DC New 52 - Month 2 (some spoilers)

basically a repeat of what I did last month. Although this time, I didn't read anything that I marked "Not Interested" last month.. Also, I changed up the category names a little bit and wrote separate reviews for the four "award winners". Let's see how it goes!

Week 1

Great - Awesome, top picks of the week: Action Comics, Red Lanterns, Swamp Thing, Batwing
Good - Solid book, want to read next week: Animal Man, Detective Comics, Huntress, Justice League International, Penguin
Okay - On the fence, not sure if I want it next week: Green Arrow, Static Shock, Stormwatch
Not Interested - Definitely don't want it next week: Hawk and Dove
Top Pick: Action Comics
Action Comics gets the top pick for the second week in a row. I like that Morrison is starting to include more elements of the Superman universe by including Steel, Metallo and Brainiac (at least it looks like him) in this story. He changes a lot of the history of Superman, but also includes nods to Golden and Silver age comics that are much appreciated by fanboys like me (the scene with the indestructible cape is an especially nice touch). Although most of the story is just Superman being held in a prison cell, Morrison somehow manages to keep it interesting and funny. Another thing I liked about this week is that it almost felt like an ensemble cast with Lex and Lois having a lot of face time and interesting sub-plots. Also, it doesn't hurt that he includes at least 3 different hooks that leave you dying to buy the next issue and find out what happens!
Bottom Pick: Hawk and Dove
I would like to start by saying that I have never really been a fan of Hawk and Dove, and haven't read much with them in it. I liked the Dove's character a lot in Blackest Night/Brightest Day and her relationship with Deadman, but Hawk just gets on my nerves. I guess the fact that he's been dead or a villain for the past 17 years doesn't help much. A lot of the reviews I've read of this issue so far focus mainly on Rob Liefeld's artwork. I thought the artwork was fine, but it was probably my complete lack of interest in the story and the characters that turned me off of this comic. I like Sterling Gates run on Supergirl, but I haven't been enjoying his more recent work on Kid Flash or this. To any Hawk and Dove fans out there, more power to you, but I won't be picking this one up next week.
Pleasant Surprise: Red Lanterns
When the New 52 was first announced in June, I was NOT looking forward to this book. The Red Lanterns have so far been portrayed as having no consciousness or conscience, so I just assumed this book would be a bunch of crazy, angry psychopaths running around killing people, like Guy Gardner when he put on a ring. The story, however, focuses on Atrocitus who is the only Red Lantern to keep his sanity. He feels the tug of others rage at the injustice in the universe and goes to deal out vengeance (not justice). This issue focuses on the question "whose rage is most deserving of vengeance"? Although Atrocitus makes a selection, we see that the issue is much more complicated as we are made to feel sympathetic towards those who receive Atrocitus's punishment. What's more, Atrocitus himself questions his actions and his mission. The issue ends with Atrocitus deciding to raise the awareness of another Red Lantern, perhaps adding another complex character to next week's issue?
Big Disappointment: Static Shock
When DC announced that it would add two Milestone books to its line-up, I was extremely excited. DC's revival of Xombi, although short-lived, was gratifying. Since John Rozum was the writer of both Xombi's revival and the New 52 Static Shock, I assumed I would like it as much. Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case. I think what made the original Static series and the show cool was that it focused on the fact that Virgil was a kid. It showed him in school and you got to know his circle of friends and their problems. It also dealt with issues that kids would be facing. In this issue, a bunch of bad guys are trying to kill Static... substitute any other hero and you've got exactly the same story. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't using the character to his full potential.

