Monday, November 5, 2012

Remaining New 52 Reviews

Since I allowed myself to fall waaaay behind, I'll just do a bunch of quick reviews of the rest of the trades I read. Got it? Good.

Batwoman, volume 1: Hydrology
Kate Kane is an extremely pale lesbian who dresses up like a bat and fights people. Despite stealing his whole motif, she doesn't actually work with Batman and doesn't particularly want to. Anyway, she fights a ghost that drowns kids. The character is interesting, the writing is nothing stellar but it's OK, and the artwork is FUCKING GORGEOUS. I would recommend this for the artwork alone but like I said, the writing is merely OK.

Also, I find amusing how Kate has short hair, but wears a long-haired wig as part of her costume. Wouldn't that get in the way during fights? I know that long hair whipping all over is standard for superheroines, but it's hard to ignore when the character puts on long hair whenever she's getting ready for battle.

Detective Comics, volume 1: Faces of Death
This is why most mainstream comics use a different guy as the writer and artist. When it's the same dude, one of those fields suffers. In the case of Detective Comics, it's the writing. A lot of it just feels like it's trying too hard to be dark, to the point that I feel like the comic relies too much on shock value. The Dollmaker could have been a terrifying new villain, but he's wasted by a rushed and poorly written story. The second story in this volume, involving Penguin, was just a chore to read. Give this one a pass. It's not very good.
Batgirl, volume 1: The Darkest Reflection
 I like the new villain, Mirror. He's an interesting character. He's a serial killer that targets people who've had near-death experiences, since he believes that they cheated death and he needs to right this wrong. Barbara Gordon is an... alright character. I'm not too familiar with her time as Oracle (which I'm not even sure happened in this continuity), so I can't comment on that. Overall, I liked this book, though it isn't exactly on my "Must Buy" list. It's decent, but there's a lot of other comics that are better.

Batman, volume 1: The Court of Owls
 Scott Snyder... He writes the New 52 Swamp Thing, which you may recall is something I praised quite a bit, and Batman is even better. Between those and American Vampire, Snyder's quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. Anyway, yeah, this comic is really good. It's about Batman investigating a mysterious organization known as the Court of Owls, which has ruled Gotham from the shadows since the city's founding. Seriously, go read this book. It's one of the best parts of the whole relaunch.

Animal Man, volume 1: The Hunt
 Kick. Ass. Animal Man explores a side of superherodom that you don't often see: a superhero with a wife and two kids, whose mostly given up his vigilante days to focus on supporting his family (though he still puts on the tights once and a while). Things get hectic when his four-year-old daughter inherits his abilities, except that she's far more powerful than he ever was. Turns out she's the chosen of the Red, the force of Animal Life, in the coming war against the Rot (remember the Rot from the Swamp Thing review). This has been built up as one of the best books of the relaunch, and when I read it, I felt it was good, but not as great as everyone claimed. Then I read it again, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I really recommend this book, because it really is one of the best books DC is currently offering. Just try not to fall victim to hype backlash like me, k?

I, Vampire, volume 1: Tainted Love
 One of the New 52's biggest surprises. I, Vampire is a reboot of an old 80's miniseries that ran in House of Mystery, and while it looks like a cheap Twilight cash-in, don't be fooled. This is an excellent horror comic, and an excellent vampire story. I'd rank it up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the "Romantic Vampires Done Right" category. The story centers around Andrew Bennet, a 400 year old vampire who seeks to live in harmony with humanity. His lover, Mary Seward, aka the Queen of Blood, has different ideas, and is assembling an army of vampires to conquer humanity before the humans can wake up to their existence and send these newfangled "superhero" fellows after them. The relationship between the two leads is surprisingly deep and moving, as the two truly love each other, even though, by their own choices, they oppose each other, and must be prepared to kill the other one. I'm really looking forward to reading more of this. Recommended to everyone who likes vampire stories. Just ignore the cover. It's... non-indicative.

Voodoo, volume 1: What Lies Beneath
 Eh. What can I say? So much wasted potential. Voodoo is a shapeshifting alien spy working undercover on planet Earth. She works as a strip club near a military base so she can read the minds of unsuspecting male officer patrons. Her cover is blown, and she's forced to kill a federal agent and go on the run. From there, you'd expect the comic to be about this woman hiding from the government, finding her place in the world, and ultimately turning against her alien masters. You'd be wrong. Instead we get a kind of stupid story involving clones and the most stupidly evil alien invaders ever. Also an odd situation where Voodoo has sex with the dead agent's female partner while wearing his body, which is technically rape and kind of uncomfortable to read. But yeah, give this a pass. It's been cancelled anyway.

