Comics 4th Jan 2012

And we’re finally up to date. I’ve cut down on my New 52 reviews fairly brutally dropping five titles from the list. I’m not sure if I’ll be similarly harsh on the other 3 release windows, but the titles have all had 5 issues to prove themselves.

From outside the New 52 there’s two great releases apiece from DC and Marvel, but sadly no 2000AD yet.

As is becoming the format, contents, then a jump.

DC – New 52 #5 Part 1
Animal Man
Batwing
Hawk & Dove
Justice League International
Red Lantern
Static Shock
Stormwatch
Swamp Thing

Not Reviewed
Action Comics
Detective Comics
Green Arrow
Men Of War
OMAC

Skipped To The End…

DC
The Huntress
Penguin: Pain & Prejudice

Marvel
Defenders
Villains For Hire

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Comics 21st Dec

This post should have gone up on or around Christmas day. The combination of not wanting to knock our festive zombies surely that’s more an Easter thing off the top page and suspecting people have better things to do on Christmas hols than read a comics review means you are getting it now. Rejoice.

With my 2000AD review going up yesterday we are going straight into the New 52. DC has no other comics I’m interested in out, but I’m catching up on Marvel’s latest Incredible Hulk series and The Activity, from Image.

DC – New 52 #4 Part 3

Batman
Birds Of Prey
Blue Beetle
Captain Atom
DC Universe Presents
Green Lantern Corps
Justice League
The Legion Of Superheroes
Nightwing
Red Hood & The Outlaws
Supergirl
Wonder Woman

Not Reviewed

Catwoman

Skip To The End…

Marvel

Incredible Hulk #1-3

Other

The Activity #1

All of the above, after the jump…

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Comics-14th December

Not a huge amount to get through this time around. There’s a little bit of DC outside the New 52, and less beyond that.

On with the running order.

DC – New 52 #4 Part 2
Batgirl
Batwoman
Deathstroke
Demon Knights
Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E.
Green Lantern
Grifter
Legion Lost
Mister Terrific
Resurrection Man
Suicide Squad
Superboy

Not Reviewed

Batman And Robin

Skipped To The End…

DC

The Ray #1
The Shade #1-3

Marvel

2000AD

Once again please click below to see the review in full.

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Beyond The New 52

Some of you will be wondering where my review of the New 52 is for last week. Sadly it’s missing. Due to the way comics work, last Wednesday was a skip week for the major DC titles, which has given me chance to diversify a bit.

You could be forgiven for thinking that DC was the only comics publisher, given their presence on the blog for the last three months. I’m very keen to push that this is not the case and that there is a wealth of other comic material out there, beyond Batman and friends.  DC is causing me to expand things of their own account as their releases are not solely limited to the 52, and there a couple of titles beyond them I’m keen to get my teeth into as well.

It’s at this point I’d usually mention Marvel as counterpoint to DC, as the other side of the big two. And at the moment I find that doing that means I come unstuck; let me explain. My current regime for reviewing the DC releases is through the comixology website and the digital versions of comics they release. For DC (and for other publishers, although it varies) this is day and date release, which means in the UK we see the comics pop up around 7pm (ish) on a Wednesday. This is all well and good, and keeps me up to date and capable of doing the reviews. It also means I’m not wading through stacks of comic books that would be piling up if I was reviewing in hard copy. As I stated before, I’ve previously avoided DC. This means that the majority of my DC “collection” is digital. The opposite is true of Marvel, where I have shelf on shelf of TPB’s that have accrued over the years. I’m deeply unwilling to shift to digital with Marvel, and equally unwilling to start buying single issues. Which means I’m tied to HB’s and TPB’s, which in turn means I’m behind on the Marvel universe by about 8-10 months. Which leaves me swinging in the wind when it comes to commenting on all but the broadest brush strokes of the Marvel universe.  Expect a bit of a rush of “current” Marvel reviews when the TPB’s hit the shelves.  Till then I’ve one or two series I want to review as standing alone quiet well, so watch out for those over the next month.

So that’s my plans for the big two.

I’ve been very, very, keen to review some 2000AD for Un:Bound for a while now. The pursuit of this has run into two problems . Firstly 2000AD’s format. Unlike Marvel or DC, 2000AD’s weekly release is a collection of different story lines in one book, not spread across 13 issues. This means that on any given week, the stories are all at different points in their arc, which isn’t going to be the best jumping on point for new readers (or for me writing a review). Secondly I pick up 2000Ad through their own web store, ClickWheel. Releases to ClickWheel are not always as firmly timed which means that I’d be left reviewing a comic already a week to a fortnight old and then playing catch up. However, things seem to have finally come right, and I’m going to be appending a 2000AD review to the DC releases when I can so expect some thrill power soon. If it’s not happening within the month, expect one very big review that will cover multiple issues.

I’m also going to be trying to get a spread of reviews across other publishers (hopefully turning out to be too numerous to note), which may mean jumping into series blindly in the middle, but comixology means I can go back to issue 1 with ease, rather than find it sold out in store.

Hopefully Thursday/Friday will see the DC New 52 review up, along with various other pieces appended. Once I’ve got caught up on things outside the New 52 and winnowed down the series out there at the moment, I’ll roll it all into one running review of the lot, with Marvel TPB’s and various others as separate pieces as appropriate.

DC The New 52 #3 Part 4 (of 4)

It occurs to me I have not given a link to where you can actually get a taster of what I’m talking about. Clicking here will take you to this week’s DC Sneak Peak on the Comixology website.

Talking of Sneak Peaks, it got me to pick up both Batman: The Dark Knight, and Superman, both of which I’d been planning to skip over. That makes it a review of the full 13 releases this month. Enjoy.

All Star Western #3

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Moritat and Jordi Bernet
Cover by MoritatI like this month’s cover, and its feel of being a Western movie poster. The issue starts, with silent action as Hex’s back story is told in captions unrelated to the panels. It feels a strange place and manner of including a back story that could have been left until later in the run. One of the villains quotes a prophecy, which could be something or nothing. It may have been fulfilled in DC’s pre New 52 continuity, or be yet to come in any one of a number of books based in Gotham.

The art this week falls short, with some really nasty perspective mistakes (watch out for the Gatling gun barrel). The plot sees some of the foundations of the Gotham penal justice system being laid, and a Western style drive by. This issue seems to wrap up part of the plot and move us into new territory, but I expect a reprise soon.

The second story in the book, El Diablo, gets wrapped up with very little ceremony. A two issue short is always going to be a different read compared to a story told over a six issue arc, but it does feel overly truncated. Resolution comes far too swiftly, and the overall piece is left cheapened by this. It has been exploitation of what could have been an interesting premise that fails to deliver.

It’s a sad fall in form this month that I’d hoped not to see, and a particularly worry if parts of the plot are already being squared away, as while I like the idea of playing with the format of the usual 6 issue story arc, in this case I can’t see it working well.

