Round 1 of the New 52: DC’s Progress Report

Posted: October 5, 2011 in Comics, Random Thoughts

Yeah, it’s done and gone…the first round of DC’s New 52.  I thought to give them a Report Card, but that’s more final than the old progress report.  Remember those?  Oh, man…Math – Homework incomplete/missing, Science – Disruptive, Art – No artistic ability whatsoever, Social Studies – What the hell is Social Studies?  And moving back to the topic at hand.  DC has been peddling the New 52 for quite some time now, and let’s see how this bold (or other forced adjective) initiative paid off.

Week 1 (September  9, 2011) Includes Justice League

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS

Lee’s art and Johns story had me hooked from the get-go.  It seemed to start and never stop.  Some panels of witty banter with Hal and Bruce, but those were entertaining as well.  Enough to keep me coming back for more.

Grade: A

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art by AARON LOPRESTI and MATT RYAN

Ok, it’s not entirely an art or story problem per se.  These characters just don’t have the steam behind them to keep JLI going.  It’s an alright read, but nothing I’m in any hurry to go back for.

Grade: C

GREEN ARROW #1
Written by J.T. KRUL
Art by DAN JURGENS and NORM RAPMUND

Ollie was one of the first characters to receive, what I believe to be, an overabundance of negativity.  There was nothing epic about it, but again…the Emerald Archer is too important to the DC universe to not get better and turn into something more epic.  We’ll see how it pans out, but for now, I’ll be picking it up again.

Grade: B

ACTION COMICS #1
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art by RAGS MORALES and RICK BRYANT

Ah, yes, the Superman story I’ve been looking for.  Morrison and Morales are a more than capable team of putting Clark on the fast track back to badassery.  I’ve never been a big fan of the big blue boyscout, but this story definitely caught my attention.

Grade: A

DETECTIVE COMICS #1
Written by TONY S. DANIEL
Art by TONY S. DANIEL and RYAN WINN

DC’s namesake comes out swinging and lands some solid blows.  Daniel is completely capable of carrying an arc around the Dark Knight and does it well here.  Joker is still creepy as hell and can apparently handle himself in combat.  But where the hell did he get the Jokeresque grappling hook???

Grade: A-

BATWING #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by BEN OLIVER

Good lord that art was something else wasn’t it?  I loved it and it really brought me into the story.  Now, I’m not going to place blame on either the artist or writer, but I think that you can only really follow this character if you read Batman Incorporated.  I haven’t gotten to that yet, and needless to say it didn’t blow me away.  Massacre seems interesting, but I might just wait until the trade hits the shelves.

Grade: B-

BATGIRL #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES

OH NO!!!  She’s out of her chair!  That’s true, but look at the ass she can kick!  Shocking that fan-favorite Gail Simone can make us fall in love with Barbara Gordon all over again donning the cape and cowl as Batgirl.  Art is fantastic and I’ll be damned if I can’t wait to find out more about this “Mirror”.

Grade:  A

SWAMP THING #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

There’s no doubting the team of Snyder and Paquette’s ability to grab our attention.  However, for me…the Green just doesn’t grab me.  Apparently, to understand the situation a little more we need to read the Brightest Day tie-in: The Search for Swamp Thing, which again, I’m not up to speed on.  Because of Snyder’s writing I will be back for a second issue to see if my initial reaction can be altered.

Grade: B

ANIMAL MAN #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by TRAVEL FOREMAN and DAN GREEN

Well…maybe it’s just not my thing.  I heard a lot of positive’s regarding Lemire’s Animal Man and was impressed that a B-lister (eh, maybe C) could garner the attention it has.  Much like Swamp Thing it just didn’t do it for me.  The art was creepy and definitely added a nice touch to the concept, but in the end…I just don’t know what to think.

Grade: B

STORMWATCH #1
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art and cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA

What’s to say?  It came out with just enough of a story to make me want to read another issue.  It wasn’t overpowering, but it wasn’t a dud.  I don’t know these characters and will be hanging on until I see what this group is really all about.

