WEEK THREE

 

BATMAN #1

Written by SCOTT SNYDER

Art by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION

Cover by GREG CAPULLO

Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

This was just plain awesome.

 

The story opens with Batman essentially fighting everyone in Arkham, then there’s a wonderful twist I didn’t see coming. Very quickly Snyder touches all the bases to let us know nothing has changed – Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, all the Robins (Dick, Tim, Damian), the Batcave – then kicks off a mystery with a grisly murder, a rich Gothamite who will clearly be trouble, and a direct threat to Bruce Wayne’s life – with Dick Grayson the prime suspect.

 

Perfect! Beautiful! Bat-tastic! Throw in Capullo’s art, from the Tony Daniel/Jim Lee school, and this is a Bat-book that hits every cylinder and roars out of the cave. There's not a wasted panel, but enough to get us ready for more.

 

BIRDS OF PREY #1

Written by DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI

Art and cover by JESUS SAIZ

On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Something about this series feels ad hoc.

 

Here’s the description: “One is wanted for a murder she didn’t commit. The other is on the run because she knows too much. They are Dinah Laurel Lance and Ev Crawford – a.k.a. Black Canary and Starling – and together, as Gotham City’s covert ops team, they’re taking down the villains other heroes can’t touch. But now they’ve attracted the attention of a grizzled newspaper reporter who wants to expose them, as well as a creepy, chameleon-like strike team that’s out to kill them.”

 

That’s pretty much what we get out of the first issue. Black Canary and Starling (new character) are a team (no explanation), and they are outlaws, and they save a reporter hired to find them from the people who hired him because they want to kill BC and Starling (no explanation). One of the strike team somehow kisses BC in the middle of a battle and says that will kill her (and she’s feeling sick by the end of the issue). Babs Gordon shows up and things are tense with her and BC, but she recommends Katana. There’s an explosive finale.

 

OK, it’s a pretty nice actioner, but it’s depending on us to know who most of these characters are, although they are not the characters they used to be. If Black Canary is a former leader of the Justice League, how long could she remain an outlaw before one of the big guns came to clear her or arrest her? (And they’re in Gotham City, for Pete’s sake.) Who is Starling? No, scratch that. Let’s ask instead, if you’re going to start the show with Starling already a Bird, why not also start with Katana, and explain both of them later? Because this issue feels undermanned, and why drag out the “we’re putting the band back together” scene any longer than you have to?

 

The art is nice. The action is nice. But the writer depends too much on our affection/familiarity for these people, and not enough time getting us to like them or care about their story.

 

BLUE BEETLE #1

Written by TONY BEDARD

Art by IG GUARA and RUY JOSE

Cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and SAL REGLA

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

I was never a big fan of the old Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle title, but this version threatens to make me a believer.

 

Our story opens “long, long ago” on an alien planet that The Reach has seeded with a scarab. The scarab has taken over a local, and he is annihilating the planet’s population single-handedly. Afterward, one of his supervisors – for lack of a better word – shows up to congratulate Khaji-Kai (his “scarab name” – he no longer remembers his original one) and to drop a little expository dialogue on us to explain what we just saw. The Reach sends out a bunch of new scarabs to conquer more planets, one of which goes to our solar system, but is fortunately intercepted by the Green Lantern of this sector (apparently one before Abin Sur), who damages it. It escapes, lands on Earth, and goes into hibernation. The scene shifts to El Paso in the present, where we meet Jaime, Brenda and Paco, pretty much the same way we knew them before, except Paco is now a dropout and possible gangbanger. Also, we discover right away that Brenda’s aunt is a crimelord (it took us a while in the old series) and she wants the scarab, which is hijacked by three member of the Fearsome Five (Phobia, Warp and Plasmus), who are now members of the Brotherhood of Evil (The Brain and M’Sieu Mallah are mentioned, but not shown). Paco and Jaime blunder into the hijack on the way to Brenda’s birthday party, and by accident the scarab is activated and it bonds to Jaime. The first thing he says is his scarab name, Khadji-Da.

 

This set-up is pretty much like the old series, except that we meet everyone much faster, and almost everything is thought through much better. For example, all the adults know something’s up with Brenda’s tia, when in the old series some were clueless that she was AN INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LIVING IN A HEAVILY FORTIFIED AND GUARDED MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FORTRESS. So I appreciate that Jaime’s parents aren’t complete morons this time. Also, we learn the relationship between the Green Lanterns and The Reach, which I always wondered about before. Also, there’s a lot more Spanish in this series, and although I don’t speak Spanish, I have lived in Texas, and I appreciate the verisimilitude (and I trust I won’t miss any truly important info). Plus, the dropout thing with Paco – some might not like it, but, again, I think it adds verisimilitude (and adds a more interesting subplot). Further, Brenda – who seemed too smart for Paco in the last series – doesn’t seem to view him romantically in this series, but both Jaime and Paco seem interested in her (which makes more sense). Also, a text piece informs us that Jaime will have a lot more trouble controlling the scarab, so he’ll be less Static and more Damage, which is good, because we already have Static. And Spider-Man. And the Teen Titans. And a jillion other smart-mouthed teen heroes.

