I’ve given a lot of thought to how I was going to do the books I did read. My plan was to simply do them in alphabetical order, but some of my purchasing decisions don’t make any sense in that order so I will instead write about them as much as I can remember in the order I picked them up. I’ll probably end up doing the posts grouped by week, it makes a nice divider that way.
On September the Seventh I headed out to my favorite chain bookstore that sells relevant comics. (As opposed to the local comic book store that’s record is a little spottier to put it politely.) I was a little disappointed to learn that they hadn’t put out the new books yet, the comic book guy, doesn’t work on Wednesdays I’m told. I wasn’t planning on picking up Justice League #1, but it’s the only New 52 title they have on the shelf so I did.
These are last months comics, so I don’t really feel bad about spoilers but there are some. If that bothers you you may want to skip some of these, notably Animal Man.
Justice League, I wasn’t planning on picking it up but I did, and I enjoyed it. I liked the interplay between Batman and an overly cocky (Hal Jordan)Green Lantern. This is our first real peek into the New Universe DC is giving us, Batman is brooding, Green Lantern is a hot shot, and Superman briefly appears as an unstoppable juggernaut. This issue seems to be about giving us brief introductions and beginning to establish what appears to be a pecking order. I enjoyed it but if every character is going to be introduced in the same way, it will take forever and grow very stale before it’s done.
I give this one a middling 5/10 and will pick up #2, but it needs to show me something or I’m going to have to be out.
After leaving the chain store and running a couple more errands It was 11:00 am and that’s when the Local Comic Book Shop is supposed to open. I arrived about five after and, nope still closed. sigh
It was about ten after when they actually opened and I was actually the second person in the door. I know that Thursday is their New Comic Book Day, so I wasn’t actually sure they would have any of the New 52 Either. Head Minion wrote a little bit about her call to them to find out if they were doing a midnight launch for Justice League #1 it went something like this.
HM: “Yeah, I was calling to see if you were doing a midnight launch for Justice League #1 & Flashpoint #5.
Employee: “Uh, I’m not really sure.”
HM: “It would be tonight if you were.”
Employee: “Oh, then I don’t think so.”
HM: “Ok, thanks then.”
Deep One (only hearing HM’s half of this): facepalm
So with expectations suitably low I was the second customer in the opened ten minutes late door. Fortunately they had a little display with everything I needed right there. I had to wait for the other customer to purchase his five copies of everything (it seemed like, he probably only had 5 or six titles, but at five copies each and the guy behind the counter trying to talk him into buying fewer of each it still took forever.) But I eventually made it out the door with my copies of Action, Animal Man, Detective, Green Arrow, and Swamp Thing.
Action, I have in general not been a huge fan of Superman. Like Lex Luthor I just can’t identify with him. The “Man” portion of his name seems inappropriate. But this new Grant Morrison interpretation of Superman hearkens back to his golden-age roots. In fact the story itself has a number of references to those original 1939 stories. He’s vulnerable, at least he can be hurt any way. He’s a young man here, reckless and concerned more about doing the right thing than the possible consequences of doing the right thing. He seems much more human, much less like Space Jesus. He’s for the first time in my life actually a relatable character.
I give this one an 8/10 and I already do have #2.
Animal Man, Oh. My. Effing. God. This book was good, the best single issue of a comic book I have ever read. Before September the Seventh, I was aware of Animal Man as a concept, but I knew nothing about him, now I can never forget him. I don’t think it would be over-selling this book to say that it changed me.
We get some exposition about who Buddy Baker is in an easily digestible form that doesn’t feel forced contrived or out of place, it doesn’t feel like it’s just exposition. Then we are treated to a glimpse of his family life, where we learn that he doesn’t get out to hero much anymore. His family is very important, it will become the whole story later.
Surprise, surprise, the opportunity arises to go do some heroics while in the middle of this discussion about not doing much as a Super Hero lately. He goes out and there’s a man who’s daughter has died of cancer holding the children’s wing of a hospital hostage until he gets his daughter back. Buddy is a family man and so am I so this is really potent stuff. It’s pretty much a filler challenge and Animal Man easily overcomes it and heads home.
