In this weeks roundup of comics (still lagging in my write-ups due to waiting to receive my comics in the mail before I move to a digital format), I read a bunch of the DC 52 comics, including Batman #1, Catwoman #1, I, Vampire #1, Nightwing #1, Supergirl #1, and Wonder Woman #1, in this penultimate week of the relaunch, as well as the second issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some work well to bring in new readers, some go more the route of Green Lantern #1 by refusing to baby the reader (which I received in the issues I didn’t really need this, while felt a little lost in those I might have needed a little more help with). You will probably be able to guess which comic goes in what category based on how much I write about each. Let the fun begin!
Of the new DC 52, there are a few titles out there covering the same characters. Batman has at least 80, so instead of reading every one, I decided to stick with two: Detective Comics because of its historical significance (i.e. it’s a grandpa) and Batman because it is too cool to need more than the one word. Both may cover the same city and character, but they are already shaping up to be largely different.
Batman starts out with a bit of action as he takes on a plethora of the villains decorating the cells of Arkham Asylum (sidenote – this is also what is shown on the cover, and I have to say it might be my favorite of the new 52. Especially because without a second glance I wouldn’t have even realized the specificity of the people he is fighting). Though they don’t actually come into play after this, it fits perfectly for the tone this comic is going for.
Throughout the issue a “voiceover” continues on the topic of the statement “Gotham is_______.” At first there are the simple adjectives, then during the fight Batman explains that some people respond with a villains name, whether symbolically bringing about a connection between the drive of that individual to bring out a deeper meaning of symbolism for Gotham. Other times they say Batman, which did bring me back to Detective Comics’ Batman proclaiming, “I am Gotham.”
This continues on while he is wearing the face of Bruce Wayne, and though this might not be as exciting as the action and fighting and sleuthing for some, it is very important in connection to the “voiceover.” As we learn quickly with a brief exposition of Bruce’s past in concern to his parents (for those who are really out of the loop on what brought about the character), the thing to take out of when Bruce is talking about Gotham’s future and the hope he has for it is that Gotham is a character equal to the villains, heroes, and everyday citizens that line her streets. And as he goes out each night in the cape and cowl, his goal is not simply to fight crime, but save her.
Now to move past the closest I will come to being poetical, some other things I appreciated as a new reader was how they integrated notes for who all these characters are. For starters, though I do like the art, I must say that the similarities between the features of the characters are ridiculous in how little they vary. Bruce is not the only tall, dark and handsome man at the party; all of the Robins (past and present included) look like they could be twins with only their height being a differentiating factor. So thank goodness Bruce decided to get a retinal display that has facial recognition software, or else I would be completely lost in this sea of tuxes (plus it was nice to be reminded who is doing what now, as well as get a little joke about how Alfred has a higher clearance level than the Robins. Guess he is just far more trustworthy, even with that smarmy mustache.).
Though the body of the comic was used to set up the importance of the city, at least in my eyes, it ends with some more detective work for Batman, leading to a big reveal that will cause some tension come issue #2.
Other than the adorable cats making comically animated faces as they get whipped around by Catwoman’s escape, I have trouble believing that this comic was made for a demographic that includes me. Granted the pin-up layout of the comic’s cover should have given that away. All I know is that as a character she is very much aware of her Tomb Raider sized boobs and doesn’t feel the need to hide it. Then again, Catwoman holds her sexuality at the same level of importance as her acrobatics and claws in the skills/weapons department, so I guess I should have seen this coming. So don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the comic is bad, and in all honestly I liked her style of sarcasm and personality on many levels; I am just not sure if this comic is one for me.
As one of the only comics I am diving into that doesn’t have a big name DC hero on the cover during this relaunch, I am definitely glad I gave this one a go. I will admit, I was going to pass on it for the cover art alone, but you know the old saying, “never judge a book by a cover.” And had I settled for doing so here, I would have been making a huge mistake.
To get my first nit-picky thing out of the way, as a slightly colorblind individual I would have appreciated picking two colors for the “voice-over” boxes that were a little further apart from each other, though on second reading in a well lit room this was far less problematic. As for the book’s look, this is pretty much my only complaint. The whole artistic team deserves props here, including the artist Andrea Sorrentino, who does a beautiful job of creating a world of shadow and light, something that always plays a strong force in a vampire story. It has a rough quality to it that doesn’t often show up in a lot of comics, but it fits perfectly with this genre and the simpler color palate Marcelo Maiolo chooses to further emphasize the feel of the story.
Though I was a little caught off guard by the shape-shifting ability of these vampires (the recent vampire stories often choose to go without this trait), it isn’t hard to get into this story. It sets up a war between man and vampire, with a love story that could easily make me angry (in a good way) and sad for the main character, Andrew. Plus, as the woman who is setting the world up to be her battleground, Mary, so far she hasn’t come off as a villain because of her connection to Andrew, a complexity that is always appreciated.
However, this is DC and though vampires are more than capable of holding their own, they will not be the most powerful forces in the mix. There are hints of the DC superheroes coming into play later and I cannot wait to see how the vampires attempt to come up against them (as well as how the artists choose to treat their often more vibrant costumes).
