Friday, September 9, 2011

The New DCU: Sept 7, 2011 A Simulblog

This week, DC comics released 13 new issues, all numbered Number 1.

Continuing the Simulblog began last week, myself, Justin Tiemeyer of Cavemen Go, and Optimistic Chad of Political Jesus (with occasional commentary from Arthur the Lesser perhaps as literal comments in our blogs, perhaps on his own blog) take a look at some of these new number 1s and are going to give you our thoughts on the new books, the direction that DC is taking, and anything else that the new number 1s cause us to comment on.

I myself read 10 of the 13 new books deciding right off the bat that Swamp Thing and Men of War didn't really interest me and that OMAC looked a little odd, although I did almost add that one to the list.  At any rate, even when you are going in with other people, 13 new comic books in one week is kind of expensive (and there are still three more weeks of number 1s to come!)

For the most part, all of the books I read are good and certainly worth picking up, so for more detailed thoughts on those books, read ahead, but....

Remember, there will be SPOILERS!!

You can find Justin's thoughts on the new Number 1s here...

You can find Chad's thoughts on the new Number 1s here...

So, without further ado, my thoughts on 10 of the new number 1s...


Of the ten that I read, this was probably my favorite.

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Supes.  My three favorite heroes as a kid were (in no particular order) Spider-Man, Ralph Hinkley (huge nerd points if you know who that is, and if you do, I have a feeling I know what song just got stuck in your head), and Superman.

Perhaps because of when I grew up, the eighties meaning the Superman movies staring Christopher Reeves were a BIG deal, perhaps because my grandparents had all of the Fleischer Superman cartoons on VHS (an ancient way that we watched things prior to DVR and Blu Ray), perhaps because my Grandmother made me a Superman cape (that doubled as a Ralph Hinkley cape if I turned it around, BEST. GIFT. EVER.), but whatever the reason, I loved Superman, and some of that childhood love has stuck around to this day.

I recognize that Superman is overly powerful, making it harder to come up with dramatic stories.

I recognize that Superman's morals and boy-scoutedness get on people's nerves.

But I believe that those morals and his super (really, really super) powers while limiting still can lead to great storytelling.

Grant Morrison is a great writer, and I believe will give us that great storytelling.  Here's an article on his new take on Supes, a Social Justice Superman.

Morrison gives us a Superman who still has the same morals as he's always had, but the world at large doesn't know that and view him as a very scary and unstable element.

Despite still being the good guy, Supes finds himself at odds with the law, which definitely erases some of that "Boy Scout" shine.

Morrison writes, "Superman stands for justice, not necessarily for the law. And I think that's what makes this guy different."

I won't lie, it is a little fun to see Superman threaten to throw a dude off of a balcony.  Which also leads us to a nice Smallville reference...

Somebody Save Me....

Since it's a reboot, and Smallville might be some new readers only experience with Kal-El (the Kryptonian name of Clark Kent/Superman), I'm interested to see how much of Smallville makes it into the new history of Supes.

After all, with the reboot Supes has some of the biggest changes of all of the DC heroes.  For instance, you might have heard that Clark and Lois are no longer together, but it might surprise you (I know it surprised me) to find out that Lois and Clark don't work together either.  Clark works for not the Daily Planet, but instead works for the Daily Star, the Planet's rival newspaper.  (Good to know that Metropolis still has two papers, considering it is a dying medium.)

Overall, the new take on Superman worked extremely well for me, and I enjoyed reading a Superman comic more than I have in quite some time.  I look forward to growing with the new incarnation much as I once did with Superman as a kid.


Detective Comics on the other hand did not impress me nearly as much as Action Comics.

The writing and the art are both brought to us by Tony S. Daniel.  His art is beautiful.  The writing... well, not so much.

On the first page, Batman says of Joker, "His modus operandi changes with the wind...  and it's been windy in Gotham City."


I wish that was the worst of it.

The story is pretty interesting, and I definitely will keep reading to see where it goes, but I wish the dialogue and especially the inner monologue (my friend and Batman expert Adam, not West, said the Batman psychology felt off and I thought that was a good way to put it) were a match for the fantastic art in this book.

As disappointing as the writing was, the last scene of the story does enough to really grab you and keep you reading.  I won't spoil that (although I'm sure that if you really want to find out without reading Detective Comics #1, it won't be hard to do).

If the writing doesn't improve, it isn't like there aren't plenty of other Bat Books out there to allow you to get your Bat-fix.

Such as, for instance, Batgirl.

Barbara Gordan is back in the suit, but her time as Oracle isn't simply erased.

