The following is a simulblog. You can read about this week’s new DC Genesis from Josh Toulouse’s Fat-Train here, and from Justin Tiemeyer’s Caveman-Go here. You can read my previous posts here, and here with links to the others as well. It also occurs to me that after opting out, Arthur the Lesser has opted in here.
This is week 2 (week 3 if you count Justice League) of the new DCU relaunch, We’re gonna take it nice and slow, so grab a beverage. Out of the 13 new books released this week, I reviewed 11 (plus 1 for going back and picking up Swamp Thing from last week). The two titles that I didn’t pick up were Deathstroke and Grifter, which really didn’t interest me much. Let’s get to it!
*********Spoilers to follow: Ye have been warned.************
RED LANTERNS #1
There was something that I liked about this book. I just can’t remember what it is. I really wanted to like it, probably because of how well the characters have been portrayed in the Green Lantern series, but I found myself holding back my affection.
Atrocitus, the main character, formed this Red Lantern Corps as a way of taking revenge against the Guardians of the Universe for destroying his homeworld. Got it. His power came from his rage, like the Green Lantern’s come from will. Got it. He found out that the Guardians were not responsible for the death of his planet, instead it was Krona, a rogue Guardian. Got it. Someone else kills Krona before Atrocitus can get to it. Got it. All that stuff happens before issue 1, but the reader is caught up quickly. But here’s the rub.
If the motivating force behind Atrocitus’ rage is gone, then where does his power come from? The funny thing is, Atrocitus wonders that himself and spends the rest of the issue trying to justify why he is still a Red Lantern and how, like Stella, he can get his groove back. Unfortunately by the end of the issue, I just didn’t care anymore. Red Lanterns, like Venom, Sabertooth, Magneto, Juggernaut, and Emma Frost (yep!) just don’t work for me as heroes, no matter what motivation they discover. Anger can only be redemptive in spurts. But like Jesus taught us on the Sermon on the mount, if you hold onto it, it will consume you. Sorry, Red Lanterns, I am not waiting around for the consummation.
Verdict: Possible, but highly unlikely this will make the buy pile next month.
There is a problem with Batwoman for me. The problem is, I just don’t care. She isn’t as likeable as Batgirl. Her origin is laughably derivative (and in Gotham, that is saying something). And I think what bugs me the most is that, while she is a Lesbian, she (along with every other female in her books) is clearly sexually marketed toward men. Regardless of how you feel about gender and sex issues, no group should be used exploitatively to fulfill the desires of others. LGBTQ issues don’t move forward here, they are simply marketed and touted as diversity.
Also, the issue was just blah. Also, there is way too much exposition about what came before, and felt like an epilogue issue to a very long story arc, not a first issue in a relaunch. Horrible jumping on issue.
One thing that struck me though. In this issue, Batwoman teamed up with Flamebird, a relation of hers, to fight crime. A nice throwback to the original introduction of Batwoman and Batgirl in comics. Flamebird mentions that she was a member of the Teen Titans. I thought the Titans were rebooting and meeting for the first time in their issue #1. I could be wrong, but this might be the first continuity hiccup in the new DCU.
Verdict: Nope. Not for me.
LEGION LOST #1
This issue does a really good job of letting us know who all the main characters are and what their powers do. Which is really good, because I have never really followed the Legion of Superheroes, and so I don’t really know anything about them. That is why, although the heroes are well introduced, the plot was really hard to follow. Clearly there was something going on before this issue that makes sense of what was happening, but I didn’t get it. The villain was treated as if we should know who it is, but I had no idea. And finally, when two of the characters kicked the bucket, I didn’t care at all. I suppose longtime Legion readers would be saddened by these deaths, but they felt meaningless to me. I really wanted to like this book, to get a fresh jump on point to a long-running DC staple book, but this just failed on all levels for me.
Verdict: Nope. Legion, you lost me.
SUICIDE SQUAD #1
This book was a nonstop joy from start to finish. Some readers will have at least some knowledge of these characters (Harley Quinn from Batman, Deadshot from Batman and JLA, Amanda Waller from JLA and Green Lantern the movie), but most are pretty new, or unused enough to seem new. The premise is simple. Take a bunch of hardcore criminals and give them a chance at redemption by sending them on missions that are almost certain suicide. The US government is behind it, so it actually seems plausible. Harley had a great line in which she was staring down a thug who was torturing her. She laughs in his face and says, “Hee…That’s so cute. You think you‘re scary. But mister, I’ve seen scary. And you ain’t got his smile.”
The book brings together a pretty fun and broad cast, and the end sets up the idea that there are really no good guys in this book, but there are people who will call what they are doing “good” and use whatever means they can to further their interests. Like I said, since its the US gov, it seems plausible to me.
Verdict: Sure. One more week of this mindless fun couldn’t hurt.
RESURRECTION MAN #1
The idea behind Resurrection Man is that every time he dies, he comes back to life with a different super power. This time, he has electrical powers, which are pretty cool. The addition of the supernatural element was a surprise, but the way it was handles leaves me a bit scared for the future of the book. It seemed like a really tired rendition of the Heaven Vs. Hell thing that was tried ad nauseum with Spawn back in the 90’s when that kind of thing was almost cool. Nowadays however, I want my supernatural, especially my theological supernatural, to have at least a bit more nuance to it.
