Reviews May Contain Minor Spoilers

If you're reading a review you should expect to hear some spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum though.

Friday, 23 November 2012

DC Comics New 52: The High 10 (21-12)

New 52 November is almost over! I hope everyone in the U.S. had a Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to see the first three lists before continuing: The Middle 10, The Low 10 and The Bottom 11.

The High 10 are comics that I enjoyed and above number twenty I feel comfortable recommending to anyone.

21. Catwoman Vol. 1 The Game (2012)
By: Judd Winnick and Guillem March
Selina Kyle is a master theif living a life of luxury and danger. Unfortunately, she's stolen from the wrong people and ends up getting in over her head. She faces the criminals Bone and Reach while being tailed by some of Gotham's finest (and not so finest).

This is another comic that really shouldn't be as high up as it is. The first and last issues in this are pretty bad, but the middle I actually found quite good. Catwoman has be revamped and seems much newer to the game. She still has a relationship with Batman, but sadly it is one of the weakest points of the volume. When we actually get into the consequences of Selina's thievery during issues two and three, I found it much more compelling. The issues following were alright, but the concluding cliffhanger was even weaker than the first issue. Also you may have noticed the large amount of cheesecake on the cover, that is the standard in this title. The art is good, but there is quite a lot of it that cannot be excused. This book is an uneven introduction to the world of Catwoman and might be good for those who like more adult heist stories.

20. Suicide Squad Vol. 1 Kicked in the Teeth (2012) By: Adam Glass and Frederico Dallocchio
The government assembles a team of super villains to do high risk black ops missions. In order to keep them in line they are each implanted with bombs that will blow if they get out of line. Can the team actually work together to vomplete their missions or are they really just committing suicide?

I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would. The 'one member dies every issue' schtick got a little old, but I think they're going to ease up on that. Plus I don't think many of them actually died. With the exception of issue two (zombie mission *roll eyes*), I enjoyed their missions. The gore was a bit excessive sometimes, but this is an adult book about super-villains turned government assassins. I was surprised at how involved I got in the members who lasted more than an issue. Deadshot turns out to be and intelligent and capable if ruthless leader. El Diablo manages to have a nice anti-hero vibe to him as does Black Spider. King Shark works as a crazy monster and sometimes comic relief. Harley Quinn is actually in good form despite some unnecessary changes to her backstory. As for the others, I'd like to see Voltaic back because he seemed interesting. Light seemed a puzzling choice, but I like where they could go with her. Amanda Waller is pretty forgettable as standard hard edged government agent, but I think its a role that needed to be filled. I'd recommend this to fans of super villain teams and quirky assassination squads.

19. Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1 Fearsome (2012)
By: Peter J. Tomasi and various illustrators
This is another one that isn't really a first volume, but gives you enough about the characters that it can be a gateway into the Green Lantern Universe. Guy Gardner and John Stewart must face a group of resource stealing assassins that the Guardians claim to know nothing about. These villains destroy a whole world easily and use powerful willpower based weapons.

At the start this is a typical Corps story, but at the end there are some very nice touches that make it more complex. This is definitely worth a read and might be the best intro of all the New 52 books to the Green Lantern series. I really enjoyed the focus on how John and Guy's real lives have been affected by the Lantern Corps. This allows readers a look at the characters without needing to read all the continuity up to this. To anyone familiar with the DCU: It is weird seeing Guy and John not recognize the Martian Manhunter after the Blackest Night event, but yeah weird semi-reboot. This is definitely one to check out if you like the Green Lantern.


18. I, Vampire Vol. 1 Tainted Love (2012)
By: Joshua Hale Fialkov and Jenny Frison
Andrew Stanton was sired long ago by Mary and they shared a passionate undead love. Unfortunately the two became divided when she sought to lead vampires to their 'proper' place of dominance. Now Andrew must assemble allies and go to war against his former love.

I actually read the first two issues and gave up awhile ago, so I was pleasantly surprised that the whole volume is actually pretty good. The first two issues get a little 'emo vamipre-ish' for my taste, but the third issue gets better with he introduction of the supporting cast. The fourth issue is by far the best of the lot. Constantine's cameo is a welcome influx of humor to a rather serious book. I have mixed feelings about the last two issues. Does EVERY New 52 book have to have a Batman cameo in volume one... I think I'll do a count at the end. Anyway, Batman brings some interesting ideas, but I'd rather have some more character development of the core cast. Plus his role as a justice straw man is pretty ridiculous and more than a little eye-rolling. Overall this falls into a solid, but not my style vein of comic book. New readers can easily get into this and it is not at all in the Twilight vein of vampirism. I recommend this to fans of vampire fiction.

17. Captain Atom Vol. 1 Evolution (2012)
By: J.T. Krul and Stanley Artgem Lau
Captain Atom used to be an air force pilot before an experiment transformed him into a demigod. Now he struggles with his power over the very forces of creation itself. Unfortunately, he is not the only one they performed the test on and he must face the another creature like himself.

This version of Captain Atom is heavily influenced by Dr. Manhattan of the Watchmen who is based off the classic Captain Atom. Not that you need to know anything about that to follow the story, but it is an interesting loop. There is a simple elegance to this story that is also present in many of the best Superman stories. It focuses on about five characters and has nice arcs for all of them in one volume. Its problem is that it is not the most original fare, but it does ask some interesting question without leaving you feeling too ponderous. However, the cliffhanger at the end is annoying and I really wish it hadn't been added. This is a nice reboot to the character as well as a solid single volume that anyone can pick up and read.


