52 Reviews, Part 1

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So, for the fun of it, I’m going to be collecting all 52 DC #1 issues. And I’m going to review them all. Keep in mind, though, that I’m generally a Marvel fan and, while I’m working may way through DC’s recent big events, I’m only up through the middle of Countdown and I haven’t read any of DC’s non-event comics in a long time, so I’m coming at these stories with a bit of a disadvantage in terms of chronology and character knowledge. Since DC is certainly trying to attract new readers, though, this makes me come at them with a perspective similar to their hypothetical new fans…

Action Comics #1 (DC) – This starts off really, really strong and then completely falls apart. In the beginning, Supes is hardcore, very different than what we’re used to seeing and there is some great art that shows him in this more menacing (to evildoers) way. He even drops a criminal off the top of a building to get him to confess (he catches him before he hits the ground). It’s all downhill from there. The art deteriorates. The story gets weaker. Superman’s alter ego is apparently Harry Potter. And Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen apparently take out Will Eisner’s The Spirit on a train that may actually kill Superman and, at a minimum, makes him bleed from the brain (presumably because of the strain). Oh, and Superman is wearing cuffed blue jeans. Really.

Story: 7 Art: 4 Overall: 5.5

Animal Man #1 (DC) – Now we’re talking. I’ve heard the tales of the quirky and entertaining Animal Man comics of the past without ever having read them. If they are anything like Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman’s brilliant debut, then I’m a big fan. This is my favorite comic of the bunch. It has amazing art that takes chances and has a tale that starts out funny and revealing and then gets creepy as hell. This is comics at its best.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Batgirl #1 (DC) – I’ve heard a lot about Gail Simone from people whose opinions I respect a lot but I think this might be the first thing she’s written that I’ve read. For the most part, it’s good stuff. The story is entertaining and the character is compelling. But when the work the Killing Joke plotline into this one and explain how Barbara Gordon is not only able to walk again, but be a full-fledged superhero, they explain it simply by saying it’s a “miracle.” That’s it. I’m not a fan of that at all and it makes me a bit angry as a reader. Maybe they’ll explain it better in future issues, but it seems like they are cheating at this point. The issue is still a good one, though, because the end is a shocker that is quite amazing.

Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25

Batwing #1 (DC) – To be honest, I have no knowledge of this character before this issue and the split timeline in the issue coupled with the cliffhanger ending is a bit confusing. I’m sure they’ll clear it up next time around, but it left me with some major questions that weren’t satisfying. The ending is hardcore, though, and guarantees I’ll read issue #2.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

Detective Comics #1 (DC) – This really follows in the footsteps of the Dark Knight movie, creating a dark world where the Joker is freaking insane and we’re not really sure that Batman is much more sane. The action is brutal and intense and the story is actually creepy and scary. I’ve never heard of Tony S. Daniel, the writer, before, but I’ll pay attention to him in the future. The final panel in this one is one of the more shocking panels I’ve seen in a superhero comic.

Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5

Green Arrow #1 (DC) – This one is a bit of a disappointment. Not because it’s bad, but because it isn’t good enough. This is the most badass Green Arrow I’ve ever seen, but he may be a bit too badass for his actual skill set. At one point he fights some electricity-shooting villain who chats with him for multiple panels without ever attacking Green Arrow for some reason, allowing GA to just come up and knock him out, despite being much more powerful than our hero. And while I love the cover, the interior art is a bit too cartoony for my tastes.

Story: 7 Art: 6 Overall: 6.5

Hawk And Dove #1 (DC) – A few things some up this issue: 1) Deadman appears as a guest, but he never has feet in any shot. 2) Early on Hawk appears to be beating up some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents because he envies their pouches, of which he has none. 3) In the middle of the comic there is a massive shot of a blonde woman saying something that appears to be very important. It’s an incomplete sentence, though, and she isn’t identified and doesn’t appear in any other panels anywhere in the comic. Maybe Dove is blonde when she’s a civilian, but I don’t know, so this baffles me to no end. 4) Despite what the comic tells you “Hawk” and “Dove” are not magic words. Many people have used them in conjunction without turning into superheroes. 5) Hawk appears to hate women. 6) This is exactly what you’d expect from a comic with Rob Liefeld’s name on it.

Story: 3 Art: 1 Overall: 2

Justice League #1 (DC) – This is a good superhero comic, in my mind. Unlike a lot of these other issues, this one really is about establishing the series and the universe and the characters. It’s good to have an issue do that. I found it unexpectedly funny and thoroughly entertaining. It’s a small part of a bigger story, but it’s one that I want to keep reading. When this first arc is collected as a trade, I fully expect it to be a great read.

Story: 9.5 Art: 9 Overall: 9.25

Justice League International #1 (DC) – This one has potential, particularly with the trio of Booster Gold, Batman and Guy Gardner. Their interplay seems like it will be one of the driving elements of the series. I don’t like that the international characters come across quite stereotypical and the overall premise seems a bit contrived, but it’s worth a read.

Story: 7.5 Art: 7 Overall: 7.25

Men Of War #1 (DC) – Conceptually this one baffled me more than just about any of the new 52. The execution doesn’t make any more sense. It’s not bad, but I’m trying to imagine why I would want to read this. The Sgt. Rock opening story is largely dull, although having the soldiers at the forefront and the super-battle as the backdrop is an interesting idea. I don’t know where the second story is going, but I found it a bit too jingoistic for my tastes. Maybe it’s an ironic story that will flip the tables on the annoying characters from part one, but I can’t figure out any reason I would come back for issue two to find out.

Story: 5 Art: 6 Overall: 5.5

OMAC #1 (DC) – I love this. It’s a pure Jack Kirby tribute and it’s very well executed. The story leaves a bit to be desired and hopefully it’ll be explored a lot more as the issues come along, but this issue is fun and has a nice surprise at the end for longtime DC readers.

Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9

Static Shock #1 (DC) – I know nothing about Static Shock. This seems like it’s aimed at kids (there’s a television cartoon, right?), but it has adult themes. And I don’t really like the characters. And the villains don’t make any sense to me. Why am I reading this?

Story: 5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.75

Stormwatch #1 (DC) – Another series I know has some history, but I don’t know that history and this comic only barely makes me want to learn more. Martian Manhunter’s presence helps ground the series for me, but the story jumps right in with characters I’m not familiar with and doesn’t tell me much about them, so it’s hard to follow or care about them. It isn’t bad, though, and once I learn more about the characters, I might like it more.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Swamp Thing #1 (DC) – This is good stuff, too. I remember reading some of the Alan Moore Swamp Thing issues from back in the day and I have good memories of them. This seems true to what I read back then, with a strange tale being told that is mysterious and leaves you wanting more. It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to bring me back for multiple issues to see where this goes.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

So, for the record, I am already done with Static Shock, Men of War and, obviously Hawk and Dove. Stormwatch and Action are hanging on by a thread. I’m not sure yet about Batwing or JLI, although the Batman presence keeps them alive. Batgirl is solid and Green Arrow has potential. I’m all in for Animal Man, Detective, JL, OMAC and Swamp Thing and will keep reading them.