Friday, September 23, 2011
The New DCU: Sept. 21, 2011, A Simulblog
We here at Fat-Train, Optimistic Chad at Political Jesus, Justin Tiemeyer at Cavemen Go, and even Arthur the Lesser at Arthur the Lesser are here to let you know what we think about the change and the new books that are a result of that change.
My post about the end of flashpoint and Justice League #1 can be found here with links to the other blogs on the same subject...
My post about the first full week of new number 1s can be found here with links to the other blogs on the same subject...
And my post about the second full week of new number 1s can be found here with links to the other blogs on the same subject...
And now, week 3...
REMEMBER, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!!!
Justin's post on week 3 can be found here...
Chad's post on week 3 can be found here...
and Arthur's semiconnected take on the Simulblog week 3 can be found here.... (although he might totally write more, check back soon)
Let the Simulblog continue....
Last week was very disappointing, but while I didn't completely love everything that came out this week, there was certainly a lot more to like this week as opposed to last.
First, however, (so we can end strongly) lets start with the books that I probably won't be taking another look at.
Now, the fact that I'm leaving this book behind isn't because I hated it, I was actually a little intrigued by it. The problem was, I have never really read much of or followed the Legion, and there was so much happening in this book and so many characters thrown at me all at once who I knew absolutely nothing about, I just couldn't keep up.
I'm sure that for someone who is a long time reader of the Legion books, this won't be much of a problem, but if the goal was to allow others an easy jumping on point, I think that the writer failed here.
Very similarly to my feelings on Legion of the Lost last week, I have no idea what the main point is, what the heroes are supposed to be accomplishing, what kind of threat they are facing, or any of those basics. Sometimes it is okay to be unsure of those things, but usually you are unsure because the protagonists are also completely unsure about those things. In this case, they were completely caught up on all of that, but I, as a new reader, had no freaking idea.
Having to play catch-up on so many characters and story-lines isn't what I signed up for, so I'm leaving this one behind.
So, a lot of people are probably going to talk about the sex scene at the end of the book.
Sure, it was a little shocking that they went there, but to be honest, it didn't bother me all that much.
There is something about Selena that has always gotten to Bruce, and the fact that she uses her sexuality in such a way to get what she wants would make it pretty hard for Bruce to resist, let's be honest.
After all, it isn't like Batman is the picture of perfect morals or anything. I mean, sure, he doesn't kill his enemies, but does that mean he isn't going to engage in premarital sex? I don't see why it should, and after all, we know that he already has.
Damian (the current Robin) is his son by Talia Al Ghul (also not quite a hero, apparently Bruce has a weakness for the bad girls).
So, that honestly didn't really bother me.
And it definitely isn't the reason that I won't be buying Catwoman #2.
No, the reason that I'm probably done with Catwoman is that I just don't care to read about her escapades on a monthly basis. If she shows up in a Batman book I'm reading, that's great.
The question of what Batman thinks of his dalliances with a cat burglar, a perpetrator of crime in his precious Gotham City, that is something that I wouldn't mind reading more about, but what Catwoman thinks about it?
Honestly. I don't really care.
Personally, I'm a fan of Jason Todd. Despite the ridiculous way that he came back to life in the original universe (and perhaps in this one too, although I hope not) I find his story compelling, but not as the lead character amongst other troubled characters.
If Red Hood were to make an appearance in Batman, sign me up, but on his own (or on his own plus 2 other anti-heroes, in this case Starfire and Roy Harper/Arsenal, formally Red Arrow, formally Speedy) it doesn't really interest me that much.
Plus, I'm not a fan of the indiscriminate killing they do in order to free Roy from prison, especially considering that both Red Hood and Arsenal were brought up by heroes who refuse to kill (Batman and Green Arrow).
As for Starfire, while the book tries to make her a liberated female with a liberated view on sex and sexuality, the fact that nearly every scene that she is in includes a male objectifying her or viewing her in a strictly sexual sense lessens that claim some (a lot).
I have no problem with women being sexual and even flaunting that sexuality, but Starfire is written in such a way where that sexuality is more of a male-fantasy sexuality than it is a liberating reality, and that is disappointing.
Overall, this was probably the worst of the issues released this week to me.
CAPTAIN ATOM #1
Many of the books I am moving on from suffer from the same problem, there isn't enough in the first issue to make me care about the character or what happens to them.
