Tag Archives: New 52

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)
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The New 52: First Casualties

DC announced today that they are canceling six titles of their New 52 launched last September. Gone are Blackhawks, Hawk and Dove, Men of War, Mister Terrific, O.M.A.C. and Static Shock. All will end with Issue #8. I don’t think any of these are a surprise, based on sales figures, but it’s still disappointing that DC didn’t give them a bit more time to develop followings. In my case, I don’t read monthly comics and was waiting for the collected trade editions. I enjoyed the first issues of Mister Terrific and Men of War and was looking forward to reading more of Mister Terrific. Men of War was a quality book, but just not my cup of tea. O.M.A.C. had gotten a fair bit of critical acclaim, but I found it too cartoony and too much like the Hulk for my tastes.

The six books will be replaced by six new titles beginning in May, including World’s Finest by Paul Levitz and George Perez and Kevin Maguire; Dial H by China Miéville and Mateus Santoluoco; G.I. Combat, an anthology title; The Ravagers by Howard Mackie and Ian Churchill; Earth 2 by James Robinson and Nicola Scott; and the return of Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham.

World’s Finest will star Earth-2’s Power Girl and The Huntress, and Earth 2 will feature the Justice Society as they collide “with other worlds.” It sounds like DC is opening the door to recreating the multiverse that existed before Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The Ravagers is a Superboy and Teen Titans spinoff which will also incorporate elements from Legion Lost.

G.I. Combat will feature “The War that Time Forgot” by writer J.T. Krul and artist Ariel Olivetti, “The Unknown Soldier” by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with artist Dan Panosian, and “The Haunted Tank” by writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins. No mention if Sgt. Rock from Men of War will have a place in the new book, but it sounds like they are going to emphasize more fantastic war stories than the straight-up stories in Men of War.

The title I’m most excited about is Dial H. China Miéville is one of my favorite science fiction writers, with an amazing imagination and literate sensibility. He is a huge DC fan, and I can imagine that he will be able to produce something very special. Another positive note is that the editor on this book will be Karen Berger, Vertigo’s senior vice president and executive editor. This book should nicely complement Animal Man and Swamp Thing. If anything can get me to buy monthly comics again, this will be it.

DC did not announce the page count or pricing on the new books, although it’s certain that G.I. Combat will be an oversized, $3.99 title.

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: Batwing, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman, and Detective Comics

The final four titles in the Batman group of DC’s New 52:

Batwing

Trying to bring some racial diversity to the mix, DC is promoting Batwing from its obscure beginnings earlier in 2011 as part of the Batman Incorporated storyline to its own book. Batwing is billed as Africa’s Batman. That’s like saying Batman is North America’s Batman. Africa is not a country! Actually reading the story, we find that Batwing is David Zavimbi, a police officer in the fictional city of Tinasha within the real Democratic Republic of Congo (the large central African country formerly known as Zaire). Batwing uses a technologically advanced bat-suit provided by Batman that, among other things, has wings that enable him to fly. Batwing’s first nemesis is a villain called Massacre who lives up to his name by decapitating a bunch of policemen. Judd Winick’s script is nothing special, but Ben Oliver’s artwork is noteworthy for its realistic styling and absence of exaggerated superhero poses. I commend DC for giving this title a try, but will be surprised if it lasts.

Batman: The Dark Knight

Batman is arguably DC’s biggest star, so it makes sense to add this third title to the core Batman and Detective Comics. The question is, will it be different enough from its older siblings for anyone to care? Based on the first issue, I can say that it’s definitely different, but I’m not sure too many will care. Writer Paul Jenkins, along with penciller/co-plotter David Finch, pen a gritty, action-packed opener with an emphasis on the bizarre residents in Arkham Asylum. They don’t forget to round out the story with some secret identity hijinks. Inker Richard Friend keeps the shenanigans literally in the dark. The book ends with a Hulked-out Two-Face popping out, signaling that this book will not be taking itself too seriously. If you like your Batman as a dark demon hunter, this is the book for you; otherwise, I’d stick with the other two, immensely superior, Bat-books.

