MShades (mshades) wrote,

The New 52! A first round of reviews....

Wow, it's dusty in here....

What with the story blog, the LabLib and the general convenience of other social media, I don't have a lot of times when I think that LJ is just the ideal platform for what I want to write, unless it's a long ramble about something that I'm not sure anyone will want to read. And what with the whole new slate of DC comics that is being pushed out as we speak, I think LJ will do just fine in this instance.

Before we begin, I've been looking forward to this. I know it's unsettling to see our favorite heroes and villains completely revamped, especially since DC has a habit of doing universe reboots every few years as it is, but any chance to get a fresh look at old stories is fine by me. And so, here's what we have so far and, more importantly, my thoughts on it. Fair warning, there'll be spoilers involved here.

Action Comics by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales

Taking place about 5 years before the "real" continuity, Grant Morrison has given us Superman as he once was - very strong and very fast, but not quite the demigod he will later become. Things that would be easy for the Superman we all know are a clear effort for him. He can - and does - get hurt and tired and out of breath. Plus, no fancy costume. Just a t-shirt and jeans and a mile-high attitude.

He also seems to be a populist hero, beating up the rich and taking care of the poor, which is always fine with me. As we begin our new story, he's got the city of Metropolis hunting for him, backed by the US military and - of course - Lex Luthor, who refers to Superman as "it" through the story. In between terrorizing evil plutocrats and saving the lives of tenement residents, he's living in a dingy bachelor pad as Clark Kent, who not only is not married to Lois Lane, but it looks like he may not even work for the same paper.

The back half of the plot, wherein a train is sent careening through the city, is a little disjointed. The path from A plot to B plot has a hitch in it, so I couldn't quite see where the runaway train thing came from. That aside, though, it was a fun read, and Rags Morales' pencils were just gorgeous. He draws a very good-looking Superman and a rumpled, harmless Clark against a city that looks more like Gotham than the Metropolis we know.

Favorite Line: Detective Blake, after failing to catch Superman - "We used to have laws in this town. Like gravity. You remember gravity, right?"

Curiouser and Curiouser: Two, actually - Mr. Glenmorgan's ratlike, teetotaling assistant, standing in the elevator with a grin on his face and his boss' necktie in his hand as he asks the police, "Won't somebody help poor Mr. Glenmorgan?" Very suspicious. Also, Clark has a map in his room that matches a much larger map that Gen. Lane and Lex Luthor are staring at in their command bunker. Staring at it, Lex says, "There's something past the orbit of Neptune, getting closer..." So we have that to look forward to, whatever that is.

Animal Man by Jeff LeMire and Travel Foreman

Animal Man - Buddy Baker - has always been an interesting hero in that he hasn't quite followed the mold of the rest of the DCU. He's a dedicated family man, a husband and father whose family is more important to him than his heroics. He has the power to take on the abilities of any animal, thanks to his connection with all living things, and this also comes with a moral conscience. He's been a vegetarian and an animal rights activist, and seems to understand that there's more to being a hero than stopping bank robberies and giant robots.

Still, as Buddy says, "Maybe I just need to punch someone."

As we begin our story, Animal Man is taking a little jaunt to stop a hostage situation in a children's hospital. And it goes about as well as you can expect for someone who can give himself the toughness of a rhino, the speed of a cheetah, the strength of an elephant, the reflexes of a fly... But then things start to get weird. There is something wrong with the Life Web to which Buddy is connected (and, as I think on it, there's probably a connection to Swamp Thing #1 - we'll see when we get there), and it seems to have something to do with his daughter. His suddenly very creepy daughter....

The art is very nice, and it tells us right away that something is different about this book. If you compare it to, say Action #1, this book uses unusual angles, a much less "super-heroic" drawing style, and a vastly simpler color palette. Where things get very cool is in Buddy's dream, which is all black and red. It's an interesting book just to look at, which is a nice achievement.

