If there was ever a time to become a fan of DC Comics, this is it. They’re launching 52 comics in a single month, and each is available digitally on the same day as they hit comic shops.
Week one of DC’s onslaught of rebooted books was a lot better than I thought it would be. Despite my lack of history with (and, yes, sometimes distaste for) their slate of heroes, a few books really floored me – especially Batgirl, Action Comics, and Animal Man.
Will week two have the same effect? Here’s my preview of the new titles DC is launching this week, from my perspective as a lifelong Marvel fan.
Batman & Robin #1
Written by Peter J. Thomasi, with art by Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
I don’t know what surprised me more – that DC would allow a character like Batman to be aged by having a secret tween son, or that they didn’t take their reboot as an opportunity to sweep the kid off the board. It’s a testament to the success of recent Batman books including the concluded Batman & Robin that this possibly troublesome story element is staying around. Can longtime DC editor Tomasi keep the book on top amdist DC’s flood of new bat books? And, how long can the father/son gimmick last before it becomes rote?
Most Anticipated: Batwoman #1
Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman, with art by J.H. Williams.
This title wins hands-down as my most-anticipated of the entire reboot, and not because it’s another Bat female. First, heroine Kate Kane was introduced in 2006 and is relatively unsullied by a deep chronology, which means less dissonance for readers. Second, the art from 2010’s multiple Eisner-award winner Williams is straight-up sumptous. Easy to understand new female solo character with stunning artwork? I’m in.
Written by Kyle Higgen, with art by Joe Bennett & Art Thibert
Deathstroke AKA Slade Wilson was DC’s bloody mercenary, graduating from anti-hero to star in the early 90s only to be eclipsed by alien Wolverine/Beetlejuice hybrid Lobo and punked by Marvel with the massive popularity of Wade Wilson AKA Deadpool. Now? I couldn’t care less, but I’m sure he still has his fans. The Marketing department is doing him no favors with copy like “a legacy – that lives forever” and “he won’t quit, no matter how high the stakes” – they make him sound like the anti-hero equivalent of your uncle who won’t leave your holiday dinner party until the last beer has been drunk. That they sign off with “the finest in mayhem and gore” makes me think this book will be DOA.
Demon Knights #1
Written by Paul Cornell, with art by Diogenes Neves & Oclair Alvert
This book certainly wins the Most-Intriguing Reward for this week. A book set in “the Dark Ages of the DC Universe” … does that mean a millennium ago, or the 1960s? Hey-oh! But, seriously, I like the concept of a demonic hero in medieval times – I can’t think of a similar concept from one of the majors. However, I’m not familiar at all with Jason Blood and Etrigan, and I have my doubts that Cornell can pull off the time period.
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
Written by Jeff Lemire, with art by Alberto Ponticelli.
It’s a legendary horror character juxtaposed against the modern comics world! Am I talking about Marvel’s groundbreaking 1970’s horror comics Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf By Night? Nope – it’s DC casting of Frankenstein as a secret agent. I think there is an interesting story to tell here, but I can’t help but view this with cynicism given that Marvel just ran an (shockingly awesome) Frankenstein story in Punisher and has made S.H.I.E.L.D. one of their most important core story elements. That said, Marvel has so far failed in their multiple desperate attempts to reboot Dracula, so maybe DC can one-up them with this book.
Green Lantern #1
Written by Geoff Johns, with art by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy.
Fresh off a box office bomb, what does DC do with their most-obvious Green Lantern title? Focus it on someone other than the title character, of course. This GL line flagship book appears to feature red-skinned Sinestro as Green Lantern. There’s not even a blurb for this one, just workhorse John’s desperate quote about “a very new direction.” Sounds like it will either piss off or delight existing fans, but what will it do for new ones?
Written by Nathan Edmondson, with art by CAFU.
Grifter was part of Jim Lee’s 90s hit WildCATs, but here he’s been plucked from that context and reintroduced as a solo mercenary. This appears to be the only non-Batline street-level character DC is fielding in the relaunch (aside from Green Arrow, maybe?), but he’s not hunting down criminals – he’s murdering invisible monsters disguised in human bodies. Of course, this makes him seem like the criminal; no one every said it was easy being a vigilante hero. I’m totally open to whatever newbie Edmondson has in store – especially because paired with the forthcoming debut of Voodoo it sounds like it could be a backdoor pilot for a new WildCATs series!
Legion Lost #1
Written by Fabian Nicieza, art by Pete Woods.
The concept of this book sounds interesting – heroes travel back in time a millenia to save their future, but they get mired in time and are now fighting a nightmare in their present. I don’t know a darn thing about the Legion of Superheroes, from which I assume this spins off. Nicieza has mostly been a Marvel writer, most known for shaping anti-heroes like Deadpool and Thunderbolts – but also for a definitive post-Leifeld run on X-Force. I’ve always thought he writes strong dialog, which means this high concept title could be a good read.
Mister Terrific #1
Written by Eric Wallace, with art by Gian Luca
Mister Terrific is a sort of lo-fi DC answer to Iron Man – one of the smartest men in the world uses his smarts to be a hero. Terrific is one of the more marginal characters DC is taking a chance on: he has never as much as held down his own one-shot. Similarly untested is writer Wallace, who wrote an average run of Titans last year. Will the unproven combo yield sparks or will it fizzle?
Red Lanterns #1
Written by Peter Milligan, with art by Ed Benes & Rob Hunter.
All this colored lantern business sounds like utter nonsense to me, so I’ve chosen not to follow it in the slightest. What is this, Rainbow Brite? The Red Lanterns are vicious, or something. Whatevs. The only element that interests me here is the script by Peter Milligan. He was utterly brilliant on X-Statix, but meandered aimlessly on X-Men. Red Lanterns seems like they’ll be low on the humor quotient, so I suppose X-Statix isn’t the best indicator of the pair.
Resurrection Man #1
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, with art by Fernando Dagnino
Abnett and Lanning AKA DnA return to the character they created in 1997! Am I excited? If you had asked me three months ago I would have replied, “Hell yes!” That’s because of their deft handling of the Marvel cosmic characters in War of Kings. However, that was before they absolutely trainwrecked the previously awesome New Mutants. Still, this is their own creation – a hero who comes back from every death with unexpected new powers. I’m sure they’ll be at their peak when playing in their own sandbox.
Suicide Squad #1
Written by Adam Glass, with art by Marco Rudy
This doesn’t fall far behind Batwoman in my most-anticipated category. This is DC’s take on Marvel’s Thunderbolts – a team of villains who are sent out on the deadliest of missions because the government would simply love to dispose of them. I don’t know the comic incarnations of Deadshot or King Shark, but I am familiar with Harley Quinn from her origin in the Batman cartoon. I have to assume she’s a little more deadly in the comic universe to qualify for this gig.
Written by Scott Lobdell, with art by RB Silva & Rob Lean
With last week’s Action Comics introducing a wild, young, untrusted Superman, is there any point to a Super Boy? In keeping with the Superboy that emerged from the Death of Superman saga, this iteration is a clone searching for a conscience and an identity. Scott Lobdell has taken some flack over the years, but X-fans still love his plotting from mid-90s books. Can he successfully position Superboy as edgy when the Man himself is so dangerous? Or, will that be resolved by the time we reach present day in the DC reboot?
That’s DC’s second week of rebooted books. What am I totally in the dark about? What book do you want to lay your hands upon the most?