Friday, September 23, 2011

DC Reboot: Week 3 (More or Less)

So. Another week, another string of new #1 issues from DC trying to get us to stretch our entertainment dollar as far as we possibly can. Aren't we lucky? With only one more week of new issues in the first round, I have to admit, so far I'm pretty ambivalent. Yes, some of the new books have been REALLY good...but some have been REALLY not; this is definitely a trend that continued this week. I don't have Luke's skill with the photo editor (art and I don't get along) sadly, all you get here is a DC logo instead of a cool sliced up picture. I'm sure you'll survive, right?

So, this week, I got #1's for: Birds of Prey, DC Universe Presents, Blue Beetle, Wonder Woman, Nightwing, and Batman. I'll admit right off the bat (get it?) that I looked at Catwoman, Supergirl, and Red Hood...but I was turned off on them quickly enough that they didn't even make it home. Thank goodness Luke took that bullet over in his review over here. Take that for what it is.

My thoughts after the jump. Please remember that SPOILERS are in effect, and these are just MY thoughts, you're allowed to disagree.

Birds of Prey #1

I have admit that while this was definitely the book that I liked the least (out of the stuff I actually purchased), that doesn't mean it was bad. I tend to like Duane Swierczynski's writing, even if his name is impossible to spell, and as far as first issues with pre-established characters go, this was a solid book. We start off being introduced to "Charlie Keen", who appears to be a reporter, trying to prove the existence of Black Canary and Starling, a "covert ops team run by a bunch of supercriminal hotties". Yes, that's a direct quote. He soon gets his proof, as it turns out he's being targeted for death, and it's Dinah and Starling to the rescue! It's an effective way of setting up the characters and status quo, making Mr. Keen the exposition man, watching the story unfold around him while he tries to figure out what's going on just like we do. Like I said, it's NOT a bad just didn't really "do it" for me. There's a quick appearance from a former member of the previous version of the book (yep, it's who you think it is), and setup for Katana's eventual joining. Also lots and lots of faceless ninjas that I could never tell if they were supposed to be in some kind of camouflage suit or kinda felt like they're being set up to be like DC's version of the Hand. Which would be fine, except DC already has that, and they call it Kobra. Oh well, there's always room for more techno-ninjas, right? Admittedly, the end of the issue has a nice twist and a setup for a much larger story. Ultimately, a pretty decent book that made its way into the buy pile without even a look because of my love of the previous version. Issue #2 won't be a guaranteed buy for me, but at the very least, I'll be giving it a look, and we'll see what happens.

DC Universe Presents: Deadman

First things first: this IS an anthology book. It's just an anthology book that only tells one story at a time. If you have a completest mentality, and this bugs you, you may be better off waiting for trades and buying the ones focused on the characters you're interested in. That being said, it's an odd, yet weirdly interesting issue. As the title states, the first character spotlighted is Deadman. Not being one of the better-known characters out there, it's pretty much all origin, focusing on what a bastard Boston Brand was in life, and the opportunity he was given in death to balance himself out. Paul Jenkins is very good at this. Unfortunately, Deadman's situation is complicated enough that the entire first issue goes towards world-building, and it's not really until the last page that you can kinda figure out what's going on. I've said it before, but this is kinda my biggest problem with the DC re-launch: most of the #1's feel like they're just starting new stories in a pre-existing title, which is usually kinda true. But as they are, they don't FEEL like #1s. It's kind of a hard thing to explain, it just feels like it should be bigger than it turns out to be. But, like BoP, it's not a bad book. Unlike BoP though, I don't think it did enough for me that I need to try out issue #2. Maybe digitally. Later on. Or maybe as a trade. We'll see.

Blue Beetle #1

I feel like a bit of a broken record here. Blue Beetle's a decent book. Honestly, probably a little better than decent. It starts off with the destruction of a whole planet, has a Green Lantern appearance, and does really well setting up the world and the characters. There are appearances by some classic villains that you don't usually see, and yet Blue Beetle himself doesn't show up until the last page. It's another example of "issue #2's probably going to be awesome" that just doesn't do it for me. Jamie's very much a candidate to be DC's answer to Spider-Man, and I hope they pull that off, but for me personally, I think if I continue to get it, it'll be in trade or digitally. Also, I don't know if the more "overtly Hispanic" aspects of some of the characters are actually handled well or not. As a white guy who was born and raised in Indiana, it's not a culture I can claim any real familiarity with...but it certainly feels more stereotype-y than I'm maybe comfortable with. I may be being overly sensitive, seeing as I have a heaping helping of white-guy-guilt over the treatment non-white characters have gotten in the past...but that's always a hard thing to judge if you're not actually IN the group being portrayed. I'd be interested in hearing what someone with an actual Hispanic background thinks, though. As a matter of full disclosure, I should probably point out that Ted Kord was one of my all-time favorite characters, and much like Wally West, he apparently no longer exists. Nor does Dan Garrett. This may be coloring my view of the book slightly, though I'm trying not to let it.

