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The New DC 52: A Look At All 52 First Issues

November 16, 2011  |  4:49pm
The New DC 52: A Look At All 52 First Issues

Throughout September DC Comics released the first issues of 52 new series during a relaunch of their entire line of superhero comics. Paste comic reviewers Garrett Martin and Sean Edgar and guest contributor David Raposa read every issue and now sort through and review the entire line-up week by week.

8/31/11

JLA
By Geoff Johns and Jim Lee
Rating: 4.2

Really? I mean, really? Simplification can be a good thing, but reintroducing your best characters as squabbling Saturday-morning cartoons isn’t the revolutionary masterstroke to kick off the overhaul of your entire publishing line. Even if kids still read comics, they’re smart enough not to read this. (SE)

9/7/2011

Action Comics
By Grant Morrison and Rags Morales
Rating: 7.2

You’re either going to hate Grant Morrison’s Peter-Parkeresque version of young Superman, or you’re going to be smitten with it. (DR)

Animal Man
By Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman
Rating: 8.0

Astute characterization and detailed pencils bring zoological powerhouse Buddy Baker back into relevancy. If the macabre twist at the end means anything, we’ll have volumes of mature, post-Vertigo dread to look forward to. (SE)

Batgirl
By Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf
Rating: 5.0

What should’ve been one of the New 52’s no-brainer triumphs—combining Gail Simone with a character she’s made her own—ends up a muddled disappointment. (DR)

Batwing
By Judd Winick and Ben Oliver
Rating: 6.0

It doesn’t make up for the lack of a Morrison Batbook, but this deeper look into a Batman Inc. franchisee offers a thoroughly competent and distinctive take on the whole Batbiz. (GM)

Detective Comics
By Tony S. Daniel
Rating: 2.3

This tediously grim and faceless Batman story ends with an equally (and more literally) faceless Joker. It’s essentially an unwitting parody of misguidedly “mature” post-Miller/Moore superhero comics. (GM)

Green Arrow
By J.T. Krul and Dan Jurgens
Rating: 4.6

Robin Hood analogue Oliver Queen already had a sterling personality between his hilarious liberal rhetoric and dirty old mannerisms. Changing this icon into a 20-something cross between Steve Jobs, Mr. T, and Freddie Mercury (who else says “I got no time for losers?”!?) is severely missing the mark. (SE)

Hawk & Dove
By Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld
Rating: 6.3

This title is an odd bird (sorry). It’s seen multiple directions since Steve Ditko created it in 1968, only to face perpetual cancellation. Strangely, the yin/yang dynamic between this bickering pair of old-school heroes is compelling, complemented by unusually restrained Liefeld art. (SE)

Justice League International
By Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti
Rating: 5.5

Well-intentioned but imperfect rebirth of one of the best comics of the 1980s. Ted Kord is missed, but it’s good to see Booster Gold maintain the spotlight. (GM)

Men of War
By Ivan Brandon, Tom Derenick, Jonathan Vankin, and Phil Winslade
Rating: 6.5

The fine lead story in this war comic aimed at Call of Dudes eschews classic Sgt. Rock semi-realism and makes at least two smart observations about modern warfare in a superhero world. The back-up cold steals from Full Metal Jacket, but Winslade’s linework nicely recalls the old war comics of Joe Kubert. (GM)

O.M.A.C.
By Keith Giffen and Dan Didio
Rating: 7.0

Solid Kirby rip from Giffen and Didio as new-look OMAC rampages through the Cadmus Project. Could use more… talking like — THIS!!! (GM)

Stormwatch
By Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda
Rating: 8.0

Adding the Martian Manhunter & writer Paul Cornell to the mix brings welcome signs of life to this once-venerable Wildstorm franchise. (DR)

Static Shock
By Scott McDaniel and John Rozum
Rating: 6.1

The elements are all in place, and its intentions are good, but there’s a certain spark missing from this endeavor that actually makes it enjoyable. (DR)

Swamp Thing
By Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette
Rating: 8.2

Credit to Scott Snyder for making an odious concept (bringing Swamp Thing back from Vertigo to the DCU) not just work, but actually intrigue. (DR)

9/14/2011

Batman & Robin
By Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Rating: 4.0

How to not start off a series: portray both leads as insufferable, tone-deaf, over-talkative boobs. Also: Batman don’t sail no paper boats. (DR)

Batwoman
By J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Rating: 9.0

The surreal, eerie illustrations of J.H. Williams III elevate Batwoman to the best-looking book of the relaunch. Williams leads readers through swirling, kinetic panels alongside the Caped Crusader’s better half, delivering the most satisfying Bat book (or flat-out best book) of the new 52. (SE)