Favorite Element: The book starts off with an "interview" with Buddy, serving to kind of catch us up with where he's been. Animal Man's never been an A-list hero, so it would be easy to lose track of him. Plus this very neatly sets up his status as a publicly-known metahuman, who really only wears a costume because, well, that's what you do.

Important question: Why on earth does his son still have a mullet? That's the whole point of a reboot, people, to fix mistakes like this!

Batgirl by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf

There's no small amount of controversy surrounding this title. For the last couple of decades, Barbara Gordon has not been Batgirl, due to the fact that she had been shot in the spine by the Joker during Alan Moore's excellent The Killing Joke. For a generation of fans, Barbara has been Oracle, a tech genius, an information broker, and probably one of the only paraplegic super-heroes in town. From her wheelchair, Barbara was the center of the DC Universe, and she dealt with her injuries and her disability in a way that really connected with readers who were not able-bodied.

When DC announced that Barbara Gordon would be Batgirl again, fandom was divided. Some were thrilled that she would be back in action, and it made perfect sense that she be so. Which is true - the DC universe is a place where there is very useful magic, and technology - both terrestrial and alien - that can do damn near anything. There was really no physical or medical reason for Barbara not to regain her ability to walk. On the other hand, she represented a fan base that was often overlooked, and who had come to see her as a touchstone for their own hardships.

Well, here's what we learn in this book: Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joke, she was paralyzed, but... she got better. How, you might ask? Not a clue. This is something I expect they'll address in future issues. And it had better be good.

In any case, she's swinging from the rooftops again, thrilled to be out, and that's certainly good for her. What's not good for her is a mysterious villian named Mirror who's got a list - and that can mean only one thing. People're gonna die. And whose name is on that list? None other than Barbara Gordon. Meanwhile, she's after the Brisby Killers, a gang of home invaders with a fondness for murder. The two lines will cross, and Barbara Gordon will have to find out just how ready she really is to wear the cowl again.

Thing to Think on: Gail Simone is a smart writer. She knew very well when she took this on that she would have a tightrope to walk as far as Barbara's ability to walk being restored. Make too much of it and you end up taking away her joy at being Batgirl, which was always central to the character. Ignore it, and you completely negate years of character development. So, we find ourselves in the middle, where Barbara still drives a van with a wheelchair ramp, where she appreciates the upper-body strength she built up from her time in the chair, and that that time of her life still affects her in very important ways.

There's a great bit of writing that shows Simone knows her stuff: When Barbara's new roommate, NAME, remarks that she thinks being in a chair would be "like being in prison," Barbara thinks: "She doesn't mean anything by it. I know she doesn't. She doesn't know what it's like, what the chair helps you do. And I guess I don't feel like explaining that to her able-bodied-but-well-intended-self right now." This is a sentiment I've seen from a lot of people on the disprivileged side of life, either due to race, gender, body, sexual orientation - knowing that people say hurtful things not because they want to hurt, but they just don't know. And they'll never know. And it's not Barbara Gordon's job to take time to teach them. So, that moment really stuck out to me as a nod from Simone to the readers who were upset at the change made to Barbara Gordon. I'm looking forward to more like that.

Verrrry interesting: As I'll note at the end of this, there's been a certain background character popping up in all the new #1s so far - a woman in a purple cloak. She's always in a crowd scene, watching the hero, and if you look carefully, you can see her. Except here. I haven't been able to find her in this issue, and it's the only one so far. Is this a clue as to who she is? I have no idea. It's just an interesting point.... The mystery has been solved, thanks to
the sharp eyes of Funtax. Thanks!

Batwing by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver

Near the end of the Old Universe, Bruce Wayne was busy setting up Batmen in other parts of the world, figuring that if one traumatized monomaniac in a bat costume can do so much good for Gotham, think of what a whole bunch of them could do! And that brings us to Africa. Trained and outfitted by Batman himself, David Zavimbe is out to take on the criminals of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Compared to them, some of the foes of the original caped crusader look positively quaint. He assists his investigations by also being a police officer in the Tinasha police department.

