Finally, Jaime Reyes is back in his own book. This one begins with another Blue Beetle on some distant planet in the far past who is destroying the population of some poor planet. It becomes apparent that the planet is his own, and he had no idea what he was doing. The scarab made him do it, honest. A member of the Reach (the alien race who created the scarabs) then shows up to recruit him for further evil deeds on other planets. This is their plan. This is why they send out the scarabs to unsuspecting worlds.
Well, cut through time and space and we arrive in El Paso, TX. Jaime Reyes is in high school, and his life will soon be changed forever. Before this issue is over we get to see our familiar Escarabajo Azul (Blue Beetle) and Jaime together again in what is one of the coolest costumes in all of comics. This issue doesn’t have much Blue Beetle action beyond the opening scene on an alien world, but it gets everything ready for Jaime to see what the beetle can do in the next issue. Jaime may have no clue what the scarab is, or why it has fused itself onto his spine, but there are those who will fight to acquire the power of Khaji-Da.
Overall I like this issue good enough. The opening scene wasn’t too great, but it gives enough explanation of why the Reach do what they do. It also showcases some of the Blue Beetle’s power. We then get an appearance from a member of the Reach’s old enemies in green. A good portion of the issue deals with Jaime’s daily life; high school sports, begging his parents for permission to attend a party, sneaking out to said party, hanging out with his best buddy, finding a sentient piece of alien technology. You know, regular high school stuff. The artwork and colors in this book are good, and the Blue Beetle suits look great. There is a bit of Spanish in the dialog, but nothing too heavy. It may be easy enough to figure out from the context, and what you remember of high school Spanish class. For those of us who have missed Jaime and his little blue buddy since their series went away a few years ago, you definitely need to take a look at this series. 4/5 – EA
Personally, I’m a big fan of Captain Atom. He’s a character who, when written properly, can be really cool. I’m also a big fan of J.T. Krul, and when I heard Krul was kicking off the new Captain Atom, I was excited, however, this first issue didn’t have the payoff I hoped it would. The issue starts strong with Cap in action against a giant robot foe, while Cap analyzes a few idiosyncrasies of human thought and behavior. I really liked these first few pages, as they showed how detached Cap has become from humans since essentially becoming a radioactive Superman. Later, we see Cap just beginning to come face to face with his own mortality, which you think would humanize his character a bit more, but that kind of conflict never really came through in the writing. My biggest problem was the second half of the book, while Cap is dealing with your typical ridiculous disasters that call for superhero intervention. Cap’s voice guiding us through the action is just so bland. It’s like he has no personality, and that was a huge turn off for me.
The highlight of this issue is Freddie Williams II’s art. He has a style similar to J.H. Williams III, where his art changes by the character and setting. At a glance, it would be easy to mistake Eduardo Risso and Francis Manapul as co-artists in this issue. Cap is a bright blue beam of soft light, and humans and objects are dark and vague, but with vivid expressions. Had an artist with a more generic comic book art style been attached to this book, I would have been sorely disappointed. But for now I’ll stick around and see if Captain Atom #2 picks things up. 3/5 – AH
The inaugural issue of DC Universe Presents features part one of a story starring former Brightest Day headliner, Deadman! In Brightest Day, Geoff Johns showed us Deadman was a character with potential to carry his own ongoing series, and DCUP #1 reaffirms it. We’re treated to a brief origin of how Boston Brand became the ghostly Deadman, and we’re shown what his purpose in the universe is. Like any other superhero, Deadman is out to save lives, but in a much deeper, more unique way than Superman or Batman. In order to achieve enlightenment and finally cross over to the afterlife, Deadman must make up for the sins of his life by stepping into the shoes (or bodies) of people on the verge of self-destruction, and guide their lives out of darkness and back into normalcy, helping them find redemption. Deadman is a character faced with issues much more difficult than a simple bank robbery by a supervillain. His conflicts are as grey as the limbo he exists in, and he has only his jaded sense of moral right and wrong as his sidekick. Most of the story takes place in Deadman’s inner monologue, which I usually find annoying, but Paul Jenkins does an amazing job of telling his story with Boston Brand’s voice, and you can feel the weight of every personal attachment Deadman has had throughout his journey so far. Although the art may not be winning any awards, the entire art team is working in great sync with each other, and things are consistent with every panel. This is a great start to this new title, and hopefully the launching pad for a future Deadman ongoing series. 4.5/5 – AH
Confusion! That’s what I felt after I closed this book. The story opens with a very creepy and gory death and mutilation of a couple of no-name GL’s, and then transitions to Guy Gardner interviewing for a job as a high school football coach. Then we move to John Stewart in his architect role, delivering some moral justice to some corrupt city officials, then to another ghastly conundrum on another planet that, while impressive, seemingly has nothing to do with the interesting murders at the beginning of the story. First of all, I don’t understand why we’re suddenly seeing all of sector 2814’s GL’s in roles with/in need of normal Earthly day jobs. Hal’s case in Green Lantern I get, and find that highly interesting. But in the case of Guy Gardner and John Stewart, I’m left baffled at why that’s interesting in the least. And if the events at the beginning and the end of the issue are related (and if we know anything about logical storytelling, they should be), then I completely missed it. Tomasi writes Gardner and Stewart in perfect character, but I’m just curious about this choice of story direction. Fernando Pasarin is amazing on art duty, and Scott Hanna and Gabe Eltaeb on ink and colors knock it out of the park. Though I’m skeptical about the story, I trust Tomasi, and I’ll see where things end up; it helps that the art is really pretty. 2.5/5 – AH
As I stated last week, I’ve been reading Legion stories for nearly 50 years now. Through all the relaunches and new teams, it’s good to see us back with the original team that I grew up with. While not the best Legion story I’ve ever read, this is definitely more like it than last week. Character interactions are spot on, with Brainy’s attitude toward Mon being a prime example. One thing I do like in both books has been the reference to the Flashpoint effect closing down time travel. While I assume this will not be a permanent thing, it does work to keep the 31st Century separate from the rest of the DC Universe for the moment, and essentially prevents any continuity problems with the books not fitting into the Legion’s past.
While I’m not sure it is as “New Reader” friendly as DC claimed the New 52 was supposed to be, the title does have its moments, introducing the main story with Cham’s team and his mission and at the same time referencing the membership additions. If anything the book introduces too many stories, but that has long been a factor in Legion stories, as with so large a team it’s tough to keep up with everything going on with the entire team. All in all, though, this Legion fan is happy with the new book and can see an enjoyable future (no pun intended) with this team. 4/5 – DW
Brian Azzarello is a writer whose work I always look forward to, and Wonder Woman #1 is a perfect example of why. Anyone familiar with his style knows his stories aren’t for the weak hearted, and his Wonder Woman is no different. When a God is after a woman named Zola who has an interesting connection with Zeus’s family, her conflict soon takes her to Wonder Woman, who quickly becomes involved. Azzarello writes an amazing script filled with genuinely creepy scenes, and manages a perfect blend of myth meeting science fiction. But the best part is how Azzarello steps back and allows Cliff Chiang’s art to evolve the story in front of you. Chiang’s style fits Azzarello’s dark sci-fi/myth perfectly, drawing panels dark and bloody, or sexy and vibrant when necessary. This is a great first chapter, delivering a chilling mystery that already has me hooked and looking forward to the next issue. Wonder Woman #1 presents a decent argument for being the best comic book in the New 52. 5/5 – AH
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