Writers: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
I’ve been waiting for this Batman title for a while. It was one of the top 5 books I was most looking forward to and I’m delighted to say it didn’t let me down. Scott Snyder is a fairly new writer and he previously worked on a Batman title before the reboot which I heard a lot of very good things about from reliable sources. This first issue lands in the middle of the story. It doesn’t lay out every little detail. It doesn’t tell you about how Bruce’s parents were killed and show you that scene in exquisite detail that everyone knows. Even if you’ve never read a Batman comic before you will know something about how he became Batman. Snyder trusts his audience enough to just get on and tell a good story. To try and intrigue them and I think he does a really really good job. After having read so many of the new 52 titles now, some of the Batman books are starting to blur together, but this and the Tony S. Daniel Detective Comics stand out for me at the moment. Definitely one I will continue to read because the art is great and the writer is going somewhere. It’s not just another status quo story, there’s something moving in the shadows, building in the background and I want to know more.
Title: Birds of Prey
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artists: Jesus Saiz
I was a big fan of Birds of Prey before the reboot and I know it was an incredibly popular title with women. Gail Simone wrote the book for a number of years, shaping the characters and adding layers to them we’d not seen before, so he had pretty big shoes to fill. Duane does an excellent job. He doesn’t just try to start things over, he takes the core principles and goes off in his own direction. There again he managed to weave in an introduction to the characters, to showcase their powers and a little info about who they are into 22 pages and keep it interesting. He does it while keeping up a steady stream of action, snappy dialogue and the gorgeous art of Jesus Saiz really helps sell this book. New characters are shown on the front cover and we are introduced to one of them in this issue, Starling. She’s funny, tough and very intriguing and has an interesting look. A book full of strong, independent female characters. A great first issue and this was one of the biggest surprises for me out of the whole 52 reboot. Definitely worth a look.
Title: Blue Beetle
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Ig Guara and Ruy Jose
I’m a fan of the writer Tony Bedard because of his previous work on Green Lantern comics and he is writing a new one plus Blue Beetle. Sadly for me, my journey with Blue Beetle ends here. On the one hand I like the idea of new characters and new people getting powers and finding their way and discovering what kind of a superhero (or villain) they will become. As much as I often complain about the coming of age story in fantasy novels, I welcome it in comics because the journey is sometimes more interesting than the destination. We see the trials and tribulations they go through as teens and somewhere in the distance is the ideal of who they will become, a hero to parallel the greats. However, I didn’t find anything inspiring or that interesting here. The first six pages are taken up with a prologue which I think was a little pointless. It gives you history on the Blue Beetle scarab, but it's all about space adventure and weird aliens, which has something and nothing to do with the book. The main story centres around a young Latino teenager called Jaime and his life is not spaceships and saving the planet. It’s your more familiar high school problems of girls, acne, struggling with authority and trying to pass all of his exams. But then there are other bits to the story, super villains stealing something, a one page scene with his parents and then Jaime accidentally ending up with this new Blue Beetle alien armour battle suit thing. There’s a lot going on, but not in a good way for once. Being told this is what the scarab is spoiled it for me. It would have been more interesting to find out about what it was and what it could do as the character did. It would have been more appealing to me to spend more time exploring Jaime’s life, since he is the main character, and less on what others were doing. With Great Power and so on seems like it will be the core of this book, but right now I don’t know much about Jaime and that’s a shame. I’m sure there is still a lot that will be uncovered, such as the limits of his powers and all the cool things the scarab allows him to do, but right now I’m just not inclined to keep reading.
Writer: Judd Winnich
Artists: Guillem March
There’s been a lot of talk about this title and the fairly controversial last page, as well as the constant one boob out as Catwoman seems to spend the entire issue in a constant state of undress where she shows off her lacy bras. I won’t go over what others will have put far more eloquently than me, but in short, I think this was a misstep. I think they need to go right back to the drawing board with this character, the concept and with this title and I will not be reading any more issues of this.
Title: Green Lantern Corps
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna
In short - I absolutely loved it. If you’ve never read it before I can see that it might be a little confusing in places, but it’s not a major obstacle and this is just a great science fiction series about cops in space. Two of them are human in this title (there are lots of aliens too) who are very different guys who have been Green Lanterns for a long time and are struggling to relate to humans and find a place on Earth and do their job at the same time. Their job is protecting a particular sector of space from all alien threats and outbreaks of war and when various endeavours back on Earth fail they both leap into action doing what they do best which is investigating a murder mystery. Lovely artwork, well written, solid characterisation and a really good solid read. Count me in.
Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
No. Just no. Awful, awful, awful, awful stuff. Horrible. This issue is just a train wreck. It’s so bad it’s not even worth a look just to see how bad it really is. Don't bother. Just save your money because you will read it and just roll your eyes or throw it across the room. It's everything we don't want comics to be. It's what we've been trying to get away from for decades. It's the worst of comic book stereotypes brought to life. It’s just mega crap for many many many reasons. Laura Hudson at Comics Alliance has written an excellent article about this title and Catwoman and you can read it in full here to find out why this comic should end with issue 1. A horrible step backwards by DC.
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Eddy Barrows and JP Mayer
This isn’t the first solo book for Dick Grayson, Batman’s first Robin, and I previously read and enjoyed the adventures of Dick as a superhero in his own style and own making. He went to a different city, Bludhaven, another awful place with a bad reputation and he tried to make a difference and save a few lives. Once again in this title he’s flying solo but there’s a lovely nod to his past, to where he came from and I don’t mean being an apprentice to Batman. The pacing of the title was done well, the art was excellent and it brought great pacing to the action scenes and the artist does some fun things with layouts. There are a few good splash moments to showcase the character’s new costume but also the artwork itself, but its not sacrificing the story to do so. There are a few subtle and a few less subtle clues about what is to come and some mysteries, but the writer doesn’t overdo it and trusts his audience. For example, a small spoiler, but Dick apprehends someone wearing a costume similar to his but the symbol seems to have been painted in blood. But the narration doesn’t say oh look, that’s just like my costume. It sounds obvious and silly and an amateurish mistake, but it does happen sadly. Some of the titles in the 52 are on that level but with 52 new titles I never expected all of them to be brilliant. Nightwing is a thoroughly good comic and it comes back to what I mentioned earlier about the journey. Dick Grayson has been Batman, he took on the mantle for a while, he used to be Robin, but now he’s all grown up and this is the next chapter in his story and I want to see where he goes next.
Writers: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Remember what I wrote earlier about finding a good balance between story and art? Between too much content and not enough? Here’s the story for issue 1 of Supergirl in its entirety. She crashes on Earth in her spaceship, has a fight and then Superman turns up. That’s it. That’s your 22 pages. Who hasn’t heard of Supergirl? Just from her name you get a fairly good idea of who she is. You might not know how she’s related to Superman, but it’s the same as someone wearing a Bat symbol on their chest, you get that there’s a strong connection. I think this was another missed opportunity. A few years ago Jeph Loeb essentially rebooted the character and told this exact story. She crashes to Earth but then has a series of exciting and quite bewildering adventures and every issue she was somewhere new, on another planet or in another galaxy, and was facing new adversaries and new challenges. Starting over again, sure, why not for a relaunch, but nothing happens. Nothing of worth or note. Nothing. She’s just crash landed, so of course she will be confused and disorientated, but if we already know certain facts and the character doesn’t, it just makes it boring waiting for them to catch up. Page 1 they tell us it’s Kansas, so we know she has crash landed on Earth. You’ve told us and given the game away. It would have been intriguing to show weird landscapes that appear alien but actually are on Earth to trick the audience into thinking maybe it’s somewhere else. But no. Supergirl then spends 22 pages trying to work out where she is and still doesn’t quite get there at the end by herself. The character has gone through a lot of writers in the past and each of them tried to bring something new or add to the mythology in some way. I liked it when she was a teenage girl who was trying to live up to the symbol on her chest and what that symbol meant to the people of Earth. That’s gone as Superman is not that hero anymore in this new DC universe. He might be one day, but right now he is just another alien, another superhero and a potential threat to the world. That’s my inner Lex Luthor speaking. So if you take that away and now bring in Supergirl, what does that make her? I don’t know, but I’m just not that interested to find out. The hook is a being as powerful as Superman but with none of the love he has for humanity. Well, at the moment, humans don’t seem all that fond of him, so she will be just more of the same when they eventually find out. There’s a lot they could have done but haven’t. I hope this goes somewhere and does well, but it’s a pass from me.