Tuesday, November 22, 2011

52 Pick-Up Pick Up

5 months ago Devon and Graig did their very best to pre-judge DC's New 52. Now, they've had the chance to read (or at least read about) all the titles that have come out, as well as take a peek 3 months down the road), so they're putting in their 47,544 cents in about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Week 1

Action Comics

Devon: Loving this one. I love the fact that even after All-Star Superman, Morrison still has something to say about the character. Morrison's taken Superman back to his 1930's "New Deal" roots, making him a champion for the "little man." The more things change, the more Superman stays relevant. Damned inspired pairing Morrison with Rags Morales. Great stuff.

Graig: Like Byrne's reboot in '86, Morrison has tweaked the character enough to make Clark fresh again, not just as a template for others to run with but as whole cloth. Morrison, more than any other writer in comics, thinks not just about the characters, not just about their legacy, but about their very meaning, such that he's able to rebuild Superman in a drastic manner and yet never lose the sense that it is, indeed Superman. Also like back in '86, there's the sense of building the character for a new generation. Gee, y'think I like it?

Animal Man

Devon: Did NOT expect to love this one as much as I have. Lemire's doing some incredibly smart things on this book. Really, really intrigued by what's going on with his daughter. Definitely "all-in" on this book.

Graig: Speaking of Morrison, even 20 years after he last touched the character, it's still got to be intimidating working in his shadow. But Jeff Lemire embraces Morrison's legacy while forging his own path with Buddy Baker and family. It's an odd - at times unsettling - but tremendous read so far.


Devon: I honestly haven't read it. I just can't bring myself to do it. I know it's Gail Simone but even with her there; it feels forced. It just feels wrong. I don't believe she can be just anyone anymore, not even Batgirl. This comic has shown me I'm not a Barbara Gordon fan. I'm an Oracle fan.

Graig: While I've finally gotten over the fact that the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series was forced into a premature end, the Barbara Gordan-as-Batgirl revival has proven a poor consolation.


Devon: Read the first two and they weren't bad. Heck, they were enjoyable. The thing is, this feels like it should've been presented as a mini-series and branded as Batman Inc: Batwing. 

Graig: For some reason I hadn't mustered up any enthusiasm for this series, but I am starting to get curious about this mystery of The Kingdom, "Africa's greatest super team". This may be something I need to pick up in the dollar bins a few years down the road.

Detective Comics

Devon: When did nailing a face to a wall become suspenseful? Movies like "Saw" have lowered the bar on what we think suspense is. Suspense is Hitchcock; Daniel's 'Tec feels like wannabe HBO pilot starring some iteration of Batman. Dropped after 2 issues.

Graig: So like "STARZ presents: Batman"? I've heard in almost equal numbers people praises and put downs this series. But most of the people on the put-down side are people like myself who have never had any enthusiasm for Tony Daniel's work and, also like myself, aren't reading the book. Ignorance is bliss?

Green Arrow

Graig: Neil Gaiman and Mike Mignola. Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. Grant Morrison and Adam Hughes. Oh, don't mind me. I'm just trying to think of writer/artist combos that would actually make me give a shit about this Green Arrow series.

Devon: Ha! Agreed.

Hawk and Dove

Devon: Once again, I'd like to thank inker Karl Kesel for teaching me what an inker does. Kesel was Liefeld's first inker and made the guy's work look gorgeous. It's been downhill ever since. And... and this book takes place in my hometown and where I still live, Washington, DC. Rob, I know there's a shorthand but damn, DC is more than The Washington Monument and The Capitol. You don't draw feet and you don't draw neighborhoods.

Graig: I can't even think of a single writer partnered with Rob Liefeld that would entice me to buy this book. If you like him, more power to you, but that is officially the worst drawing of Batman I've ever seen. It's making me nauseous looking at it.

Devon: Well, Sterling Gates has already been dropped from the title. Sooo...

Justice League International

Devon: Meh. Just nothing there for me. From what I've heard, it's not that good.

Graig: Were this book in the old DCU I would be more enticed, but in a sense that we're starting from scratch with most of these characters in this title, I can't be bothered. Also I think Justice League: Generation Lost soured me on the whole idea of the JLI.

