Friday, September 30, 2011

The DC New 52 Wrap-up

All 52 titles have been released, and the DC relaunch appears to be a huge succes, for the first month, anyway. Every single one of the new 52 sold out at the distributor level before they even went on sale each week, and some books have had to have third, or even fourth, printings. Hopefully, things won't drop off too badly in the months to come. For now, the DC relaunch looks to be one of the very best things to happen to the comics industry in quite some time.

I'll leave analysis of the sales figures and such to people who are more qualified. For my part, I've enjoyed reading so many new seires, and seeing all the discussion and enthusiasm (well, for the most part) from so many people, including a bunch who are altogether new to comics. After reading and reviewing all 52 new series, here's how they break down for me:

Love 'em! 
All-Star Western
Action Comics
Wonder Woman
Swamp Thing
Animal Man
Justice League Dark
Demon Knights
Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE

Pretty good! 
Batman and Robin
Resurrection Man
Green Lantern: New Guardians
Red Lanterns
Justice League
Green Lantern
DC Universe Presents 
Green Lantern Corps
Detective Comics
Suicide Squad
Blue Beetle
Fury of Firestorm

Not bad, I'll stick around for at least one more issue... (i.e. they're on the fence)
The Flash
Legion Lost
Justice League International
Mister Terrific
Batman: The Dark Knight
I, Vampire
Static Shock
Men of War
Captain Atom
The Savage Hawkman
Birds of Prey

I don't wanna read this, and you can't make me!! 
Green Arrow
Hawk and Dove
Red Hood and the Outlaws
Legion of Super-Heroes
Teen Titans

Out of 52 comics, there are only five that I don't care to read again next month; that's not bad at all! Even some of the "on the fence" titles will get at least 2-3 more issues to impress me, depending on exactly how "on the fence" they are. The biggest surprises for me were Superboy, Deathstroke, Captain Atom, Grifter, and Voodoo; I had either low expectations or no expectations at all for each of those books, and they all wound up being fairly interesting in the end.

That's it for today; I just wanted to gather my thoughts about the whole thing and get them posted for the record. I'll continue doing the weekly comic reviews, now that I've gotten back in the habit, but I'll most likely make them a bit briefer from here on out, except for special cases.  Be sure to swing back by tomorrow, when 31 Days of Halloween kicks off!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rant Review: Batman: The Dark Knight #1, Green Lantern: New Guardians #1, Voodoo #1, Fury of Firestorm #1, The Savage Hawkman #1, I Vampire #1, Justice League Dark #1

If you missed yesterday's reviews, you can catch up right here.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 
Seems a bit odd to be already getting a new #1 issue of this one, as it just debuted less than a year ago, but such is the nature of reboots! David Finch's writing on the previous iteration of this series was uneven, so I thought it would only improve with the addtion of Paul Jenkins, who wrote last week's wonderful DCU Presents, as writer and co-plotter. Oddly, this issue is no better than the preceding ones. That's not to say it's bad, just thoroughly average at best. We have Bruce Wayne at another in the endless parade of press conferences, and some Batman action when a mass breakout occurs at Arkham Asylum. There's nothing really bad going on with the story, it's just utterly unremarkable. (I do feel I should point out that the issue's final line manages to be both inane and utterly baffling at the same time.) Finch's art is very stiff at times, and he has the annoying habit of giving most of his characters the same face; there seems to be a default male face, and a default female face, with only slight variations within each group. His art  does have a few standout moments though, such as the double-page spread at the beginning of the issue, or the Neal Adams homage on the cover. This is not a bad comic, but it is a very middling one, and anyone who needs a Batman fix would be well-advised to pick mup any of the other Batman comics that have been released this month, assuming any can still be found.  
My score:

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 
The final GL book of the relaunch lands Kyle Rayner in his own series again, complete with an entourage made up of representatives from each of the different Lantern Corps. We get a slightly tweaked retelling of Kyle's origin, and then move to the present day, where members of various Lantern Corps are being abandoned by their rings. Writer Tony Bedard does a good job introducing us to Kyle, and the various space scenes are not confusing, even if we don't always know all the players. Tyler Kirkham's art is decent, with some rough spots here and there. He makes Kyle look dirty enough to join Nickelback, for some reason. This issue is a fun read but a little short; it's one of those that ends just as it seems to get rolling. Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable read.  

