Thursday, September 15, 2011

The DCnU Train Keeps Right On Rollin'

More than one of us here at Fruitless Pursuits are comic book fans, and while the others may be better writers than I...unless one of them posts while I'm typing, I got here first this week! Woot!

Reviews are difficult for me to write. One of my defining principles is that "everything is somebody's favorite", so I hate to say bad things about anything. People worked hard to make it, and my taste isn't necessarily yours, so what I think is good or bad may not be the same for you.

Watch me ramble about Batman and find a way to mention Atomic Robo after the jump...

Inane positivity aside, there were definitely comics that I had strong feelings about this week. This week, DC released the following #1 issues: Batman & Robin, Batwoman, Deathstroke, Demon Knights, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Green Lantern, Grifter, Legion Lost, Mister Terrific, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Suicide Squad, and Superboy. From that list, I bought both the Bat-books, Frankenstein, Mister Terirific, Resurrection Man and Suicide Squad. Again I'll say, there will be SPOILERS!!!!!!

To get the unpleasant stuff out of the way, let's begin with what I didn't like:

Let me reiterate, HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!! You've been warned.

Suicide Squad
- Okay, yes...we all know what they've done to Harley Quinn. They've taken a really cool character, and reduced her to an oversexed crazy-lady. Granted, she wasn't exactly sane to begin with, but still, she deserves better. Or at least I might think so, if I'd seen enough of her to form a full opinion. The focus of the book definitely seems to be Deadshot, which isn't terrible. There are some great individual lines, and the torture is pretty inventive. The only one of the new team of six (why didn't they just call it "Secret Six"?) that I wasn't already familiar with is the Hispanic former drug-dealer with fire powers who's motivations aren't really clear yet. As best I can tell, he'll be the most heroic of the bunch...which isn't really saying much. King Shark is just as awesome as when Gail Simone was writing him. Trust me, that's high praise. But it also goes to accentuate the Gail Simone character they appear to have completely ruined...Savant. He was a great character that was really turning things around over in Simone's Birds of Prey, but has been reduced to "the sellout" that moves the plot along. As for the plot itself, ain't bad, actually. The truth is that this book isn't actually as horrible as I want it to be. It's a standard "getting to know you" plot that sees the team's formation and just how screwed they really are. It could actually work as decent set up for the future, but ultimately just doesn't. The truly unfortunate part of this book really is the choices that have been made with the characters. It's something I just can't get over.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. - I think someone on Twitter said it best last night: "It seems like DC just wanted their own Hellboy and friends book"...or something like that. I wish I could remember who it was because they're completely correct. The book steeps itself in the trappings of mad science, but the "science" of it feels wrong in ways I can't put a finger on yet, and I've read it twice. Maybe Atomic Robo has ruined me, I can't tell...but it just feels lazy. Like they want us to believe they know what they're doing without them actually doing it. General unease aside though, let me just tell you what some of the next several issues of Frankenstein are going to be about: the humanids revolt, throwing their entire base into jeopardy; Ray Palmer becomes the Atom; Frankenstein reconciles with his wife...sorta plus love triangle with fish-girl; werewolf vs. vampire; mummy turns out to be a threat; probably something with Frankie's dad showing up. They telegraphed an awful lot. The whole book just didn't sit right with me.

Mister Terrific - I actually liked Mister Terrific more than I expected. I was never really a JSA reader, so I don't know as much about the character as I probably should, and this was definitely a good introduction to Michael Holt and the world he lives in. I also feel there aren't enough superheroes named "Michael", but that may just be me. This one's full of comic book science too, but this time it feels more thorough and complete...which of course is just an illusion, but it's an effective one. And speaking of the JSA and science, if I had to guess, when the JSA DOES show back up, it'll be because of Mister Terrific and his dimensional technology. Then in the biggest surprise of my week, one of the supporting characters is...Power Girl! However, unless I miss my guess, she doesn't have any powers. Which could be interesting all by itself. My only real issue with the issue is the fact that they went awfully far to point out "Hey look! We've got a black guy here! He's the star, and isn't a street-talking ghetto guy." While I have no problems with the idea, I really do hate the "how cool are we for doing this?" attitude that goes with it. It wasn't horribly intrusive though, and I get why it was done. But it still takes me out of the story, you know? In the end, it was a solid issue, but nothing truly special. I'm at least interested enough that I'll be getting issue #2.

