Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The DC Universe, Week One

Today is the first week of DC's 52 newly relaunched titles.

I'm not counting last week's disastrously-bad-yet-astoundingly-successful Justice League #1 as the relaunch's first week, since it was only one issue. But the mediocrity of that issue may actually work in DC's advantage, lowering expectations of this, the first full week of the relaunch.

And in this first batch, we have Grant Morrison's Action Comics, the highly-anticipated Batgirl, and the first look at how WildStorm and Vertigo characters will be handled as part of the new DC Universe. Big week, then.

Here's the full, annotated list of what today will bring:

  1. Action Comics #1. Written by Grant Morrison, penciled by Rags Morales, this is the one to watch. It takes place during Superman's early days, and Morrison's clearly taking a nod from the earliest Superman comics by making Superman a bit less of the lawful, by-the-books hero. It's slightly longer and $3.99, rather than the normal $2.99. This is the one everyone's chomping at the bit to check out. And that's nice to see, because that hasn't exactly been the case too often, at least in the past decade and a half, with Superman.
  2. Batgirl #1. The comic that launched a thousand, disability-related blog posts. We'll see, but with writer Gail Simone on board, it's unlikely to be bad. Certainly the most hotly-anticipated title this week, after Action Comics.
  3. Stormwatch #1. In which we find out how the WildStorm characters are going to be integrated into the new DC Universe. This one could wind up being really good or really bad, but in its favor, it's written by Paul Cornell, whose smart past work has earned critical respect. I'm a huge fan of The Authority, so I'll be watching this one carefully.
  4. Swamp Thing #1. Swamp Thing's been in the DC Universe again since Brightest Day, but nothing interesting has been done with him. Now, he's getting his own new series and a bright spotlight. But the standard here was set by Alan Moore's classic run in the 1980s, so we'll see how the new series fares. On the one hand, it could try to be more conventional DC fare, thinking this will avoid unfavorable Alan Moore comparisons. Bad idea, because it won't. Alternatively, this could try to be really smart, adapting classic stories and dark style to contemporary comics storytelling -- basically, Ultimate Swamp Thing. In which case, this probably will get good reviews. We'll see. I'm a huge Swamp Thing fan, so I'll be reading it carefully.
  5. Animal Man #1. Bringing Animal Man into the DC Universe was big news. But the character hasn't succeeded on his own since Grant Morrison's run in the early 1990s, so there isn't a great track record here. (I did like Jaime Delano's run, but it didn't sell.) We'll see whether writer Jeff Lemire can do better. This is more a curiosity than anything else, and its hope is to get good reviews and become a sleeper hit. Time will tell.
  6. Batwing #1. The black Batman offshoot introduced by Grant Morrison gets his own series. We'll see how long it lasts.
  7. Detective Comics #1. Expect this first look at the post-relaunch Batman to get some attention, despite the fact that DC has said the character will be insulated from any major changes. If you weren't into the run-of-the-mill Batman titles before the relaunch, you're probably not going to start caring now.
  8. Green Arrow #1. Green Arrow hasn't been hot since Kevin Smith wrote the title, but he has a fanbase. We'll see whether this title's long for the world.
  9. Hawk and Dove #1. No doubt one of the unlikeliest of titles, this one has art by Rob Liefeld, who illustrated the classic Hawk and Dove mini-series in the late 1980s. He's not the most popular guy these days, so I don't think anyone's expecting this title to last. I'll be watching it carefully, however, if only as a curiosity. If it succeeds, against all odds, expect a wave of '90s nostalgia to follow.
  10. Justice League International #1. This one focuses on a new mix based around the characters from the Giffen years. Because Justice League is starting with an extended flashback story, this is oddly the first look at any incarnation of the League in DC's new continuity, even though it's a spin-off title.
  11. Men of War #1. A war comic, loosely tied to DC's character Sgt. Rock. Based on the solicitation, I think most are merely wondering how awful this is going to be and how much it's going to glamorize war.
  12. OMAC #1. With Dan DiDio writing and Keith Giffen illustrating, this seems poised to be a sleeper hit. I'm totally there.
  13. Static Shock #1. I'm not sure who'll read this, beyond fans of the character.
And that's it. Call them DCnU #2-14.

Justice League #1 was the flashy but phenomenally dumb appetizer. Today is the first course.

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