Thanks to Batman, he's been set up with a whole host of resources, and he's supported by Matu Ba, once with a service that rescued child soldiers, implying a great deal about David's past. If he was a child soldier, then he's seen far and away more brutality than many, and has great reasons for trying to bring justice to his country. But investigating what seems to be a simple matter of corrupt government officials and murderous drug runners turns into something much more dangerous for both Batwing and his allies.

The art really drew me into this book. It has a very painted, realistic style that we don't get to see very often, and it adds a wonderful atmosphere to the whole thing. It's dark, it's spooky - it's Batman.

In addition, this book not only features a Hero of Color, but also takes place outside the US, something we don't often see in superhero comics. That it should be in Africa is great, as this is a huge part of the world that western writers tend to either ignore or gloss over. It looks like Winick is gearing up for a good, hard look at what it's like to be a super-hero in the hard part of the world. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll deal with the colonial issues brought up by Batwing being trained by Batman. Here we have a rich, white American who comes to Africa and tells a young black man how to be a hero. He is generous, of course, but it is vividly clear that Batwing's success as a super-hero is greatly defendant on Bruce Wayne's generosity. If we're all really, really lucky, Batwing will forge his own identity and break away from the one generously bestowed upon him by this American benefactor.

Best Insight: "I told Batman that a man dressed as a bat will not instill fear in the average criminal in Africa. They have seen too much." Absolutely true. The history of modern Africa has been one of almost constant horror and war, the likes of are hard to imagine for people who haven't lived through it. When you've gone through a village and massacred woman and old men, boys and girls, and driven your body to narctoic extremes in the process, a guy in a bat suit isn't going to slow you down.

Batman's response to this, by the way? "You have to just sell it." I'm looking forward to Batwing, later in his career, coming over to the US and scaring the living hell out of some American criminals who don't have the first clue what being hard really means.

Interesting Historical Fact: When superheroes began to become public in "the past" of the new DC Universe, there was an African super-team known as The Kingdom. Seven heroes who acted to end war and bring about freedom before they vanished. One is dead. The others...?

Detective Comics by Tony Daniel

Okay. We've been doing pretty well so far - let's check out the other flagship title of the DC Universe, one of the oldest that they've been publishing - the original home of the Batman himself.

Hmmm.... Huh. Wait, what? AAAGH!!getitoffgetitoffgetitoff!!!

Batman is on the hunt for a serial killer. Someone who's taken great joy in murder and mutilation in the city of Gotham. This leads him to his greatest nemesis, The Joker, who is up to no good, as usual. Unfortunately, there's a bigger game being played, and it involves someone named The Dollmaker, who... Well, just turn to the last page.

All in all, not thrilled with this. It looks like Tony Daniel is trying to be Frank Miller, but misses by just enough to make it really, really awkward. His artwork is decent, with some scenes that are out-and-out homages to DNR, but left me with the feeling that Daniel is trying too hard. The writing, too, sounds like it's going for that clipped, terse Miller prose, but it ends up being more like bad noir fiction. A parody of Batman, more than anything else.

It does have a rather gruesome and shocking ending, however, which means I'll probably buy the next issue, just to see where he thinks he's going with it.

What. The. Hell. Alfred... is a hologram. He's a computer. With a "distress meter" for measuring how annoyed Bruce Wayne's girlfriends are when he misses a date.

A hologram. Alfred.

Oh, you have some 'splaining to do, Mr. Daniel.

Cringeworthy Lines: "Forget about it, Joker. You can't run. I own the night." - Batman
"I've always been in Gotham. I am Gotham." - Batman
"I hold my breath, but the toxin penetrates my pores. Dizzy in seconds. But I can take it. I'm Batman." - Batman


Green Arrow by by J.T. Krul and Dan Jurgens

Oliver Queen. Technologist, captain of industry. Crime-fighter. Frankly, I was never a big GA fan, and this book isn't doing much to turn me to his side. Green Arrow is in Paris, hunting a group of metahuman criminals who are reveling in mayhem and theft. With his trusty support staff, GA is able to take them down and stop their schemes, and look good doing it. Meanwhile, he's got corporate business to deal with, including the CEO of his own company, who wants to take it in directions that bother Oliver Queen. Nonetheless, Oliver Queen has a mission - to save people. From things. And stuff.

