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.
DC Universe Presents #0
I love the idea for DCU Presents #0. An anthology books that features stories from the first wave of cancelled books is genius and hearkens back to DC’s Cancelled Comics Cavalcade. Even so, I’ll admit I didn’t read the entire issue. I came for the O.M.A.C. and Mr. Terrific stories. Since those were the first two stories featured I had a hard time motivating myself to move past them, especially when the next story in line is Liefeld’s Hawk and Dove coda. That said, the two stories I came for were wonderfully fun and insightful. O.M.A.C. features the return of the original creative team of Dan Didio and Keith Giffen, and oh I have missed this book so much. The duo give us the origin of Brother Eye and the events that lead up to O.M.A.C. #1. It’s a short little story, but it features great art and dialogue. Plus, the team makes the O.M.A.C. themed title gag yet, “Origins Matter After Cancellation.” Genius. The Mr. Terrific story, on the other hand, is written by James Robinson instead of original series writer Eric Wallace. The reasoning for this is Mr. Terrific’s recent appearance and upcoming role in Robinson’s Earth 2. This story shows us a bit more about Mr. Terrific’s transdimensional tech. There are some heavy indications that there may be far fewer universes in the New 52 multiverse, 9 to be exact. This, with the specific mentioning of “Asgardians” may be DC’s attempt to align their multiversal structure into a more manageable Norse-like cosmology. There’s also a big twist at the end of the story that casts a scene from the original series in a new light, and has major implications for stories in Earth 2. I would love to see DC Universe Presents keep this anthology style in future issues.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #0
Now this is what I’m talking about! Aaron Kuder has saved this book for me. His art looks so much like Frank Quitely’s! It’s the best! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy Tyler Kirkham’s art, but he’s had trouble keeping up with the monthly schedule. New Guardians started out as a very promising addition to the Green Lantern family, but faltered in terms of story and art as the year went on. This #0 issue doesn’t actually tell an origin story, introduce a new character, or reveal any mysteries, making it essentially issue #13. Instead, we pick up right after the events of Green Lantern Annual #1. Carol goes looking for Hal but finds Kyle instead. When the two see Hal and Sinestro’s battle with Black Hand they go to help out, but as we already know, it’s too late. This sets up an exciting new status quo for the book, with Carol and Kyle out to find and save Hal. Kyle must also master all 7 lights of the emotional spectrum in order to combat the rise of the Third Army. Oh, and Carol is no longer a super-slut in her Star Sapphire costume. This is a concept I can get behind.
Justice League #0
Geoff Johns finally gives payoff for the Shazam back up feature that ran in Justice League #7-#11, and in doing so he gives us the single best issue of Justice League to date. And it didn’t even feature the Justice League! This issue finally shows Billy taking up the mantle of Shazam, and what he actually does with his new-found power isn’t exactly what you would expect. Gary Frank is one of my all time favorite artists and his stuff with Johns are some of my most loved stories. I would love for the pair to be on a Shazam ongoing series, but the likelihood of that is extremely low. This issue also featured a short back up feature with art by Ethan Van Sciver, featuring more of Pandora and the official New 52 debut of the Question. This is all gearing up for Trinity War, which I cannot wait for. The quality of this issue was top-notch, probably the best #0 issue so far.
This issue depicts the New 52 origin of Dick Grayson, the first Robin. There are a few minor changes made for the sake of making the origin more contemporary, but for the most part it is very similar to what we’ve seen before. The art by Eddy Barrows is very strong and kinetic, similar in style to the work of Ivan Reis. A strong issue for fans of Nightwing.
I checked this issue out on a whim, but it actually turned out to be really interesting. We get more information about Krypton’s last days in the New 52, this time from the point of view of Supergirl’s father Zor-El. The story is an interesting contrast to the classic story of Jor-El preparing to save his son by sending him to Earth in a rocket ship. The art is bright, stylized, and very appealing. The most interesting part about this issue was the appearance of the present day Superboy on Krypton before it’s demise, a mystery that I’m sure will be expanded on in the future. The Superman family of books has been in disarray of late, but stories like this will help it get back on track.
Sword of Sorcery #0
This is another of the New 52 third wave books, and honestly the one I had the least initial interest for. The book begins with a cliche loner girl story that then transforms into an even more well-worn Disney-esque princess coming of age story. The art by Aaron Lopresti was fantastic and I would love to see more of his portrayal of Gemworld, the mystical land where the story takes place. However, the story itself is pretty hokey. The back up feature is a modernized retelling of Beowulf, but guess what? It’s happening in the future! That means that Beowulf comes out of a stasis pod into an apocalytic future that looks a lot like the world of the original Beowulf. Other than incredible art (with J.H. Williams III style layouts) by Jesus Saiz, this comes off as a throw away story at first. However, I can’t help but notice the similarities between Beowulf and well know DC character Deathstroke. Could they be the same characters? Could this story have implications for future DC stories? It’s highly doubtful, but it’s fun to speculate.
Wonder Woman #0
After issue #12’s stunning cliffhanger ending revealing the return of Orion of the New Gods, I’m officially on this title for the long haul. However, before we can get back into that awesome story, we have to have a #0 issue detailing Wonder Woman’s origins. Writer Brian Azzarello has some fun with this by calling back to Golden Age Wonder Woman stories in theme and style. Artist Cliff Chiang also uses a retro style with fantastic results. There’s not a ton to take away from this issue, other than the reveal that Wonder Woman was trained by Ares, God of War. It will be interesting to see how the two interact in future storylines, now that this past connection has been established. This issue is mostly handled tongue-in-cheek, but there are some powerful moments and great artwork that make it worth reading.