DC Relaunch Revisited: 52 More Words on 52 Titles (Part 2)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

52 More Words on the DC New 52

A year and half ago, just after DC Comics announced their New 52 initiative, I wrote a two-part column called "52 Words on 52 Titles," offering 52-word impressions on each series. This past Tuesday, to celebrate Collected Editions' completion of all the New 52 Vol. 1 collections, I'm offering 52 more words on the initial New 52 series, reconsidering my earlier remarks or examining how each series turned out.

The original 52 words come first, followed by my new remarks in bold. You can read part 1, or here's part two. I welcome your general thoughts on how the first year of the New 52 shaped up, too.

27) Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette & Francesco Francavilla
I’m not very familiar with Swamp Thing, but file him under “characters I’ve always wanted to learn more about.” I’m pretty excited about the entire new “Dark” area of the DC Universe; Scott Snyder’s Detective is getting good reviews, so I’m optimistic for this.

Turns out I wasn't so enthused about Snyder's Alec-Holland-as-Swamp-Thing take on this title, but with "Rotworld," this and Animal Man sure took the DC New 52 by gangbusters. Curious to see how the title survives and stays integrated in the DCU without Snyder.

28) Animal Man by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman & Dan Green
This one also seems like a “can’t miss.” Though I’m not sure Travel Foreman’s solicitation cover was the right choice by DC to attract new readers, Jeff Lemire’s also getting rave reviews on Superboy, and in interviews he’s talking up the “family” aspects of Animal Man. High hopes here, too.

Definitely the best debut collection of the New 52 (it's battling a bit with Wonder Woman: Guts for best second collection). Travel Foreman won me over for the first volume, and I'd be happy to see Jeff Lemire and Steve Pugh stay with this title for the long haul.

29) Justice League Dark by Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin
Peter Milligan wrote the well-regarded Shade, the Changing Man for Vertigo and currently writes Hellblazer; there’s no more authentic “horror” voice you could get to write the same characters in the DC Universe. List this among the DC relaunch books I’m most looking forward to.

I did not like the first Justice League Dark collection, finding the plot both too chaotic and ultimately too simplistic. Didn't care for Peter Milligan's Red Lanterns either; wonder what this says about me. High hopes for Justice League Dark when Jeff Lemire takes over. I want like this title.

30) Demon Knights by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert
A book set in the past and not affecting the DC Universe isn’t to my particular tastes, but writer Paul Cornell has hinted there’s a twist or two that might rectify that. Add to it the overall coolness of a new series for the Demon, and I’ll be giving this a look.

Quality stuff here from Cornell (this one is up there with my favorite New 52 debut collections). Sorry he's left the title but I'm glad they made a clean break when he did. That this book was set in the past and not in the DC Universe proper mattered not a bit.

31) Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE by Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli
By far Frankenstein was my favorite of the Seven Soldiers, and I’m thrilled he’s getting a series of his own. I’m not familiar with Alberto Ponticelli’s work; my first choice would have been to see Doug Mahnke as the artist, but I’m happy to give Ponticelli a shot.

Another good one -- maybe not ground-breaking ultimately, but a bunch of fun (I think I liked Frankenstein like some people liked OMAC). The title didn't last, but if Lemire is taking Frankenstein with him to Justice League Dark, that's all the same to me.

32) Resurrection Man by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Fernando Dagnino
I loved Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Legion, but their previous Resurrection Man series never grabbed my attention. I’ll check this out partially because I think it’s funny DC is trying the series again; maybe with better integration into the “Dark” corner, this will hold my interest more.

Enter your resurrection pun here; this one is gone already, just like its previous incarnation. I give Abnett and Lanning credit for going more supernatural this time than sci-fi, which is interesting if you're a fan of the original. Not sure where Mitch Shelley will appear in the DCU without DnA.

33) I, Vampire by Josh Fialkov & Andrea Sorrentino
I’m less interested in this; in contrast to Justice League Dark, this looks too far out on its own. About the only thing that would bring me in would be vampires actually attacking DCU heroes (or, Josh Fialkov cameoing DC’s vampire-based Scarlett character).

Another pleasant surprise, and what became a fan favorite, though that didn't save it unfortunately. I, Vampire only make me more excited to see Fialkov on Green Lantern Corps; DC losing him, seemingly for good, is a big disappointment. We're left to wonder what could have been.