At home he goes to bed and has an absolutely crazy dream. It’s creepy, it’s touching, it creates a sense of urgency. Then Buddy is awoken because of something his daughter Maxine is doing. It is the creepiest thing I think I’ve ever read. It’s exactly the sort of horror that gets me. I reread the book, after tweeting about it. It’s like I’ve been hit in the face by a shovel, but in a good way. Easily ten out of ten, maybe eleven out of ten. As soon as Payday rolled around I subscribed to this one.
Batwing, So there’s really a lot to like about Batwing. First of all and most immediately striking the art is simply gorgeous. More significantly, Batwing is also pretty unique among super heroes for another reason. In most Comic books our heroes are in crisis management mode all the time. It’s pretty rare to see them doing something to actually make their “beat” a better place though.
Here we have Batwing, the Batman Incorporated “Batman” of Africa, doing exactly that. He’s a cop in his real life, a cop in a brutal city, where systematic corruption seems to be the order of the day. There are a few other good cops but the force is underfunded, undertrained and a certain level of corruption seems to be the only way to get things done. All very cool. Very cool. I just didn’t care for it myself. Deep One loved it so I picked it up on his recommendation. I don’t know, part of the problem, I think, was the hand holding by Batman himself. I didn’t find the Villain to be particularly interesting. The whole comic book to me just seemed to be less than the sum of it’s very cool parts.
I would rate it as 4/10, I did once again on Deep One’s recommendation pick up #2.
Detective, I had to read this one twice to really take it in. That’s primarily because the first time was right after having read Animal Man, and I had not fully recovered yet. It was Okay, My biggest problem with it was that it didn’t feel like an issue #1 to me. This story could have just as easily been #234. It was our first real introduction to Batman, and he wasn’t really introduced in it. Sure I mean it’s Batman, everybody knows who and what Batman is, I just wanted this book to feel more special than it did though.
Sure it had the Joker in it gleefully psychotic as always, as well as a new villain the Dollmaker. I loved the hook at the end, and would find myself think about it and wondering about it for the rest of the month.
So this one is good, not great, but I’m hooked. I give it 7/10, and I eagerly picked up #2.
Green Arrow, I love me some Green Arrow. I did not love this book. It suffered from the same issue number confusion that Detective did, though with far less justification. We are in this issue treated to an Oliver Queen who seems to be the unholy offspring of Steve Jobs and Gina Davis. He’s backed by a super hip team including a reluctant weapon designer and an Oracle proxy with piercings to let us know how edgy she is.
The Green Arrow is set on a course to battle a culture obsessed with the superficial trappings of celebrity. The currency that interests the villains is as simple as Youtube hits. They are superpowered hooligans who go out and raise havoc in exchange for internet fame. I guess it is probably intended as an indictment against our increasingly voyeuristic culture.
I rate this one 4 or a weak 5 out of 10, I bought number two, because I just really wanted to like it more than I did.
Justice League International, What a hot steaming mess this thing turned out to be. I like Booster Gold, I like Vixen, I don’t hate Guy Gardner, and damn does Batman really need to be in this one too? The good, Rocket Red is vaguely amusing if you assume that he’s Ronny from Frisky Dingo. The bad, too many characters, splitting to little page time too thinly amongst themselves. The Ugly, man just about everything else. Batman has apparently gotten some sort of lobotomy that transformed him into the “You can do it” guy from every Adam Sandler movie, who for some unfathomable reason has every confidence in Booster Gold’s abilities. Fire and Ice served no purpose what-so-ever. The British one whose, name I could not under any circumstances be bothered to even attempt to recall her name, apparently exists to flirt with whoever appears to be in charge. August General In Iron is both useless, and serves no purpose but to Squabble with Rocket Red, because, I don’t know communists can’t be bothered to get along, maybe?
This is a tough one to rate, it was bad, but not the worst thing I picked up this month. I’ll give it a generous 3/10, I don’t think I’m in any danger of picking up any further issues.
Men of War, A war comic, sort of. I didn’t care for it. This book has two parts to it, the first part is the ongoing story and the second is apparently devoted to a more conventional war story. The second part is better but it just isn’t good enough for me to want to pay the $3.99 coverprice.
My biggest issue with Men of War is simultaneously the over-use of acronyms, and the over-explanation of the acronyms used. I was a soldier, myself, and I think that’s where a lot of my gripes come from.
