So in less than two weeks, the big DC Comics relaunch is finally going to be here. Whether you’re excited by it or completely hate the idea, it’s something that we’ve all heard a lot about. With 52 new books all launching in the same month, it can be a little intimidating, so I’m going to offer my opinions on which of these new books I think will be worth it, and why. Of course, this is biased towards which characters and creators I prefer, so it’s not to say that the books I don’t mention are entirely not worth your time or money.
So here are my picks for the top 10 books (in alphabetical order, and that I’m definitely grabbing) to look at in the DCnU (as it’s been dubbed), and then five more that pique my interest.
Action Comics by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales
Those who have read the reviews and articles I’ve done for Population GO in the past know that I’m a huge fan of Grant Morrison. But that’s not what’s selling me on this book. I’m not buying into Action Comics because of the fact that it’s a new Morrison book, but because of the fact that Morrison has proved his worth with the Superman character by writing what has been regarded as the best Superman story ever told in All-Star Superman.
This time around he gets the chance to write a Superman book that’s actually in continuity. It’s definitely a curious book, and it’ll no doubt draw a lot of controversy because of the way Superman is being changed. Morrison’s story will be taking place five years in the past, where apparently people are seeing the beginnings of superheroes. I don’t want to say much more about it here, but Morrison seems to be crafting a very unique origin for the Man of Steel that will lead into who he is now, and why the DCnU is how it is.
Animal Man by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman
Animal Man is not an A-Lister by any means; however, the character was the subject of Grant Morrison’s run from the late 80’s, which is regarded popularly as one of the best runs in comics of all-time. After Morrison’s run the series went on until issue 89 where it was canceled, and he hasn’t seen his own series since then. Now DC seems to be putting him in the right place by giving him a new series that will once again feature Buddy Baker as a family man, and they gave it to the right writer in Jeff Lemire, who knows how to write the creepy kind of story that I believe will be right for Animal Man.
The new book is said to focus on Buddy’s daughter, Maxine, as she becomes the new host for “The Red”, which is an entity that connects all animal life on the planet, similar to Swamp Thing’s “The Green”. Travel Foreman’s art, through previews and covers, seems like it’s going to be some groundbreaking stuff as well, so I have no doubt he’ll do well here. I’m extremely excited about Buddy getting his own series again, and I have the utmost confidence that Lemire will craft a tale with the character that will go down along side Morrison’s as one of the best.
Aquaman by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis
Aquaman’s been a character that has popularly been looked down upon by comic readers because of how he’s been portrayed in the media (thank comedy shows for constantly talking about how much he sucks). It doesn’t help that writers have completely changed his character several times, either, trying to make him more exciting for new readers. Johns, however, is doing here what he’s done for Green Lantern and The Flash, and he’s taking the character back to his roots to show us why he’s always been a fantastic hero.
Johns and Reis have already worked together with the character in Brightest Day, where his story was pretty much the best part of that series because they showed us some of what makes him a great character. Now Johns is going to be able to take the character to further depths, giving him some interesting enemies and probably revisiting and extending upon his backstory. I know it’s strange to say, but Aquaman is definitely a new series you should be looking out for.
Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
I’ve just recently written up a review on Snyder’s run on Detective Comics, so anyone that saw that, or has read that book, should know that this Batman series is going to be the one to grab. Snyder knows how to write a great detective story; he’s shown that he can write a great Gotham as well, and he’s also shown his ability to create a great villain. Now he gets to create another one, showing us his ability to write the original Batman, Bruce Wayne.
I shouldn’t have to say much here, but for anyone who’s hesitant to pick this up just to check out Snyder’s Detective Comics run, and I’m sure all doubts will be gone. Plus, Greg Capullo has turned in some awesome covers, and the preview art from the run is looking perfect for a Batman book.
Batman and Robin by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
After Morrison’s run on Batman and Robin ended, it was planned that Tomasi and Gleason would take over the book as the main creative team, but their run got pushed back by three issues to make room for a story by Paul Cornell. Then they only worked on three issues before making way for Judd Winick’s Red Hood story.
Personally, I’m thinking DC did all this because they wanted to push back the bulk of their run on the book until the relaunch started, but I could be wrong. Regardless, this one is worth looking at because those who read their three issue story from the previous volume of the series know that they a great team for a Batman book, and like me, you’re probably unable to wait for more.
This time around we see Bruce and Damian instead of Dick and Damian, so it is going to be different, but that’s more a good thing than bad. We haven’t gotten to see much of Bruce and Damian together, so a whole series dedicated to them together should be a lot of fun. It’s also going to be our main (if not only) source of Damian Wayne when the relaunch begins. If Tomasi and Gleason do anything near as good as their previous works, then there’s no doubt this book will be worth picking up.
Batwoman by JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
All the way back in February of this year we were supposed to see the launch of this Batwoman ongoing series, but then it was delayed constantly until it disappeared completely. Where did it go? Over here, in the DCnU.
Anyone who read Rucka and Williams’ Batwoman run in Detective Comics knows how amazing that was, and how great Williams is at making her, and every page she’s on, look beautiful. So you should also know that the same quality should continue here.
