don't think that a one-page loss of propriety is worthy of condemning a series over. Obviously there are readers with different sensibilities than my own (I am the target audience after all and we lot are a bit shameless).
But of course I can only ever speak for myself. I recommend you go pick up a copy of Catwoman #1 and if it's not for you then you can resell it for a few bucks (the DC #1's are worth their weight in gold right now). But if it is then you're in for a pretty crazy, provocative, gorgeous, and shall we say stimulating romp with the new Selina Kyle. And anyway, I doubt we're gonna see nookie every issue.


DC New Genesis : Week 3

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.

Blue Beetle
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.

Captain Atom
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.

Wonder Woman
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.


DC New Genesis : Week 2

Overall I felt like this was a very good week. No strikes, which I am both surprised and pleased with. Now, I didn't feel like there were as many standout GREAT books as there were last week but the quality in general was very high and all of these books are well worth reading. This may be reader fatigue, mind you. While reading every title is no problem for the Ultra Nerd, novices shouldn't overdo it with their reading lists. I expect some of the titles that I was n0t as thrilled with will be really exciting because it's the one of three or four instead of one out of thirteen.

Batman and Robin
Pretty good stuff. There is an AWESOME new Bat villain introduced by taking the fight to Batman Inc. I am excited to see more of Nobody (that's his name, not an invitation to Abbott and Costello me). I was a little disappointed that the Dynamic Duo were fighting some pretty generic bad-guys but it is for a good reason and the end of the reactor scene beautifully mirrors Killing Joke but with Damian in the Batman role. Well done, Mr. Tomasi. I'm a Patrick Gleason fan and he maintains his very reliable quality in this book's art.
I don't know why I seem to be unduly down on the Bat books but so far none have really excited me the way some other New 52 titles have. Batman and Robin is no different: quite good but just not one of my top choices for the week.

This book is beautiful. Batwoman is such a great modern-age character and now she gets the title she's deserved since busting on the scene in 52. J H Williams is taking on dual writing/art duties which is always something that I like and am amazed by. It gives a story a degree of continuity and synchronicity of style that is hard to put into words. Williams worked with Greg Rucka to do an amazing Detective Comics stint that featured Batwoman and he obviously understands her very deeply. The gothic style and brilliant, beautiful, engaging layouts with stark, gorgeous colors make this book the art pick of the week. This book feels like a new chapter rather than the beginning but that's just fine. If someone likes Batwoman and wants to read her backstory it's easy enough to read Elegy (from Detective).

For me this book was the surprise of the week: AWESOME! Deathstroke is "a major damn badass". I had some trepidation about this book but with one issue I am completely sold. I want to see Deathstroke go toe to toe with any idiot dumb enough to get in his way. Joe Bennett's art is bold and, well, badass. It's a perfect fit. I hadn't liked his costume redesign but after this issue it's growing on me. The team of "young up-and-comers" that he is paired with is hilarious too. Plus, there's a mysterious black suitcase that's got Deathstroke good and pissed off. Wonder what's in it?

Demon Knights
I had very high expectations for this book and I have to say that it delivered. It was a really fun, crazy fantasy story. The cast of characters is pretty eclectic, incorporating a lot of DC immortals and mystics into one awesome medieval fracas that has no shortage of devilish dragons and fantasy fisticuffs. Etrigan and Jason Blood have a tweaked origin and both are lovers with Madame Xanadu. Mordru and the Questing Queen provide a suitable scourge and Mordru performs some pretty wicked black arts on a baby. Also, does it seem to anyone else as though Vandal Savage will be the Minsk of this cadre? Shining Knight joins the adventuring party as well (the first of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers to appear in the New 52). The only problem I really had was an overload of characters right away but that's a staple of fantasy and I'm sure I'll soon get to know all the Demon Knights.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
A very cool, weird kind of monster book. I will get the obvious comparison to Hellboy and the BPRD out of the way and say that the similarities really stop at the surface there. The style feels more like the old DC Creature Commandos mixed with the overtones of crazy mad science (as opposed to Hellboy's occult world). Jeff Lemire envisioned S.H.A.D.E. like S.H.I.E.L.D. but if it were run by mad scientists and the result is pretty awesome and distinct. Add to this the pages of monster on monster violence and it's a recipe for awesome! Also this makes Frankenstein the first of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers to be a titular character in the New 52. Shining Knight is in Demon Knights and Zatanna will be coming in Justice League Dark (so that's 3 down, 4 to go).

