Monthly Archives: September 2012

Thoughts on the New 52 #0 Issues: Week 3

Having passed the halfway mark of DC’s New 52 Zero Month, I can pretty confidently say that all these “origins” aren’t quite as exciting or revelatory as I’d hoped. Mostly I’m just ready to get through them so we can get back to the real stories. That said, there were a few gems this week, some that were completely unexpected, that made my reading this week really enjoyable. Overall this was probably the most enjoyable week of #0 so far.

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Soliciting DC Comics: December 2012

Merry Christmas! Too soon? Not if you’re talking about the comic book industry. Yesterday DC rolled out previews for comics shipping this December. Oh man, do I love this time of year.

Watch the Throne

December brings artistic shifts and a major crossover between two of Geoff Johns’ books, Justice League and Aquaman. Throne of Atlantis  will see Ivan Reis, who helped launch Aquaman to critical acclaim, move over to Justice League. He will be replaced on Aquaman by the very capable Adrian Syaf. Rumor has it that after this 5-part crossover Johns will be leaving Aquaman for good. Will this event be Aquaman’s Sinestro Corps War? With talent this good I can only hope so. Oh, and Geoff? Can you please bring back the new Aqualad from Brightest Day? He was pretty cool.

It’s a Rotworld, After All

Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire’s Rotworld will hit its third chapter in December, and the awesome guest appearances just keep on coming. Issue #15 of Swamp Thing and Animal Man will feature appearances by Steel, Black Orchid, John Constantine, Beast Boy, Batman, and the inmates of Arkham Asylum. This thing hasn’t even started yet and I’m loving every second of it.

Superman R.I.P.

Issue #15 of Action Comics is set to be the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison’s run on the book, so you can bet it’s going to be pretty freaking crazy. The identity of the little man, the machinations of the Anti-Superman Army, all of it is coming to a head here. The future of the Superman franchise is a little murky after Grant’s departure, so drink ’em while you’ve got ’em.

Mandatory Check-In on the Green Lantern Books

Oh man, did you guys read the Green Lantern Annual? How about Green Lantern #0? Wasn’t that stuff awesome?! If you haven’t read them, or you did and you didn’t like them, I’m sorry about how miserable you must be all the time. In December the GL books will hit part 3 of “The Rise of the Third Army.” With that we have the Simon Baz, Earth’s new GL, meeting Guy Gardener, Kyle Rayner continuing to be the DC equivalent of the Last Airbender, Atrocitus confronting the demons of his past with some good old fisticuffs and napalm, and Guy Gardener losing it, “again” (if this means he’s going to become a Red Lantern again, I’ll be annoyed that it’s the third time in less than 2 years that it’s happened, but overjoyed because he looks so freaking cool as one). Also, I have to mention how glad I am than New Guardians has a new artist, and that Carol Ferris is completely clothed.

He Who Must Not Be Named

If you are as in to following comic industry news as I am, you might have heard about Rob Liefeld’s infamous Twitter flame-out a few weeks back. If not, or you’ve never even heard of Liefeld, let’s just leave it that way. All you need to know is he’s a cranky, somewhat unprofessional man who does not work for DC anymore. Because of that, expect the three books he was writing to get significantly better. Hawkman will now be scripted by Fabian Nicieza (though Liefeld still gets plotting credit…for now), Grifter will be taken over by Frank Tieri, the book’s co-writer, and Deathstroke will be helmed by none other than the indie sensation Justin Jordan, who is also writing the character over in Team 7. Oh, and they brought back Deathstroke’s cool new costume, the one that Rob Liefeld got rid of.

The Return of the New Gods (Nuff Said)

(Wonder Woman #15)

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Thoughts on the New 52 #0 Issues: Week 2

Last week saw the release of 14 #0 issues at DC. Of course I’m not crazy enough to read all of them, but here’s a few I did read. If you’re interested in hearing about the other books, there’s a great podcast I’ve discovered called Pop Culture Hound. The guys there are reviewing every one of the #0 issues this month, and a lot of the books I read this week were due to their recommendations. Here’s Week 1 and Week 2. Now click on for my thought on the New 52 #0 issues.

