Tag Archives: Justice League

For Your Consideration: Hugo Award Graphic Story

The deadline for nominating works for the Hugo Awards is March 10, 2013. Members (as of January 31, 2013) of Chicon 7, LoneStarCon 3, or Loncon 3 are eligible to nominate.

One of the troubles with the Graphic Story category is that much of what’s published is in a highly serialized form, with storylines sometimes extending over more than a year. Publishers typically gather six to ten issues into trade editions, and these are what get nominated. But in reality, these volumes often don’t represent entire, self-contained stories.

In my opinion, the graphic story category remains the strongest overall category on the Hugo ballot. Choosing five nominees is an almost impossible task because there are so many good choices to pick from. Yet, the Hugo voters consistently nominate the same fanish works year after year. Come on, folks, there is more than Girl Genius and Schlock Mercenary. Much more.

The comics world is producing more top-notch work than in any other Hugo category, yet only seven works made the 5% cutoff last year (nine, if you count two works with 4.94% each). The number of graphic stories that are published is staggering, so I challenge the Hugo voters to think carefully about your choices and to not just fill in your ballots with last year’s nominees because you can’t think of anything else. Don’t be afraid to nominate superhero stories; these are some of the most exciting and relevant science fiction tales being published.

For your consideration:

  • The Abominable Charles Christopher, Karl Kerschl (http://karlkerschl.com)AdventureTime_v1
  • Adventure Time, Vol. 1, Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Branden Lamb (BOOM! Studios)
  • American Vampire, Vol. 4, Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque (Vertigo)
  • Aquaman, Vol. 1, Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado (DC)
  • Batman: Earth One, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank (DC)batman-court-of-owls
  • Batman: The Court of Owls, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo (DC)
  • The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City, Jared Axelrod, Steve Walker (Tor)
  • Battlepug, Mike Norton (http://www.battlepug.com)
  • Batwoman, Vol. 1, J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman (DC)
  • Chew, Vol. 6: Space Cakes, John Layman, Rob Guillory (Image)
  • Cinderella: Fables are Forever, Chris Roberson, Shawn McManus (Vertigo)
  • Daredevil, Vol. 1, Mark Waid, Chris Samnee (Marvel)dial-h
  • Dial H, Vol. 1: Into You, China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco (DC)
  • Earth 2, Vol. 1, James Robinson, Nicola Scott (DC)
  • Fables, Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind, Bill Willingham, et al (Vertigo)
  • Frankenstein Alive, Alive!, Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson (IDW)
  • Grandville Bete Noir, Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
  • Hawkeye, Vol. 1, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido (Marvel)irredeemable
  • Irredeemable, Vol. 10, Mark Waid, Diego Barreto (BOOM! Studios)
  • iZombie, Vol. 4: Repossessed, Chris Roberson, Mike Allred (DC)
  • Justice League, Vol. 1, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee (DC)
  • Lobster Johnson Vol. 2: The Burning Hand, Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Scott Allie, Tonci Zonjic (Dark Horse)
  • Locke & Key: Clockworks, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)manhattan-projects
  • The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 1, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitavro (Image)
  • Mind MGMT, Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)20thCenturyBoys22
  • Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Vol. 22, Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
  • The New Deadwardians, Dan Abnett, I.N.J. Culbard (Vertigo)
  • Peter Panzerfaust, Vol. 1: The Great Escape, Kurtis Wiebe, Tyler Jenkins (Image)
  • Prophet, Vol. 1: Remission, SImon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milogiannis, Brandon Graham (Image)
  • Punk Rock Jesus, Sean Murphy (Vertigo)saga
  • Saga, Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughn, Fiona Staples (Image)
  • Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson, Mark Siegel (First Second)
  • Saucer Country, Vol. 1: Run, Paul Cornell, Ryan Kelly (Vertigo)
  • The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, Vol. 1, Tradd Moore, Justin Jordan (Image)
  • Superman: Earth One, Vol. 2, J. Michael Straczynski, Shane Davis (DC)
  • The Underwater Welder, Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)the-unwritten-6
  • The Unwritten, Volume 6: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, Mike Carey, Peter Gross (Vertigo)
  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Allard (Image)
  • Wonder Woman, Vol. 1, Brian Azzarello, Tony Akins (DC)wrinkle-in-time-graphic-novel
  • A Wrinkle in Time, adapted by Hope Larson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Justice League: Doom