My score: 

Voodoo #1
This is another title featuring a Wildstorm character I know nothing about, and for most of the issue, it looked like I wasn't going to be interested in learning. The bulk of the issue takes place in a strip club, and the kinds of things that happen in strip clubs happen for a while. Lots of conversation, lots of flirting with nudity,  lots of talk among the strippers, and nothing particularly interesting is going on. It was looking as if Sam Basri's gorgeous art was being wasted by Ron Marz's script... and then everything went crazy. Just when this issue has about bored you to tears, it suddenly does a complete 180 and manages to become kinda interesting. It's not enough to get me to forgive the 17 pages of total boredom, but it is enough to get me back for the next issue. By no means is this one of the better comics of the DC relaunch, but it's a decent pickup if you have $3 burning a hole in your pocket and you've already tried most of the other relaunch titles. 
My score:

The Fury of Firestorm #1
Co-writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone reboot Firestorm, using both Ronny Raymond and Jason Rusch, who have each had a stint as the character's alter ego. With artist Yildiray Cinar, they have crafted a fine first issue that is practically bursting with promise. After a rather nasty opening scene, we meet the cast of characters, learning a little about physics as we go. By the end of the issue, Firestorm has made his appearance, but it's not quite like what anyone familiar with the character will expect. This is one of the most drastic revamps of the New 52, and based on this debut issue, I think it's going to work. On top of that, so much happens in this issue that I actually had to check to make sure it was only 20 pages, and that's always a good thing. 
My score:

The Savage Hawkman #1
Writer Tony Daniel and artist Philip Tan have put together a pretty intriguing first issue here. It begins with Carter Hall trying to destroy his Hawkman gear, with disastrous results. From there, an alien wreck is uncovered near the Bermuda Triangle, and things kick into high gear. The action comes on fast and furious, and the book has a suitably creepy vibe thanks to Tan's art. There's a little bit of world-building here, but we're never told where Hawkman got his armor and wings, or exactly what Nth metal is. This one might be a little overwhelming for new readers, but it's not bad.    
My score:

I, Vampire #1
Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino revive this series, adding a dash of the emo for good measure. I've never read the original I, Vampire series, so I can't say how closely this issue adheres to what has gone before. Andrew spends most of the issue trying to persuade his lover Mary to abandon her plans to wage war against the human world, for which she has assembled an army made up of thousands of vampires. A few flashbacks are interspersed with the present-day action, giving us some background on their relationship. Sorrentino's art is atmospheric and moody, and reminds me of the work of Jae Lee; needless to say, it is utterly appropriate for this book. This issue is pretty much all setup, and it doesn't really tread any new ground, but it's pretty entertaining throughout. Its far from the best title in DC's "The Dark" subline-- Animal Man and Swamp Thing are neck-and-neck for that title-- but it's worth a read if you're interested in the concept at all.  
My score:

Justice League Dark #1
Awkward title aside, this is one of the Dc relaunch series i was really looking forward to. Wrtier Peter Milligan and artist Mikel Janan do not disappoint. This issue basically takes us on a tour of the magical side of the DCU, and shows how utterly unprepared the traditional superheroes are to deal with it when it turns ugly. The uber-powerful Enchantress has gone batshit insane, and the seer Madame Xanadu is trying to put together a team that can deal with such a threat. So we're treated to John Constantine, Zatanna, Shade the changing man, and Deadman coming together to deal with the situation... eventually. The team isn't quite assembled by the end of the issue, but we have met them all, and things are in motion. Someone who is acquainted with all of these characters should enjoy this issue quite a bit, but new reader-friendly it ain't. If you try this one out and you don't know who any of these characters are, make sure you pull up wikipedia before you start reading. That caveat aside, the issue is a lot of fun, and Janan's art is beautiful. This book ranks right up there with Swamp Thing and Batwoman as the best-looking series of the New 52. The next issue can't get here soon enough! 
My score:

And so we end on a high note, with one of the better new series of the DC relaunch. Check back tomorrow for the wrap-up to the New 52!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rant Review: The Flash #1, Aquaman #1, Blackhawks #1, All-Star Western #1, Teen Titans #1, Superman #1

It's the final week of New 52 debuts, and we've got a lot to cover, so let's dive right in!

