JSA Reread Part 6: Injustice Be Done cont.

Sorry about the delay, the holiday’s got in the way.  I have one ready to go here, and another one by the end of the week. This entry finishes up the Injustice Be Done storyline, including the epilogue issue.

JSA 19: Into the Labyrinth

Johns, Goyer, Sadowski, Bair and Champagne. 


This issue starts with Wildcat and Black Adam at the Rock of Eternity.  Wildcat doesn’t believe that Black Adam has actually reformed, while Black Adam argues the he doesn’t need reformation.  According to him, all the villainous acts he did were under the control of Theo Adam, his descendant who gained his power.  They are at the Rock of Eternity to ask the wizard Shazam to help them find the Spectre.  Instead, they find the Spectre right there waiting for them.  This Spectre is not the same Spectre from last issue’s flashback.  Now the soul controlling the Spectre’s powers is former Green Lantern Hal Jordan, a character that Geoff Johns has quite a history with.  He wrote the series Day of Judgment where he made Hal Jordan the Spectre.  A few years after this story, Johns will finish Jordan’s redemption with Green Lantern Rebirth and make him a Green Lantern again.


Now it moves to Johnny Sorrow and Sand at the center of the maelstrom.  The King of Tears is coming into the world and as he does so the world is changing to fit him.  Once he is completely manifested in reality, then the barrier between his dimension and ours will disappear and all sorts of unworldly horrors will come through.  Some already are.  According to Sorrow, the JSA has only hours.


Continuing the check up on each member of the team, Star Spangled Kid, Hawkgirl and Mr. Terrific burst into a hospital with the dying but stable Green Lantern.  Terrific has managed to save his life, but only for the time being.  He needs a real doctor.  Back in the horror dome, Black Canary is giving Dr. Mid-Nite CPR.  She manages to revive him.  It turns out he didn’t die when he looked as Sorrow’s face because he is technically blind.  Also, Canary is in tears.  Their abortive relationship is one of the great disappointments of the series. They had something interesting going, but then somewhere else Green Arrow got resurrected and she ran right back to him.  As they chat, Flash shows up, covered in electricity from absorbing Rival’s speed (and stealing his helmet).  The three of them can’t stop the reality altering themselves, so Flash runs to get help.


He comes back with JJ Thunder, a character introduced by Grant Morrison in JLA’s Crisis Times Five, who has Johnny Thunder’s genie.  So he summons the genie and uses it to fight off the bug looking monsters that are appearing. As the four of them fight, Black Canary wonders what happened to the team’s other heavy hitter, Dr. Fate. Segue to him looking for his missing wife.  He is visiting the comatose woman that gave birth the baby version of him in the first issues of this series.  He uses his Dr. Fate magic to reveal that the Jane Doe coma patient is actually his ensorcelled wife.  Which adds another layer of creepiness to his story, since remember she gave birth to him.  And that is the entire interlude with Dr. Fate.


Back with the team, the genie is being overwhelmed.  Just as he is about to give up, Mr. Terrific and the others arrive.  Terrific gives him a pep talk while the girls jump right into battle.  Star Spangled Kid goes to Black Canary with the growing problem of Hawkgirl’s weirdness. Finding his confidence thanks to Terrific, JJ uses the genie to take out all of the bug monsters.  However, that doesn’t do anything to stop the growing problem of reality changing. Luckily, just then Wildcat, Black Adam and the Spectre show up. The Spectre goes one on one with the King of Tears, who strips him down to just a skeleton.

JSA 20: Godspeed

Goyer, Johns, Sadowski and Bair.


As they team watches in disbelief at the defeated Spectre, the Spectre’s body fixes itself in front of them. Since the Hal Jordan version of the Spectre is about redemption instead of vengeance, he can do nothing against the King of Tears, because it has no soul to be redeemed.  So he apologizes and disappears, freaking everyone out even more.  Hawkgirl calls Black Adam by his ancient name, Teth-Adam.  She is still having memories of her previous lives.


Terrific the hatches another plan, to send Flash running at lightspeed and knock the King of Tears back where he came from.  However, the only Flash that can run at lightspeed is Wally West, the main Flash.  However, with the speed he stole from Rival and stealing speed from the superfast Black Adam, Jay might just be able to go fast enough. In order for this to work, someone will have to disorient Johnny Sorrow so he isn’t controlling the King of Tears anymore.  Dr. Mid-Nite thinks he has a plan to deal with that, though.


After a brief, possibly last, chat with his wife, Jay and Black Adam take off.  The rest of the team starts fighting the returned monsters.  The Spectre shows back up to take away all the citizens’ fear so they can fight as well.  And just to toss one more thing on, Hawgirl call Mid-Nite McNider, the name of the previous Dr. Mid-NIte. As Flash steals Black Adam’s speed, Mid-Nite fights his way to where Sorrow is.  He then reveals his plan: he used his goggles to record Sorrow’s face.  He plays it back a Sorrow, disabling him, giving Flash the opening he needed to punch the King of Tears back out of reality, which causes the city to revert to its natural state.


