Review: The New 52

For a lot of friends, colleagues, loved ones, and casual acquaintances, I’m usually the 411 on all things comics-related. So it’s no surprise that a lot of people have been wanting to get my take on the DC relaunch.

Understandable considering it has been the hot topic of discussion and controversy. I decided to wait until after all 52 comics were released before I did a review and shared my impressions. For the relaunch I decided to vote with my dollars and with a few exceptions, I only purchased titles that feature POCs and LGBTQs as the lead and primary protagonists. It’s no secret that POCs and LGBTQs take a backseat in comics and media in general and has been my resolution for years now, I mainly purchase and support marginalized media.


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Batwoman: At last! Batwoman’s new series begins, from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman!

In “Hydrology,” part 1 of 5, Batwoman faces deadly new challenges in her war against Gotham City’s underworld – and new trials in her personal life as Kate Kane.Who or what is stealing children from the barrio, and for what vile purpose? Will Kate train her cousin, Bette Kane (a.k.a. Flamebird), as her sidekick? How will she handle unsettling revelations about her father, Colonel Jacob Kane? And why is a certain government agency suddenly taking an interest in her?

Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III and W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art and cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III

For those of you who don’t know, Batwoman actually broke sales records during her run on Detective Comics and her miniseries was critically acclaimed. And to have a lesbian superheroine dominate in sales is a testament to what happens when you give excellent marginalized characters a fair shot. Yet despite the success, this title has suffered delay after delay which has been a frikkin scandal. This new series is running on all cylinders. Definitely worth adding to your subscription list. A-

Batwing: Africa, a land of beauty – and of great horror. A land of creation and conflict. It is in desperate need of a defender, and from the ranks of Batman Incorporated comes a soldier to carry on the legacy on The Dark Knight in the most tumultuous region on Earth. Meet Batwing, the Batman of Africa!

Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by BEN OLIVER

While I wasn’t too big on the black superhero being named after one of Batman’s vehicles (and yes there was a Batwing character back in the day I know this) I was actually shocked at how well written this story was. Judd Winick doesn’t have the best track record with me as far as storytelling goes, but I’m happy to report he delivered. If you love a good Batman story, then Batwing is definitely worth checking out. Oliver’s art is very impressive, great characters. If Winick keeps it up, we could have a winner on our hands.  B+

Batgirl: Yes, it’s really happening!

Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl – and she’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as the dark secrets from her past. You won’t want to miss this stunning debut issue from fan-favorite BIRDS OF PREY writer Gail Simone!

Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art and ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES
Cover by ADAM HUGHES

So for the DC relaunch, I made a decision to primarily read and support read LGBTQ and POC titles, however Batgirl was one of the few exceptions. Mainly because of Gail Simone’s involvement who a good friend of mine, she constantly strives to be inclusive in her work. More than that, most folks know that I’m a hardcore Babs fan. This is hands down one of the best comics I’ve read in years. Simone silenced the critics and brought her A-game something fierce. This is the comic you need to get. And for those of you wondering, Babs being in a wheelchair was not erased. In fact her miraculous recovery is part of the mystery which she’s going to have to discover. And even though Babs has been cured, she’s still recovering mentally from the trauma of the Killing Joke. I have no doubt Simone has more surprises in store. I for one can’t wait. A+

Moving on from the Bat contingent…..

Static Shock: The brilliant, slightly awkward high school student Virgil Hawkins transforms into the cocky electromagnetic hero Static! A mysterious tragedy forces the Hawkins family to relocate from Dakota to New York City! Virgil embarks upon new adventures in a new high school and new internship at S.T.A.R. Labs! As Static, he dons a new uniform and establishes a new secret headquarters! But is he ready to take on the new villains who lurk in New York City’s underworld?

Written by SCOTT McDANIEL and JOHN ROZUM
Art and cover by SCOTT McDANIEL and JONATHAN GLAPION and LeBEAU UNDERWOOD

Excellent art, very strong opening story, this one’s a keeper.  Keep an eye out for another beloved Milestone alumnus who makes a cameo. Would love to see Gear introduced. Would REALLY LOVE FOR GEAR TO COME IN. I’ll be reading all the same. A

 Stormwatch: They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world.

Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds…

Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art and cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA

Won’t lie. I only got it for my boy Midnighter. This issue didn’t really show me anything impressive yet but I’ll keep reading for now, if only to get my Midnighter fix and support badass queer characters in comics. C

 Justice League: Comics legend Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history! In a universe where super heroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World’s Greatest Heroes!

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS

This issue got nothing was talked about like it was the Second Coming. So I decided to at least check out the first issue (Thank God for the digital downloads) to see what all the fuss was about. I’m still waiting to see what all the fuss was about. Williams and Lee’s art is nice but aside from that, so not impressed. Hal is still the obnoxious Mighty Whitey Mary Sue that turned me off of Green Lantern and Bats and Supes were just as obnoxious. It became a glorified pissing contest after awhile. Bored now. D+ And that’s only because I liked the art.

