The DC Comics Reboot – or the DC relaunch, or The New 52, or whatever you want to call it – is probably the biggest thing to happen to comic books since Crisis On Infinite Earths nearly 26 years ago. Not just in terms of changing the canonical status quo, but also in terms of the way comic books are sold.

Every DC Comics book from here on out will be digitally distributed “day and date.” This means that on the same day individual issues hit the shelves of your local comic store, they’ll also be available to read digitally on your iPad, your iPhone, your Android, and so forth. In a world where print is dying, the economy is drying up, and comic book sales are laughable, this is a big deal—at least as far as comic books are concerned.

Courtesy of Hero Complex, The New 52 is already on its way to dominating the comic book market share in September – a rare feat for DC in the past, uhm, four decades – with six books that have preorders over 100,000. A little context for you – it has not been uncommon for entire months to go by in 2011 where not a single DC book has reached 100k in sales. Six in a single month, you say? Well, bless my soul!

You can click any of the links below to skip to a particular week of the guide:

For visual aid, Check out all 52 covers on one poster, via the DCU Source Blog:

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Furthermore, Justice League – technically an August book – has sold out with preorders of over 200,000 units, which would make it the best-selling comic book of 2011 so far (by far). Whatever your thoughts are about The New 52, it’s obvious that DC’s gamble has paid off … at least in the short-term. Only time will tell if those numbers stick around, or if digital sales (which are unlikely to be available for public perusal) can save the industry as we know it. Spoiler Alert: Yes, they can…they just can’t save comic book stores.

Check out The DC New 52 trailer below:

 

For superhero movie fans looking to acquire any miniscule amount of information as to what forthcoming DC Comics film adaptations might entail – from Man of Steel to Wonder Woman to The Flash to Justice League – the New 52 is the place to start, which is why we’ve created this extensive guide to help you navigate all 52 new titles, from Action Comics on down to Wonder Woman. After all, 52 comics is a lot of comics.

We will also rate the worthiness of each “New 52″ title according to the criteria outlined below. WARNING: These ratings are just my opinions and recommendations as a longtime comic fan. The final decision, of course, will be up to each reader to decide for his/herself:

  • BUY means what it sounds like it means. There are enough reliable variables in place for the comic to be worth an immediate purchase.
  • EH means there are reasons to buy a particular comic and reasons not to, so you should probably wait for critical consensus or word-of-mouth before you put money down. But hey! It’s your money, so whatever!
  • DO NOT BUY means do not buy, because why the heck would you even think about buying something like that until you know for a fact that it’s worth your hard-earned cash? 

Covers: Click any of the comic covers in our guide to check out a larger version of the artwork.

Launch Day & Week 1 of DC’s New 52…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

DC COMICS REBOOT GUIDE: THE NEW 52

Launch Day: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Justice League #1 (BUY)

Written by: Geoff Johns, Art by: Jim Lee and Scott Williams

Synopsis:

“Comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history! In a universe where superheroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World Greatest Heroes!”

Jim Lee and Geoff Johns – two of the biggest names in comics – are attempting to return Justice League to its mega-blockbuster status after years of being in comic book purgatory. While Johns has recently experienced some fan backlash due to spreading his creativity too thin, he’s way more hit (Green Lantern: Rebirth, Sinestro Corps War, JSA, 52, Booster Gold, Action Comics, and Superman: Secret Origin) than he is miss (Flash: Rebirth, War of the Green Lanterns, and Brightest Day). And Jim Lee – well, you either like him or you don’t.

Regardless, this book is a MUST BUY if you want to have any idea as to what’s happening in the newly rebooted DCU. The first arc takes place approximately “five years ago,” when superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg were just beginning to appear. Batman, on the other hand, has been operating as a masked vigilante for years.

Despite Detective Comics being DC’s “official” flagship title and Action Comics “officially” being the cornerstone of the DCU, Justice League, for all intents and purposes, is both at the same time.

P.S. That “dark evil” that the above solicit refers to?  (SPOILER ALERT!) It’s Darkseid.

Week One: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 

Action Comics #1 (BUY)

Written by: Grant Morrison, Art by: Rags Morales and Rick Bryant

Synopsis:

“The one and only Grant Morrison (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN) returns to Superman, joined by sensational artist Rags Morales (IDENTITY CRISIS), to bring you tales of The Man of Steel unlike any you’ve ever read! This extra-sized debut issue is the cornerstone of the entire DC Universe!”

Two words: Grant Morrison. That’s all the information necessary to know this book is worthy of immediate purchase. Even though Morrison already wrote the definitive Superman tale in the form of All-Star Superman, this is his chance to write the Man of Steel in his formative years, when he was less refined and more aggressive (much like he originally was in 1938).

The artist on the book, Rags Morales, is probably best known for drawing Brian Meltzer’s Identity Crisis. Frankly, I find his art to be hit and miss, but everything we’ve seen so far of his Action Comics work looks top-notch.

The book will initially take place “six years ago,” which is about a year before Batman forms the Justice League. For fans wondering why Superman’s costume is composed of a T-shirt, jeans, dress shoes, and tiny cape, it’s because Morrison is planning to show us how Clark Kent came to look like the man of tomorrow we know and love. Also, that baby-sized cape was actually intended to be used by a baby – it’s literally the security blanket he was found with when his Kryptonian ship crash-landed near Smallville, Kansas.

Detective Comics #1 (EH)

Written by: Tony Daniel, Art by: Tony Daniel and Ryan Winn

Synopsis:

“DC’s flagship title is relaunched for the first time ever, with new Batman adventures from acclaimed writer/ artist Tony S. Daniel! A killer called The Gotham Ripper is on the loose on Batman’s home turf – leading The Dark Knight on a deadly game of cat and mouse.”

I’ve read enough of Tony Daniel’s previous Batman run to know that I don’t have much interest in his Detective Comics – especially since Daniel referred to it as “hardcore” Batman. Hardcore anything usually spells creative doom, in my experience. However, from what I’ve seen of the previews and covers, his art is better than it ever has been, which makes it somewhat more desirable.

But even that beautiful art – and the statement from The Flash artist/co-writer Francis Manapul that the first issue has “probably the greatest cliffhanger [he’s] ever read” – isn’t enough to put this in my buy pile. Maybe if I hear good things, I’ll pick it up. Maybe.

Green Arrow #1 (DO NOT BUY)

Written by: J.T. Krul, Art by: Dan Jurgens and George Perez

Synopsis:

“Green Arrow is on the hunt. Driven by inner demons, Ollie Queen travels the world and brings outlaws to justice…by breaking every law. Now, armed with cutting-edge weaponry and illegally gained intel (courtesy of his team at QCore), Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.”

J.T. Krul is responsible for writing one of the most infamously atrocious comic books of the past decade – Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal – reviled and viciously mocked on the Internet for its hilarious portrayal of drug addiction and dead cat hallucinations.

So for me, this is an automatic DO NOT BUY. Which is a shame, considering the art – drawn by Dan Jurgens and inked by George Perez – looks pretty good. Also, I’m not much of a Green Arrow fan to begin with, so changing his costume to look more like that of the Green Arrow from CW’s Smallville just isn’t enough to reel me in.