Aquaman #3

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

We start with a flashback, but it’s the cover that lays the groundwork for this issue, with the big fight sequence from last month continuing. It’s conclusion, with the fishy enemies in retreat, leaves a battered Aquaman being once again patronised by the people he has saved. The misconceptions and bad reputation Arthur has been running into since the first issue are clearly going to take a long time to resolve. There’s an interplay with the events of Justice League here, in which his initial appearance is quiet awesome. How he’s moved from one state of affairs to another on the New 52 universe will hopefully be explored soon, rather than simply continuing to trade off the meta perception of him. We see the reappearance of someone who I assume was a pre New 52 character, and a hint at something to come, perhaps. The final panels are interesting, showing a character disillusioned with his lot, and bitter about his treatment by the surface world. Next month’s issue promises to be very good indeed.

Batman: The Dark Knight #3

Written by Paul Jenkins
Art by David Finch and Richard Friend with Jay Fabok
Cover by David Finch and Richard Friend

Not a good cover is it? As I mentioned in the introduction, I almost didn’t pick up Batman this week. I was won over by Sneak Peak, where there was some particularly good dialogue from one of the characters. I don’t want to spoil things, so go take a look via the link at the top of the page if you’ve a burning desire to know. What I am going to take pains to point out is that this character was not Batman. Batman, in this series seems oddly written, taking a different direction from other incarnations. He gets an almost James Bond one liner after finishing off an opponent, running counter to his usually lack of humour, and seems to be acting outside his normal focus with a laughably pompous scene threatening someone. Despite of this there does seem to a genuiene mystery being built up, which remains well veiled. We also get a cameo from Flash, who seems to be getting around quite a bit (which is at least sensible given his powers, unlike Batman’s many appearances). I am divided about the issue. Art and overall plotting are good, but dialogue and characterisation seem below par.

Blackhawks #3

Written by Mike Costa
Art Alessandro Vitti
Cover by Ken Lashley

The opening page is a little odd, both in terms of context and content but in fairness would work nowhere else in the book. Past this the rest of the book is very good. There is a very nicely done bait and switch with some unexpected humour thrown in. There’s also some good dialogue: “We are not made of flesh, we are made of choices”. There’s even a foreshortened eye patch joke in there. One thing that is rubbing me up the wrong way is one of the leads being referred to as “Lady” all the time, even if it is her name, it still manages to come across as derogatory. That aside I’m really enjoy Blackhawks. After a shaky start, in issue #1, things are really coming together, and being considerably smarter in its themes, devices and plotting than I suspected. The nano technology used is a well crafted device, managing to be scary science born horror and plot point. The fight has been cut back this issue in favour of a more science heavy dialogue, and exploration of the antagonists.

The Flash #3

Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art and cover by Francis ManapulAnother lovely cover, and consistently wonderful internal art. Once again, this can be really appreciated via the link at the top of the page. Even the way the book title is show internally is well executed. The art is a close second to Batwoman in my opinion, which given the praise I heaped on that a fortnight ago, is no mean thing. Moving beyond the art, there’s more detail about Barry’s powers, which is very well handled with narrative captions, that avoid feeling like a contrived information dump. The plot gets fleshed out with dark science and pig bits, in a change of tone. In fact, the whole issue is a little darker than the previous two, but we’ll come to that in a moment. There’s an slightly out of place feeling caption box telling readers to “Stay tuned for issue #6”, which manages to be both antiquated and effective. Antiquated crops up again, with the use of a steam powered car, which is quite cool. The flip side of this is that it comes in a glaring bit of sub plotting, narrated with lurid green caption boxes. Flash’s cameo in Captain Atom at the head of the month, gets a reprise this month, in a manner of speaking, however tenuously. There is a dark humour showing through at points, and the issue finishing with one of the best cliff hangers so far, across all 156 issues of the New 52 released to date.The main plot, in particular this month’s conclusion, and the characterisation of Allen’s foes is going to a murkier place than in the first two issues. While it works well, I hope there’s a return to the more upbeat nature of the preceding issues.

Next month is promising to be very good indeed.

The Fury Of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #3

Written by Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone
Art by Yildiray Cinar
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver

I find myself with sadly little to say about this issue, which is slightly unfortunate given the length to which I’ve run talking about other releases this month.

There is the dubious return of someone I assume is a pre New 52 character. This is followed by a very long fight scene, and further exploration of the Firestorm power. And yeah, that’s about it, in admittedly very broad strokes. The agency that are attempting to retrieving the Firestorm protocols a pushed from pillar to post,  with an almost sympathetic bit  of characterisation before things swing the other way. The origin story gets fleshed out by a fractional amount, but the narrator is more than a little unreliable.

The characters are being almost overshadowed by the action, but there is development, which will hopefully see fruition next issue. That the series isn’t being knocked off the review list is indication that I am still finding something of worth here, but it’d be nice to have more depth and less explosions.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #3

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Tyler Kirkham, Harvey Talibao and Batt
Cover by Tyler Kirkham and Batt

I really like this month’s cover, and the issue as a whole; mainly for it running against the status quo of the DC universe, something all four Green Lantern books are doing to greater or lesser extents. Kyle gets the apotheosis, using all the different rings at once, as foreshadowed over the last two issues. The Guardian’s position within the universe is altering, which will develop nicely, fingers crossed. We get answers to questions that were left hanging over the first two issue, which are resolved in an unexpectedly and awesome way. Next month should be very good indeed.

That the above sums up almost all I want to say about the issue should not be taken as an indicator there is nothing going on. Once again it is the case that mentioning the best bits will spoil them, and I’m keen to avoid that.Consider this my elliptical way to coming around to recommending the book, but go with the caveat that of all the books across the New 52 it is New Guardian’s that requires the most pre existing knowledge of the universe, to get the most out. How it feels without this is something I am ill qualified to judge.

I, Vampire #3

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Cover by Jenny FrisonI’m not a fan of this month’s cover, which is a shame after the first two months. Nothing is diminished internally however. Once again the issue takes a different approach to the standard method of telling a story, this time shifting perspective to that of Professor John Troughton, an associate of Andrew’s and a fellow vampire hunter. His narrative manages to encompass back story, the moving forward of the plot, character exploration, and foreshadowing of things to come. There’s the introduction of another new character, who I think I’ll leave people to discover for themselves.

If the above isn’t enough to draw you in this month, maybe that next month promises to be set in Gotham, although I can’t decide if I want to see the implied Batman vs Vampires this implies. Although judging by what I’ve heard about next month, this may get derailed some. I’ll not be giving this away either though.

Justice League Dark #3

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
Cover by Ryan Sook

We are still yet to see the team really assemble as yet. Constantine meets up with Zatanna, and there are definite nods towards a shared past, entrenching him further into the New 52 continuity. Deadman is getting considerable panel time, and remains a bit of an arsehole. Shade gets fleshed out a bit more, with a scene happily reminiscing of Event Horizon, or the Shining, although the book isn’t quite the horror opus that this comparison suggests. There is a lot left high up in the air still this month. Hopefully this will all start falling into place, but not so fast as to ruin the pacing that is being established. Assuming a standard six issue story arc there is a lot to fit into the remaining half of the run.

