I have spent some time with DC’s New 52… specifically, Action Comics, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, and Suicide Squad.
I am impressed.
I’ll go in order of impressedness.
Suicide Squad is a reboot of one of my favorite books from the 90’s. John Ostrander put together a great concept: Batman captures Blockbuster, Flash captures Captain Cold, Firestorm captures Killer Frost and they all go off to jail, right? Well, imagine a government Task Force that says “you know, we could use these guys…” and they plant tiny bombs in the carotid artery and tell the bad guys “Do this mission, and we’ll knock 30 years off of your life sentence and remove that bomb. If you run away, we’ll blow up the bomb. If you fail, you die. Your other option is sitting there on that bunk for the rest of your life.”
Most bad guys shrug and say “what the heck? It’s something to do.”
Sometimes they die on the mission (and, let’s face it, the government doesn’t much care). Sometimes they survive the mission and go back to their old books to fight against Batman or Flash or Firestorm or whomever. Sometimes they stick around (Captain Boomerang, for example, stuck around).
The book was grittier than most DC books at the time (but nowhere *NEAR* some of the stuff you see done today). The majority of the violence was done off-panel or, worse, through monologue.
The team was run by Amanda Waller and she had her team do a lot of bad stuff that needed doing. Amanda Waller and her team is back. Deadshot is on it (of course he’s on it… he’s the best part of the team!) and it looks like they’re going to have a rotating team of baddies and Harley Quinn is front and center. Ostrander isn’t writing it and I’m tempted to say that it shows… but they’re only one issue in. They had to spend more time on backstory than they spent on really get us going. I’m only tentatively recommending this one because of the level of violence and because I don’t know how good it’s going to be if Ostrander isn’t writing it.
The next book is Detective Comics. Batman and the Joker in the Eternal Dance. If this book was disappointing it’s that it started in the middle of the story being told rather than merely in medias res. This book felt the least “just pick it up here and run with it” friendly. Other than that: It’s Batman. It’s the Joker. They’re dancing together again because you demanded it. Tentatively recommended… it doesn’t feel like a good place to get back into the story.
The next book (which surprised me how much I liked it) was Green Lantern. This one begins at the tail end of the Ring Wars and they show Sinestro wearing a Green Lantern ring again and taking The Oath under duress under the watchful eye of The Guardians. Apparently, a Green Lantern died and its ring choose the closest candidate that would make an exemplary Green Lantern. Sinestro was that candidate. When Sinestro snarls and asks “Do you really expect me to follow you again?”, the guardians reply “We expect you to protect your sector. You are free to go.”
Sinestro then thinks about it… and he picks up his lantern, raises his ring, and flies off to have a conversation with Hal (who, for a handful of reasons, doesn’t have a ring at his disposal at this moment in time). It may sound like there was a lot of backstory behind this issue, but they do some *SERIOUS* handwaving. If you liked the movie, now is a *GREAT* time to jump into this book.
The book that surprised me most of all is Action Comics. They’ve rebooted this one *HARD*. It feels like they’ve rebooted this one somewhere between Superboy and Superman. Supes doesn’t yet know how to fly, he’s wearing jeans and workboots rather than the Big Blue costume we have memorized in our hearts, and he seems to be a little more hardcore… he dangles a mob boss off of a balcony, for example. We also get the pleasure of meeting Clark Kent who is a young kid living in the seedy part of town and who is behind on his rent (but the landlady likes him because, of course, he’s such a nice young man). We also meet Lex Luthor who gives a small speech about Brown Tree Snakes and Cane Toads as an introduction as to why he wants to stop Superman.
Oh, and there’s a runaway subway train with Lois and Jimmy on it.
And that’s just the first issue. I’m hooked and I’m surprised by that.
You should go to your local Comic Book Shoppe and pick up a copy of Green Lantern and Action Comics at the very least. (Tell the guy behind the counter that they’re for your kids.) Maybe pick up Suicide Squad and Detective Comics for yourself while you’re there. I suspect that you’ll be as surprised by Green Lantern and Action Comics as I was.
So that’s my recommendation for you this week.