Mister Terrific: The world’s third-smartest man – and one of its most eligible bachelors – uses his brains and fists against science gone mad in this new series from Eric Wallace (TITANS) and Roger Robinson! 

Michael Holt is the head of a successful high-tech corporation and an institute that recruits and encourages the finest minds of the next generation to excel. As Mister Terrific he inhabits a world of amazement few others know exists, let alone can comprehend.

Written by ERIC WALLACE
Art by GIANLUCA GUGLIOTTA

Cover by J.G. JONES

I’m glad DC is finally doing something with this guy. Mr. T (not the guy with the cool mohawk) is a perfect example of why DC has failed for years. It’s not that they don’t have excellent characters. In fact quite the contrary, they have some of the most extraordinary characters possible, but they don’t get used, particularly characters of color. Mr. T in many respects is a hybrid of Lex Luthor and Batman: Olympic level athlete, billionaire, a prodigy. First issue was solid. Established the character. Nothing extraordinary but nothing shabby, though I could’ve done without the sister being intimidated by the white female rival. I’ll keep reading to see how the first story arc pans out. And another thing, I’m gonna need you all to stop undercutting this brother about being the world’s third smartest man, because I seriously doubt you’d be qualifying that if he was white. White Mr. T would simply be, the uber prodigy, the living supercomputer or some ish, not the world’s third smartest guy. And if he is the world’s third smartest man, who’s the first two? B-

Blue Beetle: It’s not easy being Jaime Reyes. He has to deal with high school, family and all the drama that comes with being a teenager. Also he’s symbiotically linked to a powerful scarab created by an alien race known as the Reach who seek to subjugate planets – or annihilate them. It’s up to one teen hero to turn this instrument of annihilation into a force for good.

Written by TONY BEDARD
Art by IG GUARA and RUY JOSE
Cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and SAL REGLA

Good intro issue, though a bit formulaic in the unassuming teen finds powerful artifact in the middle of meta heists gone wrong. That said, Jamie is still an affable protagonist and the first issue quickly reveals that there’s more story in store. B

Voodoo: Not too big on the bisexual black woman being a stripper, given DC’s track record with women as of late. Google the controversy (or click the handy provided links) about Catwoman,Starfire and Amanda Waller for those of you who haven’t been following.

Ironically, this was probably handled with more respect than I would’ve expected. And then when I saw Ron Marz writing, it made sense. Ron Marz has a solid track record handling strong and queer women with his runs on Witchblade and the Angelus miniseries. I’ll at least wait and see how the first arc goes before any final decisions on this series. B-

The Fury Of Firestorm: Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond. These two high school students are worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super-science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control. 

The dark secrets of the murderous Dog Team and its Firestorm Protocol force them to put aside their differences to confront a threat so terrifying that it may lead to a new Cold War!

Welcome to a major new vision of nuclear terror from writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone with astonishing art by Yildiray Cinar!

Written by ETHAN VAN SCIVER and GAIL SIMONE
Art by YILDIRAY CINAR

Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER

This issue had a bit of a slow buildup but in the last few pages, ish gets real. Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone pull no punches in tackling bigotry and the panels discussing race at the dinner table were actually honest and authentic. A multiethnic cast was also a nice change of pace in comics. It’s clear she’s got a lot more in store. A

Superboy: They thought he was just an experiment – and a failed one at that! Grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA, the clone was no more than a set of data to the scientists of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. But when the scope of his stunning powers was revealed, he became a deadly weapon! Now the question is: Can a clone develop a conscience?

Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by RB SILVA and ROB LEAN
Cover by ERIC CANETE

After reading about the douchebaggery that Superman has devolved into in Action Comics #1 (FYI Superman does not bully or threaten), I was a bit curious about it and I wanted to see if they would take a Superman in a different direction. The story wasn’t too bad. Interesting ideas and take on Superboy’s powers. I’ll keep reading the first arc at least. B
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Thoughts on the relaunch. It was a smart play on DC’s end to relaunch their entire line. The smartest thing they did was making all of their new titles digital. Why the comic book companies haven’t capitalized on this technology sooner is absolutely ridiculous. Most comic buyers will tell you that too often it’s nearly impossible to get an issue of a comic you want because even with a hold box sometimes the idiots running the store don’t order enough or will flippantly take an issue out of someone else’s hold and sell it to someone else. I witnessed this repeatedly while living in Chattanooga (the Bowels of Hell). And the fact that Marvel STILL hasn’t done this yet = 12 kinds of epic fail.

Not happy with what they’re doing with Superman being a jerk (oh I mean edgy and tough). Here’s the thing. People are always bitching about Superman not being cool or dark like Batman. HE’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!! He’s the boyscout, he’s the ideal. His arc is the Messiah story. His greatest power comes from doing good, not from the side effects of the yellow son. He plays by the rules. And that’s a good thing. He has the powers of a god. We like him being good and wholesome.

Did we learn nothing from Zod’s evil ass?

My theory is that DC is going to be running this wave of success for the next 4-5 months which is the span of the first story arc for most of their titles. Most people will be buying titles out of curiosity and even some of the controversy will boost sales because people will buy the issue just to see what all the fuss is about. I think most buyers have been stoked about the titles they purchased and they’re going to at least see how the first arcs play out. Aftter that, then we’ll see if DC is going to be successful longterm.

