The New DC Explosion - The Great Ten?

So DC has announced the first ten of its 52 planned new #1s. I've little doubt most of you will have seen the list, noted the creative teams and eyeballed the images, so how about some drive-by gut reactions, based on precious little? I'll start, please join in.


Wonder Woman #1 by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang I've not read many Brian Azzarello comics. His Superman run is my least-favourite approach to the character ever, and his use of Wonder Woman there was terrible - sword-wielding bint behoven to some upstart goddess. His Hellblazer run didn't 'get' John Constantine. His story in last week's Strange Adventures was really not my cup of tea. But I enjoyed his Dr Thirteen: Architecture and Morality tale, and his Flashpoint: Batman this very week (reviews of Strange Adventures and Batman are accessible at right). Who knows, he may surprise us with a heretorefore unsuspected whimsical side, though it's unlikely, based on what I've seen so far … his stuff is awfully serious. And the bloody sword bodes ill, I'm not a fan of Diana as armed warrior. 'Kick ass' is fine, 'slice ass off with sword', less so. Cliff Chiang, I love. He did a fine job with traditional Diana in Brave and Bold #33 last year. It's just a shame he's having to draw that dire, joyless new costume. I'll be buying the first issue. But if anyone notices me moaning hugely, point out that I should stop there, tell me it's not worth the pain of reading a once-favourite character in yet another revamp that's entirely inappropriate to Diana. You remember her, don't you? Tall girl, superheroine, not one to grab a pointy weapon at the first sign of trouble. A symbol of hope. As well as being a superheroine, she had a private life, with friends and home and everything. I miss that lady.
Aquaman #1 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis  Look at that snarl, check out the trident brandishing. This won't be your Daddy's Aquaman, we're going get a violent sea king, with plenty of gore, Geoff Johns having a tendency to go the 'dark' route. I don't know if that's a reflection of his preferences, or due to an educated belief in what sells. Either way, it's not my cup of tea - I'm all for Aquaman being in intense dramas, such as the killing of Arthur Jr in the Seventies series, but I don't want him as a 'gut first, ask questions later' type. I've no problems with Ivan Reis, he seems capable of turning out high quality work to a monthly deadline.
Flash #1 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul Now here's a surprise, Flash written by the book's colourist. Obviously encouraged by my constant praise, he's spreading his wings. I've nothing to base an opinion on, so let's see what Brian can do. There are precedents for members of creative teams to try their hand at writing - inker Al Gordon had a crack at Legion, as did colourist Tom McCraw. Todd Klein had a long run on Omega Men, while inker Keith Champagne has written a few comics. Scott Kolins wrote a Solomon Grundy mini. Aaron Lopresti recently gave us Junkman in Weird Worlds. And inker Karl Kesel has written dozens of excellent comics over the years (and if he's not writing any of the 52 new books, DC has missed a trick). George Perez made Wonder Woman popular again, while Joe Kubert is in a league of his own. So let's see what Brian can do - presumably he's still colouring too. Francis Manapul has made a splash on Flash since Barry Allen's underwhelming return, let's see if he can turn out the book monthly (he also makes TV shows, talented bugger). Maybe a fresh start will make Barry popular with today's readers ... but I still want a Wally book.
The Fury of Firestorm #1 by Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone and Yildiray Cinar And there you go, another comic artist writing. I'm assuming he's co-plotting with Simone, while the latter scripts, which guarantees smart dialogue. I've never seen Simone collaborate with another writer - she certainly doesn't need help, so the fact that she is partnering someone implies this is a project dear to her heart. Well, Firestorm's been a favourite of mine since his Seventies debut, with his peak being the The Fury of Firestorm title by creator Gerry Conway with artist Pat Broderick. The new guys have a lot to live up to. I'm hopeful, but if it's heavily tied in to Brightest Day, I'm out. I've no love for all the cosmic nonsense offered by that book. It seems Ron Raymond and Jason Rusch will now be high school students, which sounds like a big old reboot to me. Darn. I like the way the lads have developed over the years, why throw it away? Oh yes, the Altar of Youth needs sacrifices.  And what's with that Anti-Monitor-like Firestorm? Yildiray Cinar is a big plus, having been improving month on month in his recent Legion run.
