Gads, do I really need to review another Batman book? What hasn’t already been said?
Normally, I don’t really care about Wonder Woman. I enjoy her as a member of the Justice League, but I’ve never had any interest in her solo stuff. So this was yet another pleasant surprise.
I’m going to blow through the rest of these as quickly as I can.
I haven’t had much exposure to Nightwing beyond his occasional appearances in Batman comics, but I’ve had plenty of exposure to the man behind the mask, Dick Grayson. He’s the original Robin. He filled in as Batman for a while. So, I didn’t know what to expect from a solo Nightwing book, besides Batmanesque crimefighting and daring-do. And that’s exactly what we got. No complaints here.
This book also does a great job of filling in new readers about Grayson’s past and present, when his old circus returns to town. And the new villain is pretty cool – sort of a Special Forces version of Wolverine.
My only complaint is that they changed the color of the symbol on Nightwing’s chest. I liked it better in blue.
This re-introduces Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle, which seems entirely unnecessary to me. He was introduced in his own series just five years ago, and those books were great. I know a lot of people don’t care for this new version of the 72-year-old superhero, but I was surprised by how much I wound up liking him.
Captain Atom is one of those characters who’s not familiar to mainstream audiences. In fact, he sounds like a stereotypical Cold War superhero. And…that’s true in a lot of ways. But I’ve come to like the character, first through his appearances on the Justice League animated series, and recently through the Justice League International: Generation Lost series. I thought he was great as part of the JLI, so I’m sorry to see that he’s no longer with the team.
I can’t talk about Captain Atom without bringing up his connection to Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen. Atom and several other Charlton Comics characters were going to be the main characters in Watchmen, but new characters were created instead, closely based on the originals. Atom has never reached the godlike power of Manhattan, but he can fly, absorb energy, and blast people with energy.
However, this comic seems to be taking the character in some interesting new directions. His powers are growing and changing, and he finds himself able to manipulate matter itself at the atomic level. And he has commented in the past about feeling more and more disconnected from humanity, which makes me wonder if DC is gradually making him into Doctor Manhattan (not literally, of course). That’s one of the big mysteries that this series seems poised to address.
Anyway, he’s a surprisingly likable character, and I do want to see where this goes.
I’m skipping ahead a little here, which shouldn’t be a problem, since I’m already so far behind.
It surprises even myself to admit that I’ve read very few Superman comics in my life. I watched his most recent animated series, I watched the Justice League series, and I’ve read numerous cross-over comics with him in them, but the only time I’ve ever read a Superman comic was the “Superman: Sacrifice” TPB (which is excellent, by the way).
I’ve heard some good things about previous Birds of Prey books, but I’ve never read one. I’m familiar with most of the previous members of the team, but in this book, they seem to be down to just two: Black Canary and Starling. I’m assuming they’ll add more members eventually, because two of them are on the cover (though they’re not actually in this book).
Like all the other New 52 books, this one is setting up a new story. In fact, I’m getting a little tired of reading the beginning of dozens of new stories without being able to continue on yet. But I can’t complain too much.
The story here is pretty simple, but interesting: Canary and Starling rescue a journalist, who seems to be part of a mystery. And what started as a small mystery soon becomes a large mystery.
In the past few years, the world of the Green Lantern comics has become far more complex, thanks to the addition of SEVEN more Lantern Corps (with Green and Yellow, it’s now up to nine).
I know what you’re thinking, because it’s the same thing I was thinking: Frankenstein? In a comic? What the hell?
I feel like I’ve already written this review. After all, there are ELEVEN Batman-related comics in the New 52 relaunch, and he shows up in a few others too.
This is basically Batman getting back to Batmaning. Bruce Wayne returns as Gotham’s full-time Batman after Dick Grayson had been filling in for him during the last year or so. The book opens with Batman kicking ass in the middle of Arkham, fighting his way through his rogues gallery. Then the Joker shows up, and the unexpected happens. That was really cool, and I don’t want to spoil that part, but the payoff was a little disappointing.
