New 52 Week One Predictions: How’d I Do?

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Last Wednesday, in recognition of the first full week of DC Comics’ New 52 promotion, I recommended the six five new DC titles that I thought were most likely to be worthy of your attention and your money sight unseen. Now that we’ve had a week to digest them, the question is how did I do? Undoubtably I think it’s safe to characterize the week as a monster success for DC at least in terms of PR: tons of sellouts, reprints and series being ordered in the six figures.  Overall, I can honestly say the quality of the actual product was stronger than I was expecting. I personally recommended the following series in order of expected quality: Swamp Thing, Action Comics, Animal Man, Batgirl and Stormwatch (and Hawk and Dove). So how were they in reality?

Swamp Thing #1 was a decent introduction to the new DCU version of Alec Holland. For years the plant elemental Swamp Thing mistakenly believed himself to be the deceased Holland. Here we are introduced to a resurrected Alec Holland who has the memories of spending time as the plant elemental Swamp Thing despite having been dead all those years. This new status quo is an interesting way of turning things on its head and made for an interesting first issue. I could have lived without the Superman cameo since he just seemed to show up to let readers know that Brightest Day was still in continuity. It just feels like DC is really hitting us over the head with the idea that Swamp Thing is back in the DC Universe by pairing him with Batman and Superman. Overall, however, this was a strong first issue, just not the strongest book of the week as I had anticipated.

Action Comics #1 was the biggest disappointment of the week. I did enjoy the way this reimaging of Superman’s early years pays tribute to his earliest appearances. I also strongly believe that considering Grant Morrison’s strong love of superheroes that this version of Superman decked out in a t-shirt, jeans, combat boots and a cape for a costume is really on some level a parody of DC’s larger decision to redesign their characters to feel more “real world” and to play down much of the traditional superhero flair. Overall though, I just think the book was a victim of the high expectations that surrounded it. Hopefully coming issues will help this title grow into something special. I certainly would never bet against Morrison.

Animal Man #1 was the book of the week. I had characterized Jeff Lemire as seeming “to be on the cusp of being DC’s next great writer.” Two or three more issues like this one and he’ll have eliminated any doubt. I can’t recommend this title highly enough and now I cannot wait for Lemire’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. series to launch.

Batgirl #1 was not “the best thing” Gail Simone has ever written, but it was an interesting first issue. We meet this new version of Barbara Gordon – someone who has recently physically recovered enough from her paralysis to resume her career as a superheroine. Though questions remain as to whether she’s mentally up to the task of fighting crime. The issue pretty much ignores Gordon’s time as Oracle nor does it address how she recovered from her injuries. Those are pretty major issues to leave unaddressed as far as I’m concerned. If not for the baggage that comes along with DC’s decision to restore Oracle’s ability to walk, I’d probably review this title fairly positively. It definitely introduces what looks to be a great new villain.

Stormwatch #1 wasn’t nearly as good or intriguing as I wanted it to be. The issue featured members of Stormwatch trying to recruit the Superman-like Apollo to join their team and seems to feature the first meeting of Apollo and the Midnighter, who were traditionally a couple in the old Wildstorm continuity. The most intriguing moment of this book seems to suggest that writer Paul Cornell’s other New 52 title Demon Knights, which is set in the middle ages, may detail the founding of the original Stormwatch.

Hawk and Dove #1 was exactly what I expected it to be.

So overall, I think two of the five titles (Swamp Thing and Animal Man) bordered somewhere between very good and great. Action Comics and Batgirl were both good reads with Stormwatch not quite managing to reach those heights. With the benefit of having now read a few other New 52 titles, I’d also recommend Men of War, which follows the origins of a next generation Sgt. Rock. I also enjoyed Justice League International, which shows the formation of that team… for the first time. This is a really odd decision seeing as how beloved the original Justice League International series from the late 1980s is and that the characters just starred in last year’s bi-weekly Justice League: Generation Lost series. The tone of this first issue of JLI is like anything but the original series’ “superheroes as a sitcom” feel, so I’m not sure who the target audience is for this book. Having said all that, I still liked the first issue which I didn’t expect… AT ALL.

As for Detective Comics, maybe we’ll get around to discussing that one at a later date.

Anyway, hopefully you’re also enjoying the New 52 as much as I am so far.

Read more about DC Comics’ “New 52″ on MyLatestDistraction
and keep up with each week’s picks for September:

Week One / Week Two


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