I dunno, this just doesn't really grab me. Green Arrow is a vigilante hero, kind of like Batman except not as smart, not as ruthless, and more gimmicky, if that were possible. And that's not very different from who he was before. If he manages to retain his former hyper-liberal politics, that would be interesting, and I'd be more interested in him if I thought he had a good reason for being a hero other than just wanting to be. That, however, doesn't look like it's forthcoming.

It does feature the art of the venerable DanJurgens, inked by none other than George Perez, so they have a top-notch artistic team going. But art won't save the book alone...

Okay, you have a power, but...: The character Doppelganger, who sounds like she should be able to duplicate herself, seems only able to become grotesquely deformed. Four arms, four legs, and about one and a half heads. Not sure what they're going for there....

Hawk & Dove by Sterling Gates and *sigh* Rob Liefeld

Hawk and Dove are interesting ideas. They were created back in the VietNam era, getting their first appearance in 1968. Basically, they were exactly what they appear to be: avatars of war and peace, respectively. Brothers, given great abilities by an otherworldly voice, whose powers and crimefighting methods differed greatly. The general idea was that they used different methods, but achieved the same ends. Which, ta-da, was a wonderful metaphor for the divided country in which their comic was printed.

So in that sense, I can see why they'd bring back Hawk & Dove now - the country is divided again, split in twain, and we need a way to come to grips with that division. The problem is that we're not really divided in the same way we were back in '68. Our divisions run deeper now, and split along different fault lines, and a couple of metaphors from the late 60s aren't quite what we need.

Hawk, Hank Hall, is a big fan of gratuitous violence. He beats people up first, and doesn't really bother asking questions. Dove (not his brother Don, who died, but a second Dove - though she has a very similar name, Dawn) is more graceful, preferring less violent types of violence, avoiding fighting whenever possible.

And they seem to hate each other. Well, Hank hates Dawn - resents her, really. After all, she did replace his beloved brother. When he died, the Forces of Peace chose a new Dove, and Dawn Granger got tapped, like it or not. Dawn, wishes she and Hank got along better, but she has her own issues with him as well.

A supervillian scientist named Alexander Quirk has created an army of zombie men in order to take down Washington, and Hawk and Dove have to stop him. They do, but they make a powerful enemy in the process.

Could it be...?: During the story, Dawn reveals that there is some heretofore-unknown connection between her and the previous Dove, Don Hall. What that connection is, we have yet to know, but the grapevine suggests that maybe - maybe - she IS Don Hall, brought back to life in a new, curvy body. Hmmm...

Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee

This was the first of the New 52 to be released, pioneering the reboot and their same-day-digital program that allowed me to read all of these without resorting to getting copies that "fell off the back of the internet," if you catch my meaning.

Five years before main continuity, superheroes are a novelty, and not a welcome one. Those who would one day be the icons of humankind were feared by the public and chased by the authorities. Who better to start us off, then, than Batman, whose relationship with The Law has always been shaky?

Batman is chasing a monster, a creature of Apokalypse, who has come to Earth to do some serious damage. It is a forerunner of Darkseid, which suggests that the new Justice League will get one hell of an initiation. During the chase, he meets Green Lantern Hal Jordan, whose job is to investigate alien incursions into his space sector. They soon realize that whatever this thing is doing, it's not good, and their chase leads them to Superman. Getting to explain themselves to the Man of Steel, however, might be harder than it sounds.

