Are we ready for the January issues? I know I am!! Some MAJOR stuff happened this month. Let’s take a look at how DC’s New 52 rung in the new year!
Justice League #16
This is EPIC storytelling at its finest. I’m usually totally against all the in-fighting we’ve seen with the JL, but I get it here. And things got crazy as Ocean Master declared war on the surface. THE ART, holy Jesus, the art is so, so good. This team is stellar, and by FAR one of the best DC has right now. I love how awesome Cyborg is getting, and I hope he gets a bigger role in the issues to come. The Shazam story was EXCELLENT, and I can’t wait for more.
Action Comics #16
Alright, so I think I got a little lost. The stuff happening in the future from last issue suddenly collides with the present day, this issue. The world also starts to change into how it was on Doomsday, the day Superman died, as a kind of spirit-rattling omen. The K-team and Vyndktvx attack while Jimmy and Lois (REMEMBER THEM?!) try to wake up Mr. Triple-X (Mxyzptlk). There’s also a bit with the Legion of Super-Heroes - which always confuses a story for me. Great artwork, though.
Animal Man #16
The Rotworld story is nearing the conclusion! The GL Buddy rescues is an alien plant species, and they near the heart of Rot together. But that’s when they finally see who the Gatekeepers are: the Justice League!! Anyone know who the Keymaster is? Constantine is given quite the unceremonious death, which I thought was no fun. Also, Maxine? YOU’RE GROUNDED!!!
Dial H #8
Oh that’s funny, Canada jokes. This was a good issue, and it introduces even more mysteries as Centipede closes in on Manteau and Nelse. Another Dialer shows up, and is whisked away by a military helicopter, Nelse starts to lose himself in his Hero, and Centipede gets a hold of Nelse’s Dial!! I love how unique this title is. There’s no other book like this out there.
Earth 2 #8
And now for something completely different. Don’t look for Jay, Alan, or Kendra here, folks! This issue focuses on the villain Steppenwolf, leader of Apokolips’ army during the invasion 5 years ago. He’s still around, trapped apparently, and he has a little pet: Wonder Woman’s daughter! So…is this “Fury” actually the New 52 version of Donna Troy? Other characters have had more major background changes…. The title still suffers from super old-school dialog, though.
The Phantom Stranger #4
I’m impressed by how I’m constantly surprised with every issue that comes out. Dan DiDio takes a sort of backseat on this issue as J.M. DeMatteis pens the script - and we know how much of a fan of his I am. The Stranger is brought to the House of Mystery, where the JLD try to wrangle him onto their team. Turns out Constantine has one of his silver coins, too. Upon returning home, Stranger finds his babysitter dead and his family missing. Pandora seems to think the Spectre is behind it - the embodiment of justice and revenge - who has every reason to hate the Stranger. I’m so excited for the next issue. Also, DAT COVER!
Oh yes, this whole deal with Harry Tanner coming back is probably the best part of this series so far. It’s been fun watching him manipulate the team, and I love how Apollo and Midnighter continue to stick things out together. The only thing I have to say here is…what does Hawksmoor have to say about all this? He just stood by and watched as Engineer took Tanner’s side. Also, what about Emma? Once Engineer turns, those two are literally absent from the rest of the issue. What I like about this change in Engineer, though, is that it really fits with her personality toward the beginning of the series.
Swamp Thing #16
I wouldn’t be surprised if this title’s Rotworld run got Snyder and Paquette some kind of award nomination. He’s been doing a good job of playing with my emotions. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to throw the book across the room THIS many times! Just look at that last page!! Nicely done, team. I’m excited for the finales.
Batman and Robin #16
WOW. I mean how incredible is this issue? Outstanding. The fight between supposed father and son is BRUTAL, and heartbreaking at the same time. Damian’s final decision is what makes me love this character so much (and hate DC for what they agreed to). I’m so excited to see how this all ends. Fantastic artwork by Gleason, as always.
