Today’s ‘New 52’ Releases from DC

After today, there are only two more Wednesdays of release dates that restart 52 DC titles at issue 1. While I was unable to get my hands on issue 1 of Deathstroke (sold out) or a few of the other DC notables today, I did pick up six other firsts. Read on to see what’s worth a buy and what’s worth leaving on the shelf.

Rather than wax on about the content of each and possibly giving spoilers away, I figured it’d be best to give a brief synopsis on each of the six first issues I bought today.  Unfortunately, I had issue 1 of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. in my hand in the store, then somehow put it back.  That whole sequence just escaped my memory.  Anyway, my apologies for not including that one here.  Nevertheless, here are the seven..er…six DC comics I did successfully take to the cash register today (in alphabetical order):


Batman and Robin – The Dynamic Duo is back!  Bruce Wayne and son Damian (whose granddad is none other than Ra’s al Ghul) team up for a stress-filled mission where Batman has to play team leader and parent at the same time.  The issue gives us a strong read and maintains the ominous tone we know Gotham so well for.  With young Robin in tow, the story does get pretty whiney at times, but still succeeds overall.  (Writer: Peter Tomasi / Penciller: Patrick Gleason) Grade: B+


Batwoman – For a starter issue, a little more background origin would have been appreciated.  The art pleasantly changed styles between pages and the writing is sound.  Cons to the issue include a lack of introduction and what appears to be a supernatural villain.  When I think of Batman, Batwoman, or anyone associated with the Batman universe, I think of stories a little more grounded in reality.  What appears to be an apparition on today’s pages was a quick buzzkill. On the upside, Batwoman issue 1 has the best cover of any title to come out today. Overlall, this book suffers from mediocrity.  Of any title here, this one most closely resembles kissing your sister. (Co-Writer: J.H. Williams III / Co-Writer: W. Haden Blackman / Artist: J.H. Williams III /) Grade: C


Demon Knights – I usually dig the dark stories.  Plus, Etrigan is a pretty cool character and here is his moment to shine.  Establishing a far better origin than Batwoman, we get to see how bystander Jason and Etrigan came to be one.  There is no shortage of demons and magic in this inaugural release, though many of the panels do not offer a seamless transition for the overall story.  At the end of the issue, I was left scratching my head.  It wasn’t so much a case of “oh they’ll explain that in the issues to come,” as it was a case of “WTF is going on?”  I don’t recall reading a story this disjointed before.  The art is nice.  The writing…ehhh…not so much. (Wrtier: Paul Cornell / Penciller: Diogenes Neves) Grade: D+


Red Lanterns – Here is the hottest commodity of the day.  I am not a fan of the Green Lantern universe at all, but this read was just wicked fun.  We get a brief but great background story on Atrocitus and the layout for what could be a no-holds-barred story to come.  The writing offers one very well placed bit of humor and a whole lot of angry tension, while the art brilliantly carries the visuals.  Relying on the emotion of rage, the Red Lanterns like to exact retribution swiftly and in uncompromising fashion.  I can’t wait to see them go to work.  Ain’t nuthin’ to it but to do it! (Writer: Peter Milligan / Penciller: Ed Benes) Grade: A


Resurrection Man – Little did I know of this title before today, but the name alone hooked my interest.  Mitch Shelley is almost un-killable.  Well, let me rephrase that.  He’s definitely killable.  It’s keeping him from coming back that’s the hard part.  The well-intended man who has abilities of electricity control can die and come back to life at will.  His quote early in the story of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” says a lot about this guy and his M.O.  So who takes interest in someone of Mitch’s capabilities?  Why, those in the afterlife of course, and with Mitch on the run from something, you can bet the spirits from beyond want his soul like no other.  His background is still left a little foggy here, though there is enough substance to go on for now.  (Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning / Artist: Fernando Dagnino) Grade: B+


