I’m falling behind on my comic book reviews as I’ve been buying so many comics that I haven’t even had time to read them all within a week of getting them. Thankfully, as of November I’m only buying half of the New 52 books I started with, so reviews should be a lot faster and more manageable. Writing full reviews for a dozen-plus new comic books weekly is beyond the amount of time available to me, so I’m combining my comic book reviews into one large compilation post of shorter reviews each week that I do them. This week is the last week that I’ll be covering all 13 books from DC Comics’ New 52, along with a Ninja Turtles comic and an all-new X-Men title. And once again, Marvel beats the odds, as the one Marvel book I review is my Pick of the Week…
I think that just about sums up how eye-rollingly cliched this issue was.
Despite my preconceptions against All-Star Western, I greatly enjoyed All-Star Western #1 and it had me questioning if I’d continue buying a book I was certain would be a “drop”. Luckily (or not), this book washed away all those good feelings and made this book one I’m happy to go without reading another issue of. The notion of a dozen professional gunmen ambushing Jonah Hex and he just waltzes out into the middle of them and blows most of them away with zero difficulty and without a scratch is unfeasible and uninteresting to read. The last time I checked this book featured Jonah Hex and not Deathstroke, so the main character should be neither invincible nor untouchable. Also, I have no clue what happened, but the quality of art in
this book completely collapsed between issues #1 and #2. And here’s the nail in the coffin: this is one of the four $3.99 New 52 titles, as it included a “bonus” throwaway backup story that no one asked for or wanted, and that contributes nothing to the main narrative. I seriously feel that this backup story was created with no inspiration whatsoever and for the sole purchase of getting an extra dollar out of me. I don’t know what happened that there’s such a drastic difference in quality between the first and second issues, but DC shan’t be getting my 4 dollars for another month to find out if things can turn back around.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of All-Star Western? No.
TEEN TITANS #2
I was not at all a big fan of Teen Titans #1. Bart Allen, Connor Kent, and Tim Drake were all some of my absolute favorite Old DCU characters, so I was understandably shattered to see their histories and personalities almost completely reset. Teen Titans #2 I feel a bit better about. Bart feels a little more like the character I know and love, though I’m somewhat baffled about who he is or where he comes from since Barry and Iris aren’t together in this DCU. Connor is still a blank slate, and could go either way. Tim Drake is probably the most like his old self, as he has the right attitude, feel, and intelligence to him–it feels like the essence of the old Tim Drake, just in new surroundings. And that’s perfect for me. As for the story itself–that’s still a big wait-and-see. I don’t know how long and far this story arc about NOWHERE collecting all the world’s super-teens is intended to go, but hopefully not for too, too long. We know that Tim Drake was still Robin, which means that Batman could and should be mobilizing the Justice League to deal with the teen kidnappers. As in, immediately. If this arc goes on for too long, the whole premise can and will become illogicial. But for the moment, this is a “good enough” reason for the Teen Titans to come together. This issue was better than the first and I thankfully feel like there’s some promise to the development of our rebooted Kid Flash and Red Robin, but I just haven’t bought into this new version of the Titans yet.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Teen Titans? Undecided.
LEGION SECRET ORIGIN #1 (OF 6)
New readers who were lost and confused by Legion of Super-Heroes #1 and Legion Lost #1 last month can now be bored to tears by Legion Secret Origin #1 this month! I pre-ordered all 3 LoSH series because I love the Legion, but I hate all 3 books with a passion. If the reader who went in hoping to love the book hates it, that’s a bad sign that Joe Casual Fan who picked up the book on a whim will hate it even more. I honest-to-God struggled to finish this comic book it was so boring. This is the formation of the Legion of Superheroes–it should be EXCITING! But the manner in which the story is told just isn’t. Instead of seeing this famed event occuring through the eyes of Legionnaires, it’s presented from the coma-inducing perspective of skeptical government officials. The outcome of this series is a certainty–we don’t need to see boring political talk about whether the Legion can or should come into being. It will. What we could be seeing is how these events shaped the lives of the early Legionnaires and their thoughts and feeling and hopes and goals, potentially getting readers to become attached to members of the team (which is impossible through the main books, which have little characterization and less accessibility). But we’re not. Like the Legion Lost and Legion of Super-Heroes main book, Legion Secret Origin #1 is devoid of emotion and fun. Legion Secret Origin #1 reads like a history textbook and not a comic book, and in my eyes that makes it a complete failure.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Batman the Dark Knight? No.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #2
While not as off-the-wall fun as the first issue, Justice League Dark #2 gives us some seriously fascinating character development this issue–specifically, for Deadman. One thing I am absolutely loving about this book is that the relationship between Deadman and Dove is being consistently developed between it and Hawk & Dove. I hate how virtually every one of the new comics in the New 52 feels like it exists in some inconsequential pocket universe: These are two of the only books in the New 52 that feel like they’re occurring in a shared universe, and I’m quite grateful for it. This book actually does a better job developing Deadman than his own DC Universe Presents comics have done, and I like seeing the “dark” side of Deadman and the twisted ways he strives for sexual fulfillment with Dove. And a huge high-five to Dove, who is seemingly the only woman in the new DC Universe who doesn’t jump into casual sex at the drop of a hat. I still have no idea who John Constantine is or what he can do, nor do I understand what Madame Xanadu is all about. But I am having a hell of a good time with this book, and have nothing but optimism and high hopes for it.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Justice League Dark? Yes.
