Written by PETER J. TOMASI

Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


If this version of Batman and Robin had simply continued the quality of the last, I’d have been happy. It’s close, but there’s one drawback.


[WARNING: SERIOUS SPOILERS HERE.] The story opens in Moscow, where a Russian “ally of the Bat” (presumably part of Batman, Inc.) is interrupted bagging a perp and kidnapped by an invisible man calling himself NoBody. Switch to Gotham, where Bruce Wayne takes Damian Wayne to the sewer beneath Crime Alley. Batman is ending his annual observance of his parents’ death; now he plans to celebrate their wedding anniversary instead. (Evidently becoming a father has made him less morbid.) Damian doesn’t think any of it is significant and is snarky (understandable when you consider that the only grandparent he’s ever known is Ra’s al Ghul). A call comes in from Gotham University, where the research reactor is being sabotaged by three criminals (and I really didn’t understand what they were trying to do). They’re interrupted by the Dynamic Duo, but Robin goes in too soon and gives away the element of surprise. The three escape in a ball-shaped “gyro” vehicle while Batman is busy preventing a meltdown (by breaking the ceiling, where a convenient swimming pool dumps its contents on the reactor). Robin defies orders and follows the vehicle, disrupting something and it promptly catches fire and (presumably) kills everyone inside, far enough away that B&R can’t see what happened. (Whether it was Robin’s actions that killed the men isn’t clear.) Batman sternly lectures Damian, who rejects the criticism. Back to Moscow, and NoBody is dipping the Russian Batman in some sort of green fluid (it appears to be acid), saying “I’m erasing you. It will be like you never existed at all.” Then he threatens to end Batman’s “global circus act” and a bat is revealed on NoBody’s chest.


This is an excellent plot. The pacing is terrific. The art by Patrick Gleason is excellent. This is a darn good book.


My only complaint is the repartee between Damian and Bruce. I understand that this relationship has to start from the ground up, and it was rough between Damian and Dick for a while. That’s part of the plot, I think, and that’s fine. But in the old Batman and Robin, Damian’s nastiness somehow betrayed an underlying vulnerability, an insecurity, a need to be accepted (with too much ego to ask for it). The Damian in this book – well, he’s just a vile little snot.


Again, maybe that’s part of the plot. And Tomasi’s run in the Green Lantern franchise was impressive. I’ll give him some time, and hope this uncomfortable dialogue either straightens itself out or proves to be a plot point. Hey, maybe Robin’s a clone.


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Art and cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Lord, this comic book is beautiful.


A ghost-like “Weeping Woman” is kidnapping children for unknown reasons. Kate Kane’s on the case, as is Maggie Sawyer of the GCPD (and the flirting between the two has progressed to an actual date). There’s progress on the Bette Kane front as well – Batwoman is training the former Flamebird, but isn’t sure she has what it takes, and has her dress in a drab uniform and take the name “Plebe” (like in the military, where Kane used to be) until told otherwise. And there’s more: One page indicates that Director Bones of the DEO has assigned Agent Chase (remember her?) to find out who Batwoman is. Another page expounds a bit on the falling out between Kane and her father. There’s also a cliff-hanger involving a certain Dark Knight!


You know, in retrospect, Williams covered a lot of ground and delivered a lot of exposition in this issue … and I didn’t even notice. Not because it wasn’t well done – it was – but because Williams’s design is so impeccable, and his layouts are so dynamic, in addition to him simply being an excellent artist. I find my eyes lingering on pages, following design imperatives, absorbing detail and color, until sometimes I forget I’m reading a story! Anyway, the story was well done. The vignettes progressing C and D plots were brief and powerful; the dialogue, especially between Kane and Sawyer, was convincing; the Weeping Woman was appropriately terrifying. This is just a damned good book.


One last thought: I absorbed tangentially that there was a lot of cheesecake in the book, which I thought nothing of, since that’s fairly common in superhero books, especially those featuring gorgeous women. But I realized on second reading that all of it – all of it – was of Bette Kane. That’s probably just coincidence. Or does Williams think fanboys only lust after heterosexual girls? Or is he protecting Kate Kane from our lurid male gaze? Probably not. But those thoughts flitted across my frontal lobe, and I thought I’d share.


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32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+


I don’t like books where villains are presented as heroes. Fortunately, this isn’t one of those. Slade Wilson is really, really, really bad news.


