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Review: Batman: Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1

As seen in The Lego Batman Movie, the Arkham video games, and the Batman comics of the 1990s and early 2000s, Batman’s strength is in the world and characters that he creates access to. Whether that’s his allies, villains, nooks and crannies of Gotham, or even police officers that he either works with or against, these personalities and settings are why I continue to return to the Batman side of the DC Universe. The creators of Batman: Urban Legends #1 understand this and flesh out different Batman-adjacent characters and even sometimes explore their relationship to the Dark Knight while also telling action, romance, and crime stories.

First up in this Gotham-themed anthology is the beginning of a six part Batman and Red Hood serial where Batman and his former protege-turned-killer vigilante (He’s switched to rubber bullets for the moment.) investigate a source of a hallucinatory street drug tackily called Cheerdrops. Writer Chip Zdarsky has a firm grasp on Jason Todd’s voice, including the darkness inside his soul and his hunger for justice, especially for Gotham’s beleaguered working class. Artists Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas nail the grit of the city with explosive linework and jagged layouts to go with a color palette that has had all the light sucked out of it. However, Excalibur’s Marcus To does the art in the flashbacks, which features brighter colors as well as simpler, cleaner lines with a more traditional superhero feel even though one of the scenes is set during “Under the Red Hood” when Jason Todd came back from the dead and started killing criminals.

“Batman and Red Hood” is also a study in contrasts in how two very different crime fighters deal with the same crisis. Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and is super methodical with Barrows and Ferreria drawing him looking at the chemical makeup of Cheerdrops CSI-style, and his All-Star Superman-esque moment with a jumper is less feel-good and more evidence collection. On the other hand, Jason fights crime with his guts and heart and even admits in a wry line from Zdarsky that he’s not a great detective as he struggles to find a Cheerdrop stash house. However, he does find a boy named Tyler, and of course, Jason is great with kids and even lets him wear part of his mask while he looks for his dad in a dodgy part of Gotham. Zdarsky, Barrows, and Ferreira create something truly heartwarming between Jason Todd and Tyler.

There’s a throughline between this and the flashbacks where Batman (Portrayed as more of an action figure than man by To) struggles being a father figure to Jason, and Alfred does the job perfectly because he sees him as a human being and not an obstacle in his war on crime. Chip Zdarsky writes Alfred Pennyworth as the perfect parent to the Bat-family, who isn’t afraid to tell Batman that he’s full of shit and chooses compassion over a closed fist. And speaking of Batman, I love how Zdarsky doesn’t give him an inner monologue and depicts him more as a force of nature than a gun toting, broken man like Jason Todd, who agonizes over every decision and whose interaction with Tyler bring back memories of his mom who died of a drug overdose. Also, he’s not afraid to go a little dark, and Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira jagged layouts and emotional poses are along for the ride.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

The second story in Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an eight page Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy one-off from writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Laura Braga, and colorist Ivan Plascencia. Plascencia is this story’s secret weapon that shows the happy, hilarious times of Harley and Ivy’s first dates and the bleak current times for Harley as she has moved back to Gotham in her solo title and as a recurring character in Batman. Braga’s art is expressive and high energy for both the good times (Harley and Ivy smooching and snapping selfies) and bad times (A sudden bolt of lightning shattering their pictures), and she is a good fit for a story that isn’t centered around a heist or fight against a superhero, but a relationship. She and Phillips tap into the depth of feelings that Harley has for Ivy, and through some handy plant symbolism, they create hope for the relationship that has become very popular for fans in the past decade. “Harley and Ivy” is a nice, nearly slice of life oasis in the midst of the three other stories, which have more moving parts.

The third story in this comic is a 10 page “Outsiders” feature by Brandon Thomas, Max Dunbar, and Luis Guerrero starring Black Lightning, Katana, and an interesting take on Metamorpho. Thomas turns in kind of a mystery plot with the story starting with Black Lightning and an unseen Metamorpho in a Japanese prison before cutting to a bonkers, two page spread of a speedboat chase. Unlike the previous two stories in Batman: Urban Legends #1, Thomas and Dunbar go for a action over character focus, and honestly, I’m here for it. Dunbar uses arrows from their pursuers to act as eye-lines to follow the high speed chase, and he and Thomas have a clever moment or two up their sleeve, especially in regards to Metamorpho’s first appearance. The story isn’t particularly deep, but it has the vibe of a James Bond cold open with superpowers as Guerrero really makes Black Lightning’s abilities sizzle. Finally, Brandon Thomas’ plotting really kept me engaged with thinking about why characters were acting a certain way, and the the mini mystery box structure has me intrigued for the upcoming issue.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Grifter is a character I didn’t really know a lot about except for some random comics like the New 52 Team 7 and JLA/WildCATs, but Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela have made this anti-hero/rapscallion and his various pratfalls quite lovable and hilarious Batman: Urban Legends #1’s final story. Grifter is like that guy who bluffs at poker, but never has a good hand. And until maybe the penultimate page of the comic, he’s either screwing up or making a joke about it beginning with his mad rush towards supervillain fire during his Team 6 days with a lot of characters with familiar names from Wildstorm comics. (I’m not an expert on these characters, and you don’t have to be to enjoy the story.) Grifter uses his sense of humor to detract from his mediocre performance as Lucius Fox’s bodyguard or to avoid getting his ass kicked by Batman, but he also has a mystery side that is revealed when he has a “date” at one of Penguin’s bars. The mystery starts to really unfold towards the end of the comic, but Rosenberg hints at every time, he talks on a headset with what I assume is his older brother.

The comedy in “Grifter” isn’t just limited to Matthew Rosenberg’s delightfully smartass dialogue. It shows up a lot in Ryan Benjamin’s visuals, which range from G.I. Joe or Authority homages (When the superheroes clean up Team 6’s mess.) in the flashback to pure slapstick. For example, Grifter spills a drink at a party Lucius Fox is meeting a client at and spills a drink on a woman. In this situation, Benjamin doesn’t just show a simple facial expression, but throws in some growlixes and makes you know that she’s furious that the soaking wet guy in Converse and blue jeans is even in the same room with her. This playfulness extends to the fight between Batman and Grifter, which starts as a serious throwdown and ends up in a total cat and mouse situation with Grifter finally getting enough self-awareness to call it quits. However, their paths will cross, and you can tell that Batman understands he’s a wildcard with his connections to Lucius Fox, the criminal underworld, and probably those Wildstorm guys. All in all, Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela turn in a hilarious action-comedy set in DC’s weirdest and (sometimes) dourest city and also slowly unveil what seems to be a master plan to merge the worlds of Wildstorm and Gotham.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an absolute win for the anthology format that DC Comics has been trying out with all of the four stories in the comic being entertaining and shedding light on a unique cast of characters. The longer stories that bookend the comic are especially noteworthy thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s pitch-perfect handle on the fascinating character of Jason Todd in “Batman and Red Hood” and Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s skill with verbal and visual humor in “Grifter”.

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Stephanie Phillips, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Marcus To, Laura Braga, Max Dunbar, Ryan Benjamin
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, Antonio Fabela
Letters: Becca Carey, Deron Bennett, Steve Wands, Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Batman: Urban Legends Dives Into the World of Gotham Spotlighting, Jason Todd, Grifter, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, the Outsiders, and more

Explore the world of Gotham in a brand new anthology series, Batman: Urban Legends which launches in March 2021 from DC Comics. Batman may be the biggest name in Gotham City, but there are lots of other heroes—and villains—who will get a turn to shine in a brand-new monthly anthology series highlighting top talent and a mix of new voices making their mark on the city the Dark Knight calls home.

The first six issues are anchored by a Batman/Red Hood thriller from writer Chip Zdarsky and fan-favorite artist Eddy Barrows. Renegade vigilante Jason Todd, a.k.a. Red Hood is investigating a new and lethal drug sweeping through Gotham City. In the course of one night, this investigation will change his life forever – and put him in Batman’s crosshairs.

