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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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New 52, Roundup #3

Finishing my assorted purchases from weeks 2 and 3...

Superboy #1
written by Scott Lobdell, art by R.B. Silva and Rob Lean
I rather liked the Connor Kent Superboy character, and quite liked the recent run by Jeff Lemire and  Pier Gallo so having a new Superboy wasn't at the top of my wish list for the New 52. Perhaps just as well that this is a completely new take that can't be directly compared, and at least a mildly interest new take at that. As with Connor is a clone. There is a hint that as in the new Action the character might not be entirely saintly when he emerges into the real world. The art didn't do much for me, though I did like that the story takes full advantage of the art form with a visual cue that isn't commented upon at the time but which is picked up on a few pages later, requiring the reader to pay attention to both words and pictures. A modest success. 

Deathstroke #1
written by Kyle Higgins, art by Joe Bennett and Art Thibert
Terminator this, if you please. I found this book to be outright dull. The character has been around at the margins of the DC Universe for some 30 years, and seems to have children with father issues in every city in the DC Universe, but never a great character. So this reboot starts out with an instant fatal flaw that nobody wants the guy around any more and the first issue is a setup to get him out of the way. What this guy needs is a good new reason to care about him, not an excuse for me to say "but I DO want the character out of the way. 

Suicide Squad #1
written by Adam Glass, art by Federico Dallocchio and Ransom Getty
The first three pages are great, and then all downhill from there. Two page spread on the Suicide Squad that has me poring over each image with curiosity about who the characters are, what is happening to them. But over the 15 pages following we find out very little about the characters, names or personalities or etc. We get a footnote to refer to Detective #1, which is not good for the second week of the New 52.  The art following is meh, pictures and panels but very little in the way of storytelling. This is a very definite one and out. 

DC Universe Presents #1
Deadman story and art by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang
I think DC Universe Presents is intended as the try-out title like the old Showcase to test something for a few issues. Based on this I do not see Deadman graduating to his own book. Deadman is one of the more interesting of the second tier characters in the DCU, but this presentation doesn't even do much to take best advantage of that, let alone move him higher in the rankings.  The book was so intent on being atmospheric that it didn't do 
a good job of presenting the concept of the series, and the mystery wasn't so intriguing either. The art didn't do much for me either. With a character like this you should either find major talent wanting to do it or some really fresh approach, this middling redo is neither. 

Batwoman #1
written by JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, art by Williams
interesting but maybe not interesting enough. I felt as if I was coming in on the middle of something instead of at the start. As a rule if one of the New 52 books is making me feel like I needed to have read something else, I think mission unaccomplished.  I loved some of the pages of artwork immensely, the ones that required good realist storytelling had in spades, and were just a joy to admire the flow. But the mysterious or nonlinear pages seemed unpurposefully unclear instead of purposefully so. With more time on my hands maybe I would see how it all played out.

Nightwing #1
written by Kyle Higgins, art by Eddy Barrows and J.P. Mayer
Since Higgins' Deathstroke wasn't to my liking, it's interesting to find myself liking his work here. Nightwing is Dick Grayson, the original Robin, and ettign back to being Nightwing after subbing for Batman for an extended period ore New 52. That is mentioned here, but it needs only a mention, no sense that you need to have actually read all of those books in order to enjoy this.  After visiting old friends at the Circus which Dick worked for lo those many years ago, he has an extended fight with a villain, a very nasty one, fresh off the bus into Gotham.  I liked the setup, the hints of involvement with the old circus crowd to add some supporting cast, the mysteries to whom this very bad guy villain is. I like Eddy Barrows, he has done other work in the limited menu of DCU titles I have read ore New 52.  Good storytelling, young characters that are nice to look at. Will be back for more. 

Batman and Robin #1
written by Peter J. Tomassi, art by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray
Much less successful Batman family reboot. I like the dynamic between Batman/Robin Bruce/Damian, but not much else. 

Legion of Superheroes #1
written by Paul Levitz, art by Francis Portella
I do think of Levitz as the quintessential Legion writer, his classic zdarkseid battles from my youth are just that -- classic. But in the context of the anew 52, this series seems to be playing more toward the core Legion fans than to potential new readers. Doesn't start small, introducing us to a few Legionnaires with the ability to build out. A lots of Legion members, lots of story lines.  I yearn for this to be more of a fresh start than it is. 

Resurrection Man #1
written by Dan Abnett, art by Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino
A pleasant surprise, either a good companion to or way too much like Grifter, to the point where you could mix and swap scenes and pages between the two books and have the mashups make sense. Both have guys with weird hair and weird powers with powerfully weird airplane trips and mysterious other people chasing after. All kinds of weird and unknown reasons and motives at both ends. This has some swell artwork that goes really nicely from the "out there" pages to the more naturalistic, though the lines are always a bit rough, the faces a bit out of focus, which works very well for a book like this.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
written by Jeff Lemire, art by Alberto Ponticelli
With weeks 2 and 3 as with week #1, I saved the Lemire for last. When I initially did my week 2 shopping I left this out then went back to add when an enthusiastic review in AV Club reminded me it was Lemire. Think of any superhero group.  Change sleek HQ for twisted-looking orbital, well-muscled tights-wearing heroes for, errr, ummm, how would you describe them. Just turn it all by 137 degrees. Add in art that channels some of the best panels from Frank Miller's Ronin, odd shapes and odd lines that often compel a second or third look to soak it all in. Definitely in for more!!

The week 2/3 batting average is lower than for week 1, but still a few enthusiastic finds. Just luck, taste, or front loading?

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