My guess is if you're reading this you've maybe seen some part of the rest of the internet at some point this year, but if you haven't: DC Comics has relaunched all of its comics from #1 (also: Steve Jobs died, everyone on youtube thinks Justin Bieber sucks and music was better in whatever decade the song they are commenting on was first recorded in, and people really like cats and pornography). They sent me all of them. I read all of them. (Now here's the part where you say you don;t read comics much but you always liked Marvel better, except Batman. Thank you, I did not know that.) Here are some notes on the best ones...
Starts with a faux text piece in real-life magazine The Believer which I am skipping. And now some very nice art. See, this is how you do "clean line" art--you use the open areas to organize the negative space into patterns and then cinch each panel together around a short burst of interesting detail. And this is how you write not-costume-wearing scenes--make them matter in the context of a superhero comic: Animal Man's daughter can't get a dog because if he's around any one animal for too long he bonds with it and his powers don't work right. That's cute. Oh, his costume completely sucks though. Nice sound effects "Thok". Animal Man's eyes bleeding (second bleeding eyes in the 52 so far). "Weight of a bumblebee so as not to wake the kids" nice. Now some cryptic Vertigo shit. I'm on board.
JH Williams III uses shadows rather than line weight for inflection and variety. What's that mean? It means he's better at night than during the daytime. Which is kind of like all the Bat characters--at night they're fun and during they day they moan about their parents. Oddly, JH WIlliams is responsible for most of the starring-female-superheroes-but-have-good-art-anyway comics in all of history--Chase, Promethea, and now this. Anyway, go read Batwoman, it's good.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS
You may know this as the comic which has the two pages in it that get reposted all over the internet with stories about how a 7-year old is sad. You may not know that it has several other pages in it that are actually better than most of the other 52--and most things this year--put together.
Here are some things that are usually boring in comics that are not boring when they are drawn by Kenneth Rocafort:
-an army base
-an establishing shot of a creepy locale
-a night table
Kenneth Rocafort made a night table interesting. Give the kid people in technicolor costumes performing actual actions, he works wonders.
Yes, there are these awful "let the digital colorist handle the rendering on my tits and ass, I'm sure it'll all work out" pages and I'm sure Starfire saying shit like "Those two humans make me laugh, when I can tell them apart" instead of insane drivel like "Love and caring don't leave when you become a hero. They're always a part of life. If anything we can appreciate the good emotions more." (Teen Titans Spolight #19) will corrupt all children everywhere--but if you're not a Clintonite neoconservative there's only one real genuine problem with this comic book:
The Red Hood looks and sounds too much like Deadpool. Who, in turn, looks and sounds too much like Spider-Man.
P.S. If you would like to complain about this comic book, complain to Mandy, not me, I've already done my shift in Explaining Art To Sheltered Parents purgatory and it's now her turn. Trust me, she is eager to discuss the issue with you.
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE
Sweet wild scribbly scratchy unprecedented monsters. SHADE headquarters is amazing. Frankenstein looks badass. This comic rules. Frankenstein quotes Milton instead of Shelley. He has good taste. His boss is a little girl in a domino mask. His wife has 4 arms. He speaks with grim clarity. His mission is clear. Holy fuck Vincent Velcro the vampire from the Creature Commandos is in this comic. Did you know that during World War II the allies were aided by a unit consisting entirely of monsters? Did you know one was a vampire? Did you know this vampire was named Sgt. Vincent Velcro? Did you know that the people who made this comic knew that and brought him back so he could be in it? Now you know that! Oh my god all comics need to be exactly like this. Ok: the mummy is kinda stupid and the fishwoman kinda looks like Abe Sapien, but I never like Cyclops or Longshot either, so whatever. Alberto Ponticelii have my children. If you like weird monster things or things that are good in any way, you should take a look at this. Extremely impressive (and very D&D-able).
Some notes on the 52 in general:
-Jim Lee's Justice League is surrounded by satellite books drawn by several would-be Jim Lees, which is strange: you keep checking to make sure Bush Senior isn't president and the Berlin Wall isn't back up.
-Aside from Batwoman, the Woman-and-Minority Report is kind of gruesome. The most interesting art on a not-white character is Batwing (Africa's Batman!) a character doomed to forever play second fiddle to a white guy if ever there was one one. They use this same make-an-established-white-character-not-white-instead-of-making-an-original-character trick four more times in the new 52: Blue Beetle, Mr Terrific, half of Firestorm and the original experiment-in-planned-obsolescence, Green Lantern John Stewart. (Cursed to always be the second most famous guy with his superhero name and his real name. He must hate Google.) As for the original black guys, Cyborg is in the JLA from the beginning--which is nice--though his new costume seems a little charmless, and the pretty-original(-if-you-don't-count-his-prototype-Black-Lightning) Static gets his own comic again.
Following DC tradition, the female characters get wonderful art on the covers and...also some art inside. And they made the only fat woman skinny. And far be it from me to complain that the only black female character in her own book is an exotic dancer--the only black female on my lease is an exotic dancer--but so far Voodoo is really just some lackluster cheesecake coupled with extensive evidence that neither writer nor artist know what happens in a strip club dressing room. Seems like people would wanna complain about 20-odd pages of that before 2 pages of Starfire.
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