Future State: Grifters writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Ryan Benjamin continue from the pages of Batman #101, as gun-for-hire Cole Cash is still in Gotham, on the trail of the true motives of the Halo Corporation…and yes, Batman and Grifter go head-to-head again!

In a story set before the launch of the new ongoing Harley Quinn series, writer Stephanie Phillips and Future State: The Next Batman artist Laura Braga team up to help Harley sort out her complicated history with Poison Ivy – but first she’ll have to find her!

This debut issue also launches a three-part tale of the Outsiders, courtesy of Future State: Outsiders writer Brandon Thomas with art by Max Dunbar. This saga reunites team members Black Lightning, Katana, and Metamorpho, but this reunion quickly turns into a confrontation with the appearance of a figure from Katana’s past!

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is a $7.99 prestige format series, debuting on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 with covers by Hicham Habchi (main), David Finch (variant), and Kael Ngu (variant).

Super-Articulate: DC Multiverse Killer Croc Assortment

THIS . . . is a big one. Quite simply one of the best assortments that Mattel has released since the advent of DC Multiverse, the Killer Croc wave is almost everything that you’d want out of a Batman grouping. Let’s dig in. But first: thank you to Mattel for providing us with these figures free for the purposes of review. First up . . .

Red Robin (Tim Drake): I’m glad Tim got out as Red Robin before the Drake name change. (No sir, I do not like it). DC Multiverse has done a great job getting to Rebirth characters, and I’ve been really pleased with the attention paid to the excellent Detective Comics run. I think that Red Robin looks pretty great. The RR logo is easy to read. The cape is pretty solid. Also, the staff is well done. This figure has a pretty great face sculpt, too; that’s a grim and determined expression right there. I’m kind of surprised that it took until this deep in the line to get to him, but hey, I’m happy he’s here.

Red Hood (Jason Todd): This is the figure that I struggle with the most in the assortment. I’m definitely glad that it exists, but I’m equally bummed that the pistols are sculpted into the gun belt and can’t be removed. That’s a swing and a miss. The rest of the figure itself is pretty good. I like the jacket existing as a separate piece over the torso. The Red Hood helmet sculpt is okay, but the masked Jason head is great. This particular figure has some of the best paint work in the assortment; I especially like the shininess of the helmet itself. Red Hood also comes with a few extra hands, including hands sculpted to hold guns (which is a little ironic).

Katana: I was pleasantly surprised when Katana was announced as part of this group, and I think Mattel did a fine job. The splashes of red and white on a costume that’s predominantly black make for a striking figure; I got a really good paint op on mine, as it has a sleek sheen. Katana does have an extra hand for holding her namesake weapon; that’s another well-done piece. Knowing her history in the Outsiders, I had to take a picture of her with the CW Black Lightning from two weeks back. Seeing them together makes me wish Mattel had gotten time to do Geo-Force and Halo, too. Nice work, good figure.

Batman (Dick Grayson): There’s a lot to like about this figure. First off, I loved the Morrison/Quitely/etc Batman and Robin title. Secondly, he’s sculpted differently than Bruce. You can tell that THIS Batman is different from the OTHER Batman, and that’s excellent. Another difference that’s pretty clever is the use of the cloth cape; it’s another signifier, given the predominance in plastic molded capes for Bruce. Going in that direction with the cape also echoes the way that Quitely drew him, particularly on the cover of issue #1 of that run. The figure comes with an unmasked head and a”hanging cowl” accessory that lets you mimic Dick’s appearance when he has the cowl pulled off. I like this one. It wouldn’t have been one that I would have thought of immediately, and that’s cool; it makes for a nice surprise and it’s a solid figure.

KGBeast: Holy crap; this guy’s HUGE. Originally appearing in the class “Ten Nights of the Beast” story and popping up on occasion across media (Justice League Unlimited; there by his real name in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), KGBeast has always been a favorite weird villain of mine. I feel like they got the flavor of the guy, particularly with his crazy weapon attachment. That’s just ridiculously big, and also awesome. A pair of daggers go into booth sheaths, which is a great touch. It’s just a massive and intimidating figure, and I really dig it.

