DC’s New 52 Comics Roundup – Part Two [Bane of Kings]

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Bane of Kings continues from yesterday’s roundup and covers the first Issues of Catwoman, Earth 2, Teen Titans, Superman, Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns, published by DC Comics.

Another mixed batch of comics, as this roundup contains some of the best and worse of the New 52.” ~The Founding Fields

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be looking at the following  first issues in this roundup: Catwoman by Judd Winick, Earth 2 by James Robinson, Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell, Superman by George Perez Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Red Lanterns by Peter Milligan. Yesterday’s review covered Action Comics by Grant Morrison, All Star Western by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Birds of Prey by Duane Swierczynski. As I’ve already covered why I’m doing this in the previous roundup, we can jump straight in to the reviews, starting with the rather disappointing Catwoman.

Catwoman by Judd Winick

Artist: Guillem March | Cover: Guillem March

#1 – Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in this new series from writer Judd Winick (BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD) and artist Guillem March (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS)!

This issue was a big disappointment for me, and I’m going to say that I wouldn’t have picked it up if it hadn’t been for Anne Hathaway’s awesome portrayal of the character in The Dark Knight Rises. I went into it expecting something that I would like, especially as Judd Winick had written an enjoyable Batwing, but then I was let down completely, and this, along with Under the Red Hood, is probably the worst of the New 52 First Issues that I’ve read and I can safely say that this is a series that I will not be continuing with, especially when there are so much better options out there.

There are a couple of standout moments in Catwoman where you can tell that it’s certainly trying to be the next big thing. I liked the appearance of Lola, one of Selina’s few allies and someone who is probably a friend,  but that was pretty much the one thing that I liked. The storyline was weak, the art wasn’t my favourite (although Guillem March is much better suited to Talon), and whilst it a newcomer can pick it up pretty easily and understand what’s going on, I wouldn’t suggest it. Judd Winick’s Catwoman is far from her finest hour and whilst I may have never been a big fan of the character, I still much prefer The Dark Knight Rises’ portrayal of her to Judd Winick’s.

This was a missed opportunity. I would write more on Catwoman, but I think Comic Book Resources have pretty much nailed what else I was going to add.

Verdict: 2/5

Earth 2 by James Robinson

Artist: Nicola Scott | Cover: Nicola Scott

#1 – First issue of an ongoing series from writer JAMES ROBINSON and artist NICOLA SCOTT!

Who are the heroes of EARTH 2 – and what befell them? Starring ALAN SCOTT, JAY GARRICK and many others!

You may think you know Earth 2…but this is DC Comics – The New 52, where anything can happen!  Don’t miss the extra-sized debut issue!

Earth 2 was a title that I picked up after hearing some good feedback about it. I was probably going to pick it up anyway due to the concept, which whilst didn’t sound like it would be new-reader friendly, would be interesting. And I was completely unprepared for how awesome it would turn out to be. So awesome in fact, that the first of these roundup series that I brought second issues for was Earth 2. And I didn’t just by the second issue, I brought the third. And I plan on getting all of the rest of the currently released issues in this series as well as soon as possible, it’s just so unbelievably awesome. It’s my second favourite first issue, coming in just behind Scott Snyder’s Batman.

The first issue of Earth 2 does a brilliant job of setting the scene with an epic battle that would normally be left for a finale of a major story arc. Robinson does this alone in a first issue, and manages to rid Earth 2 of its superheroes, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Robin and Supergirl, whilst setting the stage for the new characters to be introduced in future issues. The art is astounding and the storyline is incredibly clever, and it’s a direct comparison from the disappointing Catwoman that I reviewed above. Any doubters should go out and buy this series right now. It’s awesome.

Verdict: 5/5

Red Lanterns by Peter Milligan

Artists: Ed Benes and Rob Hunter | Cover: Ed Benes and Rob Hunter

#1 – Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps return in their own series, battling against injustice in the most bloody ways imaginable!

Red Lanterns was a gamble for me purely because I have actually no previous experience from reading Red Lantern comics, not knowing they existed before my initial plunge into comics. I only picked this up after a recommendation from Shadowhawk, and boy was I surprised. It was actually pretty awesome, and whilst there were some elements that I was left clueless about, Red Lanterns is a sold opening series that I should be continuing with depending on how #2 and #3 play out.

The issue opened a bit… well, it sort of threw me off a bit when I saw a normal Earth cat, attacking a ship of aliens responsible for torturing another ship of aliens. But if you put that minor bit of weirdness aside, Red Lanterns is actually a pretty good Issue. Milligan’s narrative is otherwise strong and I enjoy Benes/Hunter’s artwork. Although it may not feel like a Lantern book when you’re reading it and does not quite match the quality of Geoff John’s superb but initially confusing Green Lanterns series, Red Lanterns is certainly an interesting start to a series that shows promise.

Verdict: 3/5

Superman by George Perez

Artist: Jesus Merino | Cover: Jesus Merino

#1 – The new adventures of Superman begin here! What is The Man of Steel’s startling new status quo? How does it affect Lois Lane and the Daily Planet? There’s no time for answers now, because Superman must stop a monstrous threat to Metropolis–one that he is somehow the cause of!

