ComicsAlliance Reviews Every Comic in DC’s ‘New 52’: Week 1
The first major wave of new #1 DC Comics finally hit stores this week, following last week’s solo debut of Justice League. The biggest question for most fans facing racks and racks of new books is simple: Which ones should I try? The ComicsAlliance staff has gathered together to help answer that with a roundtable review of every relaunched DC book this week: Action Comics, Animal Man, Batgirl, Batwing, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove, Men of War, O.M.A.C, Justice League Unlimited, Men at War, O.M.A.C, Static Shock, Stormwatch and Swamp Thing. Join Curt Franklin, Caleb Goellner, Andy Khouri, Laura Hudson, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri as they rate each book on a scale of 1-10 and try to gauge the success of DC’s bold new experiment.
Curt: Animal Man had the best amount of new and old. I’ve really only read the collected Grant Morrison run, and I felt like this could be the issue that directly follows those. At the same time, everything felt perfectly introduced to somebody who’d never heard of the guy. I loved the opening interview page, with its meta aspect of having Lemire interview Animal Man, which I hope is just an Easter Egg and not some new Animal Man thing where he always interacts with his author. I’m interested to see more of the Red and more of his kid’s mullet. There was a big enough gap in relevant Animal Man stories that the mullet has come back around to being somewhat hip(ster) again. I should also mention the art, which balances the normal life and creepy dream world of the Red with aplomb. 10.
David: For me, it was the knockout win of the reboot. I expected a good comic, but what I got was EXCELLENT. It felt like Lemire was trying to hit that proto-Vertigo early-’90s mature-readers-DC-Comic vibe, and I thought he nailed it. The art was fantastic, with Travel Foreman on point and Lovern Kindzierski giving it a really impressive color palette, especially in the Red scenes. It had the most impressive last page of all the New 52 books I’ve read so far, truly creepy without relying on cheap shock value, unlikeDetective Comics. Lemire’s understanding of Buddy is truly impressive — the point I realized I knew I loved this comic was in the opening-page interview when he pointed out he’d never crack down on bootleg T-shirts using his visage because he was a punk as a teenager and into the DIY aesthetic. This one was a 9.5, really, really impressive stuff.
Caleb: I’m a big Lemire fan and he didn’t disappoint here. The book feels far more like a Vertigo title than the rest of what I’ve seen from the DC reboot so far (even Swamp Thing), which sets up a nice corner for weirdness in the “New 52.” I give it a 9.
Laura: I was surprised by the joy of it. I am not a fan of the grim ‘n gritty aesthetic DC has been editorially in love with for some time, not only because it is more often simply violence for its own sake and a 12-year-old’s idea of “maturity” without any sophistication, but most of all because after a while it gets really tedious and it is not any fun at all. This comic made being a superhero look AWESOME and really fun while still maintaining a genuinely mature appeal. He has a loving family that accepts him as a superhero, the police embrace him rather than hunting him, but he still faces challenges and dangers. And by the end of the book, some seriously creepy stuff. Number 9.
Andy: I was expecting to like Animal Man and I very much did. I think Lemire and Foreman establish a very distinctive, leisurely pace and tone in the first issue, one that definitely has more in common with old school Vertigo books (interesting that DC is going back to the early ’90s well for superheroes and Vertigo stuff). The Lovern Kindzierski colors are essential to creating that creepy feeling. The Believer interview conducted by Lemire was both an effective means of characterization and a cute reference to Morrison’s interactions with Buddy in his seminal Animal Man work. 8.
Chris: I’m pretty sure this is the first thing I’ve read by Lemire, but it’s pretty impressive. It’s got a compelling story that plays with super-powers in a cool way, and it makes for a very interesting take on super-hero horror. Setting things up with the “interview” on page one was an interesting device for getting everyone up to speed on the character, but I’m wondering how many new readers are going to be turned off when they open up a comic and see a big ol’ page full of text. Still, it works, and it works pretty well. Travel Foreman’s art feels a little off in some places — it’s got that ol’ Vertigo sketchiness that Foreman’s downplayed in other stuff, like Immortal Iron Fist — but there are some great facial expressions and storytelling here too. Check out Buddy’s eye-roll when he’s being examined by the doctor. That is a dude who could not be less bothered by the fact that he was bleeding from his eyes ten minutes ago. It’s definitely a standout. I’d give it an 8.
David: I just really, really hope that Lemire doesn’t fridge Ellen, as was predicted in the Red dream sequence. But I have enough faith in Lemire’s storytelling ability not to go over the exact same ground Morrison did in his run.
Laura: DEAR JEFF LEMIRE PLEASE DON’T FRIDGE ELLEN. Sometimes it’s ok for superheroes to have nice things.
Average rating for Animal Man #1: 9
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