The story is pretty straightforward. We see Slade finish some job in Russia where he kills a lot of people. His “agent” – I guess that’s what you call it – gets him a difficult assassination gig, but saddles him with three up-and-coming assassins in support (against his wishes). They perform the job in mid-air, but it turns out the guy Wilson is to kill (“Jeffrey Bode,” who looks like Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu) has actually arranged the job to get him on the plane to give him a briefcase. (Wilson sees what’s in it, but we do not.) There’s a particularly violent ending, and we’re off to the races.


I liked it. A little mystery, a lot of violence, noir atmosphere, plenty of tough-guy dialogue. There is no question that Wilson is an awful man, but he is awfully good at what he does. So I can marvel at the graphics without rooting for him. I’ll be along for the ride until they try to make a hero of him.


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32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


I love the premise, but be warned that these characters are not the ones we knew.


Demon Knights opens at the fall of Camelot, where Percival is throwing Excalibur into the lake, and Arthur is being borne to Albion. Xanadu is one of those doing the bearing, but abandons Arthur’s boat to get Excalibur (she fails). Meanwhile, we see the origin of The Demon, as Merlin imprisons him in Jason of Norwich (Jason Blood). Fast forward to the Middle Ages, where someone called the Questing Queen is – well, I guess she’s questing for something, but she’s killing lots of folks in the meantime, along with her consort, Mordru. (Yes, Mordru!) Riding the crest of the refugee wave puts Xanadu and her now-lover Jason Blood in an inn, where they meet Sir Ystin (the cross-dressing Shining Knight from Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers), a Muslim machine-maker named Al Jabr (from whence we get “algebra”), a convivial Vandal Savage and a big woman named Exoristos, who might well be an Amazon. Evidently they will be our team, as a bar fight breaks out, followed by an attack by the Queen. Involving dinosaurs.


This book has been described as DC’s answer to Game of Thrones. I like fantasy just fine, thank you, and I’m prepared to like this book. There are some interesting wrinkles worth mention; for one thing, the Queen and Mordru use babies as skrying machines, who then promptly explode, which makes them terrifically evil. And we’re not sure exactly who Xanadu’s boyfriend is: Jason … or The Demon. (Since all three are immortal, it puts a different slant on “eternal triangle.”) And, then, y’know: dinosaurs. This could be a fun romp.


The downside, as noted above, is that many of these characters are ones we knew from the Old 52, and they have changed -- and not always, IMHO, for the better. For example:

  • The Mordru we know would never take a back seat to anyone, Questing Queen or not -- and has a really complicated history that didn't start on Earth. I actually sort of approve of this change, in that Mordru is a major DC villain, but difficult to describe in a sentence. I mean, he first appeared as a 30th century foe of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the planet Zerox (Adventure Comics/Legion of Super-Heroes), but was retconned in later stories as having come from Gemworld (Ametheyst) and again as a Lord of Chaos (various Justice League-JSA stories). Which is he? Final Crisis restored the Lord of Chaos origin, but it doesn't matter -- it's just too confusing. Here Cornell makes him part of Earth's past, streamlining his resume for newbies. And his second banana role is probably temporary anyway (and could prove to be a plot point, if he displaces the Questing Queen down the road as the TRUE Big Bad of the story).
  • Vandal Savage is a jovial fellow here, and expresses an appreciation for the example of Camelot, despite being a murderous thug in every other story he’s ever been in, including his origin story set in caveman days. I'm not too crazy about this change, but I can see why it was done: The Vandal Savage of old wouldn't work in a team situation, and this one will. Some on this board have pointed out that maybe an immortal like Savage may have had different “moods” in different eras; perhaps he was a hero in one decade and a villain in the next. Or this is an entirely different Savage than we've known before. *Shrug* Either works for me.
  • We know quite a bit about Madame Xanadu’s history from her own series, and this jaunt with Jason/Etrigan doesn’t fit into it anywhere – especially since she’s been mostly into women for most of her immortal life. However, the "mood theory" invented for Vandal Savage can for work Xanadu as well, and even in her old series she was likely bisexual – she had a thing for the Phantom Stranger – so maybe she was just in the mood for male company in the Dark Ages. Or, again, maybe we should just throw out her old history. However, this version is really chipper and chirpy, something she never was before, and i rather enjoyed her air of gloomy mystery. Ah, well. I guess "cryptic" and "gloomy" wouldn't work in a fantasy romp, so it's gone.
  • There has rarely been sufficient explanation in most Demon stories for why he acts in a heroic manner. (One exception being Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing story about The Monkey King,where he does. But that was a rarity.) So I guess I can't fault Cornell for not trying to explain it here, either. But maybe he's on his best behavior to score points with Xanadu, or maybe this Demon is simply different than the old one in temperament. Still, in this story he's shown to still be a literal demon from Hell, so I want an explanation for why he's not slaughtering everyone around him, and I want it now.
  • Exoristos appears to be an Amazon, and says she's from an island -- so she could be from Themyscira. If so, then it's a different one from the one we know, in that she says men are castrated there, and there were never any men on the old "Paradise Island." So either she's NOT from Themyscira, or the rules are different for that island in The New 52 (we haven't seen Wonder Woman #1 yet), or The New 52's Themyscira changed over time. I guess we'll have to wait and see.


