DC's new 52 – decent read and a substitute for ciggies?

Published On September 8, 2011 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Reviews

Today we have a guest review from one of our consistent fave creators, writer, artist, cool dad and chum of rock stars, it’s that man Oli East. Breaking his long fast away from the capes and tights Oli’s curiosity has been drawn to the relaunch of the DC universe with the wave of #1 issues released this month. This may also have something to do with finding another thing to fix on after giving up the ciggies and some strange sexual dreams – if there is a Freudian psychiatrist in the audience, could they please contact Mr East? – but we won’t enquire to closely into these matters. Over to Oli:

I dreamt my wife had a penis last night.  I didn’t know what to do with it and she was left unsatisfied.  I also bought Justice League #1 the other day.  Loads of weird things have happened since I quite mid-week drinking.  Add onto that four days into quitting smoking and the return to caped crusaders after a twenty-year absence makes some kind of sense.  Both are guilty pleasures, right?

I’ve not bought it for the art, that’s for sure, not this one anyway.  No, glossy polished computer driven art does nothing for me.  I’m just after a chance to get in on the first issue of some characters I’ve always wondered about.  When I did buy caped comics I was a 2000AD and Marvel boy.  DC just seemed a bit naff.  I was probably wrong but I was allowed to be, I was 12.  I’ve always half wanted to get back into some stories but been ushered away by complex back-stories and continuity.  Plus, with OCD you can’t start reading anything at #597.  Gotta get them all.  So, with no personal feeling of ownership over any of the characters, this much lamented relaunch of the DC universe is a chance to get on at the first floor and see what happens.  It might not last, and on a Blank Slate Books salary I can’t afford them all.

But I’ve always looked at Aquaman and thought ‘ there’s got to be some good writing in there to make ‘fish boy’ interesting.  I believe he’s drowned a couple of times so I’ll be keeping my eye on him.  And I understand that that Alan Moore wrote for Swamp Thing once so that might be decent, but I certainly can’t afford another 51 (despite being at the point in my career where surely I should be getting free comics by now) I’ll have to pick and choose each week.

JL #1 doesn’t start well, with a Red Pepper style bit of intro: “There was a time…”.  Bit hammy, but it’s only the fi…wait…”there was a time!” they’ve used it again, in the first panel!  Doesn’t bode well for the writing.  The art starts badly as well, although as I said, I kind of expected it, but the panel where Batman rolls and tumbles on the roof is just horrible.  You can see the layers files and rulers along the side.  Blurrgh.  The next page but one though, with the explosion in the first panel has an almost painterly quality.  Take away the fourth panel that stands out too much and it all blends into a nice mess.  Ooh, trainers!

I know next to nothing about DC history but the whole air of paranoia around this episode, with the capes as almost the bad guys, isn’t that the X-Men’s shtick?  No mind, I enjoyed Superman’s entrance and, after a nice almost Yuichi Yokoyama eye blast thing, the pay-off line’s ace: “so, what can you do?”  It’s what we all said in the playground as we were pegging about: “I’m invisible!” “I’m invincible (no fair)” and so on.

It feels kind of slight but then it’s a pilot episode isn’t it?  Albeit one that you know’s been commissioned till the next relaunch but as a pilot it’s decent.  As a newbie, I’ll buy the second one. The only back stories I know are Batman’s and Superman’s so I’m up for finding out what they’ve made different.

I’ve just nipped out and bought (but at the time of writing not yet read) Animal Man, Detective Comics, OMAC, Swamp Thing, Stormwatch, Justice League International, and Action Comics.  I may not stick with them all through to issue #2 but we’ll see.

Thanks for reading.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

2 Responses to DC's new 52 – decent read and a substitute for ciggies?

  1. “I dreamt my wife had a penis last night.” is the greatest opening sentence in a superhero comic review ever.