Presented as the introduction to the New Universe, this book has a lot of work to do, and I think it did it admirably. One of Geoff Johns' special skills is re-creating heroes in interesting ways, and he seems to be off to a good start here. In the previous continuity, Batman and Green Lantern have always had a difficult relationship. Batman thrives in the dark, Green Lantern is a wielder of light. Batman is a vigilante, working on the boundaries of law. Green Lantern is a cosmic policeman. Batman uses finesse and creative thinking to solve his problems. Green Lantern hits them with a fire truck. Most importantly, Batman has only his wits and his body to rely upon to be a super-hero. Green Lantern wields the most powerful weapon in the universe. As much as Superman is usually portrayed as Batman's "opposite," I think Green Lantern would make an excellent candidate as well.

Speaking of the Man of Steel - we only get to see him at the very end, but I can say this much: I like the new costume, collar and all, and I think he definitely follows from the Superman we see in Action Comics. Brash, contentious, and ready to fight. It's a departure from traditional Supermen, who were often more inclined towards fighting if they absolutely had to, but with the backstory that Grant Morrison is penning, it does seem to work. We'll see how it goes in future issues.

A side-story to this is the story of Vic Stone, brilliant high school football player whose father is a researcher studying metahumans. Vic loves the game, but he wishes more than anything that his dad would watch him play. Very touching, but those of us who've been reading comics for a while know how this story turns out. With Cyborg on the cover, we can say this much for sure: talented Vic Stone won't be playing football much longer.

Overall, it's a good start, with good art by Jim Lee, who draws Batman like no one else. They're building a mythology here, with hints of future greatness. Can't wait to see where it leads.

Green Lantern Joins the Tautology Club: "It combusted into fire!" C'mon, Johns. You can do better than that.

Snarkgasm: "You flew us to Metropolis in a glowing green jet?"
"You can't fly, so how else were we going to get here? Talk in a deep voice?"
- Batman and Green Lantern

Justice League International by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopestri

Back in the heyday of my comics-reading youth, the Justice League was one of the funniest comics out there. It had a huge cast of characters, spanned the globe, and fought evil, just like other Justice Leagues had before them, but it did a marvelous job at making the characters human. Booster Gold and Blue Beetle bickered and joked and became the best comedy duo this side of Laurel and Hardy. Ralph and Sue Dibney were one of the best husband-wife couples in comics. Guy Gardner was a jackass, but an honest jackass. Those Justice League books probably did more character-building than anyone else, and I loved it.

Since then, other Leagues have formed and gone, but none felt as comfortable and familiar as that one. So, when I heard that JLI was slated for publication, I was both thrilled and worried.

As an attempt to recover worldwide support in both their organization and authority as a whole, the United Nations has decided to re-form the Justice League International, featuring heroes from several of the world's nations.With Booster Gold ("The guy from the beer ads!") in charge, this new League is determined to help around the world, doing whatever is necessary to serve global order.

Their team is more international than the previous Justice League International, including Godiva (Great Britain), Ice (Norway), Fire (Brazil) and Vixen (Zambesi, a fictional country in Africa). Then there's August General in Iron from China, and Rocket Red from Russia, who look to be the new team bickerers as each tries to outsell the greatness of his own country. Done right, these two will be fun to watch.

While the team heads off to Peru to investigate seismological weirdness (and giant robots), some home-grown protesters decide they don't like the UN taking over American soil and are determined to make their voices heard. With bombs.

This title has huge shoes to fill in that it's taking the name of a book that sold partly on its comedy. There are certainly moments where they try, but nothing quite like what Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis used to be able to pull off. It would be best for everyone if Jurgens allowed the book to find its own voice, rather than becoming a pale imitation of what once was.

BWA-HA-HA... huh?"Let me be perfectly clear: I have never, ever let my name or likeness be used to sell adult diapers." - Booster Gold

Men of War by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick

I don't read war comics. Mainly for the same reason I don't watch war movies. War doesn't really interest me. I know that it's a fundamental part of human nature to go to war, and that the people who fight in war have experiences that I - thankfully - will never share. But I am not enthralled or entranced by war, even in a morbidly fascinated way. Still, comic books have a long tradition of war comics, and it's good to see them continuing, if only for the variety.

