Week 1 of DC’s New 52 reboot is behind us, and from my perspective, things are going remarkably well. Of the 14 books DC put out in Week 1, more than half of them were very good, and only two were so bad I’d recommend against them.
Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’s Action Comics #1 gets my vote for the Book of the Week. It’s also the most audacious in that it shows us a Superman we haven’t really seen before, with a new vulnerability and a youthful enthusiasm. I’m not sure Superman has ever seemed as fresh in the whole of the Modern Age of comics, which is quite a trick in 22 pages. It’s also the perfect way to launch the New 52 reboot, and would have been a much better choice for the launch title and “flagship” than the plodding Justice League #1.
I’d rank Animal Man #1 as the Most Interesting book of the week. With surprising, extremely creative art and a creepy story, this comic uses the medium of sequential storytelling better than any other this week thanks to the efforts of Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman. If part of the idea of a reboot is to blaze some new trails, the fires of Animal Man grow brightest these days, and the path ahead looks exciting as hell.
I’m sorry to say that Hawk & Dove #1 gets my vote for Most Disappointing comic of Week 1. I was rooting for underdog Rob Liefeld to step up to the plate and prove his critics wrong. Surprisingly, Liefeld handled himself mostly competently, but was crippled by an awful script from Sterling Gates that plunges like a crashing airplane from the heights of a great opening scene to an awful conclusion. I suspect it won’t be with us long.
Lastly, Action Comics #1 also gets my vote for Best Reboot, which is to say the comic that took the best advantage of the fresh start to hook readers into an interesting take on the character. Morrison’s Superman bristles with movement, action, and interest, presenting readers with what many must have thought impossible: A genuinely exciting new take on the Man of Steel that manages to stay true to the character and that brings a new freshness to one of comics’ oldest properties.
Because I have no intention of reading 52 comics every single month and because it’s frankly very time consuming to write reviews of 13 comics every week, I’m going to start cutting books from my read and review list starting next month. Even though I am almost certain that books like Hawk & Dove and Green Arrow will not be able to claw their way into my good graces with a single issue, I think it’s only fair to give them all more than a single chance. By this standard, it’s remarkable how many Week 1 titles turned out to be keepers. I was expecting to be a lot more close-minded about this stuff than I turned out to be.
My seven-year exile from regular comics reading made me not care so much about the changes to continuity. When the changes worked, I embraced them. Where they weren’t even attempted (Detective), I ended up feeling disappointed. Every single one of these comics had a chance to hook me, and more succeeded than I would have guessed had you asked me a week and a half ago.
And that’s the best take-away for me so far. I’m really enjoying reading weekly comics again. I find that they provide a quick bit of joy that I didn’t even know I’ve been missing all these years. And yet, by the end of the second comic I read this week (Action #1), I knew I was going to be hooked for several months, if not years, to come.
I’m back, comic books. I’ve missed the hell out of you.
No culling until next week, but here’s where the Week 1 New 52 titles rank in terms of safety on my pull list:
I’ve decided to give every series two issues to try to win me over, which means that the first executions will take place roughly a month from now.
Judging from my first read-throughs of Week 2’s offerings, it’s going to be a bloody October!