In this week's offerings from DC, the clear winners were two of the Big Three. And on an unrelated note, Catwoman's rack.
Let's tier these suckers - comics will be judged on quality, overall accessibility, and whether or not I fell asleep midway through reading. Some spoilers ahead.
Wonder Woman has had a convoluted history as of late, Heck, she received a new
origin story last year. But writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang (who once drew the best Elseworlds doodle of Wonder Woman) smartly pare her down to the basics. In the new Wonder Woman, the reader can know bupkis about the her and still enjoy how she's a no-nonsense ass-kicker who wrangles with centaurs. Azzarello also plays up how monstrous creatures of Greek myth would appear in modern life. This book is weird and worth your while. We'll be talking to WW's creative team later today, so stay tuned.
Similarly, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman hits all the right notes. We begin with a brawl at Arkham, some mid-issue exposition explaining Batman's status quo, and a creepy ending that eschews the traditional "VOILA HERE'S A NEW UNSTOPPABLE FOE WHO'LL WHOOP BATMAN'S ASS" trap. Snyder's Batman is a hyper-efficient detective who's so good the cops trust him — his friendship with the slovenly Harvey Bullock was just gravy. I enjoyed the living hell out of this.
I also dug DC Universe Presents. This book was a primer on the vicissitudes of Deadman's existence as a friendly ghost, and it made me eager to read more about his body-hopping adventures.
Green Lantern Corps made a storied ensemble book accessible and intimate by focusing on the likable leads of Guy Gardner and John Stewart. Fernando Pasarin's cosmic art was snazzy — it'll make you shed a single tear for some poor dead walrus aliens.
Nightwing and Supergirl were exceedingly sufficient first issues. Both did exactly what they said on the tin, no frills, bells, or whistles — if you had no idea who these characters were then, you have an iota of comprehension now. Nightwing was the stronger of the two, what with its fleshed-out characterization of Dick Grayson and dynamic art by Eddy Barrows.
Similarly, the quirky series Captain Atom or Blue Beetle did some things right. The former had Captain Atom sidekicking for a character who's an analogue of Stephen Hawking. The latter was a reboot of a character who debuted five years ago. On the plus side, Blue Beetle did mention that Monsieur Mallah is back from the dead. Can't be a grump on the promise of a lovelorn Francophone gorilla with a gun, no sir.
The Legion of Superheroes has one of the most tortuous histories of all the DC properties, so why are the new Legion books so impenetrable? Well, that's not entirely true. Unlike last week's Legion Lost, Legion of Superheroes at least hands you the main players' names. Ultimately, the plot's so concave that it doesn't give the uninitiated any reason to care. (Conversely, Green Lantern Corps was a case study on how to do a cosmic cast of thousands right.)
Birds of Prey trudges along as if it was greenlit simply to have a comic named "Birds of Prey" on the stands. When Gotham's femme fatales are somehow making you drowsy, something's wrong.
This week, I am instituting the separate subheader for two comics whose aesthetic aspirations are on par with the Sears catalog. In short, these are rather silly comics that you do not read on Read Comics In Public Day.
Last week, the internet lost its collective mind over Suicide Squad, a book that wasn't poetry but did what it advertised. I can't even fathom the forthcoming reaction to the following two comics. Rather than add to the histrionics, I will impassively state what occurs in these books and allow you to decide if you are the target audience.
Let's start with Catwoman. When you open this book, you are greeted to Selina Kyle's undulating bosoms. After waggling in the breeze for a few pages, she goes to a Russian nightclub to rob gangsters or something. There, she whips out her bosoms again. At the end of the comic, Batman shows up. Catwoman and Batman abruptly have anonymous sex in their costumes — they don't know each other's secret identities now — in a position seemingly cribbed from the poster of Last Tango In Paris. The issue ends with a full-page illustration of Batman inside Catwoman. It is unclear if his utility belt comes equipped with Bat-Rubbers, ribbed for her Bat-Pleasure.
On to the continuity-laced Red Hood and The Outlaws. In this comic, Jason Todd, Arsenal, and Starfire are anti-heroes who lounge on beaches. Starfire — due to brainwashing or just sheer flightiness — has forgotten her time with the Teen Titans. 12 pages in, we learn that she is sleeping with Red Hood. 16 pages in, she propositions Arsenal for whoopie (aliens love casual sex, you see). 23 pages in, we see how the ferocity of Starfire and Arsenal's intercourse has trashed their hotel room. Also, Red Hood goes to Tibet, but that had doodlysquat to do with diddling. If your idea of an edgy reboot is witnessing the three main superheroes inches away from constructing an Eiffel Tower, this is your huckleberry.