 

Overall, thumbs up for a story that keeps all the good parts of the old Blue Beetle while upgrading the coherence and plausibility of Jaime’s world.

 

CAPTAIN ATOM #1

Written by J.T. KRUL

Art by FREDDIE WILLIAMS II

Cover by STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU

On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

This wasn’t bad, but it read like half a first issue.

 

We open with a rat in an alley, with a pretentious Captain Atom voiceover about how we’re all really animals and stuff. The rat’s eyes glow, and then we shift to the Captain himself fighting an armored villain (new character), which he defeats, but his hand starts to lose cohesion. He goes “home” and we learn he is working with a brain trust in Chicago, led by a Stephen Hawking stand-in (complete with chair and voice modulator), who informs him that he needs to stop using his power or his brain could lose cohesion. However, just then, a volcano erupts in New York City (yes, New York City), and Captain Atom has no choice but to use his powers full out. In the middle of Nate vs. the volcano, we cut to the rat, which becomes a big monster and eats a homeless guy, then we cut back to Atom, who turns red and appears to be losing cohesion.

 

All right, class, how many mysteries were introduced in this first issue? How many were solved, or even gave us a clue? The first answer isn’t important, but the second answer – zero – is. I simply don’t have enough information to know whether I care about this series or not. I sure don’t meet anyone other than Captain Atom long enough to know if I like them, and DC’s version of Captain Atom has never been a show-stopper. So I’m going to have to read a second issue to know if the story in the first one A) makes sense and B) is interesting. That’s not a very good idea for a first issue.


Still, the story’s title is “Evolution of a Species,” so I imagine Cap’n Atom will go through some changes next issue, so maybe one of them will make him more interesting.

 

CATWOMAN #1

Written by JUDD WINICK

Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

 

Most of this issue is typical – and typically fun – Catwoman caper stuff, and the issue ends with, ahem, a bang.

 

As with most Bat-books, this issue reassures us that very little has changed. Catwoman is still a thief with a heart of gold and she loves to live on the edge. (Also, she appears to own nothing except kittens and brassieres.) We meet her fence (new character), who seems to have a little personality, which is good, since she’s the only supporting character we meet. Then a situation occurs at the end which appears to have the Internet BROKEN. IN. HALF. But I’m not sure why – it just reinforces something we’ve known since Brubaker’s run several years back, but were never shown in detail. Now we have been, and I think it’s a good idea (for its humanizing effect on another character).

 

However, I think Winick should have realized the possible implications of the phrase “It doesn’t take long” and made more clear what he meant to avoid the sniggers. Otherwise this was a swell issue that even my wife enjoyed.

 

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1

Written by PAUL JENKINS

Art by BERNARD CHANG

Cover by RYAN SOOK

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Deadman needs to break out of the prison of his original conception, and I’m not sure this story gets us there.

 

Everything you ever knew about Deadman? Still true. But add that he’s now working toward balancing the scales, in that he has to be a better man in death than he was in life, and when he achieves karmic balance, he can move on. Plus, shades of those he’s possessed are hanging around, and he doesn’t know why. He gets Rama Kushna’s attention to ask her about this development in a pretty dramatic way.

 

I don’t have much more to say, because not a lot happened here. Boston does try to get in touch with the psychic (“Rose”) at his old circus, but only succeeds in freaking her out. (Try Madame Xanadu, Boston. I hear she’s got a place in the Village. Or Dr. Fate. Or Zatanna. Or any one of the many legitimate wizards, psychics, sorcerers and whatnot in the DCU. A carny palm-reader? Riiiiight. So, since she’s pretty, I guess this is just a clumsy set-up to make her the love interest.) Other than that, it’s a 22-page voiceover pretty much explaining the above. Boston does “possess” a guy, as he usually does, but there’s no telling if he’s a temporary player or potential supporting cast. Maybe he and Rose will become an item.

 

So, it was OK. But given how often Deadman has failed to hold a series, it really needed to be better than OK. He is by definition a pretty limited character, so he’s definitely a writer’s challenge. I’ll need to see more before I know if Jenkins rises to that challenge or not.