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The Final New 52 Power Ranking

This is it. It’s officially been one year since the launch of the New 52, which means it’s time for me to fully examine the initiative. Over the year I’ve rated each book I’ve read and compiled a top 10 list of my favorite books. I’ll be discussing the list, what I liked, and what I didn’t like. There’s a lot to be said, so let’s jump right in!

Top 10 Books

Ranking

Title

Average Score (Out of 10)

Original New 52 Ranking

1

Green Lantern

9.10

Batman

2

Swamp Thing

9.07

 I, Vampire

3

I, Vampire

9.04

 Animal Man

4

Batman

9.00

 Wonder Woman

5

Animal Man

8.80

 The Flash

6

Justice League

8.72

Green Lantern

7

Action Comics

8.52

Aquaman

8

Wonder Woman

8.45

 Green Lantern: New Guardians

9

Aquaman

8.40

 Action Comics

10

OMAC

8.26

 Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

When the New 52 launched, I read every single first issue and reviewed all of them. Of course, it was impossible to keep up that level of commitment, so after the first month I only read the books I truly enjoyed. As the months went on my list became more refined as I dropped some titles, some of which I later came back to. I began reading about 20 titles a month, with that number now closer to around 13. Of the titles in my original top 10 list, I am still following 7.

Green Lantern was the book that really got me into monthly comics. It’s the book I always look forward to the most month in and out and that has only become more true with a major upswing in quality post New 52. Unfortunately the other Green Lantern books have not fared as well.  Green Lantern: New Guardians had a sense of youthful wonder to it when it launched, but dragged on over the course of its year-long story arc. Year 2 of the title looks extremely promising with a new artist, new team mates, and a new mission for Kyle. The relaunch of Green Lantern Corps saw the return of Peter Tomasi to the title. Tomasi’s run on GLC from Sinestro Corps War through Blackest Night was absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately, Tomasi has failed to catch that same lighting, with two meandering story arcs that failed to give much of the character development the title was known for under his pen. Red Lanterns was the major newcomer to the GL family and it is also the worst book of the bunch. It’s a complete shame, as Atrocitus is a great character under creator Geoff Johns, and Peter Milligan is a very capable writer. The book is scatterbrained and decompressed to the extreme, with pitiful dialogue to boot. It’s just not an enjoyable read, as much as I wish it was. I must admit however that I enjoy Rankorr, a newly created Red Lantern from earth, and hope that he will play a greater role in the ongoing Green Lantern narrative.

Swamp Thing and Animal Man were two of the consistently best books on the stands. While Animal Man had the stronger characters and plot, Swamp Thing had better action and art. It’s really incredible the cord that Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have struck in crafting these two titles.

I, Vampire is a book that I was extremely surprised by. It is a book that is not afraid to do extremely unconventional things with its characters and defies a lot of the tropes you would expect to find in a vampire book. Definitely the most under appreciated gem at DC right now.

Scott Snyder won my heart with his run on Detective Comics pre-New 52, and came out of the gate strong with the first few issues of Batman. However, the Court of Owls story line ran a little long in the tooth and was greatly marred by a lackluster final issue. While overall it is one of the best books at DC, my disappointment in the Court of Owls arc and the $3.99 price tag have greatly hindered my interest in Snyder’s Batman.

The New 52’s flagship title had a rocky run in its first year. The opening arc was beautiful to look at, but a little lacking in character development. The loss of Jim Lee on art in the middle of the year hurt the book a bit, but better characterization and the addition of the Shazam back up feature bolstered the quality. The final four issue arc saw the return of Jim Lee and set up some extremely intriguing plot threads for the coming year.

Let’s get it out of the way, Grant Morrison’s Action Comics is no All Star Superman. However, the book has had some great moments. The first issue of the book was fantastic, showing an everyman Superman that many have clamored for. The tw0-issue interlude featuring the Legion and art by Andy Kubert was rife with classic Morrison creativity and love for silver age ideas not commonly found in the New 52. The one-off issue featuring the President Superman of Earth 23 was the best issue of the run so far. All in all this title has had a solid run that will wrap up in the not too distant future.

Wonder Woman was a book that I had several ups and downs with. I absolutely adored the first issue (it was my 4th favorite out of 52 books), but I found following issues to be slightly confusing and haphazardly plotted. Furthermore, the addition of Tony Akins as a fill-in artist on the title really hurt the book’s overall appear. I eventually dropped the book about 8 issues in.  However, the final cliffhanger of issue 12 caught my attention, causing me to return and catch up on what I had missed, and boy am I glad I did.

