The New 52: The Stragglers

Hey, I swapped New 52 #1 issues with a friend who has pretty different reading habits than I do. We bought roughly the same amount of books, with only one or two examples of overlap, so this was a nice way to read up on what else was going on without any expenditure. The results are pretty much in sync with my previous analysis. The stuff is mostly middling, averaging in the C+/B- range, with some very isolated examples of promise. I cranked through these last night and thought I’d just share my brief thoughts.

Batman #1 (DC): This was the only title out of this "new" batch I sampled that might actually warrant a plunge into #2. Up front, the coloring is a little flat and dull, but it gets better from there. I actually feel like it might be possible to get my Dick Grayson fix from this book instead of Nightwing. He kinda’ stole the show for me posing as The Joker. I loved the shot of Bruce surrounded by Dick, Damian, and Tim. It seems like Snyder is really putting some thought into the book, with the lip reading and contact lens bits. The villains were a bit on the plain side for me, but I loved the designs and rendering of Batman and Jim Gordon. There are plenty of nods to other writers in the Bat Mythos, and this is shaping up to be a really good ol’ fashioned detective mystery with some stylish flourishes. Grade B+.

Aquaman #1 (DC): This could be one of the more surprising titles I sampled in that it didn’t totally suck as I expected it to. It’s a very fast read, but I enjoyed the self-effacing humor, slick art, and different direction that sees Arthur maybe following his emotions rather than simple sense of duty. I thought the villain was schlocky, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of there there for a first issue, despite the bits I enjoyed. If this had a little more substance to it, it might have even gotten the “+” grade. For now, Grade B.

Justice League #1 (DC): There’s a lot of exposition happening here and trying to hide it in character based internal monologuing is a Johns tic I’ve never warmed to. I think it’s very clear which panels Lee spent the most time on and the result is an inconsistent quality in the art. On the plus side, I like the way the team is slowly being pulled together and isn’t accomplished in a single issue, everyone feeling their way around this “new” universe. I like brash Hal Jordan here as a counterpoint to cautious Batman, but the Cyborg redesign is atrocious, and I actually would have preferred the “crustacean” Aquaman design we see in the back matter. That'd make a lot more sense. Grade B.

Action Comics #1 (DC): There’s an almost schizophrenic pace and choice of locales which feels hurried, and Clark Kent really is walking exposition about his intentions and the intent of the book. Many critics seem to have applauded this return to Supes as a social crusader, but there’s a whiff of holier-than-thou about it which is very off-putting to me. Morales’ art can look passable at times, and other times it just looks too stretched, contorted, and generally wonky for me. Grade B-.

Mister Terrific #1 (DC): This is what people mean when they use “DC house art” as a pejorative term. Full of exposition as so many of the New 52 are, all telling and very little showing, feels like some Chris Claremont train wreck written in the 80’s. Was a chore to read from about the 1/3rd mark right up until the end. Grade B-.

Green Lantern #1 (DC): This hardly feels like a reboot since it relies heavily on things that have come before in the Green Lantern books. If Sinestro is Green Lantern and not Hal Jordan, then why is Hal in the Justice League? That’s just dumb and careless. The art was clean, if a little flat. The melodrama was a little over the top. I'm being evicted! I can't pay my bills! I'm an arrogant prick who is unemployed and doesn't get women at all! This really did nothing for me. Grade B-.

Teen Titans #1 (DC): The anemic nature of the art makes it feel like a 1990’s Image Comics refugee. No sense of panel to panel storytelling, just staged “kewl” shots. It’s full of monologuing villains and I’m not sure why they blow up the X-Mansion. Dear God, please don’t tell me there’s going to be a Lobdell “microverse” with this title and Superboy. Please, no. We don’t need more Scott Lobdell creative influence. Grade B-.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 (DC): Jenkins is a writer I’ve enjoyed in the past, but he really ranked up the overwrought voiceover here. Finch is really trying to be Jim Lee; in the backgrounds, I think he pulls it off nicely, but any time you’re forced to focus on people (which is often), it all falls apart. I was hanging with the art, right up until we got blank expression Jaina Hudson and then some bunny rabbit chic attempting to deflect bullets with her ass. Little logic bits were bugging me, like why does Bruce change before he runs the zip line? Wouldn’t Bruce zip-lining into a public appearance arouse more suspicion than Batman doing so? Where does he stow that big rucksack he’s carrying? Where did he hide that ziplineshooterthing? Is there really abandonded gadgets all over the city? Wouldn’t some bad guys find all that tech and use it against Batman? Wouldn’t some kids find it and hurt themselves? Wouldn’t some forensics experts be able to ID it as Wayne Tech? I don’t know, it was a stupid little throw away scene, but it ended up pushing me right out of the entire premise of Batman. Yikes. Another Arkham Asylum break out? Yawn… What’s up with those women crawling all over Bruce? Aside from the high exposition, it’s like they tried to distill everything about the character down into such an intense brew that it actually became self-satire. This was dumb. Grade C.


At 10:54 AM, Blogger Matt Clark said...

Glad to see you found another title (or two?) to keep an eye on!

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Yeah, at least one. Batman was really fun!


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