Supergirl, volume 1: Last Daughter of Krypton
 This belongs with I, Vampire in the "Surprisingly Awesome" category. Kara Zor-El crash lands on Earth with no idea what the hell is happening, where she is, or why she suddenly has superpowers or is wearing Kryptonian armor. You really feel for her as she struggles with her panic, fear, and confusion and investigates what happened to her home. This is the story of a stranger coming to terms with her new surroundings, even as circumstances conspire to shove her into the role of hero. I loved this comic, and will definitely be keeping an eye out for volume 2.

Justice League Dark, volume 1: In the Dark
 When a crazy Enchantress proves too much for the Justice League to handle, Madame Xanadu assembles a team of supernatural and dark heroes to save the day: Zatanna, John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, Deadman, and newcomer Mindwarp. Of course, all of them are busy dealing with their own issues and aren't particularly interested in the whole "team" thing, even though Xanadu has foreseen a world where they don't band together, and... well, it ain't pretty. The characters have good dynamics with each other, and each is likable and interesting in his or her own way. The villain makes a really compelling character. I think I'll recommend it, though something tells me it won't be everyone's cup of tea. Still, give it a try. I should also note that this and I, Vampire volume 1 end on the same twist, to pave the way for a crossover between the two books titled "Rise of the Vampires".

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., volume 1: War of the Monsters
 A team of supernaturals backed by a secret government agency is sent in to deal with supernatural threats. Also one of the members is a scientifically minded fish person. Yep. DC has finally come up with it's own answer to Hellboy. That being said HOLY SHIT THIS BOOK IS AWESOME. Seriously, Frankenstin, a mermaid... thing, a mummy, a wolfman, a vampire, and Frankenstein's bride all fight monsters together while under the command of Father Time, a being who changes form every decade, and this decade he's... a small Japanese schoolgirl. Also, Ray Palmer, that scientist who can shrink himself, is involved. If that description alone did not make you jump up and declare that you must read this gloriously insane and crazy-awesome comic, then, frankly, there's no hope for you. Sadly, this series has been cancelled by DC, so after volume 2's trade collection comes out, that's it. It's a damn shame, really.

Action Comics, volume 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
 Grant Morrison adapts Superman's origins in this comic. I should note that the trade for this is bigger than usual. The average size for trade collections is 6 issues, but this trade features eight. Eight very good issues, mind you. Set 5 years before the rest of the reboot, this centers on Superman's early days. He's just arrived to Metropolis, doesn't know what he really is, and is still getting the hang of this whole "superhero" business. However, as the military, with the aid of Lex Luthor, develops weapons to counteract this strange superhuman vigilante, while the alien entity known as "Brainiac" approaches Earth with its own designs, Superman finds himself forced to grow up, to face the truths of his origin, and to become the hero we all know he is. I have, historically, been uninterested in Superman, but this comic was excellent. Special mention goes to the back-up stories included at the end of the volume, which consist of tales about Steel (who is introduced in the main plot as well) and Clark Kent's childhood. The one about his parents was a really touching one that pulls at the heartstrings. Go read this book. You won't regret it.

Nightwing, volume 1: Traps and Trapiezes
Dick Grayson, formerly Robin, currently Nightwing, goes to visit his old home Haly's Circus, which is in town as Gotham. On his way back, he's attacked by an assassin who claims that Dick is the deadliest killer in Gotham. Naturally, this confuses Nightwing and he starts investigating. Things get more complicated when he inherits the circus. This book heavily ties in to Batman, as both volumes lead up to the Night of the Owls crossover. I think the fact that Kyle Higgins needed to build up to Snyder's big planned event kind of holds this book back though. It's decent, yes, and I want to read more about Nightwing, but I feel like the best recommendation I can give is that it provides further build-up and context for the aforementioned crossover (by the way, the Night of the Owls trade is gonna be released in February, and it contains every comic issue involved in the crossover).


And.... that's it. I have reviewed every DCnU trade I have read. I may or may not get my hands on All-Star Western and review that, but until then, well, see ya.

Ooh. Oh yeah. Remember in the Birds of Prey review, I said I'd read a solo series about Katana. Well, guess what?

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