Saturday, October 1, 2011

The New 52 in Review... What Comes Next?

Over the past month I've been picking up a ton of the New 52 #1 issues from DC. You can find all my review posts here: Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, and Week Five. It's the first time I've fallen into a routine of buying new comics every Wednesday, and I'm happy to say at this point that it's a very fun habit. I've also bought every single book this month digitally through Comixology. Overall I picked up 22 of the 52 #1's which is a huge amount of comics for me to buy in a single month. I'm more used to picking up a couple of trade collections every couple of months, so it was really cool having so many comics to read every week.

So with today I'm going to be giving some feedback on my experience. I want to use this opportunity almost as much for myself to reflect on the past month and how I want to proceed with comic buying as much as I just want to share my opinion with the ether. I'm going to try to rank the top 10 books I bought, identify which books I'm excited for buying #2 next month, and finally which books aren't going to see a second issue in my Comixology collection. Let's get on with it!

First off, let's take a look at the list of the 22 books I bought (at full price digitally instead of waiting a month to get a buck off) in September:

Justice League
Justice League International
Action Comics
Animal Man
Swamp Thing
Batman and Robin
Demon Knights
Birds of Prey
Wonder Woman
Teen Titans
Green Lantern: New Guardians
The Flash
Justice League Dark

Top 10

So, first I want to break down a top 10 list. There were some comics that really stood out. Whether it was because of the art team, the writing, the new take on an old favorite character, there's a lot to love in some of the new issues. This is a tough list to make up since I wanted to order them, and this'll definitely be a preview of the issues that I'll keep buying below.

1. Batman - nothing else felt like as much of an iconic reboot of a character than this book. Scott Snyder's writing was incredibly well-constructed and Greg Capullo's art captured everything I like about Batman. I can't wait to get #2.
2. Animal Man - this was an early favorite, and still throughout the month, it was the yardstick to which all other New 52 #1's would be compared. It was a chilling beginning to what will hopefully be a truly scary horror story.
3. Batwoman - Elegy, the story that really set the stage for this new on-going series, is one of my favorite bat-family stories of all time. I was nervous that artist J.H. Williams III wouldn't be able to handle writing duties as well. I was happily proven wrong!
4. Wonder Woman - another incredible story staring a kick ass female superhero! I wasn't going to go for Wonder Woman right away, but the preview art from artists Cliff Chiang was awesome, and the heavy focus on Greek myth sold me the rest of the way.
5. Superboy - this was a huge surprise, and I loved every page of it. Unfortunately, this seemed to be the exception for Scott Lobdell this month, but this is the best work of his I've read since Age of Apocalypse. Artists R.B. Silva made this book a sleeper favorite of mine of the 52.
6. Justice League International - talk about a surprise success for me! I love team books, and JLI had just a perfect mix of familiar characters and new characters to make it a great #1 issue. This book is goofy and fun, and will be bought by me every time if it keeps it up.
7. Aquaman - DC has done some amazing things with this relaunch. I've vaguely thought Aquaman was cool back in his JLA Grant Morrison days, but have never followed his solo story. I loved Johns' humanizing portrayal of Arthur Curry and can't wait to see where this little character piece takes us.
8. Justice League Dark - so I ended up liking both of the Justice League spin-offs much more than the main book. Both this and JLI were much more interesting and fresh than Justice Leauge #1. I can't wait to see where this team goes (both the creative team and the actually superheros team).
9. Supergirl - no idea where this book came from. I had at least read a couple of issues of Superboy back in the 90's, but with Supergirl, I was sold on giving her a try based 100% on the art from Mahmud Asrar, and I seem to be in the minority in loving her new costume - lack of knee pads and all. Can't wait to see where Supergirl goes in exploring her new homeworld.
10. Birds of Prey - picking number 10 for this list was really hard. There were a lot of books that almost could have made it, but ultimately I wanted to pick the 10 books that just made me excited to read comics in little short bursts like I've been doing with these single issues. BoP had crisp art and a really great one-shot story. I like the direction and the two main characters so far. You can't ask for more than that.

Can't Wait for #2!

Next up, I wanted to take a look at the list of books I bought this month that will also be bought in October rather than waiting a month to try out at a buck off. Obviously, I'll be buying #2 of each of my top 10 books from above, so I don't need to explain those comics, but I will add a bit of commentary for the extra books on this list. Bold titles are from the Top 10 list above.