Alfred: This Alfred figure is just tremendous. The basic look is terrific. It looks just like Alfred from the comics. The choice of serving tray and glass accessories is hilarious and super-appropriate; way to be on-the-nose, Mattel. This is all well and good. But the thing that pushes Alfred into the stratosphere is the fact that he’s got not one, not two, not three, but four frickin’ heads. Love the ’60s TV show? There’s the Napier head. Love the Keaton movies? Allow us to show you the Gough head. You a comic person? Comic head! And the fourth . . . the Outsider! If you don’t know who the Outsider is (short form: bad Alfred), then trust us; it’s a little complicated to get in right now. But that choice is just awesome. I love this Alfred; obviously, there have been a few over time in various lines, but I think this is the best.

Collect + Connect Killer Croc: Did I say KGBeast was big? Good Lord. Killer Croc is enormous. But even better, he’s still extremely poseable. Frequently in figures of this type, you trade that poseability for the size. Not here. Aside from the hinged jaw, you have good mobility at the joints. And the detail! The size makes it a little easier to achieve this, but this figure is a veritable explosion of scales and ridges. The texture and general weight of this figure is off the charts. Outstanding work.

As you can tell, I think that Mattel pretty much pulled out the stops this time. There are some fine figures here and I appreciate the selection. I got out the DCUC Signature Damien to pose Al and the boys for a couple of shots to mark the occasion. What about you, readers? You like this set? Tell us about it in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

CBR – Aquaman to Screen Early For Amazon Prime Members – Cool.

Newsarama – Vote On Whether Jason Todd Lives or Dies – Again – Everything old is new again.

 

Reviews

Talking Comics – Avengers #10

The Beat – Corpus: A Comic Anthology of Body Ailments

Talking Comics – Rainbow Brite #2

Talking Comics – The Weatherman #6

Review: Batman Prelude to the Wedding- Red Hood vs Anarky #1

In part  four of the Batman: Prelude to the Wedding series of one-shots, Tim Seeley, Javier Hernandez, Hugo Petrus, and John Kalisz show Catwoman’s bachelorette party. And Jason Todd, his “Outlaw” teammate Bizarro, and Anarky crash the party, hence, the title Red Hood vs. Anarky #1. Like he’s done with the other one-shots, Seeley finds the duality in Jason and Lonnie Machin aka Anarky. One is trying to please his adopted father Batman while the other is trying to please the Joker, who Lonnie’s single mother said was his dad to get him to shut up as a child. However, this neediness is buried beneath a rebellious and individualistic streak with Jason being the sole member of the Bat-family who regularly uses guns, and Anarky’s whole non-ideology ideology of creating chaos at every opportunity.

There is an agility and slight edgy grit to Fernandez and Petrus’ art style and Kalisz’s colors, but things never get too serious in Red Hood vs. Anarky #1 beginning with a member of Catwoman’s bachelorette saying that Nightwing is the hottest member of the Bat-family. Even though he doesn’t kill anyone (Or risk losing his 150K contract from Batman to watch out for Catwoman), there is a rugged choreography to Jason’s action scenes as he kicks the craps out of some white supremacist incels working for Anarky and dedicated to the cause of ending “male exploitation” aka strippers. Then, Seeley and Fernandez indulge in a little bit of horror when Jason threatens one of the incels with a knife, the man’s terrified face reflecting in his mask as he spins a tale of all the urban legends surrounding the Red Hood from the main villain of “Zero Year” to the proto-Joker and finally Jason’s own backstory. In a traditional superhero comic, this would be the actions of villain more than a hero, but Jason is an anti-hero facing some utter scumbags so the scene elicits some guilty fist pumping to go with the general freakiness.

Each one-shot in the Prelude to the Wedding series has had given its lead character a mini-arc in a high concept setting and concluded with a nice little epiphany like a bow on a gift wrapped present. The epiphanies haven’t been “earth shattering” reveals that lead to events and spinoff miniseries, but small moments of personal growth. For example, Jason goes from making an easy, quick buck by being the black ops guardian of Catwoman’s bachelorette party to containing the whole Anarky situation using compromise instead of all out violence so she can have a good time dancing at the old Goth club that was one of the few highlights of her sad and difficult upbringing. However, Jason hasn’t gone completely soft as evidenced by his actions towards Anarky at the end of the comic when Batman cancels his contract with him after he fails at remaining incognito around Catwoman. He’s more likely to shoot you in the head, er, kneecaps than hear a sob story about your daddy and/or mommy issues.

Surprising for a book co-starring a character named Anarky, Red Hood vs. Anarky #1 ends up being an argument for centrism and open dialogue in polarized times as evidenced by Jason’s ingenious solution of offering $300 to Anarky’s supporters’ cause if they stop fighting. But the dialogue where Bizarro (Kind of the Oracle of the Outlaws’ operation.) mentions pro-life and gun activists and anti-fascists and “militant feminists” as all sharing the some “anger” is kind of a head scratcher because that would mean Jason Todd would be donating money to the NRA and organizations that say Planned Parenthood sells baby parts. It’s a big moment for him that he stopped a mob with his words and not guns, but at what cost? Jason Todd is an opportunist and a bit of mercenary so it does make sense that he would hug the middle of the political spectrum so not as to offend any potential clients. Also, what is the boundary between being too extreme or kow-towing to immoral forces. Seeley brings up these questions between the ass kicking, one-liners, and bachelorette party/black ops mission fun.

With dashes of humor and character insights from Tim Seeley,  gorgeous costuming and fight choreography from Javier Fernandez and Hugo Petrus, and a glitzy, grimy, and just plain red color palette from John Kalisz, Red Hood vs. Anarky #1 is another successful Bat-family-centric one-shot in the run-up to Batman and Catwoman’s wedding. It even has some semi-controversial political commentary to boot.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Javier Fernandez, Hugo Petrus
 Colors: John Kalisz Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.8 Art: 8 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

A New Injustice 2 Trailer Welcomes Red Hood

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today revealed the first gameplay for the next character to be released for its critically acclaimed Injustice 2Red Hood, AKA Jason Todd. Players can see Batman’s second protégé “Robin” turned vigilante in action today in a new trailer. Red Hood will be the first character in Fighter Pack #1 to be released and will be available in June for players who have purchased the Injustice 2 Ultimate Edition, Injustice 2 Digital Deluxe Edition, or Injustice 2 Ultimate Pack.  The character is also available for purchase a la carte.

Developed by the award-winning NetherRealm Studios, Injustice 2 features a massive roster of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains and allows players to build and power up the ultimate version of their favorite DC characters. The game is currently available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Review: Batman and Robin Eternal #3

BMRBET-03-300-001-HD-1-cad48“While the Bat’s away”

So we enter into week three of the half-year epic Batman & Robin Eternal, and while I appreciate that it must be quite a daunting task for any creative team to sustain interest and high level of creativity, it’s important to me as a reader that they don’t simply phone it in.

Each issue should be constructed almost like an episode of a season of a tv show with individual events but a long reaching overall story arc. While the first week was a big splash right out the gate and last weeks was lackluster, this one was somewhere right in the middle.

The theme that all of Batman’s former young proteges are being targeted from a secret menace from his past is very intriguing. The new villain “Mother” could have lots of promise if handled properly. I have been thoroughly impressed with the “Bat books” since the rebirth of the New 52 a few years ago. So many concepts were revamped and updated with great achievement. Sure it’s a bit wacky that we are to believe in the new condensed continuity that Batman has had four Robins (Dick, Jason, Tim and Damian) in just 5 years (Talk about not longstanding job security) but hey that’s comics.

So on to the issue. The skinny here, is that Mother has a list, and all the Robins and former teenage sidekicks and even one current one (Harper Row) are on it. It’s not a good list, like the Dean’s list. This is bad news indeed.

