September is coming to a close, and with it, this last Wednesday was the last new comic day of September. Where August was a great month for brand new series, September has really taken a step back and let DC Comics have their way with “zero month.” If you’re unfamiliar, Zero Month marks a year since DC Comics launched The New 52, their reboot of all of their comic franchises. So instead of moving on to #13 issues of all of their titles they decided to celebrate the New 52 anniversary with #0 issues, origin stories, history lessons, links to new story arcs coming in the #13 issues. Their vision has been broad, and so not many new series have started up. Zero Month has been met with mixed emotions from readers, but if you ask me, it has been a success. And with Marvel NOW! launching in October, the controversy continues. Whatever your stance, there are some really good, and not so good comics in DC’s Zero Month.
A quick rundown of a few #0 issues thus far:
Wonder Woman #0
Of the entire New 52 lineup, Wonder Woman has been one of the most captivating. All things considered, Wonder Woman is among the top three characters in the DC universe, and she deserves it. This zero issue is not like the others, though. What it is, though, is an homage to Wonder Woman comics long since passed. The story is actually a beautiful retelling of a comic Wonder Woman appeared in called All-Girl Adventure Tales for Men #41. It reads and flows like an old comic book, but it’s not a rip off of one. It follows her as she grows up, proving her worth against all odds, with the aid of a Greek god! My only concern with this issue as a jumping on point is that it does not follow the current story line. But nonetheless this issue does present Wonder Woman in a way that is sure to delight anyone. I don’t mean to say the main series is not good, this issue is just a bit different than the rest. It is a good issue to test out, so I give it a thumbs up for new readers.
Parental concern: Low. Violence.
Although I did not enjoy this comic very much at all, I can say is it is a great place for new readers to find out about the origins of Supergirl. It takes place on Krypton, before it’s destruction. In the end we get to see how Kara came to earth. For that purpose alone this issue was a score. But as a comic book in general the quality that Supergirl deserves was not there. The writers gave Kara no personality, not even any real time in the spotlight. She seems passed of as a stupid teenage girl when she should be given the character she deserves, someone we would want to read about. The story has been told before. It leaves no urgency to continue reading the series because it didn’t tie in with the current story line. The art was a huge let down, with anatomic inaccuracies and terrible facial recognition. I can only recommend this comic to new readers as source material for Supergirl. Beyond that, this zero issue was a huge let down.
Parental concern: Low. Violence.
Batwoman, not to be confused with Batgirl, is a fantastic series that is a little more grown up than the rest of the Bat-titles. Not to say the other Bat-titles are silly or only for young children, mind you. What I mean is the art and subject matter carry a very mature air about them. The art is abstract yet cohesive, and beautifully drawn. And in this issue, like the rest of the series, Batwoman is written as a very appealing real human-being. This zero issue does exactly what it should; it takes us through Kate Kane’s life from a young girl who recently lost her mother and sister, through to her becoming Batwoman. It’s a beautiful comic that you should not miss out on. I can say that, being a narrative based comic that covers a lot of ground, it almost comes of as a bit wordy. But it is wonderfully crafted from beginning to end. For me, Batwoman #0 is a must read for any Bat-fan!
Parental concern: High. Blood, Gore, Violence, Sexuality.
Batman Incorporated #0
Batman Incorporated is not your average Batman title. The art and story telling are much more “artistic”. I say that in the sense of artsy movies with plot lines that leave you wondering the whole movie and then bring it together in the end for you to figure out. It is a great series, but as for being for new readers it is a very confusing book. If there’s one bane of new readers it’s continuity in an ongoing series. Batman Incorporated since #1 has been very reliant on continuity, but continuity that also doesn’t make a lot of sense put up against the regular Batman title. With that being said, this zero issue was an adventure. It finally introduced us to the other members of Batman Incorporated, Batman’s international team of crime-fighters. It also gave us hints as to the origin of Bruce’s main nemesis in the series, Leviathan. It is a great story with a totally different take on Batman and his friends. The art work in this issue was much different than the rest of the series. I’m not even sure how to explain it other than abstract. If anything you at least need to go to your comic shop and flip through it quickly to see what I mean.