The Flash #1
The Flash has been one of the most tinkered-with and relaunched series of the past decade. A brief recap: After two decades, the Wally West-starring Flash series was cancelled soon after writer Geoff Johns ended his excellent run. Then, after the Infinite Crisis event, it was relaunched with former Impulse/Kid Flash Bar tAllen as the lead. Then the series picked up its former numbering with Wally, now with two children with powers of their own. Then, Barry was revived as part of DC's unofficial Silver Age 2.0 initiative, and Wally was brusquely shoved aside so Barry could have the spotlight again. This latest series ended a few months ago, as the Flashpoint event kicked off. And now, we've got the new series launching, again with Barry as the lead.
I'll be honest here: I've never cared for Barry Allen much. Wally West always struck me as a far more interesting character, whule Barry worked best as the deceased former mentor and basically the patron saint of the DCU. (His death in Crisis On Infinite Earths was one of the best send-offs any character has ever gotten.) Barry had popped up here and there on rare occasions due to the Flash-friendly method of time travel, but bringing the character back full-time seemed like regression to me. Shoving a fan-favorite character aside to make way for him only made it worse. Despite that, I still enjoyed the last Flash series, for the most part. Like it or not, Barry is back, so it's only sensible to make the best of it.
Unfortunately, this debut issue doesn't have a lot to enjoy. Writer & artist Francis Manapul is unproven as a writer, and this issue doesn't do much to make me think the book is in good hands. Manapul's art is pretty good, as usual, and I particularly like how he uses the piping and lines that have been added to the Flash costume. It turns what could have been pointless additions into a visual treat that fits right into the theme and look of the character.
Manapul and co-writer Brian Buccellato weave a tale that is rather dull and uninteresting. It is new reader-friendly though, as it gives us a brief explanation of how Barry's powers work, and a look at his new status quo.  It is unlikely that readers will have any trouble following what is happening, but they probably won't find it very entertaining. This is a disappointingly weak issue. It's not bad, just not very interesting. Hopefully the team will hit their stride very soon and things will improve. I'll be back next month, but that's due to my desire to read comics featuring the Flash, not because anything in this issue hooked me.  
My score:

Aquaman #1
Aquaman gets no respect. No one seems to understand how powerful he actually is, or exactly what being Aquaman is all about; he is written off as "the fish guy," and laughed at. That's true in the real world, and now it's true in the DCU. Writer Geoff Johns has taken the clever tack of integrating this real-world disrespect hurled at the character into the character's comic, and it works quite well. The cops who Aquaman assists at the beginning of the issue are actually mortified that they got showed up by the fish guy. It's all very amusing, and promises to become even more so as it is explored further in the series. New readers likely attach the same stigma to Aquaman themselves, so having the average people of the DCU react this way works well to ease readers into Aquaman's world.
The issue also makes a good introduction to the character for other reasons. We get some glimpses into his past, a brief recap of his origin, and even an explanation of how he controls marine life, and does not actually "talk to fish." All this, plus a sinister new threat emerging from the darkest ocean depths! The book looks great in the hands of artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. This is an enjoyable debut issue, and holds a lot of promise for the character's latest lease on life. Aquaman has historically had trouble sustaining an ongoing series; hopefully this one sticks around for a while.  
My score: 

Blackhawks #1
I really want to like this one. I haven't read a whole bunch of the old Blackhawks comics, but I like what I've read. I've also enjoyed appaearances by some or all of the Blackhawks in more recent comics, and other media such as the Justice League Unlimited animated series. The idea of a new Blackhawks series appeals to me, and I was pre-disposed to liking it. Unfortunately, the comic we get from writer Moike Costa and the art team of Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley just isn't all that good. It's not bad, but just kind of mediocre. A bunch of stuff happens, most of it is not explained at all, and none of it is very interesting. The art is similarly middling, which is especially disappointing, since I've always enjoyed Graham Nolan's work in the past. I may check out the next issue to see if it gets any better, but my hopes are not high at this point. 
My score:

