Sunday, September 11, 2011

DC Reboot Review: All of week 2.

Yes, yet another look at some DC rebooted titles. But instead of some I am taking a small look at all of the new DC titles from this week. 

Unlike Luke, I have been a DC reader since I was a baby and was actually reading more than a few titles before the big reboot. My reaction of the news and details of the new titles ranged from indifference to embarrassment with very few exceptions.

Action Comics#1
This was by far the one I was looking forward to the most. I'm a huge Morrison fan and loved his All-Star Superman and his run on Batman. Here he's doing exactly what he did on Batman and that's bringing back the old ignored and forgotten stories and even characterisations of the main hero and putting them back and having them make sense.

In this case it's the wish fulfillment Superman as a bully fighting for the weak. Instead of supervillains, the bad guys are like a checklist of people you'd go after if you read the newspaper.  I actually like the standard inspirational moral good guy Superman that I've known forever but it doesn't really make sense for him to just show up and be like that from the start. Seeing Superman's appearance in Swamp Thing suggests that he does end up growing into the role and that just adds more curiosity to this origin era Superman for me.

A few choices did surprise me though. You have Luthor teaming up with Sam Lane which had been going on in the books over the last few years and had been getting boring. Morrison makes everything work though and I am definitely sticking with this.

Animal Man #1
Now this one I was apprehensive about. Animal Man was a character straight from the Silver Age with the old school powers of being able to mimic the abilities of any animal. It wasn't until Grant Morrison (again) wrote him in the late 80's that he became someone anybody gave a crap about. A lot of things were added that are still around in this new book such as him being a family man and him not being a dark driven guy like other heroes. But to me that old series didn't get good until (Spoiler alert for stuff that happened twenty years ago) he started to become more and more self aware of himself as a fictional character in a comic.
That's not something you can bring back really and I was in doubt I could care about this guy without that stuff in the background especially as he's not been handled great since.

 But they totally do pull it off and they do it by making this less of a superhero book and more of a horror story. You get lulled into his non threatening world then you get creeped out and then many questions are raised by the ending.

Batgirl #1
My biggest word for this would be Unnecessary. If you're going to put an end to Barbara Gordon as Oracle then you'd want it to be worth it and this book is just not worth it. And when you have such a great team on Batwoman then your Batgirl has a lot to live up to and this fails. It's full of attempts to make her seem "cool" or "tough" but they instead play of as dumb such as her riding her motorbike inside of a hospital. I'm not sticking with this one.

Batwing #1
Now this was a surprise! Introduced in Batman Inc. as the "Batman of Africa" Batwing is secretly a cop in a town that is crazy violent. Now, there's a lot of blood and gore in this but after reading the newer Unknown Soldier title and Deogratias, both heavily researched comics set in war torn Africa, I was okay with the violence shown. It's not fun but it's not trying to be. It's just Batwing and Batman teaming up to fight some sick stuff going on.

Detective Comics #1
I'm really not a fan of Tony Daniel and was surprised he was kept on as writer/artist. In this comic, everything I don't like about his style seems to be amped up a hundred notches. The Joker could be switched with any other character as could Batman. And the ending! This is not a great time to be making changes to characters that will prove to be temporary and that's exactly what happens for the sake of a gross shock cliffhanger. This book read as a straight up dumb superhero parody where "mature" means "as much blood as possible".

Green Arrow #1
Green Arrow is now a younger dude with terrible facial hair (yes, worse than before). He's very Batman in that he uses his unlimited money to fight crime and create crazy gadgets. He even has a lady that is pretty much what Oracle used to be.

The oddest thing I found about this is that each time he actually shot an arrow I thought "he didn't have to do that". He shoots an arrow at a baddie that ends up wrapping him up, but the thing is they're on a boat and close enough that arrows seem a dumb choice and I felt that every single time he shot a different gadget arrow. Yes, I know it is dumb to complain about how Green Arrow kept shooting arrows but that's all I could think of.

