Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 3

September 20th, 2011 by | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We’re halfway into the New 52’s debuting month… sort of. Pretending the first week didn’t happen. You know what I mean.

Last week I dropped three books and put a handful on probation. How does this week stack up? Going in alphabetical order again, it’s pretty top-heavy. Bear with me because it’s not as entirely positive as the first half is going to make it look.

To start, it’s Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. I already hate the villain in this story (in the good way I’m supposed to hate a villain) for taking out the totally kickass design for Russian Batman. The whole idea of Batman trying to finally get past the death of his parents so he can look back at them fondly instead of “MY PARENTS ARE DEAAAAD!” is not only a good selling point for me, but follows up on my favorite moment from Grant Morrison’s final issue of Batman and Robin where Batman looks at a destroyed portrait of his parents, then immediately tells Damian that he’s proud of him for making the right decisions.

Personally, I loved Dick Grayson as Batman and part of it was his relationship with Damian. They had a great dynamic of Damian being a jackass and Dick being cool about it because it’s like working with a younger Bruce. That adds to the story here as there seems to be an underlying feeling that Damian is a child whose real father just got custody when he was really starting to love his step-dad even more. I’m interested in the concept of the one Robin who doesn’t roll with the punches on a regular basis and instead will outright talk back without a smirk. Bruce goes from having sidekicks who become like his strained sons to having a son who has become a strained sidekick. Insubordination is neat on its own, but having it come from a younger version of the guy giving the orders moves it up a notch. I’m sticking.

Even better is Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman. This one is all over the place, but all of those places hold my attention. The art is absolutely beautiful and despite never getting around to finishing Elegy (I’ll get to it!), I was able to follow it easily. Everything except the weird possibility that Montoya might be dead. The real talent in JHW3’s work is how different each scene looks. It’s almost hard to understand how Kate and Batwoman are one in the same based on how they’re portrayed. Sure, their basic physical descriptions match up, but Kate is drawn in scenes that show her almost down to earth while Batwoman is this sleek apparition of a figure that can’t exist in that same reality.

It’s like watching Jim Carrey transform into a CGI being. I’m going to stick with this one too.

Deathstroke by Kyle Higgins and Joe Bennett is a comic I’ve seen a lot of varying opinions on. For me, this issue is like the comic book version of someone telling a joke. The lead-up is that it’s a bad comic. The punchline is that it’s actually a good comic.

I like Slade Wilson and the idea of rooting for him. What I don’t like is the very concept of having to read a series about Deathstroke playing the part of House with three annoying wannabe assassins. Actually, the girl wasn’t so bad. Seeing him mentor them and gain their respect wasn’t going to cut the mustard, so I was ready to dump on this. Then the last few pages is the comic laughing and saying, “No, but seriously. The comic is about Deathstroke trying to be the most badass badass to ever badass by outbadassing himself. Check it out next month.” Yeah, I’m going to stick.

Demon Knights by Paul Cornell and Diogene Neves is pretty cool. I’ve yet to care about the villains, even if they do kill a baby for the hell of it. I’ve never been interested in Xanadu in any form nor Jason Blood, but I do like this weird little collection of immortal DC characters and medieval characters mingling. In fact, by having Vandal Savage as a barbarian protagonist and the Demon Etrigan in the same position, there’s potential in a team of two loose cannon antiheroes who can destroy everything in a five mile radius and may turn on each other at the drop of a hat. It’s like how the Sabretooth/Kraven dynamic in that crappy 1950’s Avengers arc was the only thing keeping it afloat in any way.

Neves’ art mostly comes alive when it comes to Xanadu’s facial expressions. There’s a mix of feminine suave and outright zeal as she converses with Etrigan and points out how Ystin is totally not a dude. The idea of the Jason/Xanadu/Etrigan triangle grabs me not only for the surface of it, but because of the sudden team aspect. Xanadu has been playing both sides while insulting the other behind their back for who knows how many centuries, but there’s been nobody to call her out on it. Once somebody is able to confront her – or even Jason/Etrigan – about it, the shit is going to hit the fan.

Of course, the cliffhanger reveals angry dragons appearing out of portals with giant daggers. How can I not stick with this series?

