As previously blogged about in the PiercingMetal Musings; DC Comics recently re-launched a number of titles and started them off from issue #1 under the branding of “The New 52”. The initiative’s prime objective being to up the number of titles available each month and to offer new readers an easier chance to jump on board with their characters. New costumes and beginnings are par for the course with the reboot but a number of the company’s most historic moments shall remain unaffected. The New 52 appears to have segmented the titles into a number of different groups based on the relation of the character – for instance there is a Superman and Batman grouping to enjoy and each title relates directly to the character. From these segments I have opted to share my thoughts on the first issues for your reading pleasure. The Justice League grouping gets a whopping eleven titles in the relaunch and that made immediate sense to me based on all of the characters that it needs to address. Green Lantern is not among them as he has his own grouping and the same applies to both Batman and Superman but believe me you have a lot to sink your teeth into without them. Check out what they are offering us: Justice League, Justice League International, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Captain Atom, The Fury Of Firestorm, The Savage Hawkman, Green Arrow, Mister Terrific, & DC Universe Presents.
The first two League books made sense to me but I was unsure about Captain Atom and Firestorm getting new titles for this one. There are more important characters to the whole of the DCU mythos such as The Atom or perhaps The Justice Society since those heroes are so relevant to the League beginnings. I also questioned the Mister Terrific title and while initially paused can understand the need to give Aquaman and Hawkman a title again. They are staples in the DCU after all. I managed to secure nine of the eleven titles and have offered up my views on them. Should I fill in the blanks of the missing entries, I shall append the blog posting post mortem.
Justice League #1: The adventures of the heavy hitters team begins with action right off the bat and by that I mean we get a healthy dose of Batman in hot pursuit of some insidious alien beings who appear to be under the command of Darkseid. He is confronted by Green Lantern who seems to be meeting him for the first time and the scene reminded me of issue #3 of the “Man Of Steel” re-imagining by John Byrne when Superman first confronted the caped crusader in that 1986 mini-series. The pair work in tandem for a time and we see an obviously non-powered Cyborg for a couple of side story pages and to make matters worse we only get one panel/frame of Superman who merely introduces himself as the issue closes with “So..What Can You Do?”. Boo to that. I guess the main problem that I had with the first issues was how none of the other league members are even presented in the debut of the title and hence no Aquaman, no Wonder Woman nor Flash who we all saw working together immediately in the Morrison penned “JLA” title of 1996. Since he is not on the cover I will assume that The Martian Manhunter is not even associated with the team nor is The Atom and Green Arrow. I will have to say that the artwork is nice enough to look at but nothing about the story compelled me from the get go and that was what I was looking for. When one considers how much time Batman gets, you might as well have been reading one of the eleven titles that he has going on. There were so many pages with him and The Green Lantern that there were a few moments where I felt that I was reading an issue of “The Brave and the Bold”. So I expected a stronger bust out of the gate for the title that is the home of the biggest titans of DC Comics continuity. It also could have been a little longer in page length for the $3.99 price tag. This one looks like it might take up to issue #4 or #5 to tell us anything. Geoff Johns writes and Jim Lee brings it all to your eyes.
Justice League International #1: Some long time comic fans might remember that the original Justice League International series stemmed from the Justice League Europe title of 1989. That title was an offshoot of the Justice League America book of the day and was a little more serious than the grouping that it came from. The JLI featured a number of second stringers in terms of its membership quotient and the mood of the stories was often on the “light” side when it came to the stories and how the team members interacted. Some loved it, while others hated it. I was on the fence myself. Today The New 52 brings us a Justice League International that appears to be sanctioned by the United Nations and will respond to threats that they deem under their sanction. The members of the team are as follows: Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red, and Green Lantern (Guy Gardner) who were all previously a part of that original title and team. New members joining in are Vixen (who was on the JLA once) and two more heroes who I have never heard of in August General in Iron and Godiva. The “powers that be” turn down the suggested Plastic Man, Blue Beetle and Green Arrow but do bring up Batman as a choice. The UN wants a team with no secret identities and Batman does not fall into that criteria even though he infiltrates the roster and helps them out during their first adventure.
