JUSTICE LEAGUE #1: The reason people keep calling this “like a comic you get with an action figure” is because it’s just that: it’s very generic and barely does anything. Geoff Johns has a few good lines, and Jim Lee is still an excellent superhero artist (a terribly boring costume designer, mind you, but a great artist), but you could have Alan Moore and George Perez teaming up to create the greatest superhero book of all time and if it was twenty-four pages of Batman and Green Lantern snarking at one another plus a brief fight with a parademon it would still be boring.1 There’s just no there there; it’s empty and moribund, and all the craft in the world can’t disguise that. Surely we can aspire to better than competency for DC’s supposed flagship book? (See also: John Solomon’s old complaint about webcomics where the first installment is “hey everybody here’s my cast and I promise exciting fun times starting with next week” and apply it here.)
ACTION COMICS #1: This is a really great comic in all respects, except that the Blue Jeans Superman costume is stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. Every time I see it in a panel I am reminded that I am reading a Superman comic where Superman is dressed like a dork. It just takes me out of an otherwise first-rate Superman book, which hearkens back to Superman’s 1930s trustbusting roots in a way that feels organic and unforced and fresh, and gets Clark’s Lois and Jimmy early-relationship dynamics right, and has Clark exploring his growing powers in a neat way, and on top of all of that comes up with some clever minor revisions to the Superman mythos (either Clark or Lois are working for a paper other than the Daily Planet? Whaaaaaa?). But seriously, it is like Grant Morrison saw the Super-Armor costume and thought “well, I can top that.”
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1: Surprisingly tepid. There are some good ideas here (Batman being an “unofficial” member of the team who shows up despite nobody in power wanting him there) alongside some odd ones (Godiva? Really? I mean… really?) and Yet Another Guy Gardner Tantrum, but this book doesn’t have any of the personality I think everybody hoped a new JLI comic would have and that Generation Lost in fact did have. It’s not terrible by any means, but it’s very much Just Another Team Book, which has to be regarded as a disappointment given the brand in question. Also, Vixen is once again so obviously just there to round out the demographics that I mentally have started calling her “Token.”
GREEN ARROW #1: Basically Green Arrow is a hero who is also kind of a douche, except it’s not Guy Gardner-style entertaining in the least.
STORMWATCH #1: You kind of have to love that Paul Cornell’s answer to the redundancy of Stormwatch in a universe that already had the Justice League is to say that Stormwatch are the real defenders of Earth and that the Justice League are posers, and to have the Martian Manhunter be the one to say that to boot. That takes balls I didn’t think anybody writing for DC still had. Plus, it turns out that this book is the temporal successor to Demon Knights, Cornell’s other nuDCU comic, and that’s cute. I’m not sure how long all of this will last before the DC Importance Police show up and remind us all that Hal and Barry and Ray Palmer are so much cooler than anybody else you guys, but for now it’s amusing and a decent book.
OMAC #1: It’s twenty-two pages of Keith Giffen doing an extended Jack Kirby homage. Because I like Keith Giffen as an artist and a writer, I will not use the words “jacking off” to describe this in any way.
BATWING #1: This was really quite decent. I don’t think it’ll last very long, but they’ve clearly gone and worked up an entire African superheroing mythos for the backstory of the comic, which I can appreciate even if it’s only to have victims for Batwing to avenge, and the art and story are genuinely strong. This was probably the nicest surprise of the first week’s batch of #1s and I hope I’m proven wrong and that DC can write a book about an African protagonist that their core audience of fanboys (who are their lifeblood and we all know it) wants to read. I don’t think I will be, though.
MEN OF WAR #1: I like war comics. This is a lousy one. I get that the idea of “war comic in a superhero universe” is a good one, but other than a token superhero-related disaster – one so generic that this could be set in any universe at all, one that could have as easily been a meteor strike because it was just that abstracted – they instead spend an issue writing a terrible war comic, one where a soldier lures a bunch of enemies into a cave and then comes out with an assault rifle in one hand and a shotgun in the other like he’s Arnold circa 1986, except it’s a beefy white dude with a moustache instead because you can still have those in war comics.2 Then there’s a backup story where the soldiers have to make the tough call of whether or not to kill an insurgent girl child soldier, which is actually a great idea for a war comic short story, until it turns out that she’s not a soldier at all and instead an evil terrorist was using her as a decoy, which sucks. Garth Ennis would not use this comic as toilet paper.
SWAMP THING #1: A really good start to a comic that seems to remember that Swamp Thing is supposed to be a horror book, and generally heads in that direction, and is only marred by the fact that Yanick Paquette is forced to demonstrate, yet again, that there is not a single superhero artist on the planet who can make the Super-Armor look good.
STATIC SHOCK #1: Perfectly acceptable comics, but feels like issue #47 of an ongoing Static Shock series rather than a fresh #1. Static’s powers are poorly explained, and that doesn’t matter to me because I’ve already read all the Static comics there are, but maybe in a #1 issue that comes alongside a reboot of the entire comics universe the comic is in, the writers could possibly take a panel to explain who the hell Hardware is and why he is in my Static comic, on the assumption that someone who wants to read this as their first comic – and remember, this is a comic slightly tied into a once-successful cartoon – could know the basics about Static’s MO? I mean, I get that not every issue can or should read as a potential reader’s first issue (I think that trope can oversimplify the comics reading experience), but I think that rule should always apply for the first issue of a book.
HAWK AND DOVE #1: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAA oh god they’re serious
LATE ADDITION: BATGIRL #1: Wow, this was lackluster, and I never thought I’d say that about a comic written by Gail Simone. I mean, Simone has made one or two mistakes as a writer – everybody has – but she’s never written a comic I would honestly call “boring” before. But Batgirl is a boring comic, despite it ostensibly doing what a first issue of a superhero comic should – I mean, there are the requisite number of fights and everything. But the constant narration is overwrought in the extreme, the choice to make Barbara’s physical return as Batgirl a sort of sequel to her Oracle days via some odd unexplained miracle of spinal regrowth is just weird, and the most interesting thing about the entire comic turns out to be that now Commissioner Gordon is also a redhead like his daughter.