Monday, May 14, 2012

My DC Comics "New 52" Pull List: THE CULLING!

This week I bought the first issue of the new Image comic Mind The Gap, written by Jim McCann and illustrated by Rodin Esquejo (Morning Glories cover artist) and Sonia Oback. That's another independent title added to my pull list. (Spoilers: It's wonderful!)


One side effect of the DC Reboot that I'm sure DC never intended is that I've been adding an increasing number of independent titles to my pull list in recent months. I just added Smoke And Mirrors last month, and I started buying Irredeemable trades the month before. The thing is, I was only purchasing one regular indie monthly (Invincible) until the first week of the "New 52". I purchased my first "Morning Glories" trade the same week as I bought the disappointing Flashpoint#5 and Justice League#1.


I've also been reading more Marvel comics recently. After becoming really disenchanted with much of Marvel in the wake of "events" like Avengers: Disassembled, Civil War, and One More Day, I've been dipping my toe into their waters more in the last 2 years or so. Jonathan Hickman has been giving us two great Fantastic Four books, Ragnell clued me in to Avengers Academy last year, and Mark Waid's Daredevil run has been nothing short of incredible. Schism and the subsequent Wolverine And The X-Men comic actually got me liking Wolverine. I'm even considering buying a Punisher comic thanks to Greg Rucka.


This is kind of a change for me. My pull list has been predominantly DC and predominantly superhero comics for a long time. Why the shift? Well, for one thing, I have to strongly agree with what Sally P recently wrote here because, frankly, I share many of the same feelings. Much of it has to do with the rebooted continuity, but the seeds had been planted since "Identity Crisis", and the steady stream of one "shock" death after another over the last few years and the current exile of many beloved DC characters to limbo has caused me to lose much of the emotional connection to DC I once had. Worse, we lost too many of the relationships we enjoyed reading about before the reboot. The marriages. The parental relationships. The romantic relationships. Hell, even the friendships.


I may be an old fart at 46, but I don't feel it's me that's changed in this case. For the most part, I enjoy many of the same older stories like I used to. I get the feeling that, rather than reaching out towards a wider audience, many Marvel and DC superhero comics keep aiming toward a narrower and narrower target demo, one that I fear I am no longer a part of. There are many rebooted DC superhero comics I still love (ex: Scott Snyder's Batman) but in general they've lost much luster. Rather than embrace the sense of fun, wonder, silliness, and occasional sheer insanity that comes with their vast universe, DC seems to be trying to deny it and clamp down on it. Take this last issue of Justice League, for example. I would've preferred to see more scenes of a pitched battle against an uber-powerful killer robot with the powers of the Justice League, but I guess Geoff Johns thought the readers would prefer scene after scene after scene of the League being complete dicks to Ollie Queen.


More importantly, I'm having a kid in the fall. That's expensive in terms of both money and time. I'm not sure if I'll be picking up many comics period after this fall, and I definitely can't jack up my weekly budget to accomodate the indies. So some "New 52" titles have to go.


And that means it's time for....


MY DC COMICS "NEW 52" PULL LIST: THE CULLING!!!!



Let's start by recapping the New 52 series I've already culled, meaning that I either never purchased or I purchased but chose not to continue purchasing:

CULLED

Batwing
GI Combat
Teen Titans
Voodoo
Grifter
Stormwatch
Catwoman
Batman And Robin
Batman: The Dark Knight
Detective Comics
Justice League
Justice League International
Red Hood And The Outlaws
Superboy
Supergirl
Red Lanterns
Green Lantern: New Guardians
Captain Atom
Fury Of Firestorm
The Savage Hawkman
Legion Of Super-Heroes
Legion Lost
Blue Beetle
DC Universe Presents
Suicide Squad
Deathstroke
Hawk & Dove (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Men Of War (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Blackhawks (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Mr. Terrific (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Static Shock (already culled prior to its cancellation)
OMAC (formerly "Untouchable" until its cancellation)