Last issue we were treated to a yawn of a slugfest with a new villain named The Orphan, kicking our heroes collective butts, with no real explanation. This week we open up with the resident hothead of the Robin’s: Jason Todd, now known as Red Hood about to execute the ninja newbie Cassandra Cain. To Jason’s surprise she is more than ready for him. As Jason gets the upper hand though, big brother Robin, Dick Grayson aka Nightwing aka Agent 37 (Seriously Dick, pick one) steps in with words of peace to calm this kill fest down.

Red Robin (These guys sure love colors in their names) suggests if they are going to try to solve a mystery like the old days, there’s only one place to go: The Batcave. When they arrive in an effort of complete transparency (guess we are not in Congress) Dick plays Bruce’s secret message for his team. Team Robin tries to make heads or tails of it but with no real results. All they know is that “Mother” is some kind of teen agent human trafficker with deadly intentions and very vast resources.

Like the TV show Arrow, This story makes common use of flashbacks to give us crumbs to follow to piece the mystery together. (At this point though, you can yank my junior detective badge because I got squat) 

What we are shown in the flashback is more details of a case that Bruce and Dick worked on very early in their crime fighting careers as Batman and Robin. This one particular tidbit comes from the Dynamic Duo’s legendary first tussle with Dr. Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow. Robin (Dick) has been exposed to The Scarecrow’s “fear toxin” and nothing is seeming to shake the effects. In an effort to restore his partner to sanity, Bruce removes his Batman cowl and ask Dick what he’s seeing. In short Dick explained to him that the toxin makes him see his greatest fears and his fear of being a failure to Batman. Basically a failure that could resonate in any loving father-son relationship.

Just as Robin pours his heart out, Batman slips the cowl back on and heads out on the case.(wow a bit harsh in my view, but he is Batman after all) 

Here’s where it gets dicey. Batman was exposed to the fear toxin, the same as Robin, however he tells him that he was not effected at all. Hmm, I’m sure this will come into play later but for now I’m stumped. Perhaps at this stage in The Scarecrow’s career the “toxin” only effects adolescents? I’m not quite sure but they put bait on the hook because the writers got me here.

As for the rest of the issue we are treated a look at the non Bat- Bruce Wayne and left with yet another cliffhanger. I really wish the creative team would get us back the the great cliffhanger bomb they dropped on us back in issue one but I guess a modicum of patience is required.

Overall: As I pointed out this is a weekly story and takes time to build. However a weekly saga needn’t be a “weak” saga. I like the flashback scenes so far and that issue one cliffhanger was killer. I’m just not properly feeling it yet. At least the writers have another 23 weeks to turn me around. On the plus side, the art by Paul Pelletier and Scot Eaton was very polished and dynamic. I feel they have a terrific handle on the look of these characters without making them look juvenile. I particularly love the revamped design of Dick Grayson’s Robin costume for this era. It invokes a lot of the original Tim Drake costume design from the early 1990’s (One of my personal favorites) and there is nothing wrong with that. While I’m not floored yet at this juncture, like a loyal fan I will see how this plays out. So for the foreseeable future you can catch my weekly review here. Press the tights and check the utility belts, till next week same Bat .. err bird time, same bird channel!

Story: James Tynion IV, Tim Seeley, and Scott Snyder  Art: Paul Pelletier, Scott Eaton
Story: 6 Art: 8 Overall 6.5 Recommendation: Read

52 Reviews, Part 3

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…

Batman #1 (DC) – Maybe DC should just stick to stories about Batman or written by Scott Snyder. They seem to do well with those. I’ve liked all of the Batman issues of DCnU and this one is no exception. Greg Capullo does a great job on the pencils on this one. This story gives us a great intro to many of Batman’s enemies, reaches out to Batman’s wider universe of allies, gives a great nod to his past and leaves us with a great mystery at the end. This is a very good comic.

Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5

Birds of Prey #1 (DC) – Unlike some of the other creative teams this week, Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz at least try to balance the “hotness” of their female characters with a good story and clothing that is functional. Sure, they’re still models and there is still some titillation, but the costumes are legit for superheroines and the women are well-written characters in a well-written story.