Grade: B-

O.M.A.C. #1
Written by DAN DIDIO and KEITH GIFFEN
Art and cover by KEITH GIFFEN and SCOTT KOBLISH

Should be called C.R.A.P.  I’m fully expecting to catch hell for this one.  Bleh.  The art brought me back to the 40’s and the story was simply…bleh.  There’s not much else I can say besides I won’t be following the big blue mohawk this next go round.

Grade: D

MEN OF WAR #1
Written by IVAN BRANDON
Art by TOM DERENICK

Surprisingly impressed with this first issue.  Maybe it’s because I was in the military (no nothing in the field) but Brandon did his homework and it showed.  I haven’t seen any work from either of these men before and I look forward to the next issue.  My only concern is, how can average soldiers play a part in a world of superheroes?

Grade: A-

STATIC SHOCK #1
Written by SCOTT McDANIEL and JOHN ROZUM
Art and cover by SCOTT McDANIEL and JONATHAN GLAPION

I wanted to like it.  I really did…but much like O.M.A.C. I was very underwhelmed.  On top of that I felt like an idiot for not taking advanced physics or engineering.  Damn kid was way too smart for his own good.

Grade: D

HAWK AND DOVE #1
Written by STERLING GATES
Art and cover by ROB LIEFELD

Angry Hawk, peaceful Dove.  I see the obvious storyline there but let’s just fast forward shall we?  “I can’t stand Dove for taking the mantle!”  2 Issues later – “Ok, I can tolerate Dove.”  Mind-blowing to say the least, but I’m all set.  However, I will go on record saying it’s not Gates or Liefeld’s fault.

Grade:  D+

Week 2 (September 14, 2011)

MISTER TERRIFIC #1
Written by ERIC WALLACE
Art by ROGER ROBINSON

You know, I’m all for celebrating diversity in comics, but why are these characters so boring?  He’s brilliant, and sleeps with Power Girl, and he…um…yeah…he does that.  Ok, then, moving on.

Grade: D

SUPERBOY #1
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by RB SILVA and ROB LEAN

Well, I had no idea what to expect from this one.  The whole simulation/staring at floating Superboy thing was a little, hmm, what’s the word?  Strange?  The only reason I may want to take another stab at this, even though I’m not, is because for some reason Rose Wilson is in play.  Why the hell is Slade’s daughter here?  Guess we’ll find out.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #1
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY

Damian continues his quest to be the biggest pest in the DCnU.  Who doesn’t love that?  Now we have him teaming up with daddy dearest and so far it’s a solid story.  Tomasi does a good job with Batman and son from the outset.

Grade: B+

BATWOMAN #1
Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III and W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art and cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III

From what I understand of Kate Kane, this, like others, requires delving into some backstory.  While reviewing these titles I’m realizing how behind I am and I’m not liking it.  Not. One.  Bit.  The art is amazing but it throws me off every now and again when I’m trying to find my place.  Another promising title, but she needs to be a little nicer to B-man.

Grade: B

GREEN LANTERN #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and CHRISTIAN ALAMY

Green Lantern + Geoff Johns = Quality storytelling.  If you don’t know, now you know, poozer.

Grade: A-

RED LANTERNS #1
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art and cover by ED BENES and ROB HUNTER

Yes, sir/ma’am the Atrocitus gets his own title and runs with his blood-spewing buddies spreading rage throughout the universe.  Does it get any better than that?  Let us not forget the adorable Dex-Starr and the incomprehensible Bleez are along with the big man/thing for the ride.  I’m very happy with this title.  Milligan and Benes are on point.

Grade: A-

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI

If there was one title I didn’t think stood a chance it was this hidden gem.  Lemire does Frank and his team justice in the first issue from DC’s “Dark” side.  Haha, dark side…anyway, I’m on board and loved being introduced to new characters.  Finally a werewolf and no vampires in site…yet.

Grade: A-

RESURRECTION MAN #1
Written by DAN ABNETT and ANDY LANNING
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO

I love Abnett and Lanning.  Everything they’ve put out, I’ve read and will continue to do so.  Needless to say I was more than willing to give Resurrection Man a try.  Now, it’s nobody’s fault here, I just don’t like the character.  He’s just not doing it for me.  If it’s your thing, go for it…but sadly, it’s not going to be on my pull list.