Hawkman #1 by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan Oh, for crying out loud, just look at that cover, with a Hawkman so 'fierce' he's actually high camp. Hawkman as Wolverine - no thank you. The best thing this series could have going for it would be a clean slare - a rebooted DCU allows for that. But in a letter to retailers yesterday, DC's VP Sales, Bob Wayne, writes: 'this is the launch of the New DCU. It is not a “reboot.” '. Then again, CBR tells me that 'Carter Hall’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job with an archeologist who specialises in alien ruins – but will the doctor’s latest discovery spread an alien plague through New York City?' Intriguing. Tony Daniel's Batman didn't click with me, but it could be that Carter Hall is the character he was born to write. Based on such titles as Outsiders, Philip Tan will bring an intensity to Hawkman and His Performing Talons, though again, I'm not a particular fan. I'd love to be surprised by this comic. Oh, I've just found out that Hawkman gets an adjective. Wait for it ... 'The Savage'. I suspect #1 will be my only.
Green Arrow #1 by JT Krul and Dan Jurgens Jurgens on art means this book is going to look good, and I've enjoyed JT Krul's Teen Titans work. I've not bothered with his Green Arrow, due to Star City being revived as Fairyland, but with a new direction, this is worth a punt. It certainly sounds like a complete restart, as 'an orphaned Ollie Queen takes up the bow and arrow'. This could be a good read once the groundwork is laid - I'm as sick of seeing Ollie's origin as I am of being told Booster Gold's.
Justice League International #1 by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti And straight away I'm disappointed. I love Dan Jurgens' writing on Booster Gold, and was a fan of his Superman work, but it's Judd Winick who won the JLI their title back with the recent year-long Generation Lost book. Where the heck is he? Jurgens has written the JLA previously, to not especially memorable effect. Aaron Lopresti on art, though? Fantastic, he did great work on Generation Lost. The costume tweaks look great - but who's the bumpy chap? Googles ... aha, August General-In-Iron from the Great Ten, which I never read. Anybody? And who's the black-haired lassie? Donna Troy? A wigless Black Canary? A peculiar Gypsy. I'm intrigued. I'm thrilled to see Vixen in there, she's always a good addition to a book. It seems the set-up is "internationally-drafted superheroes" who "fight each other and their bureaucratic supervisors as much as they do global crime" which sounds like less than a direct continuation of the recent book. Still, if it gives us a rest from Max Lord, I'll take the not-a-reboot.
Mr Terrific #1 by Eric Wallace and Roger Robinson Now this is out of left field ... a JSA member in the supposed JLA list. Are the JSA being retired yet again? Is Mr T one of the seven so-far-unnamed JLA members? I get sick of him in JSA, what with constantly being told how perfect he is, so it'll be interesting to see him operate without anyone around to worship him. I'm not keen on the new look, what with the Fair Play tattoos - I like his current leathers. I haven't read much Eric Wallace - probably only his Tattooed Man, Ink book. I never bothered with his Titans series cos it stars Deathstroke and Cheshire, two overused, overrated villains. So, I'll be interested to see what he can do - basically, I like Mr Terrific, I'd just like him to be less terrific occasionally. Roger Robinson, I don't know at all, not having read Azrael, Eradicator or something called Sludge. But looking online, he seems to be rather good. And that cover is ruddy excellent.
DC Universe Presents #1 Deadman by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang This could be great. Bernard Chang, late of Supergirl, produces lovely linework, based on strong storytelling with expressive figurework. That makes him perfect for a book featuring a spooky character who gets involved in dramas big and small. I take it that's what the story in this new showcase series is about - what else do you do with a Deadman? Brightest Day, you say? Please don't. On the writing side, Paul Jenkins has produced tons of entertaining comics, including a good run on Spider-Man. He also wrote Sentry: Fallen Son ... but I'm more optimistic than not.
Captain Atom #1 by JT Krul and Freddie Williams II We might have expected Judd Winick to be continuing Cap's story post Generation Lost, but here's Krul again. I'm not taken by the would-be hook that he's struggling to hold on to his humanity, but we'll see. The new look, please God no - the energy Mohican and reptilian brow are just terrible as seen on Stanley 'Artgerm' Lau's cover. Williams is a more than decent comic artist, having produced excellent illustrations for the likes of the Flash and Robin. I'm less of a fan of his more recent JSA All-Stars work, which he drew digitally. Mind, the shininess he brings to the page these days might suit Cap.

