The second month of DC's New 52 relaunch has come and gone, and while not every title caught my attention this month the way it did in September, my monthly DC purchases went up from about five in August to 33 in October. I also could have bought another half dozen or more, had I had the time and money (both of which were sapped by attending the New York Comic Con).
What did I think of the last week of new books? We're going to try and make this one quick and painless so I can move onto some of the month's other great finds...
Palmiotti and Gray can't seem to go wrong with Hex, but it's great to see that this series continues to inspire despite an editorially-mandated change of venue. In the grand scheme of things, each issue that goes on and continues to be great is an accomplishment; Hex is meant to run free, and caging him in Gotham is a bit of a crime against the character. As long as they can make him seem at home there, it's not so bad—but DC has had a history of not knowing what to do with the character (“Let's send him to the future!” actually sounded good to someone once), and it's good to see he's still in good hands.
Aquaman #2 – Writing 8.5/10, Art 8/10; overall 8.25/10
Neither as “meta” nor as fun as last month, I suppose it was obvious it was inevitable that sooner or later the comic would become a more standard superhero comic, but having it happen so fast is a bit of a let-down. Kind of like when you tune into Community and find out it's not a “theme episode” this week, but a sitcom about people at a community college. That said, Johns has a great handle on the characters' voices and the sitting-around-the-house-talking scene between Arthur and Mera brings a smile to your face.
Blackhawks #2 – Writing 8.5/10, Art 7/10; overall 7.75/10
The story picks up the pace here, but does an admirable job of recapping the first issue without feeling too much like that's what it's doing. They seem to be giving the Blackhawks their own foil, a terrorist organization as shadowy and technologically-advanced as they are. Which is great for Blackhawks but really does make a guy wonder how many secret societies and mysterious communities there are in this new DC Universe.
With a handicap like being the big bad behind Flashpoint under their belt, it's impressive that the new Flash creative team can make me care even a little bit about Barry Allen (my favorite Flash has always been Wally), but Mob Rule is one of the cleverer new villains of the New 52 so far and I'm intrigued. Making Iris such a big plot point so early is a bit puzzling, I think, but it might be for the benefit of new readers as much as anything else. A nice nod to the “cosmic treadmill” is a little confusing here since if this was a hard reboot it would be funny and charming but since Barry remembers SOME version of the Flashpoint story (he related it to Batman after all), he presumably remembers using the cosmic treadmill to resurrect his mother, and then stopping himself from doing same.
I, Vampire #2 – Writing 9/10, Art 9/10; overall 9/10
Be careful what you ask for. Many readers complained that the first issue of this vampire series was too slow and contemplative. This month, Sorrentino (whose art reminds me a bit of some of the better stuff I've seen in 30 Days of Night) ups the gore-and-violence ante while the vampire civil war between Andrew and Mary is dialed up to 11 by up-and-coming writer Joshua Hale Fialkov. It's a fun, wild, violent ride and one of the best issues of the month.
More action and less words than #1, this is still a dense and thrilling issue. This, more than any other book on the stands, feels to me like it's worth the money you spend on it. Like an old issue of the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League stories, it's got a lot of information, a solid plot, strong characterization and pretty pictures all wrapped up around one another to create a really terrific comic. Combine this with the success of Action Comics and the fact that Pérez will be succeeded on the title by Giffen and Jurgens (two guys who can tell the hell out of a comic book story) and it's clear that Superman is BACK.
Teen Titans #2 - Writing 7.5/10, art 9/10; overall 8.25/10
"Being a superhero sucks," according to Bart Allen (yes, it's now confirmed to be him) in this issue. And I can't particularly blame him. As the fastest boy on Earth, he's relegated to one of the two titles (this and Superboy) that seem to be crawling along slower than most because they're waiting for Lobdell's chance to synch them up and give both books a sense of direction and purpose. With Superboy, the characterizations are so rich and interesting that the way it moseys isn't a distraction. In Teen Titans? Well, the way the characters seem to just be having things HAPPEN to them is distracting. It's taking forever to establish anything, but that doesn't mean events aren't occuring. It's a little bit of a baffling read and, while fun, seems like it really is missing a piece.
Ron Marz is making it very hard to like Priscilla, but I suppose that's the point. He's described this series as a dash of spy thriller mixed with a touch of alien invasion, and while it's clear from that last panel that next month will see the sci-fi elements of the story played up (as well as seeing Marz get a chance to play a few of his greatest hits, so to speak, with guest star Kyle Rayner), this month was all espionage action, with Voodoo's shapeshifting and mental powers playing a big role. Notable is that while last month, there was a lot of controversy about Voodoo's depiction of sexuality, this week she tricked a female FBI officer into having sex with her by impersonating that agent's male partner and nobody much said anything. I'm not one to manufacture a controversy, but it seems to me that rape by fraud is probably worse than just having an unpopular job! One new "villain"--a government-controlled metahuman called Black Jack--looks like a strange lovechild of Major Force, Booster Gold and Venom. So far he seems cool and interesting, but he only got a bit of pagecount here as most of the issue was given to Agent Fallon.