Animal Man has been a divisive little gem, almost exclusively because of its art. No one can argue that the complete originality of Jeff Lemire’s story is at least worth reading, even if the art isn’t your cup to tea. Lemire, known for his title Sweet Tooth, provides an insanely horrific and disturbing story that seems straight out of a Clive Barker novel. For the record, some find the art to be absolutely gorgeous.
All-Star Western was the surprise hit of the new 52. The title overcame the sour taste left in reader’s mouths after the atrocious Jonah Hex film and the burden of creating a time specific title that is continuous with the current DCU. Gotham City in the old west seeps with mood; the pages almost feel gritty and dusty. Moritat’s detailed line serves itself equally depicting grand wooden buildings, grisly murders and sexy saloon hookers. All-Star Western could continue to be one of the year’s most unexpected hits, if it can out live the gimmick of its Gotham City setting.
Paul Cornell, known for his scripts of Dr. Who and the Action Comics storyline The Black Ring, blows the lid off of everything you thought you knew about DC Comics. Stormwatch, previously a WildStorm title, is effortlessly and seamlessly blended into the DC Universe. There are blogs about who would be the victor in a fight between Superman and his direct WildStorm derivative Apollo. Cornell provides attitude aplenty along with an insanely epic scale. The Martian Manhunter never seemed so cool. Cornell is DC’s top writing talent. Simply amazing.
Those who can’t except Wonder Woman’s new, dark direction, curtsey of Brian Azzarello, need to sit down and wait a couple more issues. This is a truly Amazon Warrior Wonder Woman, who won’t think twice about throwing a sword at you or severing your arm. Of course, Wonder Woman, a founder of the Justice League, shouldn’t condone killing but guess what? That’s something for the rest of the league to teach her. Characters don’t have to remain stagnant. It would be great to see Wonder Woman assume a role like The Hulk’s in The Avengers, a menace that will eventually become an ally. Calm down about her costume changes. Also, it’s awesome to see a new Wonder Woman villain instead of Ares or Circe for the hundredth time.
All right, here’s the shocker of the list, Green Lantern: New Guardians. Reactions to the book have been mixed, due to a number of continuity errors in question due to the series’ hard reboot of Green Lantern favorite character Kyle Rayner but the soft, almost non-existent reboot of all other Green Lantern continuity. Forget you continuity hang-ups! All the great aspects of 1990’s Green Lantern are back and none of the awful. (Women in refrigerators) This is the only Green Lantern title that take the “new number one” ethos seriously, providing readers with a welcome rest from years of Green Lantern’s complex story building. Its not that the modern Green Lantern titles aren’t amazing, it’s just a good feeling to catch one’s breath.
Geoff Johns, DC’s go-to guy for reboots including Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth, pens a dynamic and thrilling script complete with a snarky Green Lantern and a Batman that’s well…very Batman-y. Jim Lee’s iconic artwork is a welcome addition to DC’s flagship title. (Even if his designs for most of the other titles are shotty at best.) The only complaint from many fans what that they didn’t get to see more members of the Justice League. Missing from this issue were Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. Seriously, there would be no theatre in an appearance from every member in the first issue.
Superman has his balls back. It’s crass but there simply is no other way to put it. After all, someone who takes the law into his own hands wouldn’t be such a Boy Scout would he? Superman is perfectly reinvented for America’s troubled economy, fighting corporate greed with vengeance. Occupy Metropolis! After decades of being slandered in the public eye by Lex Luthor it is great to see big blue get the respect and love of the people of Metropolis. Rags Morales’ art has never looked better. His personal style is toned down just a tad and fused with classic 1930’s Superman good looks. Oh, and Superman’s face doesn’t look exactly like Batman’s. That’s a great change that’s been a long time coming.
Cornell delivers again with Demon Knights, a title he cleverly hinted at in Stormwatch. Cornell establishes right from the beginning that Demon Knights’ medieval time period is continuous with the current DC Universe. Once again, the simplest personality changes in staple DC characters invigorate the title with precious lifeblood. The Demon looks truly frightening. Madame Xanadu is in love with The Demon but hates Jason Blood. Also, Cornell keeps Grant Morrison’s innovation from Seven Soldiers of Victory, the fact that The Shining Knight is really a woman. Demon Knights diversifies the DCU in scope, tone and time period instead of simply race or gender.
Batgirl #1 deserves to be on this list because the massive adversity Gail Simone had to overcome in writing it. Fan reaction to the news that Barbara Gordon would walk once more ranged from total outrage to well… mild outrage. Simone makes it all work out with nuanced storytelling, which gives readers plenty of Barbara Gordon, much, the same character from Simone’s run on Bird’s of Prey. Crazy action scenes, motorcycles in elevators, a political radical as a roommate and an amazing team of baddies dressed as Halloween characters make Batgirl a must buy title.
Scott Snyder, fresh off his legendary run on Detective Comics, spins a dark and intriguing tale of mystery. Simple plot twists, such as Batman teaming up with The Joker to break out of Arkham Asylum, make Batman one the best titles of the new 52. Top it off with Greg Capullo’s extremely confident drawing and you’ve got one of the best number 1 titles of the new millennium. Indie and Horror fans should also check out Snyder’s new title Severed from Image Comics.