Deathstroke
By Kyle Higgins and Joe Bennett
Rating 3.0

Despite apparently being the biggest badass to ever sport a facial scar, Deathstroke never skates, dunks or raps in this comic. How badass could he possibly be? (GM)

Demon Knights
By Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves
Rating: 7.9

Dungeons & Dragons meets the DC Universe? Yes, please. British scribe Paul Cornell summons up a fun mix of swords and sorcery culled from years of continuity. (SE)

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
By Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli
Rating: 7.3

This Creature Commandos revival skirts close to Hellboy territory, but has more than enough great ideas to distinguish itself and a fantastic central character in the Seven Soldiers version of Frankenstein. (GM)

Green Lantern
By Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
Rating: 5.0

Sinestro ditches his own Corps for a touching reunion with the Guardians, Hal can’t make rent, and I remember why I don’t read this boring, convoluted series. (GM)

Grifter
By Nathan Edmondson and Cafu
Rating: 5.6

There’s nothing particularly offensive about this spin on the once popular Wildstorm antihero, nor is there anything all that compelling. If the gun-toting conman’s past provides any perspective, body-snatching aliens were a boring foe compared to the character’s self-destructive drama. (SE)

Legion Lost
By Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods
Rating: 6.7

This colorful group of space-time travelers supports some intriguing personalities, but the sci-fi lingo and muddled plot found me just as adrift as these stranded travelers. If Nicieza can hone in on the crew’s dynamic quirks and penciler Pete Woods keeps up his warm layouts, Legion could be a fun bridge for younger readers. (SE)

Mister Terrific
By Eric Wallace and Gianluca Gugliotta
Rating: 5.3

A C-lister with a decent hook (near-suicidal Tony Stark) gets a muddled but promising series debut. A focus on science adventures and persevering through self-doubt could help this stand out amid the clutter. (GM)

Red Lanterns
By Peter Milligan and Ed Benes
Rating: 6.9

A mindless platoon of intergalactic punishers is all good, but this title really shines when it shows an adorable space kitty spewing acid on alien torture artists. Red Lanterns holds a load of potential as long as it reaches past its 1-note angst to poke some fun at itself. (SE)

Resurrection Man
By Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Fernando Dagnino
Rating: 5.1

The return for this beloved cult character (featuring his original writers) doesn’t provide much justification for its new lease on life. (DR)

Suicide Squad
By Adam Glass and Federico Dallocchio
Rating: 6.6

Come explore the grimy, exploitative world of undercover supervillain ops in Suicide Squad. This will be déjà vu for anyone who recalls Warren Ellis’ superior run on Thunderbolts, but who can resist watching unhinged Joker GF Harley Quinn bust heads in a leather bustier? (SE)

Superboy
By Scott Lobdell and RB Silva
Rating: 5.5

Superboy is the star of his own lab-based Truman Show rip in the first of the reboot’s two different experiment-upon-Kryptonian moments (so far). ’90s X-scribe Scott Lobdell’s story is full of ’90s angst, but there’s a solid kernel of long-term story potential at the center. (GM)

9/21/2011

Batman
By Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Rating: 7.4

Scott Snyder nails the noir prose, and former Spawn artist Greg Capullo provides some surprisingly clean line work. Though their approaches don’t mesh as well as one might expect, this tale of a morbid serial killer and doomed gentrification is right up Batman’s crime alley. (SE)

Birds of Prey
By Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz
Rating: 7.0

It might not have all its parts quite in place before it starts knocking things over, but the Swierczynski/Saiz team definitely know how to spin a yarn. (DR)

Blue Beetle
By Tony Bedard and Ig Guara
Rating: 5.1

It might be a decent entry point for newbies, but returnees aren’t going to like having the same origin beats revisited in a less successful manner. (DR)

Captain Atom
By J.T. Krul and Freddie Williams II
Rating: 3.9

It’s never going to happen. There’s a reason Captain Atom’s only noteworthy non-JLI appearance is as a fanboy-bait cameo in New Frontier. This generic claptrap is not the start of an exciting new era. (GM)

Catwoman
By Judd Winick and Guillem March
Rating: 1.0

Less about the Catwoman than her Catladyparts, which are basically spilling out front and center in every panel. This is why your girlfriend makes fun of you for reading comics. (GM)

DC Universe Presents: Deadman
By Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang
Rating: 5.5

Boston Brand gets his Quantum Leap on in this new series, featuring the incorporeal hero jumping into the souls of depressed war vets and suicidal stuntmen to atone for his sins. A Hindu subtext lends a colorful background, but the incessant monologues drive the pace into the ground. (SE)

Green Lantern Corps
By Peter J. Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin
Rating: 6.0

