We really can’t stop bringing you new writers covering this new DC 52 at the moment. We’ve had Andrea’s take on Justice League, followed by Swamp Thing and Action Comics, and we’ve had James and Oli East tackle Justice League as well.
Now our next debutante; Mark Roberts, whose It Came From Dartmoor blog has been essential reading for a long time on all things Marvel UK. Mark was, like so many caught up in the hype of this new DC 52. Which has resulted in his picking up of several of the new number 1s.
Thanks very much to Mark for taking the time to drop these over to us. We hope it’s the beginning of many more posts here at the FPI blog. Now, over to Mark, and his reviews of Stormwatch #1, Action Comics #1 and Justice League International #1
By Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda
Ever since DC announced the closure of the Wildstorm Imprint readers have been wondering when the characters might show up again. It had certainly been hinted that some of them may be showing up in the DC Universe proper at some point, but I think that even the most determined fans had feared that it wouldn’t come down to more than the odd guest appearance at best.
As a long time fan of Wildstorm I too was pleasantly surprised to see that, with the relaunch, DC had gone for far more than that, merging several properties from the former imprint into this new model of a DC Universe. And right at the forefront of those is a relaunch of Stormwatch.
Now I know that there has been some inevitable concern from long time readers over the idea of merging a property like Stormwatch (Or its successor The Authority) with such a distinctive tone (and which had also been quite so central to the former Wildstorm Universe) into DC proper. How would it work? Could it work?
Well having read this opening issue from Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda the answer is that it both can work, and can work pretty well, too.
This new Stormwatch is a mix of some of the best of Stormwatch and The Authority (Apollo, The Midnighter, Jack Hawksmoor, The Engineer and century baby Jenny Quantum), a familiar figure from the Justice League in the form of the Martian Manhunter, and several characters entirely new to this series (Expert swordsman Harry Tanner, media manipulator The Projectionist, and the so far rather enigmatic Adam One). And while some knowledge of previous incarnations of these characters may reward long term readers, new readers really are coming in at the start of this. Heck, two of the most familiar former members haven’t even joined the team yet!
This first issue sets up Stormwatch’s place within the DCU, based out of a Headquarters floating out in Hyperspace and looking out over the World. And rather cleverly there’s not so much a question over how you introduce Stormwatch into the DC Universe, because in this continuity they’ve always been here – with panels showing all sorts of ties you might not expect, from other relaunch titles to a mystery ‘Shadow Cabinet’ going back centuries. They watch over the world, and this new batch of costumed heroes somewhat concerns them.
There’s a lot going on in this issue (With Stormwatch trying to control three separate situations at once) but it occurs in a manner which shows you right from the off just the kind of things which this team deals with, on a daily basis. The artwork fits the tone of the book incredibly well, especially when Sepulveda is drawing the larger, more sci-fi scenes, and Cornell’s pacing is pretty strong throughout. As with any first issue there is a certain amount of exposition to get out, but I found it to be dealt with pretty well.
I think we probably won’t get the true measure of this one until the end of the first arc, but there’s plenty on show here to inspire me to pick up #2. I don’t think that the Wildstorm fans will be too disappointed, either.
Action Comics #1
By Grant Morrison, Rags Morales and Rick Bryant
So this is how it all begins? Again.
This is Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’ reinvention of one of the most iconic comic books of all time.
No pressure, then…
If there is one criticism I’ve heard made of Superman over the years, more than any other, it’s that iconic or not he’s a little bit… dull. So goes the argument: ‘What is interesting about a character who’s virtually indestructible, has no limitations, and always does the right thing, come what may‘? Heck I’ve even felt that way myself. I’ve certainly felt like I wanted to read a good Superman story for a long time, but certain limitations of the character have always been a bit of a turn off. I’d rather read about Lex Luthor… :)
Well, this might just prove to be the book which changes my mind.
Cast aside your preconceptions, because this isn’t the Superman you think you know. This Superman is still very much learning who and what he’s going to be. He’s young, he’s headstrong, and very much a law unto himself. And virtually indestructible or not you have to reckon that’s going to get him in trouble, sooner or later…
This is very much a back to basics approach here. Much like with Justice League #1 I feel certain echoes of what Marvel did when launching their Ultimate Universe here. Really get to the root of the property and retell it in a modern and intelligent manner, making deliberate choices to make the characters easy to connect with from the start. This Superman does have limitations. Oh, he can still leap a building in a single bound. But he can’t yet fly. Maybe hasn’t even thought to try.
As Clark Kent also, he’s instantly more relatable. He’s not a big name reporter, yet. He has a landlady. He lives in a beaten down area of Metropolis, struggling to meet the rent as he tries to forge a career.
And Lois Lane? Well, she knows of him by association. He’s that friend of Jimmy Olsen’s who works for a rival publication. It’s not even clear if they’ve actually met yet. In either of his guises.
All the familiar elements are here, just not in the same arrangement which people might expect. Because people don’t always become a hero overnight. These things take time. It’ll be interesting to see how Superman builds from vigilante to Superhero Icon. Or if indeed he does…
Seriously, if you’ve never felt the any interest in Superman before I’d strongly recommend giving this a go. It’s a really strong and intelligent reinvention, with solid artwork, and a final page that delivers a heck of a thump. Definitely worth a go.
Justice League International #1
By Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
I’ll be honest, I picked this book up purely on a whim. Why? Because I like international heroes. Characters from all over the world, putting aside their differences and working together. It’s why I love those classic Chris Claremont and John Byrne X-Men stories. It’s one of the central things which got me into reading comics. And while Marvel seem to be cutting down rapidly on giving panel time to their International cast of characters, DC seems to be much more interested in expanding it’s international reach.
Reading JLI #1 did actually remind me of reading those old Claremont/Byrne stories. And whilst some might see that as a slight, I absolutely do not mean it to be. It’s a genuine compliment. I mean, aside from Booster Gold, Batman and Guy Gardner I have pretty much no idea who these heroes are. We have representatives from America, Norway, Zambia, Brazil, Russia, China and Britain, complete with all the hokey stereotypical accents and dialects you might expect. There are traditional comic book arguments over who will get to lead. It may not be original, sure. But you know what?
It was a lot of fun to read.
The premise is simple, the United Nations are concerned that while there are heroes out there, fighting the good fight, they are doing so on their own. They’re not beholden to anybody or any organisation. So the decision is made to fund a super team of their own, made up of heroes from around the world, such as China’s August General in Iron, Russia’s Rocket Red, or Britain’s Godiva. With her weirdly prehensile hair…
Yes, it is all a little more light-hearted than some of the books in the relaunch. Yes, the pace of things means that we only get a fairly brief introduction to the cast. And, yes, the dismissal of protesters outside the Hall of Justice as “basement Dwellers who spend all day whining on the ‘net” may not be the the most covertly disguised dig at those people who threatened to boycott a DC Comics reboot. But it is a very promising start.
This book has some strong characters amongst its cast, and the potential for some rotation further on as well. Dan Jurgens gets the exposition out of the way early, and keeps the pace moving very well, while Aaron Lopresti’s art fits the tone, and delivers a heck of a final page image for the cliffhanger.
All in all a very good first issue. Not every comic book has to reinvent the wheel. Reading JLI #1 feels a bit like a reassuring hug from somebody familiar. I liked it a lot, and I’ll certainly be picking up #2.