34) Voodoo by Ron Marz & Sami Basri
I’m glad DC’s taking on a supernatural comic with a kind of CrossGen ethos (judging by first glance) and by Ron Marz, to boot. That said, like I, Vampire this just seems too “off on its own” for me, and I might skip it unless I hear really good things.

Voodoo wasn't "off on its own," but rather perhaps tied too tightly to the initially-interesting Daemonite plotline that DC seems to have abandoned. For those of us who dug the early apparent ties between Voodoo, Grifter, Stormwatch, and Superman, it's a shame that seems all to have come to nothing.

35) Legion Lost by Fabian Nicieza & Pete Woods
I have found Fabian Nicieza’s writing a tad light, but his work on young Red Robin should lend itself to Legion. Pete Woods is a great choice here though, reminiscent of Legionnaires’s Jeff Moy; overall I’m excited for this (especially the inclusion of Gates!).

Neither Legion title has lit up the New 52, and Legion Lost, while a satisfactory read, especially failed to justify its own existence. I'll read the final volume, but mainly what I'm interested to see is these characters integrated back into the main Legion title.

36) Legion of Superheroes by Paul Levitz & Francis Portela
One of my greatest concerns for the DC Relaunch was whether Paul Levitz would keep writing Legion or if we’d have yet another Legion reboot. Levitz’s continuation did a lot to make me feel better about the DC Relaunch; I’ll pick this up most certainly.

I remain glad DC didn't restart Legion for the New 52 so soon after the last reboot, but the first volume wasn't up to the title's pre-Flashpoint standards, and then Giffen was supposed to join and immediately left. I wonder how much future this title has, no pun intended.

37) Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, & Norm Rapmund
Everything’s controversial about this one, from characters to costumes to writer. To be sure, however, Teen Titans hasn’t had the luster of the original Geoff Johns launch in a good long time, and I’ll be giving this book a chance with high hopes for a return to greatness.

I'm in the minority finding the New 52 not really so different than the "old 52." Teen Titans is a prime example -- it's teen heroes, it's readable, I like it. The story so far has the team "on the run"; I'm curious to find what this title's "about" when it settles down.

38) Static Shock by John Rozum, Scott McDaniel & Jonathan Glapion
It’s a great relief to find one of the original Milestone writers, John Rozum, writing this new iteration of Static -- just a shame they’re still calling it Static Shock! Scott McDaniel’s art has been hit-or-miss for me lately as well, but I’m excited for what looks like Static done right.

No secret this was among my biggest disappointments of the New 52. I've never seen a comic so clearly crumbling page by page, and the worst part is how it may negatively affect the Static character himself. I'd hesitate before I read more from the members of this creative team.

39) Hawk & Dove by Sterling Gates & Rob Liefeld
Yes, Rob Liefeld’s role gives some people pause, but the fact that he helped create the characters makes this feel rather right to me. Not to mention, like Gail Simone on Batgirl, if anyone can make this work, it’s Sterling Gates. I’ll give this a chance.

Another disappointment, though here I have more faith the creative team tried and the book just got away from them. Like Hawk and Dove, Vibe is a perfect fit for former Supergirl writer Sterling Gates, and I'll be picking up that book with no hesitation.

40) Stormwatch by Paul Cornell & Miguel Sepulveda
This is one of the books that brought me around to the DC Relaunch. Stormwatch (read: the Authority), Martian Manhunter, and Paul Cornell. After Superman: The Black Ring, I have no question Cornell can pull off a thought-provoking series, and Martian Manhunter in a superhero intrigue title? I’m sold.

It's equally a bad sign that Stormwatch, flagship of the DC/Wildstorm merger, should be going through so many creative teams. I wish Jim Starlin luck, but I also read a bunch of the Rann/Thanagar spin-off books, and I have to say I'm not optimistic.

41) Blackhawks by Mike Costa & Ken Lashley
As strong as DC’s Stormwatch solicitation is, the Blackhawk solicitation is too vague to move me. What I’m hoping for here of course is something in line with Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann’s Checkmate, but so far I’m on the fence about this one.

