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From the back of the bandwagon: My DC New 52 thoughts, Week #3

BATMAN #1

batman001I rather like the various “new” gadgets Batman’s got here–especially the linkup to the Bat-computer in the cowl. I also liked the way this issue starts, with the words describing Gotham. Getting this info from Batman’s POV. I was also QUITE glad to see Dick and Tim along with Damian, and to find out that Yes, Tim was indeed a Robin, and is now Red Robin. I’m less thrilled with the direction the story took by issue’s end, as it reminds me just a bit too much of Frank Miller‘s Dark Knight Strikes Again. But as far as the bat-books so far go, I certainly enjoyed this one more than I did Detective Comics, and found this to–in its own way–be probably the most-accessible of the bat-books so far, offhand. I think I was always gonna get this, being one of the Old Titles: Action, Detective, Superman, Batman. I’m not convinced I’ll keep with this title long-term, though…but while I’m not blown away, I’m not entirely unimpressed. (7.5/10)

BLUE BEETLE #1

bluebeetle001This issue wasn’t part of my original plan. But I figured that I skipped on the debut of the last BB series, so might as well check this one out. I was somehow kind of surprised to find that this basically gives us a whole new origin for the character–but I actually like that, I think. Reboot, relaunch, whatever the term–as the start of a new DCU, it makes sense to give the character a fresh start. If the old origin was kept, there’d be a LOT of explaining to do by way of Ted Kord and Infinite Crisis (and Booster Gold), so this steps free of those loose ends. I’m only tangentially aware of the animosity between the scarab and the Green Lanterns (there was that Sinestro Corps War tie-in in the last BB series, and at least one episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold). No real problem with the art…and the story’s decent. I haven’t quite decided for certain if I plan to keep up with this series–but it’s definitely worth checking out! (7/10)

CAPTAIN ATOM #1

captainatom001.jpegAnother issue I had not originally planned on checking out, but added last-second. Offhand, this is probably the stinker of the week for me–though I’d read this, I couldn’t even remember what happened in it. And paging back through it, I feel like I didn’t even read it to begin with, despite knowing I actually did. This is certainly not the Captain Atom that I’ve known for the last two decades. As far as restarts go, and as a debut issue, I’m not even slightly impressed. The art is very stylized, and not in a way that I particularly enjoy. I don’t like the new visual design for the character, either, though I don’t know if that blame lies wholly on the design itself or this particular stylized interpretation. The story really does not feel accessible–not only do I not know this character, we start out right away with his powers acting weird on him, which feels like it should be at LEAST a second arc, or something saved for later. I don’t know what CA’s powerset is to begin with, and so him not being able to control it or it changing on him means nothing. Not planning on coming back for #2. (4/10)

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

greenlanterncorps001Though it’s been cool getting back into the GL books after a year and a half “off,” I’m not entirely thrilled with this one. And yet…this wasn’t horrible. I definitely enjoyed seeing Guy and John interacting, and the issue’s story did a good job of setting up both those characters, and that this ultimately involves the GL Corps as a whole, and is not limited to just the Earth-GLs. I especially enjoyed seeing Guy at the job interview; John’s interview scene was interesting as well. I never cared for either character until Rebirth and Sinestro Corps War…and I’ve found Guy’s development to be the most compelling, as I actually like reading the character now. The art for the issue isn’t really up my ally–it feels far too much like Gleason‘s style, which has always been my main turnoff to reading Green Lantern Corps. I’d intended to keep out of the GL corner of the New 52 and stick to the attempt of waiting for the collected volumes to read the stories, but the fresh/specific jumping-on point might just manage to suck me in for a brief time. (7.5/10)

NIGHTWING #1

nightwing001.jpegYet another title I hadn’t originally planned on picking up. But it’s Nightwing. And it’s #1. And despite being into comics at the time, I never did pick up either of the previous Nightwing #1s. Heck, other than the crossovers with the big Batman stories, I never really followed Nightwing, period. Unfortunately, I don’t know that that’s going to change all that much…but I think this has me hooked, at least for this first arc. The art’s good, which was quite enjoyable. And I like the idea of Dick revisiting Haley’s Circus, though I’m pretty sure this’s been done a few times before. At the least, I’m reminded a bit of Batman: Year 3, the final issue of which was my very first Batman comic, EVER. And just after that was the Lonely Place of Dying arc…both stories holding a key piece of my introduction to Dick Grayson as Nightwing, and all that. I think I’d’ve enjoyed this issue even without the new villain; and I am tired of seeing Dick getting so (physically) beat up all the time…seems he’s always getting these disastrous injuries, and yet keeps right on going…worse than Batman. I haven’t decided how I feel about swapping the blue for red in the costume…but given it’s been more than two years since seeing him in the previous costume, I don’t have any huge problem with this change. If anything, the blue maybe tied him more to Batman, while the red ties him more to Robin. I’ll be back for #2, though probably taking the series on an issue by issue basis. (8/10)

