Tag Archives: Criminal

The Comics: DC New 52 and More

Since I heard that DC was rebooting pretty much their entire line, starting over at issue #1 and starting new storylines for almost every character, I’ve been a little obsessed with reading them. I’ve never been a comic book person, really, but I’ve dabbled with graphic novel collections and enjoyed movies based on the characters – getting into weekly comic reading was probably inevitable, I just needed a place to start. The DC New 52 gave me that place, and I’ve already started moving past it into other publishers and lines.

I posted a rundown of the 13 DC issues I read the first month of the reboot over on Row Three, but I don’t want to necessarily keep posting updates and continuing reviews over there on a weekly or monthly basis, so I’m going to do it here. First head over there and check out my thoughts on the #1s. Of course, there will be another group of #2s out tomorrow (Wednesday), but I didn’t want to wait to get this out there. I’ll try to be more on time in the future. For the record, after the first month I am no longer reading Superman, I, Vampire, or Voodoo. I did, however, pick up Demon Knights and Resurrection Man in their place, both of which I like much better.

(I’ve included some of my favorite panels from each comic; some of them may be spoilery. Click on any of the images to see a larger version.)

DC New 52

Swamp Thing #2

The first issue of Swamp Thing was a surprise top favorite of mine last month, but this time I was ready for it, and it didn’t really disappoint. The confusion I had at the end of the last issue is cleared up totally as Swamp Thing explains everything to Alec Holland, which is admittedly a whole lot of exposition at once, but it’s necessary and well-written. The art continues to impress as well, with the first half of the book (set in the swamp) is panels all separated by tangled and uneven branches, entangling Alec both in the plant-ridden physical location and his plant-ridden destiny. The second half brings back the neck-twisted minions that remain the creepiest thing in the whole of the New 52 that I’ve read, and they’re as chilling as in issue #1, despite the shock factor being somewhat diminished. I’m definitely noting Scott Snyder as one of my favorite writers so far.

Action Comics #2

I quit reading the Superman series after issue #1 in favor of sticking with Grant Morrison’s younger, edgier, more unpredictable take on Superman in Action Comics, and issue #2 didn’t make me regret that decision at all. Here Superman has been captured by Lex Luthor (who insists on calling Superman “it” and correcting everyone who calls him “him”) and is undergoing increasing levels of physical torture as Luthor tries to find out his breaking point – but instead Superman breaks out, and gleefully rampages through Luthor’s compound. I’m seriously loving this Superman, and the hints of the big bad working with and through Luthor and the army are pretty cool.

Animal Man #2

Animal Man #1 had me a bit on the fence – somehow both intrigued and uncentered by the shifting art style, the surreal parts, and the writing focused on family life rather than superherodom. It was just very different from the other things I read and what I expected from a superhero comic book, and it took me another issue, I think, to really warm up to it. Now I’m kind of embracing the sheer weirdness of it, and I think as the series continues, it’ll probably be one of my favorites. Buddy’s daughter is turning out to be as connected to the animal world as he is, maybe even more so, and the two embark on a journey to “The Red,” an abstract concept if I’ve ever heard one, to get ready to stop some big bad. The family dynamics continue to be central here, a very good thing.

Batgirl #2

I’m still enjoying the heck out of this series. I like the way Gordon is struggling with her physical abilities – she’s recovered from being paralyzed miraculously (the book still doesn’t go much into how that happened), but she hasn’t regained all her strength, and she often tries and fails to handle herself in fights the way her mind THINKS she can handle herself. I do hope they don’t continue to beat that idea in the voice-over, though, now that’s it’s been clearly established. I like her voice-over, despite how nearly omnipresent it is, because I like the way she slyly undercuts herself all the time. It makes Batgirl one of the most entertaining books in the relaunch. Here she meets and fights with the Mirror, who could turn out to be an interesting villain, but I hope they don’t let it get too caught up in his self-loathing backstory. I do really like her budding relationship with her new roommate. That’s a nice counterpoint to all the fighting and self-doubt.

