Villain Month: Week 2 (DC) – Quick Reviews

Killer Frost Riddler

A continuing mixture of origin stories & stories about the bad guys meant to lead into  current storylines in and around “Forever Evil”.   At first I was thinking I liked the straight origins better, but it turns out I like both origins and current stories about the bad guys, it’s really how the combination of writing & art combine to entertain me, which I’m sure how it is with with everyone.

No changes to my pull list based on the stories from Week 2 .  My 2 favorites were the Killer Frost origin story by Sterling Gates and the Riddler story by Scott Snyder/Ray Fawkes.  It’s interesting that people’s tastes are so different.  Among the people I have talked to there is a mixture of some who like the same ones I do and people who hate the ones I like or love the ones I really didn’t care for.  All the more important for people to sample different comics, read different things and try them out for yourself.  You never know what you’re going to love!

I find that a lot of my opinions on these is colored by “meta issues”, such as how much I like/dislike a complete re-spin on a particular bad-guy, moreso than the actual execution (although a couple of the issues had problems in execution).

What I do like is that DC is shaking things up to the point that I see new readers loving stuff for the exact reasons I dislike it.  This is generally a good thing as there is one of me an a lot of potential new readers.  I don’t mind DC building a new audience at the expense of losing me as a reader on some books.  It’s good for the health of the company and the industry in the long term.

Let’s do a run-down of all 13 “Week 2″ books:

Black Manta #1 (aka Aquaman #23.1): 3D cover: 4.5/5     Story: 2.5/5
OK, Black Manta is driven by hating someone, we get it.  This story by Geoff Johns & Tony Bedard about displacing hatred of Aquaman to a new target was not that interesting.  Seemed to be a lot of “filler” in this issue, the story told here could have been done in 8 pages, tops.  Great cover, though.

Brainiac #1 (aka Superman #23.2): 3D cover: 3/5     Story: 3/5
Another Tony Bedard story that gives us an OK but nothing special re-working of Brainiac’s origin to bring it a bit more in line with the Coluans we see in the Legion of Super-Heroes, ties it in with Krypton, and tries to set up Brainiac as a really sinister force to be reckoned with for future storylines

Court of Owls #1 (aka Batman & Robin #23.2): 3D cover: 3/5     Story: 3/5
This really should have been Talon #11.1.  A well written story with nicely matched art that will resonate more with people who really like the Court of Owls introduced by Scott Snyder over in Batman.  I’ve never been a fan of them.  I just don’t buy the “secret society that’s been around for 100+ years & Batman just now noticed them”.  At best it makes the new 52 Batman kind of incompetent that they have been around under his nose for so long until they surfaced after he had been active for many years AND had actually looked for them.  That nursery rhyme about them that “all the children of Gotham learn” also sets my teeth on edge.   Gotham schoolchildren had more info on these guys than Batman.  All this said, if you like the Court of Owls you’ll probably like this issue a LOT more than I did.

Harley Quinn #1 (aka Detective Comics #23.2): 3D cover: 5/5     Story: 2/5
My favorite 3D cover of the week, but the story inside?  While I normally like Neil Googe’s art, it just didn’t feel like a good match to the story to me.  The tone of the story was too dark for his lighter style (kind of like how I love Humberto Ramos on Spider-Man, but didn’t like him at all on Wolverine).  I don’t mind the New52 version of Harley but felt this story had some bad pacing in re-counting her origin.  Too little time spent on her motivations for going wrong and too much time spent on cutesy scenes of her assembling her costume.

Killer Frost #1 (aka Justice League of America #7.2): 3D cover: 4/5     Story: 4.5/5
This was my favorite story of the week, great New 52 origin for Dr. Caitlin Snow aka Killer Frost by Sterling Gates.  Derlis Santacruz is a great new artist from Argentina, snapped up from the indie book Zoe: Out of time (reviewed here).  Art matched the tone of the story very nicely, good panel-to-panel storytelling and page layouts.

Lobo #1 (aka Justice League #23.2): 3D cover: 4/5     Story: 2/5
We get the Lobo we’re familiar with on the cover; the Main Man, bastich from Czarnia.  Inside we get the trimmed down “New 52 pretty boy” version of Lobo.  You’ll need to read the issue to see how the 2 versions are reconciled, suffice to say, I’m not sure they needed to redesign Lobo.  This new guy could have easily just been a completely new character, he does not need to co-opt the name of the space-dolphin lovin’ psycho we all know and love (or vice-versa).

Mongul #1 (aka Green Lantern #23.2): 3D cover: 3.5/5     Story: 4/5
Jim Starlin merges Mongul’s origin into the New 52 universe without reworking it so extensively that we’re left with a fundamentally different character.  Since Starlin co-created the character the things he changes around seem “right”, he knows what Mongul should feel like. We get the familiar elements, War World, the Black Mercy, etc.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing Mongul go up against the GL Corps if Starlin is on writing duty.

Mr. Freeze #1 (aka Batman: The Dark Knight#23.2): 3D cover: 2/5     Story: 2/5
I was at a disadvantage in reading this, apparently Mr. Freeze already got a new origin in the recent Batman Annual (which I did not read).  Events in that issue are referenced but not retold in much detail.  Bottom line, Freeze is mentally unbalanced, he freezes people.  Somehwere along the line he appears to have picked up the ability to freeze via touch, he does not use a gun any more.  Nobody appears to have told this to the cover artist who depicts him holding his familiar freeze gun.  This story is kind of just there, I didn’t get much out of it.  I’ll need to track down that Annual & see if what I’m looking for is detailed there.

Reverse Flash #1 (aka Flash #23.2): 3D cover: 2/5     Story: 2/5
Another character getting an almost complete overhaul in the New 52.  I’m kind of surprised that we’re getting a completely new/different Reverse Flash, given the key role the “real” Reverse Flash had in Flashpoint and the subsequent creation of the entire New 52 continuity.  This one hits one of my “bad guy hot buttons”, the needlessly related to the hero or one of his main suppoorting characters trope.  I also have a severe dislike for the new red/black costume.

Riddler #1 (aka Batman #23.2): 3D cover: 4/5     Story: 4.5/5
Not an origin, just a story about the Riddler, but extremely well done by Scott Snyder/Ray Fawkes.  I love that we’re back to actually using lots of riddles in a Riddler story, and they work themselves really nicely into the story, showing a lot of forward planning on Riddler’s part.  My #2 favorite Villain story for Week 2.

Solomon Grundy #1 (aka Earth 2 #15.2): 3D cover: 2/5     Story: 3/5
This one confused me…It’s Earth 2 but seemed to be making strong reference to “The Rot” from the recent Swamp Thing/Animal Man storylines…..  I suppose that concept transcends New52 Earth 1…..  This was my least favorite of the Matt Kindt issues so far.   A little background on Grundy, which was cool, but wow, lots-o-killin’ in this issue.  Very dark.

Trigon #1 (aka Teen Titans #23.1): 3D cover: 3/5     Story: 4/5
Suitably villain-ish.  Trigon comes off as much more of a bad-ass than he’s seemed to me in a while.  He was always a “big bad” in New Teen Titans back in the 80s/90s, but here you really get a feeling of some evil as he’s getting himself birthed into universe after universe.  Marv Wolfman really topped himself on this one!  This guy is a real multi-versal threat, some heroes are going to have their hands full taking on this guy.

Zod #1 (aka Action Comics #23.2): 3D cover: 2.5/5     Story: 2.5/5
There have been so many different takes on Zod that I have a really hard time with buying into any given version especially when it’s yet another that is fairly different from the 25 versions of the character I’ve seen before.  If I get invested in liking this take, how long until the character is completely revamped yet again?  That Ken Lashley’s art is just not my cup of tea didn’t help things either.  I know people who loved the art in this issue, so there’s nothing objectively wrong with it, it’s just that it subjectively hurt my eyes to look at it.  That’s on me.  In any event, I was not a fan of this issue.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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1 Response to Villain Month: Week 2 (DC) – Quick Reviews

  1. Andrew says:

    Oops. Despite my previous comment, I did get the Harley issue (regular cover) but I could not finish it yet. It was just depressing. I may buy another one but it will have to dazzle me. Follow me on Wednesday and just don’t buy what I do apparently.

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