DC Through The Eyes Of A Marvel Zombie: Bats, Cats And Chicks by Heather Kenealy

Heather Kenealy is a Marvel Zombie. She’s putting herself through the task of reading the DC relaunch in its entirety, a comic universe of which she is only vaguely familiar…

Hey, light week this time. Only twelve books! So let’s jump in with a book that people are so excited for that we had to limit one to a customer at the shop. Batman! Is Scott Snyder’s take on the Dark Knight going to be worth the hype? Let’s find out together.

Batman

Writer: Scott Snyder

Pencils:Greg Capullo

After knocking down a riot in Arkham, apparently aided by the Joker (really Dick Grayson in holographic disguise,) Batman dons his Bruce Wayne costume, and takes his growing ranks of young wards to a black tie benefit where he’s speaking on the future of Gotham City. Duty calls though and soon the Bat is out on the case again, investigating a strange murder which ends with a cryptic warning to Bruce, and a surprising bit of evidence.

First off, I’m going to say, I don’t understand where the “reboot” part of this comes into play, because this story seems to simply be the next Batman story that was scheduled, but I’m also going to say, that doesn’t really matter. The story is simple and intriguing, the art is clean and pleasing. All in all, while not technically a reboot (but with this event that’s to be expected) this is a great starting point for anyone wanting to give this Bat-whoever a looksee.

Story: 5 out of 5 stars

Scott Snyder, Writer.

I knocked Snyder for the amount of talking in Swamp Thing, and there’s just as much talking in Batman, but to a much better purpose. The exposition is perfectly balanced with the action, and the new tech introduced in this issue makes enough sense to make the reader wonder why this isn’t in use in other books. Where does he get those wonderful toys? I really enjoyed this story, and I really am intrigued

Art: 4 out of 5 stars

Greg Capullo, Pencils. Jonathan Glapion, Inker. FCO Plascencia, Colorist.

The art, as I said, is clean and pleasing, but there tends to be a similarity in the male hero faces. Bruce looks like a slightly older Dick looks like a slightly older Tim looks like a slightly older Damien, an stylized Russian Doll of the Batfamily. Makes me sort of wonder if Alfred is how Capullo envisions old man Bruce. Other than that flaw though, and an bit of scratchiness in the inks, there are several cute touches to the artwork, my favorite being the red Chucks that Damian is wearing with his tuxedo.

Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars

Well done book, overall. Strong way to start this week. Kudos to Snyder and Capullo for taking what could have just been any tired old Batman story and instead making it feel fresh and easy to hop into.

*****

Birds of Prey

Story: Duane Swierczynski

Artist: Jesus Saiz

Black Canary, apparently wanted for murder, has put together a mini team of sexy superpowers to save a reporter who was captured while stalking her team. But mysterious forces are after the Birds of Prey, and they are willing to kill to get to them.

I’m not certain what exactly is happening in this book, but it’s exciting, lots of action and fighting. I know very little about any of these characters and nothing really makes me want to, but these ladies do kick some butt. I’m assuming if I keep the book in my pull list, I’ll understand this story, but I’m probably not going to last.

Story: 4 out of 5 stars

Duane Swierczynski, Story

The book is well written and if you were already a Birds of Prey fan, you’ll probably keep liking this book. The sequence of events happen in a way that pulls you from one to the other without too much effort, even though there are several flashbacks, which might get confusing for a lesser writer. I do want to know, however, how the Black Canary killed a guy with one punch. Anyone want to give me an issue number or a synopsis?

Art: 4 out of 5 stars

Jesus Saiz, Artist. Nei Ruffino, Colorist.

The art is good as well, not spectacular, or groundbreaking, but nice. The storytelling aspects are good, the inks and colors are crisp and sharp, not muddy. But I think I’m missing a key element. Black Canary is kissed by a bad guy and then later something is going weird in her head. Now, is the pink smears on the bad guy’s lips supposed to be some sort of lipgloss poison or something? If so, it’s too subtle, because I had to look back three or four times before I noticed that one detail.