Batman and Robin Annual #1
BEST. ANNUAL. EVER. This was the best Batman and Robin story Peter’s told yet. If you haven’t grown to love Damian after everything, then THIS is the issue that seals the deal. This kid is amazing. Peter’s writing is flawless, and guest penciller Ardian Syaf - whom I enjoyed on Batgirl - does an excellent job not only giving us a similar look to Gleason’s designs, but of making this Annual his own. Knowing what happens to Damian only causes this issue to be completely heartbreaking.
Demon Knights #16
And thus comes the new writer, Robert Venditti! 30 years later, Cain is raising a vampire army and is marching for Themyscira to create an Amazon-vampire force that will enslave the world. A now wizened Al Jabr brings Exoristos, the Horsewoman, and Sir Ystin together in the hopes of stopping Cain…but they have to get another member of the former Demon Knights. We then see Vandal Savage has Jason Blood prisoner…and it’s unclear which of the 2 they need! Very good, indeed. The humor Cornell brought to the title is still there, and the story is just as fantastic. I think I’m going to like this new direction.
Green Lantern #16
This is suddenly becoming VERY interesting. And, just like Batman and Robin Annual #1 was a clincher for people on the fence about Damian, this issue has me rooting for Simon Baz stronger than ever. There was good humor in this issue, but most of all, it has a big heart. I love that we’re seeing B’Dg training Simon, too. It seems so ridiculous, yet I think it’s very appropriate, since Simon feels so out of place too. We’re getting very small pieces of what’s going on in the Dead Zone, but Tomar Re is there!!
The Ravagers #8
New creative team means I give it another shot!! And we have a winner! Writer Michael Alan Nelson brings out the best in all the characters. Sure, it’s still very dialog-heavy - which does give it an old-school feel - but it actually falls more in-line with Joss Whedon’s style than how Howard Mackie, James Robinson, and gang stuff as much expository dialog as possible onto the page. And I love Joss Whedon. The humor, subsequently, is excellent…especially Warblade, who steals the entire issue. I’m also interested in these siblings, who appear to have not been infected by the radiation, and could be metahuman as well. I hope that goes somewhere, and I hope this creative team remains on this book. Good stuff. (Whoops, it was cancelled as of issue #12)
Holy hell, this Death of the Family storyline is incredible. I loved this issue. It’s one of those rare opportunities where the writer and artist aren’t afraid to show just how sick and twisted Joker really is. The body-tapestry courtesy of Dollmaker is a prime example, as well as the horse on fire. You really get the feeling, reading this arc, that Snyder and Capullo aren’t pulling ANY punches. To say that I’m shaking with anticipation on how it all ends doesn’t even come close to how I really feel about the next issue.
DC Universe Presents #16
So I don’t think I liked this issue that much. It felt like it rushed the showdown with Nebiros with crazy magics and soul-swapping powers that I didn’t think Blue Devil had in the first place. The witty quips were a bit too much in this one, though I can’t decide if that’s what Andreyko was trying to do…make Daniel not that funny. The art was good, but I think that has more to do with Eltaeb’s colors than anything else.
Green Lantern Corps #16
I love this book, and this issue might be my favorite. Guy in prison, chastised by his siblings, saved by a squirrel. The Third Army is finally after Guy, and the other Lanterns are beginning to catch on. John included. The Rise story concludes in the Annual, and I couldn’t be more excited to see how it turns out. Will the Guardians finally pay for their eternal foolishness? I would like Johns’ final act on his epic Green Lantern run to be the First Lantern slaughtering all of the Guardians…and the GL Corps self-governed for the first time ever.
Green Lantern Corps Annual #1
Picking right up where GLC #16 left off, Guy is sent to Oa to help confront the Guardians, who are luring all GL’s back for a trap. Kilowog and a handful of savvy GL’s meet with Guy and, together, they take on the Guardians. And KYLE RAYNER arrives, all dressed in white! That was quite the surprise. What happens next is such a joyful scene where the Guardians are nearly beaten, nearly destroyed…but then the First Lantern is freed. As far as finales go, this one left me disappointed simply because the story didn’t technically “end.” Sure, the Third Army’s pretty much finished, but there was no closure or walks into sunsets. Instead, the story continues but with a new adversary. So as an Annual, and as a “Conclusion” to the Third Army arc, it didn’t meet expectations. Nice to see Mogo back, though!
