DC COMICS REBOOT GUIDE: THE NEW 52
Launch Day: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Justice League #1 (BUY)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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.