Monday, November 19, 2012

New 52 Rankings

So, I reviewed 18 of the New 52. So, to cap off my reviews, I am going to do a countdown of the books I reviewed from worst to best. Enjoy.

18. Suicide Squad

Oh dear lord this comic SUUUUUUUUUCKS. The team is a bunch of unlikable dickwads. The story is a mess. The pacing is shit. It's just.... ugh. Reading Suicide Squad is like having a smoothie made of batshit and shards of glass (You might even say.... 8-) Adam Glass. YEAAAAAAAAH!!!!) poured into my eyes. Simply trying to think of things to say about this comic is painful. I almost have PTSD from this thing. This comic is physically painful to read.

17. Detective Comics

Ever wanted to see Joker's face skinned off? No? Tough shit. How about a legitimately creepy villain who vanishes off the face of the Earth when Batman just sort of gets bored and lets him go? And then a sudden shift to a story about the Penguin trying to run the most needlessly convoluted con ever? Detective Comics is a parade of poorly written stupidity.

16. Voodoo

Now we leave the Bad and head into the Boring. I actually had a little debate with myself about whether Voodoo or Birds of Prey was worse. I decided Voodoo because at least Katana was interesting. Voodoo, meanwhile, seems to be the DC version of NBC's V-- a story about secret reptilian alien invaders that still somehow, beyond all logic, manages to be boring. That's actually impressive in a way.

15. Birds of Prey

Like I said, Katana's the only interesting thing in this series. I honestly can't remember anything else. This comic was dull. On the bright side, though, Katana's getting her own solo series in February. I might even break my "wait for the trade" rule to read it. Wow. I'm talking about another comic instead of BoP. That's how boring it is.

14. Batgirl

Eh. It's OK, I guess. Batgirl struggles to be interesting, but unfortunately, Simone doesn't seem quite sure what to do with the book. There are a number of neat ideas, but they never really go anywhere. I liked it while reading it, but it faded from memory pretty quickly.

13. Nightwing

Like Batgirl, Nightwing was enjoyable when I first read it, but then started to fade after I put the book down. Although I should note that I find Dick Grayson's weakness for redheads amusing, since redheads, despite being relatively uncommon in real life, are a dime-a-dozen in the DC universe. Seriously. The trapeze artist chick in Nightwing's book, Batgirl, Batwoman, Mary Seward, Poison Ivy, Aquawoman, Sorceress, that one bitchy Amazon from Wonder Woman... and that's just the ones I can name off the top of my head. I get that giving a character an uncommon hair color signifies that they're special, but after a while it loses its specialness. Hell, Jim Gordon has red hair again now.

12. Batwoman

Gorgeous artwork. Seriously, GORGEOUS ARTWORK (I cannot stress this enough). Somewhat meh story. Batwoman does, however, win the "Socially Conscious" award for not only starring a lesbian, but utterly failing to make a big deal out of her sexuality. It's treated like just a normal thing. No grand statements, just... she's gay. Deal with it. Here's her girlfriend. They have a pretty standard relationship as far as superhero comics go. Moving on. On question though: why does Kate Kane look like a vampire? We already have a redheaded vampire chick in the New 52.

11. Aquaman

The fact that Aquaman isn't even in the top ten, even though I spent my whole review praising it, should tip you off that we are entering a deluge of awesome comics. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a relative newbie and Batman was the only hero I had more than passing knowledge about. Maybe I just got lucky and just happened to get a lot of the better books in the New 52, leaving most of the truly awful ones unread. Whatever the reason, I don't see why the relaunch gets such a bad rep when there are so many great comics here.

10. Justice League Dark

When DC did the reboot, it divided its books into multiple "Lines". One of them was called "The Dark." It focused primarily on horror comics and former Vertigo properties. As you will see from this ranking, The Dark is, in my opinion, the absolute best thing the New 52 has to offer. There is only one Dark title I didn't read, but all the others I enjoyed. Justice League Dark could sort of be considered the flagship title of The Dark, as it's a team book, starring various supernatural and horror-themed superheroes, as they deal with supernatural and horror-themed threats. This book gets a big glowing recommendation and, I'm not gonna lie-- writing JLD is officially on my list of dreams that I hope I will one day accomplish but probably never will. Here's hoping I don't end up writing fanfics. I've managed to avoid fanfics so far...

9. Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

I've mentioned before that this is DC's response to Hellboy, and I mean that. But that's not a bad thing. A bunch of monsters getting together and kicking ass? Hellz to yeah! The book doesn't take itself too seriously. It doesn't try to be Grim and Dark and such. It just takes the premise and has a lot of fun with it. It's really a shame that's getting the axe. Shame on you all for letting such a great book get canned.

8. Wonder Woman

This was the first of the New 52 that I read, and I still think it holds up pretty well. As a mythology nut and English major, the Greek Tragedy elements fill me with joy, and the art is still stylish and awesome. I understand why people are upset about the shift of focus away from feminism, and, had it been any other way, I'd probably be agreeing with them, but the Mythology Nerd in me is too damn happy with Azzarello's take on the book for me to really get all riled up about it.

