Review Capsules – New 52 edition, week 4
Sep 30, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted In: Reviews

Here take a pill. It has user reviews in it. It’ll make you feel good!

Click an image for a slide show of this week’s New 52 artwork.

Let’s kick off with a review of The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1 from Andrew Volker aka reklov77.

Ronnie Raymond is good at football, but not much else. Jason Rusch is smart, but he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Jason is black, Ronnie is white. They’re both seniors at Walton Mills High. They don’t quite see eye to eye. The first time they meet they almost come to blows, but their second meeting is decidedly more explosive. You see, Jason has a secret. The late Professor Stein entrusted him with one of four “magnetic bottles” that hold the key to a revolutionary advancement in science: The Firestorm Matrix. A ruthless team of special operatives has already recovered the other 3 bottles and left a pile of corpses in their wake. Now they’re on their way to Walton Mills, and they’re not in the mood to play nice.

This is an excellent issue, and that’s almost entirely a result of the story. Yildiray Cinar’s artwork is serviceable throughout. While it never really wowed me, it also never distracted me or felt flat. But it’s the story, co-written by Gail Simone and Ethan van Sciver that really shines. It takes skill to display the brutal torture and murder of an entire family on one page and make you laugh on the next, but I admit it; I chuckled at the apple bit. The dialogue is strong and helps establish all the characters, and the attempt to address racial tensions rings a lot truer coming from a couple of teenagers than it did in books like Mr. Terrific earlier this month. This issue introduces not only a worldwide conspiracy to control the Firestorm Matrix, it sets up plenty of future conflict between two very different protagonists who must learn to work together more than either one could imagine. I would easily rank this as one of the best of the New 52.

Marty Gelidiom is up next with reviews of Teen Titans #1 and Flash #1.

Teen Titans #1 opens up with Kid Flash, wearing what is obviously a homemade costume, showing up at the scene of a bad fire that firefighters have just gotten under control. He is thinking mostly about the media attention he’ll get when he runs into the building, against the shouted protests of the firemen. His actions cause the fire, only barely under control, to re-ignite. He is then thrown unconscious from the building. News reports show an increase of teen metahumans and a lack of control over them. The scene cuts to Tim Drake, who is monitoring Kid Flash as well as other teen metas. He alludes to his time as Robin before he’s attacked by agents of N.O.W.H.E.R.E who demand he join them. Instead he jumps out the window and blows the room up. He meets up with Cassandra Sandsmark – a known thief – who is also under attack. She transforms and takes out an automated helicopter. The final scene ends basically the same way Superboy did, with an order for “The Superboy” to be released to deal with the as-yet-not-formed Teen Titans.

I’m intrigued for absolutely no reason I can identify. My biggest pet peeve is the costumes. They’re over the top and not functional, which would be fine except that they don’t look all that great either. Tim’s multi-purpose cape may as well be magic. And what exactly does Cassie’s hood attach to on her new tube top costume? Oh well, I’m not a fan of the relaunch’s costumes overall anyway. Except for Tim – who now causes millions in property damage just to make an exit – everyone seems to have gotten completely rebooted in the history and personality department. It also – since this story introduces the characters to each other – erases the previous Teen Titans run and Young Justice from existence. I’m guessing Kid Flash is supposed to be Bart Allen, but he’s got red hair and his eyes are blue for the first page, then hazel/yellow on the second. Also, Bart never cared much for attention, one way or the other, and this kid is obsessed with it. He does seem to have Bart’s photographic memory, since he starts rattling off the textbook definition of “back-draft” when asked. Cassie is a thief – apparently on the run – who acts angry and standoffish for no real reason when she’s not trying to cry her way out of speeding tickets. Regardless, I want to read the next issue for some odd reason.

As for Flash #1: We open on Barry Allen and Patty Spivot on a date at a tech fair, which is then robbed at gun point by suited figures who rappel in from the sky light. Barry uses the commotion to change into his Flash costume and chase them down. He manages to recover the stolen object but one of the thieves ends up dead, possibly due to his actions. As Barry Allen, he gets called in to work on the case. Once the mask is removed Barry recognizes the thief as an estranged friend. Iris West tries to get a statement out of Allen and says she’ll call him later when he can’t make one right then. As he is studying the case from his apartment, someone breaks in. Barry quickly subdues him, and recognizes him as his friend, the dead thief. They are chased by several other hooded figures who eventually catch the thief as Barry fakes a fall to duck out of sight and change to The Flash. When he catches back up, he finds out that the thief’s pursuers are….well, you’ll have to read it.

