W: Judd Winnick
A: Guillem March
Catwoman #01 has, so far, been the most challenging book for me to review. On the one hand I really like it. On the other, it upsets me, a lot. On the plus side, the book is very well done. Winnick has crafted a story that immediately draws the reader into Catwoman’s world. We are shown the dangers and excitement in her particular line of work. We meet an interesting new character, Catwoman’s fence, who seems like she will almost play the Alfred role in this title. There is a decent little mystery
to the plot that is good enough to stick around for at least the opening arc. The artwork is very nice if rather inconsistent. I’m not sure if there is some facial “tracing” going on but there are a few panels where Catwoman looks entirely different, especially around the lips. That small quirk aside, the art really is nice. It flows well; the action makes sense on the page, and the storytelling from panel to panel is nice. However, the ending of this book left me at something of a crossroads. Without completely spoiling the last few panels, Batman shows up and the last 20 or so years of fan fiction takes place right on
the page. Now, there is nothing gratuitous, nothing that needs to be censored. But, this issue clearly illustrates that comics are no longer for kids. And that is somewhat sad to me. I know the booked is rated T so little kids should not be reading it but I wonder what books are left for them. I know there are a few out there, like Tiny Titans for example, but mainstream proper comics, not really. I’m not sure if that is good or not. I appreciate that stories are being written for me and my age group. It concerns
me about the long term growth and health of the industry. Overall, this book was very good and worth a peek.
W: Scott Snyder
A: Greg Capullo
Wow. What an awesome debut for the team of Snyder and Capullo. I had a feeling, like everyone else I’m sure, that this was going to be really good. And dammit was it ever! Capullo is so good for Batman. He should have left McFarlane years ago. He is an insanely talented artist and a perfect match for the dark and gritty atmosphere Scott Snyder creates here. There has been some concern around the internet that Capullo would be too “Spawn” for Batman; that the cape would be ridiculous. Well, I can safely say that he puts any doubt to rest. His pencils are so good that even though Jim Gordon looks like a beefed up Twitch, it doesn’t matter. His Batman is badass. The opening fight scene is done very well with the villains getting some nice looks during the action. I really like his Clayface and Killer Croc. Hopefully we get to see them star in some solo villain arcs down the road. As for Snyder, he knocks it out of the park. The pacing, dialogue, setting, and overall characterization are right where they should be. It feels as if this is Batman, not just some guy’s take on him. I am really looking forward to this book next month. The mystery is solid, the cliffhanger tremendous, and plot just damn good. Get this now!
Detective Comics #001
W: Tony Daniel
A: Tony Daniel
Wow! So apparently the New DCU won’t be a kinder, gentler place. This issue is brutal. If DC was looking to recapture the kids with this relaunch, this is not the book for them. Tony Daniel writes and draws a dirty, nasty Gotham City with an equally dirty and nasty Joker. The Joker has always been the best of Batman’s villains, according to popular opinion anyway. He is an incredibly complex character when done well. Not just a maniac but a maniac with a method to his madness. This issue sees a young Batman taking on a young Joker; one who already has quite a body count. We see him add another corpse to his count right away, a man wearing a mask made out of skin. Batman shows up and breaks up the party only to have to save a little girl and deal with the GCPD. In this new DCU, the police don’t trust Batman at all. The only one on his side is Commissioner Gordon. We get a nice interaction between these two that ends with the classic disappearing act. It’s a well done scene that gives the reader a great sense of how these two will interact with each other. Their conversation leads to a quick fight and the Joker being placed in the care of Dr. Arkham. I’m very excited to see how this plays out with the good doctor. The ending scene is very gory and really drives home the type of man this Joker is going to be. Daniel never goes too far and the writing and art play very well together. Overall, a very solid first issue.
So, the plan is to review all 52 of the New DC Universe titles that are launching the last week of August and throughout September. This week sees the release of Flashpoint 05, technically the final issue of the original DCU, and Justice League 01, the first issue of the new continuity. Let’s take a look at
Flashpoint 05 first.
The Flashpoint series has been relatively uneven at best so far. For a five issue series, it really seemed that nothing was happening up until issue 04. And even the events of that issue, Captain Marvel and the battle between Wonder Woman and Aquaman, were apparently handled in limited series. The main book deals with none of these conflicts and therefore makes them completely irrelevant to the overall story. I honestly felt after reading Flashpoint 05 that Dc simply could have published this issue and everyone would have been fine with that. it does tie up everything nicely and has a somewhat plausible resolution to the time travel story. The main issue I have with it is the change made to Batman’s status quo at the end. Spoilers ahead so skip by if you haven’t read the issue.
