We've skipped around a bit this month in reading the DC New 52, jumping forward to review Aquaman: The Trench in the week it came out, and also you'll notice we've moved on to next month already without reviewing Suicide Squad: Kicked in the Teeth.
I want to read Suicide Squad, I know it ties into Resurrection Man, Detective Comics: Faces of Death and later to the Batman "Death of the Family" crossover, but at the same time I'm pretty sure I'm not going to like it, since I didn't like Adam Glass's alternate-reality lead-in, Flashpoint: Legion of Doom.
You commenters have expressed mixed opinions about negative reviews -- if I'm pretty sure I won't like something, but I read it, is it fair to review it to talk about what I didn't like? Or should I only review things I approach "blind" -- if I think I already have an opinion about something, should that disqualify it from review?
Anyway, I've got Suicide Squad right here, but I'm going to hold off until it's really integral to something else I'm reading before I crack it open. Your results may vary, but I think there's something healthy, if you will, about letting a book sit when you recognize you're not in the headspace to enjoy it, even if the book is relevant right there and now.
Otherwise, this month of the DC New 52 felt "gray" to me going in -- three different Bat-family titles, plus Demon Knights, Grifter, and Men of War -- none of these ground-breaking or super-relevant like a new Justice League or Green Lantern title might be. Some books I had been looking forward to, like Demon Knights, but in all not the most exciting month.
As it turns out, all three of the Bat-family titles were pretty good. Gail Simone really impressed with Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection, breathing for me new life into the stale Barbara Gordon character. Batwing: The Lost Kingdom was a great old-school "Bat-apprentice" story in the style of Dennis O'Neil's Azrael, marred only by the announcement that writer Judd Winick is leaving the title. And Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Batman and Robin: Born to Kill met my high expectations -- I only wish this title would have stretched a little farther to produce an unexpected Bruce/Damian story, instead of telling well the story we already expected.
Demon Knights: Seven Against the Dark is clearly the best book of the month, a complete story told in seven issues that feels more like a Vertigo book, like a collection of Fables, like a two-hour television show, than a standard collection of comics. If you asked me after the first two issues of Grifter: Most Wanted, I would have said it was a sleeper hit, one of the strongest DC New 52 debuts so far, but the book loses a lot when artist CAFU departs, ending in disappointing fashion.
It is, in all, a very "dark" month, with a predominance of books from DC's Edge line. Batman and Robin, Batgirl, and Batwing all involve mystery and bloody murder, as Bat-titles do; Demon Knights is the most "fanciful" of the books, involving swords and sorcery, but of them all has some of the most gruesome torture and beheadings. Grifter and Men of War are tamer by comparison, but neither offers the uplifting superheroics one might expect from a Superman comic, for instance.
I've been reading a little of Mark Waid's recent Daredevil, and also Waid talking about Daredevil, and I begin to agree that writing dark comics is easy; writing interesting superhero comics that aren't so grim is hard. Next week I'll be reviewing Kyle Higgins's Deathstroke, which is super-violent; Higgins uses violence well in his story and there's nothing wrong with that, but looking at all the Month Three books together, there's an extent to which the darkness becomes repetitive.
Being as I am a sucker for crossovers and continuity, what I liked most this month were the additional hints of the alien Daemonite threat; we didn't see much of this last month, but now Grifter ties into Stormwatch and even Demon Knights has a subtle connection. We trade-waiters will have to wait another two months for the Voodoo collection for more; meanwhile next month has Swamp Thing, with ties to Animal Man, and Superboy, with ties to Teen Titans and Legion Lost, to tide over my crossover cravings.
The books this month were not bad -- the Bat-titles and Demon Knights at the top of the pack -- but neither were they the most exciting. Despite Superboy and Action Comics, next month is a slow one, too. Eyes on the horizon for Month Five, however; with Titans and Legion Lost, plus Birds of Prey and Green Lantern Corps, that should be a good one.
Like I said, Deathstroke next week, and then we'll jump ahead a few months to review Batman: The Dark Knight: Knight Terrors. Plus Doug's got reviews of some classic DC/Marvel team ups -- don't miss it!
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