I like the art on this book. The coloring contrasts unexpectedly. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to indicate, but it does look cool. I also like the different perspective shots we get. The plot is so-so. It’s not bad, it’s not great. I think some of the twists and turns were a little predictable – but still fun – and the cliffhanger at the end was honestly intriguing. The tone of the book is light enough to have the feel of a Flash book, while still being serious enough to play out the CSI aspect of Barry’s day job. I generally dislike it when “old friends” pop back into existence in a story when they’ve never been mentioned before, so I’m not sure how much I think it works in a first issue. Also, the dialogue  – which I’m not crazy about – with this friend seems to be foreshadowing Barry’s eventual feelings for Iris. Other than the ending, nothing really jumped out and grabbed my attention. Right now it’s a bit on the mediocre side, but I think it could do well with the tone it’s set so far.

Chance Petersen aka chance900 comes at us with two reviews from DC’s two heaviest hitters, Superman and the Dark Knight.

Superman #1 begins with the presentation on the new Daily Planet building and it is renaming to The Planet Global Network.  Introductions are then given for the key characters.  A strange fire begins manifesting itself in the Astrodome and exhibiting some odd characteristics.  While this is happening, Superman is taking care of a hijacking, which goes awry. The abnormal fire takes a humanoid form and battles it out with Superman.  The story concludes with an interesting dialogue between Lois and Clark.

Many changes have occurred in the world of Superman a new Daily Planet. No more Lois and Clark, Superman is a little more edgy and of course, he is going commando. I was hesitant about reading Superman at first.  Superman is such an iconic figure, not just in comics but around the world, so how would the changes DC implemented work out? For me it worked out well. I liked this edgier Superman, he shows more character than I have seen from the issues I have read.  So far, Superman is off to a good start and I will continue reading.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 begins with Gotham’s guardian himself changing into his civilian clothing and entering a gala to give a speech. After his speech, Bruce is approached by an internal affairs agent asking questions about alleged Batman funding.  Trouble then breaks out at Arkham Asylum and Batman has to step in to quell the situation.

This issue doses a good job at transitioning between Batman and Bruce. The Batman scenes are dark and gritty while the Bruce Wayne scenes are slick. I read all five issues of The Dark Knight before the reboot and I expected the book to carry on in much the same manner as previously. Well I was wrong but not disappointed. Finch and Jenkins brought more layers that really worked. Of course, I found Finch’s art to be outstanding. I will absolutely continue this series and look forward to seeing what Jenkins and Finch can produce.

Who do Voodoo? Niko Kaylor aka avengersfan223 does. (sorry, not even slightly funny)
Voodoo #1 opens with the titular character, a stripper, working her craft at a strip club. While she is on stage, two people in the front row – Evans and Fallon – discuss Voodoo and how they have been following her for weeks. Fallon – a woman – gets angry at Evans – a man – for taking her to a strip club finding it unnecessary. As Fallon walks out, Evans asks a waitress what voodoo’s name is and after some bribery he finds out it is Priscilla. Wanting to find out more, he asks for a lap dance from Priscilla. To find out what happens next, you should read it.

I liked this book – not in a prurient way –  but i thought it was a good script with good art. It was an interesting story, and it had meaning all the way through. Sami Basri drew the book and it was done beautifully. It was a great look for the book which made me like it even more. I recommend this book to people who like strippers and people who like dark sci-fi monster books.

Kenny Yeager was interested in the secret history of Gotham in All-Star Western #1

When I first looked at the list of titles in DC’s New 52 promotion, two comics stood out from the rest in my eyes: Justice League Dark and All-Star Western #1. Dark brings John Constantine to DC’s primary continuity; how could I not be excited about that? Still, I was even more excited about All-Star Western. I’m not usually much of a fan of anti-heroes, but Jonah Hex has had a special place in my heart for a while. Here’s a nigh-invincible gunslinger of the old west hardened by years of bounty hunting and God only knows what else. That said, my love for Hex is based on his old appearances from the early 70’s, and I was still wary of how the character would be changed to keep up with modern conventions.

Fortunately for me, this new All-Star Western carries much of the coldness of Hex while still retaining his allure. The character is
moved to Gotham in the 1880’s, perhaps a move to create a stronger sense of universe continuity. Whatever the reason, Hex is still the same monster of a man in the city as on the dusty plains of the west. Unfortunately, this story is not like the Hex stories I know; it’s narrated by Amadeus Arkham. Rather than allowing Hex to be redeveloped as a character, this narrative simply tells you what he is and why he acts the way he does. I found this disappointing, taking away from the mystique of this hardened-but-not-entirely-heartless man. The events of the story set up for what promises to be an interesting arc but the storytelling method doesn’t impress me. Likewise, the art direction comes off very monotonous with its subdued palettes. It’s an intentional design choice no doubt but it makes for drab art far too often. Overall, it’s an okay first issue and I’ll probably pick up the next simply because of my love for Hex, but it’s a long way short of greatness.

