Everything You Need to Know About the DC Relaunch: Part 1

Batman

A few weeks ago DC shocked the comic book world with possibly their biggest announcement since 1986. Come the last week of August, almost every single one of their titles will end. They’ll be replaced with a wave of 52 first issues set in a new, post-Flashpoint world. Since that announcement, DC’s slowly been revealing what those 52 titles will consist of. As of last Friday, we got the complete list, so we here at Nerdy Nothings thought we’d put all of them in one place for your convenience.

Besides cover art, creator credits and solicitation text for the 52 #1s, we’ve provided commentary on all the new releases to give you some idea of what you, as a potential reader of each series, might be getting into. We’ve helpfully ranked each release on a 4-point scale (MUST BUY / PROMISING / PROCEED WITH CAUTION / SKIP IT) to provide an early critical barometer. Besides myself and Spaceman Spiff, we’ve got a few guest writers to share their thoughts — Nerdy Nothings podcast co-host and video game blogger Davin Loh, plus podcast guest/friend of the site/comic blogger/DC expert Tom Foss. Each one of us contributed opinions when we had them, leaving no stone unturned and no book uncriticized! For reasons of length/sanity, we’ve broken this up into two posts. Post 1 contains all the info on the rebooted Superman, Batman and Green Lantern families of books, while Post 2 has everything else.

What do you think of the relaunch? Any certain titles you can’t wait for? Any books you’re loathing? Let us know whether you agree/disagree with us in the comments, and keep watching this site throughout the summer and into the fall for coverage of DC’s daring “Flashboot.”

(All text in quotes taken from DC’s Source Blog for promotional purposes)

SUPERMAN

Action Comics (W: Grant Morrison, A: Rags Morales): “A new era of DC Comics begins as the longest-running monthly comic of all time releases its first issue #1 since 1938. This momentous first issue will set in motion the history of the DC Universe as Superman defends a world that doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.”

Tom: Generally, if people know anything about me, they know that I’m a huge Superman fan. I almost feel like I should sit these reviews out, because I will absolutely be buying every title in the Superman family. That being said, I really do like reading good Superman comics, so when the Morrison confirmation and that Rags Morales promo image were revealed, it was kind of like being wrapped in a warm, soothing, indestructible Kryptonian blanket. Grant Morrison has told the single best Superman story in recent memory, and possibly in ever, and Rags Morales is no slouch as an artist. I’m interested to see how this “Superman as the first superhero in a world that doesn’t trust him” jives with the rest of the new DCU, but I have almost no doubt that Morrison will make this the Superman book, and possibly the DC book, to read. MUST BUY.

Rikki: I really dislike the phrase in the Action write-up about the world “distrusting their first superhero.” But All-Star Superman ought to have bought Grant Morrison a lifetime of goodwill when it comes to the Man of Steel. He has my trust. MUST BUY.

Tom: I think it’s natural to distrust anyone with that much power, and it really looks like this is going to be an “early days of Superman/the DCU” book. Looks like Superman’s being restored to his status as DC’s first hero, inspiring the others. That’s bad for the JSA, but might be good for Superman’s status in the universe.

Rikki: What JSA? If you look at the solicits, I don’t think you can find a single Golden Age character. My guess: DC’s setting them up on an alternate reality again. We’re gonna get some Crisis on Multiple Earths action.

Tom: That’s what I meant. If Superman’s the first hero and still active, then there’s no legacy.

Spaceman Spiff: They had me at “Grant…” MUST BUY.

Superboy (W: Scott Lobdell, A: R.B. Silva & Rob Lean): “They thought he was just a failed experiment, grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA. But when the scope of his stunning powers was revealed, he became a deadly weapon.”

Tom: R.B. Silva did the art for the Jimmy Olsen Special, but I’m not really familiar with Lobdell or Lean’s work. The solicit, where Superboy is described as “a deadly weapon,” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence, and with the status quo and Lobdell writing, it looks like it’ll have strong ties to Teen Titans. I’ll be giving this one a shot, but it’s definitely the least exciting of the four Superman family books. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Davin: Personally, though I thought Superboy was in dire need of an actual costume, this is not what I had in mind. I’m giving this title the benefit of the doubt only because, like Dick Grayson, I love me some Superboy.

Rikki: Scott Lobdell’s writing three books in total for DC, which makes his output equal to that of Geoff Johns’. I too dislike the “deadly weapon” phrasing, and his costume is horrendous. I hope you guys enjoy this book, but I am staying far, far away. SKIP IT.

Tom: Based on the Teen Titans solicit, it seems like that (the tank top with the taped-on S-shield) is his actual costume, and this is some kind of cloning suit. I’m frankly not sure which is worse, but maybe this’ll tap into the Tron market.

