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 Batman mythos has a whopping eleven titles and I felt this was a little bit excessive. Four of the titles deal directly with Batman himself and those are “Batman”, “Detective Comics”, “Batman and Robin” and “Batman: The Dark Knight”. To me four titles is overkill and they could have left this at the two staple titles which have become iconic over the decades since Batman first pressed the gas pedal on the Batmobile and left the other remaining titles to his large sub-universe of characters. That being said the other seven titles do just that and give us new issues of “Batgirl” and “Batwoman”; new adventures for the “Birds Of Prey”, “Nightwing” & “Catwoman” while characters you would not expect in their own titles get some face time with “Batwing” and “Red Hood and The Outlaws”.
Batman #1: The opening scene finds Batman being set upon by numerous denizens of Arkham Asylum who are in the middle of a full scale breakout. He has some unexpected assistance that might make you scratch your head for a moment and I am not spoiling the scene for you. Some interaction with the Commissioner and a LOT of Bruce Wayne time as he holds court and unveils some big Donald Trump like happenings at a function at Wayne Manor. We meet all of the Robin’s with the exception of Jason Todd and all are in street clothes for this and learn about some of the cool technology that Batman is using in his battle on crime. We close out with a scene that is not too far off from the movie “Seven” if I had to draw a comparison and the reveal at the end while shocking to the readers eyes will likely be explained away somehow that will make sense as the writers line it out. For now it leaves you a little shaken but remember my friends “it’s only a comic book story”. I admit that it did leave me anxious just a tad because I love a good cliff hanger. Scott Snyder writes this tome while Greg Capullo penciled and Jonathan Glapton inked.
Detective Comics #1: I had to admit that Detective Comics started off strong and ended pretty much the same way and finds the Caped Crusader once again dealing with the menace of The Joker. We see a very violent Clown Prince of Crime which is totally the one that I want to see delivered in the book and we also see how little the police force trusts The Batman and would rather capture him for questioning than save an innocent in one part of the storyline. It seems as though the city that he has sworn to protect does not want his help no matter how much good it does and that Commissioner Gordon is his only “friend” and trusted ally. Additional villainy is found brewing by Joker who eventually gets put back in Arkham Asylum and there is a cliffhanger ending that I feel will make any reader exclaim aloud “Wow, what can happen next”. It shocked me more than the revelation at the closure of the Batman #1 title since I am still sure that it will be explained away with ease. Not this one though. That was just – yikes. Tony Daniel writes and draws with the assistance of Ryan Winn on inks. Really tight stuff.
Batwing #1: For those of you who did not read “Batman Inc.” please allow me to introduce you to Batwing – The Batman of Africa. If this is news to you, don’t feel so bad because I had only read a single issue of that title and was more anticipating a trade paperback of some kind. Originally created for this title by writer Grant Morrison, Batwing now spreads his wings in his homeland protecting the Congo from its unique kind of villainy. At first glance I thought we were getting an African American version of the Batman Beyond character but I was incorrect. The costume does look very similar I will admit. Story wise this seemed like it could be interesting and there is a brief guest appearance by the Batman that we all know and love but only time will tell if this character in his own book has any merit as opposed to being in a showcase kind of book. Batwing sports armor and can apparently fly thanks to devices in this technology. Judd Winick writes and Ben Oliver does the art.
Batman The Dark Knight #1: While The Dark Knight chapter of the Batman mythos starts off with a few dramatic images of the caped crusader as he mans the Batplane, we end up with quite a bit of Bruce Wayne face time as he interacts with other heads of the city and meets what I will assume shall become a kind of romantic interest for his character. She’s nicely drawn so I hope so for his sake. The action takes place in the middle of the issue as we find an escape happening over at Arkham Asylum but this one has a bit of a difference. The inmates appear different from their usual madness and they dispense some serious harm to the security before Batman arrives to assess the situation and offer his own brand of help. A surprise character is encountered in passing before he reaches the object of his quest which is the cell of Two-Face but when Batman finds him he realizes that he has something a lot more serious than he might have thought going in. We are left at this point and only can count the days until the next issue comes and if his comment about having no fear is actually true. The story comes from both sides of the creative team even though Paul Jenkins is listed as writer and David Finch is on pencils.
Batman and Robin #1: The Dynamic Duo is back in action and in this title the mantle of Robin has fallen on the shoulders of Bruce Wayne’s son Damian. The earlier Robins are known of and mentioned briefly and we find that Young Mr. Wayne is a bit of a handful for the Batman to deal with. Their interaction is like a stern Dad dealing with a precocious child and it worked for me at the end of the day. At times Robin jumps the gun only to get a scolding by Bat Dad. It made sense. We also find Batman visiting the place of his characters “birth” in Crime Alley and hear him cite a new creed with this yearly pit stop. There is also a sure to be troubling baddie in this one called Nobody. I am sure he will be causing problems for the pair going across the next few books. I was glad to find myself reading this from beginning to end without going “ugh, please get to the point already”. So far the core Batman titles have been alright which is more than I was able to say about the two staple Superman titles in the posting that focused on those issues. Peter Tomasi wrote it while Gleason and Gray are responsible for pencils and inks. Nicely done boys.