Batman

This version of Batman appears to take place in the present, as opposed to the Batman in Detective Comics who appears to be at least a few years younger and less accepted by Gotham City police. At least this Batman is getting coöperation from Sgt. Bullock as they look into a grisly killing. Overall, veteran Bat-scribe Scott Snyder nails the right combination of action and mystery that classic Batman stories need. Artists Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion offer a richly compelling look that reflects the mood of the story—a bit lighter for Bruce Wayne, a bit darker for Batman. The most interesting part of the story for me, however, was a panel showing Bruce and three of his wards getting ready to attend a black-tie party. The captions for Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne indicated “Access Level: High.” A few panels later, Alfred Pennyworth’s caption indicated “Access Level: Highest.” A subtle indication that Batman’s ultimate trust is hard-won, indeed.

Detective Comics

Detective Comics is arguably the flagship of DC publishing; after all, it’s where their star character got his start and it gave the company its name. So a lot is on the line. Writer/artist Tony S. Daniel (with inks by Ryan Winn) doesn’t exactly hit a home run, but this dark, mysterious Batman is quite readable. It features the most “what the heck is that” cliffhanger, as a truly psychotic Joker comes to town. Don’t expect Detective Comics to break too much new ground, but it should more than satisfy fans’ Batman cravings.

The New 52: Nightwing, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and Batman and Robin

The past and present incarnations of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, in DC’s New 52:

Nightwing

The first Robin, Dick Grayson, grew up, became Nightwing, took over as Batman for a year while Bruce Wayne was… “away,” and is now back to being Nightwing. Writer Kyle Higgins and artists Eddy Barrows and J.P. Mayer present a confident young superhero who returns to visit his circus origins and meets a dangerous new foe. Nightwing appears to be a well-crafted, action-packed superhero comic. It isn’t likely to be revolutionary, and should be a nice, consistent mid-list book.

Red Hood and the Outlaws

The second Robin, Jason Todd, was famously killed by reader request in 1988’s Batman: A Death in the Family, then brought back to life (when did a comic book character ever stay dead?) in 2005’s Under the Hood, eventually becoming the Red Hood, an antihero with a willingness to use lethal force and weapons. Now he is heading a new team composed of Roy Harper, AKA Arsenal, AKA Speedy, the former Green Arrow sidekick who was also a heroin addict, and Starfire, former long-time member of the Teen Titans, who happens to be an alien princess. The story written by Scott Lobdell is a confusing mess of references to previous characters and events—a mysterious woman named Essence warns Jason of something called The Untitled that is battling something else called The All Caste and stealing organs from living bodies… and there were no incisions—cue spooky music! Meanwhile, artist Kenneth Rocafort provides page after page of Starfire in beautiful near-naked pin-up poses as she has meaningless sex with Roy. Starfire is portrayed as a sexpot with a severe case of attention-deficit disorder who sees humans as little more than sights and smells—kind of like a dog. This pure male fantasy may sell subscriptions, but Starfire is not the female role model she was on the Teen Titans TV series, that’s for sure. I feel like I came into the middle of a continued story, and I’m not at all interested in this combination of sleaze and unrepentant violence.

Teen Titans

The third Robin, Tim Drake, can be seen as Red Robin in the new Teen Titans book, which I previously reviewed.

Batman and Robin

The fourth and current Robin, Damian Wayne, is the 10-year-old son of Bruce Wayne and Talia, daughter of Batman’s arch foe Ra’s al Ghul (or, perhaps the clone of Bruce Wayne, depending on who you ask). Damian is impetuous, deadly, and disrespectful, but also amusingly sarcastic and committed to winning his father’s admiration. Writer Peter Tomasi emphasizes family relations as only the dysfunctional Wayne clan can be. Artists Pat Gleason and Mick Gray have a uniquely bold style that gorgeously suits the abundance of action set pieces. This should be a fun series.