*The Flash gives Batman, Bruce, a note from his father, Thomas, who was Batman in the alternate reality. Bruce reads the note and breaks down in tears thanking Flash for delivering the message. While we do not get to see the entire note, it can be assumed that Thomas absolves Bruce of responsibility. Thereby Batman no longer has a reason to be. Any other conclusion that could be drawn from the note doesn’t make sense. It would be silly to think that Thomas wrote his alternate reality son a note saying that he was glad he was murdered in an alley so that his boy could grow up to be a great crime fighter.*
That complaint aside, Flashpoint 05 accomplishes what it needs to and sets up the new DCU. 7 out of 10.
The other title released this week is Justice League 01. This book is the official first entry in the New 52. It takes place 5 years in the past and showcases Batman and Green Lantern. Superman and Cyborg make brief appearances.
Two things struck me about this issue. One, Jim Lee, is still an unbelievable artist. His work here is spectacular and arguably, the best of his career. The new costumes look as good as they possibly can with his pencils and the inking and coloring is on point as well. The writing on the other hand left me feeling confused. Apparently, in the New DCU, I am going to hate Green Lantern. I understand that this is an Early look at these heroes and their first interactions with each other but he comes off as a complete prick. Not cocky like GL has always been under Johns, but as an utter asshole. I know that I cannot compare this GL to the old GL really, but, DC has already said that all of the Geoff Johns GL work would still be in continuity. Therefore, I know what Hal is going to be like, and I know what he was like before. And it just wasn’t this. Overall, this issue has my curiosity piqued and I will definitely be following this book closely. There is work to be done however and I expect more from Geoff Johns. 6.5 out of 10.
Overall Dc has quite a bit of work to do explaining where all of the previous continuity fits in with the New DCU. I am still excited by the prospect, particularly what is done with Superman, but will remain skeptical. I will continue to review all of the new titles as they are released and will have a wrap-up post at the end of September with recommendations on books to continue on with or ignore all together. It should be fun!
The Riddler remains one of my top two favorite Batman villains, the other being Two-Face. With both of the included in this game I am understandably excited. This game may be number one on my 2011 watch list, although MW3 is up there pretty high.
I have always believed the Riddler to be the most undervalued Batman villain. This trailer shows him to be the Jigsaw equivalent in Gotham and it works. Setting traps, leaving clues, being clever, all perfect for Mr. Nigma. What do you guys think?
For those of you not following any current DC or comics news, they are currently running a summer event called Flashpoint. Issue 2 is slated to hit tomorrow, 6/1/11, so you still have time to catch up. The gist of the story is this, something strange is happening in the world of the Flash. Nothing is as it should be. Characters are different. People long dead are suddenly back and running around in tights. And NOTHING will ever be the same. At least, that is what DC is promising. And for once it looks like they may be telling the truth. In a bold move, DC will be relaunching their entire lineup with new number one’s starting in September. All new creative teams, all new continuity. The only number one nit shipping in September will be Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee! The new Justice League book ships the last Wednesday of August along with Flashpoint #6. The lineup for the book will be the big guns, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman. The characters will be getting redesigned costumes to go along with the new continuity.
The final piece of the post Flashpoint DC is the publisher’s commitment to day and date digital distribution. And it’s about time.
Look, all of this sounds great to me. It honestly does. I have always been a Marvel guy, ever since I was a wee tot. I love the DC characters a ton, but have never been able to get into their books on a regular basis. I applaud this strategy. To me, this is what is needed for characters over 60 years old that have been through Crisis after Crisis. I hope it sticks and we get new relationships and new angles on old themes. It has potential. It can be great. I hope it is.
From batmobilehistory.com comes this incredible look at every Batmobile used in the franchise. It is truly stunning.
This weekend saw the latest attempt by Spike to make a Video Game award show matter. As big a gamer as I am, I just don’t care. There is really nothing engaging to me present in the whole thing. The trailers, which we will discuss down below, can be seen online minutes after the show airs. That means I still get to see the excellent new titles without having to sit through an awards show. Neil Patrick Harris notwithstanding, I will continue to abstain.
But the trailers I hear you asking. What new pieces of visual goodness debuted at the show. Well, there were quite a few actually. What I am presenting here a simply the ones I care most about. The others, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, Prototype 2, etc. were fine, just not all that exciting IMO. Read the rest of this entry
posted by GW Dan
Lighter week this time around but some really good stuff. Here we go…
Avengers Academy 02
writer – Christos Gage, artist – Mike McKone
Issue two of Avengers Academy hits this week and builds off of the decidedly average debut. Gage does a good thing here by focusing the series on Finesse. Her character seems to be the one most ready for expansion into the Marvel U proper. While the overall idea that this group of teenagers are seen as the most dangerous of Norman Osborn’s recruits still doesn’t really work for me, Finesse does seem like she could cause a problem or two. The rest of the team needs to be filled out going forward but I think Gage realizes that this will be her book. And bravo to him because she is a very interesting character that could prove to be a major player if handled correctly. McKone does a fine job on the art, as he always does, though there isn’t really much to do. I’m hopping we get some action soon before this book gets bogged down in teen angst and melodrama.