What do you think?

Comments

  1. Are you confusing Krul with Winick in that last one? Krul wasn't "missing" (being on GA).

    As for the expectations, I'm more or less with you. Let's say mostly cautiously optimistic, but frowning at who's gotten the writing chores on these projects. The artists-now-writers are unknown and inexperienced quantities (and yes I include Tony Daniel in this). Jurgens is solid without being very inspiring (he hasn't the wit to achieve JLI's usual tone). I'm hoping Azzarello being matched with Chiang means WW will be more Doc 13 than Superman. I've either actively disliked or been nonplussed by Krul's work (looks like Cap will be Doc Manhattan). I'm worried about the level of violence generally shown in Johns books, though he tends to "get" the characters he writes for. No opinion about Jenkins (never really read anything of his). Which leaves Simone, whom I've always liked, though she's only co-writer. Still, that makes Fury of Firestorm my most anticipated book on the list (with Aquaman close behind mostly because of character loyalty).

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  2. Thanks for the correction, Siskoid. Lord, it's late here in the UK. I've tweaked.

    And thanks for the comments, seems we're pretty much in agreement.

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  3. I love Mr. T but wallace has written some terrible books. I can't leave the league, and Cap Atom only interests me if it really is "not a reboot."

    But I still think it is.

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  4. I'm really excited for Cliff Chiang on a monthly book, even if I'm nervous about the direction the book will take...

    I think the book I'm least excited about is Aquaman. I find Johns to be a mediocre writer at best, all of whose ideas are overly drawn out. He tries to get blood from a stone, and his narrative repertoire is nothing but a big bag of rocks.

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  5. may i suggest Gypsy as the JLI mystery woman?
    craig

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  6. i meant 'second' Gypsy. bah!!!

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  7. As a rule, I give anyone a pass when I hear their run on Titans was terrible. That franchise seems so micromanaged to me, all I can do is pity the writers.

    Of these, I'm looking forward to Flash, Firestorm (The Defiant Ones as superhero story?) Mr. Terrific and Wonder Woman. Chiang is one of my favorite artists, so I know it'll look great at the very least!

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  8. I'm fairly "meh" about the titles announced so far, but they're not really the ones I'm waiting to hear about. In principle, if they don't muck up my Batman Inc, Detective or Legion too much, I'm *all* for a move that can wipe the blight of Cry for Justice and the current Titans out of continuity. In fact, where do I sign up?

    As one of the unlucky few reading the current Titans (with gritted teeth), I can say that it's pretty awful. But I can't tell if it's the writer or what's being written. It's one non stop fight and gorefest with unlikeable characters, but very occasionally Wallace remembers that he's allowed to do characterisation, and then it improves for a panel or two. I think he might be better on a solo title than a team book, especially if it's not editorially mandated. Though I've no interest in Mister Terrific, so I won't be reading it to find out.

    Krul's Green Arrow is dull more than anything, but it's a hopeless mess because of all the Brightest Day interference. Left alone, I'd expect it to at least come up to the workmanlike level of his Titans.

    And I like Jurgens in general, but would rather have him on a Booster solo book or more Time Masters (neither of which we're likely to get if he's been assigned Booster-in-JLI). I think he works best with a small core cast of characters that he cares about rather than a team book. He will take Booster seriously though, which is a plus.

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  9. What have DC comics gotten to when the deciding factor for me sticking around to read them is: How much will the digital editions cost? Little enough that my budget won't notice them?

    I just can't get into these comics as presented (albeit in abbreviated form). Dark, dark, dark. Squabbling instead of plots. And though I do mourn the loss of the great and worshipful Mr. T's cool jacket (he might get cold and have it reserve), I do note that at least he's baring some skin, unlike many of his male cohorts. I do see some male arm pulchritude being shown in some of the new outfits. Is this DC's way to balance their "women wear pants" rule? Oooh, man arms. Drool. >8^(

    When the heck is Flash going to start to wear runner's shorts? Now, that would be a more modern concept than head-to-soles spandex!

    I'd like Mr. T a lot more if they weren't always throwing the "3rd smartest" bit around. Just how was this determined? And the smarts occur in which area in order to be important enough to count? As Marge Simpson says: "Hmmmm..."