Men of War

Graig: This book is, schmaltzy back-up feature aside, damn good. It's a shame that writer Ivan Brandon is parting ways with the title, it really is.

Devon: Huh. I didn't know that. I just couldn't figure out what this book was supposed to be. A war book, yes but half the book was about fighting super-villains or something and then the other half was about soldiers in Afghanistan, I think. There was just too much of a disconnect there.

Graig: I can see that. The back-up feature was really not a good idea. The main story is really about a grunt's eye view into the superhero world, and how all those beyond-reality powers affects their job.


Devon: Didn't bother. It just looked... weird. Not even Kirby-weird. Just weird.

Graig: As expected from Dan Didio's Outsiders run, this book is fairly poorly written, and yet the Giffen injection tempers the cringe factor with a hell of a lot of fun. I'm so torn.

Static Shock

Devon: I read the first and it was just OK. Also, it's never good to hear the writer's leaving while you're reading the second. Artist Scott McDaniel is the interim writer so there's some continuity, writing-wise but this book's already in trouble. Hopefully, new writer Marc Bernardin can find a trajectory for this title.

Graig: Outside of the six-issue Xombi series prior to the reboot there hasn't been a well executed story with the Milestone characters since they've been integrated into the DCU. This certainly isn't doing it, and I'm certain Scott McDaniel is the wrong writer and artist for Static. That said, I'm sticking with it because Static deserves to have an ongoing series, indefinitely. So I'm going to be one of those fans. Just this once.


Graig: Paul Cornell's relaunch of Stormwatch kicked off as if it had been an ongoing series for years, with not much introduction to the characters or lead into the story. But two issues later it's starting to come together.

Devon: Enjoying it. There's a lot going on and this could actually hurt this book. Like Graig said, it kicked off like it's been a series for years, making it not the greatest book for readers ready to try something new.

Swamp Thing

Devon: Loving this one! Beautifully drawn and feels more in line with the Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing and that's not unwelcome.

Graig: I haven't been reading it but I think, like Lemire is doing with Animal Man, Scott Snyder is embracing the past while forging forward. I also think Snyder and Lemire are conspiring to thread their two books together, so I'll probably get it in trade to catch up.

Week 2

Batman and Robin

Graig: Devon said in a recent review that Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are firing on all cylinders with Bruce and Damian (which they didn't so much with Dick and Damian pre-reboot) so I'm feeling more positive about this series than I was to start. I'll give it a shot starting with the next storyline.

Devon: This has truly my favorite of ALL 52 titles. Tomasi and Gleason are making me fans of Damian Wayne. He's a born killer and was for maybe 80% of his life. (He's ten.) His father, Bruce Wayne, is trying to temper that and something like that just doesn't go away. The results have been a joy to behold. Just absolutely love where they're taking this.


Graig: Any hesitation I had about a Greg Rucka-less Batwoman series dissipated within 3 pages of issue 1. Even if the story were crap, which mercifully it's the opposite, J.H. Williams' art alone continues makes it a must-read. But when Amy Reeder takes over on alternating art chores, Williams and W. Hayden Blackman have proven they have more than a solid handle on Kate Kane (plus Cameron Chase!)

Devon: Man, the minute I saw Chase and Mister Bones on the page, I knew I was home!
What can you say about J.H. Williams? Batwoman is a design clinic and his writing is as good as what was going on with Rucka. The whole thing with kidnapping of children is very intriguing. Very happy to have this book back on the stands.


Devon: I want to love this book but I just don't know if I have the energy I had 20 years ago to be a Deathstroke fan. It's like, "Look, he's doing something bad-ass," when I'm really learning to enjoy naps. I think I may have outgrown the character.

Graig: I was surprised to see how good the art on this series looks. However, just like Devon, I officially burned out on Deathstroke towards the end of his first series in the '90's and have never recovered. And that new wardrobe is gawdawful (I imagine it's a pain in the ass to illustrate page after page too).

Demon Knights

Devon: I like this book. It's intriguing with a weird energy that make you want to read it.

Graig: This was one of those New 52 books which I had no interest in, yet for some reason or another picked it up and, in spite of myself, enjoyed it. It's not perfect, but I quite like the cast, and the Etrigan/Madame Xanadu/Jason Blood love triangle is ingenious.