I really liked Mike Costa's Blackhawks, more than I thought that I would, not that it matters with this title's cancellation. In reality what this turned into was an advertisement for seeking out Costa's work elsewhere. Hope some other writer can use the Blackhawks somewhere in the New 52.

42) Sgt. Rock and the Men of War by Ivan Brandon & Tom Derenick
Again, as excited as I am for Stormwatch, I’m uncertain about Men of War. I didn’t like Tom Derenick’s art on Shadowpact, and Ivan Brandon’s Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape was brilliant or absurd depending on your perspective. I’ll wait for the reviews here.

What became simply Men of War. Brandon's initial story was a good read, but the backup stories were hit-and-very-miss. I'm not sorry to see this title's spot filled by some other deserving book, and it's probably good DC is off their "war titles" kick for now.

43) All-Star Western by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray & Moritat
I’ve heard good things about Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s Jonah Hex, and I’m glad it’s continuing into All-Star Western. There’s enough else out there that I probably won’t pick this up, but I’m glad DC is giving it a second launch.

The one New 52 title I haven't read; I hear good things, but there hasn't been a story yet that sounds "can't miss" (what's coming up may yet be that story). Based solely on hearsay, all of the faint Bat-references in the book also seem too cutesy to me.

44) Deathstroke by Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett, & Art Thibert
If this Deathstroke series follows in the footsteps of Marv Wolfman’s early Deathstroke series, I’ll be along for the ride, though I think that’s a big “if.” I’m glad to see Joe Bennett on a new series, however; I loved his art on Checkmate and elsewhere.

Can we sing artist Joe Bennett's praises one more time? Higgins wrote a great first trade of this; I'm excited to read Liefeld's Deathstroke vs. Lobo (Liefeld! Deathstroke! Lobo!) and Justin Jordan's issues, and then it seems about right to me that this series meets retirement.

45) Grifter by Nathan Edmundson, Cafu, & Bit
I don’t have a real attachment to the Grifter character nor to this creative team. I’m curious about how the Wildstorm Universe will be folded into the DC Universe, however, and I’ll probably pick this up to see how the combination works.

A great first couple of issues, and then all downhill from there. Unfortunately with Team 7 cancelled, I can't imagine where we'll see Cole Cash again in the New 52. Seems a rather sad end for one of the stalwarts of the Wildstorm Universe (unless WildCATS is around the corner!).

46) Omac by Dan DiDio, Keith Giffen, & Scott Koblish
Dan DiDio’s Outsiders has been at times interesting and at times downright unreadable. What sells me here is the sense that this is not just an OMAC title, but a title encompassing all the DC Universe’s Jack Kirby concepts. With Keith Giffen assisting, I’d like to see this work.

Can't miss with a Jack Kirby tribute title, but I think DiDio and company overestimated their audience's appetite for "wacky." Various titles have suggested a bigger role for Brother Eye coming up (shades of Infinite Crisis); I support more OMAC appearances but I wasn't sorry to see this one end.

47) Blue Beetle by Tony Bedard, Ig Guara & Ruy Jose
I’m glad to see Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes getting his own title again, though admittedly I’d have liked to see John Rogers as writer. I’m skeptical Tony Bedard can bring something new to the title -- I predict cancellation, actually -- but I’d be more than pleased to see this book succeed.

Tony Bedard surprised me with a new and workable take on a not-so-old character. It's astounding just how ubiquitous Jaime Reyes is given the newness of the character -- Brave and the Bold and now Young Justice. Despite that this title is cancelled, I'm confident we'll keep seeing Jaime around.

48) Suicide Squad by Adam Glass & Marco Rudy
Solicitation-wise, this is my biggest disappointment. I’m a fan of John Ostrander’s espionage team, and this funny-looking Harley Quinn team seems a far cry from that. In deference to this title’s legacy, I hope for good things, but I’m on the fence about picking this one up.

When I finally picked this up, I liked it more than I expected. Glass had a good handle on this team and its characters; I look forward to the rest of his run and whatever the new writer might bring after him.

49) Action Comics by Grant Morrison, Rags Morales
I’m unsure about Superman’s new costume, but Grant Morrison proved with All Star Superman that he can do great things with the Man of Steel (not to mention Morrison’s astronomical success of late with Batman). The Superman titles have flagged of late; things can only get better, right?

