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 Edge titles are a little more unique than the others as they feature three titles most commonly associated with the Wildstorm imprint. Comic fans from a couple of decades ago might recall that Wildstorm (a Jim Lee creation) was once part of Image Comics until DC Comics purchased it in around 1999 (unless I am mistaken). As a comics universe it operated independently from that of the DCU but with The New 52 reboot we are finding those characters integrated into a single setting and working together. Here’s what we get with the eleven titles: Stormwatch, Voodoo, Grifter, Deathstroke, I had most of these titles to examine and any missing parts shall be added to the blog when they are looked at.
Stormwatch 1: I read the original “Stormwatch” when it was under the Image Comics banner but like many titles over the years did not keep up on it. The premise of a team of super beings working together in a global sense with one main person dishing out the agenda of the day (Weatherman) was interesting enough, but I had too many issues of Spider-Man, Superman and Batman to keep up with to find me focused on something new when it came down to it. I think I gave the storylines a year and still have most of those issues somewhere. Today’s Stormwatch finds the same global mind presence but I didn’t see Weatherman anywhere and instead the new team is out and about building up its membership roster. A lot of the issue is spent chasing Apollo (who was in The Authority) and he is a Superman class being that would bring a lot of power to the team. Also present is the Martian Manhunter and I am guessing that this is the reason we didn’t find him involved with the Justice League. Only time will tell if he serves a better purpose in this role as opposed to the other team where he is quite appreciated. During the chasing going on down on the Earth we meet the pending nasty that will need a smiting and he appears to possess The Swordsman in order to get the better of Stormwatch. I felt a little too much time was spent chasing Apollo around before they had the chance to explain themselves but what can you do. Paul Cornell writes and Miguel Sepulveda draws. One has to wonder what made them choose Stormwatch over WildC.A.T.s as I felt the latter was a slightly better title.
Voodoo 1: The second Wildstorm character to see a title action in “The New 52” comes via Voodoo who is, or was at one time, a member of WildC.A.T.s. The last time that I read any of her adventures was awhile ago and the DC Comics folk had not yet purchased Wildstorm Studios so I am very, very behind. They kept the exotic dancer angle for the character and in the original stories I knew she was able to detect the evil Daemonites around her. I read that in this version of the character that she knows she is half-Daemonite and is actually more of an infiltrating presence as opposed to a positive force of good. I am not sure how that works for me. There is a lot of cheesecake shots and very vivid displays of what she does and at times I thought I was looking at a vintage Motley Crue video but in comic book format. She transforms into her alien self and dispenses an enemy but at the close things do not seem to be what we were led to believe. I am on the fence about this rendition of the character. The original version worked well so why change for the possible worst. Oh well. Ron Marz is the scribe and Sami Basri is the artist. Really sexy visuals from Sami, and perhaps a little too much for the younger readers out there.
Grifter 1: Here’s another member of WildC.A.T.s and one that I enjoyed a little bit more than some of the other heroes around him. Grifter is a mercenary who was at one time a member of the military force Team 7. Back in the Image Comics days, that team was made up of several of their now super-powered biggies. Now firmly ensconced in the DCU, our adventures with The Grifter find him heading somewhere by airplane and apparently plagued by voices inside his head. I am going to venture to guess that they are Daemonite voices and this is all happening in his civilian identity of Cole Cash. Some mayhem ensues on the plane and Grifter seems to get the best of his attackers and escapes. The whole issue is done in his public identity though and we only see his actual Grifter mask at the titles closing image. Whoever the voices he is hearing are through the course of the story, they sure do want him and they will stop at nothing to get at him. This could be an exciting title but it’s too early for me to tell. I always liked the character and felt he was an interesting sort of gun-slinging avenger. I will admit that some of the way that they portrayed him in this issue felt like Logan from Wolverine. A hunter on the run kind of vibe. The story is by Nathan Edmondson while the pencils and inks are thanks to Cafu and Jason Gorder respectively.
Deathstroke #1: I liked the character of Deathstroke The Terminator when he was first introduced in the New Teen Titans way back in 1980 and those adventures he undertook in that series along with his solo title were some really solid story telling. The character was always much more than a second rate Punisher and instead had a little deeper of a history than just a mere mission of vengeance. As a mercenary his skills were up for the highest bidder. In The New 52 we get right into the business of his business as he dispenses a number of bodyguards and their evil charge before finding himself planning out his next assignment. We meet his assistant Christoph here and I am not sure if this is the new Wintergreen or if that latter character ever existed thanks to the new continuity. I didn’t catch any Teen Titans references so will assume that the two never interacted before. We also meet a team of rookies who while skilled do not sit well with Deathstroke’s plans. The next mission involves an airplane, an evil scientist and soldiers that have been implemented with Clayface like abilities. I will let you discover the outcome of this as the mysteries apparently lead to other ones. We also see just how well Deathstroke works within the structure of a team as the issue closes out. I had to say that I enjoyed this read but again this was part in parcel of enjoying what the character was all about in the first place. I sense good things coming from this title. Let’s hope I am not wrong. Kyle Higgins writes while Joe Bennett and Art Thibert provide the art.