While it’s sad that we don’t still have Rucka here as the writer, I think that JH Williams III’s art alone would be enough to sell this book each month. Thankfully, Williams is also a pretty great storyteller, making this book a definite pull for me.
Green Lantern by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
The Green Lantern franchise looks to be one that’s really not going to be affected by the relaunch very much. The evidence for that? The book takes right off from the events of the recent War of the Green Lanterns crossover and puts Sinestro in the spot of the main character for the series. There’s no reason that readers of the previous volume should pass this one up, but it’s also a great starting point for new readers. There’s not much that needs to be said here as to why this is worth getting since it really does continue right off of the previous volume. But if its quality is as good as it was before, then it’ll sure to be one of the best DC books on the stands, as it has been for the past several years.
We also have another volume of Green Lantern Corps with Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin as the creative team, so fans of Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Killowog, and any of that other myriad of GL’s can turn there. Fans of Kyle Rayner can head over to Green Lantern: New Guardians, which is handled by the previous GLC team of Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham, and will deal with a group of Guardians for each Lantern Corps. And for Red Lantern fans there’s a new book starring them by Peter Milligan.
Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee
This one’s the first of the bunch, and it’s the one that’s supposed to be the cornerstone of the entire DCnU. This one’s set to explain the new origin of the Justice League, and it’ll once again bring together the big seven after a long period of the team consisting of a bunch of C-List characters.
If there’s ONE book you need to pick up from the New 52, then I’d say grab this one. Not because I think it’ll be the BEST, but because it’ll be the one that really shows you what’s going on in the DCnU. Plus, we have two of the most high profile creators in comics both working on this book, and that alone should be wort a look.
Justice League Dark by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin
John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Zatanna and Deadman. Those five characters are being brought together for a book that will bring the former three back to the DCU proper, and will include two fan favorite characters for a team of the biggest mystical forces in all of the DCU.
Milligan is already familiar with the first three of those characters, and now he gets to put them together in a place that I guarantee will be worth a look. Then we have Mikel Janin on the art, and if you haven’t seen how great his stuff looks yet, then just check out Dick Grayson and the Flying Graysons and it’ll make you more excited for this series. I feel it deep in my bones that this book is going to be a great success, so come aboard now before the issues sell out!
Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette
Swamp Thing has almost always been a character whose book was a showcase for great storytelling. Len Wein, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Brian K Vaughan, Andy Diggle and Joshua Dysart have all had runs on the character, and now Scott Snyder is going to get his name on that prolific list as well.
Snyder’s already shown his competence to write a good horror story through his series American Vampire for Vertigo (which you should be reading), which is just the type of book Swamp Thing should be. Along with Snyder, we have Paquette on the art, whose style should give a pretty interesting aesthetic to the book. Plus, I’ve heard that Snyder’s Detective Comics collaborator Francesco Francavilla will be doing some work on the series too, so that’s even more to look forward to.
Those were the ten books I recommend wholeheartedly from the New 52 that I’ll definitely be picking up. But there are five books that I’m piqued by that I think might also be worth looking towards:
Batgirl by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf
This one’s definitely the most controversial book of the bunch, with Barbara Gordon being brought out of being Oracle, given the ability to walk back, and going back under the cowl as Batgirl once again. Most readers have gotten upset by this, but with the amount that Gail Simone cares about Barbara Gordon, it’s almost sure that this one will be a great one.
Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli
Back in his Seven Soldiers crossover series, Grant Morrison introduced us to a new, kick ass version of Frankenstein, who worked as a sword-wielding agent for the organization SHADE. During Flashpoint, Jeff Lemire gave us another miniseries starring the character, and he did a pretty good job of it too, so I think that gives some reason to look into this new ongoing.
The Flash by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
The reason this one’s on my list to watch is because of Manapul. His work is always fantastic and he proved his worth on the character during his run with Geoff Johns. Getting this series relies on his ability to be as good a writer as he is an artist, and also relies on him not getting frequent delays between issues like he did in the previous volume.
Justice League International by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti
We were promised this series with the conclusion to Justice League: Generation Lost, so it’s nice to see that it’s here, but it seems like Judd Winick was the one who earned the right to write this series. Instead Dan Jurgens will be handling it, and personally I find him to be a decent writer at best (but I haven’t read too much by him so maybe I shouldn’t talk).
Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang
DC made a good move by putting Diana in the hands of an A-List writer and artist who have shown their ability to work well together in the past. But I have to be a bit hesitant about Azzarello because of the fact that I really don’t know if he’s the right choice for Wonder Woman. He could wind up writing a fantastic run or he could wind up writing her as a violent warrior and make many readers mad. Or maybe both at the same time.
Of course there are others that have me curious, and how couldn’t there be with 52 new books, but I think these are the ones that are worth a look that I have my eyes on. Readers, sound off on what books you think will be worth it as well!
Also, I want to announce here that come August 31st, with the release of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, sjhawkins and I are going to do a joint article each week, where we discuss the new issues that we’ve read in the relaunch. So you can look forward to a week by week look on a good chunk of DC’s new series!