Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DC Relaunch - Final Week! - Teen Titans, Aquaman, Green Lantern New Guardians, Flash, and Justice League Dark

It's the final week of the bold experiment undertaken by DC Comics to relaunch an entire comics universe, and I've got another five #1's to round out the month with. It's been a great ride this month, and I hope to have one more post by the end of this week to discuss all the new #1's I picked up and what I plan on sticking with to see through #2. Reviews can be found over at iFanboy as always.

Teen Titans #1

I wasn't originally going to pick this up. Then came Superboy, and I knew that even though the art really turned me off, I'd have to see where Teen Titans (TT) would lead me. I've wanted to like TT for a long time. I love the concept, and can't really get enough teen books in my life. I passed on Red Hood and the Outlaws last week (also written by Scott Lobdell) since I don't care about any of those characters, but the combination of Superboy's quality combined with really liking Tim Drake - Red Robin as a character meant I was willing to give this a chance.

So that's the long sordid history of my relationship with the book building up to its release. This being the first book I read this week, I'm starting to realize that #1 fatigue is finally setting in for me. I love team books, I love covert/conspiracy books, and I really like teen superheroes, and all of that still didn't save me from starting to realize that I'm actually starting to get sick of reading the very beginning of a story. I don't think I would have noticed this as much if TT wasn't just incredibly mediocre and quick to read, but it just wasn't that great.

I still haven't warmed up to Brett Booth's decidedly 90's Image-influenced style. Everyone's bulging with muscles and the style, rather than doing something interesting with Jim Lee's redesign of the costumes, seems to enhance all the bad parts of the redesigns. I will say this about the art though. There are moments where Booth really nails a character's facial expression that were refreshing. I also enjoyed his rendition of Superboy's costume almost as much as R.B. Silva's from Superboy #1. The black and red capeless design is really badass and menacing. I have no idea why the cover shows pretty much the worst Superboy design ever, because I don't think it's going to show up anywhere in the new version of the DC Universe.

The story felt slight in a way that wasn't still satisfying. What I mean is that with Supergirl #1 last week, it was an incredibly quick read, but it felt like a very tantalizing tease. I wanted to know more about the main character and how she would interact with the world. In TT #1, we get a faceless clandestine group messing with teen heroes named "N.O.W.H.E.R.E." that, in a post-Nextwave world feels like a parody of itself. I don't care about N.O.W.H.E.R.E. even A.L.I.T.T.L.E. The group is so generic, and I feel like Lobdell missed the boat on throwing us a bone or any hook at all that would make me care about this story line. Alas, we got nothing, and that's kind of how I feel about the book overall - just a whole lotta nothing.

Story - 2 out of 5 stars
Art - 2 out of 5 stars

Aquaman #1

Another book I wasn't going to buy but needed to get once I saw the preview for! Damn previews! I'm pretty neutral on Geoff Johns. I've liked a lot of his stuff, but it can get a bit over-done and really lose track of the characters. It's tough to balance character pieces with epic cosmic wars and all that good stuff, so I wasn't really sure at all what I'd be walking into with Aquaman #1. I have no history with the character outside of the Justice League (so exactly like what I had with Wonder Woman actually). I picked it up on a lark, and man am I happy I did.

Johns nailed Aquaman's character and in only a few pages made me care about the guy. I love the look of the new suit and Arthur's facial expressions throughout. Ivan Reis just killed on this book better than anything I've seen him do in Green Lantern. Arthur ranges from bemused to confused to irritated, and each time it combines with Johns' tight script and story to really bring out the pathos of Aquaman. That's right, I said Aquaman's got pathos, and how! I never knew Aquaman's real origin, but what we get here in #1 intrigues me, and I can't wait to see more of Arthur interacting with both the Atlanteans and surface world and never truly fitting in either.

I'm really excited to see where the story line goes. It's extremely simple and straight forward, but the story doesn't matter as much as seeing what Johns does with the character. One thing I've learned this month is how wildly different I can react to different works by the same writer. Justice League bored me and felt stiff and hokey. On the other hand, Aquaman feels like an extremely modern while also timeless version of the character. Sure we get references to blogging and youtube (there must be some kind of directive from DC editorial to mention at least one of these things - or Twitter - in each #1), but it's unobtrusive and at worst just a tiny bit distracting. Aquaman's a fantastic character piece that has me really excited to read Flash #1!

Story - 5 out of 5 stars
Art - 4 out of 5 stars

Green Lantern New Guardians #1

Kyle Rayner of Earth, you have been chosen.

