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.
Animal Man #0
This was a pretty standard origin issue, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. We got to see the Animal Man that came directly before Buddy, as well as the character’s grizzly end at the hands of Anton Arcane. My opinion of Steve Pugh’s art is still a little mixed. When he’s drawing crazy things like the characters from the Red or the Rot it looks incredible. However, when he is drawing more mundane fare it’s, well, more mundane. I still haven’t quite gotten over the loss of Travel Foreman on the book, but the fact that Lovern Kindzierski is still coloring the book helps a lot. I really enjoyed the tweaks Jeff Lemire added to Buddy’s origin to make it all fit in with the mythology he and Scott Snyder have created.
Earth 2 #0
This was probably my least favorite issue of Earth 2 to date, and it’s almost entirely due to the art. I’m not one to call art bad because it’s clearly subjective, but this just wasn’t for me. The story was fairly interesting, as we learned a bit more about the 8 wonders, especially Terry Sloane who appeared in issue #2, and where all those giant craters came from. This issue laid a lot of groundwork for future plots and revelations, but it just wasn’t enough to make a solid single issue.
Green Lantern #0
Simon Baz is my favorite Green Lantern. Is it a bit too early to say that? Yeah, it probably is. Nevertheless, Geoff Johns has managed to masterfully create and introduce a new character into his sprawling GL saga in just one issue. While some will balk at the reliance on 9/11 in the character’s background or the stereotypical story beats, I for one really enjoyed the character’s journey through the issue. Just because something is stereotypical doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant. A man who is falsely accused of terrorism because of his ethnicity is the perfect candidate for a hero that is meant to overcome great fear. It was also great to see Doug Mankhe handling more down-to-earth scenes, such as Baz’s incarceration. He’s an incredibly versatile artist and this issue proves that. This was by far my favorite issue of the week.
Phantom Stranger #0
After Green Lantern, this is the book I was most looking forward to this week. I’ve been really intrigued by the character ever since his appearances in Justice League #6 and The New 52 FCBD Special. Overall I liked this issue. The early part of the book was basically a rehash of the FCBD special from the Stranger’s viewpoint. From that point on the issue moved at a brisk pace, but the narrative felt a little detached. A major DC character makes his New 52 debut, but it happens so quickly and with so little gravitas it feels like a wasted opportunity. The book definitely has a solid hook, so I will be back for more.
Stormwatch was one of the New 52 books I was looking forward to the most at launch, but it ended up being a pretty big disappointment. This issue features a completely different creative team than the one from #1, and is actually one of my favorite books of the week. Peter Milligan firmly ties the mythology of this book in with Demon Knights, another title whose wagon I fell off of not long into the New 52. This issue is great for fans of the Authority, as Adam One comes back to show Jenny Quantum visionaries of her preceding lives, and yes, Jenny Sparks is in there. This issue is super teasy, and could be laying down threads to be picked up in the upcoming Trinity War. The art was also really good. If this team stays on Stormwatch and the plot stays this interesting I might have to start picking it up again.
Swamp Thing #0
The Yang to Animal Man’s Yin, this book hits all the same notes as its sister title, refitting Alec Holland’s origin in the New 52 while also showing us why Anton Arcane is the baddest guy around. There aren’t any major revelations here, but there is a nice scene that picks up on the 1897 Canadian Swamp Thing from Animal Man Annual #1. This issue features fantastic art by Kano, who I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future. Along with artists like Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy, and Francesco Francavilla, Swamp Thing is flat-out one of the best looking books out there.
Worlds’ Finest #0
If Kevin Maguire was the full-time artist on this book, I would be really tempted to read it more often. This issue works as a great companion to Earth 2 for those who aren’t following Worlds’ Finest (like me). Here we get the story of Robin’s (Huntress) first encounter with Supergirl (Powergirl) and it isn’t under good circumstances. Before that, we get to see Batman, Catwoman, and Robin all interacting as a family, which is really awesome. We also get to see Superman and Supergirl together and get some insight on the events of the Apokolips War. This was a really solid issue that adds to the overall mythology of Earth 2, and looks great while doing it.
I still haven’t gotten to read Action Comics #0, so unfortunately I can’t talk about it. I might throw it in with next week’s batch, which doesn’t look nearly as exciting as this week’s. Check back as I look at more #0 issues, and post my final New 52 Power Ranking covering the entire first year of the New 52!