The team recovers Sorrow’s mask, all that is left of him.  Hawkgirl finally breaks down when Star Spangled Kid somewhat rudely asks her what is going on.  The only problem is that the Flash is still gone.  The last few pages show Jay almost lose himself into the speed force, but he uses Black Adam’s speed to pull him back to reality.  However, instead of coming back to the team, he ends up with Teth-Adam in ancient Egypt.  And it’s not just Teth-Adam, but also Nabu, the wizard that helps Dr. Fate, and Prince Khufu, the ancient precursor to Hawkman.

JSA 21: Guardian Angels

Goyer, Johns and Buzz


Here is the cool down issue that got interrupted to start the Injustice Be Done story, with Sand running about the being rebuilt JSA Brownstone headquarters putting out fires, metaphorical ones, of course.  First there is Black Adam, who is petitioning to be allowed onto the team.  He makes a strong case, if you believe that Black Adam and Theo Adam are different people.  The JSA team, currently short Green Lantern Alan Scott, is underpowered and Black Adam needs the credibility of the team name to rehabilitate his image.  Black Adam is not going to make this easy on Sand either, intimating that he knows the fate of Flash without telling.  Black Adam’s arrival, or at least more permanent arrival since he has been showing up since issue 6, is the big game changer for this series.  With many of Geoff John’s runs on superhero books, the most dynamic characters tend to be morally grey villains.  He built up the rogues on the Flash (especially Captain Cold), took Sinestro through a whole rise and fall redemption arc and is currently doing the same thing with Lex Luthor in Justice League.  Johns is great about getting in the heads of the bad guys and showing how they tick, as well as realizing that good villains do not see themselves as such.  His work with Black Adam, mostly on this title, is the ultimate expression of that.  It works best here because Black Adam is largely Johns’ creation, appearing only a handful of times before Johns got ahold of him here.  With this attempt to join the team, Black Adam manages to come off both sincere and menacing.


Sand them moves on to Hawkgirl, confronting her about her recent odd behavior and aobut how little the team actually knows about her, plot threads that have been running since the very start of the series.  He points out the scars on her arms, last seen in the all ladies annual, which seem to be from a suicide attempt.  Hawkgirl flies off, upset and unwilling to answer his questions.  As we’ll see later, the Black Adam story and the Hawkgirl story are related.  They really combine quite organically and make for a solid history, especially with what is coming for the Hawk characters.

There are a handful of asides that finish up the Wildcat’s son abortive subplot (Killer Wasp is not his son, but he did know him), Alan Scott recuperating and talking with and about his two kids, and a slight furthering of Atom Smasher’s walk down his dark path.  This is mostly making sure everyone is caught up on where the major players on this team are, with many of these stories stuck in a holding pattern for now.


After that it is back to Kendra, who is struggling with the changes she is facing.  She meets up with Zauriel, a fallen angel, hence the title of the issue, and Justice League member.  Actually, he is the character introduced to take the place of the off limits Hawkman in Grant Morrison’s JLA, which was supposed to use all the big heroes.  He tries to offer Kendra help, but she’s not having anything he’s offering, whether it is religion or love, which is what caused him to fall.  That love talk does segue into a two page aside with Black Canary and Dr. Mid-Nite on another date, which both seem to be enjoying.  Then is back to Kendra and Zauriel.  He finally gets her to open up about her attempts at suicide after her parents were murdered.  When she was unconscious after ODing, she sensed someone there with her. Someone named Khufu.

With that name, the scene jumps back to Ancient Egypt, with the Flash.  Khufu was an Egyptian Prince, one who would later be reincarnated as Carter Hall, better known as Hawkman.  Flash is not quite sure if he believes that, though he does believe in the Thanagarian warship Khufu has.  This is a key piece of Geoff John’s revival of Hawkman.  There were several distinctly separate versions of the character that were hard to reconcile.  The first was the reincarnated Egyptian Prince, later was the space cop from the planet Thanagar.  Then there was the avatar of the Hawkgod and the other Thanagarian space cop.  Those, plus a ton of retcons made the characters a giant mess and they were abandoned for half a decade or so.  But Johns and Goyer smartly found a way to work around all this, starting with Flash finding the space ship in ancient Egypt, creating a tie between the two major versions of the characters.


Next is the most heartwarming part of the issue, with Mr. Terrific, Star Spangled Kid and JJ *ahem* Jakeem Thunder signing autographs and playing basketball at a youth center.  This is one of the great things about the JSA; that they are shown to do things besides fight bad guys.  Like the X-Men’s occasional relaxing issue has the team playing baseball or basketball, the JSA members spend their downtime doing charity work.  Jakeem is a little put off by this, and also gets in a pretty sick burn on Mr. Terrific.