Hawk and Dove #1
Hooooo boy! When this was announced with Liefeld on it I was shocked and a little sickened. I was never a fan of Rob Liefeld so my nostalgic love here is for the characters but by goodness are they drawn terrible.
The story? It is a perfect match for the art. I really have nothing to add to Luke's review of this other than I am a little disappointed because I think there is good potential with these characters today. A liberal peacemaker having to team with an angry war lover in the USA these days? Imagine if John Stewart had powers but they only worked if he were hanging out with Glenn Beck and he also had powers. Unfortunately the avatar or war/avatar of peace conflict doesn't get deeper than "We should kill the baddies" versus "I don't think we should kill the baddies".

The other thing is that there is NO attempt to make this accessible to new readers. Dove is now the boyfriend of Deadman which I guess happened during Brightest Day maybe? This thing is sloppy in all aspects.

Justice League International #1
I liked this a lot better than last week's Justice League but it's still not great. The deal is that the UN puts together their own multicultural superhero team made up of old characters in their worst costumes. It's very much the old 80's Giffen/MaGuire JLA without the humour or charm. 

This too is unnecessary. It exists because it can. I am a DC guy from way back but even I don't want to read a book with fucking Godiva the English superhero lady with hair powers.

Men of War #1
I really want the non-superhero books to be good and am still looking forward to the Western one but this did nothing for me. The main story is about a descendant of Sgt. Rock fighting some mysterious super powered guy in a war zone. The backup story is a a straight up ripoff of the sniper part of Full Metal Jacket with a tiny cliffhanger twist.

There's something I love about old war comics that I just don't know if you can pull off these days. It may be that we don't have Nazis or a Hitler and the "bad guys" no longer look like supervillains. In fact, neither of the stories in this book even name what country they're in or who they're fighting. 
The only modern war comics done well that I know of are Unknown Soldier and Graveyard of Empires and I don't see a mainstream DC book getting as heavy as them.

Heck, yes! I LOVE the original OMAC and this totally uses the Kirby rule of making sure at least one big thing is happening on every page. The art too is channeling the Kirby version without trying to ape it completely. The big change up here is OMAC is fighting other 70's DC Kirby characters, namely Project Cadmus. This comic seems like it was made for me and my only concern is how sustainable it will be. For how many months can I handle book long fight scenes full of whacked out ideas? This is definitely FUN over substance and in this case I am okay with that. And if this gets more people checking out the original then that is great.

Static Shock #1
I knew very little about this fellow going in and I didn't learn a whole lot. It made me realise how little backstory most of these #1s give. He's a kid with electricity powers but also some hexagons he can fly on? And there's the superhero called Hardware and they have a bit of a Mork/Orson relationship. He fights very colourful guys on colourful flying scooters until a bigger guy shows up. Also, his dad won't let him get a driver's licence and his sister pulled a prank on him concerning his school ID.

Stormwatch #1
I also know very little about the original Stormwatch. My memory of this issue is a bit hazy to be honest. Stormwatch are a more secret-y superhero team and they like recruiting. There's a fair bit of "These are my powers" and "Let's get this guy, he has different powers". 

Swamp Thing #1
This is another good one. He's back to his roots (pun) as a big old monster with scary things happening. It's not quite a horror book but it's nowhere near a superhero comic either. The first issue is basically about getting to know Alec Holland and setting up mysteries to be answered later. The art is very impressive and the story is cool but I think i'll wait until this is collected.


  1. I've been anticipating your thoughts on these. Interesting that, as a regular reader, and a new reader, that we had pretty similar takes. I was worried I'd been too harsh on the bat-books, so it was reassuring to read your comments.

    (I've found as I read reviews around the net that I'm really surprised at how much people enjoyed pretty much ALL of these books. Even Hawk and Dove is being praised, and I've read that the origin thing was dealt with well!).

    This makes me want to check out Bat-Wing and OMAC now.

  2. Nothing in Hawk and Dove was dealt with well.

    The thing about the Batman books is that they were actually quite good leading up to the reboot. I have high hopes for Batman #1 as it's by a writer that's been doing good Batman stories this year.

  3. Ha ha ha, Static Shock is the most 1993 thing I have ever seen

  4. i think you have to write and draw a minicomic with superhero jon stewart and glenn beck now.

  5. I just caught up on Green Lantern. The biggest thing that struck me is how he lectures everyone the whole time. While beating them up.

    And that ending is super weird with everyone posing and Chewbacca in the background??