So, Superman is an issue that I rather enjoyed despite the somewhat negative feedback it’s been getting. Although it wasn’t without its flaws, with the description sometimes being too heavy-handed and Perez adopting the telling not showing strategy which was rather frustrating. However, I loved the artwork, the fact that this storyline stood as a pretty much standalone story unlike most of the other titles, and allowing a refreshing break from the near-constant stream of cliffhangers that we’ve been thrown at lately.

But the story isn’t perfect. It draws on elements from Stormwatch #1 and those of us who haven’t read Paul Cornell’s title will probably be confused as to how and why the fire-monster shows up. On reflection, it might not be quite as good as Grant Morrison’s Action Comics, but it’s certainly a strong Superman title and although Perez’ series run is short lived, it’ll be interesting to see where he takes the reader in this timeframe.

We also get an interesting look into Clark Kent, the character – and the final page in particular really makes you sympathise for him. There is an obvious contrast between Clark and Superman, and I look forward to seeing how each character develops within the series. The atmosphere is certainly dark, and that’s a very good thing indeed. I can’t wait to read more.

Verdict: 3/5

Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder

Artist: Yanick Paquette | Cover: Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

#1 – One of the world’s most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth!

Alec Holland has his life back…but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!

Swamp Thing is a title that I only brought because of the fact that it’s got Scott Snyder’s name on it, and I’m not really sure where I fall on this first issue. Having no experience with the character things are a bit confusing, and the guest appearance by Superman didn’t really help matters much.

The artwork is pretty interesting though and the character of Alec Holland is somebody who I will probably be following. Whilst it wasn’t as a strong first opener as Batman was, I feel that it’s too early to judge with this particular series and will see where #2 and #3 lead me. Although it may not be the friendliest title for new readers as I wasn’t really sure what was going on, it’s readable and there is enough suspense in this issue to draw in readers new and old. Whilst it may not sell much as the mainstream superhero titles, the first issue of Swamp Thing is just about an enjoyable-enough read.

The plot is interesting enough and after doing a bit of research, it appears that Swamp Thing was initially a horror comic so I will be interested to see where this goes.  Yanick Paquette is an awesome artist and is shaping up to be one of my favourite of the New 52 Reboot, alongside Nicola Scott (Earth 2) and Greg Capullo (Batman), so I will be definitely sticking around to see more of his artwork.

Verdict: 3/5

Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell

Artists: Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund | Cover: Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund

#1 – Tim Drake, Batman’s former sidekick, is back in action when an international organization seeks to capture, kill or co-opt super-powered teenagers.

As Red Robin, he’s going to have to team up with the mysterious and belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and the hyperactive speedster calling himself Kid Flash to stand any chance at all against a living, breathing weapon with roots in another world!

They – along with a few other tortured teen heroes – will be the Teen Titans in this new series from writer Scott Lobdell (WILDC.A.T.S, Uncanny X-Men) and artist Brett Booth (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

Teen Titans is the final issue that I will be covering in this roundup and it is an enjoyable one. Tim Drake is a character that I don’t know much about, but want to know more of, after having him feature in Knightfall Vol. 1, one of the few pre-New 52 comics that I read, and seeing his short and brief appearance in Arkham City. It’ll be certainly interesting to see how he develops as a character here, especially without the guidance of Batman, but working with his fellow teenage superheroes – Wonder Girl and Kid Flash, who are both introduced in this issue in very different ways.

First, we meet Kid Flash, who is not apparently related to The Flash, as is made clear when Kid Flash accidentally causes a fire to get a lot worse than it would have done. It’s a great introduction into Red Robin and his first story arc of recruiting superheroes, but Lobdell doesn’t want to do this quickly it seems.

Lobdell has nailed the characterization of a 16 year old Red Robin and the artwork is clean and sharp, as well as presenting a slightly lighter take on the New 52 Universe that’s also seen in Geoff John’s Justice League. Despite disliking Lobdell’s Red Hood and the Outlaws, Teen Titans is a series that I’ll be following for sure.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Right, now that that’s out of the way, here’s my list, favourite being number 1, least favourite being number 25, from all of the series that I’ve read so far, not just counting the ones reviewed in the Two-Parter Roundup:

 Total First Issues: 25

  1. Batman by Scott Snyder
  2. Earth 2 by James Robinson
  3. Talon by James Tynion IV
  4. Aquaman by Geoff Johns
  5. Batwoman by J.H. Williams
  6. All Star Western by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
  7. Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi
  8. The Flash by Francis Manapul
  9. Justice League by Geoff Johns
  10. Nightwing by Kyle Higgins
  11. Green Lantern by Geoff Johns
  12. Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell
  13. Action Comics by Grant Morrison
  14. Detective Comics by Tony S. Daniel
  15. Batwing by Judd Winick
  16. Batgirl by Gail Simone
  17. Superman by George Perez
  18. Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder
  19. Birds of Prey by Duane Swierczynski
  20. Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello
  21. Red Lanterns by Peter Milligan
  22. Demon Knights by Paul Cornell
  23. Suicide Squad by Adam Glass
  24. Red Hood and the Outlaws by Scott Lobdell
  25. Catwoman by Judd Winick

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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