Whereas Animal Man certainly changed that opinion through the amazing writing in the book and Mister Terrific had good characterization and interesting mystery plus an incomplete and engaging backstory, many of the other books that didn't have any pull on me before didn't do anything in the first issue to change my feelings towards the characters. This is again the case here.
While the issue is interesting, and I'm mildly curious how Captain Atom has a) gained his new ability and b) how he will ultimately reconstitute himself, I figure I can just look it up if I really feel the need to know. And if I don't, it probably won't bother me that much, because there really just wasn't enough in the issue to make me care overly much.
While the idea of DC Presents is something I fully support, and a lot of the characters that are actually part of the new 52 would probably work better in this sort of rotating format rather than actually having to carry their own book, I think I will wait until the next character gets a shot at carrying DC Presents.
Look, the concept is a pretty cool one, a character who is dead/a ghost but is called into bodies that need his help, which he provides to make up for the selfish past he had when he was alive and the hope of a brighter future for himself.
But never having read or kept up with Deadman in the past, I would kind of like to know what exactly is meant by giving his help.
In this issue we get a rundown of many of the people he has inhabited as well as the difficulties they were facing, but got no clue as to how exactly Deadman (aka Boston Brand) was helping them.
What exactly does he do?
It appears that he is able to take over the bodies that he inhabits (a la Sam Bennett in Quantum Leap), but what is he supposed to do once he takes over these bodies? Who is to say that the people he inhibits won't go right back to being who they were prior to the "intervention"?
I would have liked to see some of these questions addressed, but instead we get a mystery about the person (thing?) (goddess?) that set Brand on this quest to help others, and it just wasn't enough to keep me from wondering about the questions I just raised or to keep me reading.
I do, however, look forward to seeing who the DCU will present next.
Moving on to the books that at the very least warrant a longer look.
I am a pretty big fan of the character, but I have never been an extremely big fan of her comic book. I love her in relation to (and in action with) the other heroes of the DC, specifically as a member of the Justice League. But on her own, I prefer her in the televised realm as opposed to the comic book one.
I was really hoping that having a new jumping on point might change that, and it still might, but I didn't fall immediately in love as I have with some of the other new books in the DCU.
I can't put my finger on exactly why I didn't either.
I think it was how rushed the story felt. I was a little put off by that.
There was a lot I really liked about the book as well. The alien-like design of the gods was pretty cool.
I'm down almost anytime that centaurs are around.
As for the overall storyline, Diana has to protect the unborn child of Zeus, I'm not sure what I think. It is a bit of a cliched storyline, but if handled correctly it could turn out okay.
All in all, I liked the book for the most part, but not as much as I hoped I would (and honestly expected to).
Either way, I'm definitely willing to give it time to fully hook me.
Black Canary is a great character, and this book just kind of works for me.
As opposed to some of the other team up books (such as the Legion books and Demon Knights particularly) Birds of Prey doesn't force every character into the book in a large rush.
In fact, we get very little about the characters that will make up this team and what exactly their purpose is.
But that's for the most part okay.
We get enough about the two members currently in play as Birds of Prey, and considering most people will already have some idea about Canary it is more about Starling that we might want to be filled in, and we don't really get anything about her at all, which is one reason I want to know more.
There is enough information to keep you feeling like you're aware of what you need to be, but enough you're unsure about to want to know more.
One thing I think we've learned this month is that that isn't the easiest tightrope to walk (any inadvertent circus puns are unintentional... at least until we get to Knightwing), but Birds of Prey does it pretty well.
While it isn't a clear homerun for me, the book is good and I'm definitely ready and willing to keep up with it a little longer.
Speaking of books that are clear homeruns, this week had its fair share of those....
An origin story of sorts, a definite beginning to the characters story on earth at any rate, Supergirl just feels right.
There is action and there is mystery. The character, despite being almost immediately thrust into a fight she doesn't anticipate or really even want, is incredibly well drawn out through the use of inner monologue.
The art is among the best this week, in my opinion, and the writing is terrific as well.
Another thing I loved about this book is the subtle connections to the rest of the DCU. When Supergirl is overwhelmed by her developing Super Hearing, the dialogue that she hears is clearly from other books, including the first line that Starling has in Birds of Prey and what I'm sure will be a line of dialogue in Aquaman next week.
It does however bring up the question about timing in these books, by which I mean I wish that where each of these books are taking place on the timeline was a little more clear.
