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.

Batman #0

This issue was all kinds of awesome. Taking place about 6 years into the past of the New 52, the lead story by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo shows Bruce Wayne in his pre-Batman days as he prepares to mount his crusade against crime. We get an introduction to the Red Hood Gang, an organization which was home to the Joker before that fateful fall that produced comic’s most infamous villain. With the Joker returning in the series’ next story arc I wouldn’t be surprised if the Joker was actually one of the Red Hood members we saw in this issue. There are some really tense moments in this story, such as the conversation between Bruce and Gordon, which was made even more enjoyable by the smart use of one of Bruce’s gadgets. The back-up story by James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke shows what the first, second, and third Robins were up to 5 years ago. While it’s hard as a long-time fan to wrap my head around the idea of 3 (really 4) Robins in 5 years time, I’m willing to wait and see how the gaps get filled in. Between Capullo and Clark’s art this was a stunningly good-looking issue. The defining moment of this issue is when all three Robins look up into the (k)night sky in awe and see the batsignal looming overhead. I fell off the Snyder Batwagon around the end of the Court of Owls, but when a book is this good it’s hard to not pick it up.

Batman and Robin #0

This issue details the origin of Damian Wayne, fourth Robin and son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul. This issue starts at Damian’s birth and builds up to his first appearance in Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. Artist Patrick Gleason even depicts Damian’s first appearance and line as it was seen in Batman #655. In between, we see Damian growing up, killing a bunch of things, and trying to learn the truth of who his father his. We see how twister his relationship with Talia actually is and the harsh environment that shaped him into who was in his first appearance. This was mostly a retread for long time readers of Morrison’s Batbooks. The art was good, and the scene where Damian kills an army of ninjas with smg’s and cuts the wings off a Man-Bat while free-falling was pretty incredible. However, something must be said about the timeline presented here. I’m not a stickler for continuity. I can accept that in a shared universe made up over 50 books being written by nearly as many writers that there will be hiccups in continuity. That said, if Bruce didn’t become Batman until 6 years ago and Bruce and Talia conceived Damian after Bruce was Batman, then I have no idea how Damian could be 10 years old. Six of Damian’s birthdays are depicted in this book, the last of which being his 10th and taking place a year and a half ago, DC time. That means that the scene where Damian discovered Bruces cape and cowl would’ve been seven and a half years ago, which is a year and a half before Bruce even became Batman. Even if you make the case that Damian could’ve been aged artificially since his birth wasn’t natural, that little continuity gaff makes the everything impossible to reconcile. My answer to this is, because comics. Do I wish everything lined up perfectly? Yes. Do I wish DC wasn’t pushing this whole five-year timeline thing? Yes. But it’s the way it is and there’s no need for it to ruin my enjoyment of the story, as so many on the internet are want to let it. Comics should be fun, not historically accurate accounts of fictional characters. I’m sure the next crisis event will fix it all anyway.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #0

I was really interested in DC’s version of Frankenstein at the beginning of the New 52. You have a character created by Grant Morrison, written by Jeff Lemire, with a solid hook and great art. Unfortunately the book never really clicked with me enough to justify buying it on a regular basis and when Lemire left the book to be replaced by Matt Kindt I just wrote the book off completely. Not that I had anything against Kindt, he was just an unknown to me. Reading this issue reminds me of all the crazy ideas this book throws at the reader, this time in the form of soul powered engines, a glowing squid/octopus monster that lives under a tree, and an army of steampunk freaks. There’s a lot of great stuff for sci-fi fans in this book. One of the things I loved about Frankenstein from the beginning was the sketchy art by Alberto Ponticello. Unfortunately this issue features a different colorist than the one from earlier in the run and I didn’t like it as much. With Frankenstein set to cross into the Rotworld storyline in Animal Man and Swamp Thing I might be about to give this book a second chance.

Green Lantern Corps #0

This issue wasn’t half as revelatory as I’d hoped it would be. Instead, it was a fun, if not slightly by the numbers, recounting of Guy Gardner’s New 52 origin story. We get to see Guy interact with his family, especially his grumpy old father, which is a plot point I wouldn’t mind seeing Tomasi pick up on in the future. We also see Guy get his ring, go through his first major mission, get his badge, and meet Hal Jordan. While it was nice to get some concrete background for Guy in the New 52 this issue was a little bland, a problem that his plagued GLC since the relaunch.

Resurrection Man #0

Bugh, this was a mistake. That Francesco Francavilla cover was so inviting. I really do admire writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, they’ve done some really awesome cosmic books at Marvel and DC, a genre that is terribly under represented. However, this book just isn’t my cup of tea. Granted I haven’t been following the book since the first issue, but if the recap of events found in this issue is an indication I haven’t missed anything I would really enjoy anyway. My biggest disappointment came from the realization that the angel character in this issue is a female dressed in business attire named Suriel, not the awesome angel Zauriel from Grant Morrison’s JLA that I thought I heard the pop culture hound guys mention. A rushed plot, some spotty sci-fi/horror concepts, and wonky dialogue made this a pain to get through.

Team 7 #0

I really want to like this book. Writer Justin Jordan is has made a big name for himself as an indie creator with is recent Image book, “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode,” and is exactly the kind of talent that DC should be recruiting. Also, this book is set in the time of the Justice League’s first appearance, meaning this is a sort of “The Secret Origins of the New 52” and features a lot of fan favorite characters like Deathstroke, Grifter, Black Canary, and Amanda Waller. Even with all that going for it, this book is hot 90’s mess that reeks of editorial mandate. I’m just going to chalk it up to first issue blues, because this book has an unreal amount of potential. It’s also one that where the endpoint is basically already known, with the Team having disbanded under bad circumstances and most of the team member on the run from various people and organizations, giving it a Revenge of the Sith style sense of dread for what is coming next.

Week 1 Bonus Book: Action Comics #0

I finally got my hands on Action Comics #0, and it was great! Ben Oliver’s art was a little jarring at first, but over the course of the issue I came to really appreciate his style. It works a lot better here than in Batwing. This is a heart warming little story about what Superman really means to all of us. While most would call this a filler issue (which would be hard to argue with), Morrison does pepper some fun details and Easter eggs throughout the issue, such as Mr. Myxzptlk’s signature purple bowler hat. The back up story by Sholly Fisch and CAFU shows the origin of one of the members of the Anti-Superman Army from issues #4-5, as well as that character’s ties to the “Blake Farm Ghost,” A.K.A Captain Comet. There’s only 4 more issues in Morrison’s story, and the pieces are starting to come together. I truly believe this will be viewed as another great Morrison run once all is said and done.

And that’s all I have for today, check back later in the week and I’ll be talking about Week 3 of DC’s New 52 #0 issues.

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