Batgirl #1 (BUY)

Written by: Gail Simone, Art by: Adrian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes

Synopsis:

“Yes, it’s really happening! Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl – and she’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as the dark secrets from her past. You won’t want to miss this stunning debut issue from fan-favorite BIRDS OF PREY writer Gail Simone!”

There’s been a lot of controversy about this book, primarily because Barbara Gordon – who has been paralyzed from the waist down since Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke – is returning to the role of Batgirl after a 22-year stint as Oracle. The naysayers’ argument: ‘Oracle was a better, more interesting character than Batgirl ever was. Furthermore, why take away one of the few characters that disabled people can identify with?’

Fans of the reversion argue: ‘But isn’t this a universe where time travel, cybernetics, magic, and the like are commonplace? Why haven’t the genius scientists of the DCU developed a cure for paraplegia at this point? Furthermore, Batgirl is a far more valuable property than Oracle (in terms of $$$), as the latter is mostly unknown to the general public.’

Regardless, Gail Simone is an excellent writer with an excellent handle on the character, so I’ll be getting this book on day one. Still, it’s undeniably unusual that Gotham City will now have two redheaded Bat women (Batgirl and, uh, Batwoman) of similar ages, running around performing essentially the same function.

Oh well! Good is good, regardless of how redundant it is.

Animal Man #1 (BUY)

Written by: Jeff Lemire, Art by: Travel Foreman and Dan Green

Synopsis:

“Buddy Baker has gone from ‘super’ man to family man – but is he strong enough to hold his family together when Maxine, his young daughter, starts to manifest her own dangerous powers? Find out in this dramatic new series from writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Travel Foreman (The Immortal Iron Fist).”

The Animal Man book from the early ’90s – written by Grant Morrison – redefined the character, the genre, and cemented Morrison’s legendary status in the annals of comic book history.

Much like the Planet of the Apes Broadway show on that one episode of The Simpsons, that book had everything: great family interactions, great traditional superhero adventures, and one of the weirdest, most metafictional comic book trips ever. Every Animal Man book since then has paled in comparison.

Now, I don’t expect Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man to surpass or even match the magnificence of Morrison’s run, but I do expect it to be one of the better books in The New 52. The art is appropriately creepy and the buzz is really strong. Basically, if you’re a fan of Animal Man, superheroes, and/or horror-related stories, this book is for you.

Justice League International #1 (EH)

Written by: Dan Jurgens, Art by: Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan

Synopsis:

“With the growing presence of super beings around the world, the United Nations resolves to create a new group called Justice League International. Batman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron, Fire, Ice, Vixen and Rocket Red are charged with promoting unity and trust – but can they reach that goal without killing each other first?”

The original Justice League International by Keith Giffen, J.M. Dematteis, and Kevin McGuire, is one of my all-time favorite comics, thanks to its combination of superheroics and sitcom humor – as are the follow-ups Formerly Known As the Justice League and Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League. But this book? This book seems to be JLI in name only.

Yeah, sure, the characters are there – plus Plastic Man, which is actually very cool – but none of the original creators are involved and Booster Gold is suddenly Canadian for some reason.

Look, I like Dan Jurgens. As an artist, he’s one of the few reliable workhorses in the industry (too bad he’s not actually drawing JLI). And he’s not a bad writer, either – he did a lot of great work in the ’90s, and his recent run on Booster Gold wasn’t bad.

Long story short, I don’t expect this book to be awful, but I’ll be really surprised if it’s not a shell of its former self.

DC New 52 Week 1 (pt. 2)….

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Week One (Part 2): Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 

Swamp Thing #1 (BUY)

Written by: Scott Snyder, Art by: Yanick Paquette

Synopsis:

“One of the world’s most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth! Alec Holland has his life back…but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!”

Beautiful artwork by Yanick Paquette + (probably) beautiful writing by Scott Snyder = buy, buy, buy.

Swamp Thing was one of the most creative and innovative comics of the 1980s, thanks primarily to Alan Moore’s acclaimed work on the series. Alas, the character has been severely underutilized for a very, very long time – not to mention absent from the DCU – so it’ll be interesting to see this team attempt to return him to his former glory.

For fans worried that Paquette is too slow to draw monthly books, let alone really detailed, foliage-related monthly books – you’re right. He is. His speed, or lack thereof, was at least partly responsible for Batman Inc.’s tragic derailment. Thankfully, there will be alternating art teams for every arc, and the awesome Francesco Francavilla is on deck.

Long story short, BUY.

Stormwatch #1 (BUY)

Written by: Paul Cornell, Art by: Miguel Sepulveda

Synopsis:

“They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds…”

Sure, it’s weird as hell to see Martian Manhunter on this book instead of Justice League. Sure, Midnighter’s chin-spike is the strangest design choice since Invisible Woman’s 4-shaped cleavage hole or Thor’s bare midriff. All that aside, this is written by Paul Cornell (Captain Britain and MI-13, the Black Ring storyline from Action Comics), so it deserves to be in your buy pile.

Plus, the art in this video preview (via Bleeding Cool) is truly a thing to behold:

O.M.A.C. #1 (EH)

Written by: Dan Didio and Keith Giffen, Art by: Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish

Synopsis:

“The all-seeing Brother Eye satellite has unleashed a new beast upon the DC Universe in this smashing new series! Kevin Kho has become an unwilling participant in a war between Checkmate and Brother Eye as he is transformed into the One Machine Army Corp known only as O.M.A.C.!”

It must be nice being Dan Didio. Basically, the guy just hires himself to occasionally write comic books, regardless of how poorly they sell. For example, he recently wrote the universally-disliked Outsiders book until it was canceled due to not making money. For any other writer in the world, that might mean the end of his/her comic book writing career – or at least less opportunities to write comics. Not so for Dan Didio! Dan Didio just tells Dan Didio not to sweat the small stuff and hires himself again, regardless – this time on O.M.A.C.

On the upside, Keith Griffen (Lobo, JLI, Annihilation) is co-writing and drawing the book, and the art looks like an excellent throwback to Jack Kirby in his New Gods period.  So maybe it’s not a total loss? Regardless, I suggest waiting for the critical consensus/word-of-mouth before depleting your bank account.

Batwing #1 (EH)

Written by: Judd Winick, Art by: Ben Oliver

Synopsis:

“Africa, a land of beauty – and of great horror. A land of creation and conflict. It is in desperate need of a defender, and from the ranks of Batman Incorporated comes a soldier to carry on the legacy of The Dark Knight in the most tumultuous region on Earth. Meet Batwing, the Batman of Africa! (Written by Judd Winick, drawn by Ben Oliver.)”

On the one hand, I like the idea of a black member of the Bat-Family getting his own book for the first time ever. On the other hand — Judd Winick. Hah, just kidding, Winick! You were on my second favorite Real World, so you’re okay in my book. Remember Puck? Remember how crazy that guy was? Pretty darn crazy, even by Real World standards.

