Renaldo reviews the first wave of DC New 52 books!
Action Comics #1
Animal Man #1
Ardian Syaf has impressed during Brightest Day as recent fans can tell, and here he shines also. It is some breath-taking work as he shows the grim sweeps that Batgirl has to make in her Gotham Rounds. It's further impressive when he illuminates the pages brightly during Barb's daytime forays and fatherly meetings. His facial expressions bode well to show that the duality of this book is one of day and one of night. It is made more a Batbook than ever as Syaf spins lovely pages off the always excellent Gail Simone. She has a lot to explain here but does start off well, showing an eager Batgirl worry and fight...and worry. Barb's fears are well played off and the Joker scenes are drawn as good as they're written. Simone shows the humility of Barbs and the kickass audacity of Batgirl...and the yin-yang dynamic of the alter egos are crafted gently by Simone to great effect. The Jim-Barb exchange is quite potent and touching and Simone shows that her skill at writing DC WOMEN never falters. The fear is a key factor here as Simone dredges a villain that seems to be full of promise in a book that has a lot of pleasing to do, as Simone already knows. Many didn't want her walking again, but Barb kicks major ass this issue...and thus far, it seems to be a win, especially with aa huge test to come given the final page.
Judd Winick always has my support as he does well on Jason Todd, which is one of the most under-utilized characters in DCU and to me, Winick alone gets his drift. Now, he has to portray a hero from Batman Inc. a la Hudlin's T'challa, and he does do a decent enough job. The book moves at a snail pace and this is good for readers to jump on, especially if they have not dabbled in BATMAN INC. David is Batwing, and Batman ushers him in as protector in the DPR CONGO. As a Caribbean kid, I know quite a lot about the history and doings in these African nations, and thus far...Winick gets a good grip on things. He twists and turns well with some subtle gore, and manages to make Massacre an interesting and mysterious villain. It has a lot of recipe and ingredients that remind me of early Batman books...the rookie mistakes and all. Somehow, I feel Winick is bringing shades of Grayson into the title, and it isn't such a tedious task. In fact, coupled with Ben Oliver's lively and gleaming art, it is quite good a plan. Oliver shines in the fight scenes despite the backdrops being quite dull. This implements the postures and gravity of the battle with the hero and his foil and brings to light more and more...that they are men and not powered heroes. It's a nice style and Oliver, to me seems suited for a book a la Morning Glories, but he has his moments to shine here. He does so indeed. His final page and murder scenes need some darker tinges of crimson but overall, this is a great ride to me and a nice read. I'm in but of course, on this book, Jock would be aptly intuitive into kicking major tail...nonetheless, I look forward to issue 2.
Detective Comics #1
Snyder redefined this book yet again with Jock and Francavilla...and their run...phenomenal and ultra-fantastic. Now enter one of my favourite Bat writer/artist in Tony Daniel. I am a huge fan of his art and here he steals the show again. Ever since Batman RIP I have been a fan by leaps and bounds, more and more I see his art. He doesn't fail to deliver an eerie and morose book, with a brutally amazing final page. His pencils are topnotch. Now...the book depicts Batman...a la the YEAR ONE type...and it's here he slips up. Maybe the books are going for a more amateur Batman as we saw in JLA #1 but overall, this new Batman is way below the BRUCE WAYNE I know. Maybe I would have liked the concept a bit more had he just not returned from Darkseid's plot, all the wiser and smarter. It is a huge difference reading the astute Bruce in BATMAN INC to now going back to this somewhat rookie Batman. I hope this consistency is maintained in the other books. That aside, it is an intriguing plot and I admire the grim and tremendously devious Joker that Daniel has concocted as it bodes akin to the Ledger performance I was so engrossed with. Daniel delivers a good book but past DET COMICS books have been cemented and solid as titanium so he has big shoes to fill. Nonetheless, it proved a grand outing and it's a good gesture to see DC trusts him with handling double duties on the book.
Green Arrow #1
Jurgens' art is fun and well-fleshed but somehow, I feel him and his work is meant for Booster Gold or Donna Troy. Reason being is that I think DC needs a raw grit and edge that bludgeons and burns GA as a ruthless, vigilante to match the Dark Knight at times. Instead, we get something too close to Hawkeye but with a few more toys. I enjoyed Mauro Casciolo's rendition of Ollie and he or Ed Benes were the guys I tapped for this new book, but that aside, Jurgens isn't bad but he isn't that spectacular here either. Ollie is swashbuckling and entertaining but then again, so is Peter Parker. Krul doesn't stand him out and differentiate him which is what Johns, Morrison and a few others did with their new books. We need a relaunch or revamp of this character as I read Krul's last run and it wasn't that exciting. Maybe they should have explicitly signed a new writer, Snyder or Cornell would be dreamy on this book, but then again...Krul has a decent enough repertoire. It isn't outstanding here though as we get too mundane at times, with no real shootbacks to Ollie's past which seems to differ from that which we know. If Dinah Lance has a part to play, then color me interested, but so far, I haven't been grasped by my lapel as Arrow goes after some B-List thugs with no real interest. Even the last page cliffhanger fumbles as it may not be as splendid or arousing as intended...
