Back again! If you like comics, here’s more reviews! If you don’t like comics, well… Jog on, then!
Demon Knights #1
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Diogenes Neves (pencils), Vicente Cifuentes (inks), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)
Paul Cornell’s Action Comics was awesome, and that’s about all I’ve read by him. He does strike me as an immersive (weird how that’s not a word. Immerse is a verb, so why can’t it be used adjectivally?) dude, with his Action and Knight and Squire getting deep into their respective mythologies. I read his Stormwatch, but that didn’t really make enough of an impression on me to blag about it.
Demon Knights does, though. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of any of the characters here. Enchantress, Jason Blood, Shining Knight, and Etrigan aren’t weird and sci-fi enough for my tastes, but that’s precisely why I love this book- It actually makes me interested in what’s going on. Green Arrow's Diogenes Neves provides the art, and this is a much much better outlet for it. Marcelo Maiolo's colors bring a rich storybook feel to this swords and sorcery adventure, and since the final page promises dinosaurs, you can bet I'll at least check out the second issue.
Written by Scott Lobdell/Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Art by R.B. Silva/Mahmud Asrar and Dan Green/Dave McCaig/The Hories
Instead of taking individual looks at the Super ancillary titles, I’ll combine them, because neither inspired much to write home about. Scott Lobdell’s work is new to me, and Superboy #1 worked as a fine (re)introduction to the character. I’m not sure if this is the same Kon-El written masterfully by Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire, but I think that confusion is intentional. The best part of the book isn’t even Superboy, it’s Gen13 protagonist Caitlin Fairchild as the Sally-Jessy Raphael-lookin’ scientist in charge of our hero. Lobdell makes her interesting enough to wonder where she’ll go, and it shows DC utilizing ALL of its intellectual properties, a la its post-Crisis integration in the 80s. The book’s nothing special, but it’s worth $3 if you’re interested.
Supergirl had a great run a few years back with writer Sterling Gates, and even farther back during Peter David’s run in the Nineties. Former Superman/Batman scribes Green & Johnson deliver an exciting first issue, and unlike Batman or Green Lantern, which merely function as a continuation of things pre-reboot, Supergirl #1 is truly a Number One, and for that reason, it’s a whole lot of fun. This is definitely a decompressed story on par with Justice League, but new readers won’t be confused and old fans will likely be intrigued by this new status quo (I am, at least).
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo (pencils), Jonathan Glapion (inks), FCO Plascenscia
I can’t say I expected much from this issue, because I knew it was going to be awesome from the moment I heard about the creative team. Grant Morrison’s run on the Bat titles since 2006 has been staggeringly awesome, and probably one of the best Batman stories of all time. Almost as good, though, was Scott Snyder’s run on Detective Comics this past year. “The Black Mirror” was actually showing up Morrison’s Batman, Incorporated in terms of reliable monthly awesome storytelling, whether it was from Snyder, or artists Jock, Francesco Francavilla, and David Baron.
This new issue might in fact be the best out of the ‘New 52’. Batman’s status quo hasn’t really changed, and Snyder manages to reflect that all while writing a book that any comic fan can read. The story picks up thematically where “The Black Mirror” ended, with Gotham City showing itself as Batman’s ultimate foe.
Greg Capullo’s art is a cartoonier variant of say, Andy Kubert or Jim Lee, but it recalls classic Bat artists like Norm Breyfogle and Todd MacFarlane (I wonder why that is…) The only complaint I have of the issue is that there’s a few moments where I can’t tell the difference between the square-jawed, jet-black haired Bruce Wayne and new character Lincoln March (who looks the same). But despite that, Snyder, Capullo, and co have crafted an exciting first issue that will (hopefully) go down alongside other Bat beginnings like Hush and Batman & Son. You owe it to yourself to pick this up if you have any vested interest in Batman or DC Comics.
Batman ancillary titles
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, Scott Lobdell, J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman, Kyle Higgins, and Judd Winick
I think I’ve read or picked up all of the 900 Bat titles, excluding Batwing, because I just plain don’t give a shit about it (sorry, Judd Winick). But I did read Batman and Robin, Batwoman, Nightwing, Catwoman, and Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Batman and Robin picks up mostly where Pete Tomasi’s previous run left off, except it’s Bruce Wayne under the cowl instead of Dick Grayson. This is one book that doesn’t pack too many surprises, and I didn’t expect anything more than a Bruce/Damian character contrast, and that’s what I got. If you’re looking for a fun, action-packed Bat book, this is the way to go. Except after you buy Snyder’s book.
Batwoman also picks up where it left off pre-reboot, except this time it’s without Greg Rucka. As a result, it loses some of that pulpy feel, but J.H. Williams is possibly the greatest comic book artist today, so it makes it all alright. You don’t need to read Rucka’s Detective Comics run to understand this, as everything’s explained in one handy page (thanks to Williams). You should probably pick this up. I think because it’s expected to be so good, it’ll fly under the radar. And I think I’m not doing it justice. But you should read it nonetheless.
Nightwing also picks up where “The Black Mirror” left off, with Dick Grayson returning to his former identity and running around Gotham. Writers like Marv Wolfman, Chuck Dixon, and Pete Tomasi have all left lasting impressions on the character, and Kyle Higgins looks like he could do the same. But this issue wasn’t that exciting for me. Like Batgirl, this issue moves in the same beats as another first issue- in this case, Marv Wolfman’s first issue in the previous Nightwing series some years back. That’s a minor nitpick, but things just weren’t as exciting as they were when Grayson wore a cowl. I expect things to get better, as the Higgins-penned Gates of Gotham miniseries was excellent. But I’ll be waiting…
Catwoman's been getting a lot of flack for its sexuality, and a lot of this is being pinned on controversial writer and comics whipping boy Judd Winick. Winick memorably introduced “gay agendas” into his Green Lantern run, and infused a “liberal bias” into his Green Arrow, which if I’m not mistaken actually follows a liberal character. This time, Winick’s being crucified for the sexcapades on display (which he made no effort to hide months before in interviews), namely one that involves Catwoman grinding Batman to a halt with their suits on. I guess a leather-clad, dominatrix-like femme fatale villain like Catwoman can’t exert herself sexually? The backlash really confuses me. Or maybe it’s because comics fans don’t like sex because it’s icky?
I understand women and comics are usually big-chested sex objects (Amanda Waller’s reboot weight-loss also created fan furor), but seriously, Catwoman? The character who represents the threat of emasculation to Batman, thus making her one of the most popular and enduring villains? I think it’s alright if her book features cheesecake artwork from Guillem March, namely cleavage and ass close-ups. I’m neither the mouthbreathing comic fan who finds tits icky, nor am I the type to lust over drawings of big-titted women, but I am the type who finds all of this outrage fucking stupid. But yeah, the book’s funny and exciting, and I hope it sticks around.
Also featuring the sexual exploitation of fake characters is Scott Lobdell’s Red Hood and the Outlaws, which features the odd pairing of Roy Harper (former Green Arrow sidekick), Jason Todd (former Robin), and Starfire (former Teen Titan). Starfire has casual sex with both Jason and Roy, which has been a point of contention amongst readers and reviewers. But seriously, it’s a golden alien goddess who’s been dressed in a purple bikini since the fucking 1980s. You’re now complaining about her sexual objectification?
Oh, okay. I get it now. Anyway, Lobdell’s characters are well-defined, and the issue sort of doesn’t really go anywhere further than introducing characters and setting up future plot points. I don’t think I’ll be back for the next issue, but this wasn’t a bad read by any means.
I’ll be back next week with the Green Lantern titles, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, and whatever else looks good.