Anyway – the truth is, despite his seemingly limitless detractors, Winick has occasionally produced some very solid comic book work. Part one of his Batman: Under the Hood arc was well-written and extremely entertaining (thanks, in no small part, to Doug Mahnke’s flawless art). Likewise, with the help of industry veteran Keith Giffen, Winick did a pretty good job on Justice League: Generation Lost. The point being, Batwing, too, could fall into the “solid and/or entertaining” category.

Personally, the preview pages don’t scream “buy” to me, so I’ll be waiting to hear what people are saying about it before I put my money down. I encourage you to do the same.

Men of War #1 (EH)

Written by: Ivan Brandon, Art by: Tom Derenick

Synopsis:

“On the ground and on the front lines, a young, headstrong soldier known as Joe Rock assumes the command of Easy Company – a grizzled team of ex-military men turned contractors. Will they survive the battle-scarred landscape carved by the DCU’s Super-Villains? Find out in this explosive new series from Ivan Brandon (Viking) and Tom Derenick (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!”

What is this? What am I looking at here? Someone thought it was a good idea to take a classic World War II book and make it look like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?

Honestly, I can’t tell if this was a really dumb creative decision or a really smart business decision. For whatever reason, comic books based on popular videogames – like Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, and, well, Modern Warfare – tend to make bank in ways that your typical superhero comic books do not.  And frankly, the more I think about it, the more interested I am in seeing Sergeant Rock – the Nick Fury of the DC Universe before Nick Fury was even a thing – as a modern badass.

Still, money is precious these days, so I’ll be waiting for the word-of-mouth before I buy.

Static Shock #1 (BUY)

Written by: John Ruzum and Scott McDaniel, Art by: Scott McDaniel

Synopsis:

“The brilliant, slightly awkward high school student Virgil Hawkins transforms into the cocky electromagnetic hero Static! A mysterious tragedy forces the Hawkins family to relocate from Dakota to New York City! Virgil embarks upon new adventures in a new high school and a new internship at S.T.A.R. Labs! As Static, he dons a new uniform and establishes a new secret headquarters! But is he ready to take on the new villains who lurk in New York City’s underworld?”

Static, created by the dearly-departed Dwayne McDuffie, is one of the few semi-successful new superheroes of the last twenty years, thanks in part to the excellent Kids’ WB! animated series from the mid-1990s.

Now, after years of being owned by DC, they’re finally integrating the character into the DCU in a significant way. I’m cautiously optimistic about the book – the writer, John Rozum, was good friends with McDuffie, and the art seems to harken back to the aforementioned animated series. Fingers crossed.

Hawk and Dove #1 (DO NOT BUY)

Written by: Sterling Gates, Art by: Rob Liefeld

Synopsis:

“Hank Hall is not happy. He’s not happy to have Dawn Granger as a new partner in his war on crime. He’s not happy that she’s dating the ghostly Super Hero, Deadman. He’s not happy to learn that someone is trying to plunge the United States into a new civil war! Now it’s up to Hawk and Dove to root out the forces behind this conflict and stop them before they turn the U.S. into a wasteland! […] And who is the monster lurking in the shadows, watching Hawk and Dove from afar? Find out in this new series from Sterling Gates (FLASHPOINT: KID FLASH LOST) and artist Rob Liefeld (X-Force, Youngblood)!”

It’s hard to remember at this point, but there was a time in the ’90s when comic book companies actually encouraged their artists to draw in the style of Robert Liefeld. Those days are long, long gone now, but Liefeld’s art still manages to sell books.

Hey, maybe you’re a fan of the guy! Maybe you’re one of those people who keeps buying his books! If you are, then you’re probably going to buy this book as well, and good for you. If not, then you have to ask yourself – is Sterling Gates a good enough writer to make up for the fact that Liefeld can’t draw hands, feet, backgrounds, or superheroes that don’t look like they’re in constant, jaw-clenching agony?

I fall into the “No one is that good at writing” category, but to each his/her own.

Week 2 of DC’s New 52…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Week Two: September 14th, 2011

Mr. Terrific #1

Written by: Eric Wallace, Art by: Gianluca Gugliotta

Synopsis:

“The world’s third-smartest man – and one of its most eligible bachelors – uses his brains and fists against science gone mad in this new series from Eric Wallace (TITANS) and Gianluca Gugliotta! […] Michael Holt is the head of a successful high-tech corporation and an institute that recruits and encourages the finest minds of the next generation to excel. As Mister Terrific he inhabits a world of amazement few others know exists, let alone can comprehend.”

I’m a big proponent of Mr. Terrific as a character. Really I am! Alas, I haven’t loved anything written by Eric Wallace or drawn by Gianluca Gugliotta, so I won’t be picking this up straight away. I genuinely hope that it ends up being great, though, at which point I will buy it.

Superboy #1 (EH)

Written by: Scott Lobdell, Art by: RB Silva and Rob Lean

Synopsis:

“They thought he was just an experiment – and a failed one at that! Grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA, the Clone was no more than a set of data to the scientists of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. But when the scope of his stunning powers was revealed, he became a deadly weapon! Now the question is: Can a clone develop a conscience?”

Superboy is a character that seems, as a result of The New 52, to have been half-booted – a term I just made up, but you can use it around your friends if you want to look cool. Basically, half-booted means that certain things that happened to the pre-reboot Superboy also happened to post-reboot Superboy, and certain things did not. A sort of cherry-picked continuity, if you will.

Like Lobdell’s Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws (further down the list), this book just looks plain weird, to the point that I’m seriously interested in seeing what critical and consumer consensus is the day that it’s released – but nowhere near to the point that I’m willing to pay money for it beforehand.

Batman and Robin #1 (BUY)

Written by: Peter J. Tomasi, Art by: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray

Solicitation:

“Battling evil with his son, Damian, at his side, Batman now realizes that the hardest part of the job may be trying to work together! As Batman and Robin try to adjust to their new partnership, a figure emerges from Bruce Wayne’s past: His name is NoBody, and he’s not happy that Batman Incorporated is shining a light on his own shadowy war against evil…”

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason did consistently excellent work together in their two-year tenure on Green Lantern Corps. Were they anywhere near as excellent on their more recent run of Batman and Robin? No. No, they were not. Unfortunately that run, while fairly entertaining, was delayed, short-lived, and ultimately unsatisfying.

But Pete and Pat deserve a second chance! Especially since Bruce Wayne is back under the cowl in Gotham City, now that Dick Grayson has returned to his role as Nightwing. Basically, this will be the first book to thoroughly explore Bruce and Damian’s burgeoning father/son relationship since Grant Morrison’s Batman and Son, which is reason enough to call this book a buy, in my opinion.

Batwoman #1 (BUY)

Written by: J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman, Art by: J.H. Williams

Synopsis:

“At last! Batwoman’s new series begins, from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman! […] In “Hydrology,” part 1 of 5, Batwoman faces deadly new challenges in her war against Gotham City’s underworld – and new trials in her personal life as Kate Kane. […] Who or what is stealing children from the barrio, and for what vile purpose? Will Kate train her cousin, Bette Kane (a.k.a. Flamebird), as her sidekick? How will she handle unsettling revelations about her father, Colonel Jacob Kane? And why is a certain government agency suddenly taking an interest in her?”

