It's actually been quite surprising, in the reading of dozens (and, in the first month, all 52) of DC's relaunched superhero titles, to see which have turned out to be the most enjoyable of the lot. There have been a number of books that didn't please me the way I had anticipated, and a number that were much better than I dared expect, leaving us with a strange and interesting little list.
Bear in mind that this is one critic's opinion. I've read all 52 books, enjoyed most of them, have subscribed to more than half and am overall a reasonably thoughtful reviewer and so I'm confident in my list as a legitimate starting point for serious discussion, but this is in no way meant to slight any of the many very good titles that didn't make this list becuase I thought they were either not as strong as these specific ten or they simply weren't (as in the case of the admittedly-terrific Detective Comics and some others) to my personal liking.
George Pérez is crafting the kind of exciting narrative that makes you really sorry to see him go, and the status quo for Superman is as exciting as it's been since the character's much-discussed death in the early '90s.
Extra points for being the only book obliged not only to tie into the events of other series in the present (such as Stormwatch) but in the malleable, still-being-established past of Grant Morrison's Action Comics as well.
Admittedly, I'm not as much of a Gothamite as many readers are and the Bat-family books will be underrepresented here in the eyes of many—but Scott Snyder's take on Bruce Wayne and Gotham, alongside the terrific visual storytelling of Greg Capullo, make Batman more accessible to new readers than I've seen him in a while, all while retaining the backstory and character development that only he and Green Lantern have been permitted to have carry over into the new universe.
If critics and online commentators were to take a poll, it's likely this would be considered the most underrated book DC is publishing right now. Admittedly, Dan DiDio's name on a cover isn't exactly the most glowing of endorsements (his runs on Superboy and The Outsiders did nothing for me) but whether it's lead time, familiarity with the source material or just the input of co-writer Keith Giffen, DiDio's O.M.A.C. Is a can't-miss book which many fans are, nevertheless, missing. Do yourself a favor, and don't.
When the relaunch titles were announced, much was made of what many considered to be a dearth of solo titles featuring female and/or nonwhite lead characters. Still, this title (featuring a character in whom I've never had much in the way of a vested interest) has stuck out. With dynamic art, big ideas and a fascinating lead character who succeeds in all the ways that the rebooted Green Arrow has failed, Mr. Terrific has, in three action-packed months, managed to craft a story with a great, deep main character, a small but very engaging supporting cast and a superhero/action A-plot that leaves very little to be desired.
Arguably the most anticipated of all the relaunch titles, Grant Morrison and Rags Morales's Action Comics has not disappointed. With a fresh but familiar take on the Man of Steel and pitch-perfect rendering by Morales, it's a solid comic that has so far delivered three issues that have been one of the three best titles on the racks each week.
It isn't All-Star Superman, but so far that hasn't been a bad thing.
Featuring some of the most well-loved B-list characters in the DC Universe, Justice League International was my personal pick for the title I'd like best when I looked through the solicitations.
It wasn't far off, and that's certainly helped by the strong handle that both writer Dan Jurgens and artist Aaron Lopresti have on these characters—including a much-less-brooding Batman and team leader Booster Gold.
After a much-loved miniseries that turned out to be one of DC's best-selling and best-reviewed collected editions in the last few years, Batwoman took an unexpectedly long break before returning as part of the New 52 relaunch to great acclaim.
Featuring a strong female lead, a compelling plot and—best of all, for some of us—a supporting cast that includes cult-favorite character Cameron Chase, it's one of my favorite new books set in Gotham.
That Stormwatch didn't make this list is arguably just a direct result of Paul Cornell's other book being better; both are enjoyable, both are feeding into a sense of history for the new DC Universe by providing some context that you didn't even know you wanted. The reason Demon Knights works better, for me, is simple: It was unexpected. Knowing that the book would take place hundreds of years in the past and feature a couple of familiar characters from that period set up specific expectations, which were knocked down immediately when Cornell set us up with a book chock full of DC's immortal characters. That they even have so many can slip your mind easily, but when you see them all interacting together, some from many years before we came to "know" the character in superhero stories, it's a nice treat for longtime readers that doesn't in any way stand in the way of new faces coming in and just enjoying this ragtag cast on its own merits.
Who's surprised that All-Star Western a Jonah Hex book by Palmiotti and Gray, is on a ten-best list? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? yeah, me either--the real surprise is Gotham. I've really enjoyed seeing this earlier, strange version of Gotham and am looking forward to seeing whether or not Jonah may find himself head-to-head with an early iteration of The Talon, the secret society-controlled mercenary/supervillain found in Scott Snyder's Batman run.
I'd pay to see it!
I simply cannot say enough good things about this book. Three issues in, and every month I like Jeff Lemire's strange, brilliant and trippy take on Frankenstein's monster and his pals the Creature Commandos a little more. A version of Ray Palmer who's smart, confident, capable and not dragged into the abyss by the events of Identity Crisis is a welcome change of the status quo as well, and the character is so cool that I haven't wondered even once what his connection to Ryan Choi is in this new universe.
Lemire's Animal Man, also clever and smart, simply doesn' t have the comic relief, the crackling dialogue and the Big Ideas that are at play here. That it's not on the list is probably a crime, but for my personal taste, Mr. Lemire comes in at #1 and #11. Out of 52 releases--and about 40 that I really enjoyed--that's a pretty respectable effort by any creator.