Super-Fly Fandimonium by Max Lake – DC New 52 Initial Issue Review Wrap Up

After reviewing some of our favorites from DC’s the New 52 and warning you about some of the bigger stinkers, we wanted to offer a wrap up on our look at the DC New 52 first issues with some of the other great titles that you may have missed that deserve your attention.  As the New Year begins full steam ahead, these are definitely books you want to watch in 2012.

Wonder Woman – While many clamored over sexist and/or sexy portrayals of characters in Catwoman or Red Hood and the Outlaws, I wondered if any of them had read the badass portrayal of Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman #1 .  She was tough as heck, but she wasn’t the only outstanding thing in the book.  In fact, the world of Wonder Woman carved by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang is one of Greek Mythology and horror, where gods are dangerous beings to be feared.  Not only that, but Wonder Woman’s origin as we know it gets turned completely on its head, with ramifications that change everything!  The book is simply amazing and one you should be reading. ‘Nuff said!

Aquaman – Aquaman is one of the more surprising books, but with the creative team behind Blackest Night and Brightest Day of Geoff Johns writing and Ivan Reis on art, how could it be bad?  They work hard and succeed in bringing Aquaman to new heights.  Too bad the rest of the world thinks he’s a joke.  No matter what the world thinks of him, Aquaman and Mera are tested as a new threat called the Trench rises from the deep and they are truly vile and scary.  Humor, great action and a book that gives props to Aquaman while everyone disses him makes for a great book that belongs on your pull list and will make you look at Aquaman in a whole new light!

Supergirl –  Supergirl #1 starts off with a bang as it chronicles Kara first coming to Earth in her ship and getting an unfriendly greeting from the Russian military.  It doesn’t take much to see that this gal has got some serious power and she is not afraid to use it.  It also becomes pretty clear as the series has progressed that she doesn’t share her cousin Kal-El’s (AKA Superman’s) sense of goodwill toward humans, and even has powers different than his!  It’s a fresh take on Supergirl’s journey to Earth written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson with art chores handled by Mahmud Asrar.  Finally, a Supergirl fans of all ages can enjoy!  Now is a great time to be a Supergirl fan, or become one!

Captain AtomCaptain Atom has surprised me most with its quality, especially as I disliked its writer, J.T. Krul’s other DCnU title, Green Arrow #1-2 so much.  I really liked the book though, as it is all about Captain Atom developing new aspects to his powers, simultaneously developing and losing more control over them at the same time and the awe and fear which that brings to him.  It is almost as if we are seeing the transformation of Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan from his early years to his later years.  Of course, the Doctor Manhattan character was originally based on the Captain Atom character, but it’s an intriguing shift to see in Captain Atom, and it makes for a very interesting series.  The unique art by Freddie Williams II fits quite nicely too.

Green LanternGreen Lantern #1 starts with hero Hal Jordan down and out and his greatest enemy Sinestro taking over his role as Green Lantern!  Broke, down and out Hal must try to get back on his feet while Sinestro comes face to face with the Sinestro Corps.  While it sounds like a wacky changeup, these events carried over from the “War of the Green Lanterns” storyline prior to the New 52 relaunch, making Green Lantern one of the few series to keep its continuity.  However, you don’t need to be versed in recent Lantern lore to enjoy the new series.  It’s becoming clear that Hal will get his ring back from Sinestro, but the question is “How?”  Find out monthly in this great new series, with Geoff Johns still at the helm of the GL mythology writing with art by Dough Mahnke and Christian Alamy.

Suicide Squad – One of the best books to come in month in and month out, though the death toll keeps rising!  Suicide Squad is penned by Adam Glass, and the art by Marco Rudy (in the first two issues) and Federico Dallacchio (in issues #3 and #4) is very gritty to match the book, and nails the characters perfectly.  Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark and a handful of others make up the Suicide Squad, a top secret organization sent on insanely deadly missions where survival is anything but guaranteed.  Villain antics abound, similar to Secret Six, though the Squad are on a leash.  The only real problem with this series is you really can’t get too attached to any of the characters because there are casualties.  And whoa!  Did Squad boss lady Amanda Waller just lose a ton of weight in her DCnU makeover? (Probably to make her look like Angela Basset, who played Waller in the Green Lantern movie over the summer).  Dark, violent and a lot of fun, Suicide Squad makes a great read.

I, Vampire – An obscure vampire character Andrew Stanton from a House of Mystery backup from the early 80s takes  center stage in this intriguing new horror love story series written by multiple Harvey nominee Joshua Hale Fialkov with art by Andrea Sorrentino.  Andrew has kept the human world at large safe from vampires thanks to a centuries old truce with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned.  When the truce expires, Mary unleashes her vampire army on the human populace, and wants to make super heroes her first victims!  With guest stars Batman and John Constantine on the way confirm that this story has ramifications across the DCnU.  Don’t miss this twisted horror comic!

