Hey, Folks! Long time no see. Now that the dust has settled and DC’s New 52 is out of it’s grace-period (at least in my opinion), I feel I should finally talk about some books that are worth picking up on a weekly basis. Why not start with a top ten. I’ll list them in alphabetical order. When you hear this sound (Cricket Cricket), turn the page. Let’s begin!
ANIMAL MAN: Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) has been doing a nice job on this one. It has been moving pretty fast from the start, but feels exactly how it should. The Baker family is still super normal amidst Buddy’s lifestyle and the horrors they are plunged headlong into. Young Maxine’s newfound abilities, and the childlike way she fearlessly embraces them, is kind of unsettling and creepy. She can not only delve into the RED, but harnesses powers her superhero father could only dream of. Her feat in the latest issue was especially disturbing. Now that the ROT (mortal enemy of the RED and the GREEN) has amassed in such startling force, can the family possibly rise to the challenge of defeating a foe of life itself? This is a great companion piece to the GREEN’S champion, SWAMP THING.
AQUAMAN: I like what Geoff Johns is doing with the former king of Atlantis. Maybe it’s too soon to say, but I feel it has the potential to amount to the same thing he accomplished (and still does) with GREEN LANTERN. It wasn’t very long in the new run before Arthur had to face a new threat of man-eating creatures from the depths of the oceans trench. While saving humanity he is assaulted with virtually every corny stereotype he’s ever been labeled with. Johns does his best to dispel these ugly rumors along the way. It deals a lot with Arthur and Mera’s attempt to fit in with the above-water world. Now the hero finds himself beseeching the help of an old enemy in an attempt to solve the true mystery of the origin of Atlantis (or how we have come to know it). The title is now beginning to pick up pace. The JL member might finally get his due; after all, he really shined in BRIGHTEST DAY.
BATMAN: Right off the bat (pun intended), Scott Snyder, with the help of Greg Capullo, set events in motion which pitted Bruce against a threat once believed to be merely a fable. The Court Of Owls, Gotham’s Illuminati, have lurked in the shadows long before the Dark Knight’s grandparents were a twinkle in the city’s eye. Now they emerge to take back what they deem theirs, the very place Batman protects. Soon to encompass all of the Bat-books as Night Of The Owls (even ALL STAR WESTERN), the writer and artist are really doing their best to weave an age-old threat into the mythos. Congrats, guys!
BATMAN AND ROBIN: The old team from GL CORPS (Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason) shows us exactly how great a father and son Batman book can be. Child endangerment never looked so good. A bad memory from a crucial part of Bruce’s past returns as NOBODY, a chilling vision of what Batman could have become. He’s here not to just take Bruce’s kingdom, but his prince as well. A damaged Damian is used as a deadly pawn against his father. This cuts to the core of not only their already tenuous team dynamic, but also any work they’ve put towards a healthy relationship in the future. Despite everything, it showed that Damian is really trying, but that doesn’t rule out a shocking conclusion(keeping my mouth shut).
GREEN LANTERN: Who isn’t glad Johns is still on this title?! Sinestro is emerald-clad again and causing trouble already. All Hal Jordan wanted to be was a Green Ring, but right when he realizes there is more to him than the corps, Thaal shows up to grant his wish (which turns out to be more of a “monkey paw” situation)…and just as Hal and Carol were trying to work things out. The Guardians have gone over the edge, right into the realm of mad despots, and they have Ganthet in their thrall. It seems that things are going to Hell. Now it appears as if a shocking reveal about the Indigo Tribe and Abin Sur is about to unfold. Keep reading! Oh, and Doug Mahnke is a master.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS: Oops, John Stewart did it again! In the conclusion of the awesome Keepers arc, John Stewart has to make a hard choice in the face of treason…murder. We all know John’s no stranger to killing Lanterns, poor Mogo, but at least back then he could blame the sway of a Black Lantern Ring. Bottom line is, both times he was doing what needed to be done. Protection of countless lives and OA came before one coward trying to save his own skin. Xanshi was a mistake, which is probably why he took it so hard, but this new situation is a little grayer around the edges and needs to be examined as such. It would not have been done had the circumstances not called for decisive action. Nevertheless, the Alphas will have to do their job to internally police the situation. Will John run, or accept the consequences?