The New 52: Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, and Birds of Prey

Let’s take a look at the distaff side of the Batman group of DC’s New 52:

Batgirl

Batgirl has been a member of the Batman family for half a century, perhaps best known from the third season of the 1960’s Batman TV show. She is Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, Barbara. In Alan Moore’s classic 1988 story, The Killing Joke, the Joker shot her, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. In the intervening years the wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon became the computer hacker known as Oracle, and was a member of the Birds of Prey team. In the New-52 revamp, Barbara miraculously regains her mobility in a single panel of Issue #1 and, seemingly without rehab, dons the old costume without missing a beat (perhaps we’ll see the full story in a future flashback). Well, almost. Writer Gail Simone does something interesting with the backstory: Batgirl now has a lingering phobia towards guns, especially ones pointed at her. This could give the series some depth not normally seen in superhero comics. Adrian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes provide adequate art, making this a solid mid-list title.

Batwoman

This is a beautifully drawn story from co-writer and artist J. H. Williams III that picks up where the critically acclaimed Batwoman: Elegy left off. Co-written by Haden Blackman, Batwoman looks to combine action with some supernatural goings-on, with some serious character dynamics thrown in. Openly gay, Kate Kane, AKA Batwoman, will also serve as a relevant real world character. I expect Batwoman will be one of the top books in the New 52.

Catwoman

Writer Judd Winick and artist Guillem March present Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman, as a super-sexy, super-intelligent cat burglar who gets mixed up with the wrong crowd. When her apartment and everything she owns gets blown up in the first few pages, she infiltrates a Russian mob party to get the skinny on where their loot is so she can replenish her reserves, but things go astray and she barely escapes with her life. The basic premise looks like it could be interesting, à la the disguise-happy Sydney Bristow on Alias. The problem is, though, that the entire first issue is filled with page after page of pin-up poses of Catwoman in various stages of undress, starting with her half-naked escape from the skull-masked goons who trash her home and continuing with her provocative seductress disguise. Showing her best friend as a plain-looking frump intensifies Selina’s hyper-sexuality. But then things get really wonky—the first issue ends with Batman dropping in on Catwoman for no discernible reason other than to give Winick and March an excuse to have her jump his bones—generating a lot of controversy among fans. Maybe people just don’t like the thought of Batman having sexual relations. Maybe it’s the way it was presented without context. Maybe it’s the way it plays on the fetish aspect of the two costumed characters. While not a complete failure, Catwoman will have to work hard to justify continued titillation (or not, if enough 16-year-old boys keep on buying it).

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey is a covert all-female team operating in Gotham City—a female A-Team with superpowers—featuring Black Canary, Poison Ivy, Rose Tattoo, Katana, and a new character called Starling. The first issue, written by Duane Swierczynski with art by Jesus Saiz, focuses on Black Canary, whose power is super-screaming, and Starling, powers unknown, but definitely a bad-ass. There’s a cameo by Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl, who used to be a member of the team as Oracle, the wheelchair-bound computer hacker, as she declines to continue with the team. The first issue features a lot of action and an explosive cliffhanger, so this could turn out to be a decent book, but I think it will probably turn out to read better in the collected trade edition.

The New 52: Blackhawks and Voodoo

Finishing up “The Edge” group of DC’s New 52:

Blackhawks

Here’s another high-tech super-secret paramilitary mercenary group, where every member has a cute nickname like “Canada” or “Irish” just so we can tell them apart, I suppose. Whether writer Mike Costa can differentiate Blackhawks from S.H.I.E.L.D. or G.I. Joe (for which he has previously written at IDW) remains to be seen. The first issue establishes Blackhawks as the custodians of every weapon known to mankind, and then some. The story arc looks like it will involve them fighting enemies who use nano-biotechnology to infiltrate their ranks. Artists Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley present a style well suited to this type of story—clean, modern, and dynamic. There is nothing that demands the reader’s continued attention, but they drop some intriguing hints that may pay off in the long run.

