Thursday, October 06, 2011

Reviewing The New 52 - Part 5

We’re coming down the home stretch of The New 52 review, covering the Superman and Green Lantern titles this time, and finishing up with the Batman line next time around. So, without futher ado…


I have to say up front that I’m a Batman guy, but I was willing to try to keep an open mind when it came to the “New Superman Family.” Here’s what I found:

Superboy -- Scott Lobdell, R.B. Silva, Rob Lean
What’s been nice about The New 52 is that each group of titles has had one surprise for me, one title that I thought there was no way I’d have any interest in that I ended up loving. For the Superman group, it was Superboy. When I was a kid, Superboy, along with Teen Titans and the Legion of Super Heroes, was one of my favorite titles. Once I grew up, the idea of Superman as a kid no longer had much appeal for me. I’m happy, therefore, to say to today’s young readers: this is not your father’s Superboy. This Superboy is the child of Superman and Lex Luthor. Seriously. He was cloned from a combination of their DNA. This new Superboy has been around for awhile, but the first time around, he basically just appeared on the scene as a “hip” cocky young Supertype. In Superboy, we actually get a “clone’s eye” view. We first meet Superboy in the tank, where an organization called NOWHERE is “growing” him. We hear his thoughts as he is observed and experimented on by a team that does not realize he is conscious. We sense his frustration as he is “educated” through a virtual reality program that we know he knows is not real, a fact his captors are ignorant to. We feel his fondness for Dr. Fairchild, the one NOWHERE agent who seems to really care about him (one of the agents who does NOT really care about him happens to be Rose Wilson, Deathstroke’s daughter). We also eagerly anticipate what will happen when he is finally released to eliminate the Teen Titans, who are posing a problem for NOWHERE. At least, I do. Recommendation: Keep Reading

Supergirl – Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Mahmud Asrar, Dan Green
I mentioned in the last blog that Animal Man has really been put through the ringer by DC. That’s nothing compared to what has been done to Supergirl. She’s been made into a blob of protoplasm, an “Earth Angel,” a supervillain, and of course, she's been killed. This Supergirl really starts from scratch, and I think it’s a good thing. We start with Kara Zor-El, Supergirl, crash landing to earth in her costume (in a cute twist on the legend, we learn that the costume is some form of ceremonial gown that she was saving for her graduation). Kara acts exactly like anyone waking up in a strange place with no memory of how they got there would act, until of course, she is attacked by giant robots and finds out she has super powers. While Kara prevails over the giant robots, she’s still a bit lost, until finally cousin Kal (Superman) shows up. What will happen next? I’m curious enough to want to find out. Recommendation: Issue by Issue

Action Comics – Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, Rick Bryant
Action Comics presents Superman: The Early Years. His powers are not fully formed, he’s the “leap tall buildings, more powerful than a locomotive, but can still take damage from being hit with giant metal things” type. Even his costume isn’t fully formed. He fights crime in an “S” t-shirt, the cape he was wrapped in as a baby, blue jeans and Timberlands. His morality isn’t fully formed yet either, and he is much more of a Batman type crime fighter, using threats and intimidation to get criminals to comply. As far as I’m concerned, that’s better left for Gotham City, and this take on Superman, while original, doesn’t work for me. I’m going to go ahead and say pass, since if you’re a Superman fan, you’re obviously going to go buy this book anyway no matter what I say. Recommendation: Pass 

(NOTE: Since writing this review, I broke down and bought Issue #2 of Action Comics. Now that I think I see where Morrison is going with it, I'm actually on board)

Superman – George Perez, Jesus Merino
As you would expect from any book with George Perez at the helm, the book looks fantastic. Once you get past that though, it’s just the same old Superman, fighting a giant monster, and getting back in time to write it up for the Daily Planet (which has been taken over by Morgan Edge’s Rupert Murdoch-esque global media empire). There’s certainly nothing here to suddenly make me a Superman fan, although again, if you are, I don’t see how you could fail to buy it. Recommendation: Pass 

Green Lantern

Green Lantern, on the other hand, I always did like, because I thought the idea of science fiction heroes was always pretty cool. Here’s my take on the four new GL books.