Supergirl (W: Michael Green & Mike Johnson, A: Mahmud Asrar): “Supergirl’s got the unpredictable behavior of a teenager, the same powers as Superman and none of his affection for the people of Earth.”

Tom: Green and Johnson are coming off of Smallville, and were responsible for the absolutely horrid Superman/Batman issue where Jor-El met Thomas Wayne, so I come to this announcement with a good deal of negativity. The basic concept, with Supergirl as a fish-out-of-water alien recently arrived on Earth, is one that has been toyed with ever since Loeb reintroduced the character, and nicely sets her apart from the other members of the Superman family. Unfortunately, the solicit also ends with the phrase “So don’t piss her off!” which suggests exactly the wrong kind of tone for a Superman family book that, ideally, should be appropriate reading for a young girl. I’m going to hope that it’s just a really poorly written solicit and, based on the pretty art and the writers’ Smallville pedigree (which, like it or not, was probably most teenagers’ window into the DCU for the past ten years) give this a PROMISING.

Rikki: I really don’t get where you’re coming from with the Green/Johnson hate; I think they had the strongest run on Superman/Batman of any creators. That alone makes me think this series is PROMISING.

Tom: I liked “The Search for Kryptonite,” but the Wayne/El meeting was one of the worst ideas I’ve ever seen. It even ended with the characters more or less saying “yeah, that’s totally canon now. Eat it.”

Superman (A: George Perez, W: Jesus Merino): “What is Superman’s startling new status quo? How does it affect his friends, loved ones and his job at The Daily Planet?”

Tom: Contrasting this solicit, where Superman and the Daily Planet have a “new status quo,” makes it sound like Action is going to be a flashback, while Superman is the main-continuity series. I’m not thrilled with the armor-looking costume; the last thing Superman needs is armor, the next-to-last is drawing random lines all over his iconic costume, but these sorts of changes always revert eventually. Merino is an excellent artist, but I don’t think Pérez has written a comic since the ‘90s, and his last major work as writer (a long run on Wonder Woman post-Crisis) has turned out to be rather controversial among Wonder Woman fans. On the other hand, Superman has rarely been better than he was from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s, and I would have no problem with a return to some of those sensibilities. So I’m calling this PROMISING.

Rikki: I really hate that costume, and I’m not really a fan of DC channeling decades-old talent just because they’re big names. Is that what’s happening here? I don’t know, but Perez’s name doesn’t really inspire me, and I think Merino’s merely alright as an artist. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

BATMAN

Batgirl (W: Gail Simone, A: Adrian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes): “Batgirl’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as dark secrets from her past.”

Tom: With any other writer, I’d rate this SKIP IT. People may be happy for Barbara Gordon to be back in the tights, but it bothers me that DC would take their most prominent disabled character and make her one of two red-headed women in Bat-themed costumes, and the one with the more diminutive name to boot. But Simone has told Barbara’s story for the last several years now, and clearly both knows and cares about the character. Under her guidance, I have hope that this book would stake out unique territory among the Bat-books and justify decreasing diversity in the DCU, but I’d still say PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Davin: Here’s the thing: Babs overcame great personal tragedy to become the most powerful information broker in the DCU, one whose importance cannot be over-stated. That tragedy also served to make her a much stronger and interesting character. Besides, Cassandra Cain was and still is my favorite Batgirl. Still, with Gail Simone in the driver’s seat, I’ll give this title a chance, because, unlike Tom, I have no quota on beautiful ass-kicking redheads. PROMISING.

Rikki: I’m not as tied into the character as you guys are, but I totally see what you’re saying about the de-diversifying. If anyone but Simone were writing it, it’d be a joke. Can Gail salvage the title? I’m betting no, but it’s not a firm bet. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Batman (W: Scott Snyder, A: Greg Capullo): “Bruce Wayne once again becomes the only character taking on the Batman name.”

Rikki: I trust Scott Snyder. I have to; he’s writing my boy Swamp Thing now. Curiously, I was on the fence about buying this title until I read that. Now I know it’s my destiny to support Snyder no matter what he does. I don’t know if I like Greg Capullo’s art or not, but I’m going to find out. Tell ya what, though: putting Professor Pyg on the cover to #1 has totally sweetened the deal for me. PROMISING.

Tom: I don’t think I’ve even heard of Greg Capullo since he took over art duties on Spawn back in…what, 1994? I suppose you get pretty desperate when half your artists are working as writers. It’s possible that he’s amazing, I just haven’t seen his work for fifteen years. Snyder, on the other hand, has been knocking it out of the park on Detective, and I’ll read any Batman story he wants to tell. MUST BUY.

Spaceman Spiff: I always enjoyed Greg Capullo back when I was reading Spawn in my youth and Scott Snyder has been enjoyable on Detective Comics. I’d be curious enough to pick up this book. PROMISING.

Batman & Robin (W: Peter Tomasi, A: Pat Gleason): “Bruce Wayne battles the Gotham underworld with the help of his son, Damian, in the role of Robin.”