All Star Western #16
Another fun issue. Hex was hilarious with the nurse - who turned out to be a great character after all, and it was really great to see his “softer” side, even if it is still hard as rock, when dealing with Mrs. Arkham. What a sweet old lady. I thought she was gonna be more like Wolowitz’s mom. And even though Jekyll’s elixir is now bobbing up and down in the Gotham Bay (how ‘bout that splash page?!!), I can’t help but feel this story isn’t yet over. But I AM excited about the Stormwatch tease for next ish.
Okay so let’s start by saying the art is really fantastic. It definitely has that Ivan Reis feel, which I love. I like how we see Cyborg making really tough choices and being a leader, and I loved seeing the Reserves in action. I ALSO like that Orm isn’t behind the whole thing with the Trench, but I DON’T like who really is. I’m a fan of the character, and I don’t like this turn he’s taken. Not cool. Also, how can Wonder Woman and Superman talk/breathe underwater? They don’t have gills, and need oxygen. And if Cyborg had his lung removed and can, quote, survive underwater and in space…why does he need a scuba helmet thing? Is it for the pressure? Oh well, thankfully the story is concluded next Justice League. I like shorter arcs anyway.
Batman Incorporated #7
I really have a problem with Chris Burnham’s art sometimes. He makes everyone look truly ugly. While it’s refreshing to see groups of superheroes that aren’t adonises, perfectly sculpted from stone, and it’s much more realistic that they have all sorts of different looks. Damian and his cat are almost too much - in a good way - and it’s nice how Damian finally explains what’s going on. Now I’m not confused anymore! It’s kind of obvious, though, what’s gonna happen to Damian with how he’s setting himself up at the end of the issue.
The Flash #16
Flash and Patty have a nice moment before Barry decides to sacrifice himself to Grodd to save the city. However, it turns out he uses his mind to access the Speed Force and bring Grodd in there with him. Yeah, he uses his mind. That’s new. Before, you had to run really fast to breach it. Meanwhile, IN the Speed Force, Iris and the others man a tank and intercept Flash and Grodd. Interesting…. I like how Iris had a big role in this issue. It’s nice to see Manapul and Buccellato are still keeping in mind that, originally, it was these two who end up together and starting the “Flash Family,” as it were.
I, Vampire #16
This issue felt like kind of a lull, because both sides are “getting ready,” so to speak. But it was cool to hear from Cain about his origins, and I loved how he and Mary Seward interacted. Constantine shows up (he’s everywhere now, isn’t he?) and decides to help the rag-tag group of Andrew sympathizers, but unfortunately the issue suffers from multi-artist syndrome. Scott Clark is excellent, and I hope he remains with the title for a while (a good Sorrentino replacement), but the other artists present us with Hanna-Barbera-esque monster creatures…juxtaposing quite horribly with stuff like that incredible final page.
Justice League Dark #16
It was real fun to see Constantine being both funny and pathetic at the same time, and I liked seeing the Face/Off contestant’s winning superhero design make its way into this issue. I’m even more excited to see how things play out with Tim Hunter, the King of Epoch! I don’t remember much of the original Books Of Magic miniseries, so I don’t know how much of what they’re saying about Tim’s ancestry is preboot canon, but I’m still enjoying the dilemma Hunter’s about to face. The art is really impressive in this issue. I loved the fire designs with Infernal Core, and the electricity with the Epoch police dude. Looking forward to the next ish!
Teen Titans #16
So now Red Robin and Red Hood are forced to face off to the death in order to save their captive, respective, fathers…suggesting that Joker really DOES know who they are. But then they turn on Joker…only for the Joker to have been a gas-loaded dummy. I really am tired of how Joker’s always a millisecond ahead…it just doesn’t feel realistic anymore. Meanwhile, we catch glimpses of Raven - which is really exciting - and of Lance from Team 7, who’s still spying on the Titans per Waller’s instructions. Not sure how that’s going to play out. Well, so long, Brett Booth…it’s been really great enjoying your artwork on this issue. DC is saying that Eddy Barrows, of Nightwing, is coming in next ish, but here I thought it was Tyler Kirkham, who did the Zero Issue. Oh well, we’ll see.