Green Lantern
If you haven't been reading Green Lantern then for the love of the Guardians get this book NOW! It's been one of DC's best superhero titles since Geoff Johns (architect of the New 52) took over and now is a perfect time to get into it. The quality is still here in spades. If you've been reading Green Lantern then you're still in luck! While Blackest Night, Brightest Day, and War of the Green Lanterns were all awesome it was dealing with all this epic space stuff and starred a cast of thousands. This is just Hal Jordan and Sinestro and Johns has no trouble reminding us that these two are the only reasons you need to read GL. Sinestro is one of the coolest badguys in the DC Universe and if you question that or have to ask why then pick up this book. Also, it's interesting to see Hal having to be Hal without being Green Lantern. I can't say it enough times: Buy this book!

If I had to pick a dud for the week then this is it. Let me say off the bat that I don't really like superheroes with guns (there are some, but as a general rule they're not my taste) and I don't like a lot of the stereotypical early 90's characters. All that being said Grifter wasn't bad. I mean, I didn't cringe and it held my attention but overall I don't really care about Grifter. The mystery of the 17 hours is cool and I bet if you like aliens that you'd like this book as it seems to deal with abduction scenarios (time loss, memory loss) from a superhero perspective. It's an origin story so new readers who think they'd like Grifter can feel at ease picking this book up. This isn't a strike but if it doesn't find a way to keep me hooked I probably won't make it past the first storyarc on this one.

Legion Lost
This is another one that didn't really wow me but I have high hopes for. I always thought that being lost in time would be a great scenario for a Legion Lost book in the style of the most recent (now sadly canceled) Booster Gold series. A crew of off-beat Legionnaires going through DC's past, present and future as they try to get back to the 31st century. I don't know where this story is going but I hope that's what they're doing. It would be a great way to see a lot of the newly rebooted continuity without having to delve too deeply into it. Anyway, the team is interesting. There are a few characters who I've never read before (Tellus, Gates, Tyroc) as well as some classic 70's legionnaires (Dawnstar, Wildfire, and Lone Wolf) plus Chameleon Girl who was from the 80's. I would have liked a wackier, more eclectic team but this one seems interesting and I look forward to learning about them.

Mister Terrific
I like the character so I am going to give this a chance. Mister Terrific gets an upgrade to Tony Stark-level intellect (he's always been smart, but he's definitely smarter in this book than he's been in the past). He has a cool new base (the T Sanctuary) in the Ninth Dimension that he's invented a gateway to. Mister Terrific has an easy time with tech-suited villains but against some unknown foe that can increase a victim's intellect to levels at which they perceive others as lesser beings and begin killing sprees? Well, Mr. Terrific has a real challenge on his hands. This book didn't gel for me the way that a lot of other ones did. It just wasn't firing on all cylinders in my opinion. Visually I'm still not sold on his costume. I feel like Michael Holt (Mr Terrific) has always had cool aspects of his costume but never quite got it just right. As important as a costume is for a hero I think this is worth noting. Still, not strike-worthy and I will see what comes with issue #2.

