So, the #3 issue of everything monthly under the New 52 header has been released with this latest batch and i though it might be good to share my thoughts, rancid and saintly alike, on the stuff I've been looking into.
Week 1 releases:
Action Comics: So far our favorite Kansas farmboy continues to intrigue me in this 5 Years Ago tale about how Superman became the symbol he is in today's DC landscape; the story about the struggling superhero is solid and the art is beautiful and I am still waiting eagerly for the next issue.
Animal Man: I'll admit I didn't know what to expect when I first picked this one up, other than it had gotten the A+ stamp from a dozen people, and honestly, I was blown away by it as well. And it continues to do so with the tale of a man who is a pawn in a bigger game and has just learned his youngest child is more than she seems. Added it superb art that invokes probably the weirdest feeling out of any book I've ever read.
Detective Comics: While it is true that 'Tec is more or less the Batman story we expect, it still does it so well that we really couldn't ask for more since Batman usually soars over most other books.
Red Lanterns: Where Millgan succeeds in one book, he fails in another, this sadly is the fate of Red Lanterns. A book that could so easilly be DC's version of the Hulk where we open it and expect anger, stuff getting broken and plasma vomit in huge amounts and what do we get? Atrocitus sulking away while talking to his dead guardian buddy about his role in the universe. While I don't mind relatively base characters getting depth added to them, I'd rather have it weaved in between action scenes, like if Atrocitus was fighting to not let his rage consume him but quite often loosing that struggle. Also I'm not that much in favor of how the Red Lanterns are handled, they a mindless because Atrocitus wants them to be, rather than them simply being insane with rage and he having reached a rage singularity where he is so hyper angry that he can think (like the Joker and his insanity).
Week 2 releases:
Deathstroke: At the moment I am only picking this up in hopes of finding out how much of NTT remains, which seems to be revealed later on according to whats been released. But reading this books isn't a highlight for me, violence is cranked up to 11, plot is...well its about Slade proving a point by hacking people apart by the dozens, most of which appears to be nowhere near him in terms of skill. And that nothing seems to be even a remotely credible threat to him, even the named bad guys are dismembered in short order, which leaves this title mostly a forgettable affair for me.
Demon Knights: Now this is a fun title for me to read, because I admit I do like me some swords and sorcery over bullet and plasma showers. So far the characters are fun to read, altered as some of them are (I am not joking when I say Vandal Savage is comedy relief). First two were blazing action that might blast past one at first pass before you knew it was there, but #3 slows down for some more detailing of the people involved.
Superboy: First of the YJ-Trinity of books...not impressed. Partially this is due to the changes in personality from the Superboy I used to know and like to something I can best describe as a controller thats woken up in a Superboy body and is only gradually figuring out how it actually works, leading to some situations were I really wished that a moderator would wake the guy up and give him an instruction manual...or Superboy would get his rear kicked. Also, as a fan of X-23, I see a particular disturbing pattern in the entire setting; Superboy stands in for Laura, NOWHERE stands in for the Facility, Rose Wilson stands in for Kimura (just less brutal) and Fairchild is what we get if take Laura's mother and gives her She-Hulks powers. So all in all, this title read to me as "Imagine Superboy growing up as X-23." Only a few names swapped out and a few tweaks in personalities.
Week 3 releases:
Catwoman: I really like this title, both visually (which has its fair share of humor if you look closely) and so far about the story regarding the care-free cat-burglar thats suddenly faced with the prospect that stealing from people might make them a little angry and be prepared to do something about it.
