September 13, 2011

Crisis of Infinite Reviews: The New 52 week 1 pt. 2

Action Comics #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Rags Morales
Cover Artist: Rags Morales and Jim Lee
Publisher: DC

Grant Morrison gives us a Superman that’s a far stretch from the god-like Man of Tomorrow in All-Star Superman. This new Man of Steel is very much a man of the people, going back to his roots and delivering social justice to the bullies and crooks of Metropolis. When I first saw the previews for our new Superman, I was very turned off by the new blue collar style costume of a t-shirt and jeans, but it’s really a good fit for the character. It’s also interesting seeing Superman with a more rambunctious attitude. This Boy Scout doesn’t mind getting lippy with anyone, be it criminals or authorities. I like that Morrison has really stripped Superman down to local Average Joe hero, and even made him less powerful. I’m curious to hear how Superman haters take to this more vulnerable character. Rag Morales tells the story from an up close and personal perspective, which really works for him. Some people may need time to adjust to a new Superman, but I really enjoyed this issue and am very interested in where Morrison and Morales take us. – AH-4/5

Animal Man #1
Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman
Cover Artist: Travel Foreman
Publisher: DC

This issue was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. I want to avoid spoilers in this review, so I’ll keep things brief. Since reading his creator owned Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth, from the beginning, I expected Jeff Lemire to bring a certain level of weirdness to this title and he certainly did. A series like this needs a darker, almost surreal tone, and Lemire brought that to the table. Add a very meta plot and you have the best #1 issue from this week’s lot. Yes, even better than Swamp Thing. This new series has a very “Vertigo” feel, which is appropriate considering the character’s best run is widely considered to be Grant Morrison’s handling of him back with Vertigo in the ’90s. Here Animal Man doesn’t have the lame neon orange costume, but a more subdued blue on blue outfit that goes with the tone of the book. Travel Foreman’s pencils fits Lemire’s script like a glove, with his strange human expressions and spooky dreamworld. I loved his stuff in Cla$$War, and he ups his game here. Hopefully you can still find a copy of Animal Man #1, and if you like it too, check out Swamp Thing. These two go well together. Also, give Lemire’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 a go tomorrow. It should be another good one. 5/5 -AL

Batwing #1
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Ben Oliver
Cover Artist: Ben Oliver and Brian Reber
Publisher: DC

Batwing is a brand new title coming from the New 52 launch, and as you can probably tell, it is a Batman book, but it stars Batwing, the African chapter of the Bat-family. David Zavimbi is a good cop in a bad city, and with the help of some bat-themed armor from the Dark Knight himself, Zavimbi wages his one man war on crime. The issue opens nicely with Batwing in a brutal battle against an extremely sadistic madman hell bent on taking as many lives as possible. From there, Winick works backwards, unraveling who and what Batwing is, and he wastes very little time providing background stories, and jumps right into Batwing’s mission and his work with Batman. I appreciate Winick getting right to the point of crime fighting in this issue instead of writing some drawn out origin story. By the end of the issue we’ve met a few decently interesting characters, and have an exciting cliffhanger. As good as Judd Winick is with the story, I really believe that without Ben Oliver’s sleek and textured art this book could have been pretty underwhelming. Winick writes a pretty gory script, and Oliver captures every drop of blood beautifully. Batwing #1 won’t be winning any awards, or lighting the industry on fire, but if you’re a fan of the Bat-books you’ll likely enjoy this title. – AH-3/5

Hawk & Dove #1
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Cover Artist: Rob Liefeld
Publisher: DC

I’ve never been a fan of or cared about Hawk and Dove in the least. Or Rob Liefeld for that matter. And this book just reinforced exactly why I shouldn’t care about them. Hawk and Dove are faced with a bio terrorist who is about to unleash his zombie weapons on the country, but our heroes intervene just in time. But all that action feels like the subplot of the real story here: the dissension between Hawk and Dove, and Hawk’s reluctance to accept the new Dove as his partner. The whole conflict feels incredibly forced, and it doesn’t help that Hawk comes off like a Neanderthal, and not even an interesting one. One boring flashback sequence later, and we see a strange copy of Hawk hunting down Hawk and Dove’s scent. Falling even shorter than the story and dialog is Liefeld’s laughable art. Liefeld’s style may be endearing to some, but in this issue it doesn’t even really look like Rob Liefeld, it looks like someone trying to draw like Rob Liefeld. Muscles, limbs, and jaw lines are as exaggerated as ever and just look corny. If anyone’s wondering what New 52 book will be the first to get cancelled, look no further than Hawk & Dove. – AH-1/5