Overall 4 out of 5 stars

Like I said, if you were already a fan, this book is your cup of tea. Even if you weren’t, it’s worth at least a look. I personally will probably not go on from here, but it’s a decent book if you like scantily clad women kicking men in the face. There’s a lot of that.

*****

Blue Beetle

Writer: Tony Bedard

Peniciller: Ig Guara

An alien army of drones, controlled by blue scarabs, is bent on conquering and consuming planets, and somehow one of those scarabs ended up on Earth in ancient times. Enter young Jamie Reyes, who on his way to a quinceañera for his friend Brenda. When the criminals (I assume) that Brenda’s aunt (I also assume) run into trouble and into Jamie, the scarab chooses a new host… I’ll give you three guesses who and the first two don’t count.

This is a fun book, and it spends a significant amount introducing us to the cast of characters, most of whom (the human ones at least) are Latino, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, or whatever politically correct term is used these day, it changes so fast I can’t keep up. Jamie seems a likable kid and there is a very Scooby Gang feeling to the circle he travels in with a little bit of edge to it. There are some notable problems though, so shall we get to that?

Story: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Tony Bedard, Writer.

So pacing is good, storytelling is great. It’s easy to follow. But, here’s my issue, and how do I say this without sounding bad. You know how when adults write children, but they’ve never talked to a child in their life, they tend to misuse slang or make them care about Pogs. Well, I don’t know what ethnicity Bedard is, but Jamie and his family and his friends (and the entire world he lives in for that matter) are sooooooo very “Spanglish,” that that very word is even used. By the way, Mr. Bedard, I got the “cuteness” of saying “translated from the Spanglish” as a nod back to the translation from the alien language, but if you are going to say translate, you should probably actually, I dunno, translate. I live in Los Angeles, so it’s not a matter of not understanding the language, believe me, it’s a matter of hitting me in the face with a mallet to drive the point home.

Art: 5 out of 5 stars

Ig Guara, Peniciller. Ruy Jose, Inker. Pete Pantazis, Colorist.

The art, however, is pretty good. Rich colors and the design of the Blue Beetle Drones are very alien in origin, creepy, and yet still convey the insectile connection. All of the character designs actually are quite well done. Storytelling is clear and the sequence of the scarab encasing Jamie in the blue and black armor is cinematic enough to be stills from a movie. Very very nice.

Overall 3.75 out of 5 stars

I’m not sure the stellar art makes up for needing Google Translate to read the book, so I might just put this on “read while at work” list.

*****

Captain Atom

Writer: J.T. Krul

Artist: Freddie Williams II

Captain Atom is a Dr. Manhattan look alike who is having problems with his powers which have something to do with technobabble and comic book physics. His powers will kill him, but there’s a volcano, a nuclear meltdown and some weird alien monster thing in shanty town. In the end, he turns into lava and his words get all stuttery. The End? Clearly not, this is only issue 1.

So, I don’t know how to take this book. On one hand, these are interesting powers, and Captain Atom seems a decent character, but on the other hand, this whole book smacks of trying too hard to sound smart, and instead coming off like Hank McCoy’s earliest dialogs in X-Men when the writers misused fancy words because heck three syllables must be better than one. I guess I get the concept of pseudo-science for story, but this book really smacks you on the head with it like Blue Beetle did with the Latino stuff.

Story: 2 out of 5 stars

J.T. Krul, Writer.

The writing seems adequate for the most part, but just too much, too much, too much. There are also leaps of faith and logic that I just can’t wrap my head around. For instance, seismic activity in New York? “Is that possible?” asks the Captain. Um, yeah. New York City not so much, but that isn’t specified. New York State, yeah, most definitely. So, that sort of iffy writing makes this book suffer.

Art: 3 out of 5 stars

Freddie Williams II, Artist. Jose Villarrubia, Colorist.