The NEW DC Universe

With the relaunch of DC’s superhero line in September, things start off with 52 #1 issues. Justice League August 31st, and the other 51 in September. The titles for this initial launch have been reported as follows:

  • ACTION COMICS
  • ALL-STAR WESTERN
  • ANIMAL MAN
  • AQUAMAN
  • BATGIRL
  • BATMAN
  • BATMAN & ROBIN
  • BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT
  • BATWING
  • BATWOMAN
  • BIRDS OF PREY
  • BLACKHAWKS
  • BLUE BEETLE
  • CAPTAIN ATOM
  • CATWOMAN
  • DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS
  • DEATHSTROKE
  • DEMON KNIGHTS
  • DETECTIVE COMICS
  • FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE
  • GREEN ARROW
  • GREEN LANTERN
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS
  • GREEN LANTERN: THE NEW GUARDIANS
  • GRIFTER
  • HAWK & DOVE

Continue reading

52 Week #32 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Seven Days in Nanda Parbat

Ralph and snow don’t necessarily mix; Black Adam Junior and Sobek meet the Teen Titans; and the space heroes buckle down.

52week32Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inks: Drew Geraci
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Stephen Wacker & Michael Siglain
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue doesn’t bring anything new to the table format-wise. It’s like a prime-time TV series…you get some intro, you check in on various characters in their present situations, the credits roll, and you’re off. If you’ve been following the series, this should be quite familiar to you; if you’ve not been following the series, you’re probably not gonna find anything here to change your mind.

At this point–six weeks over the "hump" with 20 left to go, I think it’s a safe bet that most anyone who’s going to follow the series in its serialized nature is onboard for the run, while those who aren’t going to jump in haven’t and won’t. So reading this, you’re in for the long haul, whether an issue/"episode" is slow OR fast-paced.

The familiar elements of the book are here: for this reader at least, the names in the credits are all recognizable, be it from earlier issues of this series or just seeing them as credits for other series. The cover dress is normal, the style of the credits is normal, the few pages here and there to "check in" on some subplots while one or another gets the most pages is there.

Is it GOOD, though? Yeah–Though I’m not familiar with Nanda Parbat, Rama Kushna, and so on, aside from seeing the names mentioned in the past, and any prior appearance of ’em in this series.

We get–as the focus of this issue–more development of the Ralph storyline as he and the helmet of Fate spend some time in Nanda Parbat, and Ralph seems to find some information he’s been seeking. We get to see the first(?) meeting of Black Adam Junior and Sobek with the Teen Titans, which in itself seems to further solidify the characters into the DCU as a whole and see that prior actions–"sins of the father," if you will–indeed have consequences. We also get to check in on the space heroes as they continue to realize the seriousness of their situation and what they’re going to have to face.

So the story advances on at least these three long-running plotlines, and by the series’ format, the whole story moves forward as a result.

Visually, I can’t complain about the art. I’m not terribly familiar with Olliffe or Geraci, though I’m sure I’ve seen the names before. Regardless, the art seems solid; everyone looks consistent and the visuals enhance the story.

As a whole, the whole package comes together as another solid issue of this title; nothing to spur one to drop it in itself, but nothing to convince a new reader to jump on based on this issue alone.

The Origin of Blue Beetle
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Ed.: Harvey Richards
Assoc. Ed.: Jeanine Schaefer
Editors: Wacker & Siglain

I actually learned some new information from this 2-pager. In and of itself, the art’s fine, and the writing’s fine. I’d still rather get a couple extra pages of story, but that’s a personal preference. Though BB’s not playing any major role in this series, this origin seems to sum up the main points of what I assume is the unfolding story in the character’s own new title, which ever so slightly piques the interest in this reader.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Booster Gold #9 [Review]

Quick Rating: Great!
Story Title: Blue & Gold chapter 4: Putting the Band Back Together

Booster Gold recruits his old buds so the Justice League International can help him fix Time…

boostergold009Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Pencil Art by: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Nick J. Napolitano
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Jurgens & Rapmund
Publisher: DC Comics

Have I mentioned that I’m lovin’ this series? There’s something about it that just really works, and I’ve enjoyed each and every issue so far.
This issue sees Booster and Beetle recruit their former teammates from the Justice League International days, as they take their fight into the midst of an Infinite Crisis unfolding differently from the one we know…since Booster has messed with the timeline by saving his best friend’s life.