    Wonder Woman. Oh god, just kill her off already. I hate having a character named "Wonder Woman" on the stands who bears no thematic, characteristic, or graphic relation to the real, wonderful Wondie. Don't degrade the name with this. Please. I'm begging you, DC. Why, she doesn't even have a speck of her iconic gold in that outfit!

    My bets are on that JLI chick being Donna Troy. She's had a couple bouts of uncharacteristically terrible fashion sense in her long history, and this could be one of those eras. Hope they haven't slapped a gods-awful code name on her. Hope she's still Di's kid sis.

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  10. Ew. None of these seem interesting to me. I went from being a naysayer, to thinking about all of the possibilities and exciting new creative teams, then looking at the creative teams and deciding that we now have a whole bunch of good jumping-off points.

    Oh well, in three days I've changed my mind twice already. Who knows what the other 4/5 of the creative teams hold? Let's hope they didn't start off with the strongest and are working their way down.

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  11. I'm pretty "blah" on all the new books...although I'm glad that Mr. T ditched that terrible jacket. Hawkman's wearing way too much and I kinda like Aquaman with an edge. He HAS been underused for a very...very long time.

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  12. Briefly: I am surprised at the creative teams chosen on this much hyped relaunch, I don't rate Eric Wallace or JT Krull at all for example yet they seem to be very popular in the DC offices. I do think the whole project of launching 52 new books is one of the crassest marketing moves I've seen in comics as we all know the market just can't support it. This whole relaunch seems to be designed to get the digital outlet up and running and attract the biggest possible subscription as a result and I do hope it works - comics need to evolve with the times and digital downloads is a key area they simply have to crack.

    My thoughts on some of these books:

    Hawkman - Was really looking forward to this as James Robinson was writing and this is a character well suited to his style, no idea what happened there sadly but this new team and approach leaves me stonecold. Shame as I do like Hawkman a lot.

    Firestorm - huge fan of this character and will be there for this. Looks great.

    Captain Atom - Been wanting DC to take him to heart and give a serious revamp of Atom for years but this looks like a total waste of time.

    Mr Terrific, Deadman, Green Arrow, JLI - I just don't care. These aren't characters who are easy to make work in a solo book and when you get 'Meh' writers like Eric Wallace and JT Krull onboard there's nothing there to attract me at all.

    The Flash - I really like Manapuls work and this is almost tempting, the problem is Barry Allen has not been at all interesting since his return, it's hard to pin down what's wrong about the character but he seems stuck in a rut doing the same things he did and the same villains he did it with.
    He needs a stronger characterisation but I'm not sure if that's actually possible without a total personality transplant. I'll probobly give this a miss.

    Aquaman - I'll be getting this. I really enjoyed the feel of Aquaman since Blackest Night/Brightest Day and Ivan Reiss can sell me on just about any character.
    There's a dynamic Geoff Johns has given him and Mera that is quite compelling and it's good to have a strong hero couple in comics who are frontline players. Could well be a real treat this book.

    Wonder Woman - Like the Flash this book lost me. Poor characterisation with a rambling plot and I don't see that improving here. while I do like the character a lot she is rarely handled very well it has to be said. Like you I am dubious about Azzarello's work, his Doc Savage recently was one of the the most incomprehensible works I've seen in a comic and I'll be passing on this unfortunatly. I don't pander to books that don't look like worthwhile reads anymore, times are far too tight these days and publishers far too event driven to maintain this particular readers loyalty.
    Most of these books look pretty substandard to me.

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  13. I strongly agree with Carol about "Wonder Woman." I put the name in quotes, not because it's the title of the book, but rather because that is NOT Wonder Woman. Compare the first-issue cover of the 1987 Post-Crisis reboot to that thing above. What a difference! That 1987 cover is iconic and beautiful. The cover above makes me sad. A bloody sword? A hail of arrows? That costume?? How is that cover going to pull in new readers, aside from the fact that it will have a huge #1 plastered on it? Yes, Wonder Woman is an Amazon warrior, but she's also so much more than that. When someone at DC finally figures this out, perhaps then sales will increase.

    A lot of these covers are so grim and scowly. It looks like business as usual. Sigh. The "grim and gritty" days of the 90s appear to be back. Good luck getting kids to buy this stuff.

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  14. Timbotron, I suspect you're right about Captain Atom. I'd like to see Cary Bates, who wrote his Eighties book, rather excellently, back. Cary's Superman: Last Family of Krypton was wonderful.