Week 2

Great - Awesome, top picks of the week: Batman and Robin, Green Lantern, Shade, Suicide Squad
Good - Solid book, want to read next week:  Batgirl, Batwoman, Deathstroke, Grifter, Legion Lost, My Greatest Adventure, Resurrection Man, Superboy
Okay - On the fence, not sure if I want it next week:  Demon Knights, Frankenstein, Mr. Terrific
Not Interested - Definitely don't want it next week: None
Top Pick: Suicide Squad
For many years now, I have been waiting for a new Suicide Squad book that would recapture the awesomeness of the original series. Secret Six was similar, but different enough that I still held out hope for the return of the Squad. "Raise the Flag" was awesome, but sadly only a limited series. When New 52's Suicide Squad was announced I had mixed feelings, having seen how the concept could be horribly mishandled (see Suicide Squad Volume 2). Two issues into this latest run, I think this is the book I've been waiting for. Whereas the first issue was mostly set up, now we get to the first mission. The Squad must wade into a stadium of innocents stricken with a deadly techno-virus to find the cure. Its dark, gritty and somehow funny. The characters run the range from the mildly heroic to the sociopathic, but are forced to work together for their survival. The team also suffers its first casualty in this issue. Its exactly who I thought it would be, but there's an added twist that's a nice touch. Although Deadshot and Harley will probably be in the whole thing (like Deadshot and Boomerang in the original), the rest of the cast is expendable, which makes every mission exciting and important! I'm looking forward to seeing the rotating cast of characters in upcoming issues.
Bottom Pick: Demon Knights
I don't have much to say about this one. I didn't think it was bad, it's just not a genre I usually enjoy. In this issue, the team starts to come together as they are attacked by a bunch of monsters while holed up in a bar. There was a lot of gory violence, but not much in the way of plot or characterization. Vandal Savage might be the character we get the best feel for, but we already know him! I'll give it another week before dropping it to see if it gets better
Pleasant Surprise: Shade
I was growing very annoyed of James Robinson's run on Justice League of America, so I wasn't expecting much from this series. I have to say I was happy to be wrong in this case. Essentially this story sees the Shade leading a happy, albeit lazy existence after the developments of the Starman series. It is pointed out several times in the story that Shade needs an adventure to get back to his old, interesting self. Luckily, just such an adventure comes to town when a certain mercenary comes to town looking for him. I like Robinson's interpretation of Shade, and I'm glad that he has a chance to stretch his legs and take the leading role in a way he hasn't done before except in a 4-issue miniseries and a few issues of Starman. I am eager to see the origin of the Shade revealed at last. If I remember correctly, the first miniseries told his history feuding with the Ludlow family, but it began just after he had received his powers, and had no memory of his life before.
Big Disappointment: Mr. Terrific
Mr. Terrific was one of the books I was looking forward to the most and I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed. I'm not sure if this is because the character only works as the "smart guy" on a team book, or if he just isn't being handled well in this book. It seems like the strategy is to use as many big sciency words as possible to make the character sound smart rather than trying to engage the reader. Ironically, the title of this issue is "Blinded by Science", which is how I felt after reading the issue. I'll read #3 before deciding whether or not to drop it.