Justice League: Doom (2012)
Written by Dwayne McDuffie, based on “Tower of Babel” by Mark Waid; directed by Lauren Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Snapshot: An exciting adventure reuniting most of the creative talent from the Justice League animated TV series that is almost derailed by major plot holes at the end.

Major spoilers ahead!

The story opens with Batman (Kevin Conroy), Superman (Tim Daly), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly), and the Flash (Michael Rosenbaum) thwarting a jewel heist by a gang of thieves who seem to have a little more high-tech than expected. It turns out that they were supplied by the immortal Vandal Savage (Phil Morris) as part of his plot to destroy the Justice League and take over the world.

It turns out Savage is focused on the big picture. Little things like Batman’s secret identity don’t interest him (and anyway, he already knows it). Savage uses his “Legion of Doom” to discover and carry out the Dark Knight’s “contingency plans” for stopping any rogue Justice League member. This leads to a second act filled with nonstop action and suspense as the Justice Leaguers are knocked off, one by one by their rivals: Bane (Carlos Alazraqui), Cheetah (Claudia Black), Metallo (Paul Blackthorne), Star Sapphire (Olivia d’Abo), Mirror Master (Alexis Denisof), and Ma’alefa’ak (Carl Lumbly).

The third act is also filled with exciting action as the League regroups and fights to stave off Savage’s ultimate end game: the literal destruction of half the world’s population along with all technology utilizing electricity so that he can become the undisputed ruler of what’s left. Here’s where, for me, the plot goes off the rails. I realize that movies like this have to up the ante, especially with superheroes as powerful as the Justice League, but really, what kind of crazy does a super-villain have to be to think that ruling a decimated Earth would be any way fulfilling?

And the way Savage plans to wreak this havoc is mind-boggling, even for a comic book story. OK, he demonstrated that he has super-advanced technology earlier in the story, so I can kind of give it a pass that he can launch a rocket from the Earth that will crash into the Sun causing massive solar flares that will destroy anything in their path. But come one, it’s the fracking Sun! There’s nothing manmade that could possibly cause the Sun to explode this way.

If this were the only plot hole, I could forgive it. But the bigger plot hole is that the rocket takes only about a minute to reach the Sun. Even at the speed of light, it would take eight minutes, a fact that they repeat several times in relation to how long it will take the solar flares to reach Earth. A rocket would take months, if not years (it took the MESSENGER probe almost four years to arrive at Mercury) to reach the Sun. This could have been easily explained away in the movie if Savage had simply stated that he launched the rocket months ago in preparation. The climax could still have been as exciting, with the heroes attempting to activate the rocket’s fail-safe rather than attempting to cancel its launch.

Nevertheless, Justice League: Doom is well worth seeing. The chemistry between the returning voice actors is fun, as the they have grown into their roles over the years. Bumper Robinson as Cyborg is a welcome addition to the ensemble, and I hope we get to see more of him in future installments. (This movie just reinforces my desire to see a resurrected Justice League TV series.) There are many nice character interactions between the heroes and their villainous counterparts, as well as some pointed humor between Batman and Alfred (“You’re dripping blood on my clean floor.”) There is also some wonderful poignancy in the second act when it looks like our heroes are done for, especially when Green Lantern thinks he’s killed a civilian and momentarily loses his nerve.

Justice League: Doom is an exciting yet bittersweet end to Dwayne McDuffie’s prolific career as a writer for the DC animated universe (he died unexpectedly a year ago). I wish that the live-action movies were even close to the quality of the animated movies.