The team holds court in the original Hall Of Justice which was cool to see happening and Booster Gold is the nominated team leader. The very thought of which pisses of Guy Gardener (who is a stubborn pig-headed gent and totally what we wanted to see in his character once again). Batman does his best to convince Guy to give Booster a chance even though the hero is more commonly known as a product pitch man. Together the team adventures to a mysterious island and begin to face the baddies with a dramatic finale page. I had to say that I enjoyed this first issue much more than I had with the preceding Justice League title. Dan Jurgens writes while Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan provide the artwork. I liked their art and felt that it had classic style all over it.
Aquaman #1: Giving readers a touch of mystery with its opening scene and some unknown nastiness, Aquaman #1 is off to an interesting start. We then pan quickly to bank robbery chase scene and when the criminal see who they are facing they burst out laughing at the idea of Aquaman actually being any threat to them. He dispatches them quickly and the cops bemoan their fate back at the station as being upstaged by Aquaman. Our next scene flips to a side of the road diner where the hero orders up something totally unexpected and gets an impromptu interview by a blogger. The blogger wonders what the hero does to “get by” during the day and we see how he does in a memory flashback. He also asks Aquaman what it feels like to be the butt of so many jokes and “nobody’s favorite hero”. As expected this ends the interview and brings us to the end of the book where Curry tells his wife Mera how he will be moving on from the King Of Atlantis role and let someone else handle it. They embrace and we return to the high seas where our nastiness from the beginning of the issue have surfaced. I had to say that I liked this issue as well and enjoyed the fact that Aquaman knows exactly what he is thought of in comparison to his other DCU contemporaries. The nastiness are curious enough to make me want to know more about them and I think that this title might be a winner in the bunch. Geoff Johns writes while Ivan Reis and Joe Prado provide art.
Wonder Woman #1: Have not reviewed.
Flash #1: I am still making my way through the issues of “Flashpoint” so I admit to being a little lost at the beginning of the fourth go round for the Scarlet Speedster. To those who are not aware of this fact, Barry Allen is once again running around in the bright red tights as The Flash and has been doing so for a couple of series already since the “Blackest Night” tales. I loved the Wally West era Flash, but at the end of the day it’s always got to be Barry. In this reality of the hero’s life he is a single man and not married to his Iris. He also faces some baddies and discovers one of them to be a childhood friend. The mysteries pile up when this dead friend shows up at his apartment seeking his aid. I was half and half on this one, and can say that while I like the character and the art in this one, the story was not one that gripped me and made me anxious for the second issue. I would have liked to see a little more action and less of the talking that we got in this one. There is a lot of secret identity bantering and I am sorry, this is a first issue, so let’s leave the coffee chatter for the following issue. The story and art come care of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Browse through this one before you pick it up, or check out some online samples.
Captain Atom #1: With Captain Atom we find the character dealing with what appear to be rapidly increasing powers and it seems that all will be lost if he does not get them into check. I always liked the character and supported his adventures when he morphed into the DCU from Charlton Comics many years ago. This Captain Atom appears to have more powers than I remember the older version having and one of them is transforming one thing into another, like armor into dust and so on. That might be a cop of something that Metamorpho The Element Man would do but they did seem to use it properly as an incident that even surprises the hero himself. We meet Doctor Megala who appears to be his counsel on his ever changing powers and then it’s back to the action as the good Captain attempts to halt the destruction of the city by some suddenly appearing volcanoes. Having an affinity for the character in the past I would be interested in following the progression of the storyline. Obviously he is going to learn how to deal with these powers sooner or later as if he doesn’t, the title ends. Right? The story and art is brought to life by J.T. Krul and Freddie Williams II.