Suicide Squad #1: I always enjoyed the Suicide Squad title that came out of the “Legends” storyline in 1986 and this would be the second version of that particular team. They also go by the moniker of Task Force X and essentially they are the bad guys who have been given the chance for a little leniency on their sentences if they help out the government on missions in ways that only they can do. There is little call for kindness or conscience when the Suicide Squad is utilized. So who do we get on the team? Well, we find Deadshot, King Shark, Harley Quinn, Voltaic, El Diablo and someone named Savant. I admit to only knowing a couple of the larger characters myself such as Deadshot and Harley Quinn. The cover shows us a Harley who might as well be one of the aforementioned Voodoo’s work mates but in the issue itself we find a very “healthy” Gothic style Alt-chick. Our story opens with the team all being tortured and as each member gets the once over by the mystery villains we learn a little about them and how they ended up in the scenario that they are now in. They are still under the command of Amanda Waller who appears to also have been given a drastic makeover. In the Suicide Squad title that I knew and loved, Waller was a tremendous woman or perhaps I should just say “big boned”. Anyways, in the rebooted world of The New 52 she seems to have been maintaining a very healthy regimen of diet and exercise or had her stomach stapled. Having some appreciation for the team and how the stories went in the past incarnations I am very interested in seeing where this one goes and to discover just who else becomes a part of the unwilling team. If they keep the roster changing and the stories edgy this will be a winner for this group of titles. Let’s do this one right okay? The story was written by Adam Glass and the artwork is by Federico Dallocchio and Ransom Getty.
O.M.A.C. #1: You might not remember the original O.M.A.C. which was created by the legendary Jack Kirby back in 1974 if you are one of the younger generation of comic book readers but if you are up on the work of the masters then perhaps you may. Some comic book Wikipedia research will update you on all the different uses and appearances he has made over the years for those who need the recap. The original character’s name meant “One Man Army Corps” and he was from the far off future and apparently had a connection to the also distant from our time Kamandi title. This is not your Father’s O.M.A.C. The New 52 finds our current O.M.A.C. set in the present day and as many have noted the title wears the Kirby influences on its sleeve which was nice to see. The action starts quickly as the new O.M.A.C. is on a rampage which was not unlike the kind of thing we found The Hulk doing over in his title. A voice speaks to him to try and guide him along and get to safety and as the story continues we meet the mysterious folks over at Project: Cadmus. It was nice to see the rich cast of characters in there being used again. A lot of dramatic panels of fighting fill out the issue but it keeps your attention. Eventually we meet the apparent secret identity of this new O.M.A.C. and are introduced to Brother Eye who was the voice he had been hearing all along. I admit that one of the last things I would expect to see on the stands is a new O.M.A.C. title because it just feels weird to see this without Kirby involvement but John Byrne did some good with him on a mini-series some years ago and he had made numerous guest appearances since. This might be one of the surprise success stories in this grouping of titles and be the underground band that makes a lot of positive noise if they keep it straight forward and solid. The tale comes from Dan Didio while the art is from Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish. I always enjoyed Giffen stuff since he created Ambush Bug and Lobo, and I have been a fan of the inks of Koblish since his work on Marvel’s Deadpool and Captain America titles.
Blackhawks #1: Did not review this title.
Men Of War #1: I never followed the war comics religiously but knew of and read about a handful of issues of titles like “Sgt. Rock”, “The Losers” (the original one and not the terrible film version from this year) and Marvel’s own “Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos” over the years. For its type it was well done stuff and who can malign the great works of talent like Kanigher, Kubert, Lee and Kirby. It was just not my thing and I preferred the super hero stuff. Anyways, I was a little surprised to find a new war book being issued in The New 52 when one considers the state of the world we live in today. In “Men Of War” we meet Corporal Rock and find the soldier on a mission in today’s world as opposed to WWII where he is most known to fans of this area of the mythos. His mission leads to an ambush/attack and he is made a sergeant in the field of battle. I guess the rest of Easy Company will be met as the issues continue. There is a backup story called “Navy Seals” included as well and I shall assume that we will find the title showcasing Rock in the front and some other military outlet as a closing tale. The creative team for this one is Ivan Brandon, Tom Derenick, Jonathan Vankin and Phil Winslade. I will very likely stop at issue #1 for as I have already noted, the war comics were just not my thing and I never had more than a passing interest in what was happening in them. I find too much war presented on the news channel for my liking as it is.
All Star Western #1: This will be the third go round for the originally published in 1951 title and with the reboot will primarily focus on Jonah Hex and also offer up some appearances by the other Western heroes from the DCU archives. Maybe we shall even see one or two new ones appear if they think it will help out. Our story opens with Jonah Hex arriving in Gotham City and apparently it was as corrupt then as it is nowadays in the DCU. He is on the trail of a murderer eventually and his investigations into the matter find him crossing paths with the names Cobblepot and Arkham. In today’s DCU we know them as being related to The Penguin and the famous asylum. The killer appears to be a Jack The Ripper sort and I liked the tale overall and it did keep my interest. Hex is a good character in the first place and it’s nice to see him in action in this new go round of titles even though his movie was considered many levels of dreadful. I’ve not seen it and am only going by what I heard from other fans. I would like to see some use of the original El Diablo in the title and will admit that I was not as up on the other DCU Western characters as much as I was with the Marvel Universe ones so I am not sure who else would make for a good backup feature. Scripted by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Moritat.
Closing Up On This Batch: With the presence of two “guest-starring” kind of books and the integration of a universe that I don’t feel fits as seamlessly as we found the Charlton Comics ones doing I am expecting the worst for this particular grouping of titles. I might be wrong of course but that is my two cents. A couple of winners out of the mix does not make for a promising angle in the end.