The art is very uneven and disjointed. Captain Atom is done beautifully, no hard blacks which really gives him a glowing appearance, pretty and shiny. But then Dr. Megala looks like a parody of Stephen Hawking drawn by Stephen Hawking. It’s jarring how dramatically different each page looks and then the big monster in the hobo alley is so poorly rendered, I have no idea what I am even looking at.

Overall 2.5 out of 5 stars

I was warned by a friend that is a regular DC reader that this book was not going to be good. He was quite right. Thanks, Noir, I wish I could have heeded your warning.

*****

Catwoman

Writer: Judd Winnick

Artist: Guillem March

Catwoman’s place is firebombed, so a friend of hers lets her squat in a temporarily vacant Penthouse. So she goes to a nightclub to get a job, but that’s interrupted by some one from her past who she scratches to bits. Then Batman finds her and they have sex for three pages. Yeah, really.

Before I critique this book, and the comments blow up with how I am clearly jealous because I am not having sex. Well, I happen to have a boyfriend in Canada who’s going to come and visit me when he gets a job, so there. Anyhow, I don’t know how to feel about this book. It’s a very Up-With-Chicks book. All the women are well portrayed. Lola the Ex-Showgirl is written as a mature woman, and drawn a little hefty in the way that many older woman get. But there’s too much here unexplained without giving me reason to want to wait for the explanation to come.

Story: 3 out of 5 stars

Judd Winnick, Writer.

Relationships, both romantic and not, are written and developed well, and Catwoman’s inner dialog really sounds natural. But, there are just too many lines in the water for me to be hooked on the title by this issue alone. Some of the writing is just unnatural sounding though, and if you are going to mention a specific bad guy, it helps if you let me know what you are talking about.

Art: 3 out of 5 stars

Guillem March, Artist. Tomeu Morey, Colorist.

There are some problems with perspective and somehow Selina is now a frequent shopper at Hot Topic. The big topic here is, of course, three pages of Bat-Sex. I have a friend who has drawn issues of some known titles, but of all the prints he sells, it is the commission piece of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy making out that sells the most. That’s what the final page in this book looks like… a fan art commission print.

Overall 3 out of 5 stars

I didn’t want to see Joker nips, I don’t want to see Batman’s O face.

*****

Deadman

Writer: Paul Jenkins

Artist: Bernard Chang

Boston Brand died some time ago, and since then, he’s been the Deadman, a spirit jumping from body to body, life to life, to learn something that will lead him enlightenment, and either reincarnation or eternal rest, I don’t know which, and neither does he. He just knows that the blue skinned goddess Rama sends him to these people and he has to live their lives. Well, he’s just about had it, and when he can’t convince a medium he’s sweet on that he’s actually Boston, he decides to get some answers from Rama.

I actually enjoyed this book, except for the vagueness of what exactly Brand does with these living “bricks” on his path to enlightenment There’s questions I have though that I need answers to before I can continue. Why does he have a white ghostly looking face even before he dies? Does Rama make this offer to other people? Does this mean the Hindus have it right, after all?

Story: 4 out of 5 stars

Paul Jenkins, Writer.

The writing is good, there is a good pace to the story, and the sequence where he is trying to convince the Medium that he is her old beau is sweet and tragic. I just don’t understand why there are so many lives he tells us about without telling us what he did in any of those lives, or how they helped him on his path to enlightenment. I’m willing to try and discover it though, as long as I am promised that I will be told eventually.

Art: 5 out of 5 stars

Bernard Chang, Artist. Blond, Colorist.

Chang’s art is crisp, and well done, storytelling elements are handled properly. Blond puts a shiny red glow around whoever is being possessed by the Deadman, and just all in all very pleasantly done.

Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is not a character I was familiar with, but I think I might be willing to pick up an arc of this. I just hope there is more action that just popping into people’s heads in future issues.