Batgirl #1: Should I complain here before even offering up a recap of the title? I might as well because I am sure everyone is up in arms about this most dramatic thing we learn as we open up the new #1 for Batgirl and that is – Barbara Gordon is Batgirl!!! Yep. She is in costume and swinging around and kicking some righteous criminal tale and I am stunned. Stunned because when I last read about her she was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. She was very effective as Oracle and become the prime resource of information to a host of super-heroes and proved that the disability was only limiting her mobility and not her functionality. So there you have it – she is all better now and the attack by The Joker and being wounded like this is referenced in dream sequences but I didn’t catch anything about her not too distant past as Oracle in this. Perhaps the new continuity has erased this aspect and if they have I say shame on you. We meet a nasty piece of work who calls himself The Mirror and we see Gordon as Batgirl coming to terms once again with her mobility as she dispatches some home invaders. This kind of thing obviously strikes a chord in her heroism after being attacked as she was those “three years ago” in the continuity time. I understand that Gordon IS the most popular of all the women who wore the cowl and cape as Batgirl over the years but they will have some serious explaining to do at what made them dismiss one of the most important handicapped characters ever introduced to the medium. Story by Gail Simone, with artwork by Ardian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes. The read is solid just the same and the art is nice.
Batwoman #1: Even though I had seen a number of Batwoman appearances in some of the Detective Comics issues and the collected editions of her adventures of recent time it was a character that I was not paying any mind to. This was not for any particular reason, and more a matter of time management and more interest in other titles. Now that she has her own official title as a part of The New 52 perhaps I can give her a chance. With this limited background I can honestly say that the title was very difficult to follow in terms of the proceedings because we really don’t get any sort of back story to the beginnings or who the obviously large cast of supporting players are. We do meet Kathy Kane who is Batwoman and her sister Bette who was apparently Firebird at one point in her life. In Batwoman she serves as the hero’s own Robin and is called “plebe”. That’s a military term for freshman in case you were wondering. A side story is begun as Mr. Bones from the D.E.O. assigns Agent Chase to find out who the Batwoman is but outside of that this was not all that compelling a read. It needs to get more information into the reader’s heads quickly if this is going to succeed. That’s my view at least. The story comes via J.H. Williams III with art by W, Haden Blackman.
Nightwing #1: Not much to tell about the debut issue of Nightwing other than we find Dick Grayson back in his own leotards after subbing as Batman while Bruce Wayne was “missing” during the story arc that ran about a year. The hero is also back in Gotham City and getting back to his circus roots. There was a decent amount of action in the title and essentially nothing much of a surprise but totally what you would expect of the character. Dick has been through a lot of wringers over the years and sometimes the stresses from this is show in how he metes out the justice to the criminal element. We find him tussling with a baddie whose name I did not see mentioned and apparently this cat knows who he is in real life so that will be a real pickle to get out of. I’m fairly certain if you have enjoyed Nightwing’s adventures over the years that you will be fine with the developments brewing in this title of The New 52. Dick was the first Robin and it’s been great to watch how much his character has been developed over the years.
Catwoman #1: Catwoman started off with a bang as we find the femme feline snapping up some wardrobe and her beloved kitties before fleeing her besieged apartment. She is on the move as attackers try to get the drop on her before blowing the place up. She takes temporary refuge with a friend and dons a disguise to dish out some personal justice to an old enemy before we find her fully in the cat suit. It’s unclear from the happenings whether she is the crafty villain she once was or if she has slightly turned a new leaf and is more of a hired hand heroine. Having really enjoyed the direction of the title once delivered by Jim Balent I will remain hopeful. Batman turns up to check on her safety and sanity and it’s clear that they have some history with what happens in the titles closing pages. I will leave that to your own imagination and discovery but believe me it definitely shocked me and that is saying something. The tale comes from Judd Winick while the art is from Guillem March. I liked March’s style for the most part and I am hoping that a little more detail comes in terms of the story thus far presented.
Birds Of Prey #1: I will admit to being a casual fan of the original Birds Of Prey titles and liked the aspect of letting some of the strong female characters take the lead and smite some bad guys but I did not really keep up on the title every month. In The New 52 we find a brand new team being assembled by the Black Canary and The Huntress no longer appears to be a part of the equation. We also no longer have Oracle, but you knew that if you read the also recently released Batgirl #1. The story opens with Black Canary and a new to my eyes character Starling. She sports a firearm and some serious ink on her arm. The Alt-Femme Fatale I reckon has finally come to pass in the comics. Dinah does pitch the idea of the team to Barbara Gordon who declines and instead recommends the Japanese heroine Katana. You might remember her as being one of the original Outsiders team that was led by Batman way back in the early 80’s. You younger readers might have only seen these in trade paperback editions as opposed to original issues. The cover shows a character who appears to be Poison Ivy but she is not in the debut issue nor am I sure I am correct in the assumption that one of the Batman rogues gallery would act as a force for good. I will give this a few issues to grow on me, as it was not bad but it was also not too great. Duane Swierczynski pens the tale and Jesus Saiz did the art.
Red Hood and The Outlaws #1: For starters I was not 100% behind the idea of Jason Todd being resurrected and acting out his vengeance as the Red Hood in the first place but it is what it is. Our tale in The New 52 begins with an apparently in prison Roy Harper (formerly Speedy of Green Arrow fame and now using the moniker Arsenal) being broken out of said confinement by Todd. Some shoot ‘em out scuffling ensues and the pair is soon rescued by former Teen Titan Starfire. The reimagining of this particular character will set some people on their ear as she is essentially a sex-hungry being who makes no qualms about doing the deed with Arsenal while also being attached to Red Hood. Her memory of the original Titans is non-existent and we learn this is how her species brain works. She is only about pleasing her senses and hence this is the reason she amounts to not much more than a super powered love doll. We do get some super sexy visuals of Starfire in a bikini, and these are quickly uploaded to a young lads Facebook or something. My how these mediums have changed the world. Also there is a character called Essence who I am not all that familiar with. Not sure if I like the goings on here or if I shall continue to follow the title. It’s penned by Lobdell with cool artwork by Ken Rocafort.
PiercingMetal Thoughts: Since I’ve offered up opinion on every single title right below their cover I’ll leave it at that. You can however offer up what you thought about the Batman Family of titles first issues in the comments section below.
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