And now our thoughts on the batch of DCnu comics (part two). Ed was waaaay more proactive about getting on top of his reading list this past week, so let's start off with his thoughts on Swamp Thing #1 (which chronicles Alec Holland's recovery from the nightmare of thinking he was ACTUALLY Swamp Thing), Animal Man #1 (where Buddy Baker struggles with how to be a hero and a family man, while finding out his daughter can do something mega-creepy), and Action Comics #1 (during which Superman gets chased by cops, forces a confession out of a crook, and generally kicks butt before being ingeniously handed his own butt by none other than Lex Luthor).
Ed's Thoughts ...
Alright. So I stopped by my local comic store and picked up three of the new re-launches. I probably wouldn't have picked up so many, but Challengers (best comic store in chicago, yeah?) offered a B1G1 offer with Justice League, so... free comics. Let's break it down:
The direction of these two books makes me wonder about the future of the Vertigo imprint, as both of them seem like they would fit in quite nicely there. The DC universe is getting more horror-driven, it seems. (Not "darker." Batman's been plenty fucking dark for awhile, and from what I've heard about Detective #1, it's only going to get worse. Ugh.)
Question: I'm unsure how Clark knew the train was in trouble? That link was not especially clear to me. Ah well.
Swamp Thing #1: I don't know much about Swamp Thing, either, but I think Scott Synder wraps everything together in a nice package here. When the story opens up, we learn everything we need to know about the character through a lovely conversation with Superman, and we get to see how he's physically struggling with the plant life that's clawing at him to return to being Swamp Thing ... or so we think!
I think it's such an amazing set-up to have a man conflicted about what he can do -- and having that man literally chased down by the forces of nature is just icing on the proverbial cake. Seriously, when I think about what makes comics have a grand scope, it's ideas like this, where one man can save the world, but he has no clue what his past is or what his abilities are, yet the world is LITERALLY calling out to him to do something, i.e., to let vegetation choke the planet. Talk about stakes! And just when he's about to give the world what he thinks it wants (his crazy plant-growing formula), boom, there's Swamp Thing to stop him. That's a hell of a story to start us off with!
I'm really excited to follow this, not just because the story is so well put-together, but because I care about Alec Holland as a person, and the artwork goes a long way towards grabbing my interest. The creation of the tornado that dismantles and reassembles a dead mastodon, plus the opening sequences where fish, birds, and bats are dying around Aquaman, Superman, and Batman -- that is amazing work by Yanick Paquette.
What also has me is the art. Check out those crazy wide panels, with lots of empty space and tans and beiges dominating the landscape, with Buddy's blue uniform popping off the page when it appears. So strange and otherworldly.
I'm not sure I know what the heck is happening in this comic, or what's up with this nightmare villain. But that doesn't bother me. I know what's in danger, and I'm hoping Buddy will figure out how to fight against his nemesis.
Action Comics #1: This was a fun, fun, economical comic. A lot of people accuse Morrison of being high-concept and confusing. Sometimes that caaaaan be true, depending on how much you enjoy the crazy things he does. But people also forget what a solid storyteller he is. In this short 22 pages, he introduces us to a new Superman, introduces the supporting cast, has Clark show up for a bit and then speeds into our villains' brains, one of whom (let's be real; we all knew it was gonna be Lex Luthor) has been working to undermine our hero the entire issue. But we don't realize how UNTIL THE ISSUE'S VERY LAST PAGE!
This Superman is a revamp of the Superman Siegel and Shuster created, with the irony of a god fighting for the common man stripped away. Which is good, because I believe the need to be ironic about Supes and what he can do and why he does it -- well, those are all the things that have hurt the character over the years. This guy is Clark in that he's a farmer's son; he wears a cape AND jeans. He's Superman because he's a badass -- that bit we get with Clark talking to his landlord proves how scary Superman is, going after seemingly every wrongdoer with the relish of an omnipotent being. What's a regular person supposed to do with a guy who peeks through walls to see if you're behaving? Sure, he's a champion of the people, but if you step outta line, angry Superman will hop into your apartment and kick the crap out of you.
This Golden Age version of Superman is one I've appreciated more on an intellectual level, though he makes an appearance in Mark Waid's Bithright every once in a while (three words: scary laser eyes). Superman's powers and what he does with them will clearly make this an action-packed book, one that showcases what this rougher version of the character is capable of. I dig that.
P.S.: I really had a hard time forging a connection of Morrison's here revolving around the train crash. I think Superman was supposed to think that the train tracks were faulty because the guy he forced to confess at the top of issue had paid for cheap labor to build them shoddily. And then it turned out that Lex had planted a bomb to blow the bridge? So Superman was both right and wrong about sensing danger. I dunno. Morrison doesn't always make small time jumps between panels work. And while Rags Morales is an amazing artist, I wonder if maybe he could have telegraphed this connection somehow?
POST-POST SCRIPT: Ed and I also read Batgirl #1 and were so turned off by its violence and the erasing of Barbara Gordon's disability, we found we didn't have much to say about it. We also read Stormwatch #1, but felt kinda eh about it. Certainly, I wouldn't not recommend it. I would simply say, know your The Authority, because it's hard to track the characters without knowing their old series.
Also, if they don't make Apollo and Midnighter a homosexual couple now that they're operating in a mainstream book, there will be angry letters written by myself to DC Comics.