Hawk and Dove #1
Sterling Gates is someone who once given the right book can make it work to full prosperity. He has a propensity to channel some in-depth character visualizations and development, which shows all too much with his portrayal of Dove. This is one of the best issues she has ever appeared in and she doesn't kick ass...it comes down to getting behind some mysteries that surround her. Cloaking her mysterious nature is something I grew fed up of - maybe a lack of creativity for her modules in past arcs - but a certain link to Don Hall makes me giddy for more. She has been immensely mishandled since Blackest Night and somehow, she reeks of a Blue Lantern...yet Gates seems to have a handle on her. Hawk remains petulant and primitive so it is no huge feat writing him but Gates delivers to the reader an emotional impact that strikes at the heart of the angst that long time fans would hold since Don died. It's a well written character exchange as Gates' depiction of the protagonists garners a thumbs up, but the weak zombie-plot and discouraging art of Liefeld, can hatch a severe plan to shy readers away from this book. Get me some Cameron Stewart here asap!
Justice League #1
The highly debated renewal has arrived. JLA #1 fell into my lap and the digital age is one I render dear...no secret...but all that hish-hash aside...Jim Lee's art has exponentially improved since his already impressive days of X-MEN and Hush. Scott Williams does a grand job on the inks, and bar a disappointing Finch variant, all starts off well as the book is a dark and gritty pleasure to read. There is some surreal emotion in seeing the gloomy yet aesthetic view of Gotham as it's under the blend of semi/minor-villainous attacks and police monitoring. The book doesn't introduce the full roster of the JLA as it targets the first meeting between a cynical Batman and an ever-haughty Hal Jordan. Johns does well to displace this Hal from his regular version, and the cockiness intrudes well, yet never impedes, on what seems to be a Batman that isn't as succint and clever as we all know current Bruce to be. This Batman is new and seemingly amateur...which meshes nicely with a somewhat rookie Hal. Hal does well to give an aura of empowerment as he and Bruce craft a mostly witty exchange but Lee/Johns do affirm that heroes are feared and revered, and not on displayed on parades. Batman is somewhat reminiscent of Grayson's version which may not please Bruce fans but any few niggles are isolated when mention is made of the villain...and note, it's just mention. This may offset new readers who expected much more from the villain. Johns also teases a member in Cyborg, but the tease is very vague with a nice twist that one expects Johns to maximize fully given he has a panache for utilizing underwhelming characters such as Mera, Deadman and Orin...to make them resounding once more. While there is a lack of villain and other heroes, the potential is set up nicely as Hal and Batman undergo a lackey chase...which all leads them under hapless circumstances...to one particular E.T. that won't be phoning home anytime soon...and that last page...is what Zack Snyder took note of.
Jurgens always has a nice handle on Booster Gold, and he gives a nice iteration of a UN assembled team with Booster in tandem as lead. Of course, it isn't Gold who steals the issue...it's Guy Gardner whose temper tantrum is unequivocally remarkable and resounding. Then again fans of this astounding rebel won't be surprised with his actions but it all comes off so seamless and flawless. The team is hired to conduct an investigative mission and it's PR, SATIRE AND PARODY in the mannerism of how and why the team's members are picked. Of course a certain Batman rears his head to monitor the UN situation but he too finds himself in the team's sticky shoes. It's a mud slinger and Lopresti's art is a style that to me bodes on old-school, nostalgic and a retro-fit - all which attire this book well. His art is spunky and well-addressed to the roster that is vivacious and at times, lopsided. The presence of Batman even manages to fit funnily a la a BRAVE AND THE BOLD MEET...but what spurs on this book, is that deep beneath the team's true mission, a certain ploy/quest or a simple duplicitous machination lingers...and I can't wait to see it unveiled. Maybe we get a hint of subterfuge a la Max Lord, but then again...Jurgens has a panache for left-field curve balls, so I'll sit back and enjoy his little shipwreck. It's major fun thus far...
Men of War #1
Sergeant Rock's story is told from scratch and Ivan Brandon turns the cogs in this book to a fine extent...and then some more. It's a thin line and a fine line between a good war book and some national military political propaganda, but along with Derenick's silhouettes and dark-toned pencils, this book offers a lot of insight into the rules of engagement and the trudging nature that these war heroes faced. Derenick comes alive with the battle scenes, as flames engulf to set fire to an already aesthetically pleasing book. It's simple yet fine art...and furthermore, it is compounded by a virtuous script and one of terror-defiance. Brandon gets the job done to a tee. The backup feature with Vankin on scribe also is fitting, as it offers an intriguing ending to what seems a routine mission. The combination of these stories go to show how simplistic storytelling can offer when applied under the right circumstances of men putting heart and soul on the line. As a guy who is writing a war comic myself regarding a local war pilot in the BRITISH ROYAL AIR FORCE in WW2, I loved the issue as it gave me the right balance between the good stuff and bad stuff that Millar and Ennis wrote in their war books. The road less traveled seems set to be stomp on by Rock...I want more...
