Greetings from the Odinson,
CORRECTION: Last week I referred to Goliath, the hero that died during the events of Civil War, as John Foster. I know his name is not John, I don’t know why I insisted on calling him John, but thankfully Lone Star customer Chris S. wrote in and corrected my mistake. Goliath’s civilian name is actually Bill Foster.
Now on to this week’s column...
DC Comics re-launched its universe with the New 52, and it has been a huge success! Issues are actually selling out before they even hit the stands. That is simply amazing. Not since the Death of Superman have issues flown off the shelves the way these are doing. The Odinson is rather enjoying all this because barely four months ago, I read article after article and blogs and emails from comic retailers, readers and fans, old and young, about how they were drawing a line in the sand and they were done with comics. I had to hear from, not everyone but a lot of people, about how this New 52 was a bad idea and how it was going to ruin comics.
Back in June, shortly after DC Comics made their announcement about the New 52, I declared that it was a good idea and gave reasons why (see The Odinson Talks About the Big Announcement: The New DCU and The Odinson has More to Say about the Big Announcement from DC Comics). And I stand by what I said. This kind of retooling probably needs to be done once every 25 years or so. It’s good for the business. It’s good for the characters. It revitalizes and breathes new energy into the scene. When the characters of the Golden Age had run their course, in 1961 The Marvel Age exploded onto the scene and reinvigorated the medium. Then in the 80s, Crisis on Infinite Earths gave DC Comics a much needed charge of energy and books like Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Crisis set the standard for storytelling for the next twenty years. In 2000, Ultimate Spider-Man launched a whole new universe and redefined those characters for a whole new generation. Every one of these examples was a huge success, both financially and creatively. And now it is happening once again with the New 52.
The enthusiasm the creators and execs at DC showed for this endeavor was quite infectious. They went above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen to promote this milestone in Comics History. They even went so far as to run television commercials for it. When was the last time anyone saw a commercial on TV for comic books? I can’t even think of an example. I have friends that have not bought a single comic book since the early 90s and even they were showing interest in the announcement of the New 52. Now if the New 52 is getting people who haven’t picked up a comic in twenty years to come back to the comic shops to check this out, I say that’s a good thing. Nay, that’s fantastic!
Now, the most important question is: Are the comics good?
I’ve previewed all the #1’s that have come out so far and here are my Top 5 picks:
Justice League #1 – Written by Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee, need I say more? Whether I do or not I am going to. This book, simply put, is beautiful. Jim Lee’s art is kinetic and John’s dialogue is witty. In this first issue set “5 years ago,” in a time before the World’s Greatest Heroes have met one another, the Dark Knight Detective has stumbled upon a mysterious conspiracy that could mean the end of the world. Along the way he meets Green Lantern, a hero so cocky and confident in his power he makes Hawkeye seem tame. The issue ends with a scene so delicious that it had the Odinson laughing out loud. A+
Action Comics #1 – Grant Morrison was born to write the Man of Steel. He has already scribed arguably the greatest Superman epic of the modern era (All Star Superman), and now he helms the flagship title of the company that started it all. Rags Morales’ artwork has never looked better. I always liked his quirky art style back in the 80s when he was doing Forgotten Realms, but he has improved leaps and bounds over the years. This is a Clark Kent at the very beginning of his super hero career. Just out of Smallville, not yet the star reporter for the Daily Planet, nor is he the apple in Lois Lane’s eye. His extraordinary abilities have not yet reached their true potential. Clark is a man that knows right from wrong but he is struggling how to use his amazing powers within the limits of the laws of man. He does make mistakes. Grant Morrison is going to explore how the Last Son of Krypton grows and matures to become the greatest super hero the world has ever known. And I for one can’t wait to see it all unfold. A+
Stormwatch #1 – Now this little gem is easily the sleeper hit of the New 52. I was one of the few (or rather one of the few that will admit it openly) who actually enjoyed the original Stormwatch series. This book takes the best elements of that series, the best elements of Authority, mixes in a cosmic threat beyond imagination, and tosses in the Martian Manhunter for good measure. This is yet another issue that leaves the reader wanting more. And in the periodical business that is a good thing. A++
Deathstroke #1 – Bring on the Bad Guy. I have never been one that roots for the bad guys. That being said, Slade Wilson is just so darn interesting. The original Terminator is one of the most complex and interesting characters ever created (by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in the now classic New Teen Titans #2). One day he could be trying to topple a malevolent dictatorship in a foreign country and the next he could be trying to take down a team of sidekick super heroes whom he blames for the death of his son (The Judas Contract). One day he could be fighting side-by-side and actually leading the Justice League into battle (Panic in the Sky) and the next trying to dismantle the World’s Greatest Heroes in defense of another super villain (Identity Crisis). It all just depends on his mood or who is paying the bill, and how much. In the New DCU, Slade is the world’s premiere assassin/gun-for-hire but there are those out here that believe he is past his prime. The Odinson for one cannot think of anything more dangerous than the man called Deathstroke setting out to prove them all wrong. A-
Green Lantern #1 – Where do I begin with this unique take without giving too much away? Needless to say, this tale picks up right after the shocking events of The War of the Green Lanterns. A new Lantern has been chosen and not everyone is happy about it, including the Lantern himself. His new role in the DCU will put him at odds with old enemies and possibly make new ones of his current allies. Meanwhile, a powerless hero is finding it hard to break old habits and even harder to find a place for himself in a world where he is not a Green Lantern. This is probably the most jarring twist on the Green Lantern mythos since 1959 when the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, replaced the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. B+
Batman and Robin #1 was also a solid read, like Green Lantern, it pretty much stays true to the established continuity. And if super villains are your thing then you should definitely check out Suicide Squad #1. It’s a guilty pleasure that will leave you screaming for the next issue.
I am waiting, albeit impatiently, for Dick Grayson’s triumphant return as Nightwing and the fabulous Greg Capullo (Spawn) doing art for Batman. The #1’s so far seem to be a hit with fans old and new. The New 52 and the New DCU seem to be off to a tremendous start. Now, let’s see what happens when we get to issue #3 and 4. I for one hope this thrilling ride lasts.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell