BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
It’s that time again – time for 13 New 52 #1s with a whole lot of diversity in titles. Last week, DC led with some incredible starts to their relaunch lineup, and this week the publisher upped the ante significantly with even more top-notch story beginnings.
This week boasted a vast array of books, including two Bat-family titles, a new origin for the Boy of Steel, the resurrection of Resurrection Man, and medieval adventures with the Demon Knights. Let’s get to it!
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
I have to admit that I’m a bit behind on Batman and Robin, and considering that, I wasn’t thrilled by this issue. Writer Peter J. Tomasi has the Herculean task of drawing from the mythos that makes Batman and Robin so appealing to longtime fans while also trying to start from a point that new readers can appreciate. That said, this book definitely skews to the fans of the old ongoing. If you followed Batman Incorporated, there’s also going to be a lot here for you. While I enjoy Patrick Gleason’s pencils and the threads Tomasi has set in motion, I’m not enough of a fan of the title for this to be an automatic in. Still, the setup is intriguing.
Status: ON THE FENCE
Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman with art by J.H. Williams
Readers have been waiting a long time for this book, ever since the zero issue hit almost a year ago — and man was it ever worth the wait. If you’re unfamiliar with Batwoman and Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams’ run on Detective Comics, this book will be more difficult to get into. However, Williams continues to prove his mastery as a visual storyteller while flexing his writing muscles to excellent effect. Williams and W. Haden Blackman have picked up seamlessly from the events of the Detective run and added a cool connection to the greater DC Universe by including Bette Kane (AKA Flamebird) in the main cast. Great read, can’t wait for the next issue.
I love Deathstroke the Terminator. He’s one of the coolest villains in the DCU, and it’s always fun to see him appear as the antagonist. While writer Kyle Higgins definitely stays true to the roots of the character throughout the issue, and Joe Bennett’s pencils depict his rampages in all their bloody glory, the issue felt a lot more like a one-shot than the beginnings of an ongoing series. Deathstroke killing his snot-nosed backup team at the end was interesting, but seemed to defeat the purpose of introducing them in the first place. I’m slightly intrigued by a few remaining threads, but I don’t think I can stick around for a second issue.
Written by Paul Cornell with art by Diogenes Neves
All I wanted to do this week was read more of this book. Paul Cornell has set up a great premise here: superhumans in the post-Arthurian era. Cornell balances action with political intrigue, magic and humor to great affect, especially when combined with Diogenes Neves’ art, which is just a fantastic fit for a book like this. Demon Knights features Jason Blood/Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, Exoristos, Al Jabr and Shining Knight, and it looks like Cornell is setting this up to be a really excellent ensemble title. This book is pure fun, and it’s definitely my favorite this week.
After Jeff Lemire’s incredible issue of Animal Man last week, I had high hopes for Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Maybe it’s because I’m just not a huge fan of the character, but I had a really tough time getting into this book. Those who had a chance to read the Frankenstein Flashpoint tie-in will have a little more context to some of the characters here, and the book has some potential. I like the concept of Father Time’s new host being a little girl, and it was cool to see Ray Palmer as part of S.H.A.D.E. — and the exposition was cleverly done. But I’m not the biggest fan of Alberto Ponticelli’s art style, and there just wasn’t enough here for me to keep hanging on for a second issue.
Written by Geoff Johns with art by Doug Mahnke
Every time I think I’m done with Green Lantern, Geoff Johns pulls me back in. Sinestro ring-slinging in green all over again works here, but what really sold me was Johns’ Hal Jordan without the ring. It was refreshing to see Jordan directionless without the ring and the Corps, and it hurt to see him as a loser who couldn’t really get his life together. Doug Mahnke, as always, draws Sinestro and Hal (even as a rudderless loser) in his signature style and quality that fans have come to expect. Like a lot of the new #1s this week, readers will get a lot more mileage out of Green Lantern if they’ve been keeping up to date. There’s a lot of great stuff in the works here, and the last page probably would have been enough to keep me interested on its own.
I really wanted to like this issue. Grifter is a really cool character who deserves an introduction in the New DCU, but I wasn’t thrilled with the book. Cole Cash is a small-time grifter who gets kidnapped and loses 17 hours of his life, waking up in front of this weird glowing exoskeleton. Now, he’s hearing voices that want to kill him. I enjoyed Cafu’s pencils, which fit well with the tone that Nathan Edmondson sets, but the mystery of what happened to Cole in those 17 hours wasn’t quite enough to stack up against the other books this month.
Written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Pete Woods
I’ve never been that into the Legion of Super-Heroes, and I definitely haven’t been keeping up with current Legion events, so I was pretty confused coming into this issue. Legion Lost seems to follow this week’s trend of getting more out of the issue if you’ve kept up with current comic events. That said, Fabian Nicieza does a good job setting up his story, and I’ve always been a fan of Pete Woods’ art. This was just one that came down to personal preference. I’m not a huge Legion fan, but I do think that fans of these characters will find a really great story with awesome art. Unfortunately, it’s just not for me.
This is a really fun book that takes the classic superhero formula and gives it a facelift for the modern era. This is the Michael Holt Mr. Terrific, and readers get a chance to re-experience his origin along with the motivations that make him who he is. Eric Wallace has a good sense of pacing and balance that makes for a great single issue. It was interesting to see Power Girl make an appearance as the head of a Fortune 500 company; it’ll be even more interesting to see if any other JSA members show up. The only thing that didn’t quite hit home for me was the villain, which possessed Michael Holt at the end of the issue – and I’m not a huge fan of the costume redesign.
Status: ON THE FENCE
Written by Peter Milligan with art by Ed Benes
Thank you, Peter Milligan and Ed Benes, for the Dex-Starr splash page. That was awesome. Also, this issue lives up to my expectations. It was interesting to see the more emotional side of Atrocitus and how that’s affecting his Corps. Readers get to see a more fully realized origin for Atrocitus, and Milligan sets up the direction for the book very smoothly. I wasn’t sure I would be interested in an ongoing Red Lanterns book beyond the first issue, but Milligan’s sold me.
This was a fantastic start to the series by the creators of the character. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have such a handle on this character that it’s difficult not to enjoy this book. Mitch Shelley, the aptly named Resurrection Man, cannot die. Every time he does, he comes back with a new superpower. Abnett and Lanning handle the reintroduction in a way that will appeal to old fans and new readers alike. Fernando Dagnino’s art adds a noir-like mystique to the book, and his angel bounty hunter is pretty awesome. This is definitely a title to stick with.
Written by Adam Glass with art by Federico Dallocchio
This is not the Suicide Squad old fans are familiar with, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Adam Glass’ first issue has a lot of potential for the series, and the cliffhanger leaves me wanting for more. While it definitely wasn’t the strongest issue this week, it had its moments, not the least of which was including Savant as a potential member. Each character gets some great development, but I’m not sold on it just yet. I’m waiting until the end of the month.
Status: ON THE FENCE
I remember reading the Superboy series back in the ‘90s, but this is much more interesting. Scott Lobdell’s got a great concept in this issue: one part character, one part science and one part mystery. Moreover, he has threads branching into Superman and Teen Titans. The red-headed scientist (aptly referred to as “Red” throughout the issue) is a mystery all on her own, while the inclusion of a two-eyed Rose Wilson was a pleasant surprise. I’ll be interested to see how the questions Lobdell has put forth progress.
For the curious, here’s the status of this week’s books:
ON THE FENCE
Batman and Robin
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Agree? Disagree? Think something on the fence should get bumped up? Sound off in the comments!