JUSTICE LEAGUE: The first few issues with Johns and Lee were awesome. Part of me feels that the battle with Darkseid foreshadows the upcoming EARTH 2(at least judging by the E2 pics), but it is still early on. Although I don’t dig the way Hal rips on Bruce, they prove to work well as a team. Cyborg is a great addition. The extra material at the end of each issue serves to really expand the experience, and the new SHAZAM feature is interesting, to say the least. I, for one, definitely want to see where this goes (if anything else, it is a lot better than TEEN TITANS).
SWAMP THING: Snyder does it again! This is, without a doubt, one of the DC books I really look forward to on a monthly basis. I have such a love for Alec Holland and the GREEN that i experience withdrawals in my time away from them; so much so that when the title arrives in the shop I unabashedly salivate over it. The good botanist is back among the living and before he even gets to take a breathe of non-coffin air he is thrust into the maddening battle between the GREEN and the ROT…aka life and death. Onto the scene comes Abby Arcane (whom through a psychic link with the previous SWAMP THING, Alec has strange feelings for) and before you know it they are made to become the avatars of opposite warring factions. Like ANIMAL MAN, this book begins to move at break-neck speeds. I don’t want to say too much to spoil the excitement. I strongly advise you to check it out for yourself. I will say this, though: the hero Alec finally becomes is his own choice. No accident, just what needs to be done at a moment of dire need. I hope Yanick Paquette stays at the drawing board for a while.
WONDER WOMAN: Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang introduce a new origin for the Amazon Princess. This turn is truly worthy of the Gods and, like Snyder’s BATMAN, didn’t need a reboot to work it’s magic(which I think says a lot). The characters that are introduced are interesting and expertly drawn. Who thunk that WW would work as a diverse team book? I’m not going to say anything about the content because a lot of it might give away the reveal in the beginning of the run. Personally, I never thought I would be picking this book up monthly, so maybe you should give it a whirl too!
Instead of showcasing a tenth book, I’d rather offer up a couple titles that have also been bringing me some reading pleasure: BATWOMAN, GL NEW GUARDIANS, NIGHTWING, BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED,and, to some extent, SUPERGIRL AND BLUE BEETLE.
You might notice that in some articles I’ve written, my favorite reads are the soft reboots; the titles that didn’t need a relauch to be successful. I would like to point out that just because I’m a raging fanboy, it in no way implies that I agree with all of the choices being made by DC. I have my own mind (however easily swayed by pretty splash pages it might be) and can see the wood from the trees. The trees being in the guise of another “necessary” or “modern-relevant” major event/ origin change/ relaunch and the wood being some money-grubbing marketing scheme…or vice versa…you get the point. Since I shell out so much money to the publisher, I feel I’ve garnered the right to voice my opinion openly (kind of like taxes and “democracy”). This leads me to my next recommendation.
With all this DC relaunch talk, be sure to pick up THE GOON#39. You don’t even need to open the book to see how it lampoons the current state of the industry. The new brand identity (logo) says it all. Although I found the interiors more reminiscent of Eisner than a Lee/Kubrick farce, you cannot deny what it implies. The message, in typical humorous Powell form, remains intact no matter how off-kilter some of you “norms” might find it. I also need to commend the creator for his truth (candor…whatever) after the story’s conclusion. He said what a lot of the fans are thinking. Difference being, he has something to potentially lose. Even icons in the medium (Alan Moore) get ranked on when they stand by their values. No matter how bitter some oblivious person might think they are, they come from a pure place: one that demands some sort of change or equality. Not to mention, these are people who have stood on the front lines. They have seen the whale from the inside. You haven’t!
In closing (as always!), don’t be left out of the consistently great MIGNOLAVERSE: B.P.R.D., LOBSTER JOHNSON, ETC… This looks to be an enormous game-changing year for our favorite paranormal researcher/warriors. Stay tuned for the much anticipated, Mignola drawn and written (WOOHOOOOO!) HELLBOY:IN HELL! And lastly, check out the IDW’s new TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. With a fresh origin by Eastman and Waltz, and great art by Duncan, you have a chance to see it right from the beginning. Don’t let them get overshadowed by the NEW 52!
Until next time…