Much like “Grant Morrison writing” is all you need to know to buy Action Comics #1, “J.H. Williams drawing” is really all you need know to buy Batwoman – the highly-anticipated follow-up to Greg Rucka and Williams’ award-winning run on Detective Comics.

It’s unlikely that either Williams – or W. Haden Blackman, for that matter – will be able to match Rucka’s smart, understated writing style, but the real star of this series will no doubt be Williams’ chillingly beautiful art work. Buy the hell out of this book, if only for the art and the character.

Green Lantern #1 (BUY)

Written by: Geoff Johns, Art by: Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

Synopsis:

“The red-hot GREEN LANTERN team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke introduce an unexpected new Lantern.”

FYI: This is perhaps the only book that seems completely unchanged as a result of the reboot.

I like Geoff Johns. I love Green Lantern. For the longest time, I loved Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern. But recently – since Brightest Day, basically – the book has been about different colored Lanterns getting possessed by different-colored cosmic monsters (rinse, repeat). The only thing keeping it afloat, if I’m being honest, has been Doug Mahnke’s always-reliable artwork.

Anyway, the reason I say all this is because Sinestro recently became a Green Lantern again and it was the most interesting thing to happen to the book in a very long time. Green Lantern #1 will see Sinestro coming to terms with his newfound goodness while Hal Jordan comes to terms with his exile from the Corps. Plus, Doug Mahnke’s superb artwork! It’s still here! Hurrah!

So for me, it’s a BUY, but I wouldn’t begrudge you if you’ve had enough.

 –

Red Lanterns #1 (EH)

Written by: Peter Milligan, Art by: Ed Benes

Synopsis:

“Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps return in their own series, battling against injustice in the most bloody ways imaginable!”

I guess this book is going to be some kind of extreme, violent version of the Green Lantern Corps book – perhaps DC’s response to Marvel’s Thunderbolts, even – with all manner of vengeance and retribution and what have you as subject material. This book could, in fact, be downright excellent, as Peter Milligan is an excellent writer. Excellent writer begets excellent book? It’s happened before!

But the problem is, I’ve never really liked the Red Lanterns. I think they’re fine as far as secondary villain types go, but I would’ve much preferred to see a Sinestro Corps book instead. As it is, I envision page after page of Atrocitus – the leader of the Red Lanterns – spitting blood and screaming at everybody about his terrible thirst for vengeance. We get it, Atrocitus! You want vengeance! Everyone knows you want vengeance!

Add to that the fact that Ed Benes is a poor man’s Jim Lee and this book just does not warrant immediate purchase. Still, keep an eye on the critical response, as it’s very possible Milligan’s writing could elevate this thing to a must BUY.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 (BUY)

Written by: Jeff Lemire, Art by: Alberto Ponticelli

Synopsis:

“It’s Frankenstein as you’ve never seen him before, in a dark new series from acclaimed writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Alberto Ponticelli (UNKNOWN SOLDIER)! Frankenstein is part of a network of strange beings who work for an even stranger government organization: The Super Human Advanced Defense Executive! But can he protect the world from threats even more horrifying than himself? And since he’s vilified for who and what he is, will he even want to take on this mission?”

Grant Morrison’s version of the Frankenstein monster – as created in his classic Seven Soldiers of Victory – has been one of the most underutilized characters in DC’s arsenal since his first appearance some six years ago. So you can imagine my excitement upon reading that a book featuring Frank front and center would be amongst The New 52.

Jeff Lemire, with his bizarre writing sensibilities, is perfectly suited to write this comic, this character, and this corner of the DCU. And while my preferred Frankenstein artist will always be Doug Mahnke, Alberto Ponticelli will do in a pinch, I guess.

Lemire is on the record as saying he wants to turn S.H.A.D.E. into the big spy agency of the DCU – not unlike S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Universe, though presumably with more of a supernatural slant. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise; even the title is a riff on those Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. books from the sixties and eighties.

The only misgivings I have about Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. are that the same team – Lemire and Ponticelli – merely did an “okay” job on their recent Frankenstein Flashpoint mini. Ultimately, though, I’m willing to chalk that up to the impermanent, alternate timeline nature of that book.

Week 2 part 2…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Week Two (Part 2): September 14th, 2011

Resurrection Man #1 (BUY)

Written by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Art by: Fernando Dagnino

Synopsis:

“It’s the return of Mitch Shelly – and he’s still dead. Resurrection Man can’t stay dead for long, though – and with each rebirth comes new and unexpected powers. But his many returns have not gone unnoticed, and forces are gathering to learn what’s so special about him – and to see which of them will finally stop Resurrection Man dead.”

Though I’m not all that familiar with Resurrection Man’s original book from the late ’90s, I am familiar with the great writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – their Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the more enjoyable books to come out of Annihilation: Conquest. (It was so enjoyable, in fact, that Marvel is considering adapting it to the silver screen.)

Really, that’s all the information I need to know that this book deserves my money. It’s just icing on the cake that the concept’s pretty great, too.

Demon Knights #1 (BUY)

Written by: Paul Cornell, Art by: Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert

Synopsis:

“Set in the Dark Ages of the DC Universe, a barbarian horde is massing to crush civilization. It’s fallen to Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood, the man with a monster inside him, to stand in their way – though the demon Etrigan has no interest in protecting anyone or anything other than himself! It’ll take more than their own power to stop an army fueled by bloodlust and dark sorcery, and some very surprising heroes – and villains – will have no choice but to join the fray!”

Paul Cornell writing a medieval/supernatural version of The Seven Samurai (or The Magnificent Seven, if you prefer) starring Jack Kirby’s the Demon Etrigan, Grant Morrison’s version of Shining Knight, and Madame Xanadau? Sign me up, please.

By which I mean: I’m going to buy this when it comes out.

Grifter #1 (BUY)

Written by: Nathan Edmondson, Art by: Cafu

Synopsis:

“The DCU’s most wanted man stars in his own series!
Cole Cash is a charming grifter few can resist. And yet he’s about to be branded a serial killer when he begins hunting and exterminating inhuman creatures hidden in human form – creatures only he can see! Can the biggest sweet talker of all time talk his way out of this one when even his brother thinks he’s gone over the edge?”

I’m happy to see Grifter being properly integrated into the DCU with The New 52. In the right hands, he could be insanely popular. His “costume design” is fantastic (and fantastically low-key), he has guns – at least two – at all times and he’s a charming anti-hero type. (So basically, he’s Wolverine meets The Punisher meets Han Solo.) Furthermore, the cover for this book is one of the best of The New 52, in my humble opinion.

The writer, Nathan Edmondson, is probably best known for Who Is Jake Ellis?, a popular, well-reviewed spy book from Image Comics. And the artist, Cafu – if that is his real name – showed the world how well he could draw with Nick Spencer’s superb Thunder Agents.