Grade: C+

DEMON KNIGHTS #1
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by DIOGENES NEVES and OCLAIR ALBERT

Oh, Paul Cornell you little demon you…get it…demon?  I make myself laugh.  Story and art complement each other superbly and is undoubtedly one of my favorite titles from the New 52.  Outstanding plot for 22 pages and intriguing characters have me locked on Demon Knights.

Grade: A+

GRIFTER #1
Written by NATHAN EDMONDSON
Art by CAFU

Grifter made his mark with Wildstorm and sadly I never read anything he was involved in.  Again, I’m sure I’ll get to it…for now I’ll have to make due with Edmonson’s premier issue.  In a few words…not bad.  Wasn’t blown away, but I think Cole Cash has legs, obviously he has legs, and this title should only get better.

Grade: B

DEATHSTROKE #1
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art by JOE BENNETT and ART THIBERT

Not one to lie, I started this issue thrilled to have Slade in the lead role.  As a fan of Deadpool, I like to see his antithesis go to work and how much different the two really are.  So Wilson trains newbies, decapitates, and decapitates newbies.  Higgins had me worried that Slade would actually be running a team, but it was a welcome site to see that this grizzled vet doesn’t need competition.

Grade: A-

SUICIDE SQUAD #1
Written by ADAM GLASS
Art by MARCO RUDY

The closest thing to the Secret Six was packed into the Suicide Squad.  Well, just Deadshot and King Shark (who went hammerhead apparently) are hanging with this motley crew of misfits.  However, it showed us who the team is, some of what their problems are, and what they have to do in order to see another day.  Oh, and hey…Amanda Waller joined Weight Watchers.  Giggity.

Grade: B+

LEGION LOST #1
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA
Art and cover by PETE WOODS

Fabian Nicieza has been one of my favorite writers for a long time now.  Cable and Deadpool, some Red Robin, Azrael, etc. etc.  I figured this would be entertaining.  It’s really hard to blame the creative team when Legion Lost just doesn’t make any sense in this new universe.  Legion should get Lost and never been found.  OUT OF ALL THE TITLES YOU LEFT OUT, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME UP WITH?!?!?  For shame DC…for shame.

Grade: F+

Week 3 (September 21, 2011) AKA The Controversial Week

WONDER WOMAN #1
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG

FINALLY!!!  A title worthy of the Amazon Princess.  Azzarello and Chiang knock this first issue out of the park.  Mystery, swords, mythology, crazy pregnant chicks running around in their underwear with a firearm.  This book has it all!  Seriously, it made me want more…and I can’t wait for round 2.

Grade: A

CAPTAIN ATOM #1
Written by J.T. KRUL
Art by FREDDIE WILLIAMS II

See O.M.A.C., Static Shock, and Legion Lost.

Grade: D

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1

Written by PAUL JENKINS
Art by BERNARD CHANG

Deadman huh?  Hmm…alright, I can work with it.  Seems interesting enough but I have no idea if this will be a long term title for just Brand and his red tights, or if this was just a “feeling the waters” type situation.

Grade: B

SUPERGIRL #1
Written by MICHAEL GREEN and MIKE JOHNSON
Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR

Supergirl was oddly impressive.  I can safely say I haven’t read or seen any work from this creative team, but I like what I saw here.  Very well done.  Not a lot of exposition, but a lot of bursts of action.  I might actually be aiming at issue 2.

Grade: A-

BATMAN #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION

Between this issue and Wonder Woman, week 3 was one of the best.  Well until…oh you know…some other controversial titles that I’ll cover in a second showed up.  Snyder brought Bruce back to Earth and showed us that Gotham and Arkham still has some tricks up its sleeve that even Batman hasn’t seen.  Great scenes with former sidekicks and wonderful art by Haunt artist Capullo put Batman on the right track out of the box.  I was locked into Batman anyway, I really didn’t need any more reasons.