The Savage Hawkman #3

Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art and cover by Philip Tan

I’m undecided about the art, which veers between looking good and sketchy, without a noticeably style change. I realise that didn’t give much idea of what I’m driving at, but if pictures could be fully described with words then I suspect that a) your reviewer would be a lot better at writing these than his is, and b) it’d be unnecessary art.

This issue seems to sadly advance little of the main plot ending depressingly close to its beginning. Between these points the plot does grow so it’s not an entirely filler issue, but it’s perilously close. There is little happening character wise either, which is the real shame, given the conflict shown in issues #1 and #2. As mentioned in the review of Justice League Dark, assuming a 6 issue story arc, then over the next three issues the pacing and story will hopefully see this justified.

Next issue will hopefully see things advance, as I have high hopes for this series. Certainly the cover previews look suitably grand.

Superman #3

Written by George Perez
Breakdowns and cover by George Perez
Art by Jesus Merino

The second book this month to almost not make review, but scrapping through on the benefit of the doubt from Sneak Peak. The opening narrative captions run on far into the issue. There’s a considerable tie into Action Comics and it really embeds Superman in the New 52 version of Metropolis. Told from the viewpoint of a reporters pitch for a new show it neatly touches on some very old and specific clichés, but also puts the spotlight on the dangers that seem to come hand in hand with Superman’s prominent presence within the city.

There’s some almost quietly done character building, before we reach this month’s big bad, which undermines some of the good will the series has built up, with some, for want of a nicer phrase, smack talk, from Superman. Sadly smack talk seems to sum it up perfectly.

As I seem to have said far too often, I hope things improve next month, with the beginnings of some resolution of the over arching plot that has been building behind the big bad of the month.

Teen Titans #3

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art and cover by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund

There is a fantastic speedster piece of art, which does things in a very different way to Flash, but is just as brilliant. I really enjoyed this issue, although there is a bit of  iffy over sexualising of a teenager, with Wonder Girl in a nurse outfit. Elsewhere we get another new team member introduced, who walks a very thin line between being unlikeable and brilliant, which is an achievement in and of itself I suppose. Batman also appears to have taught Red Robin a thing or two in the undetermined time he was just Robin (see last week’s issue of Nightwing as to why I’m stressing this) . The crowning achievement of the issue is a character that turns up for a single panel, and in four speech bubbles surpasses many others in sheer brilliantness.

Voodoo #3

Written by Ron Marz
Art by Sami Basri and Hendry Prasetya
Cover by John Tyler Christopher

Despite not having any nudity in this month, Voodoo still seems to have sex as a key theme, between dirty truckers, stereotypical gas station owners, two girls who seem to be taking fashion tips off the Dukes of Hazard, and Voodoo herself the issue is fairly rife with it. The high point is Kyle Rayner’s cameo (another continuity headache in the making), with some nice dialogue and Green Lantern constructs that are both fantastically imaginative and very well drawn. On the subject of art, and as I’ve mentioned before in reviews of this series, it is lovely, which probably only serves to emphasis the whole sex theme. There does seem to be a move towards a more robust plot with the final page bring in an unexpected cameo (no, not Flash again).

Skipped To The End…

Once again I think it’s Aquaman ahead of the rest this month for my recommendation but it is facing tight competition. The Flash is possibly joint first, and if not is only a whisker away. I, Vampire continues to do very interesting things, and Teen Titans has really impressed me this month. Blackhawks has jumped up considerably in my estimation, and is doing something different from the rest of the line; in plot, if not delivery, it feels very much like a Warren Ellis story (a likeness that has been alluded to elsewhere and one I can agree with). Justice League Dark, is possibly still trading on my love of the occult side of the pre New 52 DC universe, but hopefully not to the point it is colouring me objectivity when I was it is worth getting. New Guardians, as a title is a tricky one, as it does rely on a readers love of the Green Lantern books as a whole, and their recent history, to be worth getting, but isn’t a letdown if that is the case.

The other titles are all a little disappointing in their own ways. Nothing stands out as truly awful and deserving of cutting, but neither are they brilliant. Both the big name titles have left me undecided, which I suppose characterise the problem those titles face; they have to stick to the formula that gives them their audience, particularly at this early stage of the New 52. So it’s going to be big fights and maintaining the status quo for a little while yet. Superman may prove to be a little more adventurous given time, just from the way they are redeveloping the character.

All Star Western, Fury of Firestorm and Hawkman all need another issue to set them back on course. Voodoo is showing a tiny bit more promise than it did, but it’ll have to do something phenomenal next month, and effect a change of tone, to drag itself out of the gutter. Should it manage this the first collection will prove to be an odd read as the feel of the book shifts. There is a change of writer coming for Voodoo with #7 (which is not the only title with changes coming), so it may be that things will alter then.

I have a few pieces of housekeeping to deal with before next week’s release roll around, which will hopefully be dealt with in another post. There will also be a book review from me if I can squeeze it in.

DC The New 52 #3 Part 3 (of 4)

Another good set of comics ahead this week (although I have given up on Catwoman). Justice League is the real heavy hitter of the lot, followed by Batman, and then dropping to a wider selection of less big name titles. If weeks 1 and 2 of the #3 releases are anything to go by, stories ought to be deepening and if I’m sticking with a title become more defined. I’m putting up a lot of cover’s this month (just the way things happen I think) so enjoy the art at least.

Batman #3

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Cover by Greg CapulloNice cover this month. The prologue starts with a bit of a delve into the interlinked past of Gotham and the Wayne family, going back to 1922. We get an OK opening fight sequence, and a scientifically dubious Bat gadget. This is followed up by some actual bat facts (about the animal). Unmasked, Bruce looks a lot like Clark Kent, which is unsettling. Like last month, we get a bit of architectural history, this time about 13th floors and bad luck. There’s a creepy reveal about our owlish villain, and a cliff hanger that will surprise me if it pays off well with injury and disaster.

Birds Of Prey #3

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Jesus Saiz
Cover by David Finch and Richard Friend
This month’s cover is very similar to the first issue (see below), which sadly gave the game a way for Poison Ivy being on the team. She seem to be wearing more clothes than she usually does, and possibly taking a slightly different position in the underworld. Her powers seem significantly more awesome than previously, with a dose of trippy visuals to boot. The key premise of micro bombs implanted into people comes nicely to fruition this issue, but quite who the main enemy is remains a mystery.

Blue Beetle #3

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Ig Guara and Ruy Jose
Cover by Tyler Kirkham and Sal ReglaThis month’s cover has no relation to the story (neither did Bird’s of Prey’s but it at least was four characters with key parts to play). There’s something creepy underlying the new Blue Beetle design. Think it may be the lack of nose. Our villainess seemed to be getting rounded out, before returning to cardboard cookie cutter kill random henchmen villainy. The book seems very slow, and the final reveal falls flat.

Captain Atom #3

Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Freddie Williams II
Cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
So, our first crossover of the New 52 (the first of many to come by the sound of things), which sees the Flash meeting Captain Atom. The Flash gets a fantastic opening page, plucking bullets from the air. The setting is Libya, which feels a little too close on the edge of real life. The Flash tells Captain Atom “The League” is unsure about how stable he is. There’s an odd little dialogue jump at one point, but the rest is good.