Resurrection Man - Now we're getting somewhere! I've been a big fan of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning since their run on Marvel's Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. They do big stories with big implications, while keeping characters intact, and I was really glad to see they continue to just that here. Every time Mitch Shelley dies, he wakes up again. With a different power, and a mission that he doesn't understand. In 20 pages, he: wakes up, entertains a child, gets on a plane, fights what may be an angel of death, dies in a plane crash, wakes up, and escapes what appears to be another angel of death in disguise. It seems everyone is after his soul. It has become a "prize". To whom, we don't know. However, I actually got the feeling that we may have seen our first clue as to who the mysterious woman hiding out in all the new books is. Oh, and there's a surprise cameo on the last page, that I'm really interested to see how she works into the story. This one is going on my pull personal pull list, and was my favorite book of the week. Considering the last 2 are bat-books, that's saying something.

Batwoman - J.H. Williams III is, I think, one of the best visual storytellers working today. The way he drags your eye around a page is just amazing to see. As it turns out that along with W. Haden Blackman, he's a good storyteller with words too! Like most of the books that DC is putting out right now, the story itself is pretty standard. Someone is kidnapping and drowning children, and Batwoman is trying to stop them. Also, Batwoman is putting her niece, who it turns out was still the Teen Titan Flamebird once upon a time, through military-style paces to be her...sidekick? Chase and Director Bones show up, which makes me wonder if we might just see Kate Spencer in the near future. It's a very solid issue that I added to the pull list before it even came out, and will be staying there. I have only two issues. The first is more of a Kate Kane an albino? Seriously? They've made a point of actually coloring her white, instead of the "fleshtones" of your run-of-the-mill white person. If she is, then cool...but as it stands, it's just weird. And speaking of "questions" they implying what I think they're implying about Renee Montoya? This does not make me happy. I was just getting used to her replacing Vic, and dammit ONE of them needs to be the Question in the new world order. The character's too great to go without.

Batman & Robin - Yay, it's the last book of the week! This is taking longer than I wanted it to. I've been a fan of Pete Tomasi's writing since his Nightwing run, and was glad to not be disappointed in this issue. There's a new villain, who may just be more important to the DCU at large than one would guess at first, who's first act is to take out the Batman of Russia. As opening shots go, it's one you see a lot: "take out the badass to prove to the audience just how much of a badass you are", but that doesn't make it less effective. Moving into the rest of the story, Bruce is trying to make a real turn in his life, and Damien is a surly bastard. Bruce's quest is actually admirable, and more than a little meta actually, in the face of us nerds crying about how crappy things are instead of how good they've been and will be. And Damien is a surly bastard. Yes I said that twice. I could say it a couple more times for effect and I still wouldn't have hit the note as many times as the book did. But at least he's a funny surly. Also "It's my boat" may be the best line spoken by Batman ever. The main thrust of the action comes down to Robin being impulsive, and Batman being Batman. There also may or may not be a swimming pool and a nuclear reactor involved. It also potentially sets up another villain that could be fun. I really like the antagonistic relationship between Bruce and Damien. It's almost like they're trying to out-Batman each other...except that Bruce isn't trying, he's just Batman. Thoroughly enjoyable, and will be staying on the pull list also.

So, was that long-winded enough? Believe it or not, there was more I could have said. If you've made it this far...well, you probably should have stopped and gone to read Resurrection Man instead of reading this , but thanks.

So what did you think of this week's DC books?


  1. I wasn't too big on Batwoman, which mainly confused me, but Batman & Robin, Green Lantern, and Superboy were all pretty good. So far of the ones I've read this month Action Comics is still my favourite though.

  2. Montoya was outed in the Gotham Central title years back if that's what you're asking. I too am curious about whether there's a Question or not.

    I wasn't a fan of Damien in Batman and Robin. He's as much a jerk that Jason Todd was as Robin and nobody liked that back then.

  3. I hear you on Jason Todd, but for me it's funnier coming from a 10 year old. Plus its his son so he kind of has to grin and bear it a little - he can't just push him off a building. I like Batman having to grimace while making up for being a deadbeat dad!

  4. Montoya's been out for years, and was heavily involved with Kate in the past. I'm talking about the fact that her picture appears to be up on a wall of remembrance for cops who were killed in the line of duty. It seems completely backwards that in the face of trying to be more "diverse" DC might kill a character who is gay, female, and a minority...but DC has been so bizarre about this who reboot, it wouldn't actually surprise me.