DC Relaunch Snap Judgments, Week 2: The Joker In Lingerie And Alien Cats Vomiting Blood

We're into the second week of the DC relaunch! In these offerings, the DC Universe's supporting cast won the day.

Let's tier these suckers - comics will be judged on quality, overall accessibility, and whether or not I fell asleep midway through reading.

Upper Tier
We really dug Jeff Lemire's first issue of Animal Man, and Lemire spins more magic with Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. This issue is unadulterated high concept weirdness — Frankenstein is a priggish secret agent with an elementary-schooler boss who lives in a three-inch-tall flying globe — but it's all so breezy. This is the kind of comic where Frankenstein screams at a schoolgirl about his marital problems with Ms. Frankenstein. Give this man a raise!

As evinced by Wisdom and Captain Britain and MI:13, Paul Cornell can do ensemble books. He's in his element with Demon Knights, a comic about DC's fantasy characters teaming up like a Dungeons and Dragons party. Among the cast are Etrigan, Madam Xanadu, Shining Knight, and Vandal Savage (who waxes medieval about his genitals). Jam-packed with dragons and varlets, Demon Knights is the kind of comic you read while listening to power metal.

In Red Lanterns, Peter Milligan takes Atrocitus, a blood-vomiting cosmic despot/nemesis of Green Lantern and spins him into a sympathetic anti-hero. Sure, he's the socipathic leader of an angry mob of cosmic rageaholics, but Atrocitus is also sane enough to realize that recruiting a bunch of extraterrestrial lunatics could backfire hard. Ed Benes artwork is a treat (and it reminds me of Despero's stage in that old-school Justice League Super Nintendo game). Also, Dex-Starr the blood-vomiting space cat has a big role! Everyone likes him!

Finally, J.H. Williams III's artwork on Batwoman is worth the price of admission. But this first issue doesn't occur in a vacuum — you'll want to read the Greg Rucka run on Detective Comics first.

Middle Tier
To be perfectly honest, I was sort of jaundiced against Suicide Squad coming into this. After all, this was the comic that replaced Gail Simone's Secret Six and gave Harley Quinn the outfit of a Juggalo burlesque dancer. But upon reading it, I was impressed with the accessibility of its premise and the ridiculously over-the-top cliffhanger. Also, King Shark is now a giant hammerhead! I can't be churlish about that. Not high art, but not bad whatsoever.

DC Relaunch Snap Judgments, Week 2: The Joker In Lingerie And Alien Cats Vomiting BloodS

Similarly, I thought Deathstroke was going to be an overweening celebration of Slade Wilson's badassitude. And while Deathstroke certainly is a taciturn killer with all the right moves, his employers think he's losing it as his twilight years approach. It's intriguing to see a Deathstroke with something to prove. Also, Slade's new Iron Man-style flip helmet is a dapper look.

After the movie, Green Lantern wisely places Sinestro at the forefront. The story picks up right after War of the Green Lanterns — the mauve-skinned former villain has been recruited back as a Green Lantern, and Hal Jordan's been kicked out of the Corps for insubordination. Doug Mahnke's art is durn purdy, and Geoff Johns writes a fine Sinestro. But the drama about an unemployed, depressed Hal Jordan unable to get a co-signer for his car loan is plum silly. And this is a comic about rainbow-powered space cops!

Mister Terrific and Resurrection Man were more good than bad. I really wanted to like the latter — and was rather fond of Fernando Dagnino's artwork — but I couldn't help but think that these two characters would be better served with limited series. Mister Terrific did a get a solid "this is why you should care" introduction, though. Similarly, Superboy and Batman and Robin were appealing and readable, but neither shattered expectations either.

Lower Tier
Legion Lost was a polychromatic problem. The first issue takes a sampling of characters from perhaps the most convoluted superhero team ever published and plops them into present day with nary a peep about why any of this matters. The candy-colored Legionnaires then spend the issue yelling over each other. As much fun as reading the interior of a melted bag of Jolly Ranchers.

Grifter might go somewhere in future issues, but it's coasting on the legacy of its lead character. As of now, it's a fairly generic espionage tale that incidentally has Daemonites running amok. Not painful, but I'm not sure it's going to pique anyone's interest, save Wildstorm die-hards.

Previously: DC Relaunch Snap Judgments, Week 1 – Blue Mohawks & Blue Jeans Superman