Demon Knights #1 & #2

This was one I didn’t pick up the first week, but I’d heard good things about it and when I ended up with fewer books in the second week of #2s, I figured I’d try it out. Especially since the Comixology app is discounting the first issue of these runs as soon as the second one comes out – makes it easy to pick up back issues. And this is a really fun series so far, set in the Middle Ages. Thus it’s so far completely separate from any of the other books, which I kind of like. At the fall of Camelot, Merlin emprisons the demon Etrigan in human form; as the book continues, it turns out that this man Jason can turn into the demon at will, which he does whenever there’s danger nearby. There are bad guys with dragons, and various other knights and barbarians aplenty. Issue #2 was basically a really long, awesome fight scene, with some great art and fun character interactions. Not too deep, this one, but a rousing good time.

Resurrection Man #1 & #2

An intriguing one in concept, for sure, with a main character who comes back to life every time he’s killed with a different power. When we first see him rise at the beginning of #1, he’s attuned to metal and can control it the way Magneto does in X-Men. The next time, he can morph into water form. He also appears to have some level of amnesia, as he heads to try to find his father in a nursing home to find out about his past. Not all the dialogue writing is particularly good, but the concept is SO good, and so far I’ve enjoyed the action and interactions (I really like that he appears to be older than your average superhero, which gives him a maturity and gravity that’s unusual) enough to keep with it a while longer.

Other Series

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent

This is actually the newest of the Criminal books by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, but after seeing Ed Howard talk about it as a noir book playing off an Archie-like universe, I had to check it out. I used to read Archie incessantly, and that backdrop to a very dark crime story sounded awesome, and it totally was. Basically the main character Riley is the Archie-esque character, while Jughead becomes his junkie friend, and Riley has chosen to marry the Veronica character and live the highlife in the big city, leaving the Betty character behind in his small home town. (All the names are changed.) The current timeline is done in really evocative dark drawings (which is also how the other Criminal books are drawn), but there are lots of flashbacks as Riley remembers his time growing up, and those are done in Archie-style. It’s both an excellent story on the surface and a dark, twisted satire on the world of Archie and the perfect American Dream life that it represents. It’s only four issues long, all of which are available via the Comixology app.

Criminal: Coward

After I liked the new run of Criminal so much, a friend was kind enough to send me the first couple of collections, of which Coward is the first. It’s the same style as the modern sections of Last of the Innocent, but without any of the Archie connections. It’s a straight noir crime story of a bank robber who always gets away, thanks to following his “rules,” which basically look out for his own skin at all costs, hence labeling him a “coward,” since he’d rather run away than face any potential of being caught. When he’s approached for a job by a crooked cop and a former cohort of his father’s (also a crook), he’s suspicious but ends up taking it anyway – which is not a good idea. Lots of twists and turns are augmented by really great character writing, and it goes to some really surprising dark places. Can’t wait to read the next collection…and everything else Brubaker and Phillips write.

Batwoman: Elegy

I picked this up at the library after being confused by the New 52 Batwoman #1, and it was definitely a good choice. DC didn’t totally reboot Batwoman – she was destined for her own series anyway, and the #1 issue is basically just that. It contains a lot of callbacks to Elegy (which I believe was originally a run of Detective Comics) that make NO sense if you haven’t read Elegy and perfect sense if you have. It’s a great collection on its own, full of the same gorgeous art that made me love Batwoman #1 even whilst I was confused, and a bit of a whacked out story with a Religion of Crime led by an Alice in Wonderland lookalike that Batwoman has to take down. The Kate Kane character is an intriguing one, too, a woman kicked out of the military because she refused to lie about being gay who takes up the cape of a crimefighter after a chance encounter with Batman. Now that I’m all caught up on her story, I can’t wait to read the rest of the New 52 arc.