They have a golden opportunity here but they are already fucking it up. DC continues to alienate readers as the recent debacle around Starfire, Catwoman and Waller illustrate. They degrade these characters to pander to the white fanboy demographic and the fact of the matter is that will no longer work as a business model. That’s what they’ve been doing for years and that’s why the industry has been hemorraging money. At best, you might sell 100,000 copies but to mainstream audiences, the cartoons and movies reach millions upon millions of viewers. If you’re trying to tap into that success this means you’re going to have to make MORE of an effort to gain NEW female, queer and fans of color.

The straight white fanboy playground is no longer going to sustain you and keep trying to make it happen is pissing away a great opportunity here.

And speaking of excellent opportunities CAN WE PLEASE BRING BACK CASSANDRA CAIN IN ALL HER GLORY?!!!!!

WTF?!!! How does she not have her own series. She outsold Green Arrow, Catwoman, Aquaman and they’ve all gotten reboots after reboots and are getting their own series yet again. Yet fans have petitioned and begged are basically screaming to give you money and you fuckers still don’t want to do it. Is it because you don’t want to be wrong? Does it really irk you that she outshines most of the white male characters?

You can do all the reboots you want, but when you are this flippantly bigoted to an opportunity to actually HELP your business, you’re going to fail again and again.

And then you wonder why you had to do a reboot to begin with.

You know what, but given how you all have done Waller, you’d probably make with some epic dickery anyway, so maybe you’re doing her a favor.

*sighs and rereads Cass Cain trades*

So fine readers, how’s the New 52 working out for the rest of you?

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4 thoughts on “Review: The New 52

  1. I agree about the digital download, since I’m so frigging far away from comic book stores, which is the same reason why I get digital downloads of books too. It’s also made me want to buy a tablet, just for that since I miss reading good comics, and this line up you’ve got here has interested me. I honestly do want to read these titles, but the sad part is that I had to wait for you to review them. In fact, I am no longer eager and willing to go out and buy comics unless they’ve been reviewed thoroughly by intelligent, thoughtful people such as yourself.

    This isn’t me kissing your ass or anything, but it’s an honest assessment because I have been burned by comics and the attitudes of the (majourity of the) people behind them that I just don’t trust writers and editors anymore.

    And I’m their target demographic, a straight white male with lots of disposable income, and I’m sick of their shit. I know I don’t speak for everyone but there is a growing voice of dissent. One has only to look at the declining sales of Spider-Man since BND/OMD to see that.

    However, DC seems intent on screwing things up. For however good they did with Batwoman and Batgirl, they mess up Starfire and Catwoman and Amanda Waller. It’s like for every step forward, they take one or two back, just to make sure they don’t keep progressing forward.

    The comparison you made between the comics and the cartoons is app, and Shortpacked made a great comic about it too.

    http://www.shortpacked.com/2011/comic/book-13/04-remedial-adulthood/math/

    About the only good news on that front is that Gail Simone said she IS going to be doing something with Cassandra Cain in her Batgirl run.

  2. I thought Marvel had digital distrbution before DC. I remember Crossgen trying digital comics around 2002 but they went out of business and got bought out by Disney. Shame too, because their stuff was pretty diverse in content and cast. I miss Negation in particular.

    I’m not surprised that Cassandra Cain is still getting screwed over. She’s not the ONE TROO BATGIRL (that’s Barbara Gordon), she’s not white, and for every fan who liked her like you and me there are those who hated her solely because she wasn’t the Batgirl they grew up with. It’s that kind of logic from DC which started around 2003 which has made me read their comics less and less. I’ll give Static Shock a shot, but have you read Justice League International? I’m not looking forward to that one considering that Jurgens is writing it and Didio seems to really hate the Giffen-Dematteis run on JLA which is a shame. I know Vixen is on the team and I’ve liked her since she was on JLU a few years back (nice to see DC give some time to a black woman superhero for a change), but I dunno… last time Jurgens wrote that team he wrote them into the ground IMO. I like variety in my comics and apparently readers like me aren’t around enough anymore so that’s why they keep doing the same ultraviolent and pointless stories over and over again. At least in the 90s there were alternatives and some progression with the characters but now they don’t even try. It’s why I’ve been sticking to companies like Image and Boom Studios along with indie creators. At least there I can see more well-round portrayals of all characters from all backgrounds.

    I’m sure I’m just rambling, but I disagree with Hal Jordan being a Mary Sue in JLA#1. Geoff Johns wrote him like a moron but at least he didn’t screw up Batman too badly like in GL Rebirth (f’ that yellow space mantis). The best parts of that issue were Jim Lee and Superman punching Jordan in the face.

    • Marvel may have come out with digital copies first but DC is the first of the two to release all of their new comics both digitally and in print. Which as you pointed out is something the smaller indy companies have been doing for a minute.

      And you are right about Cass. She has legions of followers but she also has legions of haters for being an extraordinary woman of color.

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