Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The New 52 - The Second Wave


Earth 2 #1 – Review

WRITER: James Robinson

ARTIST: Nicola Scott


PRICE: $3.99

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new wave of The New 52, and the Earth 2 title was definitely going to be my biggest adventure into the unknown. In this universe the Trinity (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) die heroically in a battle against Steppenwolf and the armies of Apokolips. The heroes left to pick up the pieces of the new world are not who we would expect, and the differences of this universe in terms of characters, locations, and origins are enough to turn some heads.

It might sound a bit blasphemes of me to say this, but I like this way more than the ongoing Justice League title. This series pulled no punches and gave us what we really needed in the DC Universe – dramatic changes and storytelling. Not only do we get to see the world’s greatest heroes die for a cause, we get to see an entire version of Earth that’s never existed in DC before. There’s been a multiverse since before I was reading, but this take by James Robinson is definitely unique.

Some of the big differences are the costumes, though I think in times of war you’d definitely need something a bit bulkier to get the job done. I like the designs and think that Superman might have benefited by going this route in the main universe. Batman has a cool slightly armored look, and Wonder Woman is in full battle garb as the last Amazon.

Another large difference in this universe is that Batman didn’t have a son -- he had a daughter. Helena is the teen Robin in this book and is apparently going to be a huge part of the Earth 2 storylines. I think this is a really bold move to make, and I’ve always loved strong female characters in the Bat-Family.

We get introduced to Jay Garrick and Alan Scott, the Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern respectively, and they even have different origins and motivations. I was very happy to see Lansing, Michigan represented as The Flash’s new home, and Scott’s eventual transformation into Green Lantern is the thing I can’t wait to see in this book.

The artwork was very fluid and fun. I felt the emotion from the characters on each page and thought that the action scenes were explosive from panel to panel. Nicola Scott was a great pairing for Robinson, and I hope that Scott stays on the book for a long time.

Overall I have to give this issue a really strong rating. I think that some people are going to be put off by how different it is, but I’ve always enjoyed alternate universe stories and anything that shakes up the superhero status quo. This is for people who want to see a dramatically different DC Universe, and it delivers on all fronts. I’m giving the whole thing a 4.5/5.

The World’s Finest #1 – Review

WRITER: Paul Levitz

ARTIST: George Perez


PRICE: $2.99

During the conflict in Earth 2, the Robin (Helena Wayne) and Supergirl () of that universe are sucked through a gate that sends them to the main DC Universe, or Earth Prime if you want to be technical. Since then they have been living amongst the other heroes in the guises of The Huntress, and recently conceived, Powergirl. Powergirl has been working on a way to get them back to their own Earth, but her plans are put to a halt as an intruder at STAR Enterprises destroys all of her work. Can the two of them overcome the brute that’s standing between them and their ride home?

I read this right after having read Earth 2 and I really enjoyed it. Not as much as the last book, but enough to keep me interested for the next issue. I like the concept of two heroes from an alternate Earth pretending to be new heroes on Earth Prime. Instead of causing a fuss and telling this world’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about their problems, they’ve used their resourcefulness to stay independent and under the radar. Something that many female characters in comic books don’t get the chance to do.

Paul Levitz crafted a pretty fun story, but I felt like there were a few too many flashbacks and time jumps to keep things moving at a good pace like Earth 2 did. It might have been just me, but I had to stop and think for a second to remember where I was in the story a few times. It didn’t lessen the book’s impact at all, but it didn’t flow quite as nicely. Plus, there’s a lot of information that has to be conveyed in one issue to bring people up to speed.

George Perez delivered on art, and there wasn’t anything I could find wrong with it. I don’t know how I feel about Powergirl’s new costume, though I am glad that she doesn’t have her breasts on display like the old one. I’m sure that it’ll grow on me in time. In fact, I was never a huge Powergirl fan in the past, so I guess I can’t bitch about it.

I’d give this as a recommendation to any female readers who want superheroines that aren’t stereotypical or just part of a team. This pairing feels natural and the two have chemistry as best friends and crime-fighting partners. I’m going to give it a healthy 3.75/5. It was pretty good, not the best, but I’m willing to see where it goes.

Dial H #1 - Review

WRITER: China Mielville

ARTIST: Mateus Santolouco


PRICE: $2.99

The classic comic book Dial H returns with a whole new premise and a strange take as DC throws this premise into its new “Dark” line of books. Nelson, a twenty something who has just suffered a minor heart attack from his weight and lifestyle problem, has just gotten home from the hospital with the help of his friend Darren. But when Darren’s dark dealings come back to bite him in an alleyway, Nelson rushes to call for help at an old payphone. Only to discover that the phone has more supernatural plans in store with a call for help.

I’m not familiar with China Mielville’s literary work, but from what I hear it’s pretty good. That being said, I’m not so sure about his comic book scripting abilities. What might have worked well in a novel doesn’t always work so well in sequential art. The phone booth and supernatural element feels thrown in with no explanation or build up to its use, and you don’t really get to know the characters or anything that’s going on in this issue. I felt like I was dumped in the deep end of the pool on a first issue, and that’s never a good sign.

A big problem I had was with the dialogue and caption boxes. They were choppy and felt like some of the words had been auto-corrected or cut off in the lettering process. Some feel like they’re missing words and some feel so unnatural that I had to go back and re-read them three or four times.

Mateus Santolouco did the artwork, and I honestly did enjoy that much more than the story. It felt like it fit in this new section of the DC Universe, and there were some cool concepts with the different heroes that Nelson turned into. The pages were laid out well, and I never felt like it was being phoned in. But that wasn’t really enough to save this book in my opinion.

I really wanted to like this book before going in, but I’m not sold on it. I love the Dark titles from DC, but this one is falling flat. Unless I hear from word of mouth that it’s gets better in later issues, I’ll avoid this until the trade comes out. Even then I might be hesitant. I’m sadly going to have to give this a 2/5, and that’s only because I enjoyed the art so much.

G.I. Combat #1 – Review

WRITERS: J.T. Krul, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, 

ARTISTS: Ariel Olivetti, Dan Panosian


PRICE $3.99

DC returns to its high-octane military titles in G.I. Combat #1. In this issue we get a story about soldiers facing a horde of rampaging dinosaurs and another story about an unknown soldier waging war in the Middle East.

I’m not really one for military comics, but this was a fairly fun issue. Each story was pretty short and teased at a bigger plot point down the road. I thought that the comic was pretty fun, but it’s not really up my alley.

The first story, “The War That Time Forgot,” was mostly character based and focused on the soldiers that were being deployed to investigate the strange black out zone in North Korea. The dinosaurs come out of nowhere, which is kind of expected, and it throws the characters into a survival situation.

“The Unknown Soldier” follows just that, a soldier that mysteriously appears on the battlefield and starts single-handedly fighting the war in the Middle East. But his mysterious past might have finally been discovered by the military. The only question now is what they’re going to do with him.

In terms of artwork I’d have to lean toward “The Unknown Soldier.” “The War That Time Forgot” had a kind of painted look that just wasn’t working for me. The layouts worked, and the storytelling was clear, but it just wasn’t my style.

I’d recommend this to people who really like military stories with a twist. It has the classic DC dinosaur action from old comic books, and its got a story wrapped in mystery and action with a strong and driven main character. I’m going to give this book a 3.5/5. It’s not really up my alley, but I feel like many other readers would enjoy and continue with it.

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