Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis
Aquaman is cool. I’ve always known it and so have a handful of other fans. A lot of other people don’t know who he is or what he can really do. And that’s the first problem with the character. People tend to think he just spends his time swimming in the ocean, fighting people polluting the sea, working with Greenpeace and talking to the fish and dolphins. The writer, Geoff Johns, is aware of this and in the first issue he plays up the stereotypes, but there are also a few scenes where he shows the true power of Aquaman. He was one of the first members of the Justice League. He can survive and still fight at depths under the ocean that would crush normal people. He is incredibly strong, he can communicate with some sea life, and is a King to boot, a position he had to fight for. In this issue we see a group of armoured robbers open fire on Aquaman with machine guns. The bullets bounce off him, he gives them a look and then tips their armoured car onto its roof with his trident. The rest of the issue highlights the problems people have with him whilst providing answers and while it was quite funny, I think it was trying a little too hard. Nevertheless, this was a good first issue as it sets up his background very quickly and a few pages towards the end show you that something very dark and unpleasant is coming, and that he is ideally placed to deal with it. The artwork is gorgeous as well so that really helps. Probably the best comic of this fourth week and I just hope others agree and this title has the space and time to tell some awesome stories that the writer will have up his sleeve.
Green Lantern – New Guardians
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Tyler Kirkham & Batt
As a long time Green Lantern reader I found this issue intriguing but not very gripping. To someone who is completely new to Green Lantern I think it would have been incredibly confusing, even with 99% of the issue devoted to setting up the different coloured Lanterns and giving some clues as to their purpose and power source. If you’d seen the Green Lantern film or an animated version of the character somewhere, picked up the first issue of Green Lantern and based on that sought out other Green Lantern titles, this is not the one for you. The source of the Green Lanterns power is Will, and other coloured lanterns have different coloured rings and power sources. Blue for Hope, Red for Rage and so on. The also have different purposes as Green Lanterns are essentially space cops, but some of the others do not have such noble aims. It’s quite a complex and difficult thing to explain in a few sentences and unfortunately I think this first issue suffers because of it. I did enjoy the brief flashback and introduction about how Kyle Rayner became a Green Lantern, but the rest spends so much time on detailing background it leaves little room for a story. I think this title will read well in trade when you have more to sink your teeth into and I think it’s a solid title for existing comic book and Green Lantern fans. If you are a new fan I would wait until you’ve read some of the other Green Lantern books for a few months before coming back to this one.
Justice League Dark
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist Mikel Janin
Once again like Green Lantern – New Guardians, there are a lot of characters to introduce to the audience whilst also moving forward with a story. Milligan does a better job than Bedard, but by the end of this first issue I was left scratching my head. There are some good scenes, some interesting ideas, the artwork is lovely and there are lots of questions, but I just didn’t have a feel for the book. I have no idea where it’s going, which is fine as I like a mystery, but there was no obvious shape to the book. I think it suffered from trying to introduce too many characters in one issue and I also believe the appearance of the Justice League (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg) hurts the book rather than helps it. As I understand it, Justice League Dark (I still think it’s a dodgy title) is one of the Edge comics, aimed at teens and above and this team of magicians, wizards and magic users are working together to tackle the dangers and things lurking in the dark that the regular Justice League are ill equipped for. Demons, ghosts and other nasties that can’t be solved just by punching them really hard in the face. I’m simplifying things, but you get the idea. Having the Justice League appear in it muddies the water. People might come to expect to be in every issue as regular characters and will be disappointed when they don’t turn up. Really this title isn’t about them, there’s a whole other book about them. Showing the Justice League defeated by a magical enemy could also have been done in one or two short sentences. Looking back on my review so far, I think the title lacks focus is what I’m trying to say. It might crystallise in a few issues, but for now I won’t be getting this title and I am a bit disappointed as I was really looking forward to it.
Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art: Francis Manapul
There have been a number of different characters that have been called The Flash before and this new series focuses on the second man to embrace the Speed Force, Barry Allen. He’s not been a part of comics for decades until a couple of years ago when DC writer Geoff Johns brought him back, but most fans have no idea why, myself included. The Batman has passed on the mantle, the cape and cowl, to a former sidekick but he always took it back and they became heroes in their own right: Nightwing and now Red Robin. The short version is Barry was believed dead, so since the 1990s Wally West has been the Flash in the comics. He used to be Kid Flash, a teenage sidekick, but he grew up, took on the mantle and earned it the hard way. As an adult Wally was a member of the Justice League and he fought alongside legendary heroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and so on. Now, Barry is back, Wally has disappeared and I have no idea why. Apart from struggling to care about Barry this first issue sets up the story well enough, it gives up a bit of Barry’s history and sets up a mystery surrounding an old friend of his. The Flash is an interesting character because he doesn’t have any powers except the ability to run at incredible speeds by tapping into this energy field called the Speed Force. He isn’t super strong, or invulnerable and doesn’t have any gadgets. He has to do all of it for himself. He can use his speed and gravity to make it seem as if he is super strong. He can create tools and weapons in the same way and avoid fists and bullets with ease because for him every second can seem like hours. Manapul does some interesting stuff with the artwork and does a good job of highlight the Flash’s talents and a few of his abilities. Despite my personal issues with the series and how it came about, it’s a good comic, and if you like the sound of the Flash as a superhero then I would suggest it’s worth picking up.
Batman: The Dark Knight
Writer: David Finch
Artists: David Finch and Richard Friend
I really like Batman and he is probably my favourite comic book character. However, even though I thought this was alright, I just don’t see why there are four ongoing monthly Batman books with him as a central character. None of them really are doing anything radically different to the others. Two titles I can understand and for decades we’ve had Batman and Detective. If one of the new titles was 99% focused on Batman as Bruce Wayne, then you could probably squeeze in a third title, but four? This title was good fun, it was lovely artwork and the story was alright, but it was just another Batman book. I’ve hitched myself to Batman by Scott Snyder, because of the writer and the story, so that’s it for me, I’m not going to bother with the others.
Title: I, Vampire
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artists: Andrea Sorrentino
I just didn’t enjoy this. Not much else I can say really. I think if it existed in a bubble somewhere, if it wasn’t part of the DC Universe then it might work a lot better. But having a whole city or town wiped out by vampires is just silly in the DC Universe. If you create a set of rules or state of logic then you have to stick to them at all times, not just when it is convenient. If a town was wiped out every news crew, tabloid journalist, blogger and kid with a phone camera, plus every superhero in the world would fly in and wipe out every pasty faced vampire in a few hours. Batman would flood the place with UV weapons and special high tech lights, Superman would toast them with his heat vision, Firestorm would light up the sky with a fiery blaze, eliminating all shadows and every vampire would burn and that would be the end of it. Some of the titles from the new 52 should exist somewhere else, in a sub universe or whatever, and this is one of them, it just doesn’t work for me and it didn’t appeal.
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Sami Basri
This was basically Showgirls the comic. Its about a strip club and one of the strippers is actually an alien monster thing. 22 pages of strippers dancing and skimpy underwear with lots of T and A shots. Pass.
Writer: George Perez
Artists: George Perez and Jesus Merino
I really liked this title. Superman is a hero of sorts, but he’s not the golden boy that we think of from the movies. Clark works at the Daily Planet and yet the world and technology has moved on. The Planet has been bought out by a giant media corporation and the new owner promises to let them maintain their integrity and quality but Clark doesn’t buy it. He thinks Lois is being naïve and has been blinded by promotion and a lot of misdirection. Lois is also dating someone that isn’t Clark and he is viewed as a bit of a loner. This incarnation of Superman and Clark is definitely a more sombre and isolated version, a real alien among humans, as he doesn’t have his parents anymore and there is no heart warming scene at the Kent farm with apple pie. A new and bold direction for the Man of Steel.
Monday, 10 October 2011
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Aryan
Writers: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
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.