16. Birds of Prey Vol. 1 Trouble in Mind (2012)
By: Duane Swiercynzski and various illustrators
Dinah Lance aka Black Canary and Ev Crawford aka Starling are vigilantes who uncover a strange conspiracy, lead by new criminal called Choke, involing brainwashed sleeper agents. In order to stop this threat they ally themselves with the possibly insane Katana, the villainous Poison Ivy and the newly active Batgirl.

Mind control plots are tricky to handle, but Birds of Prey manages to do it with a fair amount of success. We get a decent enough introduction to the characters, most of whom I had little prior knowledge of. I think Katana stuck out the most for me due to the awesome amount of comedy she brought to the table. Black Canary makes an interesting enough leader, but I felt they could have expanded a bit more on why she was wanted for murder. Starling was alright and stood out enough as second in command. Poison Ivy had the least reason to join the team, but it seemed like she had enough to gain by helping them. Batgirl's involvement seemed the most arbitrary and a bit distracting. The villain, Choke, manages to be mysterious and interesting. There are some great cliffhangers that really left me wondering how they were going to get out of his clutches.There is also something to be said about having a team of ladies in a male dominated universe (just look at the Justice League line-up below). I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to read a decent girl power comic.

15. Justice League Vol. 1 Origin (2012)
By: Geoff Johns and Jim Lee
Green Lantern and the Flash encounter Batman while investigating some strange alien technology. Believing it is supernatural in origin they decide to consult Superman. Soon Cyborg, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman are drawn into battle against the threat of Darkseid and his minions on Apokalips.

I have to give this book some props. The slow build actually gives us some time to get to know the characters (though we already know most of them) and this is an actual issue 1, so we don't have so much continuity in the way. Also, each hero is given the chance to be bad ass and have a nice team dynamic. It does have its problems. Batman stealing Green Lantern's ring was stupid. Darkseid went down way too easy. I enjoyed Cyborg, but his dad having a 'hot and ready' suit all prepped was a little too plot convenient. Overall, I wasn't as blown away as I wanted to be, but it was a solid start as well as a good way to get an introduction to the Justice League for new readers.

14. Supergirl Vol. 1 Last Daughter of Krypton (2012)
By: Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Mahmud Asrar
Kara's planet has been destroyed. Her family is gone. And she must find out what happened!

It's like everything I hated about Superboy was fixed in Supergirl. We get Kara's thoughts, but she constantly has a purpose and a drive. She wants to find out what happened to her world and about who she has become. We focus on essentially one villain at a time and neither is a figure cackling from the shadows. The first is an eccentric billionaire in the vein of Lex Luthor, but by the end of his arc he struck me more like the main villain of Batman Beyond (a good thing in my opinion). The second villain is Reign, leader of the Worldkillers, who may have been developed by Kryptonian science to conquer worlds. Neither villain is outright defeated, so they will return. Setting up two interesting recurring villains in a row: Awesome! We also get flashbacks of Kara's life in Argos City that mesh really effectively with her current events. The only drawback was her uniform which looks kind of stupid, much like a lot of her enemies' outfits. That aside Supergirl is a fun superhero romp that's great for new readers.

13. Batgirl Vol. 1 The Darkest Reflection (2012)
By: Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf
Barbara Gordon has spent three years confined to a wheelchair, but now, thanks to some hard work, she is back on her feet. But, is she ready to face life back in the cowl? A new super villain called Mirror is targeting people who should have died, including Barbara. The second villain, Gretel, targets Gotham billionaire Bruce Wayne.

Gail Simone is much more up to her usual standards than on the mediocre Firestorm. Barbara Gordon has some great scenes and her struggle is very relatable. Her insecurities and fears help to make this book one of the more real takes on a character in the New 52. This isn't quite a reboot, but it does give you a solid picture of Barbara's world and it should be easy enough for new readers to get into. The biggest let down of this volume are the villains. Mirror was definitely superior to the forgettable Gretel, but even he wasn't too interesting. This highlights the overall problem of this issue that these are not big even stories. These are much smaller stories. However, I do think the ongoing series is in good hands. Bat fans should definitely check this book out!

12. Green Lantern Vol. 1 Sinestro (2012)
By: Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
Hal Jordan is no longer a Green Lantern, but he can't go back to his old life. Even his old flame Carol Ferris, the Star Sapphire, has trouble with helping him out. However, Sinestro now has a power ring and he has come to his old enemy, Hal Jordan, with an offer he can't refuse.

Okay, this is not a 'Volume One,' in fact you probably need to read at least Green Lantern, Vol. 6: Secret Origin, Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern, Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern, Vol 9. Brightest Day, and Green Lantern: War of the Green Lanterns to understand how Sinestro, Hal and Carol got to this point. This book is all about the mistakes the three characters have made and how they feel they should go about fixing them. In that respect this comic succeeds fantastically. It is a well written drama about the characters' struggles. I found it a bit strange that none of the other lanterns comes to check on Hal in this series. I guess they had better things to do. Once again this is a great read and deserves this lofty post, but it is shut out of the top eleven since new readers will be lost in this title.

Only one cancellation in this set, so maybe economics do work in my favor sometimes. Only a few left and you can figure out who's left by process of elimination. How do they stack up against each other? Head on to The Top 11.

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