Hoo boy. Where to start?
This book is getting a lot of attention for featuring two of DC’s most popular characters: Catwoman’s boobs. It really is quite ridiculous how over-sexualized this book is – and remember how much I defended DC’s treatment of Starfire in a previous review. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many bras in a single comic before.
But let’s ignore all that and just look at the story. The book hits the ground running, with Catwoman having her apartment invaded and blown up by skull-faced gunmen. Fortunately, she makes it out in time, shoving all 8 of her cats into a single travel case (which was pretty amusing).
The rest is…a bit confusing. Catwoman goes undercover at a dodgy nightclub, but I’m still not really sure why. Then she gets discovered, kills a few people (or at least severely wounds them), and fucks Batman – again, I’m not sure why.
Overall, it’s a weird, semi-uncomfortable book. I’ve never been a big Catwoman fan, and this doesn’t change that. I might read the next issue, but if I don’t, I won’t mind. I’m not saying it’s bad; it just doesn’t appeal to me.
I kept putting off reading this one, because I had no interest in a book featuring the rhyme-talking demon Etrigan. So I was surprised to find that it’s actually a fun, interesting book.
First of all, they made a big change to Etrigan: he doesn’t talk in rhyme anymore. Part of me is sad to see such an iconic part of the character go, but another part is glad to see it gone – reading those often-convoluted rhymes is a surprising hassle, and it really took me out of the story while trying to figure out the cadence.
And the book isn’t just about Etrigan either. This book shows us several of DC’s medieval-style characters coming together after the fall of Camelot. A few I recognize, like Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage. Others are probably established characters, but I’m not familiar with any of them yet.
It’s too early to see how much of a team-up book this will be, or what the group’s goals will be, or even if they’re going to try to do good or just go around killing stuff. After all, Etrigan isn’t really a hero (chaotic neutral at best) and Vandal Savage is usually a villain.
This turned out to be quite interesting, so I’ll definitely be checking out the next issue, at least.
A little history: in the past couple years, there have been a few Batman series that have had occasionally-overlapping storylines. Those were “Batman & Robin” and “Batman Inc.”, which follow directly from “The Return of Bruce Wayne” and “Final Crisis”. And there’s a lot I’m leaving out. B&R featured Dick Grayson (the first Robin, formerly Nightwing) taking on the Batman mantle while Bruce is missing, and Damian Wayne (Bruce and Talia Al Ghul’s son) becoming the fifth Robin when Tim Drake (the third Robin) leaves to find Bruce.
They made a great team, because the usual dynamic of grim Batman and playful Robin was flipped on its head, with a more playful Batman and a grim Robin. But this issue shows that Bruce is back as Gotham’s Batman after establishing his “Batman Inc.”. So now it’s grim, calculating Batman and grim, impulsive Robin.
As always, Damian is an ornery little bastard. He would be annoying if he weren’t written so well, if he didn’t have the skills to back up his tough talk, and if he didn’t occasionally get the shit kicked out of him (I think he’s on his second or third spine).
Bruce is Bruce. This is the Batman we all know and love, but now he has to deal with being the parent of an angry youth raised in the art of assassination. They don’t really work as a team yet, which should lead to some very interesting situations in future issues.
This book seems to bring together the B&R and B:Inc storylines, with a cool new villain going around killing some of the international members of Batman Inc. No doubt Batman & Robin will eventually have to find a way to stop him/her.
I really enjoyed Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, but his stories were kinda hard to follow at times. Tomasi does a great job taking over, and it looks like we’ve got a great storyline to look forward to.
Technically, this is called “DC Universe Presents: Deadman #1”. Presumably, the Deadman storyline will be short, and they’ll do another “DCU Presents” with a different character. (Batman Beyond, please!)
Anyway, for those not familiar with Deadman, this does a great job of introducing him to new readers – like most of the other New 52 books do. He’s a former acrobat who was an asshole, then died, and now wanders the world as a ghost. Nobody can see him (except spiritualists), but he can possess anyone’s body and control them completely.