DC Universe Presents #3

Written by Paul Jenkins
Art by Bernard Chang
Cover by Ryan Sook

“The armies of the nether”, tremble or laugh mortal, depending on your language. Deadman is less of a dick this month, although the use of a legless veteran as main host remains slightly off. We are given the titbit that Lucifer has a younger brother. There’s an odd dip in the middle of the book where we are shown one of Deadman’s previous possessions, of a death row inmate. The story finishes in Gotham Fun park, done up in the Joker’s Green and purple, surely the most desolate fun park on Earth (apparently not, because Gotham citizens are screwed in the head).

Green Lantern Corps #3

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna
Cover by Alex GarnerThe dark cover is at odds with the internal art. There’s what seems like a “Thor” moment at one point, with a giant green hammer smashing stuff. It feels like a very quick issue, with the main focus being the Green Lanterns over matched by their foe, as their ring powers have no effect. There’s a death that may have been more poignant if I had been reading Green Lantern Corps properly pre New 52. There are some morally murky waters ahead for Guy at the end of the issue, and quiet a bit of action to come I expect. Not up to the standards of #1 or #2 though.

Justice League #3

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Jim Lee and Scott WilliamsWonder Woman’s costume decisions seems to be a little uncertain, with her back in shorts after a previous cover appearance in leggings. Her introduction feels a little odd, but I lack a grounding in her usual standing amongst the DC pantheon, so we’ll roll with it. She has broken out of a military holding unit (Is she the A-Team?) and is wandering the city, searching for harpies. discovering ice cream, of all things, before she finds one of Darkseid’s minions.

Flash gets the best set of lines “Batman doesn’t have powers? … “I thought you were a vampire or something”.

Wonder Woman gets a nice double page splash entrance, kicking arse. Hal Jordan “Dibs”. That’s not going to end well.

Aquaman continues his rise to awesomeness by turning up for a final page splash by dropping a body, with the lines “They were in the water too. So who’s in charge here? I vote me.”

Tacked onto the issue we also get the introduction to a “History of Atlantis” (nicely oddly presented), and a JL sketch book for Green Lantern.

The Legion Of Superheroes #3

Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Francis Portela
Cover by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story
The cover has the feel of old school X-Men somehow. A lot more character from th Legion this month, with a plethora of Lass/Lad/Boy/Girl, preceded by a cheap and easy power description. The last three pages feel very odd (or I’m just not following). Still haven’t quite got my head around all the angels on this one (getting there – more soon as to why). The first 3/4’s of the issue feel good, with a satisfying amount of fighting, explosions, powers, and subterfuge.

Nightwing #3

Written by Kyle Higgins
Art and cover by Eddy Barrows and Jp Mayer
Nice cover, although with overtones of old villains? A flashback sets Dick Grayson’s time as Robin at less than five years back from the present story line, which will see continuity squeezed I imagine). There’s a lot of big panels, which means the story gets little done. There’s some unwanted reminiscences for Dick, and a reveal of the antagonist behind the attacks on him. We also get the promise of Batgirl next month, which should be interesting given the crossover early this month in Batgirl’s own title.

Red Hood & The Outlaws #3

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art and cover by Kenneth Rocafort and Blond
Red Hood looks somewhat slight on this month’s cover. Some lovely art/page layouts this month, with some lovely small touches. We get two unusually delivered origin stories for Arsenal and Starfire (Arsenal’s feels a little ropey in its use of a cameo- no idea if it is true to pre New 52 continuity). Oddest plot point I’ve seen in a long while, and a truly strange feel to the final pages where we see Jason Toddd’s most cherished memory.
The book is growing on me, with it’s skewed sense of humour and a feeling of being very far from the standard superhero line.

Supergirl #3

Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Art by Mahmud Asrar and Dan Green
Cover by Mahmud Asrar

The art continues to look lovely, with a 2000AD feel to the work. I remain sceptical of Supergirl’s look however. This month sees her captured and tested by an evil space trillionaire (eh?) who’s made money collecting objects that fall to earth, in this case Supergirl’s ship, which she wants back. There’s an interesting swipe at the state of the American Space Program amidst the villianish posturing. This could go interesting places, but Supergirl desperately needs to develop as a character, beyond the bonds of not understanding what has happened and wanting to return home.

Wonder Woman #3

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art and cover by Cliff Chiang

A bit of a turning point issue for Diana this month. We find out her old nick-name, and Strife seems to have settled for being far more malicious than violent. We find out Wonder Woman’s childhood nickname, and there’s a page of gods a’shagging (more tastefully done than in, oh, I don’t know, sat Catwoman #1). There are revelations a plenty, building off the back of last month’s ending, and much more going on than at first glance.

Catwoman #3

Written by Judd Winick
Art and cover by Guillem March

Yeah, oddly enough, not reviewed. Interior art seems to have left Selina looking a little manga.

Skipped To The End…

I’m not sure what to recommend this week. Batman is doing interesting things after what I found to be a shaky start, but it could all go wrong again in #4. Captain Atom is looking good, and going places but needs tightening up. DC Universe Presents is going better, but again that could change in #4. Green Lantern Corps has seen a drop in quality. Justice League is still visually stunning, and will be ready to hit the ground running flat out next month. Legion of Superhero’s risks distilling the character it has built up for new readers so far with new introductions. Nightwing seems to be padding itself out too with art too much. Red Hood is improving, but if its odd comedy misses it’ll all go wrong. Supergirl needs to flesh out our the main character more, and bring it’s villain down to Earth (figuratively). Wonder Woman has lost a bit of its mystical/horror edge and needs to find it again for #4. And breathe.

Which leaves me thinking I’ll tentatively put forward Batman, Justice League, and Wonder Woman as recommendations this week. But don’t dive in unless you are already following.

Hopefully next week will see me being more definitive, and a fortnight’s time will see a bit of a change in how we do things here. Happy reading till next time.

DC The New 52 #3 Part 2 (of 4)

Fear little comics, fear. It’s time for new releases to live in terror. Last week gave me a taste for leaving comics on the virtual shelf, unreviewed. So far there’s only been one casualty this week, Batman and Robin, which in fairness almost tempted me back in with its pages in Sneak Peak, but Damien Wayne remains a little shitbag. No one else is joining the dynamic duo. Yet.

Sorry I’m a bit late.

Batgirl #3Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes

I’d like to just pause for a minute before launching into the review and ask you to look closely at the cover above. Notice anything?

Specifically, anything missing, but that would be there on most covers?

Batgirl’s arse. Nice to see Batgirl not falling under sex sells.  (Although the cover does overplay the fight somewhat).

Anyway, on with the review. There’s a nice in character plot catch up to start with, which feels odd so early in the New 52, but works well here. Gail Simone has had a consistent flair for titles (over and above her awesome writing) and #3 comes with the moniker “A Breath of Broken Glass”. Barbara’s view of the general run of Superhero heroics is refreshingly different and grounded compared to the rest of the Bat-family. There’s a nasty double swerve in the plot, and a lovely piece of playing around with panels/speech bubbles. Nightwing gets a nice cameo, which really emphasises how Barbra feels about coming back from her injury. There’s a very nicely done bit of repetition (or comixology is playing silly buggers). The ending, and to be fair, the issue/arc as a whole is fairly dark.