 

Incidentally, there were some Carmine Infantino swipes/homage in the first couple of pages, which I guess is kinda neat. But if you’re going to swipe, why not swipe from Neal Adams? Just sayin’.

 

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

Written by PETER J. TOMASI

Art by FERNANDO PASARIN and SCOTT HANNA

Cover by DOUG MAHNKE and CHRISTIAN ALAMY

On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

This issue felt like marking time.

 

The series opens with an invisible villain or villains literally cutting one Green Lantern in half and beheading another in the Sciencells on Oa. (Pretty graphically.) Then we shift to Earth, where both Guy Gardner and John Stewart learn that they can’t go back to their old jobs (high school gym coach and architect, respectively) because Guy would be too big a liability for a school (as a target for supervillains) and John has been changed too much by being a Lantern. They both return to Oa, learn about the first two deaths (which has now risen to four) and volunteer to take a squad of Lanterns to investigate.

 

Here’s another book where we learn that virtually nothing has changed. As to the meat of the story – Guy and John learning they can’t return to their civilian jobs – that seems so blindingly obvious on the front end that I was bored hearing all the reasons why they can’t (even though I was aware this was exposition/history for newbies). But I feel like that could have been covered in a couple word ballons and we could have skipped from Page 4 to Page 15 and not lost a thing. And that’s not good.

 

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1

Written by PAUL LEVITZ

Art by FRANCIS PORTELA

Cover by KARL KERSCHL

On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

It’s not often I complain about too much going on in a book, but this one feels a bit cluttered. But knowing Levitz, this will shake out to be epic.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 opens with five Legionnaires (Chameleon Boy, Chemical Kid, Dragonwing, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy) investigating a Dominator-monitoring station which has gone silent. In the course of the dialogue, we learn something terrible has happened, and that everyone believes that the Legionnaires in Legion Lost are dead.  Then we check back on other Legionnaires to discover A) Colossal Boy has resigned and joined the Science Police after the “death” of his wife, Chameleon Girl, B) Earthman is dead, C) a whole bunch of Academy recruits have been promoted to Legionnaire status, D) Mon-El is no longer a Green Lantern, E) Brainiac 5 wants his job as Legion leader, F) Glorith is a Legionnaire, G) Star Boy is a paraplegic, and maybe some more but it was a lot take in and remember. Anyway, we switch back to the original mission, which goes pear-shaped and then a Daxamite attacks.

 

I find it interesting that Levitz didn’t bother to re-introduce everybody, and I’m rather glad he didn’t – he’s probably as tired of writing introductory Legion issues as I am of reading them. Instead he jumps right in with massive repercussions from an event we don’t know about yet (unless it happened in the final Legion/Adventure issues, which I haven’t read yet), and it’s enough to make your head explode. That’s good, because with a cast that big it doesn’t make sense to pussy-foot around. On the other hand, as I said in my intro, it’s an awful lot to cram into one issue, especially since all of these plot threads seem to be pulling in different directions. Still, I’m definitely coming back for the next issue, when I imagine Levitz wills start to pull it together in ways I don't foresee.

 

NIGHTWING #1

Written by KYLE HIGGINS

Art and cover by EDDY BARROWS and JP MAYER

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

This is fine.

 

We follow Dick Grayson through a night patrol where we learn where he lives now (a loft in the bad part of town), that he thinks he’s better for having been Batman for a year and then he goes on a visit to Haly’s Circus (where he grew up), which just happens to be in town. Then he’s attacked by a hired killer, escapes to change into Nightwing, but the killer beats him as Nightwing anyway – and says that Grayson (he doesn’t realize Nightwing is Grayson) is a murderer. Could this be related to what’s happening over in Batman?

 

I said this is fine, and that’s what it is – and all that it is. I’ve never been a big Nightwing fan, because I think a glorified acrobat needs more going for him than a clever name. (All the other glorified acrobats -- Batman, Green Arrow, Mr. Terrific -- have some kind of gimmick to explain why they're still alive.)

 

I understand that in the first issue we’re going to have a lot of voiceovers and references to the past so newbies can learn who this guy is. (Former Batman! Former Robin! Former Circus Acrobat! Parents killed by crooks!) But I wish we didn’t have to. Or if we did, more would happen, so that it’s not just an encyclopedia entry.

 

I also find it laughable that the hired killer, who sees his prey somersault away, is then attacked by an acrobat who looks JUST LIKE DICK GRAYSON ONLY IN A TINY DOMINO MASK and doesn’t realize they’re the same guy. Must be really dark in Gotham.