Red Lanterns
Well, I liked it more than I thought I would. At this point the Tygers origin of the Five Inversions is totally gone and we as readers should just forget any connection that this character has with the original story but as a new, stand-alone character Atorcitus is explored and has an interesting new angle. The action with Dex-Starr and the unnamed evil aliens is very cool. Same with the brewing Red Lantern insurrection led by the awesome-looking Bleez and the new direction that Atrocitus has chosen for the ruby ragers. I would rather have had a Sinestro Corp title but Red Lanterns is a good book and if you liked Blackest Night and the blood-spewing baddies then you should definitely add RL to your list.

Resurrection Man
This story was cool. I have never read any Resurrection Man but I always thought the idea of a superhero who dies and comes back with a new power each time is awesome. Like Dial H for Hero but extreme and more metaphysical. The angle of Angels vs demons and the angels are just as bad has been done and done again (Preacher, Spawn, even JLA) but whatever. It's a trope at this point. Also, blowing up a plane this week of all weeks? Pr-etty ballsy, DC. I like your moxie. Of all the DC Dark titles so far this has been the least scary but it's still a good story.

Suicide Squad
I've said it before and I bet DC will make me say it again: I was on the fence until I read it. Now I'm sold. Suicide Squad was really cool. The issue had a great twist. King Shark is hilarious to have back and he fills in the role of big dumb guy with a hunger for meat that makes him a lot of fun. Harley Quinn is kinda twisted but she's still Harley Quinn and for the costume nay-sayers I can only retort that while it wasn't my favorite thing it really didn't bother me. It's comics! Girls are scantily clad sometimes. Even Invisible Woman was dressed like a skank for a while. Either you'll learn to like it or she'll get over it. Deadshot did not look like the Floyd Lawton I know and love from Secret Six but then again this isn't Secret Six. He was still a cool guy and seemed pretty true to character. The other goons I don't really care about yet but I'm sure they'll step up or get killed off. And really, that's what the Suicide Squad is all about: killing off lots and lots of D-List villains for our amusement. Let the games begin!

I liked it. It's a new origin story with echoes of the "classic" 90's origin of the Boy of Steel but very clearly new and pretty cool. The idea that his human/kryptonian brain is biologically unique and it makes him immune to mindprobes and brainscans is cool. I also like the Virtual Reality parts of the story. That's an interesting way of bringing in some of the classic Superman mythos. I also like that Rose Wilson and a very familiar looking redhead are part of the story. I am interested to see where this goes and how it ties in with the new Teen Titans. If you like Superboy then definitely give it a try.

And with that we've finished Week #2 and we've rounded the bend with 27 titles on the shelves and only 25 left to come out. Just over half of the new DCU has seen the light of day and from where I'm standing the future is pretty bright. Come back next week for Batman, Legion of Superheroes, Wonder Woman, and many more!


DC New Genesis : Week 1

Action Comics
Well, the wait is over and it was well worth it. My expectations were high and they were met. This book is longer than average and jams a lot of story in (see the $3.99 pricetag). I dig the struggles of young Superman. It's a part of his tale that has not been told in quite this fashion before but still feels true to the character. He has to work hard to be a hero. One day it will come easier to him, but not today. And with Lex Luthor and General Lane gunning for him, tomorrow doesn't look good either. I like the mad-genius-for-hire Lex Luthor in this issue as well.

Animal Man
This book was great. I liked the family interactions and the characterizations of the whole Baker clan. I liked the little fourth wall nod Jeff Lemire has on the first page (tip of the hat to Grant Morrison's AM). The reveal of the antagonists is AMAZING. Terrifying and unexpected. I am psyched to keep reading this book! A+

Well, I still don't agree with the editorial decision but I really enjoyed this issue of Batgirl. Really energetic, heroic, and human. Good dialogue and good characters. It is dealing with the issue of Barbara's paralysis so I will reserve judgement until I see where it goes. I am also interested in the mysterious mirror murderer and the connection between his victims.

Some people like Judd Winick and some people don't; I like Judd Winick and I really liked Batwing. There's good action mixed with an interesting setting. It's got an awesome shock in it too. Watch out, readers! I would recommend this highly to those who like violent, gritty comics. Also, I want to learn more about the history of Africa's superheroes in the New 52.