I got my first taste of Deadman during the Blackest Night and Brightest Day storylines, and I really liked him. He’s got some great jokes and has an odd “working man” attitude to everything, kinda like Hellboy.
That said, I don’t have the slightest idea who the blue alien lady is, or what his “mission” is, or if either were part of his past. Before 2009, I pretty much know nothing about Deadman. Fortunately, they don’t seem to have wiped out any of his most recent history, because his relationship with Dove is still ongoing (I don’t know if it’s mentioned in this book, but it’s definitely in Hawk & Dove #1).
This is yet another character that I know nothing about. And unfortunately, I still know very little about him after reading this, but there seems to be some potential.
Grifter is apparently some sort of con man (hence the name). And he might have a limited ability to read minds, or read alien minds, or something. And I guess he uses guns, and he’s some sort of vigilante. Seems like he’d fit in well with Red Hood & the Outlaws. Other than that, I don’t know.
Unfortunately, there’s not much for me to write about here. It sets up a good introduction to the character and his world, but it seems that any substantial information (like anything that tells us what the hell’s going on and who this guy is) will be coming in the second or third issue.
I’ve never paid much attention to the Legion of Superheroes. They seem interesting, but the concept hasn’t really grabbed me. I watched the animated series when it was on, and that was cool, but I’ve never read any of the comics. And none of these characters were in the animated series.
They seem like cool characters, and there’s apparently some cool stuff going on, but it’s like having Christmas with a family you’ve never met before: you have no idea who anyone is, and you don’t know what they’re talking about.
There’s no effort given to introducing this book to a new audience; if you’re already familiar with the characters, great. You’ll probably enjoy it. It seems neat. But if you’re not, skip it. I wish I could say otherwise, but there’s just no way to get into this easily.
Ok, let’s get the whole Starfire thing out of the way first.
Some people have been freaking out about how Starfire looks and behaves in this comic. The basic complaint is that they slutted her up (like they definitely did with Harley Quinn), giving her a very revealing costume and making her promiscuous.
First, this is what she looks like in this comic:
Ok, that’s pretty risqué. But let’s take a look at her previous costumes. This is how she appears in 52 (2006):
There’s almost no difference! Granted, there’s less material covering her…uh…large orange cantaloupes… but there’s actually more material covering her shoulders. The costume is slightly more sexualized, but there are plenty of other costumes in the New 52 – for the females and the males – that have received the same treatment.
And just for fun, let’s look at one of her very first appearances, from 1982:
It’s the same thing! Her costume has barely changed in the past 30 years.
A lot of people have gotten up in arms about some parts of the comic that show her in a bikini. Fine. Here’s a part of one of those pages:
Funny how I haven’t seen anyone complaining about how the male characters are shown in skin-tight muscle shirts, or not wearing a shirt at all.
What about her promiscuity? Complaints have been made about how she hops into bed with a guy she barely knows, but I haven’t seen anyone complain about how that guy jumps into bed with a woman he barely knows. It’s that sort of double-standard that invalidates whatever claims of sexism these complainers are making. After all, if I man likes sex, he’s a stud, and if a woman likes sex, she’s a slut.
Look, maybe her costume is too objectifying, but it’s always been that way. There’s nothing new to see here. This is not the Teen Titans children’s cartoon version, and never has been.
With all that said, how is the comic itself?
I really like what’s here so far. I don’t know much about the Red Hood/Jason Todd, except that he used to be Robin and ran with Batman, but was killed by the Joker and raised from the dead by Ra’s Al Ghul (I think). I know even less about Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal/Roy Harper, except that he used to be Green Arrow’s sidekick and used to be a druggie. I don’t know why Red Hood is putting together this new team, why he wants Roy on it, or what Roy was doing in prison in the first place.
But anyway, this is a great start to the series. It does a great job of introducing the characters, and shows you what you’ll be getting: lots of crazy vigilante action. It’s a fun collection of characters, and it’ll be interesting to see who else they add to the team over time.