Green Lantern Corps – What’s it like to be a Green Lantern?  That’s what John Stewart and Guy Gardner are being asked repeatedly as they try to go about their lives and lead them normally.  But their public identities as GLs make it so people just won’t let that happen.  However, there is a crisis facing the Green Lantern Corps, and Guy and John must go to space and unite and lead an elite Corps squad to investigate a force that is wiping out populations across the galaxy.  Peter J. Tomasi writes excellently with some nice artwork by Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna.  A fantastic jumping on point for new and old readers alike, Green Lantern Corps brings some of the best Lanterns together for high adventure.

The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men – I had high hopes for The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men and I was not disappointed.  The book starts with high school rivalry between Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond.  Tension (racial and otherwise) is done right (Mister Terrific shoulda taken notes!) between these two teenage protagonists and they suddenly and quickly become caught up in a metahuman arms development project called Firestorm.  Very great character development, very badass super heroic concepts, mile high potential.  Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver are knocking it out of the park and the art by Yildiray Cinar is phenomenal.   Simone is leaving the book after issue #6, with writer Joe Harris joining Van Sciver in March.  Don’t miss this book!

Batman and Robin – It’s the book I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time for: Bruce Wayne and his son Damian Wayne finally teaming up together as Batman and Robin.  With Bruce back as Batman, he takes Damian under his wing and does his best to pick up in teaching him where Dick left off.  However, as a formidable opponent from Bruce Wayne’s past called NoBody stages an all out assault on Batman, Damian’s rebelliousness and brutality is making it difficult for there to be a Batman and Robin team at all!  Peter J. Tomasi does a really good job of writing the initial outings as Batman and Robin for father and son, with Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray doing a bang up job on art.

Green Lantern: New GuardiansGreen Lantern: New Guardians written by Tony Bedard and art by Tyler Kirkham and BATT begins with Kyle Rayner becoming a Green Lantern, and then having one ring from all the other Lantern Corps being inexplicably removed from their wearers and drawn to him.  Naturally, when each Corps comes to find who “stole” the ring from their Corps member, they find Kyle and the rings, and things get crazy from there.  While I liked the other Green Lantern books a lot, New Guardians was my favorite, as it is a group book.  Like the Justice League where you get all the best characters in a single serving, New Guardians similarly offers up the most bang for your buck with a member from each Lantern Corps in one book.  How did all of this craziness happen?  How will these “New Guardians” work together without killing each other? It’s funny, it’s interesting, it’s cool, and it’s a fun read.  Check it out.

Flash – Barry Allen is still working forensics at the crime lab and still the fastest man alive.  However, although Iris West is still around, Barry isn’t still married to her and is back on the dating scene—not even dating Iris either!  Super albeit real googable science abounds and so does gorgeous art from uber talented creators Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato.  A really cool touch is how the Flash transforms into his new costume.  It’s almost as if it forms around him.  Flash takes on an interesting new foe Mob Rule and classic foe Captain Cold is coming up and his redesign looks really sleek!  Making for a younger, cooler Barry Allen for a new generation, the new Flash comic is fantastic and his adventures feel fresher than ever.  Just don’t ask where Wally West is.

BatwomanBatwoman marks the first mainstream ongoing comic featuring a lesbian protagonist.  Not that Kate Kane’s sexuality is jammed in the reader’s face, it’s just a part of who she is.  Issue #1 starts with Batwoman pursuing a mysterious water villain called the Weeping Woman who is stealing children from Gotham’s barrios.  Hot on the trail, she debates training her cousin, Bette Kane (AKA Flamebird) to be her sidekick. With art by J.T. Williams III this book is gorgeous and not to be missed.  Williams III and W. Haden Blackman co-write the book.  The only real drawback to Batwoman #1 is that it picks up right where the Batwoman stories in Detective Comics left off quite awhile ago, making it hard for new readers (or forgetful old ones) to jump into the story easily.  However, following issues prove it’s still an amazing comic that should be on your radar.

All-Star Western – Taking up the slot Jonah Hex filled in the previous DCU, All-Star Western provides the DCnU with western stories with further tales of Jonah Hex, with some issues containing extended yarns featuring Jonah teaming up with Amadeus Arkham in Gotham City and other issues containing backup features starring other western heroes such as El Diablo.  The old west in the DCnU is certainly mean and Jonah Hex is just the kind of man to navigate it.  With Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray still doing dutiful and excellent writing duties for Jonah and these backup tales, with fabulous art by Moriat for the Jonah stories, you definitely should carve some room in your budget for this book!