Here are the "New 52's" I've deemed "Untouchable",which means it will take a dramatic change in creative team, direction, or quality for me to put these series on the chopping block:

UNTOUCHABLE

Animal Man
Batman
Dial H
World's Finest
Demon Knights
Swamp Thing
Justice League Dark
Nightwing
I, Vampire



Next are my "Safe For Now" books, which are not "untouchable" but not on the bubble yet. Some of the books are here because they have some aspects that may lead me to put them on the chopping block, while others are there because of a potential future unknown factor (writer change, etc.), and others are there for arbitrary reasons:

SAFE FOR NOW

All-Star Western - Historically, I've never been a big western comics guy. The only western comic that's ever held my interest for any period have been Jonah Hex comics, in part because it's featured talents like Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and the recently-deceased Tony DeZuniga. The western milieu is the only small detail keeping this book from "Untouchable".


Batgirl - I was heavily against the Batgirl reboot, as it seemed a step backward and sacrificed a lot(Stephanie Brown, Cass Cain, and Oracle BOP) for what seemed like a redundancy (didn't we already have a 20-something adult red-haired Bat-heroine?). Plus, it took Gail a few issues to get her sea legs on the book. But one fact won out: it was Gail Simone writing Barbara Gordon, and she does it really well, no matter what form. I like the weird Rogues Gallery she's developing for Babs. However, I'm not sure about bringing James Jr. back (I'm generally leery of anyone handling him other than Scott Snyder).


Batwoman - J.H. Williams generally hasn't missed a beat picking up where Greg Rucka left off on this book, and when he's drawing the book the art is beautiful beyond belief. When he's not drawing the book? Well, I've got my reservations about Trevor McCarthy, whose art briefly drove me off Nightwing years ago, replacing Amy Reeder as the book's resident Not Williams. Plus, I hope the gore porn in issue#8 was an aberration for Williams and not a recurring aspect.


Action Comics - I really liked the Earth 23 story, with the sole flaw being the absence of a black Lois analog. (I'm holding out hope that the White Lois in the story does not become romantically involved with Calvin, and that his "Lois" is waiting to be revealed.) However, I have to judge this book by the regular DCnU Superman, and there I'm mixed. Rags Morales is a great artist, but he's had fill-ins galore of varying quality. And the Brainiac finale felt...padded.


Wonder Woman - Cliff Chiang's art has been perfect, and Brian Azzarello has given us a compelling story thus far, but I swear to God, I can't take too many more "shocking revelations" about Diana's history. Also, while Diana's warrior side has been played up wonderfully here, there are other facets of her (*cough* Steve*cough*) that Azzarello should also not neglect.


Resurrection Man - I like the "Heaven and Hell are both gunning for Mitch" storyline. I like the art. I like most of the villains and situations Mitch has had to face. But for heaven's sake, DnA, get more creative about the powers Mitch gets. He gets energy and/or electrical powers way too damn often. Change it up! And please don't cross over with DCnU Suicide Squad again!


Birds Of Prey - Like Batgirl, this book is handicapped by our memories of the pre-Flushpoint DCU. Which is a shame, because it's a damn fine book in its own right. It's a textbook example of female characters done right. The team members are pretty but not hypersexualized, there are no thrusting Escher Girl poses, and each woman has her own unique and interesting personality. Plus, they are a kickass fighting unit. Even the recasting of Katana as Janeane Garafalo's "The Bowler" does not detract from my enjoyment of the book. However, while I loved Travel Foreman's creepy Animal Man work, I'm not sure how he's going to do on BOP, especially since he's replacing Jesus Saiz. (I'll probably be proven wrong for being worried, though.)


The Flash -  This book had a lot of strikes against it. There's Barry and Iris being OMD'd, no Wally West, and  Carlie Cooper Patty Spivot as Barry's girlfriend, for starters. But Brian Buccalato and especially Francis Manapul have done a wonderful job winning me over. However, things like Captain Cold's now-organic powers and this news give me great concern about the book being hampered by too much editorial mandate.


Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE - There's only one reason this book is not in the "Untouchable" section: Writer Jeff Lemire is leaving the book, and his replacement is someone whose work I have never read before. Then again, I could have said that about Lemire two years ago and Scott Snyder until 2011, and look how that turned out. Everything I've heard online seems to indicate that Matt Kindt will pick up where Lemire left off without skipping a beat, but Kindt remains an unknown until I read his work. But I will give him a fair chance.




Finally, and most importantly, here are the "On The Bubble" books. These are the ones that are in immediate danger of being eliminated from my pull list. And this is where I want your output:

ON THE BUBBLE

Aquaman - Let's face it: There are two main reasons I've kept the book on my pull list this long, and their names are Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. They draw and ink the hell out of this book, and it looks beautiful. But on the writing end? It's like a complete checklist of standard Geoff Johns flaws. Decompressed storytelling? Check. Cynical depiction of so-called "heroes" as assholes? Check. Heavy-handed characterizations and dialogue? Check. Defensiveness regarding Johns' prized childhood icons (i.e. "Aquaman IS cool, dammit!","Barry IS interesting, dammit!")? Check. Needless death and gore (see: Black Manta as an aquatic Jason Voorhees) in order to establish the villains as EEEE-vil? Check and double-check. Oh, and did I mention the complete racial cluelessness? Yes, the guy who gave us the "Ape-Controlled Africa" map in Flushpoint introduced the first Iranian superheroine in DC Comics history....and then immediately killed her off in her first appearance in a decompressed snuff scene written for the sole purpose of showing us that Manta is "edgy" and "badass". And why is Johns already flashing back to stories about Arthur's original super-team when we've barely seen any adventures with his current super-team in the new continuity. Is he bored with the "New 52" already?


Green Lantern - As with Aquaman, Johns is blessed with a fantastic artist, this time Doug Mahnke. In terms of writing, this book is the best of Johns' 3, but even here the story seems too decompressed. Also,  I'm suffering from some serious Rainbow Lantern fatigue right now. In fact, I'm suffering a bit from Geoff Johns fatigue, to the point where I'm tempted to give my pull list a complete Johnsectomy.


Earth 2 - Only two reasons this book's even getting a look through even issue#2: A) Nicola Scott art, and B) Potential introduction of interesting heroines like the new PoC Hawkgirl. But even the new Hawkgirl has apparent problems. Guns? Really? Where's the Big Fucking Mace? And James Robinson's writing on Issue #1 doesn't give me much hope for #2.


Superman - Keith Giffen seems to have the best handle on how DCnU Supes should be portrayed. So, of course, he's leaving the book and being replaced by Scott Lobdell. I admit, I did enjoy some of Lobdell's X-Men work years ago, but I've got to go by his current stuff and.... I'm not exactly floored. Admittedly, the art on two of those books (Red Hood, Teen Titans) are not to my liking, which may unfairly bias me. However, on the third (Superboy), Lobdell had the advantage of Jimmy Olsen artist R.B. Silva and I still dropped the book. Lobdell's New 52 stuff has been horrible at worst (Red Hood) and mediocre at best.


Green Arrow - Ann Nocenti did a fine job with her first story arc, but the art by Harvey Tolibao is just a fucking chore to read. There's no storytelling flow to it, and the more detail he puts in, the worse things get. It's like everything in each of his panels is just one congealed, overly-rendered...thing. Someone like Marcus To or Nicola Scott would give Nocenti the art she deserves.


Green Lantern Corps - The only reason the book's lasted this long is my love of Guy and John. But it's losing my interest fast.



Well, those are the books on the bubble. I'll have to cut at least one or two of them. I may even decide to cut ALL of them. I'm still deciding.


And now it's your turn, dear readers. Which "bubble" books would you suggest I cut, and which ones would you suggest I keep? More importantly, why?


Which comics should survive....THE CULLING????

19 Comments:

At 3:17 PM , Blogger Siskoid said...

