Thursday, 29 September 2011

52 New Beginnings - Batman/Green Lantern/Superman/Young Justice

Batman: The Dark Knight
reviewed by Matt Puddy

When the previous series of the Dark Knight was recently brought out with David Finch writing and pencilling for it, although I wasn’t immediately drawn to it, I did grow to love it. Seeing Finch’s name on the DC reboot of the same title means I’m drawn once more.

The only difference this time is that Finch has pencilled and co-plotted the issue as opposed to writing it himself; Paul Jenkins joins him as the other man behind the pen.

As a result the story, although good, doesn’t feel like it’s a reboot at all. We have a brooding Bruce watching over Gotham with his own sinister internal monologue to see us through and the story develops in a similar fashion to other previous arcs.

Considering that the story is “new” you would also expect that it would be not unique, persay, but without too many similarities. After reviewing Scott Snyder's new Batman last week, I noticed an uncanny plot resemblance. Both have gritty openings and a glitzy social event. It did have a specific point to it but this was lost a little as I found myself quickly mentally flicking back to another writer's issue.

The artwork is phenomenal and something that I really liked getting my eyes around. There is so much detail in so much of the comic that you could happily read it without using the words. My only criticism would be that in an attempt to make Batman more imposing and stand out more, the muscular overemphasis seems a little too much, although this can’t be said for the final page as I feel that it is being used specifically and to good use.

Overall this is another fine piece of Finch’s work and Jenkins has teamed up very well. It’s most definitely going to be a reoccurring title on my list and I’m really looking forward to the future issues.

Green Lantern: New Guardians
reviewed by Matt Puddy

Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham have teamed up again to produce a new chapter in the Green Lantern Corp. Following on from his recent closing of the War of The Green Lanterns with a two part aftermath, it feels very natural for Bedard to continue.

To induct new readers into the Corp Bedard has taken a step back to show how an impoverished illustrator was inducted and became a Green Lantern. It’s detailed but not overwhelming so that you can get a taste of who Kyle is as the main character.

There’s some really nice touches like the caricature of Ganthet when first trying his ring out.

Shifting forward the story jumps to after all of the different Corps have come to light. Interestingly enough it is showing them losing members simply by the rings choosing to decommissioning them. This in itself is a strange feat and a new twist as death is usually the main reason for leaving the corps.

There are a couple nice cut sequences as a result but ultimately we find where the rings are leading. All back to Kyle.

This is the main plot point and essential cliffhanger too as it opens up a number of questions. Firstly there is the obvious “why” but then you also have to consider some of the finer points such as the orange ring and the further implications. There are definite hooks to really get into.

Kirkham’s artwork has so much depth in it and one of the things I always look for in the GL titles is what do the constructs look like? For me, this can be a make or break point for a Lantern title and this comic reaches that with ease. My favourite was the double page spread of the three giant workers.

I’ve not been completely overwhelmed so far by the title but what I have seen is exciting. I like that you’re not spoonfed and it has left me with questions that I really want answered, but then again that’s my nature.

This may not be a title for everyone yet (and I stress the yet), but I would certainly suggest this to fans.

reviewed by Robert Barton-Ancliffe

Having followed Superman’s final days through J. Michael Strazyski’s Grounded storyline that rounded of the title’s previous run in July, it's great to see the Man of Steel back where he belongs. The creators of this new Superman issue #1 promised a book that would re-cast the character as an outsider in every sense of the word and writer George Perez certainly does that. Whether as Superman, in thick of the action in modern Metropolis or lone idealist Clark Kent struggling to come to terms with change, the titular hero is suitably alienated from the world around him without ever seeming alien.

Perez has taken the opportunity of rebooting the world of Superman, not only bringing us a hero who now feels isolated and alone, but one who inhabits a Metropolis that is anything but familiar as the old status quo falls to the inevitable march of progress, most clearly exemplified by the destruction of the old Daily Planet building in the opening pages.

While the action occupies a great deal of this book, the new Superman is a character piece through and through. The physical threat is a little forgettable, but the real meat of the story is the character interludes. We meet an array of familiar friends and enemies, with the heart of the story devoted to the interplay between Lois and Clark who, while not exactly at odds with each other, have yet to build the bond of trust that has typified these characters for the last 30 years or so. This new direction promises plenty of human drama, which has always distinguished Superman from its aptly named sister title Action Comics and it will be interesting to see Perez fresh spin on a story that is almost as old as comics themselves.

Overall however, Superman has yet to establish a cohesive artistic identity of its own. The script is a little too verbose in places, with slightly clunky narration that stops the narrative flowing quite as nicely as it should. The artwork by Jesus Merino, while by no means a failure, doesn’t quite gel overall. The action scenes are a little static and the depiction of the characters lacks warmth, but as stated above, the interest here lies in the very human story of Superman/Clark Kent so this shouldn't deter readers interested in this bold new take on a classic character.

Superman fans, whether casual or deeply invested already should enjoy this book, as it restores a little of the character’s edge while still keeping plenty of touches that evoke almost every take on the Man of Tomorrow from throughout the years. By no means the new 52’s biggest hit, but possibly the best this title has been for years.

Teen Titans
reviewed by Robert Barton-Ancliffe

Having been largely underwhelmed by writer Scott Lobdell’s new take on Superboy, it was with some trepidation that I picked up the writer’s sister title, Teen Titans. Thankfully, the contrast between the two couldn't be more evident, as Teen Titans is a fast paced and fun read that introduces Lobdell’s new corner of the DC Universe with considerable panache.

Taking the origin’s of DC’s foremost teen super-team and reshaping them for a new audience, Lobdell manages to show off the characters to great effect. We are introduced to the three most recognisable Titans here, who show off an array of impressive yet unwieldy powers and plenty of youthful character as they face of against shadowy organisation N.O.W.H.E.R.E.

While Kid Flash and Wonder Girl take their bows, this first issue’s real draw is Batman’s former partner Tim Drake as Red Robin. Tricked out with an array of gadgets and a nifty new costume, Drake is an exciting and highly impressive superhero who confidently swoops his way through a series of set pieces with all the style of James Bond and none of the angst of his former mentor. Fans of Tim can take heart, as he is very much the book’s hero as he brings all his skills and tenacity to bear in outsmarting N.O.W.H.E.R.E. whilst laying the foundations for the new team.

Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund imbue the title with a great deal of energy and character without over labouring each panel. If the pencils are a little scratchy in places, this is not to the detriment of careful characterisation as each hero and villain is instantly recognisable, their facial expressions telling us everything we need to know as much as the action, which shines without becoming too cluttered.

It is almost hard to believe that Teen Titans and sister title Superboy are from the same writer. The balance of characterisation and future threat in this debut issue is nicely done, with N.O.W.H.E.R.E., and the final panel’s reveal of Superboy bringing just the right amount of tension to keep readers interested for issue #2. I can definitely recommend Teen Titans for old and new fans alike, as Lobdell brings us a book that stands fully on its own, without the need for grown ups or showboating solo titles.

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