Instead, she is recently recovered from the Joker-given gun-shot injury which had left her paralyzed and in a new Bat-role (on a new Bat-channel... sorry, couldn't resist).

This recent injury along with the fact that she is in a hurry to resume her old role as Batgirl while perhaps not in either the physical (or mental) state in which to do that effectively set up an intriguing character driven story that definitely deserves its own book in the Batman world.

Gail Simone's writing is terrific, and having Batgirl in her hands is great as I know that she will keep Batgirl interesting, relevant, and smart.


Batwing is a member of Batman Incorporated serving as the Batman for all of Africa.

The character was strong although I wish they had played up the detective elements that the issue hinted at.  I would have liked that to have been drawn out more than it was.

Part of the reason I (and so many others) really like Batman is because of his brains.  In fact, I love Bats for his brains probably as much as if not more than his brawn.

An African Batman having those same brains (and the tech  from everybody's favorite mad-man Bruce Wayne) has some promise.

I was glad to see that he clearly has had some criminal justice training, but I would have loved it if it had been even more clearly highlighted.


The reason that I wrote that Action Comics was "probably my favorite" is because there is a better than decent chance that Animal Man was actually my favorite.

Okay, okay, I admit it.  I'm right there with you.  Animal Man is a terrible name for a super hero, but his powers are cool.  I didn't really know much (full disclosure: anything) about him, so as I read I was struck between the similarity between his power's and Vixen's (who is in Justice League International, see below) powers.  Doing a little research, I see that Vixen actually gained her powers from something that had been talked about in the Animal Man storyline.

I'm not sure if Animal Man would have been one of the books I would have chosen to be in the new 52, but put together with the utterly brilliant writing of Jeff Lemire and the creepy yet oddly beautiful art of Travel Foreman, it becomes the book I am most looking forward to continuing.

The combination of a great character in Buddy Baker (the alter-ego of Animal Man), the outstanding characterization of his family-life, and the dark, disturbing turn the book took at the end of the first issue (combining the character and family-life quite spectacularly) not only surprised me, but completely enraptured me.

How good this book is means I'm probably adding Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. to the books I'll read since it is also penned by Lemire and it also makes me way more excited for Lemine's take on Superboy.

This book is that good.  I dare you to read it and not become a fan of Lemine's instantly.


Okay, I'll be honest, they had me at Booster Gold.

But to be truthful, this book was really, really good, and I can't say that I expected that.

I loved the Guy Gardner ass-hole-ery and look forward to his joining the team for good.

Batman was WAY better (by which I mean it actually felt like Batman) in this book than he was in Detective Comics.

I thought the other heroes chosen for the book (Vixen, Godiva, August General in Iron, Rocket Red, and Fire and Ice) were intriguing and mesh well together.  The interplay between the Russian Rocket Red and the Chinese August General was fantastic, and when Guy Gardner joins the team full time I'm sure he'll get on everyone's nerves, and Booster Gold trying to keep the bickering at a minimum?  That'll be classic.

Definitely worth a read in my opinion.


Growing up, I was never a big Green Arrow fan (although I always loved the interplay between he and Hal Jordan/Green Lantern).

The Justice League (and Justice League Unlimited in particular) cartoons won me over to the character a little more.

I liked the character on Smallville (although he was much closer to a Bruce Wayne/Batman type than the comic version of Ollie).

But what has finally turned me into a pretty big Green Arrow fan is that my cousin named his son Oliver, so I pretty much had to become a fan of the superhero named Oliver (Queen in the comics, which sadly is not my cousin's last name).

I have to admit, I really enjoyed the book.  It wasn't anything mind-blowing, but it was fun, and Ollie was awesome.  I missed the left-wing/liberal/social-justice-loving aspect of the character (which was extremely present in Superman in Action Comics #1, but there is room for two social justice superheroes, isn't there?) and hope that it makes it into the character in future books.

Beside that point missing (and nothing very earth-shattering happening) it is a fun read and worth, in my opinion, picking up.


It seems to me as if the events in this book might have a lot to do with the greater DC storyline.  There definitely seem to be some connection between the events in this book and the mystery touched on in Justice League International, and it directly refers to events in Superman #1 which comes out the Wednesday of the month.

I'm a huge fan of the Martian Manhunter and am excited for him to appear more often (especially since Stormwatch revealed that he will be a part of the Justice League when JL finally gets to modern day.

The history of Stormwatch (especially in a reality where superheroes are a new phenomenon, Superman's appearance shortly before the events in Action Comics #1 taking place roughly six years ago being the first appearance of a superhero) seems to be something that will add an interesting dimension to the developing story.