I VAMPIRE #2
This issue wasn’t as gripping as the first issue was for me, and that’s mainly because the plot doesn’t advance an inch. What we do get this month is to see the situation from the point of view of the “antagonist”: Mary, Queen of Blood. What’s really chilling here is that I can actually see some of the justification in Mary’s ideology. Mary is a freedom fighter (of a sort), fighting for the future welfare of her people. It’d be admirable if we weren’t the human species she wants to massacre. At the same time, Mary can’t bring herself to kill her creator/ex-lover, the one being who can ultimately stop her plans from coming to fruition. This is a horror story, but at its heart it’s a romance fueled by two lovers whose ideologies clash so much that they can’t be reconciled. The art is as exquisitely haunting as the first issue, and the dramatic backbone of the series is still top-notch. This is one of the most artful and fulfilling books in the New 52, and I’m greatly anticipating seeing this story go forward and affect the whole DCU.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of I, Vampire? Yes.
I made a joke a couple weeks ago about playing Casual Sex Bingo with the New 52, but even I never expected there’d have to be a space on the board for alien transgender sex. Voodoo shapeshifts into the policeman she just killed and then has sex with his female partner to gather intel in this issue, and the whole thing is every bit as awkward and unnecessary as it sounds. Given all the other threats and aliens present in this new DC Universe, I can’t really figure out why the government is so hellbent on capturing Voodoo, who’s content to hang out on a stripper pole without bothering anybody. The art and writing here are still solid, and I still want to see where this goes, but as with most of the DC Universe, the overabundance of sexual content is both unwelcome and annoying.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Voodoo? Yes.
The second worst-selling #2 issue of the New 52 is Blackhawks, but this book remains a pleasure for me. I like that this book is doing something we’re not seeing elsewhere in the New 52–namely, seeing the best human agents in the DC Universe confront significant threats. One of the Blackhawks suffers a major injury in this issue, while another may be the key to the destruction of mankind. Nothing is off-limits in this book, and I am loving it. This will probably be one of the first New 52 books to be canceled, but that’s really a shame as this book defied all my expectations with its quality and offers something to the new DC Universe that none of its counterparts do. Mike Costa is quickly becoming the master of all books like GI Joe, and I hope to see this book survive long enough for the Blackhawks to really carve a niche for themselves as an important group within the DC Universe, even if they end up as an organization without their own comic (a la S.H.I.E.L.D.) For a book that was at the bottom of my list when the New 52 was announced, I’ve become a big fan already and heartily recommend it to anyone that the idea of GI Joe in the DC Universe appeals to.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Blackhawks? Yes.
BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT #2
If your goal in life was to read a comic book where Batman fights steroided-out versions of The Joker and Two-Face, then let this comic make your dreams come true. If your ambition was anything else, then this comic book pretty much sucks. Of all the Batman books in The New 52, this one is my least-favorite. If “Detective Comics” is there to tell crime stories, “Batman” is meant to tell superhero stories, and “Batman & Robin” is intended to develop the evolving father/son dynamic between Batman and Damian, then “Batman: The Dark Knight” exists to provide mindless cinematic action for teenage boys to eat up. This book feels totally aimless and irrelevant, and I feel confident that I can never read another issue of this comic (as it is right now) and never miss a single event of consequence. If you like accessible, episodic, action-packed Batman that’s not going anywhere, this book might be for you. But as a hardcore reader, Batman The Dark Knight is just not my book.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Batman the Dark Knight? No.