I've only read the first volume but nothing to complain about, and no real question this was going to be good. The real issue, with the departure of Andy Diggle, is who'll take Action Comics next and whether they can help save, frankly, DC's flagging Superman franchise.

50) Superman by George Perez, Jesus Merino
Further, I’m not sure if I really dislike Superman’s new costume, or if it’s just that George Perez’s new Superman resembles Superboy Prime here; granted Perez is drawing the covers only. I’m also worried whether Perez can bring a modern voice to Superman; I have more concerns about this than Action Comics.

I do ultimately like Superman's new costume, but the first Perez book obviously suffered from some difficulties, and those are compounded with Jurgens and Giffen's quick run and now Lobdell's controversial start. I'm sorry to ask, can anyone out there save Superman?

51) Superboy by Scott Lobdell, RB Silva, Rob Lean
That Scott Lobdell is writing Superboy and Teen Titans should at least bring some continuity between the titles. Superboy’s new origin seems an unnecessary revision, but I’m willing to give this a shot and see how it goes.

Young Justice went a long way toward convincing me Kon-El could get a revised origin and still be the same old "Kid"; Lobdell's first book equally caught the spirit of the character. I'm looking forward to the next book, and I'm a little bummed the creative team has moved on.

52) Supergirl by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Mahmud Asrar
I absolutely loved Michael Green and Mike Johnson’s Superman/Batman: Search for Kryptonite, but an “angsty” Supergirl seems an unnecessary regression for the character. I’ll give this a chance, but this could be the title I have the most concerns about.

A fine first volume; the biggest surprise was it wasn't all that different than before. With "H'el on Earth" I hear it's hit a rough patch; I suspect this title can't be cancelled, but I wonder if DC knows what they want from this title yet other than just to have it.
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  1. I didn't know that I, Vampire is going to be cancelled. Too bad, now there's just American Vampire left (which is on hiatus at the moment). Bummer.

    Didn't know about Scott Snyder leaving Swamp Thing too. I thought that it's very strong and I'm not sure that I'm going to keep collecting it without Snyder at the helm.

    Threw out Superman for the same reasons as you, it was just another so-so Superman book. I'll keep Action Comics though and also pre-ordered H'el on Earth. This better be good.

    I'm quitting Red Lanterns too. My DC trade sub is getting pretty thin right now.

  2. there are 3 series that caught my eye:
    don't understand why there aren't animal man or swamp thing hardcovers. :(

    stormwatch series started good but is fluctuating in quality ..

  3. You have to read all star western. If you made it through everything else (a stronger man than I you are sir) you owe it to yourself to read a well written/ drawn comic like a.s.w. One of the few titles still on my pull list.

  4. Absolutely agree with joe d, as well. Read All Star Western. It really is one of the better books out there(I consider it my top 10 favorite titles under the New 52). You got through some really stinkers like Hawk & Dove and Mr. Terrific, I think you owe it to yourself to read All Star. Don't let the old west theme scare you. I too am not the type to buy these types of books, but I gave issue #1 a shot when it came out in singles and I haven't put it down since.

    Your 1 book away from reading all 52 books, so finish it out. You won't regret it (I hope).

  5. Seems to be DC are banking on Scott Snyder doing for Superman with "Superman Unchained" what he's done for Batman. I know I'm in all the way with that one, but I'm gutted too that the main "Superman" book - and now "Action Comics" too, it looks like - are just sinking. But if DC insist on hiring creators and not trusting them to tell their own stories, this is what's going to keep happening. Morrison, Johns, and Snyder can't write ALL their books, much as DC might like them to.

  6. It would totally wreak havoc with the solicits and "first issue worship", but theoretically they could just turn the first arc of "Unchained" into Action Comics and move Snyder over to that title instead of starting a new book.

  7. I second Joe D's comments about you seriously needing to read All-Star Western. Jonah Hex teams up with Amadeus Arkham in a good cop/bad cop-style murder mystery romp through wild west Gotham. How can you possibly not read this? I honestly put it as one of the best New 52 series I've read, just below Animal Man & Wonder Woman.

  8. CE, funny that you should mention the Scarlett character (or, I guess, re-mention it from a year ago), I noticed that Comixology has put up the first issue of that 90's DC series, except not under DC. Looks like it was creator-owned, and is now being digitally published under a different company.