Justice League International #1
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Cover Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Publisher: DC

Do you like C-list superheroes? Dan Jurgens assembles a team of some of DC’s most obscure and unused finest. When the U.N. decides to put together their own Justice League of heroes, they reach out to Booster Gold to be the face and leader of the team. Most of the original JLI members are brought back for the reboot, but this doesn’t feel much like a team book. Booster Gold is the star of this title, and throughout the book we see Booster mustering the confidence to not only lead, but motivate his team. Aaron Lopresti’s pencils are sufficient, but it doesn’t stand out. It’s missing personality. Everything feels uniform and is lacking pop. I guess instead of having a Booster Gold #1, DC decided to milk the Justice League brand, but if the other member of JLI don’t start meaning anything by the next issue, I’m going to have trouble staying interested. – AH-2/5

Men of War #1
Ivan Brandon & Jonathan Vankin
Tom Derenick & Phil Winslade

I wanted to really like this one, but it felt like it was missing something. Pulling off a successful war comic isn’t easy, considering it’s a genre best served by film or actual photographic images. About a year ago, DC released a series of one-shots that were all army-themed books, like Sgt. Rock Our Army At War, which I thought was pretty good. So when I saw this series, set to star the grandson of Sgt. Rock in modern times, my expectations were high. The idea is a great one and there’s plenty of places to go with a modern warfare story. However, Garth Ennis’ War Stories or Jason Aaron’s The Otherside this issue is not. Maybe it’s because of the sensitivity surrounding a certain date from this past week, but this issue felt like a military puff piece. Which is fine if executed properly, but certain steps were missed in this issue that made it not work. For example, in the first story (there were two) written by Ivan Brandon, we have no idea where the soldiers are as no location is given. They’re… somewhere with trees? We don’t know. Secondly, we never know whom they are fighting against as we are never specifically told who the enemy is. All we see is a squad of racially ambiguous guys in berets and then a purple super-smear that destroys buildings. But we never see who it is. I think it may be the Flashpoint: Project Superman main character, but who knows. It’s tough to root for these guys if I don’t know who they’re killing. Which is a bummer, because the dialogue to open the issue, introducing the new Sgt. Rock was well done. The second story begins, and again, we have no idea where our heroes are. Just an ambiguous sandy region with people dressed in garb that force us as a reader to racial profile the bad guys. I mean, come on, just tell us who the enemy is! It read like a poorly written issue of G.I. Joe, and we already have enough of those. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s interesting that the enemy is so ambiguous in this issue. Kind of parallels real life. Anyway, that cover is pretty cool looking, right? Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I expected a lot more out of this one. 2.5/5- AL

Writer: Dan Didio
Artist: Keith Giffen
Cover Artists: Keith Giffen and HI-FI
Publisher: DC

You might remember the OMACs from DC’s Infinite Crisis, and you may even remember the original OMAC character from the 1970s created by the legend, Jack Kirby. It’s a concept I never found very interesting, but I figured this character has his spot in the New 52 for a good reason. But even after reading the first issue, I’m still left wondering what that reason is. The story has a lot of action, but very little plot. The massive Hulk-like OMAC smashes his way through a research laboratory while Brother Eye guides and controls him. While the story may have been thinner than the paper it was printed on, what stood out was the homage to Jack Kirby in the art. Kieth Giffen really strives to imitate Kirby from everything to facial details to weird sci-fi monsters. It’s all very fun to look at, but by the last page I really didn’t feel much reason to buy OMAC #2. – AH-1/5

Static Shock #1
Writers: Scott McDaniel and John Rozum
Artist: Scott McDaniel
Cover Artists: Scott McDaniel and Guy Major
Publisher: DC

I never read the original Static Shock comics by Dwayne McDuffie, nor was I a big fan of the animated series, but I was willing to keep an open mind with Static Shock. We join Static between the skyscrapers of New York City as he chases a living electrical vortex terrorizing the city. The writers give us a plot worthy of its animated series, which, unfortunately, is not a compliment. It’s your average superhero tale, not too deep, not too provoking. The plot, while underwhelming, didn’t bother me so much as the amount of time we spend inside Static’s head as his inner monologue carries on and on. I’m a big fan of Scott McDaniel’s work, and he shined just as vibrantly as ever here. I really enjoy the odd panel structure during action sequences. Though Static Shock isn’t off to an ideal start, I’d like to think there is real potential for the character in the future. – AH-2/5

