As some of you know, I fell off the DC comp list with The New 52, and decided that was a sign from Zeus to start trade-waiting. And with the April solicits, I see decision time has arrived.

That is to say: Which trades or HCs will I buy? I'm certainly not going to pop for all 52, so I have to pick and choose. So let me ask you, Legionnaires:

  • Which titles are so intrinsic to New 52 continuity that they are musts?
  • Which titles are just so flaming good that they are musts?
  • Which titles lend themselves to collections the best?
  • Which titles can be "safely" skipped?
  • Which titles are YOU buying?

And so forth. Sound off, folks! Which New 52 titles would you choose for the Captain Comics bookshelf?

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I'm not sure having "Red Lanterns" as the arch nemesis to "Green Lantern" counts as having a creative vision.

-- MSA

In all fairness, MSA, didn't we have a Yellow Lantern as Green Lantern's arch-nemesis in the Silver Age? (Even if Sinestro wasn't called that.)

In the home stretch now ... only two left. 

Next up: Mister Terrific #1.

Another one that begins in the middle of the action. Mister Terrific is in London, being chased by a nogoodnik in battle armor. Said nogoodnik is the head of Dalton Industries, and Mister Terrific thinks to himself -- or, rather, narrates, since thought balloons are a no-no these days -- that all he wanted to do was confirm that Dalton has "stepped up their mercenary efforts to weaponize the world." Mister Terrific quickly gets the upper hand, heading for the London Eye ferris wheel and magnetizing our villain to it.

As he's racing across town, the citizens ooh and aah over him: "Nice work, mate. Got a name?"

"Mr. Terrific. Some people call me the third smartest man in the world," he answers, modestly.

"Does it bother you being third?"

"Who's one and two?" someone else asks.

"Actually, a simple 'Thanks, Black guy, for saving us from a homicidal lunatic wearing weaponized body armor' will do."

Well, if you go around making a point of saying you're the third smartest man in the world, wouldn't you expect people would ask who's one and two? And how does he know he's only the third smartest man in the world? Did he lose on Jeopardy or something?

Anyway, there's a short recap of his background -- not origin, heaven forfend -- how he, Michael Holt, had it all: "Back then, I had everything a person could want before my thirtieth birthday. An Olympic gold medal, more degrees than half the faculties of Harvard and Yale combined, a net worth of over a billion dollars. But best of all, I had her" -- his lovely wife Paula, who, in the next scene, is badly injured in an automobile accident. With her dying breath, she entreats him, "Promise me you won't stop ... "

"Doing what?" he asks.

"Educating the world ... like you did for me. Like you would have done for our son."

Despairing, after their funerals, and frustrated with the failure of a quantum experiment to open a dimensional rift, he nearly pushes the self-destruct button to end it all ... but instead, someone emerges from the device in a crackle of electricity to tell him, "I have a message for you. Don't give up."

He further told to educate the world. "The future depends on it," but only if he's alive to see it through. There's an explosion, and --

Cut to the present, where we see Michael is relaying this story to a lady friend, Karen. Karen later is his date at a fundraiser Michael is hosting for some Republican senator who advocates science education in public schools -- reason enough for Michael to ignore his politics, and the direct insult that "I thought you were a liberal pinko-loving atheist."

We initially saw Karen wearing a basketball jersey and shorts, thus telling us she is most comfortable when she's casual; at the fundraiser, she's wearing a horrid blue crisscross halter gown and white gloves up to the elbow, telling us she doesn't know how to dress when she isn't casual -- or, that the artist has no idea what women wear when they dress up. Karen has a brief argument with some other woman whose relationship to Michael is not at all clear. 

"You've been staring at me all might. For the record, Michael and I are just friends. I don't want to start a turf war."

"It's not that," the other woman says.

"I get it. It's because I'm a White girl, isn't it?"

"And I'm a Black woman, which means I'm built to handle things you can't even imagine, or never had to." I don't know who she is, but I instantly fell in love. Michael better not let her get away!

Oh, there's a plot, too -- something about some ordinary schmoe whose brain goes from 0 to Sheldon Cooper supergenius in one afternoon, so the police call Michael in to investigate after this jamoke kills a couple of people. Unfortunately, whatever put the mojo on this stranger affects Michael too; by the final page, he's threatening to kill the senator.