    So Patty, do you reckon that within a year or so Aquaman will star in some long 'min-event'? All the heroes of the DCnU turn into fishes, whom Mera was once sent to kill?

    ch, if it IS Gypsy I hope they improve on that new costume ... it's characterless. Bring back the dirndl!

    Take back that pass, Rob. we're talking Deathstroke's eeeevil Titans, no one's done that previously. I hope Firestorm isn't a take on The Defiant Ones, I've had enough of those kids arguing.

    Jules, thanks for making me feel better about not even trying Eric Wallace's Titans. I hope their victim, Ryan Choi, will return as the All-New Atom. He was a great character.

    Carol, has that story about DC heroines all wearing long trousers been confirmed, because the idea is ridiculous? Surely DC can't believe that the only choices are skimpy costumes or all-covered. Shall we start sewing a star-spangled burka? If real-life sporting stars can wear shorts and small skirts and not scare the horses, why can't comic heroines? And I'm all for male heroes wearing shorts/sports-style gear too (that hussy Mr Terrific, bearing his arms - mind, I expect they're the third-best arms in the world).

    I wonder if Marvel would like to buy Wonder Woman?

    Jeff, that's a scary thought.

    You don't like the jacket, Christian? As for Hawkman, everything about that look is wrong.

    Cheers for the round-up, Dave, Wonder Woman's the book I'm most worried about (see previous ramble), and Flash, due to Manapul's previous less-than-stellar rate of delivery on the last run.

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  15. Anon, I could not agree more with the sentiment. It really does look as if Wonder Woman is no longer being published.

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  16. I still have no idea whether this is a reboot of the characters & line or a revamp. Wonder Woman, Superman and maybe Batman are appearing to get total reboots for sure but the information is contradictory from DC. I take the view that if you're going to do a proper job it has to be a reboot of every single book, all continuity and history restarted with the first issues being the origin story of the character, that's what Crises' and the last twenty odd years has taught us I would have thought as the problems created by rebooting just select characters and leaving others alone is just too great a hurdle to deal with longterm.
    If you want to get existing readers like me onboard wholeheartedly go for the crossline reboot, because as it is I'm seeing this as just another marketing gimmick that will run out of puff after the first six months or so and sales figures stabilise and begin to trend.

    This afternoon I made my regular trip to the comicshop and it hit me hard - why am I buying these DC books in my 'reserve' folder when DC are giving it the metaphorical two fingers?
    I can see a very real danger of disillusioned Readers flocking over to Marvel or even the independents where at least they know there is consistency and a longterm stability of the characters and books. I'm not rubbishing the revamp, there's some very good stuff in there indeed on a surface level, but it's fair to be cautious as DC are treading on potentially suicidal territory with this strategy....

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  17. @Dave... I echo your concerns in your last paragraph. Although I lean toward keeping continuity in the periphery and not letting it be the forefront of every single story, I do get the pangs of 'why bother.' It's strange to have poured cash into a business and have them say 'This is what we're doing. Deal with it.' When have gimmicks stuck? What's more treasured between a gimmick and solid, entertaining, all-ages (read: not 'kids' but 'all-ages') storytelling? A nod to the past, a charge to the future? Nope. Give 'em armor and gritted teeth. Give 'em pants but lower the tops. Get further away from the concepts that made the characters viable in the first place. Jaded readership? Maybe the books will be great! The announcements have been off-putting. That's where DC gets a bit of a failing mark from me.

    @Mart: I'm holding fast to Gypsy as my bet. The costume is similar to the Justice League Task Force outfit she wore. Yes, I read that book. Don't tell.
    craig

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  18. What do I think? Is screaming allowed?
    Hate this 'new look' Wonder Woman, tho no doubt some fans will give us the old wait-and-see where shes concerned. How many times have we heard that about WW? Just the cover alone tells us a lot...awful costume [the pants aernt bad, make the stars white though] , wielding a Zena-like sword [sigh] and having silver accoutrements insyead of gold.
    Meh.
    I will continue to buy WW because I adore her but this isnt her, hasnt been her since 600. And the news yesterday that JMS was told his Oddysey tale was nothing more than a filler because this Flashpoint reboot was secretly planned two years ago...!!! Words fail me, and its rare that happens.
    I think its obvious now...DC wants to kill off Wonder Woman.

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