Wonder Woman #1

Unlike Luke, I actually really liked this one. Yes, I was surprised too. The weirdest thing is that it does ALL the stuff that I've condemned the previous three books for doing. There's random nudity, a lead that doesn't show up until half-way through the book and then proceeds to not really DO much, and there's LOADS of setup. But the story here is REALLY cool. There's a thing with muses that I'm not really sure what happened, and a random decapitation by a woman wearing only a peacock, but there's definitely something larger at work in the story, and the twist at the end, while honestly nothing new, is fun enough that I'm honestly interested in seeing where it goes. I'm also interested in knowing why Hermes looks like a chicken-man. I wonder if DC hasn't reset it's gods to be more like movie-version Thor, where their "magic" is just way-better-than-our-peabrains-can-fathom science. If so, I probably won't be happy about it...that's not really something that Flash could have changed by screwing up. Unless there's a good reason, pre-established rules about why things work the way they do shouldn't be able to change just because the details are slightly different. But that's really just me bitching, ultimately. I don't think I'm ready to add it to the pull list yet, but I think I'll at least be picking up #2.

Nightwing #1

I want desperately to love Nightwing. It's a decent story...though again, it's a lot of setup and not much payoff within the issue. It's one of my all-time favorite characters back to the character I loved him as. I'm not sure I love this book so far. Don't get me wrong, it is, once again, a solid book. It gives a great introduction to the character and his world. But there are some glaring omissions. Like, WHY is Dick back to being Nightwing? I'll touch on this more when I get to the next book, but the events of Batman Inc. still happened. Dick as Batman still happened. But now, with no explanation so far, Bruce is back in Gotham, and Dick is back to Nightwing, but still in Gotham. It doesn't make any sense! They also go a long way to have Dick bloody up a thug to look like his new red logo...which seems out of character a bit too. There's some fun stuff with the circus, and apparently Dick is a slob...also if you're a clown, you just shouldn't operate in Gotham. It's just a bad idea. And then we end with our new villain killing two cops, just so Dick can change...with his entire reaction being the equivalent of "my bad". I'd love to hear the villain's motivation, because as of right now, I'm completely confused. He's after Dick, but even though Batman Inc happened, he's surprised that Dick's got "protection" from a superhero. I find that weird, especially given what he says his motivation is in the first place. Then we watch the new villain take Nightwing apart, after setting up how good Nightwing was earlier in the issue...meh. I'll admit, it's already on the pull list simply because it's Nightwing, but I'm not sure how long it'll stay there as of right now. If it were another character, I'd probably love it, but as it stands, there are too many things that don't make sense yet.

Batman #1

And so, finally we come to the last book (for me) of the week. Scott Snyder was killing it on Detective Comics before the reboot, and his "reward" was to be moved from the book that gives the DC Universe its one of the franchise flagships. I'm sure his heart is breaking. There's a through line in the issue of Bruce Wayne thinking about "what Gotham is". Many have their opinion, all of them may or may not be all comes down to their perception of it. Of course, starting off, it does this while having a massive throw-down in Arkham, and an interaction with a certain character that nobody would ever expect. Of course, there's a trick to it, but hey: it's Batman. Also, I have a question. We know that Batman Inc happened, but...did they go back on Bruce's announcement that he bankrolls Batman? Based on various statements in the Bat-containing books, it kinda sounds like they did, but if they did, then how did Batman Inc happen? Somethings off, but I can't put a finger on it...I may be slightly put off by the newly young Jim Gordon, however, so I may not be thinking clearly. The mystery set up at the end is interesting, and could theoretically have consequences due to the new standing of the DC Universe...except that it can't. We KNOW it's a feint because it has to be a feint, so we know there's a swerve coming. Unless Snyder's planning for us to be looking for the swerve, and he's planning something, this story could easily be a train to nowhere. I do have some faith in Snyder though, so I expect he's already anticipating me and those like me, and will turn out something awesome that we weren't expecting.

So that's the week for me. Batman was my favorite book of the week...but I'm pre-disposed to liking Batman, so take that for what it is. Wonder Woman is definitely the book that surprised me the most, and for the first time, I'm looking forward to issues of that book. Obviously, there was some really stupid crap that came out this week too, but at least it was obvious before plunking down the cash, which was nice of them to do. All of the books I bought were, in my opinion at least, solid reads. They may not have been "for me", but all were at least worth reading.

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