Frankenstein: Agents of S.H.A.D.E.

Graig: Frankenstein, Lady Frankenstein, Creature Commandos, Ray Palmer and his micro-city headquarters, Father Time now an Umbrella Academy kid, Monster Planet.. this book is fucking awesome. It's just a shame I don't like the art all that much. Let's vie for a Frankenstein, Hellboy, Atomic Robo three-way team-up.

Devon: That would be AWESOME! I admit I stopped at one, simply because I was like, "This is gonna make a great trade paperback."

Green Lantern

Graig: As much as I would like to hate on this book (because I hate Hal Jordan), I really like what Johns is doing here (and actually what he's subversively been doing all along) which is turning Green Lantern into a book about Sinestro. Plus Doug Mahnke is just slaughtering it with his art. That guy is so good it makes me want to punch things.

Devon: Despite myself, I'm enjoying this. Johns is doing this thing where he's proving Sinestro's the ultimate Green Lantern and that Hal Jordan sucks at being Hal Jordan and that just makes me laugh.


Devon: I tried. I really did. I just couldn't get into the whole Daemonite fighting thing again.

Graig: Were this a movie, it would be a Jason Statham vehicle. Take that for what you will (and I'm not saying Statham is the right casting choice for Grifter - that'd be Josh Hollaway) but that's just the type of story this is. It appears CAFU is moving over to Blackhawks and Scott Clark is coming aboard, which may or may not impact my overall enjoyment level of the series. We'll see.

Legion Lost

Devon: Never was a Legion fan. Sorry.

Graig: A few years back I went through a "Legion" period, wherein I read (in the approximate of) 300 Legion of Super-Heroes/Legionnaires/Legion Lost comics in the span of a year, and reading the ongoing(s) ever since. Before that I had read, maybe, 10 Legion books in total over a 20 year span. I think I'm returning to that.

Mister Terrific

Devon: This book has everything against it: The character's origins are decidedly pre "DC 52." It has a writer no one's really heard of and initially, had three different artists scheduled in its first three issues. Well, they did manage to find an artist for the first three issues but he wasn't the guy you want to debut a book with. Also, one of the "draws" of this book is that it features Karen Starr, the former Power Girl. It just does nothing but put people off to see her not herself in this new universe.

Graig: Terrific: those covers by J.G. Jones. Not Terrific: everything else. It's a damn shame.

Red Lanterns

Devon: Hey, kids! COMICS!

Graig: 5 months ago, Devon said: "Ed Benes on art? Even though this book is about rage-filled aliens, somehow, we're gonna get an ass-shot out of this." If only. Instead we got a scantily clad women seductively posing under a blood-vomit shower. In my head this reads as a negative, but I'm sure some will read that as a good thing.

Resurrection Man

Devon: Man, the artist is great and the writing is solid. Better than I expected.

Graig: I enjoy this book on a level that makes me regularly question my objectivity towards it. I think it's friggin' great, but I'm not 100% certain that it is as great as I think it is.

Suicide Squad

Graig: While this book would be 10 times better were Marco Rudy the regular series artist as originally solicited, it's actually been surprisingly good even without. Adam Glass has adopted many of the elements that made John Ostrander's Suicide Squad and Gail Simone's Secret Six work while still injecting a few new ones of his own. It's still more visceral than smart entertainment, but the seeds of good characterization and team dynamics have been firmly planted.

Devon: I could not disagree more. Evrything in this book feels entirely arbitrary. From the criminal's motivations to the characterization; nothing makes sense. This book's just a total waste.

Hey, we disagreed on something!

Graig: Whoa, wasn't expecting that. Coming soon on Second Printing, Graig and Devon battle over Suicide Squad... rap battle...

Devon: Can I be Ghostface Killah?


Graig: I hear many, many people are surprised by this book, which, in turn, has surprised me. The art, actually, looks quite lovely, but I think the Teen Titans connection is putting me off.

Devon: OK, we agreed again.

Graig: Phew... Can we still do the Suicide Squad rap battle?

Week 3


Devon: Such a great book. Scott Snyder is expanding on the world of Gotham. I've always held Gotham is as much a character in Batman as anything else so as an unabashed Gotham fan, I'm absolutely in heaven.