Although considering I have never read the book (which I believe existed before the reboot) this history might be something that to older readers is already common knowledge.

Either way, I have to admit, I'm intrigued.


I almost didn't pick this one up.

I'm glad that I ultimately did.

I didn't know too much about Hawk & Dove, and was confused to see that Dove was female, since the last time I had given Hawk & Dove any attention they were made up of two brothers.  Hawk is still Hank, but Dove is now Dawn instead of Don, and apparently that has been the case for some time now, not just with the reboot.

This book touches on the origin (which was the Hank Hawk and the Don, read male, Dove) as well as setting up the point of the duo, which is as I remembered, Hawk being a representation (or avatar) of the idea (or god) of war and Dove being a representation (or avatar) of the idea (or god) of peace.  The idea being that both war and peace are more powerful when balanced by the other.

As an aside, I'm not sure how much I actually agree with the idea that Peace needs to be balanced by War, but for a comic book set in a reality filled with Super Villains, it is more palatable.  And it is at least an idea that is worth examining.  I'm still probably not going to buy it, but it is fun to think about and look at in depth.

Plus, the hint of mystery surrounding Dawn's appearance as Dove in place of Don that apparently would shake Hank (Hawk) has me intrigued.

I don't know if Hawk & Dove is a book that I will have to keep up with every month, but I'm probably going to stick with it for a little while just to see where it is headed and if it can continue to keep my attention.


I was really looking forward to this book, and I did really enjoy it.  Virgil is a great character and there are some very interesting things going on in this book.

However, Static feels way too much like Spidey.

The book is set in New York (although unlike Spidey, Static grew up in Dakota and is a recent NYC transplant).

Like Spidey when he began, Static is 16 (okay, okay, I know.  Peter was 15 when he became Spider-man, but it's close enough) and in high-school (part of the story-line involves Static trying to talk his dad into letting him get a driver's license).

And when fighting, Static lets the one-liners fly much like your favorite neighbor-hood superhero.

It felt so much like a Spidey book that I was shocked (no pun intended) when the book cut from Static leaving for school to after school heading into his secret HQ.

Spider-man definitely would have had some drama at school.

One portion of the book that didn't feel like Spidey was while Virgil was interacting with his mother, father, and sister at home (none of which does Peter Parker have).  It wasn't much of the book, but it was a portion of the book that served to differentiate for me Static from Spidey.

Hopefully Static will continue to work towards feeling like a distinct and original book, but in the meantime, feeling very similar to Spider-man isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Until Next Time, next week will bring us another 13 books (including Batman and Robin and Green Lantern) many of which you can read about right here on Fat Train as well as here and here (and maybe even here).


  1. Non-review thoughts. I am intrigued by the brown-clad avatar at the end of Hawk and Dove.

    Ollie's supporting characters might be the best thing in the book.

    Somebody saaaaaaaaave meeeee!

    Booster will be great as team leader. Russia and China are great allies!

    Static being called Hardware's padawan was great.

    OMG last pages of Animal Man and Detective.

    Stormwatch... was that Demon Knights in the flashback panel?

  2. Josh:

    1. Swamp Thing is worth reading. It's written really smart and I think the story is pretty intriguing.

    2. I didn't get a chance to talk about it in my blog, but who do you think the three "friends" that Clark's landlord talks about are? Is this Zod and his two lackies.

    3. You'll have to keep me up on Hawk and Dove, because I really don't want to read it anymore.


    RE Stormwatch: It definitely looked like Etrigan, so I wouldn't rule it out. I had the same thought. Maybe Stormwatch will be like a Dark Tower for the new DCU.

  3. @Chad It definitely was Etrigan, but I suppose he's been around for awhile so that doesn't necessarily mean that it was the Demon Knights, suppose we'll know more when we get the book.

    I agree with you on the supporting characters of Ollie/GA. I really hope they don't turn the character into the Smallville version of Green Arrow, since they pretty much turned Green Arrow/Oliver Queen into a scaled down version of Batman/Bruce Wayne since Smallville couldn't get the rights to Bruce/Bats. The DCU does have a Bruce Wayne (and lots of versions of Bat-heroes), so we need to keep the original version of Ollie!

    @Justin As for who those three friends are, I think that Zod and cronies could be the answer. It's a good theory for sure.

    I'll keep you up on Hawk & Dove for as long as I keep reading it, but I can't guarantee that will last too long.

    And finally, I might add Swamp Thing at some point to give it a shot.

  4. If you stop reading Hawk and Dove, I can just go to message boards. There's enough talk about comics on the internet that if anything awesome is revealed in Hawk and Dove I'm sure I'll know about it.