Wherein we come to the end of our exploration of the new DC Universe after its first 13 months of existence...
I thought Birds of Prey started off strong and then went off track pretty quickly. The 0 issue by Duane Swierczynski, Romano Molenaar and Vicente Cifuentes will probably be my last. It didn't interest me, hard to say why, but it didn't. Nor did Superman #0 by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort. Here, at least I know why. The art wasn't my style. And more to the point, I know there that I have zero interest in having another retelling of the Krypton side of Superman's origin. Been there, done that, got it it one in the opening 20 minutes of Superman: The Movie in 1977. And for all the reboots of Superman since from John Byrne's in the mid-1980s and onward, it is what it is. While I'm not likely to continue with the book with this art team, it's possible there are other story-lines, perhaps with other art teams, that I'll decide to try. The Flash was another back story that didn't interest me story-wise, but there's been enough good work done on this book over the past year by writer Francis Manapul, with art in this issue by Brian Buccellato, that I'll certainly be back next issue. And while the story here didn't interest me much, it was at least well done, creatively thought out, and very nice to look at. Just not for me. And finally, we come to Voodoo. Another of those books with the Daemonites. And this, well, there was some interesting stuff in the script, and the art wasn't bad, but I just don't find myself digging anything with the Daemonites, and as this issue got more and more caught up in advancing hte current continuity I got less and less interested. And yet, there's also some pull to this and to Grifter, some primal element with the characters and settings and situations, that keeps wanting these to work for me, that makes me keep wanting to give second and twenty-second chances to these books. I should stop, yet part of me isn't sure that I will.
What did work for me?
Talon, with a script by James Tynion IV based on a plot by he and Scott Snyder, and art by Guillem March, was fantastic. I purchased this without even looking inside because of Scott Snyder's involvement. I started to ask myself why, because the Talons from the Night of the Owls story-line in Batman and the other Batman books, are the bad guys. And I don't much dig anti-hero comic books. Which this kind of isn't. Our lead character is Calvin Rose, a Talon gone bad (gone good?), escaped from the bad guys and trying to stay a step ahead. I'm totally caught up in the character. I liked the art. I'm just totally in for this one.
This was a good issue of Aquaman, a book that I've warmed to a lot less than others. Writer Geoff Johns takes Aquaman back to Atlantis. The art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado is good, my problem with the art in Aquaman isn't with the art itself as with the script, which too often requires the art to be elongated fight scenes that serve to chew up pages, not so much of that here. Of course, the first issue of Aquaman a year ago was solid, the big question now is what level the book will maintain moving forward.
It's always interesting to see how a writer can be good one place and not so good the other, while I didn't enjoy Scott Lobdell doing the umpteenth Krypton story that I've read, I liked what he did in Teen Titans #0 quite a bit, bringing us a fresh take on the origin of Robin, Red Robin. Familiar yet fresh, giving real emotional weight both to Tim Drake and to Bruce Wayne/Batman. Three inkers over Tyler Kirkham pencils. Of course, Teen Titans is another New 52 title that started off really strong but kind of faltered over the course of Year 1, so as with Aquaman the question is what level they can maintai going forward.
And finally, Firestorm #0 by Joe Harris, Yildiray Cinar and Marlo Alquiza. I probably purchased more issues of Firestorm over the last year than the should have. For old time's sake, I guess. I really cottoned to Firestorm when he was introduced in 1978, I was distressed and dismayed when the series disappeared as part of the DC Implosion after the first five issues. I wrote lots of letters urging for the series to return. And I was oh so happy in 1981 when it was announced that he would. This is something like the 4th Firestorm comic book. This issue #0 does a nice job of rebooting the story after it got very fight-heavy and honestly very boring with fights. Joe Harris took over halfway through the first year, so is it his fault it got fight heavy or was he stuck with a storyline he had to finish out? It will have a chance to fail out, and I hope it will not.
When I commented on the second month of the New 52 here (including links to all my original New 52 posts from a year ago) I've got to give DC an excellent passing grade.
I purchased 24 New 52 "0" issues in September 2012. I purchased around 20 New 52 "#2" issues in October 2011. Even allowing for around a half dozen of these 0 issues that I purchased due to the 0 issue marketing gimmick to see what we going on etc., the fact is that most of the books that I got an issue #2 of were still doing something good enough that I was back a year later, though I might not have purchased every issue of every single book over that year. And should I count it against DC that they came up with a marketing gimmick that gave me a starting point to feel I could give a comic book a test run? I don't think I should, one of the largest problems in the industry was that it was to self-referential that you couldn't ever get back into something easily once you left. You give credit, not blame, when people recognize a problem and try and come up with a solution to it.
There are still some question marks. DC hasn't yet done a big company wide crossover with the New 52. They've done focused crossovers that haven't all worked for me, but it's been 50/50 with some crossovers like Night of the Owls getting me to sample books I might not have otherwise and others that have had me skipping a book I might otherwise have purchased. Pre New-52, those odds were way lower that a crossover would get me to buy a book rather than drop one.
With all the focus on the New 52, there were some other good DC superhero books over the past year. My list would include The Huntress mini-series and The Ray mini-series, especially.
And finally, the 0 issues had what I, at least, considered to be excellent first issues for Amethyst in Sword of Sorcery, for Talon, The Phantom Stranger, and for Team 7. If the biggest question a year ago was whether the New 52 was just a quick-lived quick-flaring gimmick or something real, the answer is clear that it was and is something real. A lot of the New 52 books have seen diminished sales over the past year, which you'd kind of expect as you get further out from all the bright lights of the launch. But on balance, the company is selling more copies of more books. And a lot of them to people like me, to lapsed superhero fans whom DC was able to bring back into the fold.
My next comics post will be on the books I've gotten over the last month that haven't been part of the New 52.
- The Brillig Blogger
- A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.