Does great stuff with the reintroductions of Guy Gardner & John Stewart, but loses its footing as soon as it leaves Earth’s atmosphere. (DR)

Legion of Super-Heroes
By Paul Levitz and Francis Portela
Rating: 3.2

Someone forgot to tell Paul Levitz this initiative was supposed to be about bold new beginnings, not rote and wearying walks through the same old. (DR)

Nightwing
By Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows
Rating: 6.2

Surprisingly solid superhero yarn that incorporates the original Robin’s backstory without fixating on it. The new villain is a little too obvious of a mirror image (murderous acrobat hitman), but their one showdown made me anticipate the rematch. (GM)

Red Hood and the Outlaws
By Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort
Rating: 3.0

Edgy! Sexy! Antiquated! Forgotten X-Men helmer Scott Lobdell returns from obscurity to reduce a volatile mix of characters into prosaic teen stereotypes. Even Kenneth Rocafort’s stylized pencils can’t save this issue from feeling like ’90s T&A garbage. (SE)

Supergirl
By Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar
Rating: 4.7

Superman’s teen cousin sports a regal new design, but this first issue doesn’t tout much besides a generic scuffle with robots. Nothing against cute blondes fighting giant mechs, but this introduction feels more like the trailer for a Japanese cartoon then a comic book. (SE)

Wonder Woman
By Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang
Rating: 8.2

Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang renovate a dated property into a cinematic thrill ride. In a perfect world, the entire relaunch would embrace such experimentation. Reimagining a Greek Goddess as a hyper-violent bodyguard isn’t a bad start, though. (SE)

9/28/2011

All Star Western
By Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Moritat
Rating: 7.3

It sounds like an anthology, but this is basically a continuation of Gray and Palmiotti’s Jonah Hex comic. Rich and moody art from Moritat and a Ripper-ish mystery about murdered prostitutes and secret societies in 1880s Gotham makes this feel like a Vertigo book. I’m hooked. (GM)

Aquaman
By Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis
Rating: 5.0

I’m fine with a fish-eating, bullet-deflecting, minority-complex-having Aquaman. I’m just not fine with the way Geoff Johns is writing it. (DR)

Batman: The Dark Knight
By David Finch
Rating: 3.0

At least I can remember what happened in Detective. (GM)

Blackhawks
By Mike Costa and Ken Lashley
Rating: 2.1

Rob Liefeld might be working on another book, but folks looking for that noxious mid-’90s Image vibe might want to look into this thing as well. (DR)

Flash
By Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Rating: 7.3

Easy, breezy, effortlessly engaging, and even charming—nice to see Barry Allen has finally learned a few tricks from Wally West’s heyday. (DR)

Fury of Firestorm
By Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone, and Yildiray Cinar
Rating: 2.1

To quote the book: “What just happened?” A super-rushed origin story + reductive race-relation nonsense = inert on arrival. (DR)

Green Lantern: New Guardians
By Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham
Rating: 3.8

The Gen X GL tips a waitress with a boardwalk caricature, gets inducted into the fraternal order of space cops while taking a piss in an alley, and eventually butts heads with a veritable rainbow of ring-sporting also-rans. Why should we care about him on either a human or heroic level? (GM)

I, Vampire
By Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino
Rating: 3.0

Stylish atmospheric art can’t smooth over the bumps in Josh Fialkov’s needlessly flashy storytelling, which smothers any potential points of interests. (DR)

Justice League Dark
By Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin
Rating: 5.8

All the Vertigo refugees get thrown into the mixer with this title featuring a gaggle of post-modern magicians banding together to fight a Superman-shredding witch. Though I wanted to like this more, Milligan knows his way around the gothic sandbox and the Ryan Sook covers are gorgeous. (SE)

The Savage Hawkman
By Tony S. Daniel and Philip Tan
Rating: 2.0

There’s a palpable grit to Tan’s artwork, but it’s wasted on a brain-dead script whose stilted dialogue consistently features twice as many words as necessary. (GM)

Superman
By George Perez and Jesus Marino
Rating: 6.1

George Perez’s illustrative excesses have crept into his writing, but as retro-flavored reboots go, it could be much, much worse. (DR)

Teen Titans
By Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth
Rating: 4.0

It might be realistic to depict teen heroes as irresponsible and potentially dangerous (a la the New Warriors) but how realistic can (or should) superhero comics possibly be? The first issue is tiresome, but this could be compelling as a biweekly companion to Lobdell’s Superboy. (GM)

Voodoo
By Ron Marz and Sami Basri
Rating: 1.6

A camouflaged lizard stripper gives a government alien hunter a steamy lap dance. Late night Cinemax or comic book relaunch? You decide! (SE)

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