So a few months ago, you probably heard about how DC did this whole “relaunch” thing with releasing 52 new comic books completely free of continuity, blah blah blah.
Of course I meant to comment on this, but they were released right when I had the least amount of time from work and haven’t even had a chance to read any comics until recently. Of course, now that some of these series are up to issue 3, they won’t be just examinations of the first issue alone.
Demon Knights – I had passed this title by initially. Although the concept of Etrigan – that of a hero and villain sharing the same body – appeals to me, his execution in DC has often been… lackluster. (that I’ve seen – if you have some recommendations, by all means share) A quick glance through the issue at the newsstand didn’t convince me to pick it up, but a later recommendation from Linkara caused me to reconsider. All in all, not bad. It’s kind of like a relaunch of Shadowpact – a sort of “Justice League: Magic edition” but set around medieval times. I’d say this is probably one of their best examples of the relaunch as you don’t have to be steeped in continuity to follow the story, making it accessible for new readers, but there are still treats and surprises going on in some panels for the veteran reader who knows his DC lore. So I’m going to keep picking this up, just to encourage DC’s medieval superheroes trend.
Justice League International – After the comic event 52, I got hooked on the Booster Gold comic series that launched from it and collected it from issue 1 until the last. It had its ups and downs, but all in all I liked the idea of a “superhero of time” and enjoyed some of the adventures they’d have with time travel. I was disappointed that BG wasn’t getting his own book in the relaunch, but I decided to pick up JLI since it was the only one showing Booster; and hoped his time travel exploits would continue. Again, a pretty good book although there still seems to be some continuity in play in it. The worst is probably the inner-book continuity. Within the first 3 issues we’ve had Batman & Guy Gardner both make appearances on the team. And while both of them are awesome, Batman has 3 other books dedicated to him as well as making an appearance in the regular Justice League book. Meanwhile, in the GL:Corps book (coming up), Guy’s in the middle of something that makes one wonder just when these JLI adventures were supposed to be happening. Look, I actually like team books, but it’s stuff like this which causes confusion for new readers. How does Batman have any time at all? (he must have stolen a time turner from Hogwarts, it’s the only explanation) Are these books taking place before or after the GL:C cliffhanger where Guy’s stuck on an alien planet? Good overall but showing the problems that led to this relaunch in the first place.
Red Lanterns – Why? No really. Why? I picked up this book because I’m a sucker for all things Lantern, but why the Red Lanterns? Of the 6 other colors of the spectrum (if you don’t count black & white), why does this one get an entire book focused on it? Their entire schtick is “rage”. Only one person of the entire group actually speaks! There’s just… not much meat there for a story. During the Blackest Night event, DC released a miniseries called “Tales of the Corps”, which told stories about the other colors (and their members) that were fighting in the war. Why didn’t DC make this book something like that? An “anthology” of sorts, taking time to look at all the different lantern corps in the DCU? I’m giving this one more issue (for 4 total) before dropping it.
Green Lantern – And speaking of lanterns, this book shows another problem with the previous one: that it’s almost like the relaunch didn’t happen. Previously Sinestro had been re-inducted into the Green Corp while Hal Jordan was kicked out of it. Here, we see both of them trying to adjust to it. Why this issue had to be #1, I still don’t know, as I just can’t believe new readers will be able to pick up the book and read along. As for the story itself, I do find it interesting examining Hal trying to adjust to being grounded after being a space cop for so long. Heck, he’s been away so long he’s behind on rent, his driver’s license expired and he doesn’t have a job. It kind of makes one wonder more about the earth of DC. Like why did Hal have a “secret identity”? 1) He was a cop (of space) and there’s kind of a reason societies generally don’t have their law enforcement masked. Seems like there should be some way for him to parley his status as former Green Lantern into endorsement deals or something. I know that seems crass (and Booster Gold has been looked down upon for doing this very thing), but the man is homeless and starving! We provide wages and retirement packages for our police, firemen, etc – why would superheroes be any different? (the answer would be a very complicated one, which is why I’m disappointed the book isn’t examining it) 2) Is there some kind of allowance for people that have to go away for a long time? When Superman goes away for a week to save the world from alien invaders, what happens to his stuff? (well, he used to have a wife to take care of it for him) Looks like a business would sprout up around catering to superheroes, granting them long term storage or something (maybe it would accept them putting it in their hero name instead of secret identity or something). It just kind of makes one wonder why no one’s had this problem before Hal (who heck, was dead for longer than Superman and still came back).