Green Lantern Corps

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi

Artist: Fernando Pasarin

Something is tearing through space, killing first Green Lanterns and then entire worlds in gruesome and gory ways, while on Earth Guy Gardener and John Stewart are trying to establish civilian lives. Called back to Oa to investigate the deaths, the two Lanterns gather a team together and head out to the Planet Nerro only to find the water world complete dry, and the entire population dead, a clear message that someone or something is declaring war.

If you are a novice reader, this book does a really nice job explaining the Lanterns and what they do, who they are. Tomasi tells us that the sectors are pie shaped for example with the point touching Oa. Nice detail of the sort that fills this book.

Story: 5 out of 5 stars

Peter J. Tomasi, Writer.

This is a really good book, but not so much for the action sequences, though those are nice and exciting as well. No, where the real strength in this book is the characterization of the two vastly different human Lanterns, and how they deal with the civilians they are speaking with. Guy amicably chatting with high school students and giddy staff members. John teaching lazy and possibly corrupt city planners a lesson. Then, as they meet to muse on their failures to assimilate into civilian society, their conversation has a very real feel to it.

Art: 5 out of 5 stars

Fernando Pasarin, Artist. Scott Hanna, Inker. Gabe Elteab, Colorist.

You can’t get away with a Green Lantern book without having a lot of emerald colored pages, which can get rather boring. But the art team on this book handle this all very well. Anatomy is believable even in the case of the alien Lanterns, some of which can look pretty wacky as a rule. The murder of the two Lanterns and their prisoner in the first sequence is gory enough to make you shudder without being tasteless and shocking for no good reason. It’s a fine balance and Pasarin walks it like an expert.

Overall 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve admitted before that Green Lantern was the one DC title that I’m pretty familiar with, but that was all Hal Jordan. I wasn’t ever a real huge Guy or John fan, but the way they are presented in this book is intriguing, exciting and I’m willing to give them a shot with Tomasi’s writing. I highly recommend this book. It’s worth the $3.

*****

Legion of Superheroes

Story: Paul Levitz

Artist: Francis Portela

So, a group of young intergalactic heroes, most of whom have names that end in Lad, Girl, Lass or Boy and who seem to be outside the Flashpoint event that set this whole reboot in place, are trying to figure out how to restore the past while fighting people… and at the end a Daxamite attacks.

I appreciate that all the characters in this book have text boxes telling me who they are, because I don’t know a single one of them, except for Brainiac but I think he’s a different Brainiac than the one I know.

Writer: 2 out of 5 stars

Paul Levitz, Writer

I’m really not able to say much about this story, because I don’t understand who any of these people are or how they should act or anything. So, let me say this. The writing seems fine, the people talk as people talk, natural dialog and what not. I can’t speak as to their characterization, but they have different voices which you know I like if you pay attention at all to these reviews. The reason this gets such a low score is because it doesn’t do what the reboot is supposed to do. This is not a book for a new reader because it explains nothing.

Art: 3 out of 5 stars

Francis Portela, Artist. Javier Mena, Colorist.

The art is executed adequately, not groundbreaking but not the worst I’ve seen. There’s nice use of lighting effects, and color. On occasion there is something a little fan artist-ish about it, but in an undefinable way. Just something a little off, the line weight of the inks or slightly awkward storytelling, not enough to make it really bad, but enough to be jarring.

Overall 2.5 out of 5 stars

Maybe this book is better for people who know these characters but, if it is intending on pulling in a new reader, it fails and fails hard. Also, is that girl in the purple hood the same girl that’s been appearing in the background of all the books? If so, who is she? If not, where is that girl in this book? Have you guys found her?

*****

Nightwing

Writer: Kyle Higgins

Peniciller: Eddy Barrows

After a stint as Batman, Dick Grayson is again Nightwing, enjoying being himself again, but also finding his skills much more in tune. Feeling apprehensive, he visits the circus that he’d been a part of with his family before their murder, playing around with old friends for a while. But on his way home he’s attacked by an assassin who claims to be after Dick Grayson because he is the greatest murderer in Gotham City’s history and doesn’t even know it.