I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy this fantasy romp no matter what explanations fall into place, but I think I’ll probably enjoy it more if I pretend I've never seen these characters before. I dislike some of the changes, but that's horse races.


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Written by JEFF LEMIRE


Cover by J.G. JONES

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


I’m on the fence on this one.


Monsters invade a small town, and S.H.A.D.E. summons Frankenstein to go inside their defensive perimeter and rescue the first agent they sent in – Frankenstein’s estranged wife. This assignment is given by Father Time, who no longer looks like an old man, but instead like a little girl, because he “randomly generates new bodies” every so often. But Frankenstein doesn’t go in alone; S.H.A.D.E. gives him a new Creature Commandos as his team. The Baron quickly identified these as the vampire and wolfman from the old Creature Commandos, a mummy from the Walt Simonson Dr. Fate mini-series, and a new character, a female Creature from the Black Lagoon. They invade, there are complications, there is a cliff-hanger.


If they keep this book tongue-in-cheek (or capture the Grant Morrison “vibe” from the Seven Soldiers series) I’ll probably enjoy it, but if it gets heavy it’s going to compare unfavorably to Dark Horse’s B.P.R.D., which has been doing this bit for a long while, and doing it better. But even if they do avoid the B.P.R.D. comparisons, it’s going to be hard to enjoy because I simply don’t care for the art. There’s nothing wrong or unprofessional about it; I just don’t care for this style, which is sketchy and seems messy and there are lots of lines everywhere and everything seems to have the same texture and I sometimes have trouble figuring what’s what. But other (or younger) eyes might like it better.


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Written by GEOFF JOHNS



Variant cover by GREG CAPULLO

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


This continues from the previous Green Lantern series with literally no changes; it has the same writer, same artist and continues the same story. I liked what I was getting before, so I like this now.


The “War of the Green Lanterns” ended with Sinestro as the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814, completely against his wishes, and Hal Jordan cashiered from service. (The Air Force, Ferris Aircraft, the Corps -- geez, Jordan must be accustomed to getting fired by now.) That’s how Green Lantern #1 begins. Sinestro fights to no avail to rid himself of the ring, uses the ring to spy wistfully at Korugar and has to defend himself from Sinestro Corps members he runs across who try to kill him – and he knows it’s only the beginning. Meanwhile, Jordan is adapting poorly to post-GL life, especially since he had virtually no life on Earth (no job, he’s been evicted, etc.). Complications with Carol Ferris ensue. Then a surprise ending suggests more fun in the future.


This is a solid tale, as you’d expect from Geoff Johns. Surprisingly funny, too. It’s almost unfair to the other #1s, but Johns has a great set-up from the previous series and is already roaring into his story, which promises to be a good one.




Art by CAFU

Cover by CAFU and BIT

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


As I said about Stormwatch, why bother to bring WildStorm characters into the DCU if you’re going to change everything about them?


Cole Cash is NOT the Grifter we know; he’s an actual grifter getting by on con games and charm. Then he becomes Roddy Rowdy Piper from They Live, a guy who can see aliens no one else can see. Complications ensue.


Yawn. Seen the premise before. Cash is a whiner. This better pick up fast.


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Art and cover by PETE WOODS

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Haven’t we seen this before?


Seven Legionnaires – Chameleon Girl, Dawnstar, Gates, Tellus, Timber Wolf, Tyroc and Wildfire – arrive in the 21st century in pursuit of Alastor of Dathor (new character, AFAIK), who is going to release a pathogen into Earth’s atsmosphere for revenge (revenge for what, we don’t know yet). However, the “Flashpoint Effect” damages their time bubble – permanently, as it turns out – and their 31st century tech (flight rings, transuits, etc.) no longer works. They capture this Alastor too late (the pathogen has been released) who then blows up, and not all Legionnaires appear to survive.