While the JLI is being re-formed, Maxwell Lord and those in his power continue to see to Lord’s plans for the world working out as they might have, had events from Countdown to Infinite Crisis occurred differently. The issue moves along nicely, providing some cool reunions and believable, in-character reactions to other characters’ presence. There’s also a sense of something big on the horizon, and though one can guess at the permanency of the status quo, there’s still excitement and hope as to what the outcome will be after another couple issues.

The art–as usual and as now expected–is also very good, and seems perfectly suited to these characters.

This issue is as much a treat to look at as it is to read…and getting to do both makes it one of the finest comic series I’m currently reading.
Very much recommended!

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Booster Gold #7 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good!
Story Title: Blue & Gold Chapter 2: O.M.A.C.’D

Booster and Beetle face a horde of OMACs as they begin to discover what changes have occurred in the timestream…

boostergold007Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Pencil Art: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Norm Rapmund
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Randy Gentile
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Jurgens & Rapmund
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s hard not to sound like a broken record…but I find myself enjoying this title more than just about any other monthly out there. It’s been a consistent high-hitter…great story, great art, and character dynamics that remind me why I enjoy super-heroes in the first place.

This issue we begin to see some major fallout in the timestream due to Booster’s rescue of Blue Beetle, and see the two interact with characters in a present that’s been altered by Beetle not having been killed by Lord when he was supposed to have been. Additionally, further light is shed on the mystery Beetle, as well as the Supernova subplot.

Though it seems like Infinite Crisis just finished, it’s great to see its earliest events being revisited in this context, as we see how things could have played out. That our characters are playing in the time-stream adds to the enormity of events that unfold, while also keeping them contained to this book without having to run around buying a bunch of tie-ins to "get" the story.

The writing is spot-on as usual, capturing the attitudes of the characters seen, and continue to remind me what a great matchup Booster and Beetle are–maintaining a sense of humour as the two deal with each other and outside events, while not feeling forced (nor like some vain attempt to recapture a bygone tone from two decades ago).

The art is also very strong, keeping everything clear, consistent, and in some ways fairly iconic. I not only have no complaint with the art, but feel that it’s set a visual standard for these characters against which I’ll find myself measuring any other appearances they make elsewhere in the DCU.

This is the second issue of the Blue & Gold arc (the first was #0, a play on the Zero Hour "Zero Month" the arc tied into)…and as such this may not be the best point to jump on-board. However, if you track down that #0 issue…I highly recommend jumping in with this title (and consider the upcoming collection of the first six issues). As far as DC super-hero titles go…this is one of the best-written, most dynamic and interesting books I can see, and is my favorite DC is currently publishing.

Very much recommended.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Booster Gold #0 [Review]

Quick Rating: Great!
Story Title: Blue & Gold chapter 1: The Secret Origin of Booster Gold

Booster and the Beetles encounter Parallax mid-Zero Hour in the timestream, and Booster confronts his past as the heroes are stranded in the future…

boostergold000Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Pencil Art: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Norm Rapmund
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Randy Gentile
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Jurgens & Rapmund
Publisher: DC Comics

You know a book’s good when your primary complaint is a total fan-boy nit-pick with the issue’s cover. As a Zero Hour tie-in (complete with replacing "#7" with "#0"), I had honestly hoped to see the Zero Hour logo on the cover, making the cover fit in with the old 1994 zero issues. We do get the sharp silver coloring in the logo, which keeps it from being a complete bust.

As Booster and the Beetles discuss where to go from here, they encounter fellow time-travellers Parallax and Extant, circa DC‘s Zero Hour: Crisis in Time story from 1994. After a battle with the villains, the heroes find themselves stranded in the future–specifically at a day Booster remembers all too well. They scramble to salvage their mission, while Booster contemplates his role in affecting Time, and an even larger threat quickly becomes apparent.

The story itself here is very good–it keeps things moving forward in a believable way, also allowing the characters to interact with events in a nearly-fourteen-years-old story without seeming implausible (and if you’re not familiar with that story, you’re still in great hands as all you NEED to know is given to you in-context, without coming across as totally cheesey recap-conversation/thoughts!)

Visually, the artistic team–Jurgens, Rapmund, and Hi-Fi on the colors–deliver an excellent product. The Blue Beetles, Booster, even the Zero Hour villains all look spot-on, and really look just about the best I’ve ever seen ’em.

Right now, I’d have to say that Booster Gold is by far my favorite super-hero book out there. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s serious…it builds off established continuity without being slave to it, and still has plenty of room to keep pushing the characters’ stories forward and open up new territory.

This issue kicks off the 2nd arc of the title, and makes a good jump-on point if you’ve been considering whether or not to pick up the book. Both as something "new" to check out or as a continuing purchase, I highly recommend this issue, and the title in general.

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Booster Gold #29 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Booster Gold
Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4.5/5

Blue Beetle
Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5

Overall: 3.5/5

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