All-Star Western #1
I love the character Jonah Hex. Aside from the lousy movie, he's been pretty lucky in that all of his various appearances over the past few decades have given him a fairly consistent portrayal, and done a good job of it. This has never been more true than in the excellent ongoing Jonah Hex series that ended last month, from the same writing team that brings us this issue, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Joined by artist Moritat, they continue to bring us the adventures of Hex in this new series, with a slight twist: Hex is in Gotham City. Reluctantly working with Amadeus Arkham-- anyone who has read Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's excellent Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth graphic novel is aware of his eventual fate-- Hex is on the trail of the Gotham Butcher, who has been brutally murdering young prostitutes. Arkham cannot resist trying to analyze Hex even as he tries to keep up with him, and the unlikely pairing makes for some fun moments. Hex is definitely the fish out of water, and he makes the proverbial bull in the china shop look positively graceful in comparison. Moritat's art is excellent, rendering Gotham and its inhabitants with exquisite detail. The most recent Jonah Hex series had a long line of great artists, and thankfully, that tradition is continuing in this new series.
This issue ends on a cliffhanger, another change from the last Hex series, which almost always featured "done in one" stories. It definitely feels like we got our money's worth, unlike many other comics that seem to end just as the story gets rolling. This new series has tons of potential, and I can't wait to see what comes next.  
My score:

Teen Titans #1
After the atrocity that was Red Hood and the Outlaws, I was rather hesitant to dive into another Scott Lobdell-written book. Thankfully, this is much better. It never gets any better than just okay, but it's not too bad overall. The issue basically consists of Tim Drake, a.k.a. Red Robin, meeting Wonder Girl and dealing with the shadowy NOWHERE organization. I'll go on record here about the new Red Robin costume: I'm not crazy about it. The previous costume was so much better it's ridiculous; the new one isn't bad, but it's definitely a few steps back from the old design. This is a case of fixing what was not broken.
I do like the way Tim is portrayed in this issue, he's clearly the most intelligent person in the book, and five steps ahead of everyone else, as he should be. Aside from that, the story is a parade of events that seem only to set up the next explosion. As for Brett Booth's art, the less said about it, the better. Booth's art still looks like something you'd find in an image book in the mid-'90s-- and it often was, actually-- and I'll leave it at that.
Overall, this is a below average issue, but at least I don't think new readers will have any trouble understanding it. I will probably be back for the next issue, but unless it's a significant improvement, I wont be sticking around any further.  
My score:

Superman #1 
Writer George Perez and artist Jesus Merino kick off the modern-day adventures of Superman with this issue. The new Daily Planet building is opening, now part of the empire of media baron Morgan Edge. We're never told exactly how the old Daily Planet building was destroyed, although its ruins do come into play during the story. Likewise, people make reference to Superman being away for a while, but we're not told where he was. The bulk of the issue concerns Superman's battle with a fire monster, and the ensuing destruction. Superman seems very ponderous and a bit moody in this issue, and the entire comic is a rather lifeless affair. This is surprising, given the creative team. Perez has done good work in the past writing such series as Wonder Woman, but I had a hard tyime staying interested in this issue. At least it looks good, with Saiz delivering his usual excellent art. The new Superman costume looks perhaps the best it has to date in this issue. The comic ends on a higher note than it began, with the introduction of Lois Lane's new love interest-- already revealed in previews for the book-- and a very telling summation of her views on Clark Kent. This debut issue is a little clunky, but there's nothing really bad here. Hopefully things will pick up next month. 
My score:

This is shaping up to be the weakest batch of New 52 debuts yet; hopefully the remaining seven can make the save! Come back by tomorrow for the rest!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rant Review: Green Lantern Corps #1, Blue Beetle #1, Captain Atom #1, DCU Presents #1, Supergirl #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #1

I'm back with the rest of this week's DC New 52 releases! If you missed yesterday's reviews, you can find 'em right here.

Green Lantern Corps #1
Peter Tomasi is no stranger to the GLC, having served as writer on the previous volume of this series for most of its run. He weaves a story in this issue that serves as a great introduction to the GLC, introducing us to Guy Gardner and John Stewart, along with several other supporting characters among the alien members of the Corps. We also get an explanation of exactly how the universe is divided into its 3600 sectors, how many GLs there are, and a rundown on how the ring works. There's also the setup for a longer story that involves a mysterious antagonist who has a serious mad on for the GLC. All things considered, this would have been a much better choice for the first GL book to ship this month, as it serves as a far better introduction for new readers. Everything you really need to know about the GLC and how it functions is in this issue.
Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna deliver some very nice art, with clearly defined characters and rock-solid page layouts. Drawing any GL comic must be a challaenge for an artist, as there are so many alien races to depict, but Pasarin is easily equal to the challenge. This book looks every bit as good as Doug Mahnke's excellent work in last week's Green Lantern. The team has done very solid work here, and if you need an issue to ease you into the GL mythos, this is your best bet.  
My score:

Blue Beetle #1
There are certain things in this issue that will seem very familiar to readers of Blue Beetle's last series, or who have watched the recent animated Batman: Brave and the Bold TV series. The character's origin has been simplified a bit, as it no longer piggybacks on the events of the Infinite Crisis mega-event from six years back(holy hell, has it really been six years???). I usually enjoy writer Tony Bedard 's work, and this issue is no exception. After a nice prologue that shows us just how powerful the Blue Beetle scarab can be, Bedard gets to the business of telling the story of Jaime Reyes, the latest person to possess the scarab. We get to know his family and friends a bit, and then he encounters the scarab by chance as two groups of supervillains are fighting for possession over it.
Ig Guara and Ruy Jose do a nice job with the art. People look a bit awkward here and there, but action scenes are done pretty well and are easy to follow, and the scenes showing the scarab armor in action are impressive.  This issue is simple enough, but there is plenty going on to maintain reader interest and bring me back for the next issue. 
My score:

Captain Atom #1
Writer J. T. Krul tackles this Captain Atom revamp, and the result is better than I expected. As you may recall, Krul was also responsible for the dreadful Green Arrow #1. This issue is a much better piece of work, giving us a look into how Captain Atom's powers work, and throwing a complication into the mix to keep things interesting. The comparisons with Watchmen's Dr. Manhatten began the moment this series was announced, and there are definitely some parallels. How things develop from here remains to be seen, however; for now, we have a solid foundation for future stories to build on.
Freddie Williams II's art is very good, as expected. He never gets too creative with the page layouts here, but that is not to the issue's detriment. Special attention should go to colorist Jose Villarubia, whose work perfectly meshes with Williams's art to create a look for Captain Atom that is quite striking. This book isn't Batwoman pretty, but it looks pretty damn good all the same. Captain Atom isn't in the top tier of the best books this week, but I'll be back next issue.   
My score: 

DC Universe Presents #1
Featuring a revolving door of characters and creators, readers of DCU Presents can count on a new story arc featuring a different character every few issues. Deadman gets the nod for the initial story arc, and writer Paul Jenkins gives us a thoughtful tale that gives us a deeper look at exactly what Deadman is up to when he's not helping out his superhero buddies. Deadman's origin is also succinctly retold, and all of it is topped off with a cover by the inimitable Ryan Sook.
The interior art ain't bad either, with Bernard Chang doing his usual great work. Chang's art has a slick, clean look that is always a pleasure to look at, and he truly brings Jenkins's story to life. Deadman is not in the upper echelon of DC superheroes, but hopefully the publicity of being relaunched as part of the New 52 will bring him, and this very good comic, some well-deserved attention.  
My score:

Supergirl #1
Often revamped and relaunch, Supergirl gets another go in this new series. Judging by a few elements of her redesign, I suspect this new Supergirl is intended to be an amalgam of Power Girl and the traditional Supergirl. How well that works out remains to be seen; for now, this debut issue is a pretty good introduction to the character. Not a whole lot happens, but what does happen is rendered well by writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson and artist Mahmud Asrar. Accompanied by an escort of meteorites, Kara lands on earth in violent fashion, and is every bit as confused as everyone else about what is going on. Exposed to earth's yellow sun, her superpowers beghin to kick in, wreaking havoc with herself, and among the team sent to extract her. A possible source of help arrives, but as we're talkin' comics here, things are likely to get worse before they get better!
The art and writing mesh very well in this issue, and the result is a beautiful book that moves at a brisk pace. As Kara's powers kick in one by one, each is nicely rendered by Asrar and colorist Dave McCaig. Not quite as much happens as in last week's Superboy, but I find the overall comic and presentation a bit more enjoyable.  
My score:

Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Before we dive into this one, a confession: I really don't give a damn about the Legion of Super-Heroes. I've tried to read the comics a few times over the years, but they never did much for me. I tried to get into the animated series a few years back, but despite the cool Superman X character and the show making far better use of Imperiex than any comics ever did, it still didn't do a whole lot for me. I enjoyed the episode of Justice League Unlimited the LOSH was in, but the characters still just didn't grab me. Last week's Legion Lost was a decent, if hectic, comic, but still did absolutely nothing to get me invested in the Legion. No matter what I've read or watched, the Legion remains the one corner of the DCU that I'm just not interested in.
With all that said, I still wanted to give the series one more try with the DC relaunch. The book is certainly nice to look at, filled with gorgeous art by Francis Portela. Some of the pages get very crowded with lots of different characters,  but Portela keeps the action easy to follow. In the hands of a lesser artist, this book could easily have become a jumbled mess.
The story certainly seems to be crafted well enough, but it's rather dull. This is one of the few series whose continuity has not been affected by the DC relaunch-- understandable, since the Legion has been one of the most revamp-happy franchises in the comics world for the past few decades, and the current revamped version was established very recently-- the result is that the book is impenetrable to a new reader. There is a lot of talk about casualties and disasters in the recent past, so apparently, this issue begins in the aftermath of some pretty big throwdowns. It amounts to a bunch of people we don't know talking about things we don't know anything about, and the entire thing just feels hollow. It does absolutely nothing to get me interested in the Legion, and I feel no desire to read the next issue. I know who a few of these characters are, and I still barely know what's going on in this issue. I truly pity any readers new to comics, or to DC, who pick this issue up. I'm sure the issue is good enough for people who have been following the series, but as a debut issue that is part of a very high-profile company-wide relaunch, it fails.
For all of that, there is still nothing truly awful about the issue, so I won't give it a really bad score. I briefly entertained the thought of picking up the next couple of issues to see if it got any more enjoyable, but with so many new titles jostling for my attention, I just can't justify spending the time on a comic that makes new readers try so damn hard to get into it. This one isn't awful, but it's definitely for Legion afficianados only.  
My score:

 That's it for this week! With the first 39 of the new 52 released, there are only four comics I won't be picking up again next month. That's a damn good showing, and hopefully next week won't include any more duds. Come on back next week for the debut issues of All-Star Western, Batman: The Dark Knight, Aquaman, The Flash, Justice League Dark, Blackhawks, Superman, Green Lantern: New Guardians, and more!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rant Review: Batman #1, Wonder Woman #1, Nightwing #1, Birds of Prey #1, Catwoman #1, Red Hood and the Outlaws #1

Welcome to an (almost) all Bat-family edition of the Rant Review! Nearly half of this week's DC relaunch releases are Batman-related, so I've grouped them all together for today's post, along with the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman #1! I'll be back tomorrow for the rest of this week's releases. Let's dive right in!

Batman #1
Scott Snyder's run on Detective Comics for the past year or so has already been lauded as one of the finest in that title's illustrious history, so to claim that his debut on the flagship Batbook has been heavily anticipated would be a rather large understatement. Between the general excellence of his Detective run, and the hype for this issue, Snyder has a lot to live up to. Does he deliver?
Oh yeah.
Batman #1 is the strongest issue of the New 52 so far. Snyder's plot is a perfect introduction to Batman and his world, introducing us to much of his infamous rogues gallery and supporting cast, and giving each a moment to make an impression in the reader's mind. A couple of new faces show up as well, who will surely be a part of Snyder's larger plans in the future. The cliffhanger on the final page is surely not what it seems, but it makes you want the next issue RIGHT NOW. Snyder's work on Swamp Thing two weeks ago was exemplary, but he has trumped it here.
Much has been made of Greg Capullo's hiring as the artist on this book, much of it grumbling by detractors. The art by the team of Capullo and inker Jonahtan Glapion is not bad at all, but I do find it rather weak in a few spots. The style is rather cartoony overall, with exaggerrated proportions and perspective. It's not a bad style on its own merits, but it does seem to clash with the tone of the story in a few spots. In one panel that shows Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne standing together, Dick and Tim look far too small.  That single panel is my biggest gripe with the art, however. Overall, the art meshes wel enough with SNyder's excellent story that it's not jarring. Two-Face, in particular, is a standout. This is one of the most compelling renderings of that classic character I've seen in quite some time. I hope he turns up again soon in this series so I can see more of this team's rendition of him.
There have been some great comics released so far this month, but at this point, Snyder & Capullo's Batman is the crown jewel fo the DC relaunch. If you only get one comic this week, it needs to be this one.  
My score:

Wonder Woman #1
Writer Brian Azzarello has stated that his Wonder Woman is basically a horror story featuring the beloved super-heroine.  He wasn't just blowin' smoke up our collective asses. There are several elements and scenes that would be right at home in a suppernatural horror film, not the least of which is the creation of a centaur. They just hapen to be in a Wonder Woman comic, propelled by the machinations of a certain member of the Greek pantheon.The story hits the ground running fromt he first panel, and you're nearly breathless by the end of the issue. Cliuff Chiang's art shines; it is the perfect accompaniment to Azzarello's story. The basic scheme of this god is laid out for us by the end of the issue, although we don't yet know all the details. What we do know is damned interesting, however. This is a beautiful book with a story that crackles with awesomeness. Azzarello is normally an excellent writer, but his record writing superhero comics is a bit spotty. Fortunately, this one is definitely less Superman: For Tomorrow, and more along the lines of Batman: Knight of Vengeance in terms of quality. Snyder's Batman beats it out for the title of the best book this week, but Wonder Woman is still damn good. Highly recommended! 
My score:

Nightwing #1
Dick Grayson's time as Batman has ended, and he's back to being plain ol' Nightwing. Well, maybe not so plain, since he has a snazzzy new costume that ranks with the best of the New 52's redesigns. In the hands of art team Eddy Barrows and J. P. Mayer, that costume looks damn good, as does everything else in this book. Barrows is one of the most underrated pencillers working today, and I hope getting the chance to shine a fairly high-profile series like this helps get him more of the recognition he deserves. 
The story by Kyle Higgins ain't bad, either. We get a nice recap of the past year Dick spent filling in as Batman in Gotham City, set against a few pages of Nightwing action. Haley's Circus is back in Gotham for the first time since the purposeful accident occurred that killed Dick's parents, and his visit there sets the events of the remainder of the issue in motion. Higgins seems to have a good handle on Dick's "voice," and that goes a long way toward making this book enjoyable. This debut issue isn't a knockout, but it's solid and entertaining. I'll definitely be coming back for the next issue.  
My score:

Birds of Prey #1
BOP has a pretty storied history, and has long been a fan-favorite title. This is another example of the DC relaunch rankling some people, as the previous iteration of this series was cancelled to make way for this version as part of the New 52. Much like Snyder's Batman, Birds of Prey has a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it doesn't acquit itself nearly as well. This debut issue follows Black Canary, now a fugitive, and her partner Starling as they deal with a team of assassins and a reporter who's been investigating them.  Duane Swierczynski's plot is a bit jumbled, but easy enough to follow. Sadly, it's just not very interesting.
At least the book looks very nice, with Jesus Saiz supplying the art. BOP isn't quite a dud, but it's only just barely interesting enough to bring me back for the next issue.  
My score:

Catwoman #1
Judd Winick tends to do some of his best work on Batman-related stuff, so this was a book about which I was cautiously optimistic. Winick delivers a fun, engaging story that plants many seeds for the future, and gives us a somewhat surprising encounter with Batman(surprising in that he actually lets himself go and have a little fun for once). Selina's internal monologue is very true to the character, and the brief glimpse into her past pays off immediately, with the promise of more to come.
Guillem March's art is very nice, with some dynamic layouts and excellent expressions. His art does veer into cheesecake territory more than once, but his art is fundamentally sound, and that makes it much better and more forgiveable than when an artist like, say, Ed Benes does the same. (You could base a drinking game around the number of times Benes draws a woman showing off her ass and her breasts in the same damn panel.) There are a few standout pages, particularly the shot of Batman appearing in Selina's temporary home.
A lot of books are likely to be overshadowed with so much new stuff hitting the racks, and so much of it being so good. Hopefully, this one will not be overlooked. It's a very strong debut issue from a team I hope to see staying together for quite a while.  
My score:
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Oh boy... there were no stinkers last week, and I guess that was too good a thing to last. This is one of the relaunch books I didn't have any strong feelings about, so expectations were rather low. Call me Mr. Optimist, because this book was much worse than I expected. As one of the main people behind a lot of the terrible X-Men comics of the '90s, Scott Lobell has a rather spotty track record. He did a pretty good job with last week's Superboy, but this one is more along the lines of that X-Men stuff I mentioned, and equally worthy of being put aside and forgtten as quickly as possible. I had a list all typed out detailing the problems with this comic, but reading back over, it just came of as me being downright mean. So, I'll leave it at that. Kenneth Roquefort's art is pretty good, but it's nowhere near enough to save this comic. This is one to avoid.  
My score:

I'll be back tomorrow with reviews of the rest of this week's releases, including the debut issues of Green Lantern Corps, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, DC Universe Presents, Supergirl, and Legion of Super-Heroes!