My week in review on the Comics And website will go into other details but my initial impression of the new DCU is that the whole thing is a very, very strange experience. As a long term DCU fan nothing could have gotten me ready for the total and confused morass that the new DCU has become. These thirteen first issues show a picture of the DCU being totally changed. Some of the changes are good and some may not be, but I have no sense of the DCU as a cohesive whole at this point. Right now of the thirteen the way I rank them is as follows:
1) Animal Man. I know DC is cutting back on Vertigo and that Animal Man was one of the early DCU books that got pushed into the Vertigo side, but this book read like a Vertigo series. The art had an indie feel to it and the “rot” of the flesh world was more of a horror element.
2) Detective Comics. What a shocker, who knew if you forced Tony Daniel to tell a linear story and streamline his work it would be so great. As a straight super hero book Tony did a great job and his art looked better than ever. Tony’s Batman work had too much going on and this story seemed to be much tighter than his other work. I’m confused about the Joker as it appears this is the first time Batman and the Joker have ever met.
3) Action Comics. Grant starts off with a young Superman who is more than willing to be a little cruel and more like Batman with the bad guys. Rags Morales artwork is flat out gorgeous as always. The story itself is a little confusing since this version of Superman appears radically different from before, yet DC is still trying to make him into a main good guy for the planet. Of course we are five years back so it is a wait and see thing.
4) Batgirl. A good first issue but I get the feeling Babs was never Oracle and the logic glitches hurt this book. The chief complaint is her moving in with a roommate, who is funding her and other background questions. The Mirror is a creepy bad guy and I’m looking forward to where we go with this book.
5) Stormwatch. Established the premise of the book, a group of warriors who protect the world, often long lived super heroes. A major league threat is on the horizon and Stormwatch is trying to recruit Apollo. I’m intrigued and want to learn more.
6) Swamp Thing. This book actually played off the more recent continuity. Alec Holland is back from the dead and has memories of being the Swamp Thing. Crazy stuff is going on around the world, but Holland wants to try and get his life put back together. Another book that has me hooked and I want to see where it takes me, but I trust writer Scott Snyder.
7) Green Arrow. A younger version, but one that is more akin to Tony Stark then Bruce Wayne. The premise is interesting and it is the first time Ollie has seemed cool to me since the 80’s. I loved the Dan Jurgens on pencils and George Perez on inks combination, Jurgens with Rapmund is too smooth and Perez on inks gave the book an edgier feel.
8) Batwing. Ben Oliver’s painted art and Winick’s non-linear story telling did not do this book any favors, but I’ll be back for more. I like the main character and the premise of trying to overcome a corrupt police force in Africa is akin to the problems Gotham often has faced.
9) Justice League International. This book could have been from the regular DCU almost. It read like a typical super hero book but pulled the team together very fast. For all the changes and edgier feel DC is going for, this felt a little generic.
10) OMAC. A lot of action as we jumped into the middle of the story, just not sure why we are here or what is going on. A lot of Kirby concepts being used and Giffen often is feeling his way when he starts a series. Curious as to how much of this book is Didio.
11) Men of War. Great idea setting it in modern times. Big mistake mixing super heroes up with it. I like that the central character of the main story is Sgt. Rock’s grandson. I like having a back up story, but I’m not sure making a war book a $4 book is a move to generate sales.
12) Hawk and Dove. Rob Liefeld, ugh, I hate his artwork. The first storyline was okay, but I can’t see me sticking long with this book.
13) Static Shock. I hate this character and Scott McDaniel is not my favorite artist and I have never read anything he wrote before as I believe this is his rookie effort. I will force myself to get another issue as to not prejudge the book 100%.
The bottom line for me is confusion. I have no idea of what is what at this time. In Detective Batman and Joker have never faced off before, or it read that way to me. In JLI and Swamp Thing Batman appears to the Batman I know. James Gordon is younger and I’m not sure of any of the history of the DCU. I know DC wants to have the books moving with action and telling stories, but I’m still a little overwhelmed trying to come to grip with the new DCU. It looks like it will take a few months or more of the entire line for me to understand and get comfortable with this version of the DCU.
Why do comics suck? In this case because the new DCU is confusing the f**k out of this longtime DC fan. As much as these are good jumping on points, it also serves as a jumping off point.