Justice League International
Animal Man
Birds of Prey
Wonder Woman
Justice League Dark
Stormwatch - I love the concept behind Stormwatch and Wildstorm's twist on the Justice League concept in The Authority. I liked the first issue, but it didn't quite click exactly right. I'm really excited to see where the story is going though, so I'm giving this team book a shot.
Swamp Thing - Swampy was one that I passed on originally but went back and bought after reading some reviews. I regret nothing. The story was awesome, and Scott Snyder brought the same talent he presented in Batman to this book. It's weird, creepy, and best of all, will tie into my number 2 book of the month - Animal Man eventually.
Batman and Robin - This one's on the edge for me. I'm not sure I need two Batman books, and it definitely doesn't stack up to Batman #1, but I loved the art, the action, and am really interested in the Batman Inc. aspect of the story and even more so in the deadly villain Tomasi introduced. I'll give it a shot with #2 to see if it starts to go somewhere.
Green Lantern: New Guardians - I want to buy at least one of the Green Lantern books monthly, and Kyle's my guy. I like the straight forward story and the last two-pages splash page was exciting and just plan fun. I'm not burnt out on the rainbow league of Lanterns since I still haven't read a lot of the more recent Green Lantern books, so this one's a solid pick for #2.
The Flash - This one almost made my Top 10 list based on the art alone. I think Manapul is doing a great job transitioning to taking over the writing responsibilities, although truthfully, I'd like to see a veteran writer write with Manapul's art talents. Still, the book is gorgeous with fantastic coloring. I'll give this one a couple more issues to see if it works as a full story.

Once Was Enough

This last category are for the books that I gave a shot but just didn't care enough to look forward to #2. I only bought 22 of the 52 new #1's from DC, so by that standard, I was already very narrow on what I was willing to spend money on. Some of these books were a fun read, but either just not for me or something I'd be willing to wait and see and let others give some feedback on to see if I should go back and buy more issues digitally at the dollar-off price. Some of these I thought just weren't good at all, but since I only got 22 books, I already self-selected out of most of the books I wouldn't really care about.

Justice League - Johns missed the mark for me big time on this. This book in its current form is not for me. It's sad, since the League is my favorite superhero team by either Marvel or DC, but I'll have to wait until maybe the second arc when it fast forwards to the modern version of the team.
Batgirl - Ugh, this was one huge miss. I liked bits of it with Babs' PTSD over her spinal chord injury, but everything was very average and dare I say boring. I can't see this being one I come back to later.
Action Comics - All-Star Superman changed my expectations for comics, and Grant Morrison is directly responsible for this. I liked Action #1, but I didn't think it was worth $3.99 due to some not-so-good art in places. I like the story, and I could definitely see coming at it at a month delay saving me that extra buck and making the book priced more reasonably.
Demon Knights - I don't get the hype behind this book. Maybe it's because I wasn't impressed with the "throw a dragon at it" line since snarky fantasy is almost a cliche at this point. The characters were fine, the art was pretty good, but it didn't hook me, and I'm waiting to see what the whole first arc looks like before picking up #2.
Grifter - I loved Grifter #1. It was a really fun scatterbrained kind of story, and the main character is pretty cool. The art was pretty good too. So why am I not buying #2? It doesn't feel like it has a lot of weight to it. This is probably the best book I can give as an example that I would be happy to pay two bucks a month late for.
Nightwing - Another character I really like is Dick Grayson, and he's entirely the reason I bought Nightwing #1. I just didn't care when all was said and done. Maybe a better way to say it is that I don't need this many Batman Family books every month, and Nightwing is the one I bought that least impressed me. I probably won't be back for #2 even at $2.00.
Teen Titans - Blech! This is the one book I bought that I really regretted buying. Superboy was a huge hit for me this month, so I wanted to give Superboy writer Scott Lobdell another chance at my attention (and cash) with the Superboy tie-in of Teen Titans. The art was terrible, and the story was bland, boring, and riddled with cliches. Not good, and a book I'm giving up on until the creative team is completely swapped out.

Month Late and a Dollar Cheaper

Not wanting to end on a down note, I have one more bonus list from the month! There are some books I had a passing interest in but wasn't willing to splurge and pick up on the chance I might like it. Ever since I heard DC would bump their prices down a buck for each digital title every month when the next issue is released, I knew there would be some books I would just be happy living a month behind. Who knows, maybe eventually I'll be satisfied with all my books a month behind, but we all know that part of the fun of regularly buying comics is to be able to participate in the discussion and reaction to new issues every Wednesday. Anyway, here's a quick list of #1's I plan on buying next month when their #2 comes out and pushes the #1 down a dollar in price!

All-Star Western 
Frankenstein Agent of SHADE
Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps.
I, Vampire
Resurrection Man

Not a bad list! So, what were your experiences and/or thoughts about the New 52 now that the month is over? Overall, I have a very strong positive reaction to the relaunch. There are a ton of books that clicked really well for me. I'm both excited to see those books' #2's as well as to see what additional #1's and new series DC will be launching in the next couple of months. Even more interesting to see will be when we get the first wave of cancellations from the New 52 and which books will be cut. I'm hoping some of the smaller books in my pull list (Superboy, Supergirl, Birds of Prey, and Green Lantern New Guardians) will see long runs, but who knows? As a first time buyer of weekly single issues every Wednesday, DC has sold me on the fun and excitement of the experience, so overall I would say that they're definitely a winner in the equation.

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