Justice League: A slow burner, thats for sure, teams not even fully assembled yet. But besides that, this 'first meeting' story isn't really appealing to me. It's fine to see them at an earlier stage in their careers, but seeing them like this makes me want to roll up a newspaper and slap a few of them over the head with it. Hal and Barry in particular because of their constant ability to be totally surprised about anything, one is a space cop, the other moves at hyper speed, the both know theres a Superman in Metropolis and yet they are knocked off their feet that there is in fact a Batman, and not a vampire. Moving on Bat's and Supes act with their usual senses intact, mostly, though Batman isn't Morrison-level of cool. And then theres Wonder Woman, who's appeared in #3...from her appearance so far, I wonder if Johns/Lee got their scripts mixed up with someone else's, because she really reminds me of the animated Starfire in her level of nativity...and thats not what I care to see in WW. Finally theres Cyborg, saved by his fathers hard work...not any more, Silas now takes a random chance and stuffs Victor into a suit of armor STAR Labs had lying around and hope for the best.
Speaking frankly, this isn't the great introduction story you want, even as a complete DC virgin, none of the character act like they do in JL when you look at their solo titles, not even Morrisons Superman from Action Comics (who seems to be even further back in time than JL). Now, a good example of how to introduce a new audience to your characters, is Bruce Timm's Justice League. There we had a bunch of characters coming together to fight off an alien invasion, we knew who and how Batman and Superman were supposed to be, but all of the others were pretty much blank slates. And as an audience, we really only needed 2min of them to know what they were about and when the series ended, they hadn't really changed. Not to mention, Timm's WW was naive but she didnt come across as stupid, which Johns succeeds in.
Red Hood & the Outlaws: 2nd book of the YJ-Trinity. While I really hate whats been done to Starfire, I still have stuck my nose into all 3 issues so far in hopes Lobdell would actually and...so far its purely a Todd-tastic story, Roy and Kory are just background filler that throw jokes at each other. #1 received its fair share of hatred from me because of the ham-handed handling of Starfire, yeah, there may have been 3 weeks passing between rescuing Roy till she decided he was good bumping material to ease her boredom (or whatever), but it would have been a better sell if Lobdell had waited till after the first mission at least before they got busy, since we could at least say it was because she enjoyed being on an adventure with Roy. Its like a movie to me really, usually sex between main characters happen at the middle to the latter half of the movie where the audience has had a chance to understand why these two characters will do so. What RH&O has done is putting the sex around 20min into the movie, where no one has really has a clue why 2 strangers would start jumping around on each other. #3 comes in second as the worst of this, since it tells us how much these people need to be in therapy more than anything else by having us see their most 'cherished' memories. Todd throws his away given the chance (which is really odd since his is the only nice one), Roy's tells us how pathetic he was at one point (so sad that even a normally ruthless killer wouldn't kill him) and finally Starfire's tells us how little of the old Starfire actually remains, see the old one was all about emotions, friendship and loyalty, her most cherished memory would have been of her youth with her parents or her time with the Titans, this new one however is about blowing the head of a Citadellian that actually seemed interested in showing her kindness. Though it seems this book has it's fans, this is one of the titles i really hope fails, gets rewritten and made into something where I can recognize the characters.
Wonder Woman; And in contrast to John's 5 years ago WW, we have Azzarello/Chiang WW, that so far kicks the ass of most titles out there. We first meet Diana as she is surprised to find a stranger in her bedroom. Turns out the girl had some nightly fun with old man Zeus and is now carrying his latest offspring, earning her the dubious joy of being put on top of Hera's, Zeus' wife, personal hit list. And Diana wishes to help this person after taking one look at a key Zola was given by Hermes. Now as they have returned to Paradise Island, Diana is in for a few surprised of her own, which you may have heard about by now. Overall the story is solid, Zola is understandably completely out of her habitat when surrounded by centaurs, bird-men and warrior women. Diana really does come across as a real person rather than an ideal no one can live up to, she's got wit, she's got a dry sense of humor and a temper, while she genuinely has a good heart and now we know it is the good heart that drives her heroics rather than a divine commandment. As for the changes in her origins I will only say this; good stuff. Basically it changes nothing in the past as no one was the wiser back then, while giving Azzarello a whole new thing to play around with; Diana's relatives. The Amazons themselves also seem to have fallen off the marble pedestal they had been sitting on since creation, there seems to be no mix of ancient greek and super-science anymore and really, thats a bonus since it takes away the question why you'd use a bow when you could have a plasma rifle. Whats left is a scruffier version of the Amazons, now living in a Themyscira more suited to remain hidden than the old one and appearance they are less 'roman-epic' than they are King Arthur. The gods themselves have also received an overhaul, making them less human and so far more interesting, Hermes has a face that would scare the dung out of you if you found him leaning over you at night. Hera is more in the way she acts, as the deity of marriages she's setting clear and bloody examples of why a marriage is to be respected, especially if its her husband thats involved.Strife, as Eris, is now known is actually both fun and malicious in a way, clearly demonstrating the difference between gods and mortals. She shows up, has the Amazons kill a dozen of each other, then practically dances around on the graves for her own amusement while the Amazons are pretty much left to shake their fists at her and hopes she gets bored eventually and goes away. All in all, its a title thats well worth reading, unless you are so stuck up on the clay birth that you can do nothing but scream at his.
