Friday, October 28, 2011

Welcome to the DCnU Issue #2 Edition

Welcome to the DCnU second issue recap of all the DC comics I tend to read.  If you've been keeping up, you'll know that I liked some of the new DC titles I picked up last month, while some others left me sitting on the fence.  So how'd those titles fare the second time around?  Let's see....

Action Comics #2:  I wanna say that I'm really glad they toned down Superman's powers a bit for this comic.  He's still a strong dude, but Morrison has done a good job making Supes seem like he isn't an unstoppable force.  I also like the way they're handling Lex Luthor.  The guy is faced off against Superman, but for believable reasons: with the safety of humanity in mind...the guy's not wrong, he's just an asshole.

I think I'm officially not a fan of Rags Morales.  Superman is supposed to be a young man in this, but there are times he looks more like an middle aged going on towards old man.  (Just look at that cover)  Also Lois looks like a frumpy, worn out cougar on casual Friday in this issue.  Morales' character designs look totally different from one page to the next.  Not impressed.

Inconsistent art aside, this is a fun take on Superman, and Morrison makes the Man of Steel fun to read.  I'm definitely on board for the first full arc, and probably Morrison's entire run.

Animal Man #2:  A lot of people are totally in love with Animal Man.  I am not one of those people.  I was firmly on the fence after the first issue, and not a lot has changed after the second.

I stuck around for this second issue on the strength of the three page dream sequence at the end of issue one, and like that issue, a few cool things happened that got me excited, which helped balance out the other not so cool parts. For example: Animal Man's eyes bleeding a crazy map-tattoo onto his chest. Animal Man's daughter turning a neighbor's hand into a chicken leg.  However, I realize I can't just keep reading this issue for the one or two pages of thrills it provides each issue.  The whole issue needs to be worth reading not just a few pages.

A big hang-up I have with this title is that I don't like Travel Foreman's art.  He can draw some creepy and cool beasties, but most everything else looks flat and generic, or too clean and sanitized.  Because this is written by Jeff Lemire, I'll give it one more issue, but it needs to improve drastically.

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #2:  Does Frankenstein bitch-slap a deranged and creepy old church lady who's been sacrificing children to monsters from another dimension? Hells to the yes.  Does Frankenstein do some underwater sword wielding against some crazy creatures?  Mmm hmm.  Does Frank and his crew travel to a planet completely covered in monsters?  Yes!

Unlike Lemire's Animal Man, which focuses on characters and their interactions, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is all about the balls to the walls action and monster slaying.  Yeah, there's some character development in there, but it's not the focus of the comic, nor am I inclined to care.

I do get the sense that the light/popcorn feel might not be able to hold my interest over time, but for now, it's pretty enjoyable, and this one scores high marks for sheer escapism.  My one gripe: Frank rocks some really dorky platform combat boots...what the hell is up with that?

Detective Comics #2:  I think Batman is supposed to be flying in the bat-plane or something on that cover, but I'm not so sure...he could be on the bat-toilet.

I wasn't instantly in love with this title after the first issue, but a shocker ending made  me interested enough to read more.  I wish I could say otherwise, but this issue felt like more of the same.  More bat-toys, a fight, and lo and behold, another shock-tastic ending.

Tony S. Daniel, who does both the writing and the art, seems to be relying on the cheap thrills approach with Detective Comics, and I'm not sure how much more I can take.  It doesn't seem like a sustainable form of story telling.  I can only take so many big shockers before they achieve mundane status, and lose their ability to make an impact.  I'm considering dropping this one from my pull-list.

Batwoman #2:  Batwoman is easily the best title coming out of the DCnU, and for my money, is one of the best buys on the shelf these days.  J.H. Williams III is probably the best artist in the game right now, and Batwoman is an amazing looking book, not to mention a compelling read.

Kate Kane/Batwoman is a really interesting character to read about both in and out of the bat-suit.  Her budding love interest with Detective Sawyer adds an interesting dynamic to the whole deal too.

On top of a budding love story, there's some strange wraith-like creature abducting Gotham's children, and a D.E.O. spook pulling rank all over town trying to figure out and unmask Batwoman.  Batwoman is great stuff, I highly recommend this very accessible series.

Batman #2:  Batman is the better of the two Batman titles, but it still has a major weakness.  The art.  I didn't like it in issue one, and I like it even less in issue two.  I wrote in my review of issue one that I hoped to grow accustomed to, and one day like Capulo's art, but I think I kinda hate it.  Not only is it fifteen years or so out of date, but it just doesn't work on multiple levels.

The first thing that drives me nuts are his action sequences, which are poorly planned out and confusing to figure out what the hell is going on. There was a really poorly executed action sequence where Batman jumped the bat-cycle onto an oncoming train (no ramp needed) in physics defying fashion that was just plain cheesy, but it gets much worse.

The other aspect of Capullo's art that drives me nuts are his character designs.  Simply put, the people look ridiculous.  Why is Bruce Wayne's head a fucking cinder block?  There's another confusing action scene where Bruce Wayne battles some assassin in an owl-combat suit.  Bruce tries kicking and punching the guy, both of which are easily blocked by the assassin, yet somehow, Bruce is then able to run up, and put the guy in a head-lock no problem.  There's then three increasing close up panels of Bruce trying to choke the guy out, then comes the worst panel of the entire comic:

Bruce Wayne has had some nutty work done to his face...or Capullo simply does not know how to draw lips.  Lips don't square off like that nor do they meet the teeth at a right angle.  What did the guy do, bust out a ruler to draw that panel?  That will not do.  By the way Bruce, those are some smooth-ass teeth you got there buddy.

What makes this story even more tragic is that Scott Snyder is a great Batman writer.  I really like the story that he's got going on with this first arc, too bad I can't stand the art.  Please get a new artist.  Soon.

All Star Western #2:  Last but not least comes the western that really isn't a western.  When we last left Jonah Hex he was investigating the plot of From Hell (Review coming on Halloween!). Now he's caught up in a brutal shoot-out at Amadeus Arkham's casa with minions of Gotham's own elite secret society.  When the gunsmoke and dust clears Hex is still standing, and in his no bullshit fashion, discovers the whereabouts of the bad-guys hang out.  With Arkham in tow, he heads off to deal out some more six-shooter justice.

Thankfully, it turns out this opening story arc isn't a total rehashing of the From Hell plot, Gotham's secret society is actually following the teachings of the "Crime Bible" a dark faith based on the story of Cain and Abel.

So basically this opening story arc is setting up to be Jonah Hex versus rich religious nut-jobs.

Amen to that.

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