Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
It’s the final week of New 52 #1s, and that means it’s time to make some decisions. None of this week’s books will be on the fence, as it’s time to figure out the 26 titles that make it to next month. But before we get to the final list, there were some fantastic comics that hit this week that really made me sad I couldn’t have more titles on my pull for next month. Let’s get to it.
For those only interested in the results, scroll down for the final standings and a big surprise.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
A murder mystery with Jonah Hex as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Amadeus Arkham as Dr. Watson? Sign me up! Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have always had a great handle on Jonah Hex, and All-Star Western really takes advantage of that experience to hook both new and longtime readers with a well-plotted first issue. Moreover, the book is set in Gotham with clear links to a lot of the Batman mythos. Moritat’s art is a great fit, giving the book an old-timey Western movie feel, and the narration from Arkham gives the book a real sense of mystery. This book hooked me in a big way, and I can’t wait for the next issue.
Written by Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis
This is an excellently done issue. The character of Aquaman as it stood just didn’t appeal to me, but with the New 52, Geoff Johns has once again demonstrated his ability to make everything vintage incredibly relevant for the modern age. The exposition of Aquaman’s powers as he sat down in a seafood restaurant ordering fish and chips was great, and the pointed jabs at Aquaman being “nobody’s favorite superhero” were very tongue in cheek. And you can’t say enough about the high quality of Ivan Reis’ pencils. For the first time ever, I’m interested in where this character is going. Well done, creative team!
This is a tough book to judge. On the one hand, I really like David Finch’s art, and unsurprisingly it fits very well with the story he and Paul Jenkins are telling. However, it did feel like not much happened during the issue other than the Arkham Asylum breakout at the end of the book with Two-Face all Bane’d up. It looks like a pretty good Batman story in the making, but it doesn’t stand out in comparison to some of the other amazing books I’ve read this month.
Written by Mike Costa with art by Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley
I was kind of hoping to see more of Lady Blackhawk, Zinda Blake, in this issue, but she never showed up. The Blackhawks are a black-ops peacekeeping squad that deals with threats to humanity. The concept is pretty sound, and Mike Costa does a good job getting readers up to speed with these new characters. But as a result, the book is mostly exposition, with a heavy focus on “nanocites,” tiny machines that seem like they can do pretty much anything. Although the exposition seemed organic, there wasn’t much keeping me interested in the cliffhanger at the end.
I love Francis Manapul’s art. It was a great fit for The Flash, and it’s good to see he’s back with art for the new book. In addition to the great-looking art, Manapul and co-writer Brian Buccellato put together a pretty solid story. Although there will be traditionalists who are up in arms about Barry Allen and Iris West no longer being together, it was interesting to see Barry on a date with another woman. The eventual story was well-paced with a good lead-up, but the ending just didn’t make me want to stick around for another issue.
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men
Written by Gail Simone and Ethan van Sciver with art by Yildiray Cinar
The Fury of Firestorm introduces Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, the two characters who previously held the Firestorm mantle. Gail Simone is great at this kind of story, focusing on what drives the characters and introducing conflict between the two that will most likely carry throughout the series. Ethan van Sciver doesn’t really get a chance to shine here until the last few pages of action sequence, but his pencils are still fantastic, no matter what he’s drawing. This is a book that has a lot of depth from the first page on, and the final plot twist of two Firestorms combining into one giant Firestorm is interesting enough for me to come back.
I was pretty confused by this issue, as I have no idea when it’s supposed to take place. The book opens with a pile of dead Guardians on Oa and Ganthet as the only survivor. Kyle Rayner has just become a Green Lantern when rings from the other Lanterns leave their current hosts to locate him. While I didn’t find the book particularly difficult to follow, I left the book feeling as confused as Kyle looked. As Green Lantern books go, this one wasn’t the strongest.
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov with art by Andrea Sorrentino
This book is amazing, and easily has the potential to be one of the best books from the New 52. Joshua Hale Fialkov sets up his main characters nicely, sowing the seeds for a dark and unconventional vampire story, the like of which the DC Universe has never seen. Fialkov’s narrative devices work well as the story jumps back and forth between the past and present. Andrea Sorrentino’s linework is fantastic. This is easily the standout and most surprising title of the week.