Davin: Tomasi and Gleason’s three issue run may have been brief, but it was one of the better post-Morrison B&R story arcs (right, Eric?). I’m disappointed that Dick isn’t staying on as Batman, as that was one of the big draws originally to this book for me, but hopefully, a true father and son Dynamic Duo will prove just as fertile for great storytelling. Plus, Damien Wayne may be a little bastard, but damn if he isn’t the best Robin we’ve seen in years. Until he gets his own solo book, I’ll be getting my monthly spawn of Satan fix from B&R. PROMISING.

Spaceman Spiff: On the one hand, Damien is my favorite Robin… on the other hand, this team hasn’t done a whole lot for me on the current Batman & Robin series. Since this is the only series where one could get some Damien Wayne action, I wish Tomasi would focus more on Batman and Robin than their antagonists, like the most recent issue that centered more on Jason Todd. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Tom: The solicit mentions Batman, Incorporated, so I guess that all still exists? The Batman books may end up being the most confusing out of this bunch, but I like both Tomasi and Gleason well enough to give this a shot. PROMISING.

Batman: The Dark Knight (W: David Finch, A: David Finch & Jay Fabok): “A twisted adventure that pulls Bruce Wayne deep into the halls of the famed Arkham Asylum, a jail for Gotham City’s most dangerous and criminally deranged.”

Spaceman Spiff: Three issues—maybe—and already this series gets a new #1? Seriously, what a joke. It’s not like the two issues that have come out have been anything spectacular either. It reminds me of the early Image Comics debate on art versus writing; it seems that David Finch is firmly entrenched in the “art” camp. SKIP IT.

Rikki: For real. To be worth restarting, the first issues of Dark Knight would have needed to be fantastic, and they were merely average. SKIP IT.

Tom: Agreed on all counts. SKIP IT.

Batwing: The Batman of Africa (W: Judd Winick, A: Ben Oliver): “The first black character to wear the Batman mantle will be the first to star in his own ongoing series.”

Rikki: Giving it to a white guy, DC? Weak. SKIP IT.

Tom: The snarkiest, most cynical part of me thinks that this is an avenue for Judd Winick to do what became the running gag of his career in the ‘00s: tell stories about AIDS. The realistic prediction is that this will be Judd Winick telling somewhat melodramatic message/issue stories with a Batman avatar. I want to support DC’s attempt to increase diversity and tell stories outside of the United States (even if they implicitly treat Africa as if it’s a country rather than a continent), and Judd Winick’s best DC work was on Batman, so I’m giving this a PROCEED WITH CAUTION…but only barely.

Rikki: My brain definitely went to AIDS… thanks for being the one who said it.

Batwoman (W: J.H. Williams III & Haden Blackman, A: J.H. Williams III & Amy Reeder): “The highly-anticipated new series.”

Rikki: How long have we been waiting for this issue now? Since November, right? Man, I hope it was worth the wait. When you put J.H. Williams’ name on a book, though, you have to at least look at it, and his run with Greg Rucka on Detective (plus a very promising issue #0) tell me this is gonna be good. MUST BUY.

Tom: I’m just happy to see this finally getting published. MUST BUY.

Catwoman (W: Judd Winick, A: Guillem March): “Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good.”

Tom: I want to be excited for this book. Catwoman’s last title was consistently great, and really set up Selina as a nuanced, complex, strong character. And after Justice League: Generation Lost, I’m ready to like Judd Winick again. But that solicitation text? She’s “addicted to Batman”? Two steps backward, DC. SKIP IT.

Detective Comics (W/A: Tony Daniel): “DC Comics’ flagship title is relaunched for the first time ever, marking the first time Batman will appear in a debut issue of Detective Comics. The series will find Bruce Wayne on the trail of a dangerous serial killer known only as the Gotham Ripper.”

Spaceman Spiff: I loved Tony Daniel’s art when he was working with Grant Morrison on Batman, but his writing has left very much to be desired. Battle For the Cowl came off as something of a joke—a pointless one too—and while his writing has improved in the last year or so this will not be a title I’ll be picking up at my shop. SKIP IT.

Rikki: Totally agree, Spaceman. Battle for the Cowl was the most perfunctory miniseries ever. It got us from point A to point B with as little interesting material as possible. Renumbering this classic title is an insult; giving it to Tony Daniel makes it worse. SKIP IT.

Tom: I can’t say I’ve actually read a Tony Daniel book since he was illustrating Morrison’s stories, and his art does nothing for me. I have zero interest in this, and look forward to its renumbering in April, 2013. SKIP IT.