After a page of Jakeem railing at Mr. Terrific about how being a superhero is a bunch of nonsense (not necessarily untrue, but not on point when they are helping out at a youth center) and generally just being unpleasant, Mr. Terrific walks away, only for Star Spangled Kid to tear into him for being a disrespectful little jerk.  It shows the growth her character has been through, both in this title and her Johns penned own book.  She starting out as nothing more than a disrespectful little kid and has grown into a fine heroine.


It then goes back to Kendra and Zauriel for one more little conversation, with Kendra asking him about reincarnation.  After going back and forth for a little bit, Kendra supposes that her memories of past lives are from her near death experience after her suicide attempt.  Zauriel has a different guess, that her suicide attempt was successful and a new soul now inhabits Kendra’s body.


Now that there is a solid base to build from, this is when the title really starts to take off.  Most of the seeds for this run have been planted, with Black Adam, Atom Smasher, the Hawks, and Dr. Fate.  All of the characters are firmly established and the JSA really finds another gear.  There is certainly a lot to chew on with this somewhat downbeat issue.  There are no fights, just the characters coming to terms with how things stand now.  Still, it really sets the table for stories to come.

Next Time: The Return of Hawkman.

DC’s New 52 Final Thoughts

Now that I’ve read and reviewed all 52 of DC’s New 52 comics, I feel the need to look back at my original predictions about all these books. Reading them all wasn’t an ordeal as some places on the internet are trying to make it seem. They are comic books for Christ sakes; they are quick, easily digested entertainment. But I did pay for all of those things, so I am going to get my fair share out of blogging out of them. Also, I am going to decide which titles I will continue to purchase and which I will gladly never have to look at again. To finish, I am going to rank all 52 from best to worst.

When I first looked at these books, I had not yet decided to buy the whole lot for the first month as some sort of crazy experiment. Plus, all the cool internet people were doing it and I wanted to be cool. So I rated the books on whether I was: excited for them, which meant I expected them to be great, intrigued by them, which meant they sound like they could be good but I wasn’t quite sold, dubious about them, which meant I thought there was some nugget if interest to be found but doubted it would be worth it, or that I would pass on them, which meant I saw little reason for that book to exist. So how did my initial predictions fare, at least with the first issue? Let’s see.

The Justice League.

For the Justice League books, I was Excited for Justice League, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. All three were pretty much what I expected, though Justice League was slower than I had hoped.

I called Justice League International, Fury of Firestorm, The Flash, and DCU Presents Intriguing. Flash was much better than I had hoped, while Fury of Firestorm was disappointing. I had hoped Gail Simone would tone down the darkness that she has used to great effect in books like Secret Six, but that was not the case. The jury is still out on DCU Presents since its anthological nature has yet to be shown. And JLI was a decent superhero book.

The only book I called Dubious was Mr. Terrific, and that was about right. There was a glimmer of some quality in it, but I’m not sure Eric Wallace can polish it into a quality series. And the artist changed to the fluid Gianluca Gugliotta, who I like a lot.

I was set to Pass on Green Arrow, Savage Hawkman and Captain Atom. While I didn’t think they were outright terrible, that would have been the correct choice on Green Arrow and Hawkman. Captain Atom was one of the surprises of the month, delivering some of the best art and a solid start to the series.

So as a whole, I was spot on for this portion of the re-launch. Except for Captain Atom, which it turns out was just short of great.

The Dark

I was probably most interested in this group. I was Excited for Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Frankenstein and Demon Knights and all of them were great. Those four books are worth the re-launch on their own.

I was Intrigued by Justice League Dark and that seems spot on too. The seeds are here for something great, but the first issue wasn’t quite there.

I was dubious on Resurrection Man and even then, it disappointed. It just wasn’t very good at all.

And a Pass for I, Vampire, which was way off. This book was nearly as good as the top four in this group. The Twilight fake-out cover fooled me.

Except for I, Vampire, I had this set called. It was easily the best group of books DC put out, and probably the most likely to get cancelled.

The Edge

I was not looking forward to this set of books, and I was probably the most wrong about it. One title got an Intriguing, All Star Western, and it turned out to be really great.

I handed out a lot of Dubious guesses. Stormwatch, Blackhawks, Men of War, OMAC, Suicide Squad and Voodoo all got that designation. Men of War, Blackhawks and Stormwatch all lived up, or down, to that. Though Stormwatch should get better. I ended up liking OMAC and Voodoo much more than I expected. Both were good to very good. Suicide Squad was one of the worst books of the re-launch and I should have given it a pass. I do not know why I didn’t.

I called for a Pass on both Deathstroke and Grifter and only Grifter really deserved it. That book was a mess. Deathstroke was a good Deathstroke comic. I have no interest in reading more, but fans of the character should be reasonably pleased.

