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From the back of the bandwagon: My DC New 52 thoughts, Week #1

STORMWATCH #1

stormwatch001While I can appreciate what this is likely building toward, it just doesn’t grab me. Something about it reminds me of my experience reading SHIELD #1 a year or two back. Sure, it’s well-written, in and of itself. But as one who has never really read Stormwatch at any great lengths in any of its incarnations–this does about as well at sucking me in. I think of all the new DC books this week, this was my least favorite. Thankfully, it was a late grab (my 4th comic shop) and not something I’ll feel like I’m backing out of. I wasn’t planning on getting this to begin with, saw some comments online and decided I actually did want to check it out, but cool as the last page may be, it’s not “enough.” Art’s not bad, either (didn’t sway me one way or the other). If this title turns out to be something worth getting long-term, I can backtrack or grab a collected volume. (4/10)

STATIC SHOCK #1

staticshock001Though I wouldn’t say this is my favorite debut issue, it was relatively “fun” going through. I’m not all that familiar with Static in general–about half of what I know comes from reading a book one of my college professors wrote about the Milestone Comics line–but I knew enough to enjoy this. “But why did you need to know anything beforehand?” you ask? Because this character seems relatively established in his book. First issue, blah blah blah…we don’t see him meeting Hardware (though I gotta say, it’s totally awesome seeing Hardware in here!), or discovering his powers. And I gather from this that Dakota is now an established city in the DC Universe. Story’s not bad–has a lot of potential. Art’s good, and I like that it feels like a cross between the cartoon and the “classic” original series. (7/10)

BATGIRL #1

batgirl001This was a last-second book for me. Originally I’d figured I wasn’t even gonna bother with it. I don’t care for Babs as Batgirl–she was already Oracle (or at least, she was in a wheelchair) the first I became aware of her back in the late 1980s when I was introduced to comics. I can appreciate the character in terms of the ’60s tv series, and as a former library student myself, love the imagery when she represents librarians. But this is the first “current continuity” I’ve seen in my life of her as Batgirl, and it’s so-so. Simone’s a great writer, and I have faith that if I stick with this series long enough, she’ll likely sway me into liking this take on Babs. That the “home invasion” from The Killing Joke is kept works well, and though I prefer Oracle, this plays out as an alternate take on the permanent injuries of the continuity that just ended. Syaf and the whole art team put together a great visual product…and I far prefer Syaf‘s Batgirl to Hughes‘ cover. (7.5/10)

DETECTIVE COMICS #1

detectivecomics001This issue was one I was gonna grab pretty much whatever. *Detective Comics* #1. Of course, it now lacks any great pedigree–it goes from being “the longest comic ever published” to being just another #1, and just another title amidst so many. Still, it’s a Batman book, and it’s got Batman vs. The Joker. Yeah…just another battle. But the end of the issue leaves me “curious” as to what’s to come for the Joker, disgusting as that was. I doubt it’ll lead off to any great changes–even in this relaunch, I can’t DC letting the Joker’s image be changed all that much. The art on the issue is pretty good, and there were some panels with Batman that I really liked, and the Joker certainly carried a familiar look. All in all, far from being a horrible issue, but nothing that stands out as anything iconic or all that remarkable. (6.5/10)

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL

justiceleagueinternationalLike Batgirl, this was a last-second book for me. I dropped Booster Gold a year and a half or so ago, tired of the meandering and figuring I’d “just catch up” from bargain bins. I also got burned out from Blackest Night, and so after a couple months of trying, decided to give all the Brightest Day stuff a pass to maybe catch up in collected volumes. As such, I missed the past year of Booster Gold and virtually all of Generation Lost. And I missed Booster, so with this being his new book, I figured I’d give it a look-see. This is another title where the art’s good, but not fantastic. And the story’s almost forgettable. I certainly didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped to…but I think I’ll probably be back for the next issue. (7/10)