Here’s a tip for for the great Geoff Johns: I love you, man, but if you want people to take Aquaman seriously as a hero capable of fighting more than fish people, don’t make the villains of the first arc an army of generic, unintelligible fish people. I was blown away by the quality of Aquaman #1. The art, the characterization, the story, and perhaps most importantly the humor, all met and exceeded my expectations for an Aquaman book. But Aquaman #2 is falling into the trap already that every previous incarnation of Aquaman has–the notion that Aquaman is only worthwhile fighting aquatic threats. Seeing Aquaman get pissed about being typecast as being only useful against water villains is funny, but it’s counterproductive when that’s all he really does seem to be good for. I believe in Geoff Johns and I have every intention of continuing to read and hoping for the best, but I truly have to question the direction Johns chose to go with the plot in this first arc, as it seems to contradict everything he’s trying to do with Aquaman’s character.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Aquaman? Yes.
This is another comic that impressed me a lot more with its second issue–just not enough. The big problem is that Flash shows a ton more charisma, fun, and personality in the few pages he appears in in Justice League #2 than he does in the entire first two issues of his own comic. Barry is pretty much a cardboard cutout with no personality in this issue, the same as last. He’s as dull and boring as The Flash as he is in his civilian life. And seeing Flash try to solve the mystery of his friend who’s been cloned into a bunch of enslaved soldiers seems more like a filler story than anything really intriguing or suitable for an introductory story arc. The one thing I really, really enjoyed about this issue is the idea of superspeed thinking giving the Flash near-omniscience, and I think there are some great storyline possibilities for utilizing that ability. (Although I do think it’s a little creepy that what activates Flash’s superspeed thinking is seemingly hanging out with women that he has the hots for.) This really isn’t a terrible comic, but it’s still lacking a hook to get the reader really invested in the character, which keeps this book as merely an average one.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Flash? No.
FURY OF FIRESTORM #2
Probably the biggest positive about this issue is that Ronnie and Jason have stopped making racist remarks about each other. Gail Simone is typically one of my favorite writers, but I haven’t been able to relate to her characters her yet at all. Ronnie seems to be the stereotypical jock, while Jason is a cocky brainiac. There’s no hint of an explanation as to why Jason would choose Ronnie of all people to share the Firestorm power with, nor why the two Firestorms would form a gestalt mindless, angry Hulk-like Firestorm. It’s pretty lame that Jason and Ronnie have to shout “Firestorm!” to activate their powers. This isn’t Shazam here, and it’s not meant to be goofy like OMAC (“OMACtivate!”). Tonya adds a much-needed third-party voice to this book, though I cringe at the love triangle that I fear will inevitably develop from her involvement. For all my complaining, I really do want to like this book. I think the potential is here, and I have faith in Gail Simone to pull through, but thus far this book has been littered with things to nitpick and complain about.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Firestorm? No.
SAVAGE HAWKMAN #2
Is it me, or does the villain on the cover of this issue look like an evil Batman…? I wish that was the case, as that would certainly be more interesting than the generic evil alien we end up with in this comic book. But that’s only a slight problem–the biggest hindrance to this series is that we’re literally given no chance to connect with Carter Hall in these first two issues. We have no idea what his background is (other than archaeologist), we don’t know where or when he got the “Nth metal”, what it is, why Hawkman wanted to get rid of it, what his relationships are, or even what his powers are exactly. I think we’re supposed to care just “because he’s Hawkman”, but that defeats the purpose of this relaunch. I’ve seen Tony Daniel write better than this–a lot better than this–but this introductory arc of Hawkman just wasn’t well-conceived. Hawkman is a character who has failed to support his own book over and over and over. With the biggest relaunch in DC history, what we needed here was a fresh take on Hawkman–something, anything, to get readers to relate to and care about him. Instead, not only do I not care about him, I was so detached reading this issue I caught myself skimming dialogue and had to go back and read it over for the review. I hope for the sake of fans of Hawkman that this arc is going somewhere intriguing to make this all seem worthwhile, but I won’t be around to see it.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Hawkman? NO!
After the super-negative response to George Perez’s Superman #1 last month, I wasn’t anticipating #2 much. The story is essentially a big fight between Superman and a villain that’s invisible to Kryoptonians but whom humans can see. The story is “good enough” for what it is and shows a glimmer of how Lois can be essential to Superman, but I have the same problem with this title as I do with “Flash”–it feels like filler stories retreading old ground. I’ve seen Superman and Lois’s relationship grow into love and marriage, and I’m not interested in seeing the whole thing start from scratch. For all the crap that Marvel caught for “One More Day”, at least all of the Peter & MJ stories really happened–they just weren’t married for them. The New 52 has literally unraveled all of Clark and Lois’s history, and watching the new dynamic between the characters develop again over the years is not compelling stuff for me. Action Comics by Grant Morrison is among the best and strongest titles in this New 52, but this Superman book is a total bore. George Perez announced his departure from the title next year right after the first issue shipped, and I’ll be willing to give this book another shot once that happens. George is a legend, but his take on Superman here just isn’t going to fly (so to speak.)
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Superman? No.
GREEN LANTERN NEW GUARDIANS #2
Two months in, and the Green Lantern book I had the highest hopes for is still my biggest disappointment of them. If I could describe this book in one word, it would be “half-assed”. Kyle Rayner is pure and good and with the exception of Saint Walker, everyone else in this book is a batshit insane psychopath. The Guardians are a bunch of bastards, and every member of every Corps sent to investigate the lost rings is crazy and violent. I really love the characters in this book and the concept of the New Guardians utilizing various members of the Corps, so I’m going to stick with this book for a while yet. But thus far, this book has been a real losing effort and far from believable. I love these characters, but all evidence thus far indicates that writer Tom Bedard sees them as nothing but one-dimensional, irrational killers. And that needs to turn around real fast or else I’ll be using my 3 dollars a month elsewhere.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Green Lantern New Guardians? Yes.
WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #1
I’ve never been a Wolverine fan and “Schism” left me ice-cold, so I didn’t go into this comic with my head full of sunshine and rainbows. But after reading this book, the primary words that come to mind are “fresh” and “fun”. I haven’t enjoyed an X-Men comic this much in years. I could have happily gone the rest of my life without ever seeing Glob Herman again, but for the most part I’m ecstatic about the students chosen for this book and their potential to shine here. The kid Brood might be my favorite new mutant created since Layla Miller. The Chris Bachalo art is reminescent of some of my favorite 90’s comics, the early issues of Generation X, and provides the perfect illustration of the quirky and refreshing plot. As a former New York Educator I can complete sympathize with the terror that the Board of Regents of the Department of Education can strike into even Wolerine’s heart, and for the first time I really, really loved the new kid Black King of the Hellfire Club in this book. From art to writing to characters to plot, this issue was a colossal success and my undisputed Pick of the Week.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Wolverine and the X-Men? YES!
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #3
Of all the franchises in the world that I didn’t need to see “rebooted” over an extended set of issues, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is near the top of the list. This whole book so far just feels completely stale. This issue is an improvement as the three turtles other than Raphael actually get a bit of characterization here–unfortunately, they’re exactly the same as they have been for the last two decades. Yes, we have a new tweaked story to explain that Raphael has always been an outsider because a cat carried him away from the other before he fully-mutated, but that’s just a different circumstance. Raphael is exactly–exactly–the same. So is everyone else. The scenario of how and why the Turtles were mutated is slightly refreshed, as are the ways that characters like April and Splinter are involved, but at its core this is the same old story. This book isn’t bad–it’s just derivative. I’m buying this series a bit longer to see if things pick up after the origin arc, but there’s absolutely nothing new or compelling to see here so far.
Will I Be Pre-Ordering the Next Issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Yes.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
The obvious place to buy new comic books is your local comic book store, but if you don’t have one or can’t get to it, I highly recommend giving Things from Another World (TFAW.com) a try! Currently, they have everything reviewed in this post in-stock right now! They stock a crazy huge number of comic books, and the prices on new releases and graphic novels are always 10-35% below cover price. I’ve been buying from TFAW for close to a decade now and never had a bad experience, so I have total confidence in their value and quality. Click here if you wanna take a look at buying comics from Things from Another World.