I underrated this group. With OMAC, Voodoo and All Star Western, and maybe Stormwatch, there were some high quality books here.

Young Justice

Like with The Edge, I wasn’t very big on any of the Young Justice books in my predictions, either. The only book I even called Intriguing was Blue Beetle, and that was possibly a little high. It was okay, not great.

Static Shock, Legion Lost and Legion of Superheroes all seemed Dubious to me. Static turned out to be pretty good, so I had it pegged a little low, but both of the Legion titles turned out pretty sour.

I said Pass on Hawk and Dove and that was absolutely right. I called for my one fan boyish Uber Pass on Teen Titans and that turned out to be too harsh. Tough to be fair, DC’s Teen Titans promotional art was terrible. In the end, it was an okay book.

Except for Teen Titans, I was close on this set. I didn’t think it would be very good, and it wasn’t.


The Batman group is I think the biggest group of books in the re-launch, and I spread my predictions around pretty well. Only two Exciteds, Batman and Batgirl. Batman lived up to that, Batgirl did not.

I was Intrigued by Nightwing, Batwoman and Batman & Robin. Nightwing and Batman & Robin are both solid second tier books, but Batwoman was one of the best of the relaunch. I should have been excited for it.

Predictions of Dubious on Birds of Prey, Batwing and Red Hood and the Outlaws. I was right on Red Hood, over on Batwing and under on Birds of Prey, but for those two I wasn’t far off.

Passes for Batman: the Dark Knight, Catwoman, and Detective Comics. Right on all three, they were terrible.

I think I had a good handle on the much-unchanged Bat books. I think Batgirl will get better, so I don’t feel bad about that one.


I had one entry for each on the four Superman family books, and I was only right on one of them. I was Excited for Action Comics, and it was great. I thought Superman was Intriguing, but it turned out to be a slog. Since I wasn’t sure on the direction of Supergirl it got a Dubious, but it turned out to be pretty good. A Pass for Superboy, which I was all set to just ignore, but was another great surprise. I had predicted the art would look good, but I didn’t expect the writing to be as solid as it was.

So I guess I didn’t have a very good read on this family of books.

Green Lantern

I was Excited for Green Lantern Corps, and it was good. Tomasi writes a great Guy. I had been slipping on Green Lantern, calling it only Intriguing, but it was a return to form for Geoff Johns on the title.

I was Dubious about both The New Guardians and Red Lanterns, which looks pretty correct so far. Neither are travesties, but neither are they actually good.

It was easy to get a read on the Green Lantern books since they changed so little in the re-launch. I had their number.


I think the re-launch turned out better than I had expected. Some books I thought might be good weren’t, but more books I thought would be terrible turned out to be pretty good. My biggest disappointments were writers Gail Simone, Paul Cornell and Peter Milligan. Other than Demon Knights, none of their six combined series lived up to my expectations. I’m not writing them off, but all three have done better work and I fully expect all three to do better work in subsequent issue. They all simply stumbled a bit out of the blocks. My biggest surprise was Scott Lobdell. Sure, there is much furor around Red Hood, but his other two books had better starts than I expected.

So what am I going to keep buying? My budget won’t allow me to buy more than about 15 o these, even with the discount they give with dcbservice. So I’ve bolded 18 in my top to bottom rankings that I at least intend to keep purchasing. Not the first 18, though certainly many of them, because even though some series had a good start and are certainly going to continue to be good I am just not that interested in the subject. Or because I’d rather support a less popular good series that a more popular very good one. DC isn’t going to stop publishing Batman. I don’t have to worry about seeing more good Batman stories made. But Frankenstein or Demon Knights? Those aren’t like to last much more than a year, no matter how popular they are.

Top to bottom rankings

  1. Action Comics
  2. Animal Man
  3. Wonder Woman
  4. Batwoman
  5. All Star Western
  6. The Flash
  7. Batman
  8. Aquaman
  9. Frankenstein
  10. Swamp Thing
  11. Green Lantern Corps
  12. Green Lantern
  13. Superboy
  14. OMAC
  15. Justice League
  16. Demon Knights
  17. Supergirl
  18. Batman & Robin
  19. Justice League Dark
  20. Nightwing
  21. I, Vampire
  22. Voodoo
  23. Captain Atom
  24. Justice League International
  25. Static Shock
  26. Deathstroke
  27. Batgirl
  28. Blue Beetle
  29. Fury of Firestorm
  30. Mr. Terrific
  31. Stormwatch
  32. Birds of Prey
  33. DCU Presents Deadman
  34. Superman
  35. Red Hood and the Outlaws
  36. Teen Titans
  37. Red Lanterns
  38. Men of War
  39. Green Arrow
  40. Savage Hawkman
  41. Green Lantern: The New Guardians
  42. Resurrection Man
  43. Grifter
  44. Legion of Superheroes
  45. Legion Lost
  46. Batwing
  47. Batman: The Dark Knight
  48. Blackhawks
  49. Catwoman
  50. Detective Comics
  51. Hawk and Dove
  52. Suicide Squad

Rating the Relaunch, Part 2

I guess it’s time for my take on the second half the DC relaunch.  While this set didn’t have the same number of standout books, I think the overall quality was about the same as the first 2 weeks.

