Posted by: erikmona | September 16, 2011

NEW 52 WEEK 1 SUMMARY

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.

STATUS SUMMARY
No culling until next week, but here’s where the Week 1 New 52 titles rank in terms of safety on my pull list:

SAFE
Action Comics
Animal Man
Batgirl
Justice League
Men of War
OMAC
Stormwatch
Swamp Thing

WE’LL SEE
Batwing
Detective Comics
Justice League International
Static Shock

ON THE BUBBLE
Green Arrow
Hawk & Dove

DROPPED
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!

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Responses

  1. Here’s Heather’s & mine assessments so far:

    KEEP BUYING:
    Action Comics
    Animal Man
    Batgirl
    Justice League
    Swamp Thing
    Batwing
    Detective Comics

    MAYBE:
    OMAC (i’m leaning towards buying – love the art)

    DROPPING:
    Men of War
    Green Arrow
    Hawk & Dove
    Stormwatch
    Justice League International

    -Jefferson

  2. All of your keeps are reasonable. I’d suggest giving Stormwatch a couple more weeks based on the series previous greatness. There’s an interesting tie-in with this week’s Demon Knights that suggests that Medieval team is actually an incarnation of Stormwatch, and both titles are written by the same guy.

    I’m giving OMAC at least one more shot. Both it and Stormwatch benefited from my second read-through. I tend to read the books on Wednesday and make snap judgments, then read more deliberately before I write out my reviews.

    In some cases (Hawk & Dove) that’s not been helpful to the comic, but other titles have benefited from it.

  3. I am going to give them two issues each as well, but here’s my list so far:

    KEEP BUYING FOR SURE:
    Action Comics
    Animal Man
    Batgirl
    Detective Comics
    Justice League
    Stormwatch
    Swamp Thing

    PROBABLY STAY WITH:
    Batwing
    Green Arrow
    Justice League International

    SAD BUBBLE:
    Men of War
    OMAC

    STILL NOT SURE:
    Hawk & Dove
    Static Shock

    I didn’t have the same reaction to Hawk & Dove that you had, but the lead really did act like a douche and there seemed to be continuity problems in the single issue (like, how long has Dove been with him? Why is he projecting his sadness about losing his brother on the new Dove. And the Origin Story (I want power reeeeeeallllly bad)?

    I liked OMAC and Men of War more that it may show in my listing above, but I can’t afford to buy 52 comics a month, so I need to build my “Sad Bubble” list of titles that may be good, but have to go on the chopping block for financial reasons only.

    Static Shock art kinda bugged me and took away from the story, but I am going to read it again today and see if it can grab me.

    I am already liking a lot of the Week 2 titles, so my Sad Bubble may grow even more…

    Quick question and a side note:

    I must be a bit confused about this reboot, because I was under the impression that there can’t be any continuity problems because everything before didn’t exist unless it is mentioned in the new issues (and even then, the story maybe slightly different). Are these true reboots where all that came before is irrelevant? Or are these soft reboots and some canon may still be in place?

    And what’s with the cloaked lady in the red aura that appears in every issue like a quiet observer?

  4. From my read of the first 27 titles, this is very definitely a SOFT reboot. Here are some things from previous continuity that are still in place:

    • Crisis on Infinite Earths
    • The Death of Superman Arc
    • Batman: The Killing Joke (Joker shoots Barbara Gordon)
    • Legion of Superheroes visiting young Superman (probably)
    • Multiple incarnations of the Suicide Squad featuring Deadshot
    • All of the various Robins, including the new one, who is Batman’s son
    • Dove and Deadman’s relationship from Flashpoint
    • Martian Manhunter in the JLA (even though he’s not in the current title)

    I think this is sort of a “Hypertime” reboot. Basically some characters keep their precious, precious backstory, while others are finding their new way. Things are going to be a little loosey goosey before the dust settles and we end up with a “new” continuity.

  5. That’s a little disappointing to me, but if I can survive the softness and still understand the loosey goosey as a newbie, I am cool with it.

  6. I’ve enjoyed these reviews, Erik.
    While I have never entirely stopped picking up comics, my purchasing has dwindled to the point where I now buy less in a month than I used to most weeks: Fables, Powers, the Avengers titles… that’s pretty much it. I don’t think that I’ve bought a DC super-hero book in about 3 years.
    I never got into the Wildstorm/Image scene, tho I did enjoy Planetary, and Alan Moore’s take on Supreme.
    Almost 20 years ago, I was very much into the books which became the Vertigo imprint: Moore’s Swamp Thing, Gaiman’s Sandman & Black Orchid, Morrison’s Animal Man, Shade, & Doom Patrol, and Ennis’ Hellblazer. When Vertigo launched, I remember being somewhat disappointed with the deliberate severing of ties with the core DC universe. Not only did all of the characters have their roots in that continuity, but so did significant stories in many of the books’ heyday.
    So the re-integration of characters like Swamp Thing and Animal Man comes as very welcome news to me.

    Your reviews have convinced me to not only pick up a few of these issues, but to get Animal Man, Action Comics, and Batwoman added to my “file”.
    I look forward to your next batch.

    (BTW, my comic-reading memories go back just a little farther than that, to paying a quarter for the “All-New, All Different” X-men #94. And even beyond that, to reading Lee/Kirby issues of the same title)


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