Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New 52: Final Week (almost done)

Disclaimer: I've had this written for well over a week but kept forgetting to post it. There are only a few books left from the final week that I haven't reviewed in this list and I'll try to get to them in the next day or so. We'll see how well that goes...


The last week of the new 52 brought with it the largest number of easily dropped books. Thankfully. My pull list has grown exponentially due to the relaunch and adding more than a couple of titles this week was going to break me. After this weeks reviews I'll post a list of which books I'll be keeping for you to peruse.

All Star Western #1: Flashback to Wizard World LA 2005. I was sitting in a DC panel when Dan Didio announced this book and showed the cover art by Frank Quitely. The place went nuts with applause. When it came out I picked up a handful of the early issues and then sort of forgot it existed. It's now 2011 and Jonah Hex still has his own book. Sure it's a new title but Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are still writing it.

At this point Gray and Palmiotti have been writing Hex so long that it has to feel like old hat to them. The inclusion of characters like Arkham (totally blanking on his first name) and Mayor Cobblepot are a lot of fun, and even help to flesh out the history of Gotham City. Moritat's pencils are solid for the most part. He's excellent at drawing character interactions and though a few panels looked rushed and a little sketchy for the most part he gets the job done. I didn't think I would be but I'm adding this to my pull list.

Aquaman #1: Aquaman is a strange book. I'll point out it was my favorite of the week but it also seemed like Johns was getting his sea legs under him (get it?!? because it's Aquaman!) in certain sections of the book. The constant hammering home of the fact that Aquaman is considered a joke by the normal people of the DCU was so over the top that it grew annoying fast. Other than that though, this was the Geoff Johns I haven't seen since his early work on Flash. This entire issue is merely introducing us to this character and giving us some hint at a looming threat. There aren't any epic action sequences or boss battles. I loved it for that. Though not as stellar as his work on Green Lantern #1, this still ranks as some of the best work I've seen from Johns in years.

Ivan Reis, just continues to impress me. His art style here reminds me of older Neal Adams or Alan Davis work but he's good at the quiet character moments. The scene in the diner was drawn so well that it took what could have been a minor sequence and transformed it into something more. The panel with Arthur looking at the seafood menu was beautiful in its simplicity.

It's going on my list and I expect to see great things from this book and it's creative team.

The Dark Knight #1: David Finch used to be one of my favorite artists. His work on books like New Avengers and Moon Knight was energetic and exciting. His DC stuff though has left me under whelmed, to say the least. Other than Batman: the Return, his previous Dark Knight run looked rushed.

His work here continues the downward progression. His characters have constantly changing faces, yet ever-present grimaces. His backgrounds are far less detailed than they used to be. Heck, even his action sequences are drawn in such a lifeless way that it's hard to believe I'm looking at the work of the same guy who impressed me so much just a couple years ago.

I'm spending so much time talking about Finch because, despite the presence of Paul Jenkins assisting on writing chores, the book feels like a continuation of what Finch was doing before the relaunch. DK has been his baby. Sadly, Jenkins does nothing to help the proceedings. His dialogue feels like it belongs in a late 90's Spawn comic. Judging from that last page cliffhanger that is probably the level of storytelling we should expect from this team.

Sadly, I won't pick up another issue. Rarely has one artist deflated me as much as David Finch has done with this book.

Blackhawks #1: DC's answer to GI Joe has arrived and it's... okay. There really isn't much to be said about this book. It's well written, competently drawn and a fun read. It didn't blow my mind nor did it anger, or annoy me with it's awfulness. I like the idea of a Joe-like team existing within the DC universe, and due to my undying love for crack squads of military commandoes taking on threats too big for the standard military I'll probably pick up another issue or two.

The book is written by Mike Costa (who I don't think I've heard of before this) and drawn by Graham Nolan. The story is intriguing for the most part but the characters come across as little more than half-hearted attempts at thwarting stereotypes. That doesn't make sense? How about a red headed, rowdy guy who everyone calls "Irish"... who is in fact, a one-time Spetsnaz operative from the former Soviet Union. Rather than, y'know, an actual Irishman. There's more where that came from.

At any rate, as stated, I'm going to pick up at least another issue. There's a chance this book could become something special.

Flash #1: Flash is having praise heaped on it from all over the blogosphere. It certainly is a good book but it also suffers from some weak writing. This first issue introduces us to a Barry Allen who isn't married, and is still perpetually late. However, that's about all we learned about him. Unfortunately the opening story seems to center around character duplicates or clones or alternate reality doubles...? We've been here before. Even in a Flash book. Even within the last few months. Hopefully, this isn't going where I fear it is.

However, this is the best looking book out of the relaunch. Francis Manapul should draw this character the rest of his career. His page layouts are getting more bold, and his panel progression, particularly during action sequences, is downright thrilling. Whether or not Brian Buccellato is a good writer remains to be seen. The dialogue is problematic at times and the story seems very familiar. On the other hand, it's a first issue and I have enough faith in Manapul as an artist to add the book to my list and hope for the best.

Fury of Firestorm #1: This is... bad. Really, really, not good at all. I'm saddened to see Gail Simone's name on the cover, to be honest. Other than the Ethan Van Sciver (who is also to blame for co-writing this mess) cover, there's literally nothing good I can say about this book. This first issue is muddled, badly written, and Cinar's art is rather dull. The whole thing reads like the first draft of a script that badly needed polishing. I won't give it a second chance, even with Simone's presence. Yes, it's that bad.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1: Another poor title from Tony Bedard. His Blue Beetle was one of the worst issues out of the new 52 and apparently he mandated himself to try and top it with this. He failed. While this is by no means a good comic, it's not at Beetle's level of boring ineptitude. I'm finding it hard to even have much to say about the lousy books this week, mostly due to burn out. There's only so much I can write about a book this dull.

The Tyler Kirkham art is probably going to take some flack but I found it passable. He comes from the Michael Turner school of art (disclaimer: not an actual educational institution) so if you like that sort of cheesecake then you'll enjoy this. Sadly, the writing is just bad. Bedard seems to have a really hard time writing dialogue that isn't posturing, cloying, annoying, or stupid. This book is full of that.

I, Vampire #1: I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Joshua Hale Fialkov is a name I've been hearing for months but this was my first time reading his work. Though not much happens in this issue it does a good job of setting up our main characters and introducing their conflict. The art by Andrea Sorrentino, however, was a little off-putting. It's not bad. In fact, it's actually quite good, but it looks so much like the work of another artist that I found myself taken out of the story with each turn of the page.

Other than that one complaint I found this to be a really good first issue. I'd like to see this book succeed too. It's not a superhero book and I like that DC is branching out into other genres. However, I don't think I'll be picking up another issue because it seems like something I'll enjoy far more when it's collected and I have to make cuts this week to keep my list under budget.

Justice League Dark #1: Now this, I can get behind. Where Stormwatch and Demon Knights both left me a little underwhelmed Dark packs a punch. In its opening issue alone we witness the Justice League crash and burn to a mystical threat, and are introduced to the members of this team without actually seeing them come together just yet. I guess in tone this is very similar to the other Dark titles we've seen (Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Demon Knights) but it feels bigger which is fitting for a team book with world-ending threats.

Milligan redeems himself for that Red Lanterns book here, writing characters who I want to learn more about and setting up what looks to be an interesting story. Mikel Janin on art does a good job, aside from a few stiff character moments. I'm adding this one to my list. I could see it being the underdog story of the whole relaunch if it can up the ante issue to issue. And more Zatanna is always a good thing...

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