Superboy – By far and away, issue 1 of Superboy lays the best foundation for any of today’s releases.  I, for one, was not familiar with the kid’s history and how he came to be.  Search no further.  You’ll find it all here.  Rage, love, espionage, and fear of the unknown.  These are all aspects covered in the reboot of Superboy.  You’ll see one or two familiar faces on the pages and while the story doesn’t offer a whole lot of action, it does offer quite a bit of education on the character.  The artwork typically isn’t my style, but the writing is definitely on target.  (Writer: Scott Lobdell / Penciller: R.B. Silva) Grade: A-


4 Responses to “Today’s ‘New 52’ Releases from DC”

  1. Bob Ignizio

    Greg, I wish I could argue with you about ‘Batwoman’ because she’s one of my favorite characters and J.H. Williams is easily my favorite currently working comics artist. Unfortunately you’re right about almost everything in this book. If the idea of the “New 52” is to make these characters easily accessible to new readers, then this book failed miserably. Williams basically tries to cram the entire ‘Elegy’ storyline from last year into a single panel, and on top of that introduce the character’s sidekick and her back story, as well as just giving us a basic idea of who the title character is both as a heroine and in civilian life. It’s just a mess.

    The one area I do disagree with you is the supernatual villain. Don’t know if you read the ‘Elegy’ storyline that ran in Detective while Bruce Wayne was dead for a while and served as an introduction for Kate Kane/Batwoman, but it was heavily tinged with the supernatural as well, right down to Kate’s origin. I think we already have Batgirl as a female Batman analog; this character needs to be something different otherwise she’s just redundant. I expect we’ll see Batwoman crossing over to some of “The Dark” titles in DC’s relaunch like Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and Ressuerection Man as much if not more so as we’ll see her pop up in the Bat Family of books.

    Anyway, I hope Williams’ writing gets better now that the clunky info dump is out of the way. That has seemed like a problem on several of the new titles I’ve read so far. It’s not so much of a problem on characters everyone knows like Superman and Batman, who can kind of skip the origin recaps because everyone already knows who they are. But the lesser known characters and groups are tough to get a handle on, especially since some of them have been tinkered with in a way that leaves some history intact while changing other things. So far the only book that has really nailed it in terms of accessibility has been Jeff Lemire’s ‘Animal Man’. Lemire’s other book ‘Frankenstein’ leaves some unanswered questions, but I think the whole concept there is new so in that case I believe it’s intentional.

  2. Gregg Senko

    Bob, thanks for the awesome comment! Full of substance! Regarding ‘Batwoman’, this was my first exposure to her story. I was totally digging the art but I was not impressed as the story progressed. It totally left me out in orbit. The supernatural thing is what turned me off from the pre-New 52 David Finch Dark Knight. When Etrigan made an appearance, I stopped buying. If I want Etrigan, I’ll buy Demon Knights, not Batman, that’s just me.

    As for ‘Animal Man’, I’m kicking myself for not buying issue 1 last week. There was one left and I left it. No regrets on leaving Swamp Thing behind. Animal Man, that’s another story (literally and figuratively).

  3. Bob Ignizio

    Greg, I was skeptical about Swamp Thing because the mini series leading up to it (‘The Search For Swamp Thing’) was pretty mediocre. But I have to say, Scott Snyder came through with flying colors. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite writers between his recent run on ‘Detective’, ‘American Vampire’, and now ‘Swamp Thing’. Of course it helps that Swamp Thing has long been my favorite comic book character, but even if I had come into that book cold I think it would have grabbed me.

    Anyway, if you’re going to hop on board ‘Animal Man’, I think you’ll want to check out Swampy, too. The two books appear to be strongly connected, and I read an interview with Lemire (or was it Snyder) in which it was stated that the two books would cross over a good bit.

    I do agree, though, that ‘Batman’ needs to be more reality based. I had the same response to recent issues of Spider-Man with the whole “Madame Web” thing going on. I want my Spidey to be a product of science, even if it’s completely ridiculous pseudo science like a radioactive spider. I don’t want any magical mumbo jumbo. Save that for Dr. Strange.

  4. Gregg

    Bob, I read issue 1 of ‘Animal Man’ yesterday. One word. WOW. It started off kind of bubblegum-like and took one very creepy turn. AWESOME STUFF, MAN!