All-Star Western. Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. Art by Moritat.
Gray and Palmiotti have quietly put out some of the best work to come from DC Comics over the last five years. Among others (Power Girl, the underrated Freedom Fighters) their biggest success has been Jonah Hex. With the re-launch they stick with that character, but the focus of the series changes. Hex is now in Gotham City and part of a continuing story instead of a done-in-one. It works wonderfully. Hex is teamed with Gotham psychologist Amadeus Arkham (founder of the famous asylum) to solve a series of Jack the Ripper-esque murders. Jonah and the Doctor couldn’t be more different, but they are also both outsiders in Gotham City. The reveal of the truth of the situation at the end is perfectly horrifying.
While the writing team sets up a terrific western murder mystery, the art is the star of this book. Moritat’s clean lines somehow establish the grimy-ness of a burgeoning late 19th century city. He really succeeds at making Gotham as much of a character as Jonah Hex or Dr. Arkham. The great art combined with writing that is more than simply adequate but actually very good makes All-Star Western one of the best books of the month.

Aquaman. Writer Geoff Johns. Art by Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Geoff Johns is the master at distilling a character to a simple, relatable idea. His take on Aquaman is compelling. He uses the real life perception of Aquaman, that he’s a lame, stupid superhero, to his advantage when setting up the hero. John’s Aquaman is hero in two worlds, neither of which appreciates him. He may be king of Atlantis, but due to his above water heritage, they see him as an outsider, while the population on the surface doesn’t believe in his undersea tales or ridicules him for them. Aquaman is clearly affected by his reputation, but he is not discouraged by it. He is a hero.
While Johns might lay it on a bit thick with the reputation stuff, the writing is mostly crisp. Interesting, though likely a bit gory new villains, some sort of anglerfish men, are introduced and Aquaman’s history and situations is deftly weaved into the story. Ivan Reis’s art is perfectly fitting and up to his usual high quality. The few flashback panels are especially good, though that is probably as much the colorist as anybody. Still, this issue is a fine first issue, a perfect establishment of who and what Aquaman is.

Batman. Writer Scott Snyder. Art by Greg Capullo & Jonathon Glapion.
Snyder, fresh off an excellent run on Detective Comics, writes a very good, not quite great, new Batman. There are many clever touches here, like a facial recognition contact lens and Dick Grayson masquerading as the Joker to help stop a riot in Arkham, but there isn’t much that’s not standard Batman stuff. A new rich rival, a new mysterious villain and requisite appearances but pretty much the whole supporting cast. It is perfect for someone who only knows Batman from the movies to jump on. I do love the return of Harvey Bullock and that Snyder wrote Commissioner Gordon as Columbo.
Capullo’s art is a big surprise, in a good way. I didn’t expect much, but I hadn’t actually had much experience with him. I shouldn’t have worried. His art has personality, it has character. Everyone is distinct and recognizable. It is just really nice. This is a very good book.

Batman: The Dark Knight. Writer/Co-Plotter Paul Jenkins. Artist/Co-Plotter David Finch.
Finch draws Batman extra brawny and everything very detailed. Aside from the faces, his art is solid. The writing and plotting, though, leave a lot to be desired. Bruce Wayne gives a speech at a fundraiser, and then tries to quell a riot at Arkham Asylum. This is standard Batman stuff. In fact, most of it happened in the much better Batman. There is tons of narration about the nature of fear that is overwrought and just plain bad. Overwrought pretty well describes the whole comic, art and writing. Except for the last page “shocker” that reveals the worst possible take on Two-Face, that is just stupid. Still, this isn’t an outright terrible comic, but there are definitely better Batman comics out right now, like Batman or Batman and Robin. This is slightly better than Detective Comics, but not a lot.

Blackhawks. Writer Mike Costa. Finishes by Ken Lashley. Layouts by Graham Nolan.
For a comic that I had no expectations about, this still manages to disappoint. Not that it is especially bad, but it could have and should have been much better. The idea here is basically a DC Universe G.I. Joe team. The characters, whose personalities are only hinted at in this issue, could develop into an interesting team. The problems crop up with some just stupid bits of plotting. Like a covert ops team painting their logo on their plane, then being in trouble when someone spots it. Why put it on there at all? The art is inconsistent, never actually good but it does veer into awful for a while. It looks rushed and sloppy. This is a bad first issue of a comic that could be very good.