Graig: I flat-out loved what Grant Morrison did on Batman, but I honestly am enjoying Scott Snyder's work (previously on Detective Comics, and now here) even more. This story is shaping up to be epic, yet personal. And Greg Capullo... man, that guy is talented, something I'd have never known had he not escaped the McFarlane gutter.

Birds of Prey

Devon: I don't know when I stopped caring about BoP but it happened. This feels more like the recently cancelled Gotham City Sirens than Birds so this doesn't help things much.

Graig: Birds of Prey has always been a back-burner title for me, one which I'll pick up if I'm running low on things to read, but also one I'm quick to drop when I'm reading too much. Status quo.

Blue Beetle

Devon: It's not a bad book but it just feels sort of unnecessary and trying to cater to a Blue Beetle audience that never really was there to begin with.

Graig: Can't shake the feeling that I've been here before. Like Devon said, it's not a bad book, but it seems like Tony Bedard is just rephrasing the last Blue Beetle series.

Captain Atom

Devon: The problem with Captain Atom is that I just keep wanting him to go all Dr. Manhattan on The DC Universe. That'd be cool.

Graig: Oh, totally. Instead he's just a Firestorm clone here.
Before the reboot, JT Krul had returned the Teen Titans to an excellence it hadn't seen since the late-1980's, so I know he's not a bad writer. Yet, this is dreadful storytelling and characterization. It's like the title was fobbed on him and he has no idea what to do with it. Freddie Williams II has adopted a new art style which is actually quite incredible, so it's just unfortunate he's not provided with the copy to compliment it.


Graig: Ignoring the sex hullabaloo, I'm usually not all that interested in Catwoman unless a writer can make me interested in Catwoman. I don't dislike Judd Winick like some people do, but he's just not going to entice me to read. Guillem March, on the other hand...

Devon: I've really been enjoying this book. It's got a weird energy to it. Issue three's ending shocked me by actually being... good.

DC Universe Presents

Devon: I sort of burned out on Deadman after Blackest Night.

Graig: We are agreed yet again! Deadman used to be one of my favourite guest-star characters. Geoff Johns' thrusting of him into the spotlight in Brightest Day (and now his high profile New DCU appearances, not to mention a relationship with Dove... wtf?) has killed most of that enthusiasm.
Issue 6 kicks off the New DCU Challengers of the Unknown, which intrigues me more. I look forward to see what else gets a revival before this title is canceled.

Green Lantern Corps

Graig: I think I've just overdosed on Green Lantern stuff in the past few years and don't have much interest in the peripheral series. Sorry John. Sorry Guy. Sorry Kilowog. Sorry G'nort.

Devon: Sorry Peter Tomasi. At least John Stewart's in this GL Corps series.

Justice League

Devon: Subtlety need not apply to this Justice League title. Not loving it but not disliking it either. It's like Kool-Aid, it has no sort of value but when you're thirsty, it's there.

Graig: Man there is some clunky, clunky writing in this book. In Green Lantern we get Geoff Johns in top form, and over in Justice League is about as bad as I've ever seen his writing get.

Legion of Super-Heroes

Devon: All I can think is that I'll have to say I've never been a Legion fan, twice.

Graig: The first issue of this book was so bad that I've literally sworn off the Legion of Super-Heroes. Okay, not literally as I've been suckered into the Star Trek/Legion crossover, which itself isn't great but it is ridiculous and therefore worth paying some attention to.


Devon: Great artist, Nightwing and it's just sort of there. I was hoping for something. It's intangible but this Nightwing title just doesn't have whatever it is I'm looking for. I have the third issue but haven't been able to get to it. Hopefully, it'll be better than the last.

Graig: I like the story Kyle Higgins is telling, and he's got a good handle on Dick Grayson, but his execution isn't close to perfect. It's not Justice League-level clunky but it does get ham-handed at times. Eddie Barrows' richly detailed artwork helps it along nicely though.

Red Hood and the Outlaws

Graig: Jason Todd, Roy Harper and Starfire. Written by Scott Lobdell, art by Kenneth Rockafort. So... what about this is supposed to attract me as a reader, exactly?