Yay! I love me some Kyle Rayner. He's my Green Lantern through and through. Being a kid of the 90's, I loved the crab-faced Lantern, and honestly he's what made GL my favorite superhero family of the DC universe. When I saw he was essentially getting his own book, I was really excited, and although I plan on buying Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. on a delayed basis to get the dollar-off digital deal, I wanted to try some GL right away, so New Guardians was a no brainer.

New Guardians #1 is definitely a team building book. I love the concept right from the get-go that there's going to be a Captain Planet-ish team in the DC universe made up of all the different colored lanterns. This is the first thing I've read from writer Tony Bedard, so I had no idea what to expect. I will say that the story isn't completely ground-breaking, but I do love the twist Bedard puts on the traditional team building issue. The final two pages, a double-page gorgeously-colored (by colorist Nei Ruffino) made me smile from ear to ear and really excited to see what will come with #2.

Granted, I don't know what New Guardians will actually be about. There is a central conflict to the book (revealed by that final two-page spread I mentioned), but beyond that, and the why beyond that are totally left out. I'm actually ok with this though. I'm eager to learn more about the six other lanterns-of-various-colors that make up the rest of the team to compliment Kyle. I'm just overall eager for this book because he's such a different Lantern from the other three Earthmen Lanterns (hey, how come there aren't any female earth-born Green Lanterns?), and it's about time he got the spotlight in his own book once again. (here's hoping all the covers are on white backgrounds - such a good look for this rainbowy team)

Story: 4 out of 4 stars
Art: 4 out of 4 stars

The Flash #1

The Flash #1 is full of really cool art. I knew this coming into it, but much like Batwoman #1, I wasn't sure we were going to get a good story to go with it. I liked the short-lived Flash relaunch with Johns and Manapul quite a bit, but got nervous when I saw that Manapul would be taking over writing responsibilities for the new series. My fears are mostly put to rest as we get a very fast-paced look at the new status quo for Barry Allen. Much like his new costume, it's both familiar with some new details that make him pop off the page.

The Flash is a great science fiction character. His powers and theme come right out of the time when sci-fi was all the rage in comics. There's so much room to play around with the mechanics of his powers and how it affects reality around him. It doesn't have to always make sense, but it does have to always be fun and something new. With this first issue, Manapul shows that he has what it takes to keep our hero firmly tied to his science fiction roots.

Much like with many of the books, I've really started to sit up and take notice of colorists for the relaunch. Sometimes they tell a crucial little part of the story like in Batwoman and sometimes they give a unique flavor to the story and art that just black and white or an average colorist would otherwise not have delivered, such as in Wonder Woman. With The Flash, colorist Brian Buccellato delivers with some incredibly rich crimsons and lightning yellows for the superhero action and offers a much more muted, quiet color pallet for the rest of Barry's civilian life. It's the contrast that makes Flash seem like he's almost too fast for the page as he runs between panels. The whole book feels like it's full of motion and action, and it all sings under Manapul's impressive writing debut.

Story: 4 out of 5 stars
Art: 5 out of 5 stars

Justice League Dark #1

Mikel Janin needs to draw all of the books with magic in them. I just want a big old Lord of the Rings and every Lovecraft story ever told adaptation with Janin's art (colored by Ulises Arreola). So much is done so right in this book, I don't know where to start. First is the team. Every single member of the team seems to bring something unique and cool to the mystic version of the Justice League. Zatanna specifically impressed me with how she handles her scene, and I love the basic redesign of her look. John Constantine, while just making a very little appearance in the book makes me want to go just read pages and pages of Hellblazer. Shade The Changing Man I know nothing about and yet want to get inside his extremely messed up head.

JLD does a lot of things right, but the best part is how writer Peter Milligan sets the stakes right away and shows just how terrifying a Justice League - level mystic threat should be. This is the stuff of nightmares, and Superman's bright red and blue can't really do anything to stand up to it. It almost feels like a combination of Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman. How much more do I have to sell you on the book? This is a short review, but that's because I don't want to give anything away. I love horror, I love urban fantasy, and the combination just works so well together. Can't wait to get to the status quo of what this team is going to look like from month to month.

Story: 5 out of 5 stars
Art: 5 out of 5 stars


  1. I read Johns' JL #1 and thought it was the just about the worst approach to a Justice League launch possible.

    Then, I read Aquaman, which was just about as letter-perfect a #1 you could ask for.

    The man confuses me.

  2. You are not alone friend. Aquaman was leagues ahead of JL #1 (see what I did there?).


Noble Knight Games

Wanna support The Hopeless Gamer? Shop at Noble Knight Games via the banner below!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...