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The End of My Run With the New 52: Swamp Thing and Animal Man #7s

Animal Man and Swamp Thing were my final DC holdouts. From around 30 of the New 52 #1s in September 2011, these were/are my March 2012 DC pulls. And it’s with these that I’ve pretty much made the decision that on the whole, the New 52 is not for me.

In Animal Man, we’ve seen the reintroduction of Buddy and his family. We’ve been introduced to the idea of his daughter as the new champion of The Red, and that they’re all going to be facing The Rot. After an adventure in The Red where things have been set up, this issue finds the Baker family on the run, just trying to survive and figure out what comes next. Of course, any proactivity as to “what comes next” is out the window when they find a less than pleasing sight outside their RV.

In Swamp Thing, we’ve had the reintroduction of Alec Holland and Abigail Arcane, the reintroduction of The Green and the idea of them having to face The Rot. Seven issues in, and we seem to finally find Alec Holland once again being placed into his most well known form–as the Swamp Thing. And by issue’s end, something new has been set in motion, as this title finds itself on a collision course with events being set up simultaneously in Animal Man.

Where Swamp Thing was one of my original “picks” of the New 52, it was positive buzz over Animal Man and the realization of it tying in to Swamp Thing that helped draw me into that book. Yet, seven issues in with both titles…I find myself simply uninterested. The issues feel fairly short. I’m not a huge fan of the art on either title–the art on Animal Man is rather disturbing–in a way that fits this version of the title, but it’s not to my tastes; while on Swamp Thing it’s pretty to look at but still has something “off” about it. I don’t really want “surreal” in the visuals, and neither book seems to just flow visually, distinctively.

And at this point, I’d just as soon wait a few months and snag the issues from bargain bins, or perhaps sometime next year or in a couple years double back for the collected volumes–if there are any, at DC’s glacial collecting pace.

These aren’t bad titles–there’s loads of potential, and I still have an interest in where things are going. Just not enough interest…not for going month by month when I have to basically force myself to read the single issues.

Fitting, I suppose, that what look to be my final “regular” DC purchases for the foreseeable future were two of the first books to sport DC‘s new Get Glue-ish “hey, everyone’s all about these ‘stickers’ things!” logo.

Age of Apocalypse #1 [Review]

Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Humberto Ramos and Dean White
Assistant Editors: Sebastian Girner and Jordan D. White
Editors: Jody LeHeup and Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics

I was looking forward to this title. Of course, the last time I was looking forward to an Age of Apocalypse title was back in 2005 when Marvel did the 10th anniversary stuff. Enjoyed the one-shot, hated the mini-series. To this day I’ve refused to–even for “free” through a library–read that mini. Yet last year when it was announced that the Uncanny X-Force would revisit the Age of Apocalypse, I was excited. I was looking forward to it. And in the Dark Angel Saga, it was put to some use. Later I discovered that the AoA Nightcrawler would be part of the team, and decided to continue giving that title a chance. When the 2nd .1 issue in less than 2 years hit, I was suckered in with the classic Enter Now: The Age of Apocalypse logo, as Uncanny X-Force #19.1 was essentially Age of Apocalypse #0, or heck, what should have been #1.

This finally came out, and I very nearly quit reading the issue partway in. For me, Age of Apocalypse is a misnomer. Apocalypse’s “Age” ended in 1995, some 17 years ago. This new series, using that name, does so to “cash in on” the name of this classic X-Men story. I would be of more open mind with this series had it been given some other title, and just made it known WHERE it takes place.

This issue picks up where Uncanny X-Force 19.1 left off–the last human stronghold has been destroyed, the bulk of the remaining human population has been slaughtered. Jean and Sabretooth escape and join up with their allies. Having been stripped of their mutant powers, they’re just as human (or moreso) as these allies, who call themselves the X-Terminated. After a fight with this world’s Daredevil, we’re introduced to a man from Marvel’s 616-universe as well as a surprise player who may change things up a bit for all involved, just by being alive.

The art doesn’t sit well with me here. It’s rather stylistic, and reminds me of the visual feel I got from the AoA mini back in ’05. There were points that I was basically reading the dialogue balloons, with no true sense of what was happening in the panel. There’s something clunky, and sketchy, and perhaps semi-abstract to it, and while it gives this a vastly different tone than some “classic super-hero book,” it’s not in a way that draws me in or leaves me interested–visually–in ANY of the characters or setting.

Story-wise, I came into this assuming there’d be plenty I’ve missed since X-Men: Omega back in 1995 and whatever transpired in the 2005 mini-series. But between that series and the death toll in Uncanny X-Force #19.1 to set this one up…this seems a wholly different world, and at least in this issue, I don’t feel like there’s any TRUE connection to the fondly-remembered world built in my youth. As I read this issue, I simply did not CARE. There seems to be no particular redeeming quality to this world or its few remaining inhabitants. Stripping Jean and Sabretooth of their powers is not a concept that interests me in anything more than perhaps a What If..? one-shot at most. The X-Terminated likewise does not grab my interest, though I recognize a couple character names. I don’t care for the mixed tense of the narration–the last page in particular feels like it’s trying to show the present as someone speaking from the future looking back, which really takes something away.

All in all…it would seem that I’m the antithesis of a target audience for this book. I was honestly shocked when I realized this was NOT a $2.99 book–and though that gives it a slight bit of redemption (I’d’ve been incensed to have paid $3.99 for this!), it’s far from being enough.

If you’re a fan of what’s been done with the Age of Apocalypse “universe” over the years since the original “event” where what was simply an alternate reality became just another world in Marvel‘s multiverse, you may find more interest here than I did. If you like the idea of Logan–formerly Weapon X, now “Weapon Omega” as the Apocalypse-level big bad…yeah, pick this up. Along those lines, if you enjoyed the story set up in the Uncanny X-Force .1 issue, you may enjoy this.

On the whole, though…I gave this an issue, and while the final page reveal was a surprise I did not see coming, it actually disgusts me more than not, and was the nail in the coffin for this title for me, at least for now.

Story: 3/10
Art: 3/10
Overall: 3/10

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