30 Days of Comics, Day 9: Wrapping Up Week One
Today marks the next set of DC’s first editions to hit bookshelves. I’m going to be busy reading through them all so to cap off the end of week one, I’ll lend my thoughts on some of the books I didn’t have time to review earlier.
Batwing is a relative newcomer to DC’s roster; he premiered not too long ago as part of Batman Inc. Simply put, he’s the African Batman; yes, you read that correctly. Apparently after Bruce Wayne went public with the whole “I’m Batman” thing, he exported the Batman franchise around the world to anyone else who would take. Enter David Zavimbe, a police officer in the city of Tinasha. With financial and material backing from Wayne Industries, he’s trying to make a name for himself as Batwing and strike fear into the criminals of a city and nation already hardened by decades of civil war and strife.
Admittedly, I actually like this concept and the execution is pretty good. Once again, this presents a few obstacles for new readers such as understanding what Batman Inc. is and how that plays a role in Batwing’s continuity. Even if you don’t know anything about Batman Inc., it’s not hard to pick this up as they do a decent job explaining the basic concept.
The artwork is masterfully done, using a photorealist approach that nicely captures the tone of the story and setting. The writing itself isn’t bad either; it does a good job of evoking the very dark and somewhat hopeless world that David and Batwing inhabit and I’d love to see more of that world. This one definitely surprised me and for that I think it’s worth picking up a few issues.
Justice League International
I really love this concept: the United Nations Security Council decides to assemble its own Justice League to support worldwide peacekeeping operations. They want to bring together heroes from various member nations to create a multinational force that will help improve the UN’s public image and take the blame when things go south. The overtly political nature of this concept is what I love about it and why I think it has a lot of potential. The only problem is whether the writing can appropriately act upon that potential.
What I mean to say is that not much really happens in this issue because the set up for this concept requires some time. We do get to see the new JLI embark on their first mission in the field, but things happen so quickly that it feels a bit rushed. We are introduced to each member of the team, but obviously there isn’t enough time to properly flesh them all out beyond certain stereotypes. For example, the only thing we know about Rocket Red is that his English is bad and he doesn’t trust his Chinese teammate.
I really like their choices for the new JLI members as many of them are lesser known heroes and I’m very fond of second-stringers. August General in Iron, for example, was only created about five years ago as the leader of the “Great Ten”, China’s Communist Justice League equivalent. Given that there’s a bit of new blood I’m interested to see what direction they take these characters.
As I said before, not much really happens in this first issue, but I think the payoff could be worth it. This one’s not high up on my list, but I want to give it a try and pick up a few more issues. Besides, they made Booster Gold head of the JLI and seeing that play out is reason enough.
I confess I’ve never followed Green Arrow but I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for him. Maybe it’s the beard or the green tights, but I do genuinely like the character. That being said, this comic bored me. It’s not bad art or bad writing, it just didn’t really bring anything special to the table. It’s just a very standard romp in which Green Arrow tracks down three supervillains on a boat in Paris and takes them in. The villains are also part of some clique that records crimes for viral posting online. And yes, that is as stupid as it sounds.
Reading this book there’s a definite sense that they’re trying to reinvent Green Arrow for a younger more internet saavy generation and it just kind of falls flat to me.
They’ve made him younger and unloaded all the baggage of his previous continuity like his drug addicted sidekick and his ex-wife which is probably for the best. However, they also took away his classic “Van Dyke” beard and swapped it for a pair of obnoxious looking “Seth Rogen” muttonchops for the cover. All in all there really isn’t much to say about this; it’s mediocre and just didn’t appeal to me. Next.
Men of War
At its heart, this book is an effort to revive DC’s old WWII comics for a Modern Warfare audience. It consists of two short stories; the first is part of an ongoing reboot of Sgt. Rock, the tough-as-nails WWII hero that was popular in the ’50’s and ’60’s. This Sgt. Rock is intended to be the grandson of the original and shares many qualities with his famous grandpa.
Obviously this isn’t WWII anymore so the new Rock is cast in a modern setting that is left ambiguous so as not to step on anyone’s toes. We get a basic origin story that shows how Corporal Rock is elevated to the rank of Sergeant during a secret mission. There is some involvement from some as of yet unidentified superhumans, but all in all it was a fairly standard war story full of chest beating and gratuitous use of military techno-babble to give it that distinct “street-cred” for gun nerds. It’s not particularly bad; it just didn’t keep my interest.
The second story is simply “Navy SEALs: Human Shields”, which is about a Recon team on a mission in a very generic Middle Eastern/Central Asian/Pakistani/Region-Where-Muslims-Live city. If there’s anything that stands out about this one it’s that for a team of Navy SEALs on a covert infiltration mission, they sure talk a lot.
This wouldn’t be a problem if the dialogue wasn’t incredibly cheesy and preachy to the point of being a little insulting. Call me unpatriotic, but I did not particularly enjoy this one and won’t be picking up future issues. If you want to read a really good comic about how modern wars are fought, I’d recommend Queen and Country by Oni Press.
This title comes to us by way of Wildstorm comics, a former indie publisher that was bought by DC in 1999. Last year, they shut it down but announced that some of the company’s franchises would be relaunched and integrated into the mainstream DC Universe. I’m incredibly unfamiliar with Wildstorm comics but the basic premise is that there’s a secret organization called Stormwatch that has existed since the Middle Ages and recruits superhumans to help defend Earth from alien threats. The main story revolves around some kind of looming extraterrestrial threat that the various Stormwatch teams are preparing for. Not much is explained but it seems that Earth’s chances of survival hinge on Stormwatch recruiting the superhuman known as Apollo: the only man on Earh who may be stronger than Superman. Apparently, Martian Manhunter is also a member of Stormwatch too, so there’s that.
I really don’t have much of an opinion on this one other than that it didn’t really interest me. The characters seem kind of bland and undeveloped and they have some of the most truly bizarre superpowers I’ve ever seen. Take Jack Hawksmoor, for example, who can control, manipulate and communicate with cities. This man can literally convince brick buildings to attack you. More so than how that power even works I’m curious as to how he figured out he could do that. Did he just spend a lot of time talking to buildings until one just answered back? I’ve seen One Piece characters with more rational abilities.
The artwork is also a little hit or miss; sometimes it’s pretty decent but other times it seems a little careless.
Maybe if I’d followed the original run of Stormwatch, I’d be more interested, but I didn’t so I’m not.
That just about wraps up week one; come back tomorrow when we start week two.