7. I, Vampire

This comic, I feel, gets really unfair treatment. DC clearly ordered it in order to cash in on the Twilight/Vampire fad, and fans know this and have treated as such-- a cheap cash-in. But Fialkov and Sorrentino have gone out of their way to make this comic more than just a cheap vampire romance. The star crossed lovers angle is played creatively-- they are not on opposing sides by fate, but by choice. The vampires are actually intimidating-- Fialkov went back to Stoker for his folklore, and it shows. Anyone who's read the original Dracula will doubtless recognize the powers displayed by these vampires. It's a great story, about vampires as they should be-- it's not wish fulfillment. It's tragic, and it's gothic (in multiple meanings of the word).

6. Action Comics

What was Superman like when he was first starting out? Grant Morrison decided to explore this in Action Comics, which is really one of the highlights of the New 52. I've never really been much of a Superman fan-- I've always been one of those people who thought he was too flawless to be interesting-- but this book may have converted me. I was at the edge of my seat throughout the whole story. I've heard some people criticize it because Superman is too violent and arrogant, but come one guys-- Clark is in his early twenties at most in this comic. He just started out. He hasn't grown into the Boy Scout image yet. Now, to be fair, I have only read volume 1. I understand there's eventually a time skip wherein Action Comics catches up to the rest of the DCnU. I can't speak for how he acts there, all grown up. However, this young Kent? I like him. And once again, I have to recommend the back-up stories. The one about Mr. and Mrs. Kent is a really sweet and heartwarming and tearjerking tale.

5. Demon Knights

Woohoo! Heroic fantasy! Who got their Dungeons and Dragons in my DCU? Whoever it was, I want to thank them for providing such a fun and entertaining book. Seriously. Thank you. If you haven't read Demon Knights yet, GO READ IT NOW. I know in my review I said it was "just short f my 'must-buy' list", but it grew on me-- which is impressive since I already liked it to begin with. This comic is awesome and a hell of a good time. SO READ IT DAMN YOU.

4. Supergirl

If I wasn't a fan of Superman, what makes you think I was already a fan of Supergirl? As far as I could always tell, she was just Superman, but with blonde hair, tits, and a miniskirt. Luckily, the relaunch of extremely kind to Kara Zor-El, and she now has her own story, independent from her cousin, and the creative team is working hard to give her a rogues gallery of her very own. The result is a memorable and great superhero book with a sympathetic and enjoyable protagonist, as she finds herself in a strange land, uncovers the secrets of what happened to her people, and ultimately becomes one of Earth's greatest protectors.

3. Swamp Thing

I struggled to figure out how I'd arrange these last three. I'd knew they'd be in the top 3 pretty much from the very beginning, but deciding which deserved which spot proved difficult. Swamp Thing is one of the best things to come out of the New 52. A terrifying horror story, a dark superhero story, a twisted fantasy story, a trippy scifi story... This comic defies classification. Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing was the book that made me realize that I was going to deeply enjoy reading the New 52.

2. Animal Man

Animal Man is something of an anomaly. The comic stars a superhero who's happily married. He has a wife. He has two kids. He's publicly known as a superhero, but is mostly retired. He recently starred in a movie about a washed up superhero. With Animal Man, Lemire took a step back an examined how the superhero phenomenon effected the DC universe... and he did this without it intruding and the balls-to-wall horror of the tale, as Buddy Baker must race to prevent the Rot from spreading, while protecting his 4-year-old daughter, who's destined to be the greatest champion of animal life the world has ever seen. It ties in heavily with Swamp Thing, and it is AWESOME.

1. Batman

Have you read American Vampire? It's an ongoing series published by Vertigo. You should check it out sometime. I bring this up because Scott Snyder, the author of American Vampire, also wrote Swamp Thing and Batman. This guy is a goddamn genius, you know that? I've said it before and I'll say it again-- he is fast becoming my favorite comic book writer. Batman takes the character-- and the city of Gotham itself-- to a new and fascinating level. The new villains, the Court of Owls, are at once an intimidating foe, and a deeply complex mystery. Batman is the World's Greatest Detective, and this book reminds us of this fact, creating a villain who would not be out of place in a basic detective story, but at the same time is grandiose enough to fit right at home in the superhero genre as well. Perfectly paced. Perfectly crafted. Batman is, without a doubt, the best book in the New 52.

...And that's it. I'm officially done with my New 52 review project. Now I can focus on other things. Like working on the next episode of Myths and Monsters! I've greatly enjoyed reading these comics, and getting to know these characters. It's an experience I don't regret (well, except maybe for reading Suicide Squad, because, and I cannot state this enough, it is shit). I'm going to try to keep up with the trade releases of all the books in the top 10, but who knows if I'll be able to.

I hope these reviews were useful to you, the reader, and I hope you enjoyed going on this journey with me.


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