The Fury Of Firestorm #1, The Nuclear Men: I recently picked up a collected edition of “Firestorm The Nuclear Man” and this reprinted all of the hero’s mini-series from back in 1978 where the world first met the character. In this new continuity it seems as though Doctor Stein is dead and a group of terrorists are seeking one of his discoveries. They are a brutal bunch and dispatch anyone in their way. We also meet two teenagers, Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch. Rusch was the second Firestorm and Ronnie apparently has no memory of his activity in this role. Perhaps the new storylines are leaving him out of this, or perhaps it’s too early to say that. Anyways, when the terrorists finally get close to what they seek, Rusch pulls out a canister and says “Firestorm”. The result gives us two Firestorms and they immediately scuffle as the new one does not know what to make of the transformation. There is also an introduction of a character called The Fury and I will let you learn more about him on your own. The creative team on this one is Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone and Vildiray Cinar and I will give it a couple of issues to see what developments come forth. I did feel that this storyline moved a little too slow for my liking but oh well. Otherwise it was interesting enough to lend it some attention.
Green Arrow #1: Have not reviewed.
The Savage Hawkman #1: The new Hawkman title is given “The Savage” at its beginning and I am guessing that the aim is to try and make it work for the characters modus operandi from the get go. Like Aquaman before him, Hawkman has always been one of those legendary characters that only can have “so much” done with their storyline. I think title for title each of these heroes has been equal on launched and cancelled books. Our story in “The Savage Hawkman” finds Carter Hall with thoughts of regret about how his life has turned out and his plan is to incinerate the famous wings and mask. He fails at this completely and awakens far away in a lab of some kind with people he knows. The team had discovered mysterious casket type things and of course they are opened (or we wouldn’t have much of a tale) and guess what is inside…..yep, the evil presence that Hawkman must return to fight. Hall begins to combat these shadowy figures. It must have been a tip of the hat to his rogue Shadow Thief but this presence is called Morphicius and he seems to be a whole lot of nasty. As the issue closes we find Hall instantly transformed into Hawkman, and apparently there is more to this suit than the mere putting it on and flying around. I didn’t hate this one but can agree that the character was always difficult to enjoy based on the numerous revisions. He has potential but can this be the defining storyline? Only time will tell. Tony Daniel wrote this while the often dramatic art comes from Philip Tan.
Mister Terrific #1: : I’ll admit that I never expected to see one of the Justice Society of America getting a solo book under the Justice League branding but here we are. The story follows the adventures of Michael Holt who is the second Mister Terrific and our issue begins with the hero dispatching the menace of an armored super villain. Terrific is all about the science and gadgets and using his vast wealth for the side of good. I know this might sound a little bit like Iron Man to you and I admit there are some light similarities. We get a slight revision on his origin as what we knew originally to be stemmed from a visit by The Spectre now comes via the ghost of his unborn son. Maybe in future issues we shall find this to be Spectre in disguise. Who knows? We meet a new nasty called Brainstorm and by the closing of the issue it seems that he is controlling Mister Terrific. For me I would rather see Terrific in a team book like Justice Society or maybe even the new Justice League International title but not a solo one. Can this work? Of course it can if it develops a fan base. We got some inside scoop on his beginnings and see him during the course of a civilian day and those were interesting enough on top of how he is using his brain to best the bad guys. His motto of “Fair Play” still firmly intact it would seem. I will give this a couple of issues. The story is written by Eric Wallace and is drawn by Roger Robinson.
DC Universe Presents #1: The debut issue of this showcase themed title features the one and only Deadman and while I have always enjoyed the characters use over the years, I had to agree with a fellow writer who felt that this was almost like reading through an episode of “Quantum Leap”. Legacy fans of the character know how Boston Brand, a circus acrobat, was murdered and then came back as a ghost thanks to the Indian goddess Rama Kushna. Over the years Deadman would possess bodies in order to find his killer and of course interact with various heroes in the DCU. The premise seems to be different this time around and it’s too early to know if it will work or not. I do like the character but prefer him as an addition to the other hero’s storylines or something more mysterious as opposed to what we get here. Let’s see what happens.
I did want to stress how I hope that the Deadman storyline is only a short one and that “DC Universe Presents” will continually feed us characters and storylines that give a lot of the heroes or even villains a decent presentation. This will serve no good if its fifteen issues of Deadman. They might as well give him his own book again or a mini-series if they do that. This title also should have been a 48 pager and allow for a second story with another character to share the book. These new adventures of Deadman are thanks to Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang.
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