The art remains lovely throughout, and there’s a really nice feel to it, which I can’t quite pin down.

Batwoman #3Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Art and cover by J.H. Williams III

The notes I made when I was reading this basically read as an escalating wow. The art work is phenomenal. If the cover isn’t enough to prove that, here is some interior art.

Character, dialogue, and plot match the heights of the artwork. As Catwoman proves good art is not enough on its own (nor are lots of sex and exposed bras).

It really is a truly barnstorming issue. Best of the DC line at the present time, possibly. Certainly brings everything together as a brilliant show of sequential art.

Deathstroke #3
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Joe Bennett and Art Thibert
Cover by Simon Bisley

Deathstroke continues to be a hell of a lot of fun. There’s deepening of plot this month, and a bit of an exploration into Slade Wilson’s motivations.

Demon Knights #3
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert
Cover by Tony S. Daniel

This month is another top notch issue for Demon Knights. Tension continues to rise as the forces move closer to battle. There’s grim nastiness at the books heart, with some fairly horrible wounds, and violence on display. The character’s all get a bit more fleshed out, and there is a real sense of drama, as it’s not really obvious who is going to live, die, or be horribly altered by their experience.

Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #3
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Alberto Ponticelli
Cover by J.G. Jones

The cover runs somewhat at odds to the interior art, with a far sketchier style. It’s a fun book, and there’s a nice mix of monster bashing and deranged science. The stakes keep getting higher with each issue, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we escalate to next.

Green Lantern #3
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

Just look at that title again. It’s “Green Lantern”, not “Hal Jordan”. Sinestro is really edging Hal out of what was his book. It’s a very interesting direction to send the character, and will likely be hard going in light of his past. However, I’m kind of hoping Sinestro’s reform works out well. There’s some very good exchanges between him and Hal, which serve to really cement the outlines of both characters. The ending is interesting, and could be fantastic if it is pushed all the way. In the interests of making a prediction –YH. We’ll see what happens next month.

Grifter #3
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art and cover by Cafu and Jason Gorder

I heaped a bit of praise on this series last month, and I’m afraid to say I’m taking some of it back. There’s probably a bit more for readers that were following Grifter back in the Wildstorm days, but I was left feeling a bit on the edge of things. I suspect there was a bit of dramatic impact lost on me. The start is once again stuttery, as if rewriting the end of #2. The strange alien creatures make a reappearance, and get a fantastic line.

Next month really will be make or break for me and this book.

Legion Lost #3
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art and cover by Pete Woods

I’m still not quite engaging with this books somewhere. It seems to be putting a different team member as narrator each month, which means it’ll be a while before we really get a handle on the whole team. This month sees Timber Wolf at the helm, push the team to help the wider world. There’s some horror under the heroism, not least is corpse licking (Anyone seen Ravenous?).

Mister Terrific #3
Written by Eric Wallace
Art by Gianluca Gugliotta
Cover by J.G. Jones

Kinda disappointing this month. There’s a showdown between Mr T (well, Mr Terrific, but I’ve been waiting for a chance) and Brainstorm that ends in a fairly brutal beating for the loser, and light gets shed on a fair major event in Michael’s life, possibly a little early in the proceedings in my opinion, but anyway. There’s still a lot of science(!) and a curved ball of a cliff hanger, so there’s still a much to like, it’s just tone and art seem to be going off in a different direction to which things started out.

Resurrection Man #3
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Fernando Dagnino
Cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

Holy hell we get a nasty resurrection scene, and a panty shot. Hmmm. There’s a tongue in cheek feel running below the surface of the book, that’ll possibly be coming to the surface more next month, if the ending is any indicator. There’s a lot going on this month, with more action, and dealings with the mythical in somewhere that isn’t quite limbo.

Suicide Squad #3
Written by Adam Glass
Art by Federico Dellocchio and Ransom Getty

Disappointing, with just enough of a hook to pull me in next month I suspect. The plot and location don’t quite fit with the way things we’re left last month. Harley Quinn more between her usual insanity and a more lucid tone. She also tried jumping Deadshot’s bones, which is mainly uncomfortable. The ending brings someone unexpected back into the universe that I don’t think anyone will be expecting, and hopefully this will pay off next month. Fingers crossed. It should be noted that pulling the audience in with the promise of character being killed off is only going to work for so long, as there is a limit on how much of the DC underworld can be murdered before Batman runs out of people to punch.

Superboy #3
Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Rb Silva and Rob Lean
Cover by Eric Canete

Ohh, it’s all coming together. Superboy continues his first real life combat situation, and finds himself still unfamiliar with his powers, and interacting with the world in general. The first page looks like it’s a weird in continuity advert for a product though. There’s real promise in the book, but this is possibly coming from the way the current world is being used rather than Superboy as a character.

Not Reviewed

Batman & Robin #3
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray

This one moved to the not reviewed pile this week. Can’t get home with Damien, and Batman must be cloning himself to be in so many comics/places at once. There’s also either some animal cruelty or an odd epiphany coming, neither of which I care to read.

Skipped To The End…

So this week’s top comic is undoubtedly Batwoman, by a long old way. Got a few quid spare, drop into a comic shop and pick it up (and issue #1 and #2) it’s my top recommendation across the whole 52 line right now.

Coming in join second is Batgirl and Demon Knights. Both are brilliant. Coming up behind is Green Lantern and Death Stroke, both of which are looking very good for next month, as is Superboy.

The remaining comics are all much of a muchness, Frankenstein, Grifter, Legion Lost, Mister Terrific, and Resurrection Man, are really a matter of taste. I’m tempted to add that Suicide Squad is a matter of not having any taste, but it hasn’t quite reached that point yet.

DC The New 52 #3 Part 1 (of 4)

This week sees a bit of a change to the reviews. With a few disappointing titles across the 52, I’ll be dropping a few issues from each set of reviews. DC’s sneak peak means I’ll be able to make a very rough judgement on things, and tell if a book suddenly rockets in quality, and bring it back to the fold.

Animal Man #3
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art and cover by Travel ForemanAnother fantastic cover this month, as things start to get seriously weird. The disturbing art continues, with some really quite grim body horror. The villains are introduced properly, and we get a bit more idea of what is going on. There’s an interesting tweak to Buddy’s origin story as well.This issue really raises the bar, both in terms of horror, action and overall story. A must read.

Batwing #3
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Ben Oliver

My patience with this book is waning, and it may soon fall off the reviewing list. This issue seems to be treading water, while it adds a bit of origin story, the main body of the book is big panels, sparse dialogue and a single fight, with a bit of a tacked on epilogue sequence to given a question for #4 to answer.