Week 4 releases:
Green Lantern: New Guardians; I picked this up mostly out of curiosity to see how Kyle was doing in this world were John now decided on his origins. And thankfully, he is doing well for the 5min he has before he gets sought out by a multitude of rings from other Corps and then swamped by angry members from these Corps that are under the impression that he stole them (generally resulting in the deaths of the former wielders). And now the hunt is on for Rayner, who think his usual best Guardian buddy Ganthet can help him sort it all out...but no, the other Guardians seemed to finally had enough of his free spirit and lobotomized him before falling back on their own logic and deducting that Rayner must be a new form of evil. (You know, for some of the oldest sentient beings around, the Guardians are incredibly flawed). And here is to hoping that the little blue munchkins get a sound whopping by the New Guardians...if they don't kill each other before that.
Justice League Dark: While I know some people aren't too happy about Zatanna being turned into a borderline basket case, I really like this title, so far there isn't much of a team as opposed to a collection of damaged people who have to deal with an even more damaged person. And to think this is the same person who gave us the mostly forgettable Secret Seven :)
Teen Titans: Last of the YJ-Trinity of books, under Krul it was the high note of my comic month, now it just one disappointment after another. Mostly this is because, like Starfire and Superboy, I cant see the characters I used to like in this version. Cassandra is pretty much pre-boot Rose Wilson with a thing for stealing old stuff. Tim is...not Tim, guy is overly reckless about keeping his secret ID a secret since his unmasked face is pretty much everywhere while insisting on being called Red Robin at the same time by his fellow teenagers, and this is the guy who used to be closest to Bruce in terms of prep and caution out of all the Robins. Bart is, well he's Bart, but its a Bart from a time I'd hoped was forgotten where he comes across as an idiot with superspeed and a good heart. Soltice really was too young a character to warrant the visual overhaul she's received, and it was unneeded to begin with really since she didn't look like anyone else (unlike Tim who went from looking like Dr. Mid-Night to Falcon). Bunker and Skitter (or Skittels as i prefer) really haven't had enough face time for me to decide on them...other than Bunker from the start falls into a category I don't have any fondness for, since I find them annoying. But other than the character butchering of the older ones, this book could have been fun and enjoyable. But I am hurled out of the enjoyment when I end up thinking "Wth, Cassandra is going to bat-interrogate someone?!" Or "Why is Tim so damn reckless, didn't Batman teach him anything?!" And finally; "Where's Deathstroke to shoot off Barts knee when you want him?" So in short, it would have been a good book, if it only featured completely new characters.
What books do I recommend out of this pile?
Week 1 is a tie between Action Comics and Animal Man
Week 2 has Demon Knights as the clear winner, as the other two have serious things going against them
Week 3 Wonder Woman by a large margin
Week 4 is Justice League Dark week as I mentioned I like sorcery and the tone, while GL:NG is in close pursuit.
Dunce position: Can really only be given to Lobdell for rewriting the personalities of just about every single character he holds sway over, which is not what this fan wants...not to mention the ripping off Marvel's X-Men and other characters is by now nothing short of shameless.