Comic Hit List: The 52 List Pt. 01

In the next few days we’ll be releasing a series of reviews concerning the big DC universe reboot. In these reviews we’ll describe the highs to the lows and the gems to the flops of the all new 52. Here’s hoping there’s more good than bad. I must say it’s quite an exciting time to be a comic book fan as we stand on this threshold of a brand new age of DC Comics which began seventy seven years ago as National Allied Productions.

Justice League #1

The relaunch kicks off with Justice League #1 written by DC golden boy Geoff Johns (Green Lantern and JSA) and drawn by the legendary Jim Lee (All Star Batman and Robin and Wild C.A.T.s). This flagship 52 title takes readers five years in the past of the current revamped DC universe where superheroes are viewed with suspicion and fear. It was also a time before the formation of the league before each of the members knew each other. In this first issue we see the dark knight’s first encounter with the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, Hal Jordan. As a long time comic book fan I must say it was an interesting to see two familiar iconic characters interact with each other in an all new scene.

Lee’s work here on the first issue is just fantastic and I must say when I first saw the new designs of familiar characters I was pretty iffy (I remember the Wonder Woman debacle a little while back). But after reading through issue one I got to say it did grow on me and made sense that the old spandex outfits are now more body armor like. My only real complaint about this issue was the somewhat slow pace in the beginning but business does soon pick up as we go deeper into it.

For new comic book fans this is a perfect jumping off point to a brand spanking new DCU. And for those looking to make an investment if you’re lucky enough to grab a first printing of the new Justice League #1 (which is currently sold out and gone into second printing) this is one of those titles you should hold onto.

Grade: B

Action Comics #1

Writer Grant Morrison (All Star Superman and Batman R.I.P.) and artist Rags Morales (Identity Crisis and Wonder Woman) brings us an all new Superman with Action Comics #1. We see familiar characters such as Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen working side by side as rivals to the paper Clark Kent works for. And on the darker side of things we have Lex Luthor being in league with General Lane against a new menace with a great big S on his chest. In this first issue Morrison introduces readers to a Superman new to the whole hero game as a cocky vigilante who leaps over buildings instead of flying above them.

Personally I see a bit of the Smallville influence in this new retelling of the man of steel tale. Morales does a decent job here especially in his work on the high impact action scenes. Fans of Superman or Smallville should definitely pick this title up and give it a try.

Grade: B

Detective Comics #1

The awesome two page spread of Batman leaping across the rooftops of Gotham alone is worth picking up this issue (Gotham City has never looked better). The clown prince of crime makes a fitting appearance in his debut in the all new 52 as well as playing a big part in this first issue. Writer and artist Tony S. Daniel (Teen Titans and Flash: The Fastest Man Alive) has brought the heat here along with artist Ryan Winn (Spawn and Brightest Day). The visuals are just amazing here which had my eyes glued from page to page.

I’m not going to spoil it for you readers and fans of the dark knight but the final page, the big cliff hanger will absolutely blow you away. Just thinking about it is giving me that delightful tingle down my spine and a big wide smile from cheek to bloody cheek. I strongly urge all you fanboys and girls out there to pick this one up, in fact I’m putting my ‘MUST BUY’ seal on this one.

Grade: A

Men of War #1

Men of War written by Ivan Brandon (Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape and 24Seven) and Jonathan Vankin (Vertigo Pop! Tokyo and The Witching) with artists Tom Derenick (Trinity and Shadowpact) and Phil Winslade (The Helmet of Fate: Ibis the Invincible and Shadowpact) stars Corporal Joseph Rock the grandson of DC legend Sgt. Rock in this military themed title. Corporal Rock finds himself second in command of a squad of soldiers on a mission to extract a hostage without being discovered but as most situations in comics goes escalate and reaches FUBAR levels as a metahuman appears on the scene.

I got to say unless you’re a fan of war stories or military type comics Men of War is won’t likely be your cup of tea. The word generic comes to mind as I flip through these pages looking forward to the next title on my list.

Grade: D

Animal Man #1

If you were a fan of Grant Morrison’s run of Animal Man then boy are you in luck. Many long time fans of Animal Man say this new 52 revamp of Animal Man by Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth and Superboy) and art by Travel Foreman (Cla$$war and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) harkens back to the Morrison days of Buddy Baker and I for one most heartily agree. For those not in the know Animal Man is a superhero with the ability to borrow the abilities of animals (such as the flight of a bird or the proportionate strength of an ant) via tapping into the morphogenetic field. In this reboot of the DCU Animal Man is now semi retired as a superhero and just finished starring in an independent movie.

Lemire delivers a nice solid story which makes this fan looking forward to issue two of the series. At his core Buddy Baker is first and foremost a family man before he’s a super hero and Lemire does a wonderful job bringing that across. Animal Man is definitely a quality comic which stands out from the rest of the 52 pack.

Grade: B+

O.M.A.C. #1

This new version of O.M.A.C. blends the original Jack Kirby work with the newer material from Infinite Crisis. Artist Keith Griffen (Legion of Super-Heroes and Lobo) does a terrific job illustrating an action packed comic along with writer Dan Didio (The Outsiders and Weird Western Tales). In this reboot O.M.A.C. is a huge mountain of muscle tearing a path through Cadmus Industries. To say Griffen is channeling his inner Kirby is an understatement but while we see the influence of a legend we also see Griffen’s own skills shine through.

Full of chills and spills as well as a healthy dose of Kirby Kreations and Kirbyisms this title has an old school twist with a modern take. O.M.A.C. has potential to be a hidden diamond in the new 52 and should earn a spot on any reader’s shopping list.

Grade: B

Batwing #1

Also known as the Batman of Africa this character from Batman Inc. gets his own solo title in the new 52 line up. Ben Oliver’s (The Losers and Judge Dredd) art style is perfect for crusader of the cradle of civilization and writer Judd Winick’s (Green Lantern and Green Arrow) work here packs quite a punch. Batwing’s true identity is that of police officer David Zavimbe and as Batwing he even has his own Alfred in that of Matu Ba formerly of a child soldier rescue organization. I already can see that it’s going to be interesting to read about Zavimbe’s adventures as Batwing.

The main bat also makes a cameo appearance here which helps establish a bit of backstory of the superhero scene in Africa. A bit rough around the edges but I could already see that with the right tuning Batwing could very much have a long and fruitful run.

Grade: C+

Stactic Shock #1

Milestone universe superhero makes his 52 debut with a move to the big apple and a new job at S.T.A.R. Labs. There are a few new details new to the Static continuity such as moving from Dakota to New York, a second sister in the Hawkins household, and new costume and flying disk courtesy of another Milestone transplant Hardware. But fear not Static Shock is still at his core the same wise cracking electromagnetic manipulator of Milestone Comics.

Scott McDaniel (Batman and Green Arrow) and John Rozum (Xombi and Midnight, Mass) does a decent job in this series but there’s still something lacking from the old Milestone days. Here’s hoping DC will soon find the remedy because this title does show promise.

Grade: C

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Michael Pao
Michael Pao 224 posts

Michael Pao is a photographer and writer who loves pretty much anything geek/nerd culture. <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the rest of the Nerd Reactor Team.</a>

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