Aquaman is one of the best looking books at DC, but it is not Geoff John’s best work. The opening arc with the Trench was refreshingly short and hinted at a typical Johnsian, slow burning epic. The Other story-arc, which as still yet to wrap, was decompressed to the point where I literally could not remember what had happened in the previous issue. The Others themselves have hardly been developed to the point where they can be appreciated as individual characters. This was an amazing book in the first half of the year, but the second half was not so kind.

Finally, I want to mention O.M.A.C., a book that I enjoyed very much and was sad to see canceled. I’ve said all I want to say in earlier post, so let’s just have a moment of silence for the book……

And with that, I give you my final New 52 Power Ranking. If I do continue to do power rankings they will be inclusive of all publishers. Check back this week when I’ll be posting my New 52 Year One Cheers and Jeers!

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Thoughts on the New 52 #0 Issues: Week 1

This month marks one year since DC’s launch of the New 52 and to celebrate, DC is turning the clock back. This month, (almost) all the New 52 books will tell stories that take place before the beginning of the New 52 and are renumbered to #0 to signify this. While I’m not going to go crazy and read all of the books like I did for the launch of the New 52, an event like this does make me want to read a few books more than I normally would. Here are some thoughts on 7 of the books released this week.

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Review: Green Lantern Annual #1

Even after 7 years of fantastic Green Lantern stories, Geoff Johns, a.k.a. the Wizard of Oa, still has curtains left to pull back.

Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver and Pete Woods

• The conclusion of “THE REVENGE OF BLACK HAND”!
• Everything changes here! EVERYTHING!

(Warning, some plot points will be discussed so SPOILER WARNING is in effect)

For once, that solicitation tagline isn’t hyperbole. This annual issue of Green Lantern picks up from where issue #12 left and blows the current status quo out of the water. Geoff Johns brings in frequent collaborator Ethan Van Sciver, the man responsible for redefining the look of Hal Jordan for a new generation, to pencil this issue. Because of this, it’s very easy to try and compare this issue to 2007’s Sinestro Corps Special. Both issues were oversized, were drawn by Van Sciver, and act as the opening shot to the next major GL storyline. Only time will tell if Rise of the Third Army stacks up against Sinestro Corps War, but it is a very promising start.

This prologue builds heavily on plot threads carried over from Blackest Night, Brightest Day, and War of the Green Lanterns. Johns has had the Guardians of the Universe, the creators of the Green Lantern Corps, on one way descent into madness and despotism and this is where the crap hits the fan. The Guardians decide that the only way to rid the universe of chaos is to eliminate free will. This, first and foremost, requires the destruction of the universe’s greatest embodiment of will, the Green Lantern Corps. The ends that the Guardians are prepared to go to meet this goal are disturbing, the means by which they achieve it are shocking, and the overall implications are terribly exciting. Oh, and yeah, that cover isn’t just for show.

I can’t get to far into a plot discussion without spoiling the issue, but here’s a few things that this issue brings to the table: the resolution of the Revenge of Black Hand arc (for now), the first glimpse of the Chamber of Shadows and the First Lantern that have been teased since War of the Green Lanterns, the fates of Hal Jordan and Sinestro, and the Guardians going all out crazy.

There’s not much more that I can say about the art other than it is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Ethan Van Sciver on Green Lantern. The epilogue, drawn by Pete Woods, was suitably disturbing and executed extremely well.

There’s a sense that Geoff Johns is nearing the close of his epic Green Lantern saga. The desperate tone, the escalation of the Guardian’s tactics, the twinge of hope in the form of (Highlight for Spoliers!!!) Hal and Sinestro’s rings, all give an “Empire Strikes Back” feel that can only lead to a third act upheaval where the good guy triumphs. Then again, I thought that Johns would leave after Blackest Night ended and here he is, over two years later, still plugging away. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what Johns has up his sleeve with the borg-like Third Army and the new Green Lantern Baz. This is an exciting time to be a Green Lantern fan and a great time to jump in.

Rating: 9.5- This is consistently one of the best super-hero comics out there. Read it.

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