So, for me, this is a definite BUY. It could very well end up being completely underwhelming, but there’s enough up-and-coming talent here that I’m willing to give it a try.

Deathstroke #1 (BUY)

Written by: Kyle Higgins, Art by: Joe Bennett and Art Thibert

Synopsis:

“’Friends die, family disappoints, but a legacy… That lives forever.’ Slade Wilson is the best mercenary in the DCU, and he’s been doing this a long time. Some might say too long. But they’ll learn: Never turn your back on Deathstroke the Terminator. He won’t quit, no matter how high the stakes. Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and Joe Bennett (TEEN TITANS) team up to bring you the finest in mayhem and gore.”

I generally like Deathstroke. In the right hands, he can be a really effective villain or an anti-hero. In the wrong hands, he’s an annoying Mary Sue. I’m a big fan of Joe Bennett’s art on this, too, especially the image of Deathstroke cutting off a J. Jonah Jameson lookalike’s head (click to enlarge):

Perhaps it’s immature of me to BUY this book based solely upon the over-the-top violence as seen in the above picture. So be it.

Suicide Squad #1 (DO NOT BUY)

Written by: Adam Glass, Art by: Marco Rudy

Synopsis:

“They’re a team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous – they’re sheer suicide! Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! Defeated and imprisoned, they’re being interrogated about their mission – and about who’s pulling the strings behind this illegal operation. Who will be the first to crack under the pressure?”

A juggalo Harley Quinn. Enough said.

Legion Lost #1 (BUY)

Written by: Fabien Nicieza, Art by: Pete Woods

Synopsis:

“Seven heroes from the 31st century have traveled back to the present day. Their mission: Save their future from annihilation. But when the future tech they brought with them fails, they find themselves trapped in a nightmarish world that, for them, is the ultimate struggle to survive! Don’t miss the start of this all-new LEGION series illustrated by Pete Woods – fresh off his spectacular run on ACTION COMICS – who is joined by writer Fabian Nicieza (RED ROBIN)!”

This actually looks more interesting to me than the other Legion book, mostly because there seems to be a concept other than just, you know – Legion.

Fabian Nicieza’s Red Robin was one of the sleeper hits of 2009-2010, so I’m happy to see him getting work again at DC. Because he so dutifully provided me with entertaining stories vis-à-vis Red Robin, I’ll be providing him with my dollar bills in hopes that the cycle begins anew.

Week 3 DC’s New 52…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Week Three: September 21st, 2011

Wonder Woman #1 (BUY)

Written by: Brian Azzarello, Art by: Cliff Chiang

Synopsis:

“The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman would dare to protect humanity from the wrath of such strange and powerful forces. But is she one of us – or one of them?”

Three things, in my opinion, make this book immediately worthy of must buy status: First, it’s written by Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Flashpoint – Batman: Knights of Vengeance). Second, the art, by Cliff Chiang (Human Target), looks exquisitely weird. And third, it’s a horror comic book – starring Wonder Woman.

Frankly, this is the first time I’ve been interested in the character since Greg Rucka left her book back in 2005.

Captain Atom #1 (DO NOT BUY)

Written by: J.T. Krul, Art by: Freddie Williams II

Synopsis:

“Charged by nuclear energy, possessing vast molecular powers, Captain Atom has the potential to be a literal god among men – a hero without limits. But the question is: Will he lose himself in the process? Don’t miss the start of a legend from writer J.T. Krul (GREEN ARROW, TEEN TITANS) and artist Freddie Williams II (JSA ALL-STARS)!”

Why will I be skipping this? See: Green Arrow, J.T. Krul, and dead cat hallucinations.

– 

DC Universe Presents #1 (EH)

Written by: Paul Jenkins, Art by: Bernard Chang

Synopsis:

“It’s the start of a new series spotlighting some of the DC Universes’s most exciting super heroes! First up is Deadman, straight from the pages of BRIGHTEST DAY, in a five-issue epic where the body-hopping hero meets his match in a new foe who wants to make sure the souls that Deadman helps out go straight to Hell!” 

Paul Jenkins is a solid writer. Bernard Chang is a solid artist. And Deadman is – well, he’s pretty cool, too, I guess. I just don’t know if he’s cool enough to support his own book without a really all-star writer to support him. I’m interested in seeing where this series goes once other DC characters become the focus, but I’m not nearly as interested in issue number one.

 –

Supergirl #1 (DO NOT BUY)

Written by: Michael Green and Mike Johnson, Art by: Mahmud Asrar

Synopsis:

“Meet Supergirl. She’s got the unpredictable behavior of a teenager, the same powers as Superman – and none of his affection for the people of Earth. So don’t piss her off!” 

Sorry, but I’m totally uninterested in the, like, twelfth version of Supergirl as a character. Or, if not as a character, then as a character with her own comic book that costs $2.99 or more.

I followed Bryan Wood’s excellent Supergirl pre-reboot run because I’m a fan of Bryan Wood, which is why it pained the hell out of me to hear that DC didn’t want him post-reboot. They rejected his pitch – he has since moved onto Marvel and Wolverine – and gave the book to Michael Green and Mike Johnson, a couple of obscure writers who wrote some obscure Batman/Superman comics.

Admittedly, I’ve never read anything they’ve authored, so they could very well be the next James Joyce and William Faulkner, for all I know. Nevertheless, this book’s a DO NOT BUY until I hear otherwise. So long, Bryan Wood – we hardly knew ye.

 –

Batman #1 (BUY) 

Written by: Scott Snyder, Art by: Greg Capullo and Jonathon Glapion

Synopsis:

“Be here for the start of a new era for The Dark Knight from writer Scott Snyder (AMERICAN VAMPIRE, BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and artist Greg Capullo (Spawn)! A series of brutal killings hints at an ancient conspiracy, and Batman learns that Gotham City is deadlier than he knew.”

Everything about this book screams BUY to me. Scott Snyder is hot off his critically-acclaimed and all-around excellent run on Detective Comics, and Greg Capullo’s art looks better than ever – kinetic, energetic, and fun, with a pinch of Batman: The Animated Series aesthetic thrown in for good measure.

Basically, this book looks like one of the more exciting titles of the entire reboot.

 –

Nightwing #1 (BUY)

Written by: Kyle Higgins, Art by: Eddy Barrows and JP Mayer

Synopsis:

“Dick Grayson flies high once more as Nightwing in a new series from hot new writer Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM)! And as he embraces his destiny, Haley’s Circus, the big top where Dick once performed, returns to Gotham City – bringing with it murder, mystery and superhuman evil. Nightwing must confront his past, among former friends and enemies from his circus days, while uncovering a much greater evil!”

Just in terms of art, this book looks downright excellent. I’m less sold on the writer, Kyle Higgins, who has written very few comic books – the best of which was co-written by Scott Snyder.

Furthermore, why is Nightwing being portrayed as Batman Jr.? Why is he all edgy and dark and angry-looking? Grant Morrison nailed the character last year in his sixteen-issue run on Batman and Robin, where he posited that Dick Grayson is interesting precisely because he’s not like Bruce Wayne. Dick is friendly! He’s personable! He’s charming and funny and kind! He’s the guy you want to hang out with, not the guy who scares the living daylights out of you just by being.