Birds of Prey – Believe it or not, Birds of Prey lives on post-Gail Simone.  Black Canary still is at the forefront of the group and is now a fugitive, wanted for supposedly killing a man in a fight.  Side by side with her partner and new character Starling, Black Canary teams up with Katana and Poison Ivy to bring justice their way in Gotham’s own covert ops team.  The writing by crime novelist Duane Swierczynski is excellent and fast paced while the art by Jesus Saiz does a good job of rendering both the characters and the action.  With Barbara Gordon rejoining the group in her Batgirl identity in issue #4, you won’t want to miss these tough as nails ladies bringing the action monthly.

Legion Lost – The stakes are incredibly high in Legion Lost written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Pete Woods and the book hits the ground running.  A team from the Legion of Super-Heroes is sent back in time to prevent an alien infecting the human race with a deadly pathogen.  Far from their home time in the future, nothing works right for the Legionnaires.  Their time bubble doesn’t work properly, their flight rings don’t work at all, and neither does a majority of their future tech.   Can they save the human race and the time stream when they are already too late to stop the infestation?  If you’re a Legion fan, or even if you’re not, give Legion Lost a try.  It’s high intensity comics with a futuristic twist, sure to please super hero and scifi fans alike.  While the main Legion of Super Heroes book isn’t bad at all, this is the Legion book to watch, with veteran writer Tom DeFalco soon to come on board.

Justice League Dark – This book written by Peter Milligan throws a bunch of DC and Vertigo’s magic characters together after the Enchantress goes crazy and takes out the Justice League.  The lineup includes Deadman, John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, and Zatanna.  Together they will become the Justice League Dark.  However, the characters all have issues themselves and getting them together may be a challenge in itself!  The art by Mikel Janin is simply amazing and very dark.  It’s very hard to believe this is a Justice League series and not some kind of Vertigo special event, even though it is firmly rooted in the DCnU.   Also, while the JLD is a magic team like Shadowpact, it feels a lot different from the Shadowpact series (though I’d love to see Shadowpact make an appearance!)  Justice League Dark makes a great alternative to standard team books.

Voodoo – Although a Vixen series was planned in the 70s but never saw the light of day Voodoo marks DC’s first black female character getting her own series.  Voodoo defies stereotypes however, despite #1 starting out in a strip club with Voodoo a stripper.  You see, Voodoo is not all that she seems and there are people who are after her.  Whether or not they will catch her is another matter entirely—one they may not live to see.  Is she a hero or a villain?  She’s definitely one thing: dangerous!  Written by Ron Marz and drawn by Sam Basri, Voodoo is highly recommended!

Deathstroke – After long being a thorn in the side of the Teen Titans and the heroes of the DCU in general, Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke the Terminator gets his own series to show off his badassery.  Catch Slade going on missions and stack up the bodies.  In this series written by Kyle Higgens with Joe Bennett and Art Thibert on art, we get a full on look into why Deathstroke is the toughest mercenary in the DCnU as well as how he doesn’t play well with others.  Not to mention, Deathstroke’s costume redesign looks sweet.  This book is full of action, chaos and violence with a dash of intrigue.  Deathstroke carries his own book well so far and is well worth the cover price.

Final Thoughts
Well, it was certainly fun, quite enjoyable, but very exhausting to take in DC’s New 52.  Overall, I am very impressed with the diversity in DC’s new lineup.  There are several horror titles, many somewhat superheroic, and all series, even the western, fantasy and war comics all tie into the DCnU.  Not to mention there are several series starring women or people of different races and/or sexualities.  This is especially admirable when DC’s biggest competitor is shedding many of its diverse titles.  Also, if DC is to be believed, they claim they have no company wide crossovers planned for the “foreseeable future” with the next five years planned out—definitely welcome news to those of us tired of event after event.  While not all titles were shining examples of quality with some mediocre and even bad titles getting out, overall the quality of books was remarkably high, making it impossible for me to collect all the books that I enjoyed.  What’s more, there are many new and lapsed readers coming into comic stores across the country because of this—how long they’ll stay is another question, but the New 52 launch has provided a much needed shot in the arm for the industry.  I think DC has delivered on their promise to shake things up with their New 52 launch, and I look forward  to reading as many of their books as possible in the months ahead.  Not to mention, it seems the New 52 will be changing a bit in the coming months.  DC has announced that in April they will be ending OMAC, Static Shock, Men of War, Mister Terrific, Hawk & Dove and Blackhawks but will be replacing them with six new titles:  World’s Finest featuring Power Girl and Huntress, G.I. Combat, Earth 2, Dial H, The Ravagers, and the return of Batman Incorporated which all look promising.  In the meantime, thanks for reading the reviews and stay tuned for more from Super-Fly Fandimonium!

Until then, keep reading & I’ll see you at Super-Fly!