writer – Andy Diggle, artist – Roberto De La Torre
Part two of Shadowland hits and steers the event in the right direction. Diggle takes a moment after the mini-series debut to flesh out the characters and their place in the world. Foggy is particularly strong here and serves as our voice to Daredevil. DD becoming distanced and walking a fine line between good and evil is nothing new. I can’t think of a modern DD writer who didn’t try it. However, with DD setting up the Shadowland in NY, and kicking out his friends and family, I get the feeling that this time things will go a little differently. Diggle does a good job setting up the pieces for the continuing story and dropping a teaser that has become cliche in recent DD stories but nonetheless gets me excited every time. De La Torre continues the grittiness of recent DD artists and that’s just fine with me. It is a style that works well for the tone and the setting. Hopefully this book shows the direction the series is headed. If so, Marvel should have a very good event on their hands.
Invincible Iron Man vol. 5 28
writer – Matt Fraction, artist – Salvador Larrocca
If we are being honest, I haven’t kept up on my Iron Man reading. I don’t exactly know why either. I love the character. I love the writing. I love the art. I guess I just trade wait too long for this series. That being said, this issue is pretty solid. In Tony’s quest to rebuild his life his company is taking a new shape. No longer a weapons developer, Stark Resilient wants to bring energy to the world. To do this, Tony needs a new team of workers and he interviews them here. He also flies to Japan and has a brief run-in with the Hammer heirs. Most of the issue is talking heads but it works. Fraction is so good on Iron Man that even an issue that has no action is still a high quality book. The art continues to improve as Larrocca refines his already excellent work. Simply put, another solid issue from a consistent team.
Vengeance of the Moon Knight 10
writer – Gregg Hurwitz, artist – Juan Jose Ryp
Issue ten sees an explanation of Moon Knight on the Secret Avengers. It’s an odd match to be sure but it works and this issue really drives home why from Moon Knight’s perspective. I like what they have done to Moon Knight recently. He has always been a solid character with way too many issues. They simply weighed him down. Bendis or Millar could have crafted an awesome story playing with the multiple personality aspect of Moon Knight but why bother? Now, writers have a much clearer path to telling good stories without the crazy baggage. The story itself here is pretty crazy in and of itself. Pirates, the Glove of Astria, a completely mental sea monster, all here. But it serves as Moon Knight’s self realization as to his placement on the team. Hurwitz does well with minimal dialogue between the team members. The story really shines in the art department. Ryp does violence and gore the way of Darrow on Hard Boiled and it is brilliant. He is perfect for this title and I hope he never leaves. Next month crosses with Shadowland. Should be a good time.
writer – Grant Morrison, artist – Tony Daniel
OK look. Here’s the thing. If you need to be out a two part story to fill in the gap between two separate stories that concluded close to two years ago, those original stories didn’t work then. Batman R.I.P and Final Crisis were simply not good. Make no mistakes about it, Grant Morrison is a talented writer. He has no place near superheroes though, especially Batman. The RIP story was a joke without an ending. Final Crisis was a convoluted mess, and I do like Johns work quite a bit. However, the current run of Batman has no business filling in the gaps. If it wasn’t important two years ago it certainly isn’t now. The issue itself is average at best. Morrison offers nothing new to the overall picture because we know Bruce died in Final Crisis and is coming back in a few months. Therefore this issue is just flat. The dialogue between Alfred and Bruce is good but otherwise this is a pass. Daniels’ artwork is among the most inconsistent in the industry. His Bruce here does not maintain the same body throughout the book’s pages. Overall, not worth your money.
writer – JMS, artist – Eddy Barrows
If you had said to me that a comic about Superman walking across America Forrest Gump style would blow me away I would have said, “depends on who’s writing it but probably not.” And I would have been very wrong. This month sees issue one in JMS’s year long Grounded story arc. In this arc JMS is going to examine what it is that makes a hero. There will be some political insight, as there already was this issue, some social insight, as there was this issue, and damn fine character work, as there was this issue. Superman may very well be the perfect choice for this type of narrative and bravo to JMS and DC for allowing it to happen. After years of some pretty mediocre Superman stories, we are going to be reminded or maybe realize just exactly why we love this character as much as we do. In this issue we see Superman making a stop in Philadelphia. And he mostly talks. That’s really about it. And it really, REALLY works. I loved it and am on the hook for more. Barrows does a nice job with the emotion of the story. Admittedly, there isn’t much in the way of panel to panel story-telling. It’s mostly talking heads. But he does well and serves the narrative. Overall this book just works. The next issue can’t get here fast enough.
That’s it for this week. Too much going on to get to anything else. Will update when I get a chance.