Reservations aside, the synopsis – murder! mystery! the supernatural! et cetera! – sounds enticing enough. Oh, what the heck! I suppose I’m willing to give this thing a chance come the 21st.

 –

Catwoman #1 (EH)

Written by: Judd Winick, Art by: Guillem March

Synopsis:

“Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in this new series from writer Judd Winick (BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD) and artist Guillem March (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS)!”

This book seems less interested in telling awesome stories than it is in making Catwoman look sexy. And hey! There’s Judd Winick again! Trying to make Catwoman look all sexy!

Listen, I’m all in favor of Catwoman returning to her status as a not evil villainess (which basically means she has a conscience, just not when it comes to stealing things from rich people). It certainly suits her better than her last two roles as a reluctant anti-hero and an absent mother.

Alas, this book feels more firmly situated in the sexploitation genre than any other book in The New 52. I suppose that could be a proper selling point for a large swath of fans, but it doesn’t do much to remove the stigma that superhero comic books cater to infantile adolescent man-boys.

Sexploitation or no, Guillem March is doing a fine job on the art. I’m happy to see that his quality work on Gotham City Sirens – which also featured Catwoman – is garnering him more work at DC.

 Week 3 Part 2…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Week 3 (Part 2): September 14th, 2011

Birds of Prey #1 (DO NOT BUY)

Written by: Duane Swierczynski, Art by: Jesus Saiz

Synopsis:

“One is wanted for a murder she didn’t commit. The other is on the run because she knows too much. They are Dinah Laurel Lance and Ev Crawford – a.k.a. Black Canary and Starling – and together, as Gotham City’s covert ops team, they’re taking down the villains other heroes can’t touch. But now they’ve attracted the attention of a grizzled newspaper reporter who wants to expose them, as well as a creepy, chameleon-like strike team that’s out to kill them. Don’t miss the start of this hard-hitting new series from mystery novelist/comics writer Duane Swierczynski (Expiration Date, Cable).”

Sorry, but I’m totally uninterested in Birds of Prey sans Gail Simone. Duane Swierczynski isn’t a bad writer – although his Cable series was tedious and repetitive beyond comprehension – but now that the book has lost arguably its main character (Barbara Gordon) and its creator and heart (Simone), there isn’t much left to look forward to.

– 

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 (EH)

Written by: Scott Lobdell, Art by: Kenneth Rocafort

Synopsis:

“No sooner has Batman’s former sidekick, Jason Todd, put his past as the Red Hood behind him than he finds himself cornered by a pair of modern day outlaws: Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal, the damaged soldier of fortune, and the alien Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war who won’t be chained again. As a loner, Jason has absolutely no interest in this motley crew of outlaws. So what’s he going to do when they choose the Red Hood as their leader? Find out in this hot new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men), featuring art by rising star Kenneth Rocafort (ACTION COMICS)!”

Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that Red Hood (Jason Todd) is the only actual outlaw in this group of so-called outlaws. Why in the world would Jason, the second Robin – A.K.A. the Robin who sucked so bad that readers voted to have the Joker beat him to death – be leading a group made up of Arsenal and Starfire? They’re older than he is, they’re more experienced, they’re probably more skilled, and they, like everyone else in the DC Universe, have never liked the guy.

Nevertheless, I can’t help but be intrigued by this bizarre-looking book. Like Scott Lobdell’s other titles in The New 52 – Teen Titans and Superboy – this thing looks so weird, ridiculous, and over-the-top, I’m tempted to buy it out of sheer curiosity. Tempted, mind you, not convinced.

– 

Green Lantern Corps #1 (BUY)

Written by: Peter J. Tomasi, Art by: Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna

Synopsis:

“When deadly conflicts emerge across the universe, it’s up to Guy Gardner, John Stewart and an elite Green Lantern strike force to keep the peace – or else.”

Peter Tomasi did a fine, fine job on Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, so I’m happy to see him back on essentially the same book. In fact, this seems to be just a continuation of Emerald Warriors, as it utilizes the same characters and the same artist. I bought that book and I’ll be buying this one, too.

Blue Beetle #1 (EH)

Written by: Tony Bedard, Art: Ig Guara and Ruy Jose

Synopsis:

“It’s not easy being Jaime Reyes. He has to deal with high school, family and all the drama that comes with being a teenager. Also, he’s linked to a powerful scarab created by an alien race known as the Reach who seek to subjugate planets – or annihilate them. It’s up to one teen hero to turn this instrument of destruction into a force for good.”

Keith Giffen’s original run on the Jaime Reyes iteration of Blue Beetle unfortunately didn’t sell very well, despite being consistently good. I don’t foresee Tony Bedard doing much better job with the book, but I sincerely hope that he does – and that DC readers support it. There are far too few minority characters in comics as is (Reyes is Mexican-American), and it would be a shame to see Blue Beetle remanded to supporting character status once again.

Unfortunately, the synopsis leaves a lot to be desired, as it basically sounds like a rehash of Giffen’s run from over five years ago. So for now, until I hear otherwise, it’s an EH.

 –

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (EH)

Written by: Paul Levitz, Art by: Francis Portela

Synopsis:

“The Legion of Super-Heroes has been decimated by the worst disaster in its history. Now, the students of the Legion Academy must rise to the challenge of helping the team rebuild – but a threat of almost unstoppable power is rising at the edge of Dominator space, and if the new recruits fail, the Legion Espionage Squad may be the first casualties in a war that could split worlds in half!”

I’ve never been a fan of Legion. I keep hearing how awesome they were back in the day, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot here in 2011. Sure, I enjoyed Mark Waid’s revamped Legion post-Infinite Crisis. Sure, I enjoyed Geoff Johns’ attempt to revive the old versions via Action Comics. I even (sort of) liked the beginning of Paul Levitz’s most recent run pre-reboot, but regrettably, I quickly lost interest.

Long story short: if you’re a Legion fan, I imagine this is a definite BUY. If you’re not – if you’re more like me, a guy who doesn’t really care one way or another about those future-loving people from the future – then it’s more likely an EH. I’m sure this book won’t be bad, but I’d be surprised if it was great.

 Week Four of DC’s  New 52…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Week Four: September 28th, 2011

Superman (EH)

Written by: George Perez, Art by: Jesus Merino

Synopsis:

“The new adventures of Superman begin here! What is The Man of Steel’s startling new status quo? How does it affect Lois Lane and The Daily Planet? There’s no time for answers now, because Superman must stop a monstrous threat to Metropolis – one that he somehow is the cause of!”

Man, am I sick of fanboys (and girls) complaining about Superman losing his red trunks. They’re gone. The trunks are dead and gone. Let’s please, collectively, get over it right now, because the part they play in whether or not these comics are any good is well and truly nonexistent.

