DC New 52 September: The Final Verdict

Over the course of this month, I’ve read 24 of DC’s New 52 – the wave of #1s released throughout September as part of the publisher’s linewide relaunch – and reviewed each of them for this blog.  Back in August, I posted up on a forum the 20 titles I was intending to buy, ordering them based on my level of anticipation.  Here was what that list looked like:

  1. BATMAN
  2. ACTION COMICS
  3. SWAMP THING
  4. STORMWATCH
  5. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
  6. DEMON KNIGHTS
  7. WONDER WOMAN
  8. JUSTICE LEAGUE
  9. BATWOMAN
  10. ANIMAL MAN
  11. FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E.
  12. AQUAMAN
  13. BATGIRL
  14. DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS
  15. GREEN LANTERN
  16. THE FLASH
  17. I, VAMPIRE
  18. CATWOMAN
  19. THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN
  20. RESURRECTION MAN

I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at this list I made, based on the New 52 titles I was most looking forward to, and see how it compares to my rankings of the comics now that I’ve read them. I ended up bumping my reading list from 20 to 24, so I’ll now present my top 24:

24. RED LANTERNS
Of all the books I picked up, this one was the weakest. A neat intro with Dex-Starr, but nothing remotely memorable aside from that.
FULL REVIEW HERE

23. NIGHTWING
Decent writing and art, but a lot of this feels like a pale rehash of Snyder’s Detective Comics work with Dick Grayson. Not enough to bring me back for more.
FULL REVIEW HERE

22. CATWOMAN
A pretty good debut issue, with some stylish (if cheesecakey) art, marred by an already-notorious stinker of a closing scene.
FULL REVIEW HERE

21. THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