The newest month of DC Comics New 52 collection releases included two cancelled Wave 1 series, Hawk and Dove and OMAC; one cancelled Wave 2 series (or is it Wave 3, I can't keep up), Resurrection Man; one that will have two or three creative team changes in as many collections, Deathstroke, and then Action Comics, Superboy, and Swamp Thing. I've read all of these except Swamp Thing, which I've set aside for another time. I am quite confident I'll enjoy Swamp Thing, given its rave reviews and the author is current Batman superstar Scott Snyder, but I've some Swamp Thing back-reading I'd like to do in order to really get the gist of Snyder's book, and that's going to have to wait until later.
This is another month of DC's trade releases that feels weak to me. The first Action Comics trade is certainly a big deal and so is Superboy, though with Teen Titans and Legion Lost released next month, Superboy feels more a part of that month than this. Swamp Thing is a big deal but, of course, I skipped it; and then the others aren't necessarily blockbusters.
I begin to think DC maybe structured the year a little too top-heavy (maybe on purpose, to build initial excitement for the New 52 collections); to have Animal Man, Batman, Green Lantern, Justice League, Justice League International, Stormwatch, and Wonder Woman all in the first month doesn't leave much to really crow about toward the end. Yes, Aquaman and Flash and Nightwing and Superman and Supergirl and I, Vampire, but they're none of them released in as close quarters as that first month.
What I'd like to look at this time is the world-building -- in these seven six comics, what does a reader learn about the new DC Comics universe that they would not have known a month before (granting that, given the above, some other month might have yielded more fruitful studying than this one)? If this actually were a totally new universe, and a specifically-planned one (like the Tangent Universe, for instance, or Grant Morrison's interconnected Seven Soldiers stories), each of these volumes would be serving to reveal something about the new DCU; that's not actually the case, but we may find bits and pieces scattered nonetheless.
The book that may ultimately matter most this month is Action Comics, or the mouthful it's officially known as, Superman: Action Comics: Superman and the Men of Steel. This takes place before Justice League: Origin, making it the earliest (modern era) New 52 story so far. It introduces Superman's new costume, Lex Luthor, Steel, Metallo, Brainiac, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Krypton -- essentially, Men of Steel ought be the book a lot of Superman writers will be going back to for a long time (oh, "Men of Steel," Byrne's Man of Steel, I just got that). Set in the past, Men of Steel doesn't give us anything about ARGUS, the Daemonite threat, Darkseid, or other such common threads among the other titles; very possibly there's an Earth 2/multiverse bit here, but that won't be truly explicit until the next volume.
Superboy: Incubation reveals the second-most about the new DCU, arguably more than Action Comics. There have been cameos of different characters between the titles, but Superboy is the first to full-on interconnect with another, Teen Titans. The presence of NOWHERE simply suggests the new DCU has a lot of covert organizations in it, and I rather wish writer Scott Lobdell had taken a moment to contrast NOWHERE with ARGUS, Checkmate, SHADE, and other groups out there to show how they interact -- to really world-build, as it were. Of course, the biggest thing in Superboy is the presence of Rose Wilson on one hand and Caitlyn Fairchild on the other -- for those with knowledge of the Wildstorm universe, Fairchild's presence suggests a lot more stories coming down the pike that DC hasn't begun to address yet.
Third, surprisingly, is OMAC: Omactivate! Again, if you're not already knowledgable about the old DCU, you wouldn't be expected to know this, but Desaad and the whole Project Cadmus group on OMAC work for Darkseid, last seen in Justice League: Origin. I know there's a Fourth World-related storyline going on in one other high-profile DC title right now, though not necessarily how it relates to this. Should Darkseid face off against the new DCU again (which, let's face it, is inevitable, maybe around the also-inevitable Justice League/Earth 2 crossover), OMAC may be the book everyone goes back to look at.
As for the rest of the month, Hawk and Dove: First Strikes was a let-down -- no real world-building here, nor much story to recommend. Deathstroke: Legacy is interesting in that I'm sure writer Kyle Higgins is using it as a send-up of the new DCU itself; the book is ultra-violent but with good characterization, though Higgins leaves after this volume to be replaced by Rob Liefeld and then Justin Jordan. Resurrection Man: Dead Again was also good, taking the best things from the original series and making them even better, and in a bit of synchronicity, also includes a Deathstroke cameo -- but it's hard to get too enthusiastic about a book that we already know will be cancelled after the next volume.
Next week we'll continue down the path set by Superboy: Incubation with the New 52 Teen Titans and Legion Lost collections, but we'll pause in there also to look at the Flash trade before Birds of Prey and more. Stick around, and tell your friends, eh?
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