Comics

The DCnU 52 Review (Week Two [and Three])

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?Sorry I missed last week’s DCnU reviews; I was so busy doing the Star Wars Blu-ray FAQ I couldn’t get to them. Anyways, they’re after the jump, along with a review of today’s new DC releases. Now, there are some spoilers, so that’s why they’re after the jump — but I did clearly label today’s comics and put them after last week’s comics so you can only read those if you want. Again, I’m coming to most of these a comics and DC neophyte — but since DC is ostensibly trying to attract new comics readers, I thought somebody who wasn’t a comics nerd should give them a look over. Anyways, I just wrote a shit-ton after the jump, check it out if you wanna.


WEEK 2:

Batman and Robin: Since I actually read Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin (in trade) I was expecting a bit of a letdown here, and I was not disappointed. Obviously, part of that is that Morrison is gone, but that’s to be expected. The bigger problem is that Bruce Wayne’s back. Not that Bruce is bad, mind you, it’s just when he’s paired with Damian… well, Damian is just as dour as Bruce is. Damian’s all-business Robin played great off Dick Grayson’s not-exactly-lighthearted-but-far-more-lighthearted-than-Bruce Batman, just as Dick and Bruce used to do. With Bruce and Damian, you don’t get that. Plus, Bruce is trying to be a father to Damian, and, well, Batman-as-dad is just weird to me. I don’t want Batman to be my dad. I want him to kick ass.

Mister Terrific: Knowing nothing about the character — and having no interest in him — I was pleasantly surprised by this. It set up the character well, brought in a neat premise and a neat enemy for Mr. T, too. I didn’t make me a Mr. Terrific fan or anything, but I’ll give it an E for effort.

Suicide Squad: The one with Suicide Girl Harley Quinn. This was awful. Just awful.

Legion Lost: Also awful, but mainly because as a new reader it made zero sense to me. I assume it would appeal to die-hard LoSH fans, but I would be shocked if it picked up a single new reader.

Grifter: Same as Mr. Terrific, I had no preconceptions about this Grifter character, but unlike Mr. T, this comic didn’t do nearly as good a job introducing me to him. Basically, he’s Sawyer from Lost, but then he puts on a mask at the end for some reason? Also, there are aliens? Enh.

Demon Knights:
This comic, starring the Demon in medieval fantasy times, was fun but a bit too busy. I don’t really know what the story is, but it did include the Demon making out with Madame Xanadu, an exploding baby, a lot of knights getting killed, and dinosaurs, so it was still reasonably entertaining. And yes, I mean dinosaurs, not dragons.

Resurrection Man:
Another decent set-up to a character I knew nothing about. It was okay and mildly intriguing, but there are many better DC comics to be spending your money on.

Red Lanterns
: Basically, Atrocitus of the Red Lanterns — who are powered by hate and rage — recounts his origin and then mopes for a while. Bleh.

Green Lantern: The one where Hal Jordan is not a Green Lantern, but Sinestro is. It’s a pretty neat idea, and Johns tells it well — the fact that Sinestro absolutely hates being a Green Lantern again, so much so that he’ll actually work with Hal to get out — but why this story is being told in Green Lantern #1, which is supposed to be the perfect invitation to all-new readers is beyond me. Pity the poor kids who pick up Green Lantern #1 and expect to read about Green Lantern.

Superboy: I’m reasonably aware of the recent Superboy’s test tube origins, so I wasn’t looking forward to re-reading them, but Superboy surprised me. It’s amped up the weirdness and made the lab that created him more mysterious, and Superboy himself is much more of an enigma in that he’s brilliant, coldly analytical, and not-at-all Superman-like, at least at the moment. I’d be interested to read more.

Deathstroke:
Hmm. Well, this features Deathstroke killing a lot of people, so it was all right, but it didn’t make me desperate to pick up the next issue. If you’re a DS fan, you’ll likely enjoy it a lot, but otherwise, enh.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. — Basically, Fankenstein, a werewolf, a vampire, a gillwoman and a mummy fight a town that has been utterly taken over by monsters. I’m 100% down with that.

Batwoman:
Confession time — I’ve also been reading the (few) Batwoman comics, mostly because they’re so damn gorgeous. So I was excited about this new issue finally coming out, which was also gorgeous and I enjoyed very much. However, if you’re picking this up as your introduction to Batwoman, it might explain her deal, but I doubt it would make you very excited for the character. It’s very much “the next issue of Batwoman” as opposed to “Batwoman #1.” Art’s still pretty, though.

WEEK 3

Catwoman: I’ve never read a single solo Catwoman issue, so I have zero idea how true this is to her character or what. All I can tell you is how much of Catwoman seems to be sexploitation. Does the cover show Catwoman laying down seductively yet impossibly on some kind of structure, pouring diamonds all over her tits? Check. Is the opening panel a close-up of her tits, clad only in a bra? Check. Does Catwoman disguise herself as a prostitute to infilitrate a crime ring? No, actually, she disguises herself as a bartender, but then takes off her clothes to get close to a man who abused her while she was a prostitute, and then proceeds to kill him in her underwear, so honorary check. Also: the artist occasionally draws her thighs as bizarrely enormous. Like, Torgo-sized. Very disturbing.