Devon: Ha! I'm enjoying the hell out of this. It's just a ridiculous comic. It's got two former promiscuous kid sidekicks teaming with a promiscuous alien princess. They shoot things, visit monasteries and trip on their own memories. All done with incredible art. What's not to love?


Devon: No real surprises in this comic. It's just Supergirl. Nothing wrong with that.

Graig: If I had to pick from all the surprises, this would be my biggest surprise. Something about the simplicity of storytelling in this book is absolutely clicking right with me, to the point that I'm enjoying this as much as I'm enjoying any book in the new 52.

Wonder Woman
Devon: Man, this one's ACES. If you liked Azz's 100 Bullets, you'll find a lot to love here. The gods are petty and vile things always vying for more power and ruining whatever come into contact with them and Wonder Woman refuses to be another pawn. Love it! Cliff Chiang is doing the work of his life. Second favorite book of the new launch.

Graig: Congrats Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, you've made me care about Wonder Woman again. That's no small feat.

Week 4

All-Star Western

Graig: I don't know why I'm not reading this. It seems like it should be something I'm reading. Jonah Hex and an Arkham descendant in a buddy action-western. Why am I not reading this?

Devon: If I told you writers Palmiotti and Gray are setting up the basis for Batman's future bad-ass-ness using Jonah Hex as a precursor, would that help? They are with the man who'll found Arkham Asylum as Hex's second. Add to this, a secret society based on The Crime Bible (heavily featured in the adventures of Batwoman and The Question) and the machinations of a certain Mayor Cobblepot and I'm so geeked to find out where this is all going.


Graig: On the Geoff Johns chart we have Green Lantern on the left... "best"... and Justice League on the right... "worst"... Aquaman falls squarely in the middle. There's some good stuff -- like the vicious man-eating sub-marinian creature horde hitting the surface world -- and some painful stuff, like Johns' attempt at subverting Aquaman's image. The Mera/Aquaman relationship is a little flowery, but then, I think it should be.

Devon: Eh, I'm enjoying it. It has a certain charm. It's sure pretty as Ivan Reis is drawing it. It doesn't challenge in the way that writer Will Pfeifer's Aquaman run did but frankly, at this time, it's not what the character needs. Aquaman needs sales and Johns is the man for the job.

Batman: The Dark Knight

Devon: A funny thing happened at my comics shop, the first issue sold out in one day so I never got a chance to read it. Then, I heard it was about Two-Face doing Bane's drug, Venom and I knew I'd won a little that day.

Graig: That cover for issue number 6 provides all the reason I need for not reading this book.


Devon: Human Defense Corps. Look it up. It was better when it was that.

Graig: I loved Human Defense Corps so much that I've bought the series twice (after I loaned out my first copies and they never came back)! With Mike Costa ("Cobra") on board as writer I had hoped for a GI Joe-in-the-DCU type of book. It didn't seem like it from the first issue, but perhaps I was wrong. I'll give it a second shot with the next storyline.

The Flash

Devon: Heard good things about this, unfortunately, Flashpoint put me off of Barry Allen. May have to reconsider though.

Graig: Francis Manapul is doing some of the most incredible panel work this side of JH Williams, but I still have no interest in reading a Flash book starring Barry Allen. My Wally West devotion runs deep (pun!).

The Fury of Firestorm

Devon: This one looks like someone asked, "What if we took the car Voltron and put it with the lion Voltron, it would be twice as awesome." No, it wouldn't. It'd be like The Fury of Firestorm.

Graig: This book should appeal to me, this book should excite me, yet I don't want to touch this book like it were actually on fire. Something is definitely wrong here.

Green Lantern: New Guardians

Devon: Burned out on Green Lanterns. Even a book featuring my fave Lantern, Kyle.

Graig: Yeah, no thanks.

I, Vampire

Graig: Another book I didn't think I would would ever have reason to read, and it turns out, it's incredible. It's one of the 10 best of the new 52. Maybe top 5 even.

Devon: Agreed. I still hold the first issue's cover hurt the book as it looked like a Twilight rip but this is just a very nuanced series that any horror fan can get into.