One of the best ways for a comic to draw me into a story is by creating an interesting character, as I am sure is the case for most readers. Sarcastic humor always helps as a personal preference, but they just have to have something that makes them stand out from the rest of the comic characters to make their comic worthy of being picked up. As a reader new to the character, I chose to read Nightwing because of his history as the first Robin, but now, after spending a year as Batman protecting the city of Gotham (after Batman’s apparent death, yes I googled this), he seems to have picked up a very similar personality to his past mentor. At least that is the story I am going with since I haven’t read this character in ages, both in my own time and his (AKA he was a child in All Star Batman and Robin so don’t judge me!). Problem is, times have changed and he isn’t as fun anymore, more doom and gloom. I want my punfu that Buffy and Spider-man so often use! If he doesn’t do anything to create a personality of his own then I will just stick to the two Batman comics I picked up. (However, there is still potential with the whole “the circus is back in town and I have familial issues and a past” still being in play, so don’t count him out yet.)
I am pretty sure it would be an incredible challenge for anyone to take on a new origin story for Supergirl, at least in my eyes considering that the last time I read her story it was in Superman / Batman Vol 2: Supergirl. Michael Turner’s art alone is reason enough to revisit the book, and because of my fond memories of this version I was able to move on to the new series with as much excitement. So far so good.
I’ll just get the cracks out of the way here: Supergirl is definitely in the running for the weirdly slutty suit award. Catwoman would win, but hers isn’t really weird since she just shows a lot of cleavage; but here, Supergirl is rocking something that looks like it belongs on the beach in the 80s. At least lower half wise. Other than that, and the random kneehole in the boots (I was really hoping they would be harder material so that she could knee people with the point), I am digging the new look. Ok, I am jealous. Last year for Halloween I made a Supergirl costume out of things I found around my house. I really want that cape… But I digress.
This is where the contrast to Nightwing comes in. With that character my memories are more of Dick Grayson back when he was a kid who enjoyed the adventure of the fight like he was playing a game. He was a kid, but now he is just a Batman copy (still hoping this will subside past issue #1). But in Supergirl’s case, a robot-suited man she comes up against in this issue says that “she’s just a–hggk—kid” (a kid that is choking him, mind you), and I really hope they take advantage of her age. Not in a way that makes her annoying as teenage girls can sometimes be with their skill at whining as the whole world is against them, but to an acceptable degree. She should have the issues of someone moving to a new place for the first time, not knowing anyone, losing her parents, etc. And she can come up against her only authority figure on this planet from time to time as well.
Suffice it to say I am excited to see how they treat this character in this go around, making it fresh in comparison to the story that was told a few years back, and the path many people know her life will take.
In issue #2 the search continues for the long lost brother, Raphael, who committed a disappearing act about a year ago. The story gets a little bit more intriguing when we learn this is more than just an infantile act of an angsty brother running away from home, but that something much more complex is going on.
On his own, Raphael defends someone who is being attacked by his drunken father in our only glimpse of turtle fighting in this issue, and we get to see a softer, caring side to the usually tougher turtle. Look at him making friends! A friend that just so happens to be a favorite for many people familiar with the Turtles. As this side story continues to grow in interest level, I still can’t wait to finally have the team back together because I just cannot stop laughing at Raphael without his mask. A giant humanoid turtle alone should be equally ridiculous in anyone’s eyes, but growing up with this image, it seems normal to an extent that is not matched by a giggle-inducing, naked-faced turtle.
We still don’t get to see April with the present day turtles, but she is still present in the flashbacks to when the turtles were minus the “mutant ninja” part of their name. In these scenes, Splinter shows us just how resourceful of a rat he can be as he tries to help April learn more about the facility she is working in, as well as helping her defend herself against some attackers (who I really hope are The Foot!). Still no signs of Shredder either, but a mention of a “master” has me hoping that he is going to be making an intro sometime soon as well.
Also during this scene, we get a glimpse of the event that changed the turtles into what they are now, as well as a cat. Could it be the same cat they fought in issue #1? Here’s assuming yes considering there is only so much green ooze lying around (which I hope we still get to learn more about, as well as the government / military program that was behind the experiments going on in this facility).
Though I feel slightly guilty for never having gotten into Wonder Woman because of her part in history as a major female figure in the comic word (don’t worry, I won’t delve into a debate about sexuality VS feminism here), I still can’t decide if now is the time to do it. The story didn’t have me screaming that I must come back for more, this is far from an origin story (and WW is definitely a character that I need a little background information for) and the art style isn’t my favorite by far (not saying it’s bad, it’s just personal preference in concern to line width and color technique). However, I am still a major fan of mythology, giving Wonder Woman the possibility of surprising me down the road considering how it plays a big part in the world. Let’s face it, Oracles are awesome, Centaurs are downright gansta, and I do kind of want to know why this girl is so important. And why Wonder Woman is so tall. I can’t help but wonder… Oh ho ho…