Clearly, this book is meant to be read in tandem with Batman, as you can probably suspect, and what was revealed in that book, comes to play in this one. Even without that though, this is a fun read, and even though Nightwing is a much more grown up hero, there is still the memory of being Robin in the character of Dick Grayson and that joy and excitement is perfectly represented here.

Story: 5 out of 5 stars

Kyle Higgins, Writer.

Very nicely done. The inherent cleverness in this story is in the nature of this not truly being a reboot. In most of the stories that’s been a big detriment. They either twist the origin oddly to restart it, or they ignore it altogether. Higgins doesn’t ignore all that came before this, yet by bringing Dick back to the circus where it all began, he puts it back at the start again. Very slickly done, Mr. Higgins. Most of this book is Dick self-narrating, but with a very characteristic voice.

Art: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Eddy Barrows, Peniciller. JP Mayer, Inker. Rod Reis, Colorist.

The -.5 is for Barrow’s habit of giving Dick a ridiculously barrel chest and a tiny head. Now, I imagine our hero would have to have some muscles on him to do the stuff he does, but yeah, it looks weird, and awkward. That’s the only thing I didn’t like though. The artist does one of my favorite comic book tricks though. When an acrobat character is flipping around, several images of him in dynamic poses cross the page, with the final (most current) one being the only one with dark inks. I love that effect because it gives a real sense of movement.

Overall 4.75 out of 5 stars

I’m enjoying it. It’s fun, it’s active, it’s touching in parts, funny in others. The clown complaining about having to wear purple in Gotham? Priceless. This one is a definite addition to the pull list. Mr. Barrows, just watch that anatomy and we’ll be besties for life.

*****

Red Hood and the Outlaws

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Artist: Kenneth Rocafort

Jason Todd, the Red Hood, rescues Roy Harper, from unjust imprisonment and convinces him to join him in being a mercenary, I guess. Also Starfire is there, she’s really stupid and likes having sex. Then some weird lady cryptically says cryptic things and Jason gets to shoot people.

Wow. Can I just say how offended I am by this book? The story in and of itself is OK, but then the misogynistic way Starfire is treated is just appalling. She is literally reduced to a brainless sex slave who can also kick ass. They mention in narration that she was raised to be a slave but she’s really a princess, but they treat her with absolutely no respect, the big HAHA joke being Red Hood referring to his back up as 38s, and of course, the next panel stars Kori’s boobs. Yeah, Scott Lobdell, you should be ashamed.

Story: 1 out of 5 stars

Scott Lobdell, Writer.

Seriously, the only reason I am not giving this book a zero is because at least the words are all spelled correctly. How did this trash get published? Really, is DC just going to let Lobdell turn Starfire into that brain damaged girl on the short bus who keeps pulling her skirt over her head? This is just disgusting, and it’s frankly writing Jason and Roy as scumbags who take advantage of this really stupid but hot alien. It’s not only character rape but it’s practical literal rape.

Art: 1 out of 5 stars

Kenneth Rocafort, Artist. Blond, Colorist.

Continuing with the theme, the only character Rocafort cares to draw with any skill is Starfire, posing her in slutty positions that best show off her boobs or butt. Every other piece of artwork in this horrible book is inked in scratchy overworking, anatomy is wonky, with Red Hood’s thighs going from elephantine to almost spindly in one sequence. The colors are adequate, which is good because the faces of the two main characters are identical, which might mean Starfire isn’t stupid, the boys are really just that interchangeable.

Overall 1 out of 5 stars

Shame on you, DC, just shame on you. I’d rather go back and linger over Hawk and Dove than have to read this crap.

