Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 7

October 18th, 2011 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For any new readers, here’s the deal. I used to read a lot of DC comics. Then over the years, they lost me to the point that I was only reading about six a month. Over the first six months of their big reboot, I want to see how strongly they can hold onto my interest. Week-by-week, I’m looking at what I want to keep, what I don’t and what I’m on the edge about. As it is right now, I’m still reading 37 of their new titles, but it likely won’t last.

More DC books hit their #2 issue this week. Of the stuff that came out, I’ve already done away with Batgirl, Legion Lost and Mr. Terrific. That leaves ten books.

First is Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. The main story of the issue is Bruce’s attempt to be a supportive dad to Damian and Alfred noticing that he absolutely sucks at it. While Damian is able to hold back his bloodlust in Bruce’s company, he emotionlessly takes it out on a bat. I think this is awesome. This is how it should be. It isn’t regressing for the sake of regressing. Why did Damian chill out in the first time? Because of who was mentoring him. Dick Grayson was such a loving, supportive and emotionally genuine partner that Damian was able to let him into his heart and change him. Bruce doesn’t stack up and Damian is starting to have a hard time figuring out why Bruce is worth following more than his mother.

It’s great because after having to put up with years of Dick trying to live up to Bruce’s example, Bruce is now in a spot where he has to live up to Dick’s example. Batman needs a Robin, but Damian is just another Batman. Batman doesn’t need another Batman. Neither has the crutch of a cheery partner to keep them stable, so dysfunction is in their future.

Gleason’s art is fantastic when it comes to action. Really enjoying his stuff, especially this page from after a criminal announces, “What the hell?”

I’m going to stick on this one.

Also in Gotham is Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman. Despite what I said about Gleason, it’s Williams who is the true king of art these days. Good God! The opening scene especially, where not only is he doing the cool x-ray box to show bones being shattered upon punching impact, but Batwoman is colored differently from Flamebird. Flamebird is flatter and more simplified, while Batwoman has a more realistic sheen that makes her step out of the page like a 3D image.

The story is more coherent than last month’s intro, though the threat appears to be just as much a mystery as it ever was. The Cameron Chase part does include something I really wish we’d see more often in comics. I like when people try to figure out a superhero’s secret identity and get it wrong in a way that makes sense. Like how Jameson used to think that his son was Spider-Man or how Gordon once believed Harvey Dent to be Batman. It always makes it easier to accept that the public hasn’t figured out what appears so simple to readers such as us. While the story isn’t setting my world on fire, the art is and the narrative is worthy enough. I’m going to stick.

Deathstroke by Kyle Higgins and Joe Bennett is one of the stronger books of the week. Oh, man. What a ride. First off, the issue is titled Carpocalypse, so you know you’re in for something special. Normally badass characters like this would have an action sequence in the first four or five pages that would show how much of a badass they are before the issue can move forward with the story and maybe spend some time on exposition for a cliffhanger or whatever. That’s what it seems like we’re getting at first, but then the sequence keeps going and going. Each page, the story continues to get more ridiculous. Threats escalate and get more outlandish until it reaches its insane climax and pushes the series’ concept further. It’s so weird that Deathstroke is more fun and adventurous than his fun and adventurous knockoff from Marvel. I’m-a gonna stick.

Another seriously strong comic in Demon Knights by Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves. I don’t have much to add, since it keeps going on the momentum created from the first issue. We get a little more of new characters Exoristos and Al Jabr, who each give us a bit of charm. The real star of the show is Vandal Savage, who gets more and more fun the more writers exploit his eons of immortality. He’s just so damn happy about getting to eat dragons! I kind of feel like Savage is what happens when you stick Gail Simone’s King Shark in a team comic that’s actually good. Sticking some more!

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli is still strong, though it doesn’t feel as strong as it should be. Maybe it’s the art, which is serviceable, but probably the weakest we’ve seen in a DC Frankenstein story. One of the things that bothers me is how we were introduced to Frankenstein’s fellow soldiers in his Flashpoint tie-in, yet they’re all completely different here, down to the origins. Not to say it isn’t an improvement, but it’s incredibly jarring. Frank’s interactions with his teammates leads to a couple strong moments and I like the demonic threat. The completely hardcore final page is the icing on the cake. I’m going to stick, but I feel like Lemire can do better.

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke is good as always. I’m not too keen on Hal already getting his ring back, but at least we’re getting more Sinestro. He’s a bastard, but a righteous bastard and I love that about him. His best moment is his awkward reaction to being cheered for doing the right thing.

Ever since the end of Sinestro Corps War, Johns has been starting a trend of making Sinestro more understandable as a villain in the Magneto/Zemo sort of way. You may not approve of his actions and you probably aren’t meant to, but you at least have to respect that he believes in his actions and he’s doing what he believes to be good. Either way, I hope he stays Green Lantern for at least a few more story arcs. They can really do some good stuff with this. Stick, as if you haven’t guessed.