The New 52: Summary

My overall rating for the New 52: 4 of 5 stars

I think DC’s relaunch was largely successful. Their sales numbers certainly reflect a large influx of new readers, with Month 3 of the reboot still beating Marvel’s sales numbers. I haven’t read individual monthly comics in many years and I was enticed to try all 52 titles. I don’t see myself reading any of them consistently on an ongoing basis—it took me 6-7 weeks to read 52 issues, about 1200 pages, and I don’t have that kind of time to read comics on a regular basis—but I can easily see getting several of these when the trade compilations come out. Moreover, modern comic book writing relies heavily on long story arcs that are often best read in chunks.

I applaud DC for realizing that comic books are a medium, not a genre. Although heavily dominated by superheroes, this new line-up includes supernatural, horror, mystery, science fiction, western, and war stories. I hope that these find eager audiences willing to take a chance on something different.

There were a surprising number of variations on covert paramilitary operations. Men of War, Blackhawks, Suicide Squad, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Stormwatch, and perhaps to a lesser extent Birds of Prey, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Justice League Dark, and maybe even one or two others, were formatted almost identically except for the milieu they were in. After a while it became hard to differentiate them all.

It is obvious that DC is catering to an older audience, with lots of gore and sexual titillation throughout the line, not to mention the $2.99 cover price precluding unemployed kids from buying too many. DC is also trying to have their cake and eat it, too, by relying heavily on established continuity to assuage the wrath of long-time fans, yet claiming to be wiping the slate clean for brand new readers. I would rather have 52 really well told stories, even if it means setting aside years of continuity, than try to artificially shoehorn often-contradictory backstories into every title.

DC is also to be lauded for including so many female characters in lead roles. I don’t think Marvel has any solo-character books starring females. DC has Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman, (half of) Hawk and Dove, Supergirl, Voodoo, and Wonder Woman. Now, let’s see more female writers and artists to create these stories!

Some people have complained about the perceived sexism in titles like Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws, and there is certainly a strong case to be made for those criticisms. (Yet, at the same time, there was little or no outcry towards something like I, Vampire’s nearly naked cover art.) What I found most troublesome about some of these titles was the incomprehensible storytelling. These, and many of the other 52, seemed more like Issues #12, or even #50, than #1.

I had fun with the “Where’s Waldo?” hunt for the mysterious hooded figure from Flashpoint #5. There were a few books that took me several tries to find her. Did anyone else note her freakishly long fingers in her appearance in Resurrection Man?

I thought most of the books were good to very good. What were my favorites? All Star Western, Animal Man, Batwoman, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Justice League, Mister Terrific, and Superboy, with guilty pleasures Captain Atom and Red Lanterns. A number of others have the potential to become favorites, depending on how well they continue—for example, Action Comics, Batman, Batman and Robin, Demon Knights, and Wonder Woman. I suspect there will be other breakout hits as they settle into their strides—and certainly some of what looks good initially will falter along the way.

There were some real duds, though: Aquaman, Green ArrowRed Hood and the Outlaws, and The Savage Hawkman, coming to mind. But I wouldn’t count these out, either, as time may show improvement.

I’m sure we can expect to see a mega-crossover event next summer as sales begin to flag, to recharge interest, reveal the hooded figure’s identity and purpose, and make some final calibrations on the characters in the new DC universe.

I look forward to enjoying many more tales from the creative folks at DC.

The New 52: I, Vampire and Justice League Dark

The final two books in “The Dark” group of DC’s New 52:

I, Vampire

Aiming to cash in on the vampire craze, DC is resurrecting an obscure property from House of Mystery from thirty years ago and reimagining it as part of the mainstream DC Universe. I, Vampire is the story of Andrew Bennett’s quest to save humanity from the violent uprising of his fellow vampires, even if it means exterminating his own kind. It is also the story of the unrequited love between Bennett and Mary, Queen of Blood. Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov has created something vicious and brutal that fills a seldom seen niche in the DC Universe. It will accept occasional visits from the spandex-clad crowd, but should be a fairly self-contained horror thriller. Artist Andrea Sorrentino provides sexy, moody scenes that remind me a bit of Gene Colan’s work. With all the controversy surrounding some of the New-52 Batman titles, I haven’t heard any complaints about Sorrentino’s cover showing the nearly naked Mary, a testament to his ability to turn out something akin to fine art. I suspect this book will read better in the collected trade edition, but I am pleasantly surprised by how well it hooked me with its first issue.

Justice League Dark

Justice League Dark bridges the gap between the occult and superhero sides of the DC Universe. It brings together a mixture of DCU and Vertigo supernatural characters and throws them into a deadly battle with the evil Enchantress when the regular Justice League is defeated by her powerful magic. Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, Shade the Changing Man, John Constatine, and Deadman will defend the world from the province of spells, hocus pocus, and demons.

Writer Peter Milligan gives us a story that is dark but not grim. The action gets going right away, and although neither the character origins nor the extent of their powers are shown, it’s easy to keep up with what’s going on, with the sense that the details will be undoubtedly filled in later. Mikel Janin provides beautiful artwork that is unusually light for a supernatural title like this, and his character designs are flawless. A special mention should go to colorist Ulises Arreloa’s subtle enhancements. As with I, Vampire, I suspect this will read better as a collection, allowing the character development to move forward at a natural pace.

Comikaze

Comikaze is a new comic-centric convention in Los Angeles. It appears to be making a bid to eventually replicate the multi-media San Diego Comic-Con experience, with something for fans of anime, movies, TV, and gaming. Comikaze was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 5-6, 2011. I attended on Saturday only.

I went in not expecting much. A similarly publicized convention in Pasadena a couple of years ago was a dismal failure. I had purchased tickets through Goldstar, a popular discount ticket broker. The tickets were “free” for a $4.50 handling fee, so I didn’t have much to lose by going.

Fez-o-Rama Booth

The Comikaze web site indicated the dealers’ room would open at 10:00 a.m., but when I arrived shortly before 10 I discovered that the floor was not going to open until 10:30. So I had to wait a bit, which was ok. I had to redeem my Goldstar receipt for a wristband, and that took a few minutes. To give Comikaze credit, they had workers in the crowd giving out wristbands to full-paying preregistrants, enabling people like me to get to the registration table relatively quickly.

Girls and Corpses Magazine Booth

At 10:30 the door opened. Yes, door, singular. The long line slowly snaked in, single file. The cavernous hall was already bustling when I managed to get in. There were a lot of vendors selling a wide variety of products. There were also many tables for artists and celebrities. A large area at the back of the hall

Gaming Area

was reserved for gaming tournaments, so there seemed to be something for everyone. In an unusual setup, there were five panel rooms created by curtaining off sections of the hall.

Having looked at the online schedule ahead of time I knew there was to be a screening of the trailer for Daniel Radcliffe’s new horror movie, The Woman in Black, at 11:00, but none of the panel rooms had it listed on the cards in front of the room entrances. Because there was no overall printed schedule or facilities map, or signs of any sort, I ended up having to ask about four or five people where the screening was

Even the Muppets were there!

before I eventually found it in a meeting room on the third floor of the convention center. I was late, but it didn’t matter since they were still struggling to get the audio-visual equipment working. I waiting until about 11:35 when they announced it would be another 20 minutes to get ready. This was not an auspicious start to the convention!

Performance art?

I spent the next hour and a half walking the dealers’ room, by the end of which I had pretty much seen everything. There were a number of interesting vendors, including a lot of comics, toy, video, and clothing and jewelry dealers.

There were quite a few celebrities in attendance, most charging for their photos and autographs. Stan Lee and his entourage strolled through at one point. Wax figure Morgan Fairchild held court while her handler shielded her from any unauthorized (unpaid) photographs.