Justice League Dark

Devon: I like that two issues in and no one's referred to them as Justice League Dark. It's an intriguing idea; having former Vertigo mainstays on a Justice League team but yeah, it's just sort of awkward. Really awkward. Like Vertigo in DC's clothing awkward.

Graig: It's an intriguing book that maybe should be a mini-series, or perhaps not a "Justice League" series, but, yeah, intriguing.

The Savage Hawkman

Devon: Seven years ago, I created a blog called "Seven Hells!" simply because of my love for Hawkman. Two years ago, I made a Facebook page out of the same. Three months ago, I didn't read Savage Hawkman #1 out of that same love. Hawkman deserves better.

Graig: Dear DC, if you want me to read the Savage Hawkman, I have two words for you: Ralph and Sue. Until then, I'm out.


Devon: Boring. Superman should NEVER be boring. Or introspective. This is Superman for God's sake. This should be the flagship, the standard-bearer, instead, we get an announcement days after the first issue's release that no one's happy with their work. You tugged on his cape, DC.

Graig: George Perez writes dense, dense comics. They're world building, but not incredibly exciting. He's off the book as of issue 7 (wherein Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen take over writing chores temporarily, as they're doing with Green Arrow) which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but does make me kind of sad. Nicola Scott doing fill-in issues, that makes me happy.

Teen Titans

Devon: Haha! If I didn't know what this was, I don't think I'd want to know. It looks atrocious.

Graig: I don't know about the writing but everything about this book looks wrong. I've pooped better looking costumes.


Graig: Even if the entire critical blog-o-sphere said this was the best title of the New 52 (not that ANYBODY is saying that) I would still be scratching my head over its mere existence. I admit, I'm kind of curious what this book could possibly be about, but not curious to spend any money on it.

Devon: They should just call this "Comic Book. Tits."


Penguin: Pain and Prejudice

Devon: I like The Penguin. Not enough to read a Penguin mini, mind you.

Graig: Exactly. This just makes me wonder why the talented people involved are spending so much time and effort telling a story about the Penguin.


Graig: There's not much revolutionary about the storytelling here, but Paul Levitz is dishing out a solid action comic, and Marcus To's art is gorgeous without being salacious. It's just a solid, solid read.

Devon: I always thought Huntress, with her street level vigilante ways and mob connections, would make a great Marvel character. This book proves it. And yes, To's art is gorgeous but the true revelation is how well John Dell's inks compliment To's pencils. Keep these two together, DC.

The Shade

Graig: Or: How James Robinson Got His Groove Back. The artists lined up for this 12-issue mini-series should make it a must-read for anyone who's a fan of comic book art.

Devon: Amen. I've been enjoying this. Robinson seems happiest when writing Starman's universe.

Legion: Secret Origin

Graig: Sigh. The Legion's origin story is perhaps the most boring thing about them. I don't need to read yet another retelling of it.

Devon: (sigh)

My Greatest Adventure

Graig: A Matt Kindt Robotman story? I'll read that in trade. A Kevin Maguire original creation... I remember "Strikeback"...

Devon: Speaking of "Strikeback," remember one of Malibu's other titles, Sludge? Know who drew it? The guy drawing and writing The Garbageman feature in "My Greatest Adventure." I passed then, I'll pass now.

The Ray
Devon: Artist Jamal Igle should be doing something... else. I just don't even know what to say.

Graig: Hrm. I liked the Ray back in the 1990's. This is not that Ray. Even if it were, I'm still not sure I'd have an opinion either way.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents

Devon: Loved the series from a few months back so I'm back in.

Graig: If you read all the hype behind THUNDER Agents, it wouldn't hold up to it. But if someone told you "it's good", you'd probably read it and agree.

Batman Beyond Unlimited

Devon: I get the appeal. Just was never a fan.

Graig: I also never liked the Batman Beyond cartoon like I liked the Batman Animated series that preceded it, but I flipped my shit when the "Beyond" universe cropped up in Justice League Unlimited. This new book kind of excites me.


Devon's Top 5
1) Batman and Robin
2) Wonder Woman
3) Batman
4) Animal Man
5) Action Comics

Graig's Top 5
1) Batman
2) Animal Man
3) Batwoman
4) I, Vampire
5) Supergirl