Green Lantern Corps – Oh hey, the book that IS answering some of these questions. Sort of. Although this book is a bit like the previous one (no real difference between it and previous issue), it is a bit more newbie friendly, so I don’t find any fault with the #1 slapped across the cover. Here we have Guy Gardner & John Stewart trying to create civilian lives for themselves. Interesting, and a good book over all. BUT there is something I have to rant about. As I’ve said before (and again), I REALLY HATE politics in my art – especially when it disrupts the story and just… breaks things. Here’s a good example. A quote from a character talking to John Stewart:
…But these safety measures are incredibly cost prohibitive mister Stewart. You’re asking us to go above and beyond what every other building owner is doing in the city.
Stewart doesn’t like this and after an argument, grabs a couple of business people and drags them to the top of a building his ring builds. He then says:
Tell your board the next time the Justice League or the Teen Titans have a major throwdown with some major nasties or a 9.2 earthquake rocks the city, the specially developed super-powered inclusion reinforcement they voted for will maintain the structural integrity of their building and keep it from falling down and killing thousands of people.
There’s then this exchange:
Strawman- You assured us you’d keep the budget under control.
John Stewart- Not at the risk of human life I didn’t.
Strawman- The city engineers and the mayor’s office approved all the code specs without your upgraded and unnecessary safety measures.
What makes this worse? Here’s something a person interviewing Guy Gardner says not THREE PAGES EARLIER (not counting ads)
But to be perfectly honest our liability insurance rates would go through the roof having you on school grounds.
Now I admit that the concept that insurance still exists in the DCU is kind of fascinating. With all the casual property destruction that goes on every day, it seems like no insurance company could afford to be in business. Still, if having a Green Lantern on school grounds would increase insurance rates, what would having an extra safe building in a major city (common stomping grounds for big power showdowns) do for the owners’ insurance rates? Just making a back of the envelope guess, but unless John Stewart’s safety modifications are so expensive as to be infeasible, the savings the building owners would rake in from their insurance rate would almost have to pay for the extra building cost several times over. John Stewart even has a brief aside:
Or better yet, tell them it’ll keep their liability and court costs down.
More than just liability costs! Heck, every time the building is damaged and rendered inoperable from a battle or earthquake, the owners are going to be losing money until they can get it back up again. It’s that stupid cliche: the writers are having these people be greedy, but not greedy enough. STOP TRYING TO MAKE POLITICAL POINTS WHERE IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!
Green Lantern: New Guardians– So far this book is more like a solo book for Kyle Rayner. Who’ve I always kind of liked. This is one where it does help to know more continuity, but it isn’t insurmountable to newbies. I’d recommend it to them as a way of understanding how rich the Green Lantern mythos and universe can be, without being lost over some of its minutia.
Fury of Firestorm– I am… so “meh” when it comes to Gail Simone. It’s not that she’s a bad writer, I just haven’t found much from her that really strikes a cord with me – and this book doesn’t help. Firestorm is one of my favorite superheroes, I liked the interplay of two minds having to share one body and all the character examination one got from that. But there’s always been two sort of problems with the character. #1. Sometimes the two characters got along a little two well. Part of the fun of group/team books or stories involving multiple people is watching the personalities bounce off each other. #2. Firestorm is one of the most powerful heroes in the DCU. No I’m not kidding – he can make kryptonite any time, any where (just for example). There have been efforts to balance him out some here and there but the biggest flaw has always been that much of his stories are on a “street level”, like Batman or Spider-man. Is the mob really that much of a threat to a guy who can make gold, in a cave, WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS? No. Firestorm has always been a character who’s power set demands much larger scale stories, worldwide – if not cosmic scale. So far it seems like Gail is trying to take FS on a more international scale… but it’s still too small for him. (unless you want to do a story about how this single person could disrupt every economy everywhere – but only 3 of us would like reading that) And while I appreciate Gail trying to bring SOME conflict between the two leads, it all seems way too forced right now (heck, issue 3 has one of them saying – multiple times in a thought box – how much he hates the other one – SHOW DON’T TELL). Plus, with one of the characters being a nerd, and the other a jock… a lot of the conflict between them has been over their different races. Just once could we get a story where a white guy and a black guy have a conflict NOT related to their races? Might go a long way towards getting everybody to hate everybody else for who they actually are, and not just some physical feature. Still, my fandom of firestorm will force me to pick up every issue till it stops. Just… the poor guy deserves better. (like his last series right before it got canceled)
Supernatural #1 – …Wait, what?
That’s right, DC is now publishing a SPN comic under their label and not wildstorm. And while this issue did come out in the midst of their 52 relaunch, it wasn’t technically a part of it. So we’ll be examining that during the mid-season hiatus.
All in all… looks like DC’s effort is a mixed bag, which is what I said it would be. Some issues seem to prove the relaunch was the right idea but still a few issues that it made no difference.
You can also listen to Linkara’s thoughts on the relaunch here: