DEATHSTROKE #1: You know what’s the absolute best way to establish a character as anything other than a badass? Have all the other characters talk at length about how much of a badass he is. Like, have some characters explain that he is going to do something totally badass, and then when he does it then they can say “that was so badass” and then just keep going. I’ve always kind of liked Deathstroke even in his recent “sucky Darth Vader” mode he’s been doing the last decade or so, but this Deathstroke I rather dislike.
RED LANTERNS #1: This gets my nod as a strong contender for Least Essential Comic of the new-52 relaunch. Was there really a major contingent of fans demanding a series about Atrocitus? (Yes, I get that everybody likes to say how awesome the Red Lantern kittycat is, but come on – it’s one joke that wasn’t that funny to begin with. Dex-Starr is the DC Universe equivalent of “the cake is a lie”.) In any case, the comic itself is just kinda meh, and putting Ed Benes on it makes the whole thing feel like one of those three-issue-long “ongoing series” Image put out in 1995 where you never knew anybody and never cared.
GREEN LANTERN #1: Has all the strengths of Geoff Johns’ usual Green Lantern work, except instead of jerking off about Hal Jordan he actually acts kind of like a douche, and Sinestro is much cooler than Hal so having Sinestro assume centre stage (sort of) for an issue is nice. But really, this isn’t a #1 and everybody knows it: it’s just the new issue of Green Lantern, making absolutely no pretense at even attempting to be a jumping-on point, explaining nothing at all. Compared to this issue, last week’s Static Shock is a 22-page Who’s Who entry.
SUICIDE SQUAD #1: Three words: Thin. Amanda. Waller. (Other than that – and Harley Quinn’s outfit – it’s kind of meh.)
FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1: This was a lot of fun. I’ve never been a fan of the S.H.A.D.E. concept, which comes across too much as “it’s GI Joe, but weird and with monsters!” for my tastes. But I like Frankenstein, and the latest retooling of the Creature Commandos concept doesn’t feel tired for once, which is a minor miracle at this point.
RESURRECTION MAN #1: Basically Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning picking up where they previously left off with this comic, but they make a concerted effort to provide a soft introduction for new readers – which isn’t hard, given that Resurrection Man’s concept is pretty straightforward and his plotlines mostly unresolved. A bit more exposition re: the Body Doubles would have been a good idea, though, as they come across as low-rent Harley Quinns. (Then again, they weren’t really ever anything more than that.) In any case, this is a good solid comical book.
GRIFTER #1: Lovely Cafu art, but Nathan Edmonson’s story is just clumsy and Cole Cash doesn’t feel like a character so much as someone just sort of reciting lines he’s supposed to recite. At the end of the issue, he puts on his mask. Why does he put on a mask? Absolutely nothing about that makes sense! It’s just a “this is a superhero comic, so this con man who went through a traumatic experience is now gonna put on a mask because he’s a superhero.” This comic wants to be an exciting pilot episode of an awesome genre TV show, leaving questions unexplained and plot points vague, but instead it just feels sort of unfinished.
MISTER TERRIFIC #1: You know how people say it’s hard to write a truly brilliant character convincingly when you aren’t as brilliant as they are? This is a good example of that. It’s actually not a bad comic book as first issues go: it sets up the premise and introduces the character in the way that a #1 issue should, and it’s not boring. But the superheroic “brilliant scheme” is him turning the London Eye into a magnet to hold up a guy in battle armor, which is sort of low-rent 1960s Spider-Man as ingenious superhero plans go, and the climax is that something is manipulating Mr. Terrific so he can recognize that a politician is a hypocrite. (No. Really.) Also, answers the question of what happens to Power Girl in the nu52: she’s Michael Holt’s non-superpowered love interest! CUE NERD RAGE.
LEGION LOST #1: It’s a more focused Legion of Super-Heroes adventure/quest comic. It’s good. Not great: just good. It would have been great if the comic did more to flesh out the seven primary characters’ personalities; it feels a bit rushed in terms of plot versus character development. But it’s okay.
SUPERBOY #1: Probably the most pleasant surprise so far of the nu52 – this was a comic I was expecting to be a trainwreck, and instead it’s a very well written sci-fi comic. At present it’s only a superhero comic in the loosest possible sense (a Rose Wilson cameo, Lois Lane shows up investigating as she is wont to do). But Scott Lobdell is trying to write a pretty neat story here about the construction of personal morality, and there’s more thought in this book than in many of the other nu52s combined. Recommended highly – this is one of those comics where the thought that went into it is evident from the first page.
BATMAN AND ROBIN #1: First of two Batbooks this week that redeem last week’s double shot of the lousy Batgirl and much much worse Detective Comics (which I didn’t discuss, but suffice it to say that it was terrible in just about every possible way that a Batman comic could be terrible). This is a decent Batman comic which does a lot of work to demonstrate the relationship between Batman and Damian-Robin while still telling a Batman Inc. story without having to go into a lot of backstory to explain the concepts of that comic. In short, this is Perfectly Good Comics. And that is fine. I mean, I know we were all saying stuff like “every one of the nu52 has to be a grand slam out of the gate,” and that’s not actually a wrong analysis in a lot of respects, but it wasn’t gonna happen and it didn’t happen, so let’s call this one a success even though it’s probably only a strong B+ level comic at best.
BATWOMAN #1: Batwoman’s arc in Detective last year was sublime stuff; this looks to continue the trend even without Greg Rucka writing it. The usual brilliant artwork from JH Williams, of course (this time shifting between the “regular” Batwoman art and a style I would almost describe as a Geof Darrow-influenced clear-line for depicting the interactions between the police officer love interest and normal citizens). CONTINUITY NOTE: Bette Kane, in training to become Flamebird all over again, refers to having been a former Teen Titan, which – I thought the Teen Titans were now no longer around before Tim Drake founded them? Who knows. But this is a damn good book.
EDIT TO UPDATE BECAUSE PEOPLE KEEP BUGGING ME ABOUT IT: DEMON KNIGHTS #1: This comic was okay, siding on good, but everybody jizzing about it needs to acknowledge the fact that right now it’s a competent fantasy comic that’s mostly all prologue so far and that doesn’t mean we should go all Special Olympics to cheer it on. It’s perfectly all right, but it’s nothing I would call excellent (and I would call both Superboy and Batwoman excellent and I think Demon Knights is in this week’s second tier of #1s, alongside Frankenstein and Resurrection Man). I think a lot of its acclaim stems from the fact that it’s a sword-and-sorcery comic and it actually exists (much like how some people were applauding Men of War for being a war comic, although Knights is a much better comic than Men of War was).
Also Etrigan doesn’t talk in rhyme and what is the point of using Etrigan if he doesn’t talk in fucking rhyme I ask you. I’m sorry, but my Etrigan is a rhyming, evil dickhead. Period. I am biased in this respect.