Grade: A+

NIGHTWING #1
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art and cover by EDDY BARROWS and JP MAYER

“And Nightwing, @KyleDHiggins you magnificent bastard you…2 awesome titles out the “new” gate…”  That’s exactly what I posted on Twitter to Mr. Higgins.  I loved both of his titles and they’ll keep me entertained for quite some time.  It seems to me that Gates of Gotham was more than Snyder and Higgins collaborating on a mini, but rather setting the stage for these two being in cahoots far more than we know about.  Oh, I ain’t complaining…bring it on.

Grade: A-

CATWOMAN #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH

Um, nope…not going into it here…see my other blog on the situation. Boobies, butts, and bras, OH MY!!!

Grade: Withdrew

BIRDS OF PREY #1
Written by DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI
Art and cover by JESUS SAIZ

One of the most under-appreciated and overshadowed titles of the New 52.  Duane and Jesus do a great job setting up what is probably going to be one of the better titles in this new world.  Applause all around.  Hey, you…yeah you…I didn’t get a harrumph out of you.

Grade: A-

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art and cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT

Red Hood and the Sex Slave??? Ah, I had too…see the same blog where I discuss Catwoman.

Grade: Depends on what letter Starfire can form with her contortionist like skills.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by FERNANDO PASARIN and SCOTT HANNA

Jon Stewart, the Green Lantern, should be leading his own team of Green Lanterns.  However, we have to see Guy Gardner schmucking it up alongside him as they recruit their new team of intergalactic super cops.  It was average, and average might keep me reading…I said MIGHT.

Grade: C+

BLUE BEETLE #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art by IG GUARA and RUY JOSE

What was my problem with Blue Beetle?  Maybe the over the top hispanicisms (yep, my word)?  Oh a character can be Hispanic, but really?  The gangster older brother with the bandana and just getting out of prison is crucial to the story?  Hmm…pass.

Grade: D+

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA

NEXT!!!

Grade: F

Week 4 (September 28, 2011)

AQUAMAN #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO

Why would DC ever split this team up?  Don’t ever separate Johns and Reis, ever.  What I assumed to be a dud, because of my non-interest in Arthur Curry, turned out to be one of the best.  Johns even played on the fact that the world sees Aquaman as a joke and it was brilliant.  I wouldn’t walk around with the gettup and the trident, ok maybe the trident, to go grab some grub, but I’m not the King of mutha *&$^ ing Atlantis.  I can’t believe I’m saying this…I loved Aquaman.

Grade: A+

THE FLASH #1
Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL and BRIAN BUCCELLATO
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL

Well told and well-drawn, The Flash remains a staple among DC’s top titles.  I won’t put it with Aquaman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, but it’s holding its own in the New 52.

Grade: B

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1
Written by ETHAN VAN SCIVER and GAIL SIMONE
Art by YILDIRAY CINAR

I know EVS and Gail worked together on this, but can’t we all tell what parts Gail put in?  I mean, gory torture fests just seems sooooo Gail.  Other than that, this was a very exciting read.  Can’t say that I dig the teenager aspect of it, but more than likely I’ll learn to love it as the series expands.  And that Fury fella…I LIKE HIM!!!

Grade: A-

THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1
Written by TONY S. DANIEL
Art and cover by PHILIP TAN

Tony Daniel and Philip Tan are all-stars in my opinion and they showed it here.  Not Earth-shattering by any means, but a very satisfactory first issue.  Personally, I want more Hawkman, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.  Not a fan of Morphicius…really?  Morphicius?

Grade: B

SUPERMAN #1
Written by GEORGE PEREZ
Art by JESUS MERINO

What a letdown…After Action #1, I was stoked for Superman’s debut in the New 52.  Even his brief appearance in Justice League had me more excited than this.  22 pages right?  21 were exposition and Lois setting up field reports.  A FIRE ALIEN!?!?! WTF? That’s we’re throwing at the baddest man on the planet?  A non-descript fire alien.  No name, no banter, just a flame-shaped evil-doer.  Holy weak sauce Batman.

Grade: D+

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1
Written by DAVID FINCH
Art by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND

Horrible? No.  Awesome? No.  I can’t really describe how I feel about it other than the fact that even as a huge fan of Batman I feel that he has too many titles.  He’s appeared in __ of the 52 and I’ve heard no talk of this man getting a raise.  Seriously, he’s the one man with no powers, but for some reason he’s everywhere all the time.  If they throw more women Batman’s way, he’s well on his way to becoming a man whore who occasionally fights crime.  Yeah, how about we don’t do that?

Grade: C-

GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art and cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT

Me likey the New Guardians.  Madness all around, and let’s face it, we’re all a little interested in every spectrum of emotions.  I do think Arkillo should have his own title as well, but for now this’ll work.  Rayner has his hands full and that’s good enough to keep me coming back…for now.

Grade: B

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by MIKEL JANIN

Very interesting.  How’s that for a review?  It’s just a little odd when the threat can eat away the big 3’s flesh leaving the mystical or “Dark” side of the DCU to handle the problem.  Not bad, and I look forward to more from Justice League Dark.

Grade: B+

I, VAMPIRE #1
Written by JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV
Art by ANDREA SORRENTINO

I was originally very distraught that DC was embracing the “Twilight” frenzy and/or its apparent connection to a number of Apple products.  However, it was quickly realized that this book didn’t cater to either side of my initial prejudice.  It was a good read, and it does have me looking for more issues, but I am just not one of those readers that can follow vampires and/or zombies.

Grade: B

VOODOO #1
Written by RON MARZ
Art and cover by SAMI BASRI

STRIPPER AND ALIENS!!! WOHOO!!!  Ok, well if you’re like me an had no idea who the hell Voodoo was, then this is a decent introductory read.  You find out that lap dances and pole sliding are crucial to learning about the universe and the denizens of it.  Um, yeah, it just doesn’t leave me wanting more.

Grade: C

BLACKHAWKS #1
Written by MIKE COSTA
Art and cover by KEN LASHLEY

Not bad to look at and decent to read, you really have to be into the military type of stories.  It doesn’t explain a lot in the first issue, but it almost makes you want to keep reading.  They rock fantastic call signs like “Canada” and “Hosehound” (What?  Hosehound wasn’t one of them?) and might have you thinking about why they have the names they have.  Again, like some of the other militaristic titles DC is throwing out there, it’s just hard to contemplate these heroes in a world of Superheroes.  Don’t put Batman in the same category.

Grade: C

ALL-STAR WESTERN #1
Written by JUSTIN GRAY and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art and cover by MORITAT

Yee-Haw!!! I couldn’t help myself.  Anyway, this title surprised the crap out of me.  I know Palmiotti and Gray have a history of producing great stories, but I was never intrigued enough to peruse them.  Here, they incorporate the badass bounty hunter Hex and the ever-growing Gotham City.  They even mention the Gates.  It’s a fun ride and worth the extra buck to read what is going to happen next.  On a side note…anyone know why it’s not just called Jonah Hex???

Grade: A-

TEEN TITANS #1
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND

Teen Titans GO!!! I’m on fire with my little quips, ain’t I?  Well, I liked it.  Nothing major, but again, it’s all about keeping the reader entertained and it did just that for me.  I think Drake’s Red Robin get up is a nice change, and Wonder Girl (which she does NOT like to be called) seems like a major ass-kicker.  And she’s not scantily-clad!!!  The whole team isn’t assembled yet, but I look forward to them coming together.

Grade: B+

Final Word:  You know what?  I can see it now, people telling me I’m an idiot or retarded for liking what I did, and that my grades were generous.  Well isn’t that the beauty of my opinion?  I came into the New 52 optimistic and overall, I’m still optimistic.  DC’s grand initiative has made lapsed-readers come back, new readers join in, and violated a lot of people’s love for certain characters.  Overall, however, I think they did a good job breathing new life into these characters.  Some will get tweaked and some will get cancelled.  The bottom line is that people are interested in comics again and that’s all the good news I need to hear.

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