Voodoo

Voodoo was created by Jim Lee and is part of the Wildstorm imprint that DC is trying to integrate into its mainstream line. With a title like Voodoo, you would expect something supernatural, but it looks like it will be more science fictiony, which could cause marketing problems. Voodoo is a shape-shifting alien who takes the form of a stripper to “…learn about people. Men, especially. They have their defenses down [at a strip club].” A quick look at the first issue might give the sense that this is an unnecessarily sexist story, but writer Ron Marz gives us a shocking ending that, at least temporarily, assuages that kind of assumption. Nevertheless, there’s not much else to the first issue, other than a brief scene of a badass woman detective or federal agent named Fallon who is tailing Voodoo. The art by Sami Basri is very good—though tending towards the cartoonish. If Voodoo stays away from the cheesecake and delivers a compelling story, it could have potential and be worth revisiting when the trade edition comes out.

The New 52: Suicide Squad and All Star Western

Continuing “The Edge” group of DC’s New 52:

Suicide Squad

The high concept for this book is something like The Dirty Dozen with psychotic supervillains instead of psychotic soldiers. In other words, join the Suicide Squad for impossible, covert missions, or rot in prison. This version of the Suicide Squad features Deadshot (super-assassin) and a tarted-up version of Harley Quinn (Joker’s long-suffering “girlfriend”), with C-listers like El Diablo (fire powers), King Shark (a man with a shark head and big teeth), Savant (unknown powers; he’s a red shirt), Voltaic (electrical powers), and Black Spider (unknown powers; he’s only in a couple of panels).

Writer Adam Glass and artists Federico Dallocchio, Ransom Getty, and Scott Hanna bring us twenty pages of torture porn interspersed with a few short flashbacks of the protagonists’ backgrounds. It turns out that Amanda Waller, the government agent who is the brains behind the team, is conducting this enhanced interrogation drill to weed out the members who are not 100% committed to its success. So, not a sympathetic soul in sight. Nevertheless, despite the unrelenting depravity, Suicide Squad is more interesting than some of the generic superhero titles like Green Arrow. Not interesting enough to keep reading, but at least DC is trying.

All Star Western

Jonah Hex, the surly and disfigured post-Civil War bounty hunter, is the featured character of All Star Western. Hex has been around since the early 1970s and has a strong, established cult following, perhaps because of his unwavering personal code of honor to defend the innocent and punish the guilty. Previous stories have taken place almost exclusively in the Old West, but this set of adventures sees Hex summoned to rough and tumble Gotham City to help solve the mystery of a sadistic serial killer. His investigation leads to interactions with businessman Alan Wayne and Mayor Cobblepot (ancestors of Batman and the Penguin, of course), along with Amadeus Arkham, founder of infamous Arkham Asylum.

Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray pen a violent, yet engaging mystery with echoes of the Jack the Ripper case. Moritat’s clean, compelling artwork is alone worth buying the book. Forget about the lamentable movie with Josh Brolin—pick up All Star Western for a great looking, well written police procedural starring a ferocious, yet charismatic tough guy.

The New 52: Deathstroke and Grifter

Two more books in “The Edge” group of DC’s New 52:

Deathstroke

Marv Wolfman and George Pérez created Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke, as the primary adversary of the Teen Titans back in the early 1980s. Although featured in a number of comics since then, Deathstroke has become somewhat overshadowed by Marvel’s mercenary Deadpool. This new series apparently aims to bring back Deathstroke’s status as the premier metahuman mercenary in the comic book world.

To a large extent, I think that writer Kyle Higgens and artists Joe Bennett and Art Thibert were successful in the first issue by establishing Deathstroke as a wholly unredemptive villain who is nevertheless an engaging protagonist. However, can they meet the challenge of keeping up interest in a sadistic monster like Deathstroke over the long haul?