Yes, we have seen this before. Not only a specific title called Legion Lost, but in various stories where Legionnaires are stranded (or choose to live) in Superboy’s time, or Superman’s time. I love me some Legion, but is there some reason for this title? Couldn’t this story have been told in Legion of Super-Heroes or a revived Adventure? The latter title would have the benefit not ending when these Legionnaires get found (because you know they’re going home sometime). I like the book fine, but it doesn’t really pass my “why does this exist” test.





Cover by J.G. JONES

32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Another book that fails the above test.


Mr. Terrific opens with the titular character in combat with a high-tech bad guy in London. He wins by being really smart. We get a flashback re-telling his origin – the death of his wife, the potential suicide, and the “don’t give up” message (this time from a future son, not The Spectre). He is summoned by the LAPD because an ordinary guy has suddently become a genius, one with the ability to affect the emotional state of those around him (especially inducing rage). Mr. Terrific goes to a party with Karen Starr (evidently the non-powered version of Power Girl on this Earth, who is a multi-millionaire), although they say they are just friends. The rage effect sweeps through the party, affecting Michael Holt as well, and the issue ends with him about to do something reallllly bad.


OK, it’s a pretty decent story. It moves nicely, it fills in the blanks painlessly, the art is pretty good. But why? Why does this exist? What is unique about Mr. Terrific, or what unique stories can be told about him, that can’t be told using Batman or some other character as a vehicle? What is the target audience that is different than a Batman book? What niche does this character fill that isn’t already filled to capacity?


He's a rich, smart guy who uses tech to beat bad guys. Seen it. So I just don’t know why Mr. Terrific exists. Maybe a second issue will tell me, but the first issue should have.


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Art and cover by ED BENES and ROB HUNTER

On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+


I must say, this wasn’t nearly as rage-filled as I expected. But it was still OK.


Rex-Starr is attacked by some hunters, but is overpowered until rescued by Atrocitus. However, Big Red is concerned because he feels his rage waning. With Krona dead, he’s got nothing left to be mad at. He does some sort of Red Lantern hoodoo and gets a vision, in which he will do a sort of Spectre turn – he will wreak vengeance on those who deserve it. However, the other Red Lanterns think he’s getting soft, and an insurrection begins to form.


I guess I was just expecting more of the "Hulk smash" and hissing and blood vomiting from Atrocitus & Co. that they usually do, but now that I think about it, you can’t really have a series about mindless rage-a-matons throwing up on everything in their way. So I suppose it was necessary for Atrocitus to find some sort of raison d’etre for his crew, and for them to get smarter (so there can be dialogue).


And this book achieves that; it remains to be seen if that’s a strong enough premise to hold readers’ interest long term, but Milligan usually delivers so I’m not concerned. Also, the art by Ed Benes is solid Green Lantern-style space opera, and goes down like fine wine.


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32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+


I feel like this book has never been gone.


Resurrection Man opens with the man doing his thing, which is not only a fast open but clues in new readers what Mitch Shelley does: He resurrects, each time with new super-powers. (Kind of a grisly version of "Dial H for Hero.") This time he’s Magneto, and takes a plane to Portland. En route, an angel or a demon – hard to tell – comes after his soul. Evidently, the constantly resurrecting has “polished” his soul so that it’s quite a prize to “the upstairs office” and “the downstairs office” alike. And it’s not just angels and demons after Mitch; the Body Doubles are in pursuit, just as they were in the last series. He escapes due to his magnetic powers -- well, not entirely, because he dies again. And resurrects as Hydro-Man!


Yep, the Body Doubles again. And Abnett & Lanning are the writers, just as they were for Resurrection Man #1-27 (first series, May 97-Aug 99). And while former artist Butch Guice is otherwise occupied, he clearly influenced Fernando Dagino's (and there’s a strong Gene Colan influence, too). So, honestly, this reads to me like Resurrection Man #28.


Which isn’t a bad thing. Resurrection Man is never going to be a big seller; it’s always going to be a second-tier, acquired-taste kind of thing, which means it has to be the best second-tier book it can possibly be to survive on the bubble. And I think Abnett, Lanning and Dagino have achieved that. They’ve added a man-on-the-run element to Mitch, as he’s chased by angels and demons, an added facet which also ratchets up the conflict level. That’s a pretty familiar turf – from The Fugitive to Incredible Hulk – with the added twist of Mitch’s weird power. Oh, and the Body Doubles for “fun.”



Written by ADAM GLASS



32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+


Wow. Who decided to ruin so many characters and concepts in a single book?


