Friday, September 23, 2011

More DC "New 52" Micro-Reviews

Mister Terrific

I picked up this one because I like sci-fi themed super heroes and Mister Terrific was a character I enjoyed in JSA. The redesign of his costume is in keeping with his former look and the character itself is largely the same. Although his origin is retold in flashback without the Spectre's involvement, it retains the same basic elements. His wife and unborn son are killed in a car accident, leaving Michael Holt crushed. But a time travel visit from his future adult son (instead of The Spectre dropping by) convinces him he was meant to do greater things. Specifically "educate the world", although it's not clear what this will involve.

One point of interest was Holt's profession of anti-theism. After retelling the tragic story of his wife's death, he says "I don't believe in God. Now you know why." This is an interesting position for the writer to take, since it establishes his atheism as being rooted not in some scientific argument, but in a very personal and emotional experience. This is something few atheists will admit to being the true source of their atheism. Although in general this first issue was not remarkable, I will probably give it one more month and see what happens.

Wonder Woman

This was an impulse buy. I read Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman and naturally loved it. I've wanted to love this character in comics since watching Lynda Carter as a kid. But all the togas, sandals and Greek gods just never worked for me. Unfortunately, this new iteration isn't working either. My chief complaint is the art. The gritty, imprecise style would look better to me on a Batman book, or some other character that is more "earthbound" or "street level" in concept. I think they're hoping the art will help sell the brutal feel they're trying to give this book, but it wasn't working for me. The story also keeps us at a distance from Wonder Woman's thoughts at a time when I want to be re-introduced to what makes her tick. I won't be giving #2 my money.

Green Lantern Corps

Like the Green Lantern solo book #1, this issue doesn't represent a leap forward in quality from what's come before, but rather a continuation of the great quality I've already come to expect. One difference though is the story, which features a vicious, invisible killer capable of slicing right though even the incredible defenses of a power ring, making short work of any Green Lantern. The gore factor is up a little more than usual, but it works here as this book appropriately has a more military vibe to it than the Green Lantern solo book. The serious tone and sci-fi action will no doubt keep me coming back for more every month, just as I have for years.


This was another last minute decision. I was intrigued by how the creators described this book in the San Diego ComiCon panels. The idea is to tell the story of a kryptonian who grew up on Krypton, is already in her teens, but is now suddenly thrust into life on earth, without any of the moral values that Clark Kent was raised with. The first issue focuses on the alien nature of her surroundings. No one speaks her language and she can't understand anyone else, leading to some naturally intense conflict. Hopefully, she won't learn English and become adjusted to earth life for a VERY long time, as I think it keeps her distinct from Superman and gives us a potential story link to Krypton, as well as provides potential for other great story opportunities. I'll definitely be coming back to check this one out for at least another month or two.

Blue Beetle

I love the Blue Beetle concept that was introduced in Infinite Crisis and have been following his solo comic and enjoying his appearances in Teen Titans ever since. A great sci-fi superhero concept. Blue Beetle is like the Swiss Army Knife of superheroes. His alien armor can shift and change to suit nearly any task at hand.

This version of the character, as far as I can tell, has been changed very little. His origin story is now free of any Infinite Crisis story elements, and the concept of the Reach, his arch-nemesis, is more clearly tied to his origin story. The art is solid and the story has my interest, even though we don't see Jaime, the main character, as Blue Beetle until the last page.

The writing has a strong Latino element, due to the cultural backgrounds of the cast of characters. A minor complaint is that enough of the dialogue momentarily drifts into Spanish that I have to use context clues to decipher the finer points of what characters are expressing now and then. It's not a big problem, but my hope is that the writer doesn't confuse adding "culture" with adding "character". I think writing comics in this way has some bonuses and adds a layer of realism to the script, but since I don't speak Spanish I hope I'm not missing out on some nice character bits because I don't understand what's being said. In the end, the language issue doesn't effect my enjoyment of the book to anywhere near the proportion I've spent talking about it, and this book will likely be a regular purchase for me for a long time to come.

Captain Atom

The cover of this book has had me anxiously awaiting the first issue. The solicitations gave me the impression that this book will take Captain Atom down the road Alan Moore intended to take him with Watchmen, before he was asked to create an original character (Dr. Manhattan) instead. Although his origin isn't retraced in the first issue, we understand that his ability to absorb energy and manipulate matter came by way of some accident. Now he has incredible powers that he doesn't fully understand and that may also be killing him as he uses them.

The opening narration of the book sets a somewhat naturalistic philosophical tone, stating that humans are really no more special than animals, while at the same time acknowledging our inherent evil. (This is interesting, since purely naturalistic philosophies have no logical basis for any moral positions.) The title of this issue's story is "Evolution Of The Species" and the title for next issue's story is "Messiah Complex". So it sounds like this book will be traveling a somewhat philosophical route, despite having lots of super-powered action and explosions. Naturally that interests me, provided the philosophy is thoughtful and not the same old naturalistic stuff we've heard for years in science fiction.

Where this issue fell enormously short for me was the interior art, which is made up of more "gritty", imprecise lines with low detail, carried chiefly by the coloring. Once again, I think this art style better serves more "earthy" characters, and those rooted in the fantastic, as this one is, would be served better by clean, dazzling art. I never used to care about art in comics like I do these days, but the way this art rubs me may just make for a deal breaker unless issue #2 is really something special.

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