I’ve been interested in Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli ever since reading Lemire’s Frankenstein mini from Flashpoint, which was one of the better tie-ins despite having nothing to do with the main series outside of a brief callout to the Superman storyline going on. Lemire certainly has a stronger handle on Frankenstein than Scott Kolins ever did, but I think the one thing holding back a good enough start is that in his race to make this such an explosive first issue, Lemire went with too many concepts in too little time. If you look at Morrison’s miniseries from Seven Soldiers, you’ll note that while a lot of crazy shit was going on, it was laid out better. Frankenstein got into all kinds of weird adventures, but each piece of weirdness got its own issue/adventure to get properly showcased. It’s more like this issue feels like an issue and a half of stuff crammed into one. Ponticelli’s art does nothing for me, sad to say. Especially the face of Father Time’s little girl form. It takes me right out of the comic.

Despite my complaints, it’s still a fun starter and I’m naturally going to stick with this.

Green Lantern is still done by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke. I love how after years of writing Hal Jordan as the top cool cat in the cosmos, Johns writes two comics in DC’s new universe that paint him as a raging douche moron. It makes him easier to get into. I’d have liked more Sinestro stuff, but I have no qualms with the Jordan sitcom messes we got in his stead. I was already reading this series before the reboot and it isn’t really affected anyway, so I can’t see any reason not to stick.

Grifter by Nathan Edmondson and CAFU is where things start to slow down. I know so little about Grifter, but I feel like I would like him if I read more stories with him. I really wanted to like this and maybe I do. It just feels like the opposite of Frankenstein. Grifter #1 feels like 2/3 of an issue told in one. I mean, I guess I’m going to stick, but maybe for just another issue. I didn’t outright hate it, but it really needs to start going somewhere other than having him put on a mask that has yet to have meaning.

Legion Lost by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods failed to grab me in any way. Not only does it feel like walking into an action movie halfway in, but even when I can figure what’s going on, I just don’t care. Looking back and seeing that Nicieza is the writer makes plenty of sense. I tend to enjoy Nicieza’s stuff most of the time, but he has this one annoying writing tic. His plots are usually based on some complicated sci-fi crap that nobody can follow except him and his characters. It happened a lot in Cable/Deadpool and Thunderbolts. I realized how little I wanted to read any more after they announced that two characters were killed and I had to go back to a group shot so I could figure out who was missing and identify the dead. One of them I barely even noticed in the first place! Dropping this comic.

Mister Terrific by Eric Wallace and Gianluca Giliotta is another comic that didn’t tickle me. Terrific is one of those guys who I always want to like and I genuinely think the threat of the comic is one that I’d normally have no problems following. I just don’t like how it’s all put together. I think it’s the dialogue. A lot of the comic feels really, really forced and I can’t get into it. Look at this scene, for instance.

The hell was that? Yikes. Consider this dropped.

Red Lanterns by Peter Milligan and Ed Benes is next. Okay, so once upon a time, a popular comic superhero had this antagonist that got the attention of a writer who decided to make him into a protagonist. This guy had lost his family in an act of senseless violence and became a being of pure rage and vengeance. Even when those responsible of his family’s death had been done away with, he decided that he would never, ever stop punishing the guilty in his war on the wicked.

What I’m saying is that I like the idea of Atrocitus running what amounts to the Punisher Corps. I’m open to the possibility of there being a good comic in there and I don’t care how much “vomiting space cat” is run into the ground. It just that… well, this isn’t a very good comic. I don’t care about the Earth subplot, Atrocitus getting all mopey for a big chunk of the comic has me rolling my eyes and Benes’ art is the worst. On one hand, you have the bat lady Red Lantern twisting around to make sure that you can see her breasts AND her ass in the same shot. On the other hand, you have some really bad drawings of what’s supposed to be a cat. To steal from David, it’s like he just drew a little boy wearing a cat Halloween costume. This isn’t an unsalvageable comic, but I’ll have to wait for word of mouth if it ever does get readable. Dropped.

And besides, if you’re going to mix Punisher with sci-fi, you’ll never, ever be able to top this scene from Punisher 2099.