 

Boring. I do like the new threads though. As I teach in my color theory class, warm colors leap out at you, while cool colors recede. So the red is jazzier.

 


RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1

Written by SCOTT LOBDELL

Art and cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

When I read the description of this book, I thought I wouldn’t like it. Turns out I have a gift for understatement.

 

Roy Harper is in a Quraci jail (with no explanation), but is rescued by Red Hood, for whom he has been working (again, no explanation). They escape with the help of Starfire, who is hanging out because … oh, wait, no explanation. They go to Martinique, where it turns out that because Starfire is Tamaranean, she apparently has no long-term memory and can only sense us humans by smell, so she’ll sleep with either of the boys, and does. A mysterious woman called The Essence (who looks like a refugee from an Image comic) shows up and says some stuff about the All Caste that apparently she and Jason used to belong to (no explanation), only now she’s banned, and she shows Jason some magic picture of a dead girl in “The Well of the All Caste” so Jason goes to this Well to, uh … avenge her death? Not sure. (And, of course, there’s no explanation.) Anyway, turns out this Well is in the Himalayas, where he finds the dead girl (whom he used to know) and gets jumped by some bad guys.

 

So, explain again how Koraind’r can’t remember the Titans, with whom she’s spent the last 31 years? I bring this up because Lobdell did, despite this being a potential fresh start. He decided to address and dispense with Koriand'r's long association with the Titans and her sexual history with Dick Grayson, and his method was to make her a brain-damaged blow-up doll -- and play it for laughs. As Rich Lane said below, this makes it impossible for Starfire to have any character growth, and "turns her into a sex toy for anyone who wants to take advantage of that fact." Well said. The misogyny is stunning.

 

I'd be more outraged, except that I don't plan to read any more. I'm going to take Lobdell's loathsome treatment of a female character and toss it on the stack of the other stupid stuff in this book, which features a bunch of characters I don’t care about.

 

SUPERGIRL #1

Written by MICHAEL GREEN and MIKE JOHNSON

Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR

On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

Nothing happens.

 

OK, Supergirl’s ship arrives on Earth (and plows through to Siberia). Unseen observers make reference to “the Kansas event” and send out a team in big armor to retrieve her and her ship, and make it clear that they can do this despite it being in Russia. Kara gets out of her spaceship, disoriented, and is surrounded by men in armor speaking a language she doesn’t know. They attack, there’s a fight, she discovers her powers and wins. She believes she might be dreaming. Superman arrives and stops the fight.

 

OK, there’s some good super-action here, but it eats up the whole book and we learn absolutely nothing. We already knew Supergirl was from Krypton, that she’s Superman’s cousin, and that she arrives here as a teen. And when I say "we" I mean new readers and old readers alike, since even non-readers know that much about a character called "Supergirl." If those three things weren't true, they'd have to call her something else -- Hypergirl, or Tip-Top Girl, or Red Hoodgirl and the In-Laws.

 

So all readers coming to this book already know those three things. Which is all that this book tells us. (Actually less – we don’t actually learn that Supergirl is Superman’s cousin, since they won’t interact until next issue.) Man, that’s not much for my $2.99.

 

Oh, and Supergirl’s outfit is one of the lamest I’ve ever seen – and Supergirl’s had some pretty lame outfits.

 

WONDER WOMAN #1

Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO

Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

 

With apologies to George Perez fans, this is the best Wonder Woman I have ever read.

 

A Greek god does something terrible to three girls. A girl named Zola is on the run from mythological creatures. A woman named Diana rises to her defense in a brutal, bloody battle. A god is impaled. A golden key proves to be key. Warnings and implied threats abound. Someone is pregnant with Zeus’s child, and many divine eyes are turning to notice. The god at the beginning closes the book with dire, cryptic muttering. Everything has a price, and the gods are only too eager for others to pay.

 

This. Is. GREAT! Brian Azzarello calls the Greco-Roman gods the “original crime family,” and we know from 100 Bullets that we’re in for a treat.  Wonder Woman as crime noir? With centaurs? Sign me up!

Views: 571

Comment by Border Mutt on September 23, 2011 at 9:45pm
Captain, I notice in a lot of your reviews for this week that if you didn't like the issue one of your chief complaints is how it's not meshing up with past continuity, however, if you liked the issue that doesn't seem to be a problem.  Actually, I find a lot of reviewers have been doing that.  I did it myself when I reviewed Blue Beetle, which seems to me to be a poor Coles Notes version of parts of the previous series that's taking major liberties with Paco.  I think we all have to treat this as a hard reboot, except for Batman and GL, as it seems pretty obvious that's the way DC is doing it.
Comment by Captain Comics on September 23, 2011 at 11:16pm

I respectfully disagree. I wrote a big long reason why I thought so, but let me boil it down to this:

 

There are a number of books that are counting on the reader's past association with the characters (and affection for them) to gloss over inadequacies in storytelling. When that occurs, continuity is in play. DC is not being consistent -- or rather, the writers aren't being consistent -- on whether this is a hard reboot or not.