It took me long enough, but I finally found the one book out of this batch that I really liked. It was positive. It wasn't full of wall-to-wall violence, blood and gore. It was a book about an actual, real, bonafide hero -- a guy with a mission to make the world a better place. Our lead is a man of great intellect -- DC's Reed Richards, if you will -- who invents cool stuff like his lab in the ninth dimension. My only remaining quibble: That is still a horrid costume!

I wish I had noticed this tile earlier; I'll have to go back and find the rest of the run. 

Good luck on that Clark.  It's canceled shortly, and in all honesty, I didn't have as positive a reaction as you did.  It just wasn't well executed as it went along.

Maybe it just looked good to me in comparison to the others. I have to say that the art wasn't the greatest, and I think the Mister Terrific costume is one of the most hideous ever made -- but after reading two dozen books featuring anti-heroes and villains, it was refreshing to read a book about a bona-fide do-gooder.

About a month ago, I had an extensive conversation with the clerk at my regular comics shop and another customer about why the book failed, which basically boiled down to: DC just doesn't get it. After I wrap this series -- there's still one more to go! -- I want to give my overall impressions and then launch another thread on that point. 

And, finally, rounding things out:

Last up: Superboy #1.

Ye gods, what before my wondering eyes do appear ... an origin story! An honest-to-goodness, actual, bonafide origin story! How did they let that happen?

Our story opens with the clone to be known as Superboy, suspended in a tank of fluid, detecting with his senses the state of the world around him -- particularly, that he's in a laboratory with a bunch of scientist who, save one, can't detect that he's alive at all. The one holdout believes that he may possibly be so different that they can't perceive whether, if, or how he's functioning. No matter; word comes down from the top to shut down the experiment and learn what they can from a vivisection. 

This makes our clone break free of his restraints -- different or not, he doesn't want to be killed any more than anybody else does! So then begins his acclimation to this strange, new world.

I suppose the setup is mildly interesting, although a bit stale. They seem to be floating a mystery: Who is this Superboy a clone of? In the pre-DC New Universe, it was some minion of Luthor's nobody had ever heard of named Dabney Donovan, later retconned to be Luthor himself, which is a much better, if belated, idea. And the artwork in this incarnation is rather mediocre. There's a full-body image of our Superboy where the anatomy is just wrong; his arms are far too big. 

And I have to wonder: In this brave new world of reboots and restarts and relaunches, why re-do the Superboy-is-a-clone thing? Why not go back to the future and give us Superboy, the adventures of Superman when he was a boy? Now there's a concept!

I think many contemporary readers prefer the clone Superboy to the adventures of Kal-El as a teenager, as that's what they know and love.  Of course, Kon-El's never been able to keep a book running, so maybe it's time to try something new.

ClarkKent_DC said:

And I have to wonder: In this brave new world of reboots and restarts and relaunches, why re-do the Superboy-is-a-clone thing? Why not go back to the future and give us Superboy, the adventures of Superman when he was a boy? Now there's a concept!

More than anything, the Kon-El version allows Superman to team up with Superboy, and gives us a series set contemporaneously. Kon-El carried a book for around 100 issues, didn't he? That ain't bad, and I suspect it's better than a Superman-as-a-boy series would sell in the direct market, given the bias against prequels and the ridiculous "why should I read this? There's no way he can die!" argument.

I agree with Rob. The Adventures of Superman-As-A-Boy has been negated so much after 1985 and the path taken by Smallville that a young Clark/costumed Superboy approach is no longer feasible. There would be too many problems to solve plus keeping it coherent with the main Superman titles. That wasn't a concern in the Silver Age but today it would be a big headache.

Besides, Kon-El already died and came back!

Also, with Action Comics, in a sense we're already getting the adventures of Superman as a young man. So: Cake, and eating it too!

I doubt Action will continue in that vein after Morrison leaves, whenever that is, though. I suspect DC will want it in the present again without Morrison guiding the early days.

Why is everybody so sure that there would be no interest in The Adventures of Superman as a Boy or that it wouldn't sell?

Because it would be too confusing now. It's like The Untold Tales of Spider-Man or X-Men the Hidden Years. As excellant as they were, the confines of continuity were too binding. Do you have Superboy encounter kryptonite first or Superman? Who did Superboy fight? Where are they now? Then you have Superboy meet young Lois, young Luthor, young Bruce, young Diana, young Hal all the way down to young B'Wana Beast because the temptation becomes too great!

Or you involve the Legion.....again(....and again) until the book becomes The Legion. Because the temptation is too great not to. Let's face it, Smallville is a dull place!

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