Saturday, September 24, 2011

DC Comics New 52, Week 3 - Part 2

  • I'm breaking this week up week 3 into three parts.  In Part 1, I reviewed Supergirl #1.   I'm of the opinion that Wonder Woman #1 warrants its own post.  

So, this is Week 3.

So, onto my Week 3 reads.

written by Scott Snyder
art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion

Honestly, I was just reading this to get a flavor for how this run is going to go and because I'd heard such good things about Scott Snyder.  And, man, this is pretty decent classic Batman, here.  I'm a little thrown by how sci-fi the technology is that's presented, but if I remember my Batman comics, the most wildly technology shown was introduced in an issue about 13 months ago.
I haven't actually read much of Snyder's work as I'm trade-waiting on his Detective Comics material, and it may disappoint DC to hear:  this is my last issue on this run until a trade is released.  I really like reading Batman in "book" form.  And this seems like a promising start, so why wouldn't I want it on my shelf?  I'm extremely pleased by this issue.  Snyder seems to have a firm grasp on how to balance Batman's "family life" and his life in the cowl.  After the pre-Morrison era of "Batman as emotionally abusive father figure", and then disappearing for a year, I am more than ready for getting back to brass tacks and Bruce Wayne as Batman with his army of Robins solving crimes.

written by Tony Bedard
art by Ig Guara and Ruy Jose

This was a title I was thrilled to hear was returning until I saw Bedard's name associated with the book.  I am sure Bedard has his fans, but he isn't my favorite writer.  Yeah, he tells a straightforward superhero story, but there's just rarely much to point to as to a voice to his work or a specific vision that feels like anything much more than fill-in writing.

I was a very big fan of the last run of Blue Beetle, and I can see why DC would want to reboot the series to make it more accessible and feel like less of a trailing tie-in to a lengthy event.  Bedard basically comes in and cleans the fingerprints of Infinite Crisis off of the origin story and lets Jaime Reyes be his own man, but somehow the charm of the original series is missing, even when the same characters appear.  I was a big fan of Jaime's family, who here are reduced to standard-issue parents who occasionally drop into Spanish.  Why is Paco now a drop-out (I miss the kid who didn't know he was in over his head)?  Why do we have to get d**k jokes and a Flash Thompson stand-in inserted into the book?  And why did Bedard fill the book with Brotherhood of Evil characters and a whole mess of superheroishness that it didn't need?  Just... why can't DC let any of their characters be ordinary people experiencing the extraordinary?  Why do we need old school DCU continuity tossed on top of all the rest that the book is hinting at?

I want to like this book, but I think a younger, fresher voice might have done more with the character rather than the grab-bag approach to superheroing and loose ties to the GL Corps that this book presents.

On the whole, I DO think the comic tried to set up characters, a location, several conflicts, etc...  and I'll be picking up the next issue to see what happens.  But I'm not exactly bowled over thus far by the approach.

As an FYI to the creators:  If you're going to get as specific as "Jaime Reyes is an Hispanic Texan", try Googling that.  In Texas, we don't refer to the Spanish spoken as "Spanglish".  It's referred to as "Tex-Mex" or, by us Anglos, as "Spanish" and as I understand it, its a specific dialect.  El Paso has its own culture defined by its location on the border and its geographic isolation (the closest city is Los Alamos, New Mexico and there's a lot of nothing going east from El Paso).  

written by Paul Levitz
art by Francis Portela

Well, apparently nobody told Paul Levitz this was an all-new #1, because this book more or less picks up threads from the last issue of Legion, from issue 1 of Legion Lost and the final issue of Adventure Comics.  You could jump on at this point, but don't expect any reboot.

I do think Levitz handles the the challenges of telling stories about time-travelling heroes from the future fairly eloquently by discussing how they can't travel to the present thanks to the effects of Flashpoint, which, sure... why not?

I will admit, I'm sort of dropping my monthly Legion habit and I'm going to trades after this issue.  There's always so much going on in any Legion issue that I think it will hold together better if I don't have a month to forget what I read between every issue.

The story picks up in the wake of tragedy, but I have to say  (and I've made this complaint before) - Levitz needs to slow down and quit assuming we know and remember everything about these characters.  Things just happening to these people don't matter if the only place the meaning of all of what's happening is internalized and processed is in Levitz's mind or in the minds of 35-and-up readers who followed Legion back in the day.

I've been reading Legion for a decade now, and I STILL feel like I'm playing catch-up, and thanks to the multiple reboots, I can't remember who is married to whom, or why they like each other, etc...  because its never shown on the page.  I know its a truck-load of characters, but there are better ways to do this.  Levitz could learn from Claremont's old "The X-Men play baseball" issues.

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That's it for Part 2.  We'll be back talking about Wonder Woman before Monday morning.


Gerry said...

I liked Blue Beetle, didn't love it. But thank you for pointing out the Spanish thing. I'm Cuban and live in Miami, so to me it's Spanglish, but what you point out is right on. Hispanic is not just Hispanic. It's not a catch all, and even though Bedard is Puerto Rican, he needs to be aware of that. I wasn't aware that it was called Tex-Mex, either.

The League said...

Hey, Gerry!

I'm sticking with BB for a bit just because I think the character has so much darn potential with the sprawling supporting cast, unique environment, etc...

As you can guess, us Texans are pretty ornery about our Texan-ness, and its not too often that comics take place in our neck of the world. I don't know much about the rest of the country, and it doesn't bother me too much. But it'd be nice if DC had tried a little harder on this, especially when the first BB volume felt a little more Texan.

Simon MacDonald said...

I only bought Blue Beetle last week and it did not elicit a strong impression either way for me. Consequently, I'm not sure if I'm going to continue on with this title. I guess it depends on how many titles I like in this upcoming week.

I guess I was hoping for something more as I loved Tony Bedard's work on Negation from Crossgen and I loved the other Blue Beetle series.

I guess with this restart there was no Dan Garret or Ted Kord Blue Beetles.