 

And that's OK. And yes, you're right, I forgive a great many sins in a story I like. (Mainly because if I found sins, I wouldn't like the story.) But books like Birds of Prey rely on old continuity to fill in story holes (who Black Canary and Barbara Gordon are), but also ditch huge swaths of continuity (Huntress) while inserting huge swaths of continuity (Starling, Canary not being important to the JLA) while telling a lousy story. You're damn right I'm going to call them on it!

Comment by Philip Portelli on September 23, 2011 at 11:46pm

For a much-heralded "new beginnings" attitude, we do seem to be walking mid-story in the majority of these titles. We are supposed to be familar with the existence of these characters yet know nothing about them. And then they don't want simple continuity questions like "Is Arsenal connected to Green Arrow?", "Does Catwoman still know Batman's true identity?" and even "Was Nightwing ever in love with Starfire or, at least knows who she is?"

I respect that many of us here don't want to see another round of origin stories and "history" lessons like the already-obsolete DC Legacies but either start everyone on Day One or publish a primer on the basics of the DCnU.

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on September 24, 2011 at 12:09am

I loved DC Presents Deadman. I haven't read the original Deadman stories. From what I know this is doesn't deviate much from his original origin. Honestly, though I don't know what you can do different for Deadman. I thought it was pretty good in setting up his purpose. Plus this title will only focus on Deadman for 6 issues at least and then move on to another character.

 

I thought Wonder Woman was OK. I am going to stick around to see where it goes because I see the makings of an epic story. I'm just not feeling the love with this first issue. It was good not great, imo.

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on September 24, 2011 at 12:17am

So, I can't edit my original post. In regards to Deadman, I'm not sure what else you can change about his origin to make it better. He was an a-hole tha died and has to make it right. Original, no but at this moment I'm not sure what else can be done to his character. I like this story because it focuses on that he was a jerk and has to make it right. We see that on his journey the people he first helped out, it was cut and dry. Now he's being drawn to people he's not sure how he can help which leads us, at least me, to believe he hasn't learned much and he's still a jerk even in the afer life. I see the potential here. I also haven't been around comics long or read much Deadman, so maybe I'm the target for this.

Comment by Rich Lane on September 24, 2011 at 12:27am

I loathed Red Hood specifically because of the treatment of Kori.    She now has a "costume" that makes Emma Frost look like a prude, and without a long term memory, she can have no character evolution, so she is in essence now a sex toy for whatever guy decides to take advantage of that fact.  

 

If my dog left a pile of this book on the floor, I'd rub his nose in it.

Comment by Don Collett on September 24, 2011 at 1:23am
What Rich said.
Comment by Philip Portelli on September 24, 2011 at 1:41am
It seems like they're doing to Wolfman & Perez's Titans like they did to Thomas' Infinity Inc for the last 10 years!
Comment by Chris Fluit on September 24, 2011 at 9:53am
Cap, I'm going to agree and disagree with you regarding Supergirl.  Like you, I didn't think that much happened in this issue.  However, I actually like this costume.  I don't mind that they abandoned the skirt for a bathing suit/gymnastics leotard look.
Comment by Captain Comics on September 24, 2011 at 11:25am

I hear you. Figserello posted somewhere else that he likes the uniform, too. And, of course, that's a matter of taste.

 

I'll make my objections specific, and then shut up. One: Those are her actual knees showing through those thigh-high boots. Not only is that really ugly (IMHO), but impractical -- what's holding the top of the boots up? Two: This may be just me, but the red patch on the front of her torso says to me "please look at my crotch." It's like a pubic-hair-shaped stop sign over her actual pubic hair, and the surrounding area is in blue, a cool color which recedes. Call me dirty-minded -- most good editors are -- but if I had been in charge I would have changed the shape of that thing or eliminated it. 3) I don't know what's clasping that goofy wraparound effect the cape has on her neck, but I wouldn't want that on my neck if I was going into combat, because it would be so easy to strangle me, and it probably wouldn't hold in combat (or flight) anyway.

 

Having said that, Supergirl is almost legendary for terrible Super-suits, especially in the 1970s. Maybe this, too, shall pass.

Comment

You need to be a member of Captain Comics to add comments!

Join Captain Comics

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2019   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service