Grifter by Nathan Edmondson and CAFU is moving at a snail’s pace and isn’t doing its best job at winning me over. I feel compelled to see where it’s going because I want to like Grifter, but it’s so painfully decompressed. You could really just skip the first issue and read this one because barely anything new is introduced and he goes into exposition over what we already know anyway. He’s also wearing his mask for the sake of wearing his iconic mask with no explanation given other than his need to disguise himself. As if wearing a mask would make you look less suspicious. Maybe I’ll give this another try next month if it’s a small week of books, but I’m going to drop this.

Resurrection Man by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino isn’t the most exciting book, but it at least moves forward to the point that it almost feels disconnected from the first issue. The cool Heaven vs. Hell storyline takes a step back as our hero tries to recall his past through going through his dead father’s stuff and meeting with his father’s crazy friend. It’s dull, but grounds us for when the Body Doubles – two over-the-top sexy Deadpool types – show up to take him out. It’s not the best comic, but I still have enough buzz from the first issue and the writers to stay on course for now. Stick.

I’m very glad that I gave Suicide Squad by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio and Andrei Bressan a second shot because I feel it paid off. The first issue was pretty crappy as it spent 22 pages introducing us to the concept in a way that lacked the energy of the concept itself. That’s why I wanted to at least see the team in action before passing judgment. We finally get to see the different teammates play off each other and get some promising dynamics… even if some of those dynamics are to be cut short due to the promised body count for our team. Not only that, but they’re actually DOING SOMETHING and that gets my attention. See, when the characters are actually in action instead of just hanging around and getting tortured, you notice their redesigns even less. Especially since we barely get to see the annoyingly trim Amanda Waller here.

I still can’t stand the lack of Deadshot’s facial hair. He just looks so normal, mundane and a little too young in relation to his grizzled and experienced coldness. I’ve really warmed up to Harley, though. I mean, the bustier is still too much, but Bressan doesn’t make her shorts stick out like a sore thumb, especially with her leggings going nearly up to her hips. Really, the best part of her redesign is her head. I really like the hair and the smeared eye makeup, mainly because it lends itself to be more animated than her classic look.

I’m down with Squad for another month or two at least. I’m okay with sticking.

Speaking of giant talking sharks, we have Superboy by Scott Lobdell and R.B. Silva to round out the New 52 this week. Despite the cliffhanger from last month, this has nothing to do with going after the Teen Titans. It does foreshadow Fairchild’s role in the story as a metahuman far more, briefly showing that she still has her Gen 13 power set underneath the glasses and armor. Rose gets some time to shine, allowing her to seem less like a random named character to be shoved into the series. It tries hard to get me to care and it’s easily Lobdell’s best New 52 work, but I’m not fully won over. Silva’s art doesn’t do much for me either. It’s a bit too stiff. I’m going to stick, but it’s still on probation.

Now I’m down to 36 titles. Lot of solid stuff this time around.

Oh, and I read the first issue of the Shade too. Okay so far, though it’s one hell of a mental exercise to figure out how his continuity makes sense post-reboot.

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4 comments to “Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 7”

  1. I too like the delicate line Geoff Johns is walking with Sinestro. Unfortunately, there are some readers who flat-out think Sinestro is a hero because he “means well”, but to me that seems to be missing the nuance that EVERYONE “means well” by whatever standards they follow. Every dictator, every terrorist, every crooked politician and lawyer “means well”, with the caveat that they’ll perform whatever mental gymnastics are required to justify the harm they cause.

    But Sinestro’s BS is pretty easy to see through. He speaks of an “honor code” he tried to instill in his Corps, which is to say, he allowed his thugs to ravage as much of the universe as they liked, then instructed them to treat his home world with kindness and justice. That’s just playing favorites; you’re not fooling anyone. Well okay, some people are fooled.

    I’m enjoying “Batman and Robin” for the same reasons you are (except you expressed those reasons a thousand times better than I could have), and while I expect Bruce will step up, I also imagine it will take some time. There’s little point in pursuing the theme of “learning to be a healthy father and son” if it doesn’t start from a position of clear dysfunction. Honestly, the whole situation makes me long for a “Nightwing and Robin” title, but that’s just me being impatient.

  2. Harley going to be hit on by Sub zero one of these days if she keeps looking like sareena and tari love child.

    Deathstroke the new deadpool?
    Hope this doesn’t become a dueling banjos of the Wilsons to see which one goes on to be the most badass adventures.

  3. The continuity of pretty much everything makes no sense post-reboot, so I wouldn’t expect Shade to be any different. I also liked it well enough. Not up to the old miniseries, but I’m not really sure you could even put out something like that now anyway.

    After all, it might seem alienating to new readers to have a page that’s half one big illustration and half narration. You know, for kids!

  4. So I’m guessing in Morrison’s origin, Superman’s rocket becomes his suit of armor.