Week 3

Great - Awesome, top picks of the week: Batman, Justice League, Nightwing, Supergirl
Good - Solid book, want to read next week:  Birds of Prey, Blue Beetle, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Green Lantern Corps, Wonder Woman
Okay - On the fence, not sure if I want it next week:  Captain Atom, Legion of Super-Heroes, Red Hood and the Outlaws
Not Interested - Definitely don't want it next week: None
Top Pick:
Justice League
I had a hard time picking between this and Batman for the top pick this week because I liked them both, but ultimately I think I had more fun reading Justice League. There's a lot I liked about this issue, so I'll just mention them in rapid succession: Jim Lee's super-detailed artwork, the fact that Hal and Barry already knew each other, Cyborg's updated (but shockingly similar to the original) origin, Superman vs. Flash fight. Also, the excerpts from an interview with Steve Trevor about his experiences with Wonder Woman are a nice touch which mention Aquaman and Captain Marvel (all three hopefully appearing in JL soon!) I like that the team is growing organically, rather than the classic "everybody just happened to show up to fight the same menace" approach. I'm eager to see the team's first fight against Darkseid, and wonder if this heralds a return for Darkseid and the Fourth World, or if they'll only appear in flashback books.
Bottom Pick: Red Hood and the Outlaws
I did like the first issue of this book, but now I'm losing interest. The first issue involved Jason Todd saving Roy Harper from an execution for some reason. Now the two of them and Starfire (who they are both sleeping with, not that any of them care) are trying to avenge the people that trained Jason when he came back from the dead. I like the characters and think they have potential for an interesting story, but as I mentioned before, hate the characterization (if you can call it that) of Starfire. I'm not following the story either, but I'm not sure if this is because of bad storytelling or if I'm just not that interested. I'll give it a couple more issues to see where its going..
Pleasant Surprise: Supergirl
I didn't necessarily think this book was going to be bad, but I didn't think I would like it so much since its essentially rehashing a story we've seen at least twice before (three if you count the cartoon). Superman's cousin shows up on Earth and he has to help her acclimate to her new surroundings. Of all the Supergirl origins, this one most resembles the Superman/Batman story "Supergirl" which introduced the last incarnation of the character before the New 52. In both stories, Supergirl was a teenager on Krypton when her cousin Kal-El was only a baby. In the Superman/Batman story, Supergirl was sent to Earth to look after her baby cousin and was surprised to see he was an adult when she arrived. In this story, Supergirl doesn't know where she is, how she got there, or that Krypton has been destroyed. It's very interesting to see her completely out of her element, dealing with this shock and discovering her powers for the first time. We also have the beginnings of another story brewing as a mysterious figure steals knowledge of Krypton (hopefully not Luthor or someone similarly predictable..)
Big Disappointment: Legion of Super-Heroes
Legion is one of my favorite concepts in comics. I was excited to hear that Levitz would be continuing his run in the New 52, but haven't been overly impressed yet. The main plot seems to focus around the Daxams: aliens as strong as Superman who are ticked off at the United Planets. I think the best Legion stories deal with a small group on a mission, with maybe a couple pages with other Legionnaires to set up other stories or subplots. This issue devotes at least half the pages to other Legionnaires who just stand around talking. This makes it a little difficult to follow the story, especially for new readers (which I'm not, but I sympathize). This, coupled with the fact that virtually nothing happens in this issue makes it the disappointment of the week.

Week 4

Great - Awesome, top picks of the week:  Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Voodoo
Good - Solid book, want to read next week: Justice League Dark, Legion: Secret Origin, Superman, Teen Titans
Okay - On the fence, not sure if I want it next week: All Star Western, Batman: The Dark Knight, Fury of Firestorm, Savage Hawkman
Not Interested - Definitely don't want it next week:  I Vampire
Top Pick: Flash
I was very hesitant about this new Flash series. It's surprising that Geoff John's run would be cut short as he has often called Barry one of his favorite characters and it seems like he's in the position to write whatever he wants. I figured if anything, that he would drop GL and switch to Flash, but obviously I was wrong! So far, I have been very pleasantly surprised by Francis Manapul's writing. His artwork remains awesome, but now he has the opportunity to come up his cool ideas that let him stretch his artistic legs (I'm thinking specifically of the demonstration of Barry's new power). The story itself is interesting and it makes me forget that Johns had set up a bunch of stuff at the end of his Flash run that nothing ever happened with. On the flip side, Manapul is using most of the characters they introduced in the last Flash run like Barry's coworkers in the crime lab, so that's good!
Bottom Pick: I Vampire
Vampire fiction is not something I'm a big fan of. I watched Buffy, but that's about as far as I go. I listened to the author talk at a comic con and he laid out the basic premise: a guy turns his girlfriend into a vampire and she becomes really evil so he has to fight her. After reading two issues, I couldn't really tell you anything additional that happens beyond that one-sentence description. I am also a little confused whether or not this story occurs in the DCnU or not.. Just like the war books, I'm sure this has an audience, but it's not me.
Pleasant Surprise: Flash (see above)
Big Disappointment:
Fury of Firestorm
Whether we're talking about Ronnie or Jason, Firestorm is a pretty awesome character. Having enjoyed some of Gail Simone's writing in the past, I was expecting great things from this book. I'm not really a tremendous fan of the new Firestorm set-up. Traditionally, there would be one person controlling the body and mind of Firestorm, and the other person they fused with would appear as a floating head who gave them advice and strength. Now Ronnie and Jason are both Firestorm independently (not really a fan of their costumes...) and when they come together they turn into a big Brimstone-like mindless destructive beast. When they are not together, they spout hackneyed "I'm a nerd, you're a jock, so we can't get along" dialogue that gets old real fast. I'll give it a couple issues to see where its going before giving it up.
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