However, that is probably a thought best served for its own post, perhaps after this month of number 1s is behind us.
Considering the sexist portrayal of women that has been apparent in some of these books, I really enjoyed the portrayal of Supergirl here, especially considering how often she has been shown as nothing more than a petulant overpowered teenager. While she will be quite powerful (since she is Kryptonian), she also clearly has a brain, and the focus of the issue on her striving to figure out where she is and how she got there even in the midst of the fight highlighted that nicely.
I look forward to seeing what happens next and why she has suddenly appeared.
I also liked the Zod reference!
BLUE BEETLE #1
Like Supergirl, this is an origin story as well. It sets up the past of the Scarab which gives the Blue Beetle his powers (although Ted Kord usually didn't use it), hints at some future trouble for Blue Beetle and the Green Lanterns, and introduces the main character and his friends/family/possible enemy as well as showing us how the new Blue Beetle becomes the Blue Beetle, and as such it worked really well for me.
I love that Jaime becomes connected to the Scarab by trying to save the life of his friend. An act of heroism leading to the power that he will soon have is a good way to start, especially considering the past that the Scarab has.
In past continuity of the Scarab and the Blue Beetles, the Scarab was malfunctioning allowing there to be more individuality in the wearer; the fact that the Green Lantern got a hit on the Scarab before it careened down towards earth probably means that is still the case. What wasn't clear was who has had the Scarab in the past and what happened to them. The people after the Scarab make clear that it has been used by others and that the fates were not kind to those users. That could certainly describe what fate had in store for Dan Garrett and Ted Kord. I certainly hope that the past Blue Beetles (particularly Ted Kord) somehow play into the story of Jaime as he comes to terms with his new found abilities.
Overall, extremely well written introduction resulting in a book that I am pretty excited about.
Nothing much new here, but then there doesn't really need to be.
We get something killing Green Lanters (and in a quite brutal and attention grabbing way) and we get an introduction to the two main Lanterns that will lead this team, (the annoying, yet in a love to hate 'im type way) Guy Gardner and (my personal favorite Lantern, sorry Chad) John Stewart. In other words, we get everything we need. It works quite well.
Considering that this title was one of the best selling prior to the relaunch, there isn't a big change or any huge surprises, and yet the book does a great job if you are happening to just now join the Green Lantern bandwagon (and if you are, welcome, there is room, we'll scoot).
I loved the way that we were introduced to the main characters, Guy gets annoyed with all the attention that comes from being a GL (while still inviting all the attention), and John refuses to budge on his morals and also makes it quite clear that John Stewart and Green Lantern 2814.3 are indistinguishable from one another.
You don't fix what isn't broken, and Green Lantern Corps looks to be just as good as it ever was here in the relaunch.
I'm putting these two together because I feel it will be easiest to talk about them all in one take.
First, I'm glad that there is finally a title centered around Batman that is worthy of his name (as I wasn't really impressed with either Detective Comics or Batman and Robin). This book was fantastic.
As was Knightwing #1, fresh off of his run as the Dark Knight.
Both work with a similar storyline, there is something killing that is very connected to Dick Grayson (aka Knightwing, formally Batman, formally Robin).
In Knightwing, a mercenary/hitman is out for Grayson's blood, telling Knightwing that Grayson "is the fiercest killer in all of Gotham... and he doesn't even know it!"
Meanwhile, in Batman, a horribly gruesome murder interrupts a fundraiser for Gotham's future thrown by Bruce Wayne. At the murder scene is a message found by Batman (actually acting like a master detective, unlike in Detective Comics) that foretells the death of Bruce Wayne, and the murderer?
According to DNA results, none other than Dick Grayson.
These two storylines are clearly connected, and the storyline is automatically one of my favorite of the new run of DC comics.
I loved the way Knightwing's past was handled through current story telling, and I loved the fact that Batman got to face off against a bunch of Batman's rogue gallery at the beginning of his book while also doing a masterful job in describing the complexities of Gotham to the readers. (Plus having it seem like he was working with Joker only to find out that it was actually Dick in disguise was pretty priceless).
Overall, I'd have to say that four of the books released this week (Batman, Knightwing, Green Lantern Corps, and Blue Beetle) are already among my favorites of the whole relaunch, and there were others this week that were more than just enjoyable. In other words, a much better week than last week.
Until Next Time, one week left of number 1s. See you here then?