So great, you can’t die, and so the Devil wants your soul really bad. That just isn’t really a good hook to a series. My hope is that this has all been a sort of red herring and that the series really will nuance itself later.
Verdict: This book has 1 life left. If #2 doesn’t work, its dead to me.
FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1
This book introduced a whole lot of new ideas. First, Frankenstien as a hero? Ok, I can go with that. Frank as a bad-ass hero who works for a secret-agent type organization that has thier headquarters in a small metal ball that floats above the city? Ok! You have to shrink to get in the ball? Great! Wait, what is that? You brought in Ray Palmer (the Atom in the old Universe. Is he Atom still?) to be the science officer-guy? Awesome! Frank goes off to save his 4-armed wife? I love this stuff! It was almost as if someone thought, “how much ridiculous stuff can I throw in this book before people rebel at its incredulity?” But you know, it kinda worked for me. At the end, Frank is teamed up with a who’s who of genetically engineered monsters from Universal, including a fish-woman, wolf-man, vampire-guy, and a mummy. It all seemed in the spirit of fun, and didn’t take itself too seriously, which I liked.
Verdict: Not my favorite of the bunch, but maybe another month.
BATMAN & ROBIN #1
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I know Josh didn’t care for the way Damien was portrayed, but I felt like all of the progress that Robin (now Damien Wayne, Bruce’s son) had made while working with Dick (Batman while Bruce was away) wasn’t erased, but it took a backseat to Damien’s regression once his father was reintroduced into the picture. This seems like typical fare for a son who is forced into late intamacy with a father who he idolized, but never really knew. Bruce feels responsible for this kid, more than even the other Robins, and this leads to a series of mess-ups for Bats as Damien continues to try and prove himself. Batman has two blind spots now. The Joker, and Damien. And at this point, I am not sure who is more dangerous to Batman.
Verdict: Yep. Solid read. I’ll come back for more.
I found lots to like here. I don’t particularly care for Superboy, but the way he is being handled here smells more like a well grounded piece of long-term storytelling than a rehash of an old storyline for a new audience.
We are introduced to Caitlin Fairchild, who some readers will recognize from the old comic Gen 13, but with no powers…yet. She does share some mysterious connection to Superboy that I am eager to learn more about. Also, we are told that Superboy is a clone of Superman, but only a half-clone. The rest of his DNA is human, leading us to wonder whose DNA it is. It is strongly hinted that it might be Lex Luthor’s but I think that may be a red herring. The end, in which Superboy is coerced into joining with the Teen Titans soon, should be very interesting.
Verdict: I’m on board to see where this goes.
DEMON KNIGHTS #1
This book was the big winner for me this month. It is NOT a superhero book. I am not even sure if it is a hero book at all, since most of the characters forming the “knights” are antiheroes and villains in previous worlds. But the idea that in this post-Camelot, dark-ages that heroes of any sort are hard to come by is well conveyed. Even those who do stand out as heroes have their flaws clearly on display, which makes for an interesting read.
Swords and sorcery, a bit more Game of Thrones than Justice League. The Demon Etrigan, The Shining Knight, Vandal Savage (I know, right!?), an Amazon, Horse girl!, Madam Xanadu, and more will make this an absolutely essential part of my monthlies.
Verdict: Yep. Yessir. Absolutely.
I don’t know why I continue to doubt Geoff Johns. I thought that the different Lantern Corps were going to be lame. I was wrong. I thought having Kyle Rayner stick around after Hal Jordan came back was a bad move. He proved me wrong. Then I thought, you know, if you are starting over with #1, you really should have the main character on the cover and not the main villain. I was pleasantly wrong one more time.
When pick up the story, Hal has been kicked out of the GL corps. It is well explained and not overdone. Sinestro is a Green Lantern again. Explained well. Hal can’t get his life back together after losing the corps and the things he goes through are painful to watch. Sinestro is now reaping the storm for all of the sowing of the wind he did as the leader of the Sinestro Corps. By the end, they have both had enough, and it looks like Hal is about to make a deal with the devil to get his ring back… I can’t… wait…
MISTER TERRIFIC #1
I thought this was a good first issue. If it would have come out 10 years ago, we would be hailing it as a great new work. But set in this hyper-competitive landscape, it doesn’t do enough to set itself apart. That isn’t to say it isn’t good though. Micheal Holt, Mr. Terrific, is the “third smartest man in the world.” Naturally that begs the question about who the top two are. Batman? Lex Luthor? Someone else? Also, how can you know that? I digress. Still, Karen Star shows up in this issue as Micheal’s friend (with benefits??), and that is enough for me to want to stick around and see where this goes, as Power-Girl is one of my favorites of all time. I liked Mr. Terrific, and I like that DC is taking seriously its commitment to diversity in comics.
Where are all the black superheroes? At DC apparently. Mr. Terrific, Static, Steel (who is apparently showing up in Action #4), Batwing, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Vixen, Firestorm, and Voodoo? And that is just getting started, and with characters that headline or co-headline their own books. How many does marvel have?
Verdict: Yes. At lest another few months.