Stormwatch #1
Paul Cornell
Aritst: Miguel Sepulveda
Cover Artist: Nathan Eyring
Publisher: DC 

Stormwatch has been protecting the planet from major threats before there were guys dressed as bats and cocky pilots with glowing jewelry. Though, right now they’re in the middle of recruiting a young man who seems to equal the power of a certain Kryptonian. The problem is, he’s not thrilled at being hunted by anyone and wants to be left alone. So, while those members have their hands full in Moscow, another member has his hands full on the moon which seems to be threatening the Earth. Literally. When it’s all said and done, a team member is compromised, Martian Manhunter gets pissed, and it’s just getting started! This issue drops you straight in the action foregoing any type of origin telling of the specific team members. Cornell does, however, give you plenty of sci-fi action and great story telling so that it doesn’t really matter. He’s got plenty going on in what is essentially a set up issue, and quite frankly his execution is damn near flawless. Sepulveda’s art provides the other half of this storytelling coin, and I was pretty impressed. Though the fast moving action scenes were the stand out panels, if you ask me. Oh, and for all of you who were whining and cursing DC for not having Martian Manhunter in the JLA book, you can put away your tissues and picket signs. It looks like he’s on both teams from his comments here. Stormwatch is starting off to be one very cool sci-fi title from Cornell and Sepulveda. IS – 4/5

Be sure to check out previous editions of Crisis of Infinite Reviews by clicking here!

Andrew Hurst
Andy Liegl



  1. Decapated Dan

    Whoever did Animal Man it deserved more chatter than that. Anyone who was a fan of the Vertigo stuff probably grabbed this one, and it was AWESOME! Best of the 52 by far!

  2. Animal Man was a good read and better than I expected but there wasn’t enough in that book to make me want to stay with the title. Maybe I’m wrong and my appreciation for it will grow later on but there’s other books out there that I’d choose over it and Stormwatch is one of those.

    Andrew, I heard pretty much the opposite about OMAC as I’ve seen way too many people singing it’s praises since it came out. I struggled through it and just put it down when it was given to me so I agree with you for the most part. I just can’t comment on how the book ended because I don’t know.

  3. Oh, and JLI just doesn’t even live up to it’s title since most of the heroes are American. If the group is put together by the UN then why isn’t it a bit more diverse?

  4. Sorry Dan, this published without my saved edits from last night. Now read the Animal Man dig!

    : D

  5. Decapated Dan

    Much better Andy except Morrison didn’t write Animal Man when it was under Vertigo 😛

  6. Umm… I’m pretty sure it was Vertigo. The TPB I’m looking at says Vertigo… ?

  7. DecapitatedDan

    That’s a trade is not single issues, and it was collected under the Vertigo line. Grant Morrison wrote Animal Man up to issue #26. Then Peter Miligan took over. It didn’t jump to Vertigo until issue #57 when Delano was writing it. Delano wrote it until issue #79 when Prosser took over and ran it until the end at issue #89. So nothing was done under Vertigo by Morrison.

  8. Thanks for clearing that up! I was confused because the TPB clearly said Vertigo, lol.

  9. DecapitatedDan

    No worries at all. To me the Delano and Pugh run was by far the best so I just want to make sure it gets the credit it deserves 🙂 I personally never read the Morrison stuff because he was in tights.

  10. I loved how OMAC was a homage to Kirby, but I was not impressed at all with Dan Didio’s script.

  11. I think JLI was better than 2/5, while it was not as good as Justice League Generation Lost, it still had some good stuff. I don’t think it is just a Booster Gold book, at all.

  12. @Nick

    It wasn’t a bad issue, but aside from Batman and Guy Gradner, who had merely cameos in the issue, none of the other JLI team mates stood out to me. If you’re gonna put JUSTICE LEAGUE in the title, it needs to be a real team book.

  13. I agree with Nick. Booster Gold is the lead but he doesn’t steal the show. My major criticism is that I don’t think a majority of the cast came off as individuals.

  14. […] costume. It just seems impractical for someone to wear who lives in a country in Africa.Batwing is one of the stronger titles coming out of the New DC 52, and Winick and Oliver are doing it with […]

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