Detective Comics
I'll be honest, it wasn't my favorite of the week. The art was good and the story was ok. It's a mystery that's piqued my interest and the last page is a horror-show that's got me at the edge of my seat. However it just didn't gel for me the way so many of this week's books did. It wasn't bad by any means, I think I just expected more of Detective Comics #1. It's the company's titular book, you know? I think they should have gone bigger. Still, it's worth reading especially if you're a Joker fan-- and who isn't?

Green Arrow
I was not impressed. I didn't dislike the character of Green Arrow but he is not anything like Oliver Queen. He feels so bland and blase next to the dashing GA I know and love. I really dislike his two new "sidekicks" who function like his Oracle. They are annoying and cliche. Also, the idea of shooting a transmitter arrow into the dashboard of a boat and remote-controlling it is ridiculous. I like trick arrows, but only when they make a little sense. The villains weren't bad and I liked the art however it doesn't redeem the book or the new, lame character of Green Arrow. This is my first strike.

Hawk and Dove
This book didn't work for me on several levels. I am not a fan of Rob Liefeld's art t0 begin with but I feel it's particularly sketchy (you'll excuse the pun) in this instance. There's nothing in this issue to make you care about either character. Hawk is an angry ass and Dawn is uninteresting aside from a possibly tawdry insinuation about her and Don Hall (the original Dove). Not having felt very attached to the characters anyway I am not compelled by this story in the least. Strike.

Justice League International
A few thoughts on this. I found it a little clumsy and boring in the beginning with the UN Delegates. I think the scene was unnecessary. The team is awesome. A really great blend of JLI classics with some new blood that fit well. The bombing and Hall of Justice stuff really didn't strike me as that interesting. Overall, I liked it but didn't love it. It might just be off to a slow start. It's certainly not a strike and I am confident that JLI will find its legs soon.

Men of War
I found my self surprised to really enjoy this book. The tales of a modern Corporal (Sgt.) Rock in the army were really awesome and exciting. Joseph Rock, grandson of the original, in this first issue disobeys orders and refuses promotion. He just wants to be a soldier. A bit cliche but the assault scene more than made up for it and provided Rock with some predictable character development. I look forward to seeing him as part of the new DCU. "You're a sergeant, Rock". Plus there's a cool back-up story about Navy SEALs to justify the $3.99 cover price.

I LOVED IT! Maybe my favorite book of the week. A really great homage to Jack Kirby in style and art. I can't say enough about the whole team who collaborated on this title. Art, writing, layouts, everything gels so well. It's Kirby done about as well as anyone other than the original can do it. Plus it's got Fourth World and original OMAC references. Crazy creatures galore! I loved OMAC!

Static Shock
Static Shock was fun. I didn't know what to expect and I got an entertaining read that felt like a good take on this Milestone character newly added to the larger DCU. I liked that he's a scientist and he uses that in battle (him fighting in NYC almost felt a little Spider-Man-esque). Plus the rogues gallery of weirdo gangsters that are targeting Static look awesome. I can't wait to see more of them.

This book was also on the lower spectrum of books I liked this week. I really liked all the scenes with Harry Tanner on the moon: those were awesome and disturbing. I was not fond of the Apollo and Midnighter stuff. I want to know how their history has been changed because I liked their relationship from the Authority. Martian Manhunter had a cool moment talking about "shapeshifting" to deal with different crisis, but was underused. Stormwatch is not a strike but I am not very confident.

Swamp Thing
This is another title that lived up to high expectations. A modern take on a classic DC horror character that strikes all the right chords of mystery, suspense, superheroes, and horror. The scene with the scientists at the archeological dig is hideous and awesome. Great job by the artist Yanick Paquette who also has a very nice version of Superman in his new duds. Swamp Thing is sophisticated suspense at its best. Highly recommended.