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Friday, June 12, 2015

A Month Of Venturing Into The DC You: Week Two


It's that time again! Just like last week, I picked up every issue DC Comics put out of their current "DC You" initiative, and I'm here to present my scattered and unorganized thoughts in a few sentences. Again, none of these should be construed as reviews really, it's just a quick glimpse at one fan's thoughts on the newly evolving line of comics from his long-time favorite publisher.

Also, just a point of clarification, I bought all of these with my own money. Not one comp copy was involved in the writing of this piece, if that sort of thing means anything to you.

batman 41

Batman #41: I'm not fully sold on the Jim Gordon as Batman take yet, but this new arc continues the rather fun zaniness that's been part and parcel of the Scott Snyder-Greg Capullo run since "Zero Year", and Capullo continues to be one of the best artists at the Big Two. His work pops in a way that so few superhero illustrators can manage, and he just keeps getting better. I also can't say enough about FCO Plascencia's colors. The new status quo is intriguing enough, and I look forward to seeing how it spills over into books like BatgirlGrayson and Detective Comics (see below).
Verdict: Already on my pull and staying there

batman superman 21

Batman/Superman #21: I love Greg Pak's work on Action Comics, so it vexes me a bit when I can't seem to reconcile the great work he does there and the fairly pedestrian stuff he cranks out for this title. The new shift for Superman, which inevitably is the character this title has focused on in greater detail, hasn't really done much to refresh a series that can't escape a feeling of staleness and bland superheroics. Being envisioned by the house-stylings of Ardian Syaf doesn't help either.
Verdict: Stopping here

catwoman 41

Catwoman #41: I missed the boat on early issues of the critically acclaimed, but fairly under-read (and promoted), Genevieve Valentine Catwoman run. I think I may have assumed too much to think that I could just jump on-board here. It's really well written, you can tell Valentine has a pretty elegant control of prose, but I'll be damned if I knew what the heck was actually going on. I found it difficult to keep up with who each character was, and what purpose they served in Selina's world, though in ensemble-based crime fiction, I sometimes bump into that barrier. I'm maybe intrigued enough to try again, with the hope that familiarity will breed some affection, but I can't say I'd recommend it for the first timer.
Verdict: On the fence

constantine the hellblazer

Constantine: The Hellblazer #1: Riley Rossmo can do no wrong, and the Dante's Inferno-inspired spread found within is the kind of panel layout that will always grab my attention. This is a really fun reintroduction to the John Constantine that we used to see back in the Vertigo days, rather than the New 52 superhero that had populated books like Justice League Dark and the previous Constantine title. I like this more arrogant and amorous John, and the fact that DC is putting out a book that pushes their general boundaries of content within the main line is nice to see. It's a bit over-written, with its themes hammering you over the head (especially in a secondary character's denouement), but I'm mostly sold provided that one big flaw is rectified in subsequent months
Verdict: Going onto the pull-list

Detective Comics 41

Detective Comics #41: I really like Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelatto as an art team, frankly as far as "cape comics" go, there are few better. As writers though, I've had more trouble with their output. Their angle on the Jim Gordon as Batman take is solid enough: a book about Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya will always grab my attention in some form or fashion. But I'm not sure I found enough here to really hook me between a few iffy narrative conceits and some dialogue that didn't quite land with me. Additionally, while I think Fernando Blanco does a decent enough Michael Lark, I'd be more excited about this title if Manapul was penciling it himself still.
Verdict: Stopping here

earth 2 society

Earth 2: Society #1: I had hopes that perhaps with a fresh start, Daniel Wilson might be able to employ something worthwhile into the literal new world that the Earth 2 characters are now inhabiting. How wrong I was, as this was basically unreadable. I liked the Johnny Sorrow appearance at least, but it was basically negated by Terry Sloane sprouting mechanical wings.
Verdict: Stopping here

Gotham Academy 7

Gotham Academy #7: I can't even begin to pretend like I'm not in the tank for this book. I love it, and even when it has fill-in artists like Mingjue Helen Chen, the title is able to uphold its cinematic qualities. Chen's work here reminds me a good deal of Irish animator Tomm Moore, and her gorgeous cartooning provides a perfect spotlight for secondary character "Maps" and the meet cute that occurs between her and Damian Wayne. There are a couple of spatial hitches where I was bit disoriented as to what was happening in a panel or two, but otherwise, this is a pretty great all-ages adventure.
Verdict: Already on my pull and staying there

harley quinn 17

Harley Quinn #17: Maybe it's The Naked Gun fan in me, but I always laugh at a good beaver joke, and this one had me guffawing a bit. I hadn't read an issue of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's take on Harley since its debut issue and this month's offering had me wondering why I hadn't. It was humorous, zinged with energy, and Chad Hardin's art looked way more suited to the material than I remember it. I thought the Gang of Harleys was a pretty fun idea too.
Verdict: In for the next issue

red hood arsenal 1

Red Hood/Arsenal #1: The idea of a "buddy comedy" comic book isn't a bad one, it works well for titles like Archer & Armstrong, and in theory Jason and Roy should be diametrically opposed enough that it should make for some solid hinjix. Unfortunately, with Scott Lobdell at the helm, you may as well dash those hopes. It's funny, looking at Denis Medri's art, I could see a fairly effective intro tale being weaved here if someone else wrote the dialogue. But Lobdell's attempts to give an edge to every character voice makes them all sound like the same person. It's better than Earth 2: Society, because I could at least tell what's going on, but it reads like a comic that Poochie from The Simpsons would write.
Verdict: Stopping here

section 8 1

All-Star Section Eight #1: Yeah, this was pretty awesome. I never read Hitman, I should probably get on that (it's 99 cents a pop on Comixology right now after all), but I thought what Garth Ennis and John McCrea were up to here was hilarious. It's a bit "inside baseball" in the way a good Ambush Bug comic might be, particularly in its shoutouts to the 90's "Bloodline" event and the various iconic Batman poses being used to pretty great effect, but it's all presented in a way that shouldn't detract from a new-comers enjoyment much. I mean, who doesn't find a Batman that's too cheap to pay a $3 ATM fee endearing? Yeah, Hitman, I need to read it.
Verdict: Going onto the pull-list

starfire

Starfire #1: I think I may have liked this better than even Harley Quinn this week, perhaps because I was entering at ground zero, but I have some affection for well done "fish out of water" stories and this is a particularly good one. There's a great deal of damage control that needed to be done with Kori in the New 52, and I'm confident Conner and Palmiotti are well on their way to rectifying those issues. It's Starfire getting into hijinx in a trailer part in Key West. This is my kind of jam, and I'm really appreciating the story-telling corner that this team is building for themselves.
Verdict: Going onto the pull-list

suicide squad 7

New Suicide Squad #9 - It's hard to separate the real world inspiration for this story from the potential of the narrative. On paper, the idea of a group of supervillains going undercover into a bigger hive of evil-doers to take them down is attention grabbing enough (and as a big fan of COPRA, I'm primed to love a Suicide Squad story), but the parallels between this League of Assassins splinter group and the real-world ISIS rubs me the wrong way, and fairly bland sub-Rags Morales like linework pretty much put my interest in this book out of its misery.
Verdict: Stopping here

This week's must-reads: BatmanConstantine: The HellblazerGotham Academy, All-Star Section EightStarfire

Next week: Sonny Liew draws Doctor Fate, Martian Manhunter gets a solo series, the Batgirl spin-off Black Canary takes flight, and I try to reconcile mentally why I'm buying anything from the current Wonder Woman run.

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