Not Ernest Borgnine

Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine apparently didn’t have anything better to do, but looked in amazing shape for a man of 94, certainly better than 85-year-old Richard Anderson (The Six Million Dollar Man), who sat looking wrinkled, sad, and lonely. Other famous and not-so-famous stars that I recognized included Butch Patrick (The Munsters), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Alaina Huffman (Stargate Universe), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager),

A melange of costumes

Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Carel Struycken (The Addams Family). There were many more that I didn’t recognize.

There were lots of costumed attendees. Just like at SDCC, they regularly blocked the aisles posing for photos. It’s just something a congoer gets used to.

Batman Panel

I attended four panels in the afternoon. At 1:00 it was “The World of Batman” with writers Gregg Hurwitz (Penguin: Pain and Prejudice) and Kyle Higgins (Batman: Gates of Gotham). They had a good discussion of what makes Batman Batman. Unfortunately, there was a very noisy cast reunion of Nickelodeon’s All That in the next room which tended to drown out what Hurwitz and Higgins said, not to mention that the acoustics to begin with were poor due to the room being a curtained off area in the giant, echoing cement hall.

Titmouse Animation Panel

At 3:00 I trekked back up to the third-floor meeting room for the Titmouse Animation Showcase. Titmouse produces Metalocalypse and other Adult Swim programs. They have taken over production of The Venture Bros., and series creator Jackson Publick was part of the panel. They also previewed Black Dynamite, a new series set to début next summer.

Back down to the hall for a panel at 4:00 called “From Robots to Monsters: Japan is the Original King.”  Moderator Jessica Tseang (ComiCast) did an excellent job of interviewing Tom Franck (North America’s largest Japanese robot collector) and Mike Costa (Transformers).

DC Panel

The final panel I attended, at 5:00, was “DC Comics New 52 Q&A” with a full table of DC writers and artists, including J. T. Krul (Captain Atom), Eric Wallace (Mr. Terrific), Phillip Tan (The Savage Hawkman), Scott Lobdell (Red Hood and the Outlaws), Brian Buccetello (The Flash), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing), Gregg Hurwitz (Penguin: Pain and Prejudice), Mike Costa (Blackhawks), and two or three others I don’t remember offhand. They all seemed genuinely excited about DC’s recent reboot and promised great things to come.

Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by the size and quality of Comikaze. Considering that Comikaze was just one week after the Long Beach Comic-Con, the attendance was remarkably high. The organizers have shown that a successful large media convention can be held in Los Angeles. There were some things that need to be improved for next time. Not everyone has a smart phone, so they need to have better schedules and maps available for attendees (and the schedule needs to be cross-referenced by participants). Crowd control was generally pretty good, but flow into and out of the hall and the rooms were sometimes a problem. They definitely need to hold panels in the upstairs meeting rooms and not the makeshift curtained rooms. The L.A. Convention Center is not as well situated as the San Diego Convention Center, i.e., there are not nearly as many nearby hotels and restaurants. For Comikaze to grow to SDCC size, they will have to overcome those limitations, but it should be eventually possible.

For another look at Comikaze, check out this long and detailed report from The Fangirl Files.

The New 52: Justice League International and Mister Terrific

Today, I’ll look at two more titles in the New-52 “Justice League” group.

Justice League International

So we go from Justice League #1, five years in the past when superheroes are mistrusted and hunted down, to Justice League International #1 in the present where the United Nations trusts superheroes so much that they want to form their own international team. A bit confusing, but once the initial disorientation goes away, we are left with a reasonable story. Writer Dan Jurgens and artists Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan provide a serviceable introduction to some of the lesser-known superheroes that will make up the team. The improbable Booster Gold is chosen to lead the group, more for his willingness to be controlled by the U.N. handlers than for his powers or leadership abilities. In previous incarnations Booster Gold was mainly present for comic relief, but here it looks like things will be played more seriously. The team line-up includes Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Vixen (from the fictional African nation of Zambesi), Fire (from Brazil), and Ice (from Norway)—all long-time Justice League members before the reboot—along with Rocket Red (from Russia) and August General in Iron (from China).