Parental concern: Moderate. Violence.
Talon is a brand new series from DC comics, and this zero issue is more of a beginning than an explanation. But without a bit of the back story from the Batman series #1 through #11, a lot of the details will be a loss to you. Fortunately they wrote the main character as one of many Talons, rather than the one exclusive one from the Court of the Owls story in Batman. What that did was allow for a fresh start. But is this comic worth checking out? If you’re a hardcore Batman fan and have followed the series from #1, then by all means this is another series to add to your stash. As for it being a good comic to just pick up and read out of the blue, maybe not so much. It is a good story of Houdini style escapes, brutal murders, and an emotional journey. But it may fail to make a connection with anyone other than Batman fans.
Parental concern: Moderate. Blood, violence.
Aquaman has not had an easy go at the market in his time. He has been the brunt of many jokes. Jokes about his powers and how “lame” they are. But what The New 52 has done for Aquaman has painting him exactly how he should be: A Badass. He is the king of Atlantis, he does control the sea and sea creatures, and he does have super human strength. He is an extraordinary character who is as brave as he is fishy. This zero issue takes us back before he knew where he was from. Before his father died and before he knew who he was. It’s a great story that has purpose and is compelling and investing. If you were to ask me to suggest one character from DC comics other than a Bat character or a Super character, I would suggest Aquaman. He is great for new readers and this issue has made his series even more accessible for everyone.
Parental concern: Moderate. Violence.
Fashion Beast #1 Published by Avatar Press
As you can probably tell by the title, Fashion Beast possibly a new take on Beauty and the Beast. As for how it’s going to be related, this issue did not let on very well. What it did do was set the scene for a hustle and bustle city centered around a textile factory, inhabited by strange fashion obsessed people. The story seems to be focusing on a young cross-dresser who works at the coat check of the textile factory’s fashion show. Many of the city folk come to try out to be on the runway, and “she” knows them all. The story takes a strange turn at the end, involving another young woman who is very intrigued by the young cross-dressing man.
The story, written by Alan Moore, the famous writer of the Watchmen series, is very well crafted. All of the elements of a good story are there. He has written the characters with purpose, we want to get to know them because it’s obvious they are interesting people. What the story didn’t do was cover very much ground. Maybe a good strategy to lure readers in. I know I will be sticking with the series to find out what happens. As for suggesting it based on your interests, I don’t have very much to compare it to. It’s an interesting read for anyone, in my opinion. It’s worth picking up at least to cut your teeth on.
Parental concern: High. Sexuality, language.
New story arcs in ongoing series
Fables #121 marked the end of the current eight part story arc, Cubs in Toyland. #122 should be an excellent place to start reading this fantasy series.
Fairest #7 was a very good start to a new story arc. It features a new creative team and a whole new direction for the series. A solid comic from an already great series.
Avengers vs. X-men #11 marks the second last issue in the series. The only reason I mention it is because the end of AvX will usher in the beginning of Marvel NOW! Marvel’s relaunch of their franchises.
Artifacts #21 ends the three part story arc Phantoms of the Heart. Although the series draws on past issues constantly, it also provides a wonderful opener that brings you up to date. Besides all of that, the artwork is reason enough to start reading this series.
Well, that’s the end of DC’s Zero Month. It was a great success in most places, and controversial as it was a year ago. But as it passes we have much to look forward to with Marvel NOW! bringing in Uncanny Avengers and All New X-Men along with many current series reboots. Many are skeptical, but I remain entirely open minded. Marvel has always been a hard publisher to break in to as a new reader and this should clear the air for many noobs. With Zero Month being in full effect it didn’t leave me much room to explore some of the other new series that came out, such as Happy #1 from Image Comics and A Fine and Private Place from IDW Publishing. And October isn’t going to be much different with all of the Marvel excitement. Join me back here in two weeks. Man, am I glad I decided to take Comics for Noobs bi-weekly when I did! Tommy out!