I am somewhat divided, though. This story follows Corporal Joe Rock, grandson of the famous Sergeant Rock, as he and his men go to rescue a U.S. Senator who has vanished during peace negotiations with insurgents. On the way, they encounter a metahuman whose "help" in the matter nearly kills them all. Who this person is, we do not yet know, but as part of the greater DC Universe, this book is an interesting chance to look at how an army of regular human soldiers would have to deal with super-heroes getting in their way and, sometimes, crushing them underfoot.

That's all well and good, but part of me is thinking, if you're going to do a war comic, do a war comic. Focus on the men and women who are fighting, and leave the super-heroes out of it. I suppose that's where the backup feature of this book comes in - Navy Seals: Human Shields by Jonathan Vankin and Phil Winslade. As it sounds, it's about a group of Navy Seals. They're an almost humorously diverse group of soldiers - a liberal, a Native American, a nutjob - who are in a country they're not supposed to be in so that they can... do something, I'm not sure. I got lost in all the Genuine Military Lingo that got thrown in there and the rather hamfisted characterizations. Thankfully, most of the panels had no background, so there was less to distract me. Interesting artistic choice.

I Learned Something Today: A "SAW" is a Squad Automatic Weapon; a "Goose" is a Carl Gustav recoilless rifle; an M4 is a carbine rifle; an "HVT" is a High Value Target; "BUD/S" is Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal training; and I really don't care anymore. On to the next one....

OMAC by Keith Giffen and Dan Didio

In the previous incarnation of the DCU, the OMACs kind of got a bad rap. Created by the artificially intelligent Brother Eye, they were a kind of mecha-infection designed to protect Earth from its superheroes, or whatever Brother Eye wanted to protect it from. Any person could be an OMAC, and would transform into a graceful blue-black angel of death when the time came.

Now, OMAC has kind of returned to its glorious Kirbytastic roots, with possibly the most outstanding mohawk hairdo ever. Kevin Kho, a nerdy scientist, is host to OMAC - the One Man Army Corps - and he is in the service of Brother Eye whether he likes it or not. He's kind of Hulk-like, except that he doesn't know what he is, and he has even less control over his transformation than Bruce Banner does. And he's kind of a robot.

In this issue, OMAC is forced to break into Cadmus Labs to steal their mainframe. The data on it holds the secrets of Cadmus' advanced bio-engineering work, which has created creatures far beyond anything the earth has seen before. With that information, Brother Eye will be able to wield vast amounts of power. OMAC is part of that plan, though what the ultimate plan is, we still don't know...

The art here is done by one of my favorites, Keith Giffen, who really pulls out all the stops. OMAC was created by none other than Jack Kirby, who was not a man known for his subtlety when it came to his art. OMAC is big, he's unstoppable, and he commands every panel he's in, which is the kind of thing you get when you call on Giffen to do your art.

Meta-Joke: I can't think of one, actually. This is slightly disturbing.

Static Shock by Scott McDaniel and John Rozum

As part of the DC Reboot, DC Comics has been busy folding into itself the various imprints that it had spawned over the last few decades. One is Vertigo, the home of Swamp Thing and John Constantine. Another is Milestone, an imprint that specialized in Heroes of Color. Their most popular and visible hero was Static, a young man named Virgil Ovid Hawkins, who has probably the closest personality to Ultimate Spider-Man as you're likely to find in DC. As a part of the greater DC Universe, Static has his own book, and shines in it as a young man who can manage both super-heroing and high school as well as the next guy.

Someone has stolen a dangerous Sunspot Suit from S.T.A.R. Labs in New York City, and Static is on the scene to stop him. Using his mastery over all things electromagnetic, and his expert knowledge of physics, Static subdues the man, only to see him shot dead on the Queensboro bridge. It seems he was stealing that suit for a cadre of villains who needed its power. Now that Static has foiled their plans, they're gunning for him.

A lot of the charm of this book definitely comes from the characters. Virgil and his family are interesting and show signs of real potential, and it's Virgil's cocky self-assuredness that will probably take a big hit in future issues to come.