Detective Comics #3
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Tony S. Daniel and Ryan WinnDetective Comics is lucky to be making this section of the list. Sneak Peak reeled me in, and I picked up the issue. Not sure I’m glad of that. It’s a nice cover, but what is wrong with Batman’s mouth? There’s a very Batwoman feel to the first page layout, which never really turns up elsewhere. The cliff-hanger from last week is abruptly whipped away, something that is getting a little wearing. There’s a little bit of odd dialogue (with Bats sounding like Gene Hunt “Let’s go, Sunshine.”) and some plot holes. And some good old fashioned brutality, turns out that the “world’s greatest detective” will simply beat you for information. With another cliff-hanger ending to finish it off, I think Detective Comics has reached the end of the road with me.

Hawk & Dove #3
Written by Sterling Gates
Art and cover by Rob Liefeld

Hawk and Dove continues to revel in its sheer over the top style. There is a glorious cameo by Deadman, and the plot moves rollickingly along. The book needs to start adding in a little character depth to hold interest beyond the spectacle, or seriously up the levels of insanity (although I think that way lies the change into something else). There’s quite a lot left up in the air at the issues conclusion, which we will hopefully see resolved next month.

Justice League International #3
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Aaron Lopresti and Matt RyanThe cover above has nothing to do with this month’s plot. JLI does a good job of juggling multiple story lines this week. As the team splits to deal with four giant robots, we get a nicely cyclic coverage of their adventures, which each advancing the story a little further. There’s some odd comedy moments that never seem to go the full distance. The cast is growing on me, but still seems to be dropping neatly intonational stereotypes. The ending is oddly handled, as we get what is essentially a slightly more emphatically stated version of last months cliff-hanger.

OMAC #3
Written by Dan Didio and Keith Giffen
Art and cover by Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish

Another book slipping off the review list here I think. I’m not getting along with the art, and the story, while brining in new elements isn’t grabbing me. The tone is a mixed bag, between huge fight scenes and the overarching plot, the book seems to be pulling in different directions.

Red Lantern #3
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Ed Benes and Rob Hunter

It’s not the best cover in the world. Blood isn’t really that sexy to shower in. Ask Carrie. The curious mix of violence and deeper plot continues this month as Atrocitus raises a Red Lantern from the ranks to be his second in command. There’s tension between to the two that is likely going to blow up spectacularly in the next few months. Not quite sure what shelf life the book has, unless it expands it’s repertoire. Hopefully next issue will see something grander coming into play.

Static Shock #3
Written by Scott Mcdaniel and John Rozum
Art by SCOTT Mcdaniel and Andy Owens

Another book sadly slipping from my good graces. While there’s a lot to like there is a sense of drama lacking somewhere. There are sub plots that are clearly growing in the background, but lack a grounding with a new reader, and as such aren’t drawing me in. The tone from week to week seems to shift, with neither the “science!” style from #1 or the tinge of horror from #2 returning. Instead Virgil seems to be manipulating what parts of the big picture he can see to meet his own ends, as he tries to bring down the slate gang.

Stormwatch #3
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Miguel Sepulveda and Al Barrionuevo

The series is really hitting its stride now. The Stormwatch team is still riven by internal conflict, and the new members are still finding their feet and powers, but are together enough to deal with the threat of the moon, even as something worse appears. Jack Hawksmoor talking to cities is fantastically pulled off (Gotham in particular is a sight to behold). The cliff-hanger is very well pulled off, and next month will likely be make or break for one character. I’m looking forward to it.

Swamp Thing #3
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Yanick Paquette

Not sure about this month’s cover, but beyond that everything is perfect. Like Animal Man there’s a real sense of horror, but on a far less explicit level. There’s the proper return of an old character, and lots of build up for the rest of the arc is done without stalling the story. Alec Holland uses his powers for the first time, and there is a real punch to the face bit of pacing and art, that I really hope continues and expands over the rest of the arc. Another must read.

And The Rest…

Action Comics #3
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales and Rick Bryant

Not reviewed.

Green Arrow #3
Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Dan Jurgen and George Perez

Not reviewed

Men Of War #3
Written by Ivan Brandon and Jonathan Vankin
Art by Tom Derenick and Phil Winslade

Not reviewed

Skipped To The End…

So, once again it is between Swamp Thing and Animal Man at the top of my recommendations, and it ultimately comes down to preference on art style as to which you read first. Tight third is Stormwatch, which is really gaining momentum.

JLI tops the rest of the pack, with Hawk & Dove and Red Lantern level pegging somewhere behind. Detective Comics is in limbo between this and not getting reviewed.

Dropping off the list for next month are Batwing, OMAC, and Static Shock, although reprieves may be granted if previews in Sneak Peak look good enough.
As for those that didn’t make it (Action Comics, Green Arrow, and Men Of War) nothing in Sneak Peak tempted me back, and it seems questionable to give any sort of opinion about three pages (although I don’t think me saying “Stay Away” about Green Arrow would not be overly harsh).
As the DC reviews drop off over the coming months there maybe some other publishers getting a look in. Certainly expect to see some other reviews from me over November.

DC The New 52 #2 Part 4 (of 4)

Intro

So, two months and 104 comics reviewed. Bloody hell. All to finish here with the final thirteen reach their second issues. So far things have been fairly up and down, with titles that I’ve wanted to see develop not doing so, and others I’d disliked at #1 improving for #2. Hopefully this week will see the last few series pull their socks up, so here we go.

All Star Western #2

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Moritat and Jordi Bernet
Cover by Moritat

From the cover it’s obvious this is going to be a fists and guns issue, a promise the book lives up to. There’s allusions to the “Crime Bible” and the cult it has spawned, something readers of Batwoman will be familiar with. There’s a four page fight scene with a slightly odd panel layout, that none the less captures a frenetic gunfight. There’s a further quirk in that the book has subtitles, which while artistically pretty seem unnecessary. A second, climatic fight scene, seems badly realised in terms of art. The story widens to introduce the top ranks of Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham’s adversaries, as they move towards open conflict.

I’d disagree about the Western title, as there is far more weighting towards a crime story set in 1880’s Gotham, rather than a Western. The pacing also seems wrong, although that’s the child of the Dollars trilogy and Unforgiven talking (and the more recent True Grit). There’s not the familiar wide open spaces and deep pauses, it’s urban and busy.

All Star Western also has a second story tucked in at the back, that of “El Diablo”. Lazarus Lane rides into trouble when he enters a town overrun by zombies, supposedly brought forth by an India curse. Avoiding an easy run and gun plot, the story goes somewhere different as Lane meets the few survivors, and tries to save the town.

Aquaman #2

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

If this was Dr Who you’d be watching from behind the sofa. Not sure what you can read behind when it’s a comic. Our fishy cover star and friends assault a town, killing and kidnapping, before disappearing without trace.

The artwork deserves a mention, firstly for the disturbing realization of fishmen, secondly for the good use of a two page splash to set up the devastated town, and thirdly for some very nice water manipulation effects.

Aquaman is still pushing hard against his bad reputation, almost breaking the fourth wall to do so. The story paints a vivid picture of how he is perceived by the DC universe’s public, and it works ever so well.