Now to Resurrection Man by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino. Not only have I never read the old Resurrection Man series, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a single comic with him in it. I really do need to get around to reading DC One Million. As an introduction, I enjoyed it. I think it succeeds in the way Grifter fails, even sharing similar airplane segments. I have a handle on Resurrection Man’s abilities, situation and what he’s up against. Despite the idea that an immortal hero might not be interesting, there’s already a threat that puts him in actual mortal jeopardy. And it’s not just one threat, but two opposing threats racing to be first to get him. The death of those on the plane works for me just because it makes Heaven look just as shady as Hell that the only person we can really trust in all this is our main character. So far I like this comic. Sticking.

Suicide Squad by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio and Ransom Getty is a comic railed on by many and for good reason. Yet… I don’t know. I feel compelled to keep going with it for at least one more issue. Let’s get past the unfortunate redesigns of Deadshot, Waller, Harley and King Shark for just a second. The problem in this comic is that it lacks what makes the concept fun in the first place. I mean, what’s the point of doing a team comic when nobody on the team interacts? Really, the whole torture concept shouldn’t have been a full issue. It should have been a fourth of the comic at most. The flashbacks added absolutely nothing to the story other than how that one guy felt bad about killing some kids by accident.

I’m glad that King Shark at least has a similar personality to his Secret Six self where his response to nearly every situation was, “I’m a goddamn shark! It’s it awesome?” With Harley, I’m not sure what to think. She reminds me of Tira from Soul Calibur, now that I think about it. Infatuated with a villain who would have no qualms with murdering her, suffers from mood swings, colored hair, slutty outfit… wow, that comparison really works. I like the more peppy classic version of her more, though I can see this one as more of a female Joker. The reason I give her a pass is the art. Sometimes she’ll have a really animated and goofy expression, but other times you get something chilling like this.

Being crazy is kind of an attractive trait for women, but this art alone suggests “not nearly worth the trouble” crazy. I like that.

Anyway, I’m really in love with the idea of Deadshot, Harley and King Shark teaming up and that’s good enough for me to give Glass and the rest another shot. It’s on probation, but sticking.

Finally, I’m not sure how I feel about Superboy by Scott Lobdell and R.B. Silva, but I guess I liked it. I haven’t cared about Superboy since the early days of Johns’ Teen Titans before he became all whiny about his evil genes. Oh, God. Remember how awful that was? I had low expectations for this one, so that helped me get some enjoyment. Considering the tabula rasa aspect of Superman and Kryptonians in general, I didn’t know how this could work and while it isn’t totally defined yet, the concept of a secret project to have a Superman that N.O.W.H.E.R.E. can control that doesn’t know where he stands morally is a good one. I guess if you’re going to do the “evil genes” storyline, you might as well do it to start instead of having him start out as a brash Superman with a heart of gold and then much later add the “will he be good or bad?” drama.

The inclusions of Fairchild from Gen13 and Rose Wilson is a bit distracting, but between that and the scene of Superboy ignoring the burning house and how random his sudden civilian life is, there are enough questions given on any given page to keep me interested until it begins to come together in a way that makes sense. Though I’m still not sure why Rose is there. Now that they’ve established the origin, we’ll see whether the adventures of We3 Superboy can lead to anything interesting next month. Cautiously sticking.

With another week in the hole, I’ve gone from 49 comics to read to 46 with another handful of probations. While the results appear identical to last week, I liked the Week 2 stuff more on the whole. Nothing from this week really grabbed me as much as Action Comics and Animal Man. Anyway, we’ll continue next week with possibly the first Wonder Woman series I’ll be interested in reading. Strange days are these.

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5 comments to “Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 3”

  1. Superboy didn’t ignore how sudden his civilian life is, or that burning house. He simply realized that it wasn’t real; it’s all VR. I figured he felt that since it wasn’t real, it wasn’t worth his time. Also, Rose seems to be there as a preventative measure: She’s his “handler”, so she’s supposed to be able to reel him in (or put him down) if necessary.

  2. FWIW, Renee’s photo in Batwoman was not intended to indicate that she was dead. Williams stated on his blog:

    The photo of Renee is on a wall of officers of special commendation, relatively recent past and present. Renee is from the past, and the photo symbolizes Kate needing to leave the past behind to try and move forward in her life.

  3. “Where do you live? On the edge.” Hahahaha, I’m using that one.

  4. It was the scene of Superboy passing by the house on fire that convinced me to try it out. I get everything a month or so late, so it’ll be a while before I can form an opinion, but I’m looking forward to it.

  5. That Punisher 2099 scene is indeed pretty darned great.