Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DC's New 52 - Four Reviews (Light Spoilers)

These reviews are ones I posted over on SFFWorld, but I'll add them to my blog too and give a bit of a better intro and a quick bit of editing.

I've been somewhat interested in DC for a while, but like Marvel I've found it seemingly impenetrable. There also hasn't been much in the way of characters or teams for me to care for. Whilst Marvel had the young adult X-Men with Mercury, Blindfold, Pixie, X-23 et al, along with Deadpool and some other titles, I never found anything really interesting in DC's stable until recently. Over the past few months, I've read the excellent Batwoman: Elegy and the first two Stephanie Brown/Batgirl trades, Batgirl Rising and The Flood, both of which I enjoyed. There's also been a few other things here and there I've been interested by. I found out about the New 52 a short while ago, and I've been waiting until now to give DC a fair try. I ordered four of the female-centric first issues, Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, Batgirl and Batwoman in order to see if I'd like them and wish to continue reading.

Without further ado, here are my quick reviews. Of course, it goes without saying that there are some spoilers ahead.

Wonder Woman #1
The art is the easiest bit for this one. It was clear, well drawn and fairly modest for DC. I am very worried that Wonder Woman will lose her height, however. She seemed to stand a good six or seven feet tall, but I reckon she'll drop down a bit later or stand at the same height as other women.

As for the story? I... am disappointed, I must admit. I will be honest and say nothing really had me wanting more bar Wonder Woman herself. Whilst I understand it's a set up issue, it didn't really bother to answer any questions nor give any real grounding, simply opting to say this guy will cause issues, Wonder Woman is hot and don't you know it, this guy is dead, centaurs exist and that was about it. I put it down and I wasn't itching for more. I had no idea what was really going on, how the events connected, and I wasn't made to care more about them.

Maybe a 5/10. It wasn't bad, but could have been better.

Birds of Prey #1
This is my second favourite of the four 52 comics I have. The art was generally very well done and, again, quite modest. Whereas Wonder Woman didn't thrill me, Birds of Prey really got me interested. There was just Black Canary and Starling in this issue and I wanted to know more about them. I wanted to know what happened next. I wanted them to find out what was going on, and I also wanted to know more about the upcoming Birds.

That said, I wonder if the author was annoyed about Babs. There's a bit where Black Canary meets up with Babs, and she comments on seeing Babs walking (It's emphasised). I interpreted it as a sly jab at the change for Babs, because she was an important member of Birds of Prey

A good 8/10, I reckon.

Batgirl #1
Yay, Batgirl! Like the Stephanie trades I've just read, Batgirl still has a good amount of humour, including a reference to Batwoman (Who is also red-headed and wears black). The art is also very similar in that it's rather dark but not oppressively so. It's a little less modest, I felt, but still fairly decent.

Of course, you can't comment on Batgirl without the change to Babs. I will say now that I don't buy it. It's potentially disrespectful to those who had Babs as an icon, especially as Oracle, plus it claims it's been "three years" since the events of The Killing Joke. That doesn't add up to me, personally, especially as the events of most comics from the past 20-30 years since The Killing Joke are seemingly still valid. There's no mention of Steph, no mention of the Birds, nothing. It's as if they've completely ignored it but everything else still stands. However, they have spun it interestingly and Babs is arguably weaker than she was before 52. You'll have to read to find out.

Probably a 7/10. I wanted to see more, but the changes to Babs do bug me.

Batwoman #1
My most anticipated read! Again starting with the art, it's still very clear and follows the style of Elegy in that some panels flow and others are more abstract, as well as the continuation of the different colour schemes for different aspects of Batwoman's life. However, parts of it didn't feel as polished nor as artistically beautiful as they had in Elegy. There's also a few clumsy moments here and there with some very odd poses for Kate as well as her changing cup size. At moments it seems very decent, at others it seems as if they've got her and Flamebird semi-nude just for the sake of it.

The writing was fairly good, too. I'm not sure what's happened to Renee but she's hinted at. The events of Elegy are still very, very fresh in Kate's mind - and her publication too - and as I read that recently, I thought it gave me a grounding point, but Kate does take the liberty of giving a quick overview of what happened. There's definitely some mystery so it's good to see that the Detective Comics style is carrying forward into this new trade. Batsy has another potential love interest, too, and I'm interested to see how that pans out. It also looks like she's getting more and more independent, although it seems as if she may be getting a sidekick.

Probably another 8/10. It's let down by some slightly wobbly art, and Flamebird does kinda just suddenly exist in this.

I think the new 52 is fairly promising, as a new reader, but it depends on your experience with DC in the past. Anyone who reads them with regularity will likely pick up on things straight away, whereas those who haven't might find themselves stumbling over things and not being quite sure of what's going on. Overall, I was pleased with my purchases, although Wonder Woman was a disappointment to me. I will certainly be picking up the trades for the other three, though.


  1. I've heard that Azzarello is always slow to build character, and prefers to leap into the action, so he might be doing that with Wonder Woman too.

    I agree with your take on Batwoman #1. The whole bit with gratuitous side-boob/partial nudity felt out of place given the past work. The whole sidekick thing felt forced to me as well.

  2. Maybe, Ryan, but I just thought that an issue it was really, well, poorly done. Some scenes were really good but - as I forgot to mention - there's a couple of implied-nude scenes for Wonder Woman that kinda took away from it, plus it seemed to just put you in the middle of something.

    And yeah, it was a shame about Batwoman but at least it wasn't sexualised like some things, and it was treated as if it's normal. I suppose with Kate's military background it is, but even Flamebird seemed to not mind which struck me as odd.