Batman: The Dark Knight #2

Written by David Finch and Paul Jenkins
Art by David Finch and Richard Friend with Jay Fabok
Cover by David Finch and Richard Friend

Starting with a reprise of last month’s fear lecture, the issue quickly waste the goodwill it picked up from that with a pointless, filler double page splash, and a cover that lies. We also get Jim Gordon getting ready to throw in the towel, and a slightly pervy and sarcastic Alfred. The Batmobile also manages to look far more ridiculous than it other incarnations (which is going some). There’s a nice lot of cameos and horrific alterations to one of Batman’s second string villains, that really work. There’s a weird message about drug abuse wrapped up in the story line, as well as a Bunny Girl, and a last line that I can’t quite decide as being genius or being lazy (Also fairly sure it’s going to be lost on the younger crowd).

This issue has left me divided. On one hand there’s some good writing, and interesting use of characters. On the other there’s iffy patches and slightly meh art. I think a stay of execution to #3 may be in order, but I may change my mind yet.

Blackhawks #2

Written by Mike Costa
Art and Graham Nolan and Norm Rapmund
Cover by Ken Lashley

Last month’s ending gets brushed aside a bit in favour of action, and the introduction of Lady Blackhawk, heading a squad of grunts to investigate the site of last month’s skirmish and explosion. Intercepted by forces unknown, their air support goes AWOL and many of the squad end up being killed by a mystery assassin.

Blackhawks is a little odd really. It seems to be setting itself up as almost sf combat meets spy thriller, but it is lacking that certain something needed to draw the reader in. Hopefully we will see characters get fleshed out a bit more next issue, as well as the wider plot developing.

The Flash #2

Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art and cover by Francis Manapul

The cover works really nicely, both visually, and in terms of being relevant to the story. The interior art is even more gorgeous, from a fantastic speed combat panel spread across two pages, to some truly lovely pencil scenes later on in the book. The story develops numerous plot lines, and really uses the whole medium to tell the story (see my gushing over art above). There’s flashbacks which work in both story and character development, and a series of cliff-hangers, that means next month’s issue will be required reading.

The Fury Of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #2

Written by Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone
Art by Yildiray Cinar
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver

This issue sees the book, pleasingly, clawing its way back from an iffy first issue. We get far more explanation, which helps to clarify things, without giving too much away. The characters get fleshed out, but still stick a little too close to the stereotypes they fit into. The government agents from last month get one upped, in truly weird manner by their sister squad, of junkies.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #2

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Tyler Kirkham, Harvey Talibao and Batt
Cover by Tyler Kirkham and Batt

This issue starts out stronger than last month, with good fight scenes, a bit of comedy, and the return of Saint Walker. One character gets shived horribly in the back, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what repercussions that has for the GL line as a whole. Quiet what is happening to the lantern corps remains a mystery this issue, but hopefully answers will be forthcoming soon.

I, Vampire #2

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Cover by Jenny Frison

A far more linear plot this week, still manages to leave the beaten track of traditional story telling. It also manages to do new and interesting things for vampires, as supernatural creatures, and with the idea of them as a social underclass. Mary Seward, Queen of Blood, and head of the vampire uprising, gets a lovely flowing monologue, as last month’s skeleton gets fleshed out. She is coming across as a totally justified villain, something in the mould of the best representations of Magneto.

The art work remains as lovely as last week, and manages to capture some fantastic fight scenes, that could have gone so wrong, but instead manage to flow beautifully.

I’m really keen to see where this is going, and am really enjoying plot, characters, dialogue and art.

Justice League Dark #2

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
Cover by Ryan Sook

In a break from form for second issues, Justice League Dark seems to be taking it’s time to introduce the characters, rather than run head long into action, something which is good to see in team book. John Constantine is characterised bloody perfectly (unsurprising given Peter Milligan has written him in the Vertigo universe too). Deadman (after me saying I was unsure about him last week) comes across as more than a bit of a prick, while Dove gets some proper characterisation, outside the pages of “Hawk and Dove”. There’s a real feeling of slow burn with this series, that pays off with the final page turn. The art seems perfectly suited to the book as well, where the gritty normal world contrasts with some beautiful magical constructs as well as some nastier spell effects and characters.

The Savage Hawkman #2

Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art and cover by Philip Tan

Last weeks ending gets played out in a nice long fight scene, which unlike most comic book scraps, has repercussions for our hero. There is a feeling of wheels within wheels as Carter Hall’s life as a superhero, his personal life, and outside events all start moving in different directions, in a way very different to week one’s Animal Man.

Superman #2

Written by George Perez
Breakdowns and cover by George Perez
Art by Jesus Merino

Superman, as a title, and Action Comics, have an interesting balancing act to play. With AC telling the story of a much younger Clark, Superman can’t steal its thunder with big reveals about Clark’s past. Instead there are clearly blanks to be filled in, which will hopefully lead to the two books fitting together as a piece.

Superman was a pleasant surprise this month. There’s still a feeling of “villain of the week” as Superman is confronted by a creature that is invisible (and other in-‘s) to his senses, but this is countered by the ending and the way the fight is carried off.

There’s an attempt to explore Clark as an outsider, and further examination of his relationship with Louis, that still rubs against what I keep thinking of canon for the DCU.

Teen Titans #2

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art and cover by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund

Another second issue that recovers after a shaky first showing. Wonder Girl comes out as the best character out of the lot, being in the mould of her older namesake, in that she’s a strong female character, but packing a dark streak of pragmatism in there too. Red Robin/Tim Drake comes across a little weak for one of Batman’s brood however. Last month’s cliff-hanger gets postponed by another issue as tracking down another potential members eats up this month. Saying that there is an awful lot fitted in.

Voodoo #2

Written by Ron Marz
Art and cover by Sami Basri

Following last month’s flesh heavy first issue we get another dose of it, albeit for fewer pages, but with a seriously horrible (in a repulsive way) and unnecessary bit of story line. For a story about an alien shape shifting lizard thing, the story manages to be tediously predictable. There’s the introduction of a very aesthetically pleasing hero, Bolton (new to the New 52?). Which highlights the real shame. The art is actually very good, when it is not fixated by nudity.

Skipped to the End…

So, that’s it. Next week sees the New 52 start on the first week of third issues, and sees me dropping a few from the review roster. This week has been fairly impressive bar one or two poor showings.

Top of the pile in no particular order, have been; The Flash, for story and art; Aquaman, for the same; I, Vampire, for going somewhere different; Justice League Dark is also up there as well.

Blackhawks, Firestorm, Green Lantern – New Guardians, The Savage Hawkman, Superman and Teen Titans make a very good following pack to the front runners, and all (bar Hawkman that I liked anyway) have made solid gains after first issues that could have been better. All Star Western also places in this group, although I think I’m drawing harsh comparisons between it and some truly amazing films based on the title alone.

Voodoo will be dropping off my review list this time next month. Tone and story line but it one rank higher than Catwoman at the very bottom of my reading list.

DC The New 52 #2 Part 3 (of 4)

Intro

Sorry for being behind schedule on this one. Laptop and Internet issues conspire to mean that this is being posted in Cafe Nero, fueled by hot chocolate and cheesecake.

With a very good second week behind us, I’m looking forward to week three in the hope that the bar will be similarly raised for some of these titles as well. Some of this week’s issues started out especially well last month (and then there’s Catwoman) and while there seems to be an odd mix from DC’s seven sub categories this should be a good week.

