Trouble with Comics

The New DC 52 Week Two, Part Three

I give DC credit: Never did I think I would be reviewing every one of these new #1s, but even when the books aren’t that good, I¢m still having fun writing about them. Note: I wrote in the last review that T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was canceled before its time, but indeed, it¢s being relaunched. Sorry—hard to keep track of 52 new comics.

Resurrection Man #1 by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino is the second book of the month with the hero falling out of a plane (is it 9/11 anniversary anxiety?), but other than that, and a sort of Dial H for Hero concept, it feels pretty original. We¢ve got a guy who dies often but keeps coming back, and each time with a new power. The inherent problem, of course, is that this is a hero for whom death is even less of a concern than it is for every other superhero. I kind of liked how D&A wrote about each new power as if it had a certain taste, though hopefully they will slow things down enough soon so we get some idea what this guy is all about, how he feels about these resurrections, how it changes his outlook on life. I could do without the psycho gals torturing people for fun, but am interested in this group of supernatural beings in human disguise who are hunting our hero, and Dagnino has a gritty style that would fit well in Hellblazer if and when this book shuffles off its mortal coil.

Demon Knights #1 by Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves is an odd but amiable book. I¢m plenty Anglophile, but found Madame Xanadus Sod it s and yearning for a quiet pint kind of low-yield shtick, though I had a great time with similar stuff in Cornell¢s Knight & Squire miniseries. And Neves has his moments, but overall is a little too pedestrian to really bring the Dark Ages to life and make this book a must-read experience. On the other hand, it is becoming quite clear that the more interesting of the DC relaunches have characters and settings off the beaten-Metropolis/Gotham/Star City path, where such and such odd guy and/or gal can do their thing without having to worry about a Justice Leaguer butting in. Cornell has a great opportunity to essentially rewrite a lot of early DC Universe history here, especially as it relates to the immortal and/or magical characters, so I hope he comes up with more than just, Hey, that’s Vandal Savage cameos and The Demon and Xanadu being fuck-buddies. Yes, you read that right. It is kind of funny, but leave it to DC to have all their supposedly relatable heroes never getting off and sexuality only being okay when its between a witch and a demon.

Okay, so I would like to keep the streak going, but I just didn’t get the Scott Lobdell-written Superboy. I hope we will all be able to move on with our lives.

Batwoman #1 by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman is not only the book with the most aristocratic-sounding creative team, but it is also the best of the week. Williams and Blackman pick up smoothly from Greg Rucka¢s abortive Batwoman storyline in Detective Comics, not skipping a beat or seeming to worry much about this New 52 stuff. Batwoman is Kate Kane, she¢s gay, she¢s cool, and she still is able to shake it out and have something of a normal life when she takes off the tights. The Religion of Crime is still a major focus, but this time out, Batwoman brings her cousin, Flamebird, along for the ride. Not a lot happens, but it¢s only about 14 pages of story. It¢s probably unfair that Williams terrific layouts are a little less impressive now that he is pretty much doing the same thing he did last year in Detective, but hey, it’s a critics job to be demanding. I actually still love the love of the book, and the real shame is that 90% of the books out there don’t have this level of either ambition or execution.

—Christopher Allen