SWAMP THING #1

swampthing001I’m not sure what initially grabbed my interest for this title–probably the Search for Swamp Thing mini-series that served as an aftermath to Brightest Day. And yet, it was the fact that I had put this issue on my pull list that I picked up Search for Swamp Thing. Chicken, meet Egg? This issue certainly didn’t blow me away or anything, but it’s got potential. There’s something to this version, to knowing this take on the character has him within the main DCU, that somehow has me enjoying it more. I’ve never really gotten into the Vertigo version of the character, however good the writers/stories may have been. Never have been opposed, but just never really got grabbed…except for the ties to Hellblazer. And with John Constantine back in the DCU as well (or a version of him, anyway), I figured this title was worth checking out. I am glad that I picked up and read Search for Swamp Thing, as this does make some vague references to it, and does seem to sort of follow on it. At the least, this does not contradict that series. I’ll be back for #2 to see how things continue playing out, though unless I really get grabbed, I don’t know if I’ll last an entire arc. Will take it an issue at a time. (6/10)

ACTION COMICS #1

actioncomics001This takes place 5 years in “the past.” Planting this square in my final semester of grad school. Which is really disconcerting when I think of it in those terms, today.  Though this is not the Earth One Superman, he feels equally unfamiliar. I’m willing to read this story, to take it for what it is, in and of itself…but especially as the character is at this point, this is far from any Superman I’ve really ever known, or cared to know…history be darned. Morrison is hit or miss for me, and I can’t quite decide which this is. Other than the “meta” significance of this being Action Comics #1 (and for the first time in 73 years, a distinction now must be made as to WHICH Action #1), this doesn’t feel like anything special…just another story with a much different take on the character. Of course…I’ll be back for #2, unless something comes up that REALLY turns me off from this series. And given my history with Superman, even if I don’t keep up with the singles as they come out…I can’t imagine I’ll be able to stay away from the title long-term, whatever develops. (6/10)

Flashpoint #5 [Review]

Flashpoint part 5 of 5

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Sandra Hope and Jesse Delperdang
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Cover: Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Alex Sinclair
Asst. Editor: Kate Stewart
Assoc. Editor: Rex Ogle
Executive Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics

Flashpoint #5 was a rather quick read for me. For now, not much in the way of emotional investment: I read #1 a few months back, but that was the last I’d read. I picked this issue up solely for the promise of it “explaining” the transition to the New 52. In and of itself in that regard…I probably could have done just as well to not bother buying this.

The story moved pretty fast, and was mostly this epic final battle between Barry and Thawne (Flash and Reverse-Flash). Thawne had screwed with Time–killing Barry’s mother–and Barry had tried to set things right, resulting in a the screwed-up “present” of the Flashpoint universe. When Barry realizes what he has to do to TRULY put things right (at great personal cost), he gives it a shot–and seems to succeed. Of course, what he doesn’t know is that there are minor differences–while some things are as they should be, others are drastically different…as will be discovered throughout the New 52.

That the story feels like primarily one huge fight scene, an ambiguous “emotional moment” with Barry and his mother, followed by an ambiguous epilogue scene doesn’t give it much to go on in and of itself as a single issue. That hurt my enjoyment of it–and my rating of it–but I’m sure it’s got much more resonance with someone who has read the entire series.

The art on this book looks great overall, and I really enjoyed it. Of course, as with the writing, most nuances were lost on me at this point, not having read issues 2-4 nor any of the tie-ins. I do intend to read the full story when the collected volume comes out, and perhaps the tie-ins as well. I just wasn’t going to follow this entire event as single issues with numerous issues to buy at full price every single week for months. (I also hadn’t initially realized the significance of this particular event until things were underway, or I MIGHT have considered otherwise).

My core quibble with the art is “the” 2-page spread that’s supposed to explain things: there’s reference to 3 timelines, though I feel like I saw 4…not sure which was doubled, or if there were 3 timelines PLUS the Flashpoint line (which may be, but not having read the core of Flashpoint, I can’t quite tell visually).

If one were to read this issue “in a vacuum,” that is, without knowing about the New 52 and such, the ending would seem on the one hand to be pretty much a non-issue: Time gets screwed up and put back, Barry remembers, and the main thing beyond that is to impact Batman. on the other hand, it would seem to be rather open: with multiple timelines instead of just changing one line back to another, there seems to be a new timeline formed, ripe for exploration.

