Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week 3 of the New DC

Encouraged with how much I enjoyed the few comics I read of the initial two weeks of the DC comics relaunch, I decided to go for broke (literally) and buy all of the new DC comics that came out in the third and fourth weeks of the relaunch. In this post I briefly discuss 6 of the third week issues. Out of the 6, only one (Batman) was a comic I previously collected on a monthly basis. Going forward I will also be collecting Catwoman on a monthly basis and will try the next issue of Captain Atom as these were the two strongest, besides Batman that I talk about here.

Batman: Written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo, this was a great read that like the previous Detective Comics issue, brought the Dark Knight back to his roots -as a gritty detective! I loved how the book opened with a great fight scene in Arkham Asylum and the narrative text discussed how the citizens of Gotham viewed their city. Their view had become bleak and Bruce Wayne was determined to change that view through the utilization of both his personas!

Interior page.
On a side note, I loved Greg Capullo's art. I remember his art from his earlier days working on Spawn back in the 1990's, but haven't seen anything he's done since. In Batman he's retained his Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn) inspired style but provided it with cleaner lines. My only negative comment is that Capullo tended to make some of the characters too similar looking, such as Bruce Wayne and the new character of Lincoln March.

Birds of Prey: This book presents more or less what I was expecting from the DC relaunch: a book that starts from the beginning. The above mentioned Batman did not do this, but did present the beginning of a new Batman story. Birds of Prey however, presented the formation of a new team. The team is presented as an entity that had been previously established but has to now find new members.

The story is of a group of female crime fighters that all have ties to other superheroes, which kind of makes the ladies here seem like sidekicks to their male superhero counterparts (eg. Canary is from the Green Arrow comics). Regardless, this team can kick some but and showcases strong female characters. The storyline is interesting but does not stray far from the status quo of comic stories. The artwork is also solid but not too flashy. This is a book I could go either way on for reading again in the future; as in, if it's a slow week at the comic store I may pick up another issue.

Blue Beetle: I absolutely love this character from the cartoons but am not too familiar with the comic book source material. The first issue was great for someone like me who was not familiar with the character as it starts with the origin of the character. The story is told well but lacked the humor I expected from the cartoon, making the story feel dry. In the comic, the main character obtained his power in a happenstance and non-memorable way, unlike other characters such as Spider-Man who was bit by a spider or the Hulk saving a person's life during a gamma bomb test. Those are memorable origin stories and the Blue Beetle origin story was weak in comparison. Additionally, the story was rushed and did not have sufficient build-up for me to care about the characters that were being affected. While a reader would likely expect, and perhaps demand the appearance of the Blue Beetle to appear in the first issue, in the case of this comic I feel it would have worked better if the first issue was spent instead on building the foundation for the characters and storyline and then introduced the Blue Beetle in the second issue.  However, the story has some potential and I liked how most of the characters are Latino, which is a nice surprise to see in a comic book as the vast majority of the characters are white.

In regards to the art, it was solid but more care was needed in inking as the lines were muddled. I hate it when inkers use too thick of brushes when the lines need to be crisper.

Captain Atom: This was a surprisingly great read! I was not familiar with the character of Captain Atom and didn't know what to expect. What I found was some very well illustrated pages by Freddie Williams II and a very interesting story with loads of potential by J.T. Krul. The story throws the reader mid-way through the career of Captain Atom, with the superhero already well established in the world. However, his powers had become unstable. From there the book begins the deconstruction of the hero. I had the impression that the book did not want to start from the beginning of the character's story as the deconstruction of the hero would only be successful if it started off with a pre-established foundation of who the character was, which was quickly established in the first few pages of the book which explains the situation to new readers and notifies older readers that what they previously knew of the character was still true. In all, Captain Atom is a book I will read for a few more issues at least!

Interior page.
Catwoman: Hands down the best book out of the bunch I'm discussing in this post and is one I had not previously collected on an ongoing basis. I was absolutely floored by the beautiful artwork of Guillem March. His style seems as though it's a mesh of Joe Kubert and a sketchier form of Manga. His inks are dripping with style and I loved his usage of perspective; Guillem really thought out how he would illustrate this book! On the side of writing, Judd Winick presents a powerful female character. A woman who is confident, sexual, and loving -a real and well rounded character. I really appreciated as to how Winick gives us a female character that is anything but a stereotype! This is a character who is situated in a very complex story told in under 30 pages. Of these pages, the final few will make you open the window as it gets really steamy! This is definitely one book I will be reading on a monthly basis!

DC Universe Presents: Deadman: I am not familiar with the character of Deadman and was interested to see that DC chose this character as one of their leading heroes in the new 52 line. This book retells the origin of Deadman through narrative flashbacks and starts off a new chapter in the character's life. The character is conflicted and begins to question his role as an individual who must aid the living with their problems in order for his own soul (?) to be saved; kinda reminds me of Quantum Leap actually. The art  by Bernard Chang is clear and straight forward, but the covers have fantastically powerful illustrations by Ryan Sook. The writing is also engaging and I like where they are headed with the character. However there is something missing from the book that didn't draw me in. I can't place it, but I was left feeling very 'meh' about the character and where the story was headed. Perhaps I would have been more favorable towards this book if it had not been for the other comics I read before it. The competition in this group of week 3 books was too stiff, and in particular Captain Atom and Catowman presented much stronger stories.

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