DC Relaunch Snap Judgments, Week 4: Alien Burlesque and Angry Cowboys

It's the final week of the DC relaunch! What's in store for you? Reptiloid erotica, a groovy vampire book, and The Flash looking dapper. 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

The biggest surprise of the entire New 52 initiative was I, Vampire. Honestly, I had zero expectations for this, mostly due to its cover. Just look at that cover. It looks like something the dirtiest, oldest Vampire: The Masquerade player in the world would airbrush on his Ford E-Series. But no! Joshua Hale Fialkov weaves together a fascinating, wacky premise — the vampires are revolting because they're threatened by Superman and the Green Lanterns — and Andrea Sorrentino's artwork oscillates between grimy and ethereal. An enjoyable and promising introductory issue. I, Vampire has been out of the mainstream since the 1980s, so exposition is par for the course.

Francis Manapul's art makes The Flash. This is an accessible, charming superhero tale that does some cool things with panel layouts. Its tenor reminded me a lot of Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Even though some shadowy bad guys kick the bucket, this is DC's all-ages title.

DC Relaunch Snap Judgments, Week 4: Alien Burlesque and Angry CowboysS

It will be interesting to see how the gonzo and scattershot Justice League Dark all comes together, but Peter Milligan tosses enough weirdos — John Constantine, Zatanna, Shade The Changing Man, among other — at the wall to make the story stick. This is a comic in which a sirocco of rotting witches' teeth attacks Superman. Are you the target audience?

All-Star Western was about two things, primarily: Jonah Hex beating the hell out of the Gotham City underworld in the 1880s and Dr. Amadeus Arkham psychoanalyzing him. Arkham's diagnosis was a seamless way of introducing the scar-faced bounty hunter. Artist Moritat and colorist Gabirel Bautista makes this book smudged and sepia but remarkably clean.

Middle Tier

Superman was verbosely old-school, Aquaman was metatextually new-school. Neither was perfect, neither was offensive. We learned each hero's status quo via some handsome artwork and workaday crime-solving. Bread-and-butter superheroics.

Scott Lobdell pens Teen Titans, which ties in directly with Lobdell's script on Superboy. And like Superboy, this book does a fine job introducing the protagonists to the uninitiated, but it won't blow any minds to smithereens. (For the record, we only get a scant glimpse of the just-introduced gay team member Bunker.)

Similarly, Savage Hawkman and Fury of the Firestorm did exactly what they advertised. You painlessly learn who the protagonists and antagonists were, no fuss, no muss. I didn't find either particularly compelling, but your mileage concerning hawk-and-nuclear men may vary.

DC Relaunch Snap Judgments, Week 4: Alien Burlesque and Angry CowboysS

Lower Tier

Let's talk about Voodoo for a moment. It is not a good comic, but I really liked it. Why? It is like The Red Shoe Diaries of the DC relaunch. When you open this book, a reptilian signal clicks on in your brain that informs you, "Oh, now I understand. This is a comic about sweater puppets." Every panel of this books looks like a Duran Duran album cover. This comic could be framed and hung in a Japanese love motel. The premise is unapologetically Skinemax. An alien stripper (canon!) is telepathically stealing military secrets from horny soldiers using lapdances. Unlike the kerfuffle concerning Starfire — which concerned an otherwise likable character becoming a dead-eyed Real Doll — Voodoo is blatant in its boner-baiting. It is so supremely committed to its silliness that I have no choice but to applaud.

I really enjoyed Mike Costa's work on IDW's Cobra, but Blackhawks is too muddled and generic to be engaging. If you dig David Finch's artwork, pick up Batman: The Dark Knight. Otherwise, it's a middle-of-the-road Batman story that owes a debt to the Arkham Asylum video game. Green Lantern: The New Guardians was the weakest of the Lantern tie-ins, with a plot so threadbare — Kyle Rayner gets a bunch of rings, every other Corps loses their rings — it wasn't clear why readers should care.


So that wraps up io9's reviews of all 52 titles! Here are the recap from weeks 1, 2, and 3 of the New 52. We all learned some important lessons this September, like "Giving Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder steady paychecks are fantastic ideas" and "How not to write Tamaraneans." Here are the 10 comics I'm most psyched about reading next month.

1.) Animal Man
2.) Wonder Woman
3.) Batman
4.) Swamp Thing
5.) Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
6.) Action Comics
7.) I, Vampire
8.) Batwoman
9.) Demon Knights
10.) Justice League Dark. Or maybe Voodoo. That shit was hilarious.