JLI’s first mission is to travel to Peru to find a missing research team. With Batman as a surprise stowaway, they quickly find some strange goings-on. But will Booster be able to get the diverse members to work together before they are all killed?

This looks to be a straightforward superhero book with a group of C-level heroes. I expect it will be a competent and mildly entertaining experience, but I don’t expect anything earth shattering. The artwork is solid and nicely meshes with the writing. This is the kind of inoffensive comic that you won’t mind your teenagers reading.

Mister Terrific

Mr. Terrific, as a character, has been around since the Golden Age of comics in the 1940s. Then he wore a green and red costume with “Fair Play” written across his midsection. A new, edgier, Mr. Terrific was created in the late 1990s. This time he had “Fair Play” written on the sleeves of his leather jacket. This version saw action in the Justice Society of America series of the 2000s and in various other guest appearances. Now he’s in a solo title, perhaps even edgier, with “Fair Play” tattooed on his biceps.

Michael Holt with an Olympic gold medal, “more degrees than half the faculties of Harvard and Yale combined,” and a net worth of over a billion dollars, seemed to have it made. Then an accident killed his wife, sending him into a deep depression. On the verge of suicide, an apparition of a son he never had admonishes him to not give up his life or his research. Now, armed with technology only the third-smartest man in the world could create, Mr. Terrific performs super science by day, and saves the world by night.

Writer Eric Wallace and artists Gianluca Gugliotta and Wayne Faucher have reinvigorated a somewhat lackluster character. Maybe it’s the scientist in me that loves the unapologetic promotion of science as a tool to solve the world’s ills, but I loved the way Mr. Terrific combined brains and brawn to succeed. Michael Holt is a wonderful lead character with the right combination of angst and can-do attitude. I can see this book going in a number of directions—from straight-up adventure, to science fiction, to a bit of romance—to keep the stories fresh and unpredictable. It’s also nice to see one of the few minority characters in the DC Universe get this kind of starring role. Mr. Terrific is my favorite in the New-52 “Justice League” group.

The New 52: Justice League and Green Arrow

The “Justice League” group includes eleven of the major superhero titles. Today, I’ll look at two of them.

Justice League

Justice League (notably, not Justice League of America) is the flagship title of the New 52. It was the first of the new #1s to be released, and DC’s two biggest powerhouses, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, created it. The story begins five years before the events of the other DC books. It is a time when superheroes are just beginning to become widely known to the public, and not necessarily in a good way. It is clear, however, that at least some of the superheroes have been covertly operating for some unspecified, but significant, amount of time. From the promotional materials the Justice League lineup will ultimately include the DC heavy hitters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and … Cyborg. Cyborg? Apparently, someone at DC felt that Cyborg’s popularity from the Teen Titans animated TV series, combined with his racial minority status, would be a good fit among these icons. Cyborg also played a major role in Flashpoint, as the only superhero to be trusted by the U.S. government. Justice League #1 begins with Batman chasing down what turns out to be a transforming alien that is wreaking havoc on Gotham City. Green Lantern Hal Jordan arrives to lend a hand, having been alerted to the crisis as an extraterrestrial threat. Batman is mistrustful of the arrogant Lantern, but eventually they combine forces to vanquish the monster as it screams, “For Darkseid!” Neither understands this cry; Green Lantern wonders, “Dark Side? What is that? A band?” Green Lantern seems to be ignorant about a lot of things. At one point he realizes that Batman is “just some guy in a bat costume.” The two decide to go see what Superman, the only known alien on Earth, knows about the attack. Batman is wary, however, stating that Superman is dangerous. When they get to Metropolis, though, Green Lantern completely ignores the evidence of a recent, titanic fight and attempts to restrain Superman. Superman knocks Green Lantern across the city; to be continued….

We also get four pages of pre-Cyborg Vic Stone as a high school football star. And watching him play? The mysterious hooded figure from Flashpoint (who makes a cameo in every issue of the New 52).