*****

Supergirl

Writers: Michael Green & Mike Johnson

Artist: Mahmud Asrar

An asteroid slams into the Earth near Kansas and comes out the other side into Siberia (never mind that the antipodal point would be in the middle of the ocean.) Inside is a Kryptonian girl who has no idea how she got there, or where she is, but when the yellow sun hits her, she gets superpowers and beats up the men in robot suits who want to capture. Then, Superman shows up and says “Stop.” So she does.

So far, nothing major happens in this book, but I do find myself intrigued on how Kara got to Earth, why she remembers nothing, and where I can buy those boots she’s wearing.

Story: 4 out of 5 stars

Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Writer.

This is definitely a reboot, and it’s done well. Kara is not the Supergirl we knew, and what that means for the future of this title is left to be seen in an engaging way. The mystery of how she ended up on Earth and who these men are who are trying to capture her is added to by her sudden hearing clips from other books in the DC reboot. It’s skillfully done. I took a point off just because the story has hints that it is going to be way too decompressed and drug out. Prove me wrong, Michael and Mike.

Art: 5 out of 5 stars

Mahmud Asrar, Penciller. Dan Green with Asrar, Inks. Dave McCaig, Colorist.

The art is stunning in places, and the redesign of Supergirl is alien and familiar all at once. Color is used actually pretty sparingly, but to good effect, the gloom of night becoming a brilliant sunrise that sparks Kara’s power development. A very pretty book, with good fundamentals. Still not sold on Superman’s costume though. Why does he have a belt if he is wearing a jumpsuit?

Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars

I’m not a huge Supergirl fan, but this version of her seems interesting enough to earn a whole arc. If this book drags though, I am not going to lose sleep over dropping it.

*****

Wonder Woman

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Artist: Cliff Chiang

In Singapore, the “Sun” of a god (it’s not a typo, you’ll figure it out by the end), does something sinister with three ladies, while in Virginia, a lady in a peacock feather cloak turns horse into centaurs to kill a girl named Zola. A pale guy with weird eyes gives her a magic key that takes her to London, right into Wonder Woman’s bedroom. She brings the Amazon warrior home to fight the centaurs and we discover that the pale guy was Hermes, and he’s possibly been mortally wounded. He reveals that Zola is carrying Zeus’s child. Back in Singapore, the three ladies have become Oracles and the Sun rises, revealing the man to be Apollo, who is not so happy about the news of his gestating baby brother.

This is a fresh and exciting take on Wonder Woman, heavy on the Mythology but, not in a way that seems forced or awkward. The Artist doesn’t really know how to draw a horse, but other than that, it looks as fun as it is written.

Story: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Brian Azzarello, Writer.

Nice interweaving the myth with the modern, scripting of the events is air tight, and the whole thing feels very cohesive. Wonder Woman is a warrior, yes, but there is a great deal of emotion and development to her, even though the book is half over before she shows up. I didn’t understand the prophecy in the middle of WW’s battle with the centaurs, but maybe that’s the point. Weren’t prophecies always vague?

Art: 5 out of 5 stars

Cliff Chiang, Artist. Matthew Wilson, Colorist.

I don’t know this artist and I am surprised by that. His art has a very interesting style, with heavy inked outlines of characters and items, with delicate linework for details. His depictions of the gods are not entirely human, enhanced by the deliberate coloring, and lighting effects. All in all just a very uniquely stylized art, reminiscent of Mike Mignola without being derivative.

Overall 4.75 out of 5 stars

I have never bought a run of Wonder Woman in my life, I don’t think I ever bought any Wonder Woman comics ever. I might have been missing something, because this is actually a really fun read even if almost no one in it is wearing pants. This book earns an arc from me.

Wow. There were some good books out this week… some real clunkers though too. Next week, we’ll finish out the number one issues of the DC reboots, with titles that run the gamut from All Star Westerns and Voodoo to Flash and Aquaman.

Then I’ll have to figure out what to do with this huge stack of DC books in the middle of my Marvel collection! I might have to buy yet another long box.

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