Birds of Prey. Writer Duane Swierczynski. Artist Jesus Saiz.
This has potential. Saiz’s art is clean and reasonably detailed that very effectively tells the story. The story is a bit of a muddle, like coming in on the third act of an action movie. The situation is broad enough that it is easy to get behind the heroes, despite accusations of murder and other crimes. But who their anatomists are isn’t really clear, nor is the connection between the characters or far that matter who our heroes are. I know Black Canary from previous comics, and this establishes her as a martial arts superhero, but the rest and all of Starling, the other lead, is a blank. This issue does set up a mystery that could and should be interesting, but it is clumsy. Not a bad start, but not the cleanest one.

Blue Beetle. Writer Tony Bedard. Art by Ig Guara and Roy Rose.
Some may complain about the retelling the origin of a character that has only been around for 5 years, but it is clear that the reason for doing it is to remove allusions to the crossover Infinite Crisis as well as to have a nice multimedia friendly origin. For the most part, this book works. The art is solid, though nothing to get excited over. The writing has some strange bits, like an editor’s note that says translated from Spanglish when it isn’t, but the story is a solid one. The only really troublesome change is that they turned the Reach, the villains who sent the scarab to Earth, from somewhat ambiguous assimilators to evil conquerors. Still, it is hard to escape the fact that if you’ve read the last series you’ve read a better version of this story. That doesn’t mean that this is a bad version, simply a mediocre one.

Captain Atom. Written by J.T. Krul. Art by Freddie Williams II.
This is a book where the art stars. Williams renders Captain Atom as a bright figure of reality on an almost impressionistic, dark background. In the end our protagonist, even though he is a completely unreal flying blue man seems more real than the world around him. It is really good, stunning work. The writing by J.T. Krul, who hasn’t written much that is good and plenty that is terrible, is also solid. There are certainly flaws — how did there get to be a volcano in New York? Is anyone even remotely intrigued by the cliffhanger? — but it is mostly solid superhero stuff. Captain Atom is not just a man losing his humanity but also a man whose self is actively deteriorated. It is an interesting hook.

Catwoman. Written by Judd Winick. Art by Guillem March.
From cover to cover, this book made me feel dirty, like some cheap cable soft-core porn. It is literally impossible to separate the plot of the book from all the T&A because it pervades all parts of this comic. While a trashy romance take on Catwoman is not an inherently bad idea, here it is not done with much skill or class. Winick does nothing to make Catwoman in interesting character. All we learn of her from this issue is that she uses her sexuality to solve her problems, even when it doesn’t make sense for any reason other than the artist wants to draw some boobs. March has a unique style to his art and while his work here isn’t terrible, it absolutely exacerbates the voyeuristic felling the whole comic has. I really, really did not care for this.

DCU Presents: Deadman. Written by Paul Jenkins. Art by Bernard Chang.
Another competent but unremarkable comic. Chang provides nice, clean art. Nothing to get excited about, but also nothing to complain about. The story is an effective explanation of who Deadman is that quickly and intelligently remakes his origin. He is no longer searching for his killer, but trying to balance some sort of Karmic scales because in life he was a douche. It is a good hook for a hero, but one that can never end because when it does, Deadman dies. Strangely, Deadman is a getting a big push in the new DC Universe, with a spot on a Justice League team, a supporting role in another book and a 5 (or 6) issue story in what is supposed to be an anthology title. I think wasn’t a good idea to start this title with such a long story about a character, but it doesn’t seem to be a bad story.

The Fury of Firestorm. Written by Gail Simone and Ethan Van Scriver. Art by Yildiray Cinar.
This is a complete re-imagining of the Firestorm concept. Now Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch are high school students that through the use of some sort of SUPER SCIENCE capsule become Firestorm. It opens with a disturbingly violent set of murders, something that continues to happen throughout the book. Then we get to our heroes. Simone and Van Scriver set up our heroes as complete opposites with about as much subtlety as a hammer. But the hammer is a tool they clearly know how to use, so it doesn’t come off too bad. The art never rises above middling, with some rough pages of Ronnie playing football offsetting the nice pages after they become Firestorms. The concept seems good, much better than the mess that the characters were in in the previous continuity. My only substantial complaint is the level of violence that this book treats so casually. The Fury of Firestorm isn’t great, but it certainly is interesting.

The Flash. Story and Art by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato.
I had some trepidation with artists taking over writing duties on this title, but luckily, my fears were unfounded. Maybe it’s just because it is currently fresher in my mind than Batwoman, but I’m calling this the best-looking book coming out of DC. This is a nearly perfect melding of story and art. There are several pages that are just jaw droopingly awesome. The story itself is nothing special, though it sadly has a somewhat uncommon tone. This is a traditional superhero book. It is about the Flash solving a crime. There is little blood and only one possible death. It is refreshingly straightforward and heroic. We actually get to see the protagonist hang out with some supporting cast. While I would guess Barry’s reunion with Iris West is inevitable, I like Patty Spivot. While she appeared some in the previous Flash series, this one issue made me like her. And Iris comes off as a wonderfully pushy Lois Lane type. Even the previously personality free Barry Allen is interesting. If the creative team can maintain this level of artistry and keep the story moving this could be the best book of re-launch.