Unfortunately, I must leave it to others for now to determine if this was a good ending to Flashpoint as a whole. As an ending to the DC Universe I’ve spent the last 23 years with, it’s not a horrible ending, but it’s almost unneeded. Probably the main thing for me about having this issue is to have it–to be in on the end and the beginning this week, having also grabbed Justice League #1.

If you followed Flashpoint, obviously this’d be an issue to get. If you’re just jumping into things for the relaunch, you’d be just as well-served to find the image of “the” spread online rather than buy this issue out of context.

Story: 5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 6/10

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

MORE disjointed thoughts on the DC Reboot

dcrelaunchAs I knew would happen, listening to one single podcast (a Comic Geek Speak special), I found my views on the DC announcement this week if not 100% changed, at least far more “open” with some positive thrown in. Plus, the whole thing is such a HUGE announcement with so many unknowns and waves of implications that it takes more than a few minutes to begin really processing.

Some more thoughts, questions, ideas, and musings:

Since there’s going to be day-and-date digital release…many people will acquire “issues” electronically without ever setting foot in a comic shop. BUT…what if each digital issue came with some sort of way to get ahold of a local comic shop for a print edition, or “for more information” about related material?

What if buying digital-only means any given issue is only 99 cents? BUT–if you buy the print edition, you get some kind of card or code good for a “free” copy of that issue in digital format? That way–the casual reader never going to a comic shop gets a cheap digital comic…the new generation of comic reader. But for the old generation of fans, who prefer to buy the print edition, there’s that chance to access an electronic edition, which might spur one to try buying issues that way.

The social networking thing would definitely need to be addressed. Have something where at time of purchase/download, one can send a post to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and so on. “I just got BATMAN #1, written by _______ and art by _______!” (and associate a cover image, and perhaps the equivalent of solicitation text for the issue). Perhaps even allow a user to go back in and “rate” the issue and write a short review…which could then be posted the same way. Let the things go “viral” or some such.

I wonder what the relaunch and pursuing of the digital crowd might mean for the collectability of the comics. If “anyone” can simply acquire a “copy” of the issue digitally–does that largely remove the collectability even of a first issue (at least among “the masses”)? (Surely a certain amount of people will still see value and collectability in the print editions).

I am a collector in the sense of getting the long runs, and having full stories as single issues if I haven’t simply waited for the collected edition. I’d prefer to see the things enjoyed rather than hoarded for supposed value. (I thoroughly enjoy buying 25 or 50-cent copies of various issues that were THE big sellers and “hot items” in the ’90s, now relegated to bargain bins and otherwise forgotten.)

I don’t like the idea of the renumbering, but…they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do, and I’ve made my views on renumbering and variants quite well known…and will SURELY post to address my thoughts on that front as the general announcements are made in the coming months.

That said…I hope that WITH this relaunch, they take it all the way. Yeah, events and stories (Blackest Night, for example) happened, or can be referenced such that the reader who is new doesn’t need to read the other story/event…but where it might add depth to things for the older reader that did.

Continue reading

The DC Reboot

dcrelaunchSo, DC’s apparently going to relaunch/reboot their entire superhero universe this September.

Black September II, maybe? (in 1995, Marvel/Malibu rebooted their Ultraverse superhero line in an event called Black September.)

50+ new #1 issues…in September. On twitter, I noticed that Erik (Savage Dragon) Larsen points out an interesting question: How is a store supposed to order that many #1 issues?

Another question: how is a CONSUMER supposed to afford to buy that many #1 issues?!? Even if DC “draws the line” at a $2.99 cover price (and even if they’re double-sized issues)…that’s $150+ for DC issues in September alone.

There are SO MANY facets to something on this scale that I wouldn’t even begin to be able to ‘cover’ them all in a quick blog post here. I have a knee-jerk reaction to the whole thing, but I also know that in the months to come, I may very well come to a different understanding or feeling on this.

But back in 2005, with the One Year Later thing…I used that “event” to jump off probably 2/3 the titles I was buying from DC, and that wasn’t even a reboot. This feels more like DC saying to me that I’ve had my fun, and it’s time to let a whole new generation officially jump on board to replace the likes of me.

And maybe that’s true.

SOURCE: USA Today article (and surely tons of others, just google it)

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