In anticipation of me giving Catwoman a drubbing once again this month, and in light of the penis joke made in the Captain Atom review last time, it seems only fair to ask what female readers think about the portrayal of male physic in comics. Feel free to have your say in the comments section.

Batman #2

Written by Scott Snyder
Art and cover by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Cover by Greg Capullo

We open with a bit of architectural history about the first Wayne Tower, a huge phallus of a building “to give visitors…the feeling that they’re cared for and protected.” Nothing being quite so reassuring as a giant stone penis covered in gargoyles.
Batman, as a character is very well drawn, but Bruce Wayne feels a little flat faced, although he manages to move remarkably well when injured. Last week’s cliff-hanger is brushed aside very easily sadly. There’s a very fillery action scene right at the start, made up for by some lovely art in the morgue. The issue has a nasty ending that reminds me of at least two films, in a good way.

Birds Of Prey #2

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art and cover by Jesus Saiz

The first page is a little lost on me I’m afraid, but makes more sense looking back. This issue works nicely, although there is one of the daftest chase scenes I’ve seen in a long while. There is a bit of a feeling of filling time, and some weak characterisation (although I think I’m still kicking against some of the New 52 character changes). The ending is undercut by last weeks cover art, and prior knowledge sadly. Hopefully with a core team coming together next month will really pick up.

Blue Beetle #2

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Ig Guara and Ruy Jose
Cover by Tyler Kirkham and Sal Regla

There’s a beat after last months ending, and the promised violence never really comes. I’m enjoying the different setting for the series, although I’m going to have to learn a bit of Spanish to get the full impact of the story. For an alien tech combat suit possessing a human teen, the killer hardware seems remarkably weak willed. The real payoff of this episode is a glorious double page splash space scene, which hopefully presages awesome things to come.

Captain Atom #2

Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Freddie Williams Ii
Cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau

Last month’s cliff-hanger is side stepped with little fanfare (although in fairness there was no way to avoid a swift resolution in order to move the book forward). There’s an odd style to the comic (which seems to be cropping up more and more in the DC universe) where Captain Atom’s pencils contrast with the inkier, more stylised supporting characters and background.

Possibly the most original, single issue, “villian” for some time in any series I’ve seen, although a slightly iffy choice perhaps.

Catwoman #2

Written by Judd Winick
Art and cover by Guillem March

It may have just been a quirk of my computer, but Catwoman was not obviously immediately available from DC’s store front on Comixology come release time. Out of shame maybe. I had to do a little hunting for it, which I now kind of regret.

Issue #2 picks up right where issue #1 left off, in the aftermath of Batman and Catwoman yiffing (Google is sometimes not your friend). From there we get some actual story, which shows some potential if it could just get away from the sudoporn. There’s a really odd use of Bruce Wayne in his playboy persona. Once again it may be Comixology that is at fault, but there is one really badly timed page turn, that should have been split to save some impact. (Also another one for Women in Refrigerators). There’s also a deeply wrong penultimate page, that’s way to indulgent.

This issue sees Catwoman’s bridges burnt with me. While the artwork is gorgeous, when it is not focused on sex appeal, the writing is iffy and the plot very thin. One to avoid unless something changes in a big way.

DC Universe Presents #2

Written by Paul Jenkins
Art by Bernard Chang
Cover by Ryan Sook

With the first cover worth remarking on this week, DCU Presents Deadman is turning into a series to keep up with. The writing stays top notch, as Deadman’s path only gets weirder, as he infiltrates a underground club for a very specific clientele. I’ve yet to decide if I like Boston Brand as a character or not yet, as he’s a little too arrogant, but he could grow on me (more likely than Damien Wayne any road).

Green Lantern Corps #2

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna
Cover by Alex Garner

There’s a really interesting premise being worked into the heart of the story here, which I fear is going to be left behind in later issues, as villains start coming out the woodwork and the action starts in earnest. There’s also a dark, violent undercurrent just below the surface, which matches up to the start of last month’s issue. The cover probably gives illustration enough of that.

This issue sees the action packed introduction of our villains, in much larger capacity than last month, who have the Green Lanterns apparently outmatched. Quite how they’ll be overcome, will certainly be something to see.

Justice League #2

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Jim Lee and Scott Williams

DC is really pulling out all the stops for the Justice Leauge, and it shows. Jim Lee’s art is gorgeous, although three double page splash panels is pushing it a little I think. The dialogue and plot is nicely delivered, and Hal Jordan gets to call Batman a tool. I can only approve. There’s a little interlude, which introduces the origin of a next character to appear. Next month sees Wonder Woman join the cast, her characterisation in this will be interesting, given the way things are playing out in her own book.

The Legion Of Superheroes #2

Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Francis Portela
Cover by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story

A more action packed story than the first issue, this second issue also manages to give a bit more of a handle on what’s going on. There’s a huge cast to contend with through, and a lot of back story to processed. None of the characters have really been fleshed out yet, and that needs to happen before too long.

Nightwing #2

Written by Kyle Higgins
Art and cover by Eddy Barrows and Jp Mayer

Anyone else thing they are possibly overdoing the Wolverine thing on the cover? More Batsex. The story is setting up to move Nightwing out of Gotham, which could really see possibilities open up for the character. The Batman worship is left alone this time around and there are a few nice fight scenes, and also someone rumbling Nightwing’s identity in a lovely way, that at least has passing association to the reality of being a famous hero.

Red Hood & The Outlaws #2

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art and cover by Kenneth Rocafort and Blond

I really like the art style, and the sheer sprawl of the some of the panel. Just a shame it also includes the overly sexualised Starfire, and the generously proportioned air hostess, who’s, for the moment, utterly superfluous to the plot. There’s a bit of jumping about in time to flesh out Jason Todd, and tie everyone to the plot developments of this arc. This book is teetering on the edge in terms of not making it on my to buy list for next month. We shall see…

Supergirl #2

Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Art by Mahmud Asrar and Dan Green
Cover by Mahmud Asrar

It’s cousin on cousin smack down this month, as Super girl and man fight it out. This issue seems to takes a long time to say very little really. Hopefully future issues will be slightly deeper. That the above is all I really hae to say, beyond the art still being appealing without turning Supergirl into an overt sex symbol (although her costume would ride up something awful).

Wonder Woman #2

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art and cover by Cliff Chiang

We get one weird, but well delivered, origin story this issue.  Diana gets to return home, in search of safety for her new charges. There’s a subtle penis joke in here, from the amazons, and a lovely double page fight scene. There are revelations and more mythical plotting, as the gods come out to play, and cause havoc.

Skipped To The End…

A bit of a slow week again. Unlike week one there isn’t a shed load of titles that I’ll be writing off, but equally unlike week two there aren’t any truly outstanding issues either. Catwoman certainly won’t be making it to my week three reading, but otherwise it will mostly be a case of checking out synopsis and previews to get a sense of things before I buy.

As far as recommendations go, Wonder Woman, Justice League, DC Universe Presents, and Green Lantern Corps get a thumbs up from me.