I’m almost tempted to call this book a buy just to enrage the embittered fans, but as much as I adore George Perez the artist, I’m indifferent to George Perez the writer. And while I’m interested to see what Superman’s new status quo is – you know, now that he’s not married and all – I can get all the requisite information from Action Comics, Justice League, and Wikipedia.

Now, had George Perez been on penciling duties – instead of just cover and breakdowns – this book would’ve been a BUY, without question. But since he isn’t, it’s just an EH.

Aquaman (BUY)

Written by: Geoff Johns, Art by: Ivan Reis

Synopsis:

“The superstar creators from BLACKEST NIGHT and BRIGHTEST DAY reunite to take AQUAMAN to amazing new depths! Aquaman has renounced the throne of Atlantis – but the sea will not release Arthur Curry so easily. Now, from a forgotten corner of the ocean emerges… The Trench! A broken race of creatures that should not exist, an unspeakable need driving them, The Trench will be the most talked-about new characters in the DC Universe!”

DC released a four-page preview of this book about a month ago and it was gorgeous, entertaining, funny, and best of all, fun.

Despite being a household name, Aquaman is the most widely-mocked mainstream superhero in all of comicdom (the butt of many SNL, Family Guy, and Entourage jokes, amongst others). Now, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis are using that unfortunate reputation as an integral part of the book’s appeal. See, even the citizens of the DCnU think Aquaman’s a joke! Hilarity ensues.

The goal of this book – beyond pure entertainment value – seems to be the return of Aquaman’s superhero stardom without having to cut his hand off and shove the blunt-end of a harpoon inside the stump. The preview, the talent, and the villains of the book (carnivorous sea creatures reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft’s worst) all indicate that he’s well on his way, in my opinion.

The Flash #1 (BUY)

Written by: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, Art by: Francis Manapul

Synopsis:

“The Fastest Man Alive returns to his own monthly series from the writer/artist team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato! The Flash knows he can’t be everywhere at once, but what happens when he faces an all-new villain who really can! As if that’s not bad enough, this villain is a close friend!”

Francis Manapul drew Geoff Johns’ recent Flash run and it was beautiful, so this book is bound to be beautiful, too. The writing, on the other hand, has no such guarantee. Despite what Manapul and his co-writer Brian Buccellato would have you believe, their writing is completely untested as far as mainstream comic books go.

As such, I’m reluctant to recommend this book as a buy. “But it looks so good!” I hear you say. It looks like comic books should. It embraces the unrealistic nature of the medium. I mean, all I have to do is stare at this cover and suddenly I’m having fun.

So okay, I’m going to call this book a BUY. But it’s a buy with massive reservations! Keep that in mind, please! And don’t blame me if the writing doesn’t quite stack up to the stunning, colorful imagery that will doubtlessly come with it.

Fury of the Firestorm: Nuclear Men #1 (EH)

Written by: Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone, Art by: Yildiray Cinar

Synopsis:

“Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond. These two high school students are worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super-science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control. The dark secrets of the murderous Dog Team and its Firestorm Protocol force them to put aside their differences to confront a threat so terrifying that it may lead to a new Cold War! Welcome to a major new vision of nuclear terror from writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone with astonishing art by Yildiray Cinar!”

If you ask me, this is just a really strange comic all around.

Ethan Van Sciver is one of the most unique artists working today; indeed, he redefined the way Green Lanterns are drawn company-wide (via Green Lantern: Rebirth). Slow as he is – ironically, his Flash: Rebirth was continuously late – he’s a name talent and can sell books based solely on his art. Which is why, when you see his name on a comic, you assume he’s going to be drawing more than just the covers.

Not so with Firestorm. Indeed, Sciver is drawing the covers (to trick me into thinking he’s drawing the interiors, I guess?) and he’s also writing the book with the help of Gail Simone – but Yildiray Cinar is drawing the interiors.

The whole thing just seems too messy – too many cooks artists in the writing kitchen and what have you – to be a guaranteed homerun. On the other hand, if Gail Simone weren’t assisting, I almost definitely would’ve listed this as a DO NOT BUY, despite the intriguing synopsis. We’ll know for sure soon enough.

 –

The Savage Hawkman #1 (DO NOT BUY)

Written by: Tony Daniel, Art by: Philip Tan

Synopsis:

“Carter Hall’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job with an archaeologist who specializes in alien ruins – but will the doctor’s latest discovery spread an alien plague through New York City? No matter the personal cost, Carter Hall must don his wings and become the new, savage Hawkman to survive! Witness the start of a new action series from writer Tony S. Daniel and artist Philip Tan that will take Hawkman where no hero has flown before!”

Try as I might, I just cannot get excited about Tony Daniel writing Hawkman. And Philip Tan? No way, man, forget about it. His arc was the only weak link in an otherwise (nigh-on) perfect Batman and Robin run by Grant Morrison.

In fairness to Philip, the art on this book looks leagues better. And in fairness to Tony, the synopsis looks intriguing enough, what with all the archealogy, adventure, and, uh, intrigue. But the problem is, there are just far more, far better-looking, comic books in The New 52 to risk wasting money on this. Sorry, guys.

Voodoo #1 (EH) 

Written by: Ron Marz, Art by: Sami Basri

Synopsis:

“Who is Voodoo? Is she hero, villain – or both? Learn the truth about Priscilla Kitaen as she leaves a trail of violence across America. Discover the new DCU through her eyes, because the things she sees are not always what they seem…”

To be honest, I have next-to-no interest in Voodoo as a character, but the art on this book is very, very pretty and Ron Marz – despite being missing-in-action from both DC and Marvel for years – was responsible for some great books in his heyday, including Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight.

Does that make this book a BUY? No, it does not. But it’s not a DO NOT BUY either, and that has to count for something.

Blackhawks #1 (DO NOT BUY) 

Written by: Mike Costa, Art by: Ken Lashley

Synopsis:

“Welcome to a world waging a new kind of war that’s faster and more brutal than ever before. It’s fought by those who would make the innocent their targets, using computers, smart weapons and laser-guided missiles. The new enemy is hard to find – and closer to home than we think. Between us and them stand the Blackhawks, an elite force of military specialists equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us.”

Honestly, I can’t point to a single thing that makes me want to buy this book.

It’s not that Mike Costa is a bad writer – he’s just not a known quantity, writing-wise, as he’s written very few things so far in his career. Secondly, while Ken Lashley’s an okay artist, he’s only drawing the first book. For as yet unknown reasons, the art team on Blackhawks continues to change with every issue, which is never a good sign. And lastly, the synopsis reads like it’s actively attempting to be unoriginal and uninteresting.

Call me predictable, but I’ll be passing on this unless I hear it’s awesome.

Week 4 Part 2…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Week Four (Part 2): September 14th, 2011

All-Star Western #1 (BUY)

Written by: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Art by: Moritat

Synopsis:

“Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Find out in this new series from HEX writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with lush artwork by Moritat (THE SPIRIT)!”

Most comic book fans won’t give All-Star Western the time of day because there aren’t any superheroes in it, but I implore you to branch out. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti were on the consistently great Jonah Hex pre-reboot (forget the terrible Josh Brolin movie), and this is essentially a continuation of that series with a new title and a new coat of paint.

