Friday, September 9, 2011

Guest Post! CanadianSimon Reviews Some of DC's New 52

As part of our ongoing coverage of DC Comics' New 52 release-a-stravaganza, we're opening the lines to the faithful Signal Corps and asking you to pitch in with your own reviews (it ain't too late).  

Simon MacDonald is a software developer by day, a comics omnivore by night, and a devoted reader of all kinds of books during the moments the rest of us would waste time sleeping or blinking or something.  He's a proud father and husband, and he still finds time to run and seek the perfect cup of coffee.  

He's got a great perspective on comics new and old, and its always fun when he shows up in the comments or volunteers a Guest Post.  

He took some time off from making Android apps and his own blog to send us the post below.

take, it Simon!

Well's it been awhile since I've gone to my LCS to pick up an actual comic instead of a trade. I've not purchased a new release floppy since Thor: The Mighty Avenger was cancelled and I haven't purchased multiple new release floppies in a long, long time.

That's all changed with this weeks release of thirteen new #1 issues four of which I'm picking up hard copies of and depending on word of mouth I may pick up even more when the digital price drops by $1 in a month.  Here are my thoughts on the books as I read them in the scientific alphabetical order:

Animal Man #1  written by Jeff Lemire pencils by Travel Foreman

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!

Frankly I was blown away by this first issue. This is a master class on how to introduce a character to a bunch of new readers. I can see people who've never read an Animal Man book enjoy this just as much as folks who are fans of Grant Morrison's turn on the title.

The first page is a magazine interview which nicely catches up readers on the history of Buddy Baker, Animal Man. Some people don't like prose piece in their comics but I don't have a problem with it as long as it is used properly and in this case it's a perfect fit.

We are introduced to Buddy's wife Ellen, son Cliff and daughter Maxine and we get a really great scene in the kitchen setting up the tension between Buddy's role as a family man and being a super hero. From there Buddy must stop a kidnapping which serves as an excellent forum to explain and showcase his powers.

The balance of the book then sets up a number of plot points where we see that Buddy may have a problem with his powers, there seems to be something rotten with the "Red" the morphogenic field where Buddy can access his various animal attributes and finally Maxine seems to be coming into some powers of her own. 

There is a certain horror aspect here that really sets me on edge. As a Dad I'm always worried about my kids and stories like Poltergeist, The Shinning and Locke & Key where the kids are in danger really, really make an impact on me.

 Lemire succeeds in making me bite on this book, hook line and sinker. On my first read I wasn't too sure about Travel Foreman's pencils but on subsequent reads I'm really digging the creepy vibe he's able to give the book.  I'm going to have to contact my LCS and tell them to put this on my pull list permanently.

Batgirl #1 written by Gail Simone pencils by Ardian Syaf

This is one of my hotly anticipated books of the new 52 releases. Not only does it feature one of my favourite writers in Gail Simone but it is about a Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

Now, there has been much debate about the return of Barbara to the role of Batgirl as there was a Stephanie Brown Batgirl series in the old DCU that was quite good and there was fact that Barbara had really blossomed in her role as the wheelchair bound Oracle but if anyone can handle the challenge it is Gail Simone. Holy run on sentence Batgirl!

However, I feel that this first issue felt the weight of the expectations that were placed on it. Simone has to do a lot in the first issue. Barbara was Batgirl, she was shot and paralyzed by the Joker, she can walk again and now we join her on her first night as Batgirl take two. We get an excellent look at what is going on in Barbara's head as she flips between the emotions of elation, fear, confidence, anxiety, doubt and remorse. All of which Simone handles extremely well.

While I'm not as high on this book as I am on Animal Man I will continue to pick it up.

Justice League International #1 written by Dan Jurgens pencils by Aaron Lopresti

I really, really wanted to love this issue since I'm such a huge fan of the old Bwahahaha era Justice League International and Booster Gold. Sadly, I think that my previous reading of those books actually hampered my enjoyment of this issue.

I'm not overly fond of Boosters new costume or the fact that Skeets is missing from his side or the return to the earlier glory hogging personality he had in Jurgens original run with the character. I really enjoyed the character development that Geoff Johns brought to Booster in volume 2 of the Booster Gold series.

Other than that the books is a fairly by the numbers lets get the band together story and go off and fight a monster. That's a pretty standard trope for getting a team of super hero's together.

So I'd have to say that this book isn't for me but I think that other people could really like it. My history with these characters seems to be holding me back more than anything else.

Swamp Thing #1 written by Scott Synder pencils by Yanick Paquette

This is another of my hotly anticipated books of the new 52. I'm incredibly interested to see what Scott Synder can do with Swamp Thing. My own experience with Swamp Thing is reading the Alan Moore run on the character where he changed the Swamp Thing from a man, Alec Holland, who became a plant monster to an plant elemental with connection to the "green" which is basically the plant version of Animal Man's "red".

Synder's version of Swamp Thing seems to retcon out some of the elements of Moore's series but it is still very understandable from a new readers perspective. We pick up Alec Holland's life about 6 weeks after he miraculously rises from the swamp resurrected but with full memories from the plant elemental Swamp Thing. Alec is struggling to return to his old life as a biologist and is instead working as a construction worker.

A mystery is unfolding where large populations of animals are dying across the country. Yanick Paquette treats us to a wonderful splash page showing Superman with dead birds in Metropolis, Batman with dead bats in Gotham and Aquaman with dead fish in well, the ocean. At the same time we see a new horror rising in Arizona which may or may not be connected with the "red".

This books with it's creepy feel probably falls right under Animal Man for my favourite book this week. All in all it looks like I'll be getting 3 out of 4 of these titles in the future.


Simon MacDonald said...

Hmm...would you consider writing my bio for my upcoming conference appearances? You do it better than I.

The League said...

I write copy, cheap! A nickel a punctuation mark.