September is upon us, which means it’s been a year since DC launched their New 52 universe. Many of the initial New 52 titles were a bit shaky in terms of quality, but there were also a handful of real gems, some of which (Batman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man) have managed to string together a solid year of awesomeness. Others, not so much.
The following are the New 52 titles that seemed full of potential a year ago, but have since lost their way…
Listen, I wasn’t entirely blown away by Justice League #1, but come on — it’s Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, DC’s most prominent writer and artist, working on the company’s flagship series! It was going to shape up into something good. It had to!
But it hasn’t. A year later the team still doesn’t really feel like a team — the series is still all about superhero sniping and dick measuring (Wonder Woman included). There have been villains for them to face (I guess) but they haven’t been particularly compelling or challenging, because that’s not the focus of the book. The superheroic soap opera stuff is.
Worst, for the supposed DC flagship title, this book just doesn’t feel like it’s essential for understanding the new DC universe in any way. In fact, most of the characterizations of our heroes don’t really line up with what’s happening in their solo books at all. Justice League isn’t terrible — Johns and Lee are too good for it to be outright bad — it’s just pointless.
Frankenstein was my favorite part of Grant Morrison’s 7 Soldiers project, so I was hyped to see him get his own ongoing title. Written by Jeff Lemire, the super talented guy behind Sweet Tooth no less!
Sadly Jeff Lemire is a busy guy these days, and it seems like writing Frankenstein was on the bottom of his “to-do” list. There’s just nothing to this series. There are a lot of high-concept ideas thrown around, but they don’t really amount to much — most of the stories just boil down to Frankenstein chopping up monsters with his sword. The end. There’s very little in the way of character development, and what is attempted isn’t particularly compelling.
Basically this book is just “BRPD except bland”. Too bad.
Oh man, Action Comics — this one hurts. All-Star Superman is one of my favorite series of all time, and the first issue of Action seemed incredibly promising. Superman bounding about in rolled-up jeans being a defender of the little man. Yeah!
Then it went and got all Morrison-ey (in a bad way). Things got muddled, wacky, confusing and just kind of sputtered out. I’ve loved a lot of Grant Morrison comics, I’ve hated a few, but this is the first time Morrison has just kind of bored me. I’m thinking editorial interference may be to blame, but who knows. Also Rags Morales’ art has gone from “not my style, but good” to “f–king rough” over the course of the series.
Don’t get me wrong, J.H. Williams III is still the best artist in the industry. His issues of Batwoman have been absolutely gorgeous. That said, this guy should not be let anywhere near a word processor.
In terms of story, Batwoman is an absolute mess. The grounded, affectionate, character driven writing of the much-loved Greg Rucka/J.H. Williams Detective Comics Batwoman run are long gone, replaced with a ridiculous, crass, violent story about Batwoman fighting a magical cult of child murderers. Or something. Wedged in amongst the silliness are attempts at Rucka-style character development, which mostly comes off as dreary melodrama.
I should not be contemplating dropping a book with such a high concentration of hot lesbian bat-nipples. Please DC, get J.H. Williams a new writer.
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