Nightwing:
Dick Grayson is back to being Nightwing. I’d say this was a perfectly fine comic — slightly better than average, but not much — but there’s a scene where Dick literally lets two cops get murdered by an assassin solely to put on his Nightwing costume, and that really bugs me.

Deadman:
DeadmanDeadman is an incredibly depressing, bleak comic to be starring a guy wearing the costume that he does. Basically, Deadman spends the entire issue explianing his origin, and talking about not only about how shitty his “life” is, but how shitty the lives of the people he inhabits are. The comic ends — I kid you not — with Deadman entering the body of a brain-damaged, disabled war vet, and then making him hold a gun to his head. Again, I couldn’t help but think about some poor kid who enters the comic shop for the first time, thinks the name “Deadman” sounds cool, and picks this nightmare up.

Green Lantern Corps: A comic right out of the Geoff Johns school of comics, meaning several needless alien Green Lanterns are brutally, graphically murdered to establish a threat. Also an entire planet of aliens, just in case you weren’t sure. Also, Guy Gardner tries to get a job as a high school football coach… and fails. No thank you.

Blue Beetle: I have this weird affection for the Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle, I don’t know why. So I kind of enjoyed this issue, which was very much an origin issue — complete with Jaime becoming the Blue Beetle on the last panel — although it was pretty dull until Jaime became the Blue Beetle on the last panel.

Captain Atom:
Unlike the Blue Beetle, I have a weird loathing of the Captain Atom character. I don’t know why; he just bugs me. So I was mildly surprised to be mildly interested in this issue, where he discovers that using his powers may kill him. But you know what, Captain Atom #1? Please don’t end by putting your character in a seemingly fatal situation. This is issue #1. Everyone knows he’s going to be okay. Don’t insult us.

Red Hood and the Outlaws: THIS COMIC IS SO BAD IT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF ENTERTAINING. First of all, it stars Jason Todd, Roy Harper and Starfire acting completely out of character, for what I know of them. In Jason Todd/Red Hood and Roy Harper/Arsenal/Red Arrow’s case, it’s a definite improvement — Jason’s not obsessed with Batman and not batshit crazy (sorry), Roy is not on drugs or fucking dead cats. Instead, they’re palling around in what is basically a ridiculous action movie told as a comic. Meanwhile, Starfire is there solely to pop out of the ocean in the smallest bikini DC will allow, and have immediate casual sex with Roy (she’s also forgotten everything about the Teen Titans, because apparently her
species doesn’t have long-term memory anymore. The DCnU, everyone!). Are jokes made about Starfire’s tits and Red Hood’s “giant red helmet”? They are. But it’s done without any guile or guilt, and thus actually becomes kind of charming, kind of like Starz’s Spartacus series, assuming you aren’t totally enraged by what’s happened to Starfire. If I wasn’t totally embarrassed to be seen reading it, I might actually consider picking it up.

Birds of Prey: So this is just as fun and charming and action-packed as Red Hood and the Outlaws, just without the T&A, insane character reinterpretations, and shame. I don’t know how it’ll be when Poison Ivy and the generic Japanese samurai girl shows up, but I was perfectly fine reading about Black Carnary and this Starling girl.

Supergirl:
Did you know/remember Supergirl’s 2004 debut? This is exactly like that, except in Russia and she’s not nude. I guess this comic would be fine if you didn’t know about her last origin, and hadn’t read/seen the animated Superman/Batman: Apocalypse movie, it would be… all right, I guess?

Legion of Superheroes:
This is exactly as baffling to me as Legion Lost, but somehow even less exciting. I have a thoery: If you want to make sure someone never reads comics, hand them an issue of Legion of Superheroes — any issue will probably do. I think that would do the trick.

Batman: Forget Detective Comics, forget Batman and Robin — this is the Batman comic you want. The art’s a bit funky in places, but it’s fun to read, not overly complicated, not tied into any other shit going on in the DC universe, nU or otherwise, it’s not confusing, and there’s a mystery so good I’m already excited about issue #2.

Wonder Woman:
I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I actually loved this Wonder Woman comic. I didn’t even know that was possible. Now, I will say the first half of the issue is totally fucking insane, but so insane I was actually intrigued rather than put off. When Wonder Woman appears, there’s a great fight scene, some things begin to make sense, and the issue ends with a premise that made the mythology lover in me literally squeal with delight. No kidding.  It’s not anything like I expected a WW comic to me, and maybe that’s why I liked it so much — but I can see it putting off people, too. I don’t know, I just know it’s one of my favorites from the entire new 52.

About Author

Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.