Teen Titans #1 (EH)

Written by: Scott Lobdell, Art by: Bret Booth and Norm Rapbund

 

Synopsis:

“Tim Drake, Batman’s former sidekick, is back in action when an international organization seeks to capture, kill or co-opt super-powered teenagers. As Red Robin, he’s going to have to team up with the mysterious and belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and the hyperactive speedster calling himself Kid Flash to stand any chance at all against a living, breathing weapon with roots in another world! They – along with a few other tortured teen heroes – will be the Teen Titans in this new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men) and artist Brett Booth (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!”

This seems to be one of the few fully rebooted comics in The New 52. While Tim Drake’s history as Batman’s third Robin is still intact – and probably his work as Red Robin while Bruce Wayne was lost in time – his years in Young Justice and Teen Titans are apparently no more.

The book itself has received a lot of Internet flack, thanks to the “extreme-nineties!!!” nature of issue number one’s cover and the Titans’ uniforms. However, it’s worth noting that Scott Lobdell did a legitimately great job writing various X-books in the early ’90s, not the least of which was the similarly youth-centric Generation X. Additionally, Brett Booth’s Titans art has improved with each and every new image released, regardless of how 90s-esque it is.

Still, I can’t, in good conscience, suggest this book as a BUY, though I admit to being tempted to put money down myself. Even if this thing is terrible, it looks so charmingly bombastic that it might actually be fun.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 (BUY) 

Written by: David Finch, Art by: David Finch and Richard Friend

Synopsis:

“The Dark Knight struggles against a deadly – yet strangely familiar – foe in this phenomenal debut issue from superstar writer/artist David Finch (BRIGHTEST DAY, ACTION COMICS)! As a mysterious figure slinks through the halls of Arkham Asylum, Batman must fight his way through a gauntlet of psychos, and Bruce Wayne faces the unexpected legal ramifications of Batman Incorporated!”

No one would begrudge you for not buying this book – a seeming continuation of the David Finch written/drawn Batman: The Dark Knight that started in December and subsequently got delayed time and again. (It was also poorly reviewed, to say the least.)

In fact, this book would be smack dab in the center of my “DO NOT BUY” category were it not for the fact that Paul Jenkins (Hellblazer, Wolverine: Origin) is on the record as being the main writer. Due to the bureaucracy of exclusivity contracts, Jenkins wasn’t allowed to be credited with having written the book, so David Finch got sole credit. Finch, of course, is still a co-plotter or some such thing, but I’m okay with that.

Hey, when he’s on, he can be a great artist. When Jenkins is on, he’s a great writer. And since Batman is always on, I’ll be giving this thing a chance. Again. (One last time.)

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 (EH)

Written by: Tony Bedard, Art by: Tyler Kirkham and Batt

Synopsis:

“Kyle Rayner has assembled the most powerful team in all the universe, selected from the full spectrum of corps. But can he even keep this volatile group together?”

This looks to be, at least in part, a continuation of Bedard’s run on Green Lantern Corps, which “ended” just before the reboot took effect. That book was basically the adventures of Kyle Rayner and his girlfriend, and since I’m an unabashed Kyle Rayner fan, I was initially very interested in reading it.

Unfortunately, Bedard’s GLC run was somewhat underwhelming, especially coming after Peter Tomasi’s. (It didn’t help that artist Ardian Syaf was no replacement for Patrick Gleason.) I guess the thing that sets this book apart from that run is that the “New Guardians” are made up of variously hued corps members – Kyle is Green, Arkillow is Yellow, Glomus is Orange, Saint Walker is Blue, Bleez is Red, Munk is Indigo, and some nameless woman is the Star Sapphire.

Which could, in all honesty, make it a really fun book, but I’ll be waiting to hear how fun it is instead of buying it first.

I, Vampire #1 (EH)

Written by: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Art by: Andrea Sorrentino

Synopsis:

“For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree – and she plans to start with the heroes of the DCU!”

Joshua Hale Fialkov is a mostly unknown writer. Andrea Sorrentino is a mostly unknown artist. I…Vampire is an all-but-forgotten series created by J.M. DeMatteis from 1983. So it’s hard to say with certainty what we’re in for with regard to this relaunch, entitled I, Vampire. I’m cautiously optimistic, based on the popularity of the original series, the synopsis, and some artwork that popped up a few weeks ago, but I wouldn’t go out and buy this right away, if I were you. Wait for critical/consumer response before you put your money down.

 –

Justice League Dark #1 (BUY)

Written by: Peter Milligan, Art by: Mikel Janin

Synopsis:

“The witch known as The Enchantress has gone mad, unleashing forces that not even the combined powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg can stop. And if those heroes can’t handle the job, who will stand against this mystical madness? Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine may be our only hope – but how can we put our trust in beings whose very presence makes ordinary people break out in a cold sweat?”

DC could have also called this book Justice League Vertigo or Vertigo League or Vertigo Force 5, because that’s precisely what we’re getting. For those fans worried about the stupid name, don’t fret – that’s pure branding right there. I can’t imagine the characters of John Constantine, Zatanna, Madame Zanadu, Deadman, and Shade the Changing Man ever using the words “Justice League” to describe themselves, let alone “Justice League Dark.”

After Action Comics, this may very well be my most highly-anticipated title of The New 52.  I’m hoping Peter Milligan and up-and-comer Mikel Janin take this concept to town, because it deserves to be as creatively crazy as possible. Frankly, September 28th can’t come soon enough.

Our recommendations…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: THE SHORT VERSION

BUYs:

  • Justice League
  • Action Comics
  • Batgirl
  • Animal Man
  • Swamp Thing
  • Stormwatch
  • Static Shock
  • Batman and Robin
  • Batwoman
  • Green Lantern
  • Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
  • Resurrection Man
  • Demon Knights
  • Grifter
  • Deathstroke
  • Legion Lost
  • Wonder Woman
  • Batman
  • Nightwing
  • Green Lantern Corps
  • Aquaman
  • The Flash
  • All-Star Western
  • Batman: The Dark Knight
  • Justice League Dark

EHs:

  • Detective Comics
  • Justice League International
  • O.M.A.C.
  • Batwing
  • Men of War
  • Mr. Terrific
  • Superboy
  • Red Lanterns
  • DC Universe Presents
  • Catwoman
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws
  • Blue Beetle
  • Legion of Superheroes
  • Superman
  • Fury of Firestorm: Nuclear Men
  • Voodoo
  • Teen Titans
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians
  • I, Vampire

DO NOT BUYs:

  • Green Arrow
  • Hawk and Dove
  • Suicide Squad
  • Captain Atom
  • Birds of Prey
  • Supergirl
  • The Savage Hawkman
  • Blackhawks

Well, that’s it: DC Comics “New 52″ Reboot, broken down and previewed. Which titles will you be buying on launch day? What changes are you not happy with? Let us know in the comments.

The DC Comics New 52 Reboot kicks off on August 31, 2011.

Follow me on Twitter: @benandrewmoore.

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