Things get disoriented here a bit but Giffen and Didio manage to redeem the confusion with a last page that borders on sensational. Much of the art by Koblish isn't as coherent as I wanted...it felt Romita Jr-ish at times and Liefeld at others. That was not the best thing to aim for. However, the villains here, along with CADMUS, prove good fodder as OMAC tears into his usual spate of rage and debris. I digress by asking do these folks know anything of collateral damage, innocent pedestrians/bystanders or ricocheting bullets? That aside, OMAC is on a one-tracked mission and he tacks on a number of victims...and rightfully so...he demonstrates raw power, supplemented by some daft decision making at times. OMAC isn't really threatened by the foils in this issue but it's all a sweet buildup to the final page. It's one that DC fans would draw no ire from, and I personally waited a long time for this. Whether this book lasts a bit longer, it's hard to say but provided they keep on the path they are on now, such direction will accumulate more issues than I initially fathomed. I'd like Koblish to improve his art also...but I'm a mere peasant.
Static Shock #1
Fans of the cartoon would greatly appreciate Scott McDaniel's take on the character in a spiffy, roller-coaster ride of jumbled excitement and explosions. As a chemical engineer who studies physics at university level also, I appreciate the spin Scott takes here as he goes along in crafting a kid that despite being juvenile at times, knows that a lot is on the line. He reminds us of a younger Peter Parker but a bit more explosive...literally. It has some shocks here and there as Virgil bumbles through his mission, and it's a ll part of his growth as he botches a few scenes here and there. Rozum/Glapion/Underwood bring a healthy ambiance to the the book as Static has to navigate the catacombs of some new territory and what's further welcome, is the bubbly inks and pencils are captured even better with the alter-ego of Static enmeshed in some poppy and humorous family time. This is the kind of jibber jabber and exchange that sets young heroes apart from experienced counterparts and Scott nails the immaturity well. It's the right blend of funk and action, and Static is still none the wiser as to what danger envelopes him. This shows him lacking the tenacity and tact as he is brash, somewhat nailve and arrogant, and ready to jump..no...make it dive...headfirst right into the melee. He doesn't anticipate that things may be stacked against him and that is where Scott goes all correct in his accurate transcription of a young hero that needs to mature, and doesn't know and appreciate when he may be in way over his head. Looking forward to the second issue as I sense some virulent interactions abound...
Stormwatch # 1
interesting a premise. Monitors of the alien threat and acitivites to Earth? Been there...heard that before. Cornell still ties some inflated seeds into the arc here as he reminds me of his triumphant CAP BRIT run. His Action Comics and Batfamily works left some means to be desired but here, he steps his game up gracefully as the book jumps from point to point, place to place, loop to loop...and he seems to be setting the stage for some grand finale. It's too early to tell but Cornell, when he builds his dominoes in this provocative manner, usually evokes anything but complacency...and ends with a huge bang...and then some. His style of setting up usually ends with a gratifying knockout punch and it's some way to go before that blow comes, but this issue, with Apollo on tap, really strikes nicely. His take on the characters keep full interest and even a few lines from Jonn Jonn'z is enough to salivate over. A mouth watering final page is accompanied by an inconsistent, yet skillfully told art-stream by Sepulveda. I loved his Marvel cosmic art and lucky for me, he has brought more of his A-game to this book. With such a creative and talented duo, I couldn't stay away if I wanted to.
Swamp Thing 1
Scott Snyder's charged with Batman #1 after an array of amazing books such as AMERICAN VAMPIRE AND DET. COMICS, and while that popular book is brewing, the Brightest Day hero in Swamp Thing gets under his pen. The issue focuses on Alec Holland, a man displaced in time and a world, while he struggles to forget memories of the Swamp Thing. We get a few nice cameos but one is more surprising and extensive than we expected. Alec's morality and reasoning comes to light as he simply just wants to be left alone in peace. But such acts come with a price and the dismay of the disgruntled Alec is met well as Snyder shows anger and depression well. His portrayal shows Holland as a man on edge losing his sanity yet fighting to keep it together. It's struggle and internal strife as Holland is broken right down by Snyder into a man running from his past...which he doesn't remember and accept fully. The last page gives us what we waited for a long time...and it helps that Paquette's art seems better suited for such a horror story than BATMAN INC or a girly-shaped book of babes. His style is unique and most welcomed as he gives Holland a believable visual sense of struggle. When called upon for morbid panes, he delivers also. This proved yet again that NEW DC 52 is rolling on the ball pretty well.