People tend not to refer to their equipment by it’s precise designation, At one point a character talks about his M-4, which is then explained to mean his Model M-4 Carbine. Rather than M-4 every soldier I know would have just said “rifle.” Yes, technically an incorrect descriptor, and they all know that, but rifle is as complicated as it needs to be. When every thing is explained in the foot notes it breaks the flow, you encounter an asterisk and automatically look down to see what it means. The frustrating thing about this is it is quite likely that the soldiers using the acronyms most likely don’t know their exact meanings either. Sure we know what a SALUTE report, LACE report, or a SLANT report is, we know what an AAR is, but odds are that we haven’t sat around to actually memorize what all the letters stand for. There’s really no need to do so, these acronyms really just become words that mean what the acronym means.
It felt like the story could go someplace, and I was vaguely interested in seeing where but it just got bogged down on trying to feel authentic, rather than just telling a good story.
I give this one 4/10, I did pick up number two because I was intrigued enough by the teaser that was put out, but I won’t pick up #3 I learned my lesson.
Stormwatch, First of all I always hated the Authority, I kind of liked Midnighter and Apollo, but not really any of the other characters or their story-lines. So I was really reluctant to pick this one up.
I have always liked Martian Manhunter, and Stormwatch has been promoted as largely being a Midnighter/Apollo/Martian Manhunter book. Boy was I in for a rude surprise. With the exception of Martian Manhunter these characters are perhaps the least represented in the book with Midnighter only being in I think it was the final two pages.
The story itself seems kind of like somebody threw a whole mess of Authority storyboards in a blender and hit puree. It was disjointed, really to big to fit in the DC universe, and focused primarily on all the characters I hate from the Authority. The only thing the Authority had going for it that I really liked was Midnighter and Apollo raising baby Jenny. She appears to be about 12 or 13 in this series which would make sense with her being the Millennium Child, but the two of them met for what seems to be the first time on the second or third to last page, so they don’t have a relationship yet, though i would be surprised if one didn’t develop.
I personally give this one a 3/10, I hated it because it had everything I hated about the Authority, if you happen to like the Authority I think you would probably also like Stormwatch. I’m not picking it up again.
Swamp Thing, Lastly for the week we have Swamp Thing. I guess the best thing I have to say about Swamp Thing is that I was intrigued by it, and it seemed to tie in to the storyline in Animal Man. When I picked this up had never before read a Swamp Thing story and felt very much in the dark. If this was your first experience with Swamp Thing as it was mine, other than the Wes Craven movie, the book did very little to bring you up to speed. Also, a little disappointingly, very little happens in this book, what does actually happen doesn’t involve Alec in anyway, in fact it happens several states away. Most of this book is exposition and it left me with more questions than answers.
In fact in the middle of the book Superman shows up to question Alec (a botanist, who has left botony behind to work construction) about some issues regarding assorted spontaneously dying animals, fish, and birds. This portion of the book is interesting in that we get our longest view of a modern Superman yet. I notice that he spends most of the conversation hovering, so he can fly. It’s hard to put a finger on his personality yet but Alec calls him a couple times on dancing around the real reason he’s talking to him in the first place. It is the best view we’ve gotten of the new costume also, and I really like it.
Eventually Holland goes back to his hotel room and attempts to destroy his bio-restorative formula to end the Swamp Thing menace forever, when he is confronted by… the Swamp Thing?
I couldn’t really tell you why I liked this book, it was creepy, it seems to have a tie in to Animal Man. The list of things I didn’t like about it are longer, this is kind of like a reverse of Batwing for me. I did go out and happen to find all three issues of a limited run of Brightest Day Aftermath: The Hunt For Swamp Thing, which answered most of the questions raised in this issue. Including the big one, how does Supes even know who Alec Holland is.
In the end I did enjoy it though and I would give it a 6/10and have at this point picked up #2
So from worst to best
#10. Stormwatch 3/10
#9. Justice League International 3/10
#8. Men of War 4/10
#7. Batwing 4/10
#6. Green Arrow 4.5/10
#5. Justice League 5/10
#4. Swamp Thing 6/10
#3. Detective 7/10
#2. Action 8/10
My pick of the week (over a month ago) was easily Animal Man