Thus, we get some clues as to what the Hood was referring to in her cryptic message in Flashpoint #5. It appears that Darkseid will be the villain who will bring the superheroes together. Seems reasonable to me. What role the Hood will take remains to be seen, but I’ll bet she is more than just an observer.

Johns and Lee have created a story and characters that are engaging and make me want to read more. It looks to be a perfect entryway into the new DC universe. This is a fitting start to the New 52.

Green Arrow

Green Arrow has gone through about as many concept changes as any superhero in DC’s stable. He began as a swashbuckling version of Batman, with trick arrows instead of a utility belt. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams transformed him into a socially conscious do-gooder in the 1970s with the classic team-up with Green Lantern. In the 1980s Mike Grell took Green Arrow back to his roots, making him a sort of urban manhunter.

What will writer J. T. Krul and artists Dan Jurgens and George Pèrez do with Green Arrow? Based on the first issue, it’s basically back to Batman-lite: Oliver Queen, billionaire owner of a high-tech multi-industry company, uses key company resources and personnel to help him fight crime while simultaneously running the business via conference calling. As Green Arrow, he uses his trick arrows and superior martial arts to single-handedly bring down the bad guys. But he has a code to not use lethal force. He rationalizes his vigilante actions because, “I can’t sit on the sidelines and do nothing. I won’t. The last time I did, I watched people die.” It will be interesting to see this back-story unfold. I suspect that Green Arrow will eventually go from a young, idealistic crime fighter to the more cynical version of recent years.

Green Arrow is not a title that will likely win any awards, but it’s a solid superhero story, with lots of action, some interesting super-villains, and a bit of character development. Nothing too daring, and accessible to a new reader. The artwork, by two dependable veterans, is well laid out and visually interesting.

The New 52: Overview

Reboots in the comic book world are nothing new and really nothing rare. When DC announced they were going to reboot their entire universe and renumber every title at #1, it caused a lot of controversy within the comics community. I think the initial reaction was shock, followed by anger. You would have thought by some people’s comments that their grandmother had just been murdered. But as details were slowly released by DC, the fans calmed down and most took a wait and see attitude.

Now that all 52 #1s have been released, we can evaluate the new DC universe. Certainly, one of DC’s goals was achieved. Sales of the New 52 exceeded almost everyone’s predictions, with most of the titles going back for second and third printings.

The continuity of the New 52 began with Flashpoint #5. As the Flash (Barry Allen) raced to restore the timestream, a mysterious cloaked figure ominously intoned, “… the history of heroes was shattered into three long ago. Splintered to weaken your world for their impending arrival. You must all stand together. The timelines must become one again. You can help me fix that, Barry Allen, but at a cost.” It’s not explicitly stated, but by looking at the illustrations surrounding the figure we can infer that the three timelines are the DC, Wildstorm, and presumably Milestone imprints that DC owns, although the Milestone universe had previously been integrated into the main DC universe. By doing this, DC was able to retain or discard whatever previous continuity they wanted. In essence, they created what I refer to as Earth-N, an alternate timeline that is similar, but noticeably different from any previous incarnation. This enables DC to rightfully claim that every previous story still matters, they’re just in a different timeline.

The reference to “their impending arrival” is not at all explained. Most likely, it refers to some new or established villain that will threaten the combined might of the DC superheroes. “At a cost” is also not explained, but may refer to the loss of certain continuity from the old timeline to Earth-N.

In the same splash page we see some of the new costume and character designs for Earth-N. Perhaps the most notable difference is that Superman no longer wears his red underpants on the outside. All of the characters appear younger and have some slight costume changes.

DC divided the New 52 into groups. “Justice League” includes eleven of the major superhero titles, except Batman and Superman, who each have their own groups. There are four books in the “Superman” group and eleven in the “Batman” group. The “Green Lantern” group contains four titles. A group called “The Dark” consists of seven books dealing with horror themes. This is in contrast to “The Edge” group that has nine titles of various supernatural and military characters. Finally, the “Young Justice” group comprises six books featuring teenage superheroes.

I’ll take a closer look at individual titles of the New 52 in future posts.