I completely understand your Johns fatigue, and as I've said elsewhere, I have a feeling that he's now working the Marvel method just to get the books out, letting artists splash around and adding word bubbles on some of the pages.

Too early to tell on Earth-2.

I'll probably drop Superman when Lobdell comes on. I'm with you on that.

The book on your bubble I don't read is GL Corps. I dropped out early because of the unnecessary gore, the bane of the book even pre-reboot.

 
At 2:09 PM , Blogger SallyP said...

Actually, I pretty much agree with your choices. There are a few that I am still getting, and you will have to pry the Green Lanterns out of my cold dead hands, but still...!

Some books have been pretty good. I was never a Bat fan before, and I LOVE the new one with Snyder. Whether I will continue to love it with a different writer is moot.

But yes, there are SO MANY wonderful characters that we are missing. Would it really hurt to have just a bit of goofiness and charm instead of darkness and grimness all the time?

 
At 2:53 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

So far, it's not looking too good for GL Corps. (The gore is repelling me too.)

What sucks is that Nicola, Reis, and Mahnke are 3 of my favorite current DCU artists, and all 3 brought their A-Game to their books. Too bad the same couldn't be said of their writers.

 
At 4:47 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

GL Corp -- DRRRRRROPPED!

Who's next?

 
At 8:24 AM , Blogger CalvinPitt said...

I agree with you about Green Arrow and Tolibao's artwork, but I think I'll stay as long as Nocenti writes it. I want to see what she has to say enough I'll live with the art, though I will doubtlessly grumble constantly.

I'd probably vote for Aquaman, but that's going strictly off reviews of it (Green Arrow's the only of your bubble books I buy).

Also, I haven't gotten my comics from the last few weeks, does the mere presence of Suicide Squad pollute Resurrection Man, or was it having to buy Suicide Squad to get the whole story that was the problem?

 
At 12:53 PM , Blogger SallyP said...

But...but there wasn't any gore at all in GLC this week!

Whodathunk?

 
At 8:32 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Here are the latest status updates:

I may re-skim GLC on Sally's recommendation and see if my feelings change.

If not, it's looking like GLC and Aquaman will be the first cullings. Reis/Prado are still bringing their A-game, but Johns still ISN'T bringing his.

Earth 2 gets one more issue.

Superman - Safe until Lobdell, at least.

Green Arrow - I'll stick for a while to see where Nocenti goes with things.

GL - Sticking thru this arc. From there....???

Frankenstein - Moves up to "Untouchable" again. I picked up Matt Kindt's MIND MGMT 1st issue last week, and now I've gone from "uncertain about Kindt taking over Frankenstein" to "totally fucking PSYCHED about Kindt taking over Frankenstein".

Batman Inc#1 came out. Rating: Safe For Now.

Ravagers#1 also came out. Honestly, was ANYONE clamoring for a Howard Mackie/Ian Churchill collaboration BESIDES the voices in Bob Harras' head? Rating: Culled.

 
At 8:32 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Here are the latest status updates:

I may re-skim GLC on Sally's recommendation and see if my feelings change.

If not, it's looking like GLC and Aquaman will be the first cullings. Reis/Prado are still bringing their A-game, but Johns still ISN'T bringing his.

Earth 2 gets one more issue.

Superman - Safe until Lobdell, at least.

Green Arrow - I'll stick for a while to see where Nocenti goes with things.

GL - Sticking thru this arc. From there....???

Frankenstein - Moves up to "Untouchable" again. I picked up Matt Kindt's MIND MGMT 1st issue last week, and now I've gone from "uncertain about Kindt taking over Frankenstein" to "totally fucking PSYCHED about Kindt taking over Frankenstein".

Batman Inc#1 came out. Rating: Safe For Now.

Ravagers#1 also came out. Honestly, was ANYONE clamoring for a Howard Mackie/Ian Churchill collaboration BESIDES the voices in Bob Harras' head? Rating: Culled.

 
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