Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Paul's Picks! - May 2, 2012

Well, it's that time again folks: Wednesday! And you know what Wednesday is?... Well, of course you do, you're reading a blog about comics, so you obviously know it's New Comics Day, a.k.a. Paul's favorite weekly holiday! And now for his much-anticipated pick-of-the-week...

Well the time has come folks. It's the first Wednesday in May, and man oh man, what a week! And for that, what a month! Not only does this week mark the release of what many sites are deeming the Best Comic Book Movie Ever Made (yet to be seen, don't gather a mob just yet), but this week in May also began two highly anticipated events in comics: namely DC's Second Wave of the New 52 and the launch of May's "Night of the Owls" crossover event in the Bat universe. And of course, we also had the release of issue #3 of one of the biggest ( if not the biggest) events Marvel has ever released in AvX, which changed from author Jason Aaron to Ed Brubaker. All in all, right now is one of the best times to be a fan of comics in the history of comic-dom. And the fun is just getting started, with 9 more issues to come in AvX (not counting a plethora of tie-ins), plus some promising new series from DC, as well as the greatly anticipated (although dreaded by some) Before Watchmen miniseries that launches in just a few short weeks. As I said, it's the golden time for fans, although it's definitely an all-out assault on the wallets of said lovers of comics.

With the release of Avengers barely 24 hours away (unless you're in Britain, those lucky dogs), I strongly considered reviewing an Avengers book for you all today. However, my pick from this week so greatly out-shined every other book I read that I couldn't make myself give it to some Avengers title just for the sake of the movie. With that being said, be sure to check out the Ancillary Characters Podcast coming early next week, where Seth, Ethan and I will be reviewing the movie for you all, along with a random selection of Avengers titles.

And that's enough of that! Now on to my undeniable pick of the week...

Earth 2 by James Robinson and Nicola Scott.

With four titles coming out today from DC's Second Wave of the new 52, there was no other book that had me more intrigued than this one. There has been hype aplenty since the announcement of a title by Robinson that would reintroduce the iconic characters from the JSA in the DCnU, and I couldn't wait to find out for myself whether this book would live up to its build up. Now that I have finally read the first issue, I am pleased to admit that this book did not meet my expectations, it blew them out of the stinking water! I have yet to read any book from DC's relaunch that managed the epic feel of this book or its perfectly sincere emotion. This issue managed to somehow be all action and all heart at the same time. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED...

 This issue sets up the world of an alternate universe, literally an "Earth 2," where the key heroes that we all know and love are as prominent as ever. The Trinity of heroes, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, are in an all-out battle for the survival of mankind against an army of Parademons from Apokolips, led by Steppenwolf, the emissary of Darkseid. While these heroes fight for their lives, the reader learns of the great loss that they have already endured. Themyscira has been wiped out, Lois has been killed, and Batman sets out on a suicide mission that will hopefully save Earth 2 from imminent destruction. While these events are taking place, we are also introduced to the Supergirl and Robin of this earth, who happen to be Power Girl and Huntress respectively on the base earth of the DCnU.

Robinson shows his doubters once again why he is the man for this job. This introductory story is epic in every sense of the word, and yet each consecutive moment is emotionally charged and character driven. The JSA are going to be brought forward soon in these pages, and so Robinson creates the need for them by having the Trinity fall in battle for mankind. Wonder Woman is cut down in battle, while Superman is overcome and destroyed by the overwhelming swarms of the Parademons. But of the final moments of these heroes, none is more powerful and heart-wrenching than Batman's final sacrifice. The moments before his death, he says his final goodbye to Robin, who is his daughter Helena Wayne. This is real, a tender and heart breaking moment in the midst of a raging war. I know this is a strong statement, but I believe that Robinson did in one issue with these characters what Geoff Johns has failed to do in 8. Anyone who may have feared for a repeat of Robinson's most recent run on the JLA before the relaunch can quiet those fears: this is a true treasure, one that no comic reader should miss.

And man, does it look amazing! In my humble opinion, Nicola Scott is one of the most overlooked and under-rated artists currently working at DC. I know people may be outraged at this statement, but I believe that in one issue, Scott one-upped Jim Lee in every way from his entire run on JL so far. Don't get me wrong, Lee is obviously one of the best artists in the industry, but there is just no denying that Nicola took this book and these characters and shut anyone up who may have thought she wasn't the woman for the job. Not one moment in this issue feels rushed, every detail looks calculated and perfected, and not one artist could step in and do a better job. She has the epic look of Lee along with the clean, calculated perfection of Ivan Reis. She is the perfect medium of all that there is to love about comic book art, and Earth 2 is the perfect canvas.

Earth 2 was easily one of the best single issues to come out of this relaunch since September of last year. Any one of you who missed it this week should go back to your store and hope they haven't sold out. If you're looking for the team book that is going to break the ground that we've been looking for, then look no farther. And to think, this was only issue #1! In the months to come, Robinson will reveal some of the most beloved characters from DC's history, and we can all experience it first hand. I can't wait.

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