Michael Meador aka threeshotwonder checked out Blackhawks #1, Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 and Justice League Dark #1.

The New 52 delivers another team book in Blackhawks #1, DC’s answer to S.H.I.E.L.D.; well kind of.  What’s most interesting about this covert operation is the fact that it was commissioned by the United Nations, an organization notorious for not having a practical means of enforcing mandates and treaties because it has no threatening military force to do so.  It looks as though this fictional depiction of the UN is being much more proactive, although it is still unclear as to this group’s purpose, chain of command and who is really pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Writer Mike Costa introduces the reader to the team, but only one character takes the lead in the first issue: Kunoichi, a sexy female operative with magenta colored hair and a tendency to be over-assertive in her job and her personal life. Not too much is revealed about Kunoichi to describe her as anything beyond the standard girl-power type. What is interesting is how she may have been “infected” with nanocites during a mission that involves the Blackhawks. How she reacts to it and how that situation will lead into future issues is either helpful or problematic. The other problem that occurs is the potential outing of the Blackhawks’ existence on the internet via photos taken by someone’s cell phone during a mission. So much for all that hi-tech gear huh? I’d suggest some current generation stealth technology, but something much simpler like not painting a large, recognizable symbol on the sides of your vehicles would be a good start in maintaining anonymity. All things considered I would give this a 6 at best and if the title doesn’t find someway of distinguishing itself from the pack I fear that it might be one of the first titles I drop of the new 52.
In Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1, it would appear not all the lanterns are charging ahead with the old continuity since Bedard and Kirkham seem to be cooking up a reconfigured origin story for Kyle Rayner. He’s still confronted in an alleyway by Ganthet and he is still a cartoonist but thats where the similarities seem to stop. Once the green ring is comfortably on Kyle’s finger we get to see him start to use his iconic artistic constructs to help those around him. As Kyle becomes used to his newfound power he is assaulted by six other rings all claiming to choose him, as one can imagine those six rings are quickly followed by 6 representatives all trying to reclaim the “stolen” rings.

The art of this book is bold and adventurous and keeps the readers eyes focused the entire time while not stealing from the narrative at all. The two page spread of Rayner saving a construction worker is especially well done as is the final two page spread of the six multi-hued lanterns closing in on Rayner. This issue was a very fun read with a light bit of humor and I for one look forward to following Kyle and his six unlikely companions on their adventures which promise to – at the very least – be amusing to see how they all get along to accomplish their goals.

In Justice League Dark #1 The Super-heroine known as “the Enchantress” is broken. Gone mad, her gnarled form hurls hideous spells at the Justice League. Elsewhere, the simulacra of her former host June Moone, walks into the path of motorway traffic, dying horribly. Watching from afar, tarot reader Madame Xanadu tells alien madman Shade the Changing Man that only specialists can repair the Enchantress and the damage she’s caused. Justice League member Zatanna seems to have come to a similar conclusion, contacting the British con-magician John Constantine. And June Moone Prime has gone looking for Deadman.

This is very much a first chapter, with little in the way of explanations but enough weird incidents to bring me back next time. While the idea of these magical misfits as even a semi-formal Justice League offshoot is ludicrous, I love the idea of them all in one comic – Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, Deadman. Enchantress and Constantine are favorites. And Shade has a pretty coat.

Zatanna – the League’s magician-in-residence – is moving across to this book. In this issue she’s not deployed in the first line of attack, which is a head-scratcher; it turns out Batman is worried that she’s not currently ‘stable’ enough for the job. Not impressed, before you can say Kcaj Nosnibor, Zatanna binds him and wanders off to confront the Enchantress.The art throughout this book is decent. While the main characters themselves have a very naturalistic look this only makes the surreal moments of terror, such as the opening spread, stand out all the more. I would recommend this title to anyone who enjoys horror stories or just about anyone who like their heroes to have a darker side. And to cap it off here is my review of I,Vampire #1This story was not entirely un-enjoyable but was certainly a confusing script. It would appear that two powerful Vampires in love somehow fall on opposing sides of a Vampire war. One camp is pro vampire/human co-habitation, opting to drink the blood of livestock. The other side has officially waged a war on humans. No it’s not the X-Men but it could be.There’s some interesting dialog and relationship stuff going on but for some reason the plot is not entirely clear upon first read, or third read for that matter. What is happening is made easy to understand but why it’s happening is another matter. The comparison to Twilight is unfair as this pretty much as far removed from that as you can get. Oh, and it takes place squarely in the DCU, replete with references to superheros and everything. I want to say I’m curious enough to try out issue #2 but honestly, that’s not likely to happen.

 Thanks to all the review contributors! Here’s hoping they helped you separate the new 52 wheat from the chaff.

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