Well, it's over. DC's new 52 relaunch has exhausted its run of first issues, and several reprints, and has been a financial and creative boom for the company. Now that the dust has settled, and my eyes are still freshly ablaze with the sheen of all 52 first issues, it's time to take a collective look back at the good, the not so great, and the probably first cancelled.
Let's start out with my prediction for the first book to get the axe. Hey, I know it's early, but sometimes you can just pick them out when they first rush out of the gate. The dubious distinction for the first book to be cancelled is OMAC. I found the entire first issue to be pretty dull, uninteresting and just downright too much. The nods to Jack Kirby were a nice piece, but overall this book was flat and I don't much care to pick up issue two to find out if it gets any better. Its sales figures also rank OMAC as the dead last book in sales for the new DCU, but things could turn around. I was tempted to pick Red Hood and the Outlaws simply out of my dislike for the book and how it uses the character of Starfire, but OMAC seems a safer bet logically speaking.
Best Books of the Relaunch: I have to say that I was stunningly impressed by Batman #1, Detective Comics #1, Superboy #1, Animal Man #1, Superman #1 and Aquaman #1 the most. Batman was everything I was hoping it would be, dark, suspenseful and genuinely intriguing from the start. Scott Snyder does a masterful job of actually giving us a detective story, something that Batman is known as first and foremost. He thinks, he studies and he outwits. It's a great opening and easily one of the top three books of the relaunch. Animal Man comes a close second, simply because it gives such depth, great art, and a taste of horror to its first issue. It grabbed me instantly, and readers would do well not to dismiss this book simply based on the title or preconceived notions about the title. Superboy and Superman both were surprising, in the sense that I'm not a typical Superman title reader, but I loved the approach to Superboy , and I appreciated how much story I got in Superman for my money's worth. Detective and Aquaman were both surprisingly good for how dark and tongue in cheek, respectively, both were.
Worst Books of the Relaunch: As a whole the new DC impressed me, but there were some glaring sore thumbs. OMAC certainly is on this list for reasons already stated, but I have to also hand out strikes to the likes of Red Hood and the Outlaws, Green Arrow, and Fury of Firestorm. Red Hood just generally fell flat for me, as it was trying to hard to be something it wasn't. There may be some commentary present in the way Starfire can't discern humans apart, as she has so little regard for them, but the almost bimbo routine was a major negative. Green Arrow felt far too obvious and dull in establishing villains and introducing the character to old and new readers alike. It's one thing to weave in exposition and detail to set up a story, it's another to practically shout it at the reader. As much as it pains me, Fury of Firestorm deserves to be here as well. A hard to believe story of racial tension doesn't work here, and there are too many convenient plot devices to make it all that interesting as a story. The end of the book was easy to see within the first five to six pages.
Book that Lived up to its Title Literally but for the Wrong Reasons: Easily Legion Lost, although I wanted to retitle this book "Legion, Lost?". I had a sense of what was going on, but the issue felt like a fourth or a fifth issue of a major story arc rather than a true first issue. Too many characters, each of whom was given a moment to speak coupled with some sort of major creature was too much. I was so unsure that I actually asked other comics reviewers if it was just me; they quickly assured me I was not the only one lost.
Book I Knew I was Going to Love and I'm Glad Others Seem to as Well: I can't tell you how long I was waiting for Batwoman #1 to come out. The delays were killing me, but now that the first issue is here, I'm happy that it not only sold as well as it did, but that it retained the stunning art and scripting that made her such a hit over in her run through Detective Comics. The character has a timely and complex origin, with family betrayal, a missing twin and a discharge under Don't Ask, Don't Tell just to give you an idea. Her newest mystery seems tinged with a bit of folklore and the supernatural, right up this heroine's ally, as she's already had a complicated history with the Religion of Crime. Here's to more fiery red-headed adventures!
Books that Pleasantly Surprised Me: Resurrection Man, Stormwatch, Justice League International and Mister Terrific all deserve to be here, and I really can't wait for the second issues of each title. Resurrection Man has an interesting premise and plenty of action. A man who constantly dies and is, well, resurrected with a different power each time, all the while on the run from both sides of the afterlife. I kept wanting the story to continue. I felt the same way about Stormwatch and Justice League International. Both team books clicked right away for me, which is sometimes hard to do in a book with so many main characters. Stormwatch excited me with its mix of DC mainstays and Wildstorm characters, and JLI I found interesting due to the immediate drama a mixed group of heroes like this brings. Mister Terrific hit several right notes, all dealing with the true character of the man and not just the science that surrounds him.
Books that Will hit Their Stride After a Pretty Good, but not Great, Opening: I thought Batgirl was good, but the ending fell flat. I have high hopes for that book and I know Gail Simone can deliver an interesting Barbara. Nightwing had some very solid moments and great artwork as well, but it felt like too much effort to establish to new readers that this was the Robin they know and love from pop culture. Teen Titans has some interesting concepts, and I'm curious to see where the story will lead. I'm also going to put I, Vampire into this group, as the premise of a vampire waging war in a world of superheroes is an interesting one.
Ok kids, that's the show. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed reviewing!