Suicide Squad opens with various characters from the old 52's Gotham City Sirens, Secret Six and elsewhere being tortured to spill the beans on Task Force X (the Suicide Squad), of which they are apparently members now. The characters are Black Spider, Deadshot, El Diablo, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Savant and Voltaic. Everyone has flashbacks as to how they got to Belle Reve’s death row, and then “recruited” into Task Force X with a micro-bomb in their necks. One spills the beans. One doesn’t survive. Eventually, the remainder begin a mission.


So Harley is a stone killer now. The Secret Six is kaput (or maybe never happened). The Suicide Squad is even more mean-spirited than before, with none of John Ostrander’s wit and craft. And I gotta say, I guessed the “surprise ending” on Page 2. These characters deserve better – and they once had it, with Gail Simone on Secret Six. Phooey.






32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T


Superboy #1 takes us right back to the beginning of today’s Superboy, when he was being cloned at Cadmus. Only this time it’s at something called Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and a Dr. Zaniel is in charge. Once again, he’s a clone of Superman and a human, and once again the human is likely to be Lex Luthor (as one scientist says, “unless Superboy’s human cells originated in a deeply pathological, megalomaniacal narcissist, the likes of which the world has never known … it means we did something wrong”). Of course, it may not be Luthor, which we’ll find out in time. Meanwhile, the sympathetic scientist in charge is very likely Catilin Fairchild of Gen13, prior to being bulked up, and the security person in charge of killing Superboy should he escape is Rose Wilson, not once called Ravager and with both eyes. Fairchild – or “Red,” as she’s always called – can’t prevent Zaniel from sending Superboy on a mission, which will somehow involve the new Teen Titans, which we haven’t met yet.


Since most of this information is warmed over material from the Superboy #1 prior to the last one, I tended to linger over the new bits, like the relationship between “Red” and her charge, which is complicated. (She’s sweet and protective, but Superboy thinks, “I believe in my heart that her intentions are pure. She’s trying to protect me from them. … [but] a jailor is still a jailor.”) The Rose Wilson cameo was interesting as an indicator of her status in The New 52, and it makes you wonder if she’s knows Deathstroke is her dad, since she hasn’t had the traumatic eye thingy.


But, you know, most of this was set-up, and it’s set-up we’ve seen before, so we won’t really see anything new until next issue. Then, I’m guessing, we’ll see Superboy defect to the Titans, which would mirror the Young Justice cartoon series. I’m guessing that will be the model for the most part, to appeal to viewers of that show.

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Comment by Figserello on September 20, 2011 at 12:14am
Re Demon Knights:

Now, a lot of this can be rationalized away. [...] 

But, you know, that’s a lot of maybes. I’ll probably enjoy the story a lot more if I just pretend we’ve never met any of these people before. Maybe that’s what the writer is pretending!


Or maybe this is a post DCnU reboot where these C and D list characters have all new, all-different backstories which we know nothing about.  I hope so.


I find the weight of all that old backstory to be really deadening on new stories.  Enjoying a new tale isn't supposed to be about ticking off all the references to stories you've already read.  You dismissed the fanboys objections to Batgirl's new backstory in a line or two in part one, so I'm surprised you found the inconcistancies with old comics to be an issue here.


I have HUGE gaps in my knowledge of DC lore, but I knew after reading a page or two of this book that there had to be discrepencies between the characters previous appreances and this.  (How would the writers in the 70s know what Cornell was going to put in the characters biographies in 2011?)



Comment by Captain Comics on September 20, 2011 at 1:30pm
That's actually what I was trying to say -- that the writer is evidently pretending we've never read these characters before, so I'll enjoy the book more if I go along with that. But I obviously wasn't very clear, so I re-wrote that review. See if it reads clearer now.
Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on September 20, 2011 at 4:31pm

I agree with you on Batman & Robin. I hope they evolve the chemistry between Bruce and Damian.


I loved Demon Knights. I stated elsewhere that I'm unfamiliar with all the characters involved so the issue was a lot of fun for me. Vandal Savage's portrayal did feel a bit off but that was the only thing. I also loved, loved, loved the art.


Of week two's releases it was a three-way tie between GL, Demon Knights and Deathstroke.


I agree 100% with you on Frankenstein, the art wasn't to my liking either. I may keep up with it for another issue or two, since it has some potential.

Comment by Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) on September 21, 2011 at 12:00pm
One other possibility about Exoristos in Demon Knights: she could be lying about the castration. Maybe she's heard rumors about her island, and is playing them up for their intimidation value?


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