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Blue Beetle #1 (DC) – So far, this is DC’s best attempt at diversity. There have been a number of other minority characters in the new comics, but they all seem to be colorblind attempts at diversity, with the black characters not being stereotypical, but also not being distinguishable from white characters beyond the visual elements. In this issue, Jaime Reyes is written as a real human being and his Hispanic heritage is not ignored and he doesn’t descend into a characature, either (although a few of the other characters come dangerously close). There is also a great Spanglish joke that was my favorite moment of the week.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

Captain Atom #1 (DC) – The art is a bit too loose for my tastes and I’m not sure that I like this particular take on Captain Atom, but J.T. Krul does commit to a particular vision of the character and does a good job of being consistent and creating a coherent narrative and personality for Captain Atom and his supporting cast. Definitely worth a continued look.

Story: 7.5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 7

Catwoman #1 (DC) – The art by Guillem March is bad enough to sink it (near-Liefeldian body proportion problems mixed with Macfarlane-esque contortions). Tht title of the story is “most of the costumes stay on,” which has to be ironic, since in the three pages before we learn that title, we see five separate panels showing Selina’s bra-covered breasts. The rest of the issue has naked hookers and a throwaway woman who is beaten and killed for no particular reason. The story seems like a man’s revenge fantasy of what a woman would do to a man who had brutalized and killed another woman. Sort of like his heart’s in the right place, but he doesn’t quite understand women. And the concept is undercut by the wall-to-wall TNA and the uncomfortable Batman sex scene. One positive note: through 39 DCnU issues, Catwoman’s contact Lola is the first female character I’m aware of who isn’t skinny. She’s still in skin-tight clothing and is somewhat sexualized, but it’s something

Story: 1 Art: 4 Overall: 2.5

DC Universe Presents #1 (DC) – Another issue where there is a coherent vision for the character and an attempt at creating a style and tone for the series that, while I may not love it, I can appreciate the quality of what is being done. This issue has some interesting things in it, including a possibly unintentional homage to the movie Fallen, with Denzel Washington, that works well.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Green Lantern Corps #1 (DC) – This issue isn’t perfect, but it’s still very entertaining. The Guy Gardner-John Stewart team-up works well. Artist Fernando Pasarin’s strength appears to be the big, epic shots. In a GL story, there are a lot of those and most of them in this issue are breathtaking. Definitely a series to keep reading. So when I said above that DC is really getting it right on Batman, I’d add the Lantern stuff to that, since I think all of the Lantern issues have been well done, too.

Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC) – Not surprisingly for a Legion comic, there are too many characters here to really grab on to any of them. It’s not a bad issue, it’s just not something that is really interesting. Good, but not great.

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Nightwing #1 (DC) – It’s a little confusing at times and the art isn’t my favorite, but it’s very good, if necessarily derivative of Batman comics.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 (DC) – This comic is very sexist. It’s all about objectifying Starfire, her having sex with random people in the perfect male fantasy, and spying on her and posting pics of her in a bikini on the Internet without her knowledge. I think Jason Todd and some kind of plot are in there too.

Story: 1 Art: 7 Overall: 4

Supergirl #1 (DC) – The issue is all action and the action is pretty good. The art isn’t great and I keep getting the feeling that if she turned the wrong way, Supergirl would accidentally be bottomless, that’s how skimpy the bottom of her costume is. Also, it seems like DC is relying too much on the “reveal” of a major character guest appearing in another issue, despite it not really being a surprise most of the time. This is at least the fourth or fifth time that Superman or Batman has shown up on the last page of a comic starring someone else. This one does have a lot of potential, though, so I’ll be back.

Story: 7.5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 7

Wonder Woman #1 (DC) – I’ve never cared for Wonder Woman since I’m not a huge mythology fan and I was prepared to really dislike this comic. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. While this issue has some of the same wardrobe problems and male fantasy takes on what women should be like that other issues this week have, they are minor here compared to other issues and this one is superior because of a very good story. The comic is almost cinematic in its tone and Diana is clearly established as a strong female character, something we can’t say for Catwoman or Starfire.

Story: 9 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.25