Here Comes SCIENCE! This book returns to an old tradition of comics: heroes explaining how their powers work. They used to do this all the time in the old days, and frankly it was annoying. It works a little better here, because Static - unlike a lot of super-heroes - actually knows what he's doing with his powers. Whether he's setting up like electric charges or siphoning off plasma or trying to ground a serious amount of energy, he knows the physics behind it and why it works. So not only do we have a hero who is unafraid to take on manace and villainy, but we have a hero who can think on his feet. A fine character indeed.

Stormwatch by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda

Stormwatch is another import from a DC imprint, this time Wildstorm. Originally, Stormwatch was a superhuman peacekeeping group, similar to the Justice League, except that it had lasted for decades. It eventually brithed The Authority, which was a splinter group that managed to take over the United States government and turn it into a neo-fascist state. It had some of the industry's most creative writers behind it, including Warren Ellis, one of my favorites, and featured both analogues of familiar DC characters, and some others which were much more original and utterly fascinating.

In this new presentation of Stormwatch, the group is looking for some muscle. They've found a man in Moscow who most certainly doesn't want to join their group. It's the job of Jack Hawksmoor, the man who talks to cities, to convince him to join. Along with Projectionist - a woman who can mentally access all media on Earth - and Martian Manhunter, they want to bring Apollo into their fold, whether he likes it or not.

Meanwhile, there's something happening on the Moon - it seems to be growing claws and trying to make a grab for the Earth, and Harry Tanner has to manage to talk it out of killing everyone. Of course, the giant talking eyeball in the moon claims it's just trying to toughen Earth up for something even more terrible that's on its way (see Action Comics #1, I'm sure). And in the Himalays, Jenny Quantum, the spirit of the 21st century, is off to retrieve a giant... something and bring it back to the vast chip on which Stormwatch travels. And, back in Moscow, Midnighter has decided he's had just about enough of these fancy-schmancy heroes trying to run everything.

It's a promising start, and it looks like a book I'll enjoy. It's large-scale, cosmic, even, with a creative group of characters that are based on some excellent groundwork that was laid years ago.

Fabulous! In the previous continuity, Apollo and Midnighter were romantic partners, forming one of the great gay couples in comicdom. I can only hope that this remains true in the new continuity....

Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette

Finally (oh, gods I'm tired), we have our new arrival from Vertigo, the imprint that DC spun off to handle its more adult fare. Swamp Thing was one of the major titles of Vertigo, featuring the great creature that was connected to all plant life on Earth. He wasn't exactly a hero, or a villain - he was quite literally a force of nature. But before Swamp Thing was Swamp Thing, he was Alec Holland, a botanist who came up with an amazing bio-restorative formula that could probably induce plants to grow anywhere in the world. An accident in his lab, a fire, and an ugly death turned him into a monstrosity.

Or did it? Whatever happened to Holland, he's alive again, working construction and trying to keep his head down. Strange animal deaths, however, have begun, which may be a precursor to something worse, so Superman has come to find out what Holland knows and what he can do.

It's an interesting and, true to its roots, somewhat horrifying book. There is a violence in nature, as Holland explains to Superman, and it looks like that violence has decided to come out and start doing what it does best. The art is atmospheric and evocative, and this should be a compelling book to follow.

DC Continuity Point: While talking with Holland about dying and then returning, Superman says, "I know how hard it can be, coming back." So it looks like the death of Superman is still canon. But how much of it is like we remember...?

Also, some of Holland's descriptions of his death and return imply that Blackest Night happened. So we shall see.


As I mentioned before, scattered about the books was a Mysterious Woman. She was almost always pictures in a crowd, or at least in the background. She was visible with the heroes, but never interacted with them. I've found her in every book so far except Batgirl.Her face is covered, she tends towards purple, and her purpose is a mystery. She seems to be the same mysterious woman who oversaw the Flash's resolution of Flashpoint, and one of my favorite theories is that she's Glorith from LSH fame. Whatever she is, I expect we'll see more of her from the other books in the relaunch. In the meantime, I'm going to bed....

Tags: comic books, dc comics

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