Deathstroke’s brutality is shown in the first couple of pages, with a double-page splash panel that is literally splashed with bloody decapitations. The rest of the story involves Deathstroke being forced to team up with a trio of mercenary wannabes who variously call themselves the Alpha Dawgs and the Harm Armory. It’s pretty clear they will end up as red shirts; the only question is how. Filled with crosses and double-crosses, the first issue sets up some intriguing mysteries. This could be a book to watch, but I’d wait for the collected trade edition.

Grifter

The improbably named Cole Cash is a former special operations soldier turned con artist extraordinaire. On his way to rendezvous with his partner Gretchen in San Juan after a big score, Cash is accosted in the airplane by what seem to be inhuman creatures in human form that are bent on his capture. Cash eventually wakes up with 17 minutes unaccounted for, the telepathic demons still after him, and his brother, from his former military unit, assigned to make him “go away” for what his superiors perceive as an act of terrorism.

One of the characters from the Wildstorm imprint imported into the DC Universe, Grifter has the potential to bridge the supernatural, military, and espionage genres. Cash is not a traditional superhero—just a guy trying to understand a world that is suddenly out to get him. Depending on how writer Nathan Edmondson handles it, this could be a fun romp—a supernatural version of The Fugitive starring a Sawyer-esque con man. Cafu and Jason Gorder provide a serviceable, but unremarkable style of artwork. The first issue is not enough to really tell how this series is going to evolve, so I would wait for the collected edition before getting too involved with it.

The New 52: Men of War and OMAC

I now start in on the books in “The Edge” group of DC’s New 52. (I should note that I mistakenly put Stormwatch in “The Dark” group; it should be in “The Edge” group.)

Men of War

Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert created Sgt. Frank Rock in 1959. Kubert was especially tied to the character and Our Army at War, drawing it for many years. Rock and his Easy Company were inhabitants of World War II. Attempts to update them to modern times inevitably failed. With the New 52 we are getting Frank’s grandson, Joseph Rock, and a new team in modern-day warfare.

The first issue by writer Ivan Brandon and artist Tom Derenick focuses on how Corporal Rock gets recruited for an elite covert operations team and how he earns a battle promotion to sergeant. It is a gritty and realistic tribute to real soldiers, told in a straightforward manner with clean and detailed artwork. This is the kind of story that would be accessible to anyone. My only criticism is that Superman (well, presumably Superman—the character is in silhouette the whole time) flies in to perform some heroics to help out Rock’s team. I would have preferred this kind of reality-based book to be free of a superhero connection, but I suspect DC isn’t confident enough that this title will sell to a general audience and are including a superhero angle to entice the fanboys to give it a try.

Men of War will also include back-up stories that will feature a rotating series of characters and creators. The first issue presents the first part of a story about a Navy SEAL team on a covert operation. Writer Jonathan Vankin and artist Phil Winslade have produced a tense and exciting scenario that nicely complements the main entry.

Men of War is a well-crafted book that I hope finds an audience.

OMAC

Jack Kirby created OMAC, the One-Man Army Corps, in 1974. Like much of his DC work at the time, it was bombastic and unconventional, and lasted only eight issues. Over the years, though, Kirby’s OMAC has earned a nostalgic following. OMAC has been revived over the years in a number of guises, but nothing compares to Kirby’s version.

DC apparently felt a need for a larger-than-life, brutish transformation-type character in the New 52, and OMAC is it. “Krackling” Keith Giffen and “Daring” Dan DiDio (DC’s Co-Publisher) have written an over-the-top narrative jumble, full of terse exclamations and people smashing things. Giffen’s pencils, as inked by “Sensational” Scott Koblish, faithfully channels Kirby’s bold, angular lines, exaggerated perspectives, and square heads.

If your tastes run to big, rampaging blue guys with a limited vocabulary, OMAC is for you. It’s a throwback to the enthusiastic, freewheeling comics of the Silver and Bronze Ages. Whether this will catch on with readers is a question. It depends on whether readers want a coherent story or one with crazy, manic energy. It worked for the Hulk; it could easily work for the new OMAC.