Peter Milligan sets up this book and its cast nicely from the pages of Secret Seven. Like many of the team books in the New 52, a lot of time is spent introducing the new members. Madame Xanadu has gotten a lot of love in the New 52, and this book really takes advantage of that. But the real focus here is one June Moone. Shade, the Changing Man appears as well with a pretty good intro for new readers. John Constantine, Deadman, Zatanna and Enchantress don’t get nearly as much focus, and there’s a cameo by the Justice League. The thing is, I really wanted to like this book, but just couldn’t get into it. Despite the excellent art by Mikel Janin and Milligan’s great setup, the book just didn’t grab me the way I thought it would.
The Savage Hawkman
Written by Tony S. Daniel with art by Philip Tan
This is an interesting take on the Hawkman we know and love. Carter Hall is still a cryptologist, but the book begins with him attempting to destroy the Hawkman armor. As it turns out, the Nth metal somehow got inside of him and manifests on command. The antagonists here are metamorphosed blobs of black goo who want to steal Hawkman’s Nth metal. Unfortunately, it was the villains that failed to grab me by the book’s end. Tony Daniel’s focus on Carter was great, and Philip Tan is a good fit for this book, but dealing with those black blobs for another issue isn’t my cup of tea.
This is a great way to reintroduce the character to a new audience. George Perez puts all the elements of a great traditional Superman story into one issue, and by the end you’ve had a great adventure with some excellent plot threads to carry over into the next issue. While I’m not a huge fan of all the changes taking place in Superman’s world, Perez pulls it off with style and grace, making me a believer even in the Lois/Clark marriage being no more. This is definitely a Superman book for those who want a satisfying self-contained story.
Written by Scott Lobdell with art by Brett Booth
In the 1990s, Scott Lobdell had a real handle on the teen team superhero book, and it’s good to see he hasn’t lost his touch. Teen Titans focuses on Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, as he delves into his investigation of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.’s abduction of teenage metahumans. Lobdell also introduces Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Superboy by issue’s end, rounding out much of the core cast. Brett Booth’s pencils serve the story well, and Lobdell’s handle on Wonder Girl is particularly refreshing. For anyone who loves teen team books and might need a little reintroduction to comics, this book is perfect for you.
Alien spy who shape-changes into a stripper so it can lift secrets from military soldiers who come to the club from a nearby base. While the reader doesn’t really get a chance to find out who Voodoo actually is, that’s part of the mystery that Ron Marz is trying to build. By the end of the book, Voodoo is impersonating the government agent who was close to finding her out. There was an excessive amount of time spent on half-dressed ladies in this book, and if that’s what you enjoy in comics, you should read this book. I wasn’t overly impressed with the plot and the promise of an alien super-spy was not quite enough to get me to Issue 2.
There you have it. Now, it’s time to make some tough decisions. While there were a number of quality books, it was clear to me from the comments that Wonder Woman belongs on my pull for another issue. It and Justice League are the only books that actually make it onto my pull from the “On the Fence” category. It’s also caused me to re-evaluate a few issues that were previously “In” – namely, Static Shock and Men of War.
The Fury of Firestorm
Green Lantern Corps
Justice League International
Batman: The Dark Knight
Batman and Robin
Birds of Prey
DC Comics Presents
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Green Lantern: The New Guardians
Hawk and Dove
Justice League Dark
Legion of Super-Heroes
Men of War
Red Hood and the Outlaws
The Savage Hawkman
You may notice there are 25 titles “In” and 27 titles “Out.” That’s where you come in. I’ve left one spot on my pull list as a wildcard slot. In the poll below and in the comments, make yourself heard as to which cut title should get a second chance. Whether you’d like to campaign for Captain Atom or give The Flash a rebirth, this is your chance to get me excited about a book that you’re excited about.
As always, sound off in the comments as to what you liked and didn’t like, and what you think should be saved!
Update: We’re now aware that the poll software limits the options to 20, meaning seven titles were left out: Nightwing, OMAC, Red Hood and the Outlaws, The Savage Hawkman, Static Shock, Suicide Squad and Voodoo. If you think one of those books deserve to be moved to the “In” list, vote by leaving a comment below.