Nightwing (W: Kyle Higgins, A: Eddy Barrows): “After a tenure as the Batman of Gotham, Dick Grayson resumes his mantle as Nightwing! As Dick embraces his identity, Haley’s Circus, the big top where he once performed with his family, returns to Gotham – bringing with it a history of murder, mystery and superhuman evil. Nightwing must confront friends and enemies from his past as he searches for the source of an even greater evil.”

Rikki: Don’t love the new costume or the fact that Dick has regressed (I’m sure Batman, Inc. #10 will explain why). I don’t really care for Eddy Barrows either. Gates of Gotham’s Kyle Higgins, though, can turn in a really sharp story — but will it be enough? PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Tom: I haven’t read the first Gates of Gotham issue yet, so Kyle Higgins is an unknown quantity to me. Dick’s return to Nightwing status–and wearing what appears to be Chris O’Donnell’s costume from Batman Forever (sans nipples)–seems like a major step backward for the character. Over and over in these solicits, it seems like DC’s idea of fresh and new is to go back to the way things were ten to twenty years ago. That plus my dislike of Eddy Barrows’ art makes this a firm SKIP IT.

Davin: Is it just me, or does it feel like DC doesn’t know what to do with Dick Grayson? He finally proves himself to be every bit as good a Batman as Bruce Wayne, then he’s demoted back to Nightwing, in what can only be described as the evil version of his kick ass costume. Unless a miracle happens and the writing is amazing, my love affair with the first Boy Wonder may finally be over. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

GREEN LANTERN

Green Lantern (W: Geoff Johns, A: Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy): ” Change is coming. But set aside your fear. It’ll be worth the wait.”

Rikki: I thought I was done with Green Lantern when the “War” storyline started, but you can’t deny that Johns and Mahnke have done some amazing work with this character. It’s worth buying a story arc, at least. PROMISING.

Tom: The solicit teases “an unexpected new Lantern,” and in fact doesn’t mention whether or not Hal will be Earth’s main GL. I suspect he probably will be, but despite my disinterest in Johns’ Green Lantern lately, I’m interested to check this out. And as Eric said, Doug Mahnke’s art is always worth a look. PROMISING.

Green Lantern Corps (W: Peter Tomasi, A: Fernando Pasarin & Scott Hanna): “When deadly conflicts emerge across the universe, it’s up to Guy Gardner, John Stewart and an elite Green Lantern strike force to keep the peace.”

Tom: Tomasi’s long run on Green Lantern Corps was quite good, and a book starring Guy Gardner and John Stewart makes this the only Green Lantern family title I’m excited about. PROMISING.

Green Lantern: The New Guardians (W: Tony Bedard, A: Tyler Kirkham & Batt): “Who are The New Guardians? The power of Rage, Avarice, Fear, Will, Hope, Compassion and Love combine to be the most powerful (and colorful) team in the corps under the leadership of Kyle Rayner. Beware their power . . . and their volatility!”

Rikki: I absolutely love this concept; it’s what I wished Johns’ Green Lantern had become post-Blackest Night. What I don’t love is the creative team behind it. Kirkham sports that Top Cow style I just don’t dig, while Tony Bedard was part of the awful Kountdown Krew (spelled with Ks to emphasize their awfulness). I really want this book to be good, but I can’t imagine it will be. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Tom: The only thing that makes me consider this title is Kyle Rayner’s presence, but the rest of the Rainbow Coalantern doesn’t entice me. Bedard’s work on Green Lantern Corps and Birds of Prey was competent enough, but doesn’t stand out in any way. I suspect that this will be a completely unassuming, middle-of-the-road book. That also makes it completely inconsequential. SKIP IT.

Rikki: Says the guy who got on me for calling Legion Lost “inconsequential”…

Tom: Fair enough, it was a bad choice of words. In terms of “mattering,” the Green Lantern book with all of Johns’ colorful new Lantern toys is sure to have some consequence. I just mean I expect this book to be one of those comics you kind of forget about once it’s closed, not a genre-defying Eisner-nominated hit.

Red Lanterns (W: Peter Milligan, A: Ed Benes & Rob Hunter): “Going solo. Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps return in their own series, battling against injustice in the most bloody ways imaginable. This Lantern Corps takes no prisoners, they are judge, jury and executioners!”

Rikki: This is a great idea for a book, and I’m glad to see DC expanding their Lantern universe by focusing on the other Corps. I don’t know if I’m totally sold on Milligan or Ed Benes, but I think this is good enough to check out. PROMISING.

Tom: The Red Lanterns represent to me some of the worst of Geoff Johns’ excesses, and I simply cannot imagine reading about them month to month. I don’t think I’ve read a Milligan book I liked since X-Statix, and even that lost me well before the end. At least the aliens who’ll populate this book will make it hard for Ed Benes to draw everyone the same. SKIP IT.

tags: batman, dc comics, DC Relaunch, green lantern, superman

  • TWH

    Great read guys. I’ve been waiting for that damn Batwoman book for what seems like FOREVER!

    -travis

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