Red Lanterns – Peter Milligan, Ed Benes, Rob Hunter
No, this book is not about a bunch of power ring wielding prostitutes, although that might be interesting. In fact, one of the newer developments in the DC Universe is the splitting of the Guardians of the Universe’s energies into not just green lanterns and power rings powered by will, but a whole rainbow of lanterns, each powered by a different emotion. Red Lanterns and rings are powered by rage, which makes you wonder if perhaps any of us could be chosen. Their leader is Atrocitus, who is a pretty nasty, angry fellow due to the wanton slaughter of his entire race. This book is worth getting for the opening sequence where Atrocitus’ cat, also a Red Lantern, shreds the crap out of a bunch of aliens torturing some innocent soul. Not sure where this one is going to go, although it seems a rebellion by the Reds against Atrocitus is brewing. Recommendation: Issue by Issue

Green Lantern: New Guardians – Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham, Batt
A bunch of years back, few will remember that DC attempted a New Guardians book, about a group that were chosen to eventually replace the Guardians of the Universe. That book was impossible to take seriously, in large part due to the cartoonish, Joe Staton art, and was quickly shelved. Now it seems that DC is reviving the idea. A cataclysm has left the Guardians wiped out, except for one, Ganthet, who tasks himself with finding a solution to this catastrophe. The solution starts with selecting Kyle Rayner, a struggling young illustrator, as the recipient of the last available Green power ring. This makes sense to those who have followed DC history, as Kyle has been the fourth official Green Lantern from Earth for some time, but it’s not really clear why he is chosen in this book. Furthermore, Kyle is given a ring for each color of the rainbow, presumably to help him find new recipients for them. Rudely, these rings have been extracted from their current wearers, while they were using them, which sucks, since ring bearers often use these rings to do stuff like fight off hordes of angry aliens or travel through space, which it’s difficult to continue to do once they are suddenly removed. While that’s an amusing idea, I’m still not clear where this book is going, and I don’t have high hopes. But we’ll see. Recommendation: Issue by Issue

Green Lantern Corps: Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin, Scott Hanna
As a kid, I loved the Alan Moore Green Lantern Corps back up stories, so when they decided to launch a Green Lantern Corps series, I was thrilled. Imagine my horror to learn that rather than anthology stories of alien Green Lanterns in space, we were going to be treated to a team of Green Lanterns operating on Earth, saddled with that cartoonish Joe Staton art I mentioned earlier. Actually, don’t. You can’t possibly imagine. It was too horrible. Fortunately, I got over it. Even more fortunately, this Green Lantern Corps has a chance to get it right. Although we’ve got two human Green Lanterns, Guy Gardner and John Stewart, at the helm, they end up leading a team of alien Lanterns tasked with finding out why a bunch of GLs visiting a certain planet have turned up dead. And they do find out. It’s because everyone on that planet has turned up dead. What now, GL Corps? Recommendation: Issue by Issue 

Green Lantern – Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy
I’ll give DC credit on this one. While most of the flagship entries in The New 52, i.e. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, seem to be sticking with tried and true formulas, Green Lantern went a different way, decommissioning the classic Hal Jordan Green Lantern and re-signing his arch nemesis, Sinestro, as a Green Lantern and the star of this book (although, I’m forced to wonder, with Hal Jordan out of the picture, Stewart and Gardner fighting a world killer in the far reaches of space, and Kyle Rayner forming the New Guardians, who the heck is protecting Earth’s space sector? Talk about feast or famine!). I mean, yeah, we know Hal is going to get the ring back, but it’s a nice way to start fresh. In this issue, we follow Hal getting acclimated to civilian life, and Sinestro trying to get used to the idea of being on the green side of things. Neither are too good at it, and we end with Sinestro asking Hal to work with him so that they can get back to where they belong. Should be interesting. Recommendation: Keep Reading 

Okay, that covers everything but the Batman titles, and there are plenty of them, as you’ll see next time.

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