DC Comics's Zero Month, Week Three: The New 52 Reviews (Part 1)

Has anybody noticed that there are more than 52 titles being reviewed here? We sure have; as the month drags on, the sheer quantity of books to be read really make the whole experience somewhat oppressive, making the bad ones seem worse and possibly dulling the ecstatic effects of the truly good ones. That's something taht woni't affect too many readers--there aren't a ton of people reading a publisher's entire output--but it's also something that DC is hoping more people will do, with these zero issues being collected into a hardcover omnibus and released in time for Christmas.

Batwoman #0

This is a great book every month, but the zero issue might be the best single standalone issue of the series, with a ton of great character moments, some fascinating insight into what makes Kate tick and, of course, J.H. Williams III's artwork (which is basically perfect).

Kate's version of "With great power comes great responsibility is laid bare here, to great effect. The simple maxim by which her father always asked her to live her life was something she couldn't live up to, which is a pretty damaging realization to come to.

Birds of Prey #0

One of the books that got the most odd and seemingly arbitrary changes from the New 52, Birds of Prey hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire in either sales or acclaim, but has been a consistently enjoyable read for a year now.

There seem to be timeline and continuity issues in this book, in terms of who met whom and when. It's a bit of a minor distraction, but no moreso than the blatantly hideous look that Batgirl is sporting when she first appears on the page.

Certainly the book seems to have found its compass this year and even if it isn't the best it's ever been, I certainly don't miss the Simone/Benes run from Brightest Day, which was frankly a bit underwhelming and in hindsight may have been something of a "gold watch" to Simone in exchange for all the great and good work she's done with the characters over the years.

And like so many other titles this month, it appears as though Birds of Prey is going to tie in with Team 7 sooner or later. It actually makes sense--writer Duane Swierczynski has been trying to write this book more as an espionage book than we've ever really seen before. That said, can we get these artists a model sheet so that Amanda Waller is recognizable from appearance to appearance?

Blue Beetle #0

What do you do when you're asked to write a zero issue for a book where #1 actually featured the character's origin? Well, in the case of something like Green Lantern or Blue Beetle, you try and figure out where the artifact that gives him his powers has been before, and tell a story from there.

Blue Beetle #0 is well-done, effective storytelling with some really nice character moments--but it all feels pretty easy to discard, given that Jaime isn't the issue's lead.

You have to give them credit, though, for successfully integrating the Ancient Egyptian portion of the Blue Beetle origin into the New 52 retelling of the Scarab's back story. It's clever and creative. And lest it be forgotten, all of this is meant to set up a big story that takes place off-planet for Jaime spinning out of the events of Justice League International Annual #1.

Captain Atom #0

We'll be bidding this series farewell with this issue, and the character appears to next be appearing in Dan Jurgens's The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men, meaning we'll see how much of this series is actually going to hold water since Jurgens has a lot of pre-Flashpoint history with him and Firestorm is basically rebooting the reboot following a year wherein the book never really lived up to its potential.

Freddie Williams II acquits himself far better here than he did in Green Arrow, creating a beautifully stylized issue. The colorist doesn't appear to have been on the same page with Williams, though, and it lends the whole issue a kind of oddly pastel look.

Catwoman #0

This issue sets up a strange and intriguing new status quo for Catwoman, even if a week or so later, the company had to turn around and given Tim Drake a suspiciously similar one. That said, Selina isn't Selina, eh? She's got some Russian name? I'd love to see Ariana Dzerchenko return as a result of all of this. It would seem a little arbitrary, though...!

The fact that the biggest story surrounding this whole issue has been the anatomically incorrect cover is pretty mcuh all you need to know. The interior isn't bad, and certainly Ann Nocenti has done more with the title than Judd Winick did in any single issue of his run...but it's still not a hugely compelling book, and the art just doesn't seem to fit the tone.

DC Universe Presents #0

This is an interesting comic, in that it's EXACTLY WHAT FANS HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR, FOR YEARS. The idea of a "cancelled comics cavalcade" is something that holds a lot of appeal to fans whose favorite book has gotten the ax, and so this book is basically guaranteed to make a lot of people feel happy and nostalgic for the recent past.

I'm one of those people; it was great to see some of these books (most of which I really liked) back in action, although I could have done without Hawk & Dove and it would have been really nice to see Eric Wallace get to write the Mr. Terrific story, especially since his run on the title was great.

I'd like to think that if they had the benefit of hindsight, DC would have let Rob Liefeld draw this Hawk & Dove story instead of doing Deathstroke this month. Him on those characters was really the only logical reason for bringing Liefeld to DC at all.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #0

The best issue of the series so far, New Guardians also has the distinction of being one of a handful of stories where they didn't even bother to flash back for the zero issue. Green Lantern is another, and the pair tie together, so it makes a bit of sense--but it feels really like it's part of a larger issue that the rules don't apply to the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe.

Black Lanterns appear in this issue--but they're really just an excuse to put Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris together on the page. It's nice to give Carol and Tom Kalmaku a little page time at the top of the issue, since actually dealing with supporting cast members is not something that's been done particularly well in the New 52.

Justice League #0

A series of beautifully-rendered but ultimately uncaptivating images roll across the pages of this book, in which the one really exciting development is that The Question appears in a single panel and the S.H.A.Z.A.M. kids from Flashpoint seem to have a "way in."

Continuing later today...