XVIII: DC Comics New 52 – The Second Weekby Bobby Acosta on Sep. 21, 2011, under Comic Books, DC Comics, Opinion, Reviews
Over the entirety of the month of September, DC Comics, publishers of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and a slew of other characters, some widely known and others that are not so known, will be publishing 52 brand new issue #1s. In these efforts, they hope to reach out to a brand new audience, making all the comics completely accessible to any reader hoping to pick up an issue.
To further their efforts, DC Comics is also simultaneously releasing the issues as they are released on electronic devices, like tablets or smart phones, to reach a new breed of electronic audience. I believe that showing such a strong initiative is a definite admirable move, one that everyone should be taking advantage of.
However, with 52 brand new issue 1s, I barely have the time to be able to read all of them. Fortunately, Heroes and Villains Comic Book Store here in Tucson is teaming up with Comic Matters to review all 52 issues. With everyone involved, we plan to give you the ultimate comprehensive list of all the new #1 issues and why you should check out each one, whether it features superheroes or government agents or western epics or space travelers or vampire wars, DC will have something for you.
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
“Father Time was under strict instructions not to interrupt my vacation on mass unless it was of the utmost importance“.
This books casts Frankenstein’s Monster as supernatural secret agent in possession of the flaming sword of God’s chief archangel, Michael (the weapon responsible for knocking Lucifer back to Hell in Revelations).
Doctor Frankenstein has his brain transplanted into the body of seven year old Asian girl wearing a Sailor Scout outfit and a domino mask within the first three pages.
Their base of operations is a three inch in diameter marble designed by The Atom, for which entry is only made possible after being shrunk down to the subatomic level.
I don’t want to get all hyperbolic here–but this is quite possibly the GREATEST COMIC BOOK EVER MADE BY ANYONE.
“My name is Atrocitus. Since my entire people were destroyed by The Guardians I have been consumed by hate“.
As The Green Lantern stands champions the force of Will Power, the Red Lanterns are avatars of Rage. They’re the Ronnie James Dio to the Green Lanterns’ Kenny G, the Tony Stewart to their Jeff Gordon, the Wu-Tang Clan to their Kidz Bop.
…and their most infamous member is a murderous kitten.
So, yeah–Red Lanterns #1 is a super butch companion to the relatively tender and sensitive Green Lantern, but it doesn’t take itself so seriously that it isn’t fun.
Plus, for a book about super rough mamma-jammas beating dudes up, it’s an interesting little study on the ineffectiveness of hate as a sustainable force for motivation.
“The Guardians took my ring and discharged me for the same reasons you can’t insure me. I get it. But what’s driving me crazy is how a green ring chose Sinestro.”
With the less than stellar performance and creation of the “Green Lantern” movie, one that I maintained high hopes for, it’s wonderful to see that the comic is continuing in its same vein of fantastic storytelling and artwork.
All is not well in the world of Hal Jordan. His antics and highball attitude finally got him expelled from the Green Lantern Corps., and his ring, in a moment of intensity and battle, attached itself to longtime foe of the Green Lanterns and Hal Jordan’s former mentor, Sinestro. Even if you saw the movie, you’ll remember him well enough.
Even if you don’t know what came before, you’re excited to see what happens next. The same sort of Lord of the Rings/Star Wars drama and action continues on and DC is proud to plow forward.
“You were pushed to the brink. Out of the thirty-seven candidates, only you six didn’t break”
The comic book equivalent of Hostel, Suicide Squad opens up with–and almost entirely is– one long torture scene wherein six of the world’s gnarliest supervillains are whipped, beaten and cut on Abu-Ghraib-style for their reluctance to give up information about their mysterious employer.
It’s not for the faint of heart, or anyone under the impression that the new DC is a kid-friendly place to be.
The coolest thing about this team is that it’s led by two women: the cold and calculating government agent Amanda Waller (altered here to make her look more like Pam Grier, the actress who played her on Smallville), and Harley Quinn (the ex-sane, ex-psychiatrist/ex-girlfriend of The Joker).
“She said she would save them. The Batwoman promised“
Batwoman is probably my favorite comic book character who has been created since I was born.
She’s a United States Marine who was dishonorably discharged as part of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but never lost sight of her mission to protect and serve the American people.
Her gadgets are simply armaments stolen from the Marine Corps and spray-painted black and red, and her “Alfred” analog is her steadfast, supportive, decorated general father.
If she wasn’t both fictional and into ladies I would try to marry her. But, alas.
This issue doesn’t reboot anything. Nothing has changed in her world. Nothing fancy for a marketing guy to hang his hat on. As always: there is only the mission, and an unwavering commitment to serving the greater good.
“I have a message for you”
“Don’t give up“.
Millionaire super-scientist Michael Holt lost his will to live after watching his wife die in a car accident. A mysterious, miraculous visit from a man he believes to be his future son kept him from taking his own life.
Armed with the fanciest tech’ this side of Tony Stark, Michael now defends the world as the mysterious Mister Terrific!
Because, really, doesn’t the world need more crushingly depressed techno-geniuses with an ungodly amount of free time?
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’ll get back to you when I’ve got a schedule for that“
If anybody can appreciate the value of a good relaunch, it’s Resurrection Man.
In a nut shell: he’s an immortal force for good who regenerates whole after every “death”, with a completely new set of superpowers. He’s a walking reboot machine.
And he has dedicated his life to saving people. All of them.
“Deathstroke the Terminator–the scariest badass on the planet”
DC’s answer to Deadpool, Wolverine, and The Punisher, Deathstroke is the new DC’s resident sociopath.
He’s not an “anti-hero”, he’s not a “dark avenger”, he’s a straight up killer-for-hire whose insecurity about his (relatively old, for his field) age drives him to murder a group of psychopathic teenagers.
It’s a “grim and gritty” take on the character most of us remember from the PG-rated Teen Titans show on Cartoon Network.
“I have almost no ethics myself, you understand–but I like them in others“
One of the most highly anticipated books of the relaunch–if only for the “What? Really?” factor–Demon Knights is a Dungeons-And-Dragons-esque, medieval, Swords and Sorcery Genre book that reads like The Justice League meets The Hobbit.
DC Comics, though most well known for its superheroes, has a full stable of spooky immortals: demons, cursed wizards, magic knights and the like. This is their place to shine, and shine they do.
Plus: DRAGONS! Real, actual DRAGONS!
“I want you the Hell out of my head, demons”
Oh, man. This book gave me an anxiety attack like, nine times.
DC’s first Thriller, Grifter follows the story of an alien abductee whose contact with The Unknown leaves him changed in such a way as to render him capable of “seeing” Scientology-like alien parasites who have the power to possess normal humans and turn them into genocidal terrorists.
It’s a definitively post-9/11 take on the superhero, giving us a guy who’s not only capable of dispatching the evil folks who hide among us, but one who can sniff them out with 100% accuracy before they strike.
“It just all feels so…small? Like I’m supposed to be doing so much more with my life”
For a long time, Superboy was the cloned version of both Superman and Lex Luthor DNA. This created some extremely wonderful stories where the boy felt like he was drawn in either direction, the ultimate good and the ultimate evil. Which path was Superboy to follow?
Now? We’re not so sure who Superboy has been created from, what his purpose is, or what his future holds. All we know, is he’s strong like Superman and doesn’t possess the same moral compass that his namesake holds. I guarantee whatever government facility has him in their possession doesn’t possess it either.
I can’t wait to see what they do have in store for our Boy of Steel.
Batman and Robin:
“You were easier to look up to when you weren’t around”
So…Batman is pretty much the worst dad ever.
This issue is all about Bruce Wayne trying to reconnect with Damien Wayne–a bastard child who Bruce was unaware of until the young boy’s tenth birthday. They met, then Bruce promptly “died” (as comic characters often do), and Dick Grayson (Robin) was tasked with raising the young man.
This issue takes place about 1 year later. Bruce has returned, he has taken back custody of his son (that poor kid), and he’s furious that the little guy isn’t happy to see him.
More so than any Batman book I’ve ever read, this issue demonstrates what a broken, illogical mess Batman has become.
Batman may be Gotham City’s foremost punisher of evil, but when it comes to truly saving people–how can a man who doesn’t know how to raise his son ever hope to be the savior of an entire city?
“I told you the longer we waited following Alastor’s wake, the harder it would be to pierce the Flashpoint Breakwall!”
Legion Lost acts as the kill switch for this entire marketing initiative, if it turns out that fans aren’t into it.
It tells the story of a bunch of time traveling teenagers from the future who are fully aware of the events of Flashpoint (the mini-series responsible for resetting the history of the DC Universe), and know that there’s something wrong with the present day.
Super continuity-heavy, nigh-impenetrable for new readers, Legion Lost is a book for long-time DC fans who feel…well…as the title implies, “lost” in a strange new world where the familiar is eerily unfamiliar.
- Heroes and Villains Comic Book Store is located on 4533 E. Broadway Blvd., in between Swan and Columbus. They were voted “Best Comic Book/Game Store” by the readers of the Tucson Weekly in 2009 and 2010. You can reach them at 520-321-HERO(4376).
- In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org