Green Lantern Corps. Written by Peter Tomasi. Art by Fernando Pasarin.
I have to admit that I was inclined to like this book before I read it. Tomasi’s previous Green Lantern Corps run was a favorite of mine, and I have an unhealthy affection for Guy Gardner. While trying to be as unbiased as possibly, I still think this is a really good comic book. It effectively establishes the two heroes, Guy and John Stewart, showing their problems fitting in on Earth now that they are superhero space cops. Then they pop back into space just in time to investigate some something that is killing Green Lantern. This book isn’t great and it isn’t flashy, but it works. The art is the best sort of realism that manages to make the crazy aliens look just as real as the actual people do. Plus, I crack up every time I see that panel of Guy almost crying when they tell him he can’t coach football.

Green Lantern: The New Guardians. Written by Tony Bedard. Art by Tyler Kirkham.
Tony Bedard has an interesting story he’s setting up here, but he doesn’t do a very good job of it in this first issue. There is a pointless retelling of Kyle‘s, the fourth Green Lantern, origin that glosses over why the guardians would give the ring to him. The rest of the issue isn’t particularly bad, but underwhelming. The art does it no favors. Kirkham’s art is like a watered down Jim Lee, only now with anime hair. The whole style is dull and off-putting. The art and writing together add up to a kind of bad comic book that at least has the promise of a decent hook.

I, Vampire. Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov. Art by Andrea Sorrentino.
The cover does this book no favors, but inside it is pretty decent. A vampire guy and his vampire lover debate whether they should try to take over a world that is filled with superhero’s that will absolutely kill them. Then on starts a war on humanity and the other tries to stop it. Some of the dialogue is over the top ridiculous, but for the most part, it works. The art fits the mood of the book perfectly, with everything being dark and foggy. It does make it hard to differentiate some characters, but it looks really good. I’m not sure how far this book can go when the end point is already known. There is no way these vampires have a chance against Superman and the rest of the superheroes. I do appreciate the bait and switch of the Twilight looking cover and inside real, murderous vampires.

Justice League Dark. Written by Peter Milligan. Art by Mikel Janin.
While the title is dumb, this is a good concept, a Justice League team set up to deal entirely with magical threats. This first issue illustrates both how the Johns/Lee Justice League could have introduced all the characters in the first issue and why it didn’t. The whole of the eventual team appears in this book, but assuming you don’t have any previous knowledge of them this book does little to clue you in. And most of these characters aren’t even close to household names. Sure, John Constantine had a movie and Zatanna has been in a lot of DC cartoons, but the rest are mostly unknowns outside of rapid comic book fandom. Still, the book gets all the players on the board and tells a reasonably coherent story. Plus, Mikel Janin’s art is really, really good. It does look a little stiff and posed occasionally, but with the excellent coloring, the art on Justice League Dark definitely helps set the creepy tone of the book. This is by no means a perfect book, but it is one with potential.

Legion of Superheroes. Written by Paul Levitz. Art by Francis Portela.
As I said with Legion Lost, the Legion of Superheroes has a reputation for being impenetrable. And in this re-launch that has held true. This is a book more dependant on what came before than any other book that DC published this month. Unfortunately, it does almost nothing to let the reader know what that was. It’s not that the story is particularly hard to follow, it is just that this isn’t chapter 1, it is more like chapter 12. It is easy enough to follow the plot, but there are relationships that drive the story that are only hinted at. Portela’s art is fine, aside from the occasional wonky face, but as a new start, this issue is a mess. I can’t imagine this gaining the Legion any fans, but I assume it won’t lose them any either.

Nightwing. Written by Kyle Higgins. Art by Eddy Barrows.
Dick Grayson returns to his old identity, and it is like he never left. I really enjoyed this. It shows where Dick has been and where he is now while hinting at where he is trying to go. This feels like a continuation of the old Nightwing series, and that is a very good thing. His long running series (nearly 15 years) was often very good superheroics that actually benefited from starring Batman that wasn’t Batman, as that freed it up to tell stories with a greater feeling of danger. Kyle Higgins seems to write in the mold of Chuck Dixon, and while that rarely produces great comics, it usually produces very good ones. Eddy Barrows art is mostly good, giving Dick a great sense of motion and an acrobatic style. This is an upper end good book.

Red Hood and The Outlaws. Written by Scott Lobdell. Art by Kenneth Rocafort.
I am going to give Lobdell a pass on Starfire in this issue. As she is written it is damn close to vile, but I am willing to believe that it is not intentional, that there is an explanation. Fiction is predicated on things not being what they seem. I hope that is the case here. Other than that, this is a decent trashy buddy comic. The Red Hood and Arsenal are both losers, but together they make a decent team. Rocafort’s funky page layouts and oddly chiseled looking characters are strangely compelling to me. And the colorist Blond really nails it. I want to see more of this art. But for that, this book needs to be better. Lobdell hit Superboy out of the park; I hope he can right this ship. There is trashy fun to be had here, if there is a decent explanation for Starfire.

Savage Hawkman. Written by Tony Daniel. Art by Philip Tan.
This is a hard issue to judge. It isn’t good, but I’m not sure it is terrible. Tan’s art is very good on some pages but confusing and sloppy on others. The new set up is interesting, but this issue doesn’t tell us much about Hawkman. Daniel describing him as an alien Indiana Jones sounds great, but that doesn’t really come across in this issue. The dialogue is the best I’ve seen from Daniel, but honestly, that is almost an insult.  Much of the premise is still vague or unclear and the villain is the most uninteresting sort of rage murder monster.  I could see this developing into a pretty good action comic, but after one issue it is a mess.



Supergirl. Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson. Art by Mahmud Asrar.
If this comic had been a little meatier, I would be lauding it as one of the great successes of the relaunch, up there with The Flash and Aquaman. Unfortunately, it is a little light. Asrar’s art is clean and crisp, avoiding the blatantly sexual posing that pervades cape comics while simultaneously making Supergirl seem like a confused, scared girl and a powerhouse. The story is an intelligent take on the way Jeph Loeb portrayed Supergirl only a few years ago. Her unfamiliarity with humanity emphasizes Superman’s Earthly upbringing. She is clearly lost. But there just isn’t much to this issue aside from Supergirl crashing to Earth and waking up. She then fights some guys in mechs, which looks nice but doesn’t really accomplish anything. Not a bad start, but a slow one.

Superman. Written by George Perez. Art by George Perez and Jesus Merino.
This is one dense comic. Perez packs 25 pages with more word balloons and narration boxes than any other 3 comics. That in and of itself is neither good nor bad, it all comes down to the merit of all those words. For the first half of the comic it is pretty good. A touched cramped, there is a lot of information being thrown at the reader trying to set up Superman’s new status quo, but nice a meaty in comparison to something like Supergirl. Then there is the second half, where Superman’s fight with a fire monster is obscured by both the T.V. coverage and Clark’s own newspaper story. The newspaper take on the fight is really unnecessary and is easily the comics biggest fault. It is both badly written and redundant with the visuals and the T.V. take, which is actually integral to the story. The art is hard to fault. Perez is a legendary artist and Merino manages to smooth over some of the excess detail. This is a comic that needs to breathe; it needs to pack less information in the space provided. Its density makes it ponderous. Still, it is not a terrible start for the new Superman.

Teen Titans. Written by Scott Lobdell. Art by Brett Booth and Norm Raphmund.
Teen Titans is much better than I expected. The writing is reasonably crisp, and the plot is much more upbeat and fun than the solicitations made it seem. While all the characters are rebooted, although for Red Robin I think it is just his Teen Titans past that is gone, but none seem to have been greatly damaged by the change. They seem young and reckless, which is probably how they should feel. Booth’s art is not quite the albatross around the neck of this book that I though it would be. It still isn’t very good, his style makes everything looks elongated and weird, but it isn’t as early Image terrible as some of his stuff looks. This is a reasonably decent comic. Not great by any means, and with Booth’s art not good as far as I’m concerned, but not terrible.

Wonder Woman. Written by Brian Azzarello. Art by Cliff Chiang.
Chiang is the king of drawing. This book is up there with The Flash and Batwoman as the best looking of the re-launch. If only for the art this is one of the better books of the month. Fortunately, Azzarello also sets up a nice story. His Diana is powerful, but not cold. There are the seeds of a great dynamic between her and Zola, the woman she is protecting from the anger of at least one of the Gods. The modernized version of the Greek Pantheon in this book are visually more interesting than they have been, but it seems a little tired after reading Incredible Hercules. Wonder Woman is set up as the intercessor between men and gods, having to protect a pregnant woman from the capricious immortals. I am a sucker for modern mythology stories, and this is among the best I have read.

Voodoo. Written by Ron Marz. Art by Sami Basri.
I was kind of dreading reading this, but I ended up liking it a lot. Like Supergirl, it is sparse, especially on details about its title character, but this comic sets up its mystery better than most of the mystery-ish books of the re-launch. It is impossible to ignore that this book is set mostly in a strip club. While there is a flimsy story pretext for this, it mostly seems to be there because the Wildstorm Voodoo was also a stripper. The combination of Basri’s clean art and Marz matter of fact treatment of the subject help this book to not feel exploitative. Still, this is 20 pages of the worst secret agent ever and his partner watching a stripper that they believe is a shape-changing alien. They have a theory about her, and part of it is confirmed. This issue leaves it up in the air if its protagonist is a monster or not and it actually feels like a mystery worth pursuing.