Comics I Read: Flashpoint & DC New 52 Week 1


If you had asked me before #5 shipped whether I thought Flashpoint overall would be satisfying, I would have said no because even though Barry Allen was at the center of it, it didn't seem like the next step in his story. But the twist at the beginning of #5 rectifies that, although it does violate the rules Johns set up for Booster Gold & Reverse-Flash about how changes to the past can be made. (And it's a bit convenient that the timeline shattered in exactly the way one would deliberately manipulate it to take out all the major players, though Thawne tries to explain that too.) I loved that Kal-El saved the day (sort of), and the scenes between Barry and Batman (BOTH Batmen) were terrific.  I did, however, think it was a bit of a cheap stunt to make the "explanation" of the birth of the new timeline mostly a setup for future stories. (The hooded woman from the double-page spread is in the background of all the new #1s.) But overall, I consider the main series a success. (But see Brian Hibbs' review which I agree with a lot of.) The tie-ins, not so much.

The tie-ins, for the most part, seemed to be exercises in "give a familiar character the worst life possible and then brutally murder them" which got repetitive after a while. Series I did enjoy included "Kid Flash Lost" (by far my favorite), "Project Superman", "Batman: Knight of Vengeance" (sick and wrong in the best possible way), "Outsider", "Lois Lane & the Resistance" (mainly because it was nice to see her name in a title), "World of Flashpoint", "Frankenstein" and the Aquaman & Wonder Woman series which, while relentlessly depressing, at least nicely filled in the backstory of the Flashpoint Earth.

Justice League #1: It’s a good comic for what it is – the art is terrific and some of the Batman/GL scenes are great – but what it isn’t is a comic with the Justice League in it. Not yet, anyway. I think a slow burn is appropriate sometimes, but not for the first book of a universe relaunch. I like that Johns is trying to put this story together carefully, and I think it's a smart decision to show Cyborg's new origin, but I wish he had at least started with some cool scenes of the League and then flashed back to their first meetings. This isn't a case IMO where it's OK to say "it'll read well in the collection" because there won't be a collection until May. On the other hand, this book had the whole weight of relaunch expectations on it so maybe it was impossible for it to be satisfying.

Action Comics #1: This is so different that I'm still processing it a little bit. When John Byrne rebooted the franchise 25 years ago, we all said "F--- yeah that's the Superman we remember". (Except we didn't say "F--- yeah" because that hadn't been invented yet.) But this Superman is one we've never seen before. Still, I'm pretty sure I like it and I definitely want to see more. One of the most grounded Grant Morrison comics in a long time, for those of you who sometimes get headaches from his work. I also think Rags Morales' art really suits the down-to-earthiness of the story really well, which makes me worry a little about the substitution of Brent Anderson for parts of #2-3. Not that Brent's art won't be great, because he's awesome, but it just seems too early to change the look.

Animal Man #1: Great. Loved the family stuff and the digs at celebrity culture, and from the ending it looks like there's an interesting horror aspect coming in. Not much to add to Mike's review.

Batgirl #1: Holds up very well under the weight of high expectations. I'm not in love with new Babs yet in the same way I was with "Birds of Prey" Babs, but I already like her a lot and the rest will come with time, I'm sure. The stuff about her time in the wheelchair feels very authentic, and I already am warming up to her more after a second reading.

Batwing #1: Better than I expected. I like that it's set in urban Africa instead of cliche jungle Africa, and I think maybe it's the first ongoing DC title with an all-black cast? (Except for a couple of brief Batman cameos I could have lived without.) The ending kind of kicks over the table, so it's hard to say yet what the supporting cast will be like.

Detective Comics #1: For a book that's supposed to be set in a nearly unchanged version of familiar continuity, this sure felt like it was set in the past to me with stuff like GCPD openly firing on Batman and Batman not seeming to have much experience with the Joker. The controversial ending definitely has shock value, but I rolled my eyes at it because there's little chance it'll stick even at the "new" DC. Not bad, but my least favorite of the week 1 books. (But I wasn't a huge fan of Tony Daniels' Batman before, so your mileage may vary.)

Green Arrow #1: Good. Certainly better than the post-Brightest Day issues, though that's not saying much. I like the new spin on what Ollie stands for, but with all the gadgets and the money and the high-tech support system they're going to have to work harder at justifying what makes Green Arrow different from Batman.

Hawk & Dove #1: I liked this. I was a big fan of Sterling Gates' Supergirl, and I like his writing here too. I'm not sure Deadman needs to be in this book, other than as someone for Dove to talk to, but hopefully that will become clear eventually. Suffers a little from being exposition-heavy -- and I wish he had left out the reference to Crisis -- but again that should get better over time. Rob Liefeld's art has never been to my taste, but on the other hand I've never felt he deserves all the personal attacks he gets over it either. His work here still isn't my thing, but it's the best I've seen him do in years -- way better than those "Teen Titans" issues he did a while back -- and I think it suits the book well. My only issue with the art is that the new avatar on the last page (Gates says it's not Kestrel) is too similar-looking to Hawk, which confused me at first. (To be fair, it could be a coloring issue as well.)

Justice League International #1: A good start. I like the reasons for the team to exist, and for the members that were chosen (especially Batman.) I would have liked the "real" League to be a little more established before starting this book, but that's OK.

Men of War #1: War books aren't really my thing (although the modern-day setting helps) but this is a very good one and I think people that like this kind of thing will love it.

OMAC #1: Not sure what Dan Didio is contributing here, since the finished product reads like it came straight out of Keith Giffen's brain. Pure Kirby kraziness and I loved it.

Static Shock #1: Nearly perfect, and one of my favorites this week. Rozum & McDaniel capture the spirit of the original series perfectly, and I was thrilled to see Virgil's family (people only familiar with the cartoon will be surprised to see his mom) and another Milestone hero for the first time in a while.

Stormwatch #1: Unfortunately, I don't remember a lot of this a couple of days after I read it so I guess I'm not hooked yet. But Paul Cornell has earned a lot of trust, so I'll be sticking around for a while. I did like the idea of the Stormwatches throughout history, and how they seem to be related to the team in Cornell's "Demon Knights."

Swamp Thing #1: Other than the fact that I don't understand why Alec Holland and Swamp Thing are still separate when the whole point of "Brightest Day" was to merge them, I thought this was a good start. Again, similar to Justice League, I would have preferred to see more Swamp Thing. But Scott Snyder sold me on his long-term plan for the book at Baltimore, and Yanick Paquette's art is gorgeous.

With the exception of Detective, I say so far so good. Week 2 books I'm most looking forward to: Batwoman, Demon Knights, Legion Lost, Mr. Terrific.

Comments

  1. Glad to see your posting on Flashpoint #5. I actually read a monthly comic and saw no comments here. Humanizing Batman and giving Flash and Batman something in common (parents that they couldn;t save) was touching and seeing Batman cry is likely to raise emotions in anyone who has lost a parent. Brilliant use of restraint of dialog.
    And I have to agree about Justice League #1...it was more of a prologue than worthy of a whole comic. Yes, it sets the scene for the (new) world we are entering but it wasn't enough for me to find it a complete start. Not a misfire, just not enough to get me excited.

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