Thursday, September 29, 2011
More Hits And Misses With DC's "New 52"
The Savage Hawkman
I really wasn't sure what to expect with this one. The creator's compared it to Indiana Jones fighting aliens, and the first issue delivers on the concept. I'm also encouraged by the revamp of Hawkman's powers that seems to be going on, centering them even more fully on the mysterious properties of the Nth metal. There's great potential for the concept of Hawkman to get a fresh new take. What i would have liked was a slight retracing of Hawkman's origin story, so I know whether or not it's the same as it has been. But hopefully they will take the opportunity to re-establish that at some point in the first story arc. I wasn't blown away, but this book will bring me back for at least one more issue.
I admit. I doubted. I hoped, but I doubted that Geoff Johns could work his magic on Aquaman and for the first time create a book that would have me genuinely invested in this character, and not just wanting him to be worthy of investment. But he did it. And by means that are so unexpected but so completely appropriate.
Rather than trying too hard to re-invent the character with new powers that would make him demand respect even on land, Johns plays up the fact that the average joe thinks he's a joke among the other superheroes. The result is some great laughs but also almost instant identification with and sympathy for Aquaman.
I'd still be excited to see him gain new powers over water (think Magneto but with H2O), but Johns is already establishing Aquaman's desire to leave Atlantis and his kingly status behind him. A pretty big move that probably upsets the apple cart enough for now.
In the first issue alone, Aquaman is already a fascinating, butt-kicking character that I care about and I can't wait to read the rest of this series for as long as it is in the care of one of the comic book industry's best writers.
The Fury Of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men
Notice the plural in that last word? Not a typo. The new take on this character concept involves the existence of multiple "Firestorms" and we get to see the origin story for the two this book will focus on in the first issue.
Although she isn't writing it alone, I can see the touch of master scribe Gail Simone in the dialogue, which helps the book a lot. Some great character moments and baddies that are REALLY bad. My only complaint is that things seem to ramp up almost too quickly. I would have been content to just see Firestorm on the last page and leave the action that follows for #2. Instead, our main characters suddenly have brand new powers that they already seem comfortable with, except superficially.
I'm also not impressed by one of the bad guys quoting the Bible as he helps kill people. C'mon, Gail. I'm not even offended as a Christian, but more as a reader. Bad guys being "Christians" is long past being an interesting twist. It's a tired cliche.
Still, the issue was solid and Gail Simone, whatever her level of involvement, has earned my attention. I'll be back for at least another two issues.
I'm pretty happy with how this book is starting out. We get to see a Flash that, while still very powerful, is slightly less experienced in the use of his powers. And while I think some characters are at a disadvantage by having their marriages erased with this reboot, I think Barry being single (with Iris still in the comic) brings a youth, a freshness and an insecurity to the character that is nice. Barry has not been a very interesting character historically, so taking away some of those supportive characters will help define who he is.
The art is different from previous flash books, but the coloring and lightning effects work really well. It's a visual treat on every page and suits the character very well.
The story also presents a mystery I'm interested in solving. Interested enough that the lost opportunities (few though they were) to focus on character in this issue didn't bother me at all.
I wasn't blown away by this issue, but I'm a Flash fan and really liked it. I'm sure The Flash will be a regular purchase for me unless they really do something to screw this up.
This issue delivered just what it needed to. Great art and action and nicely paced, character revealing introductions to the future key players of this book. Because the DC universe timeline is being condensed, Red Robin (who now has a MUCH better costume!), Wonder Girl, Superboy and Kid Flash are all coming onto the DC Universe scene "for the first time" in this issue. And the chance to get in on the ground floor is a very exciting one for me.
The story doesn't start out with the team formed and ready to fight crime. The issue consists of seperate smaller stories introducing each character, slowly connecting them to each other. Teenage meta-humans have a reputation for being reckless loose cannons, and so the government is rounding them up for... we don't quite know yet. But these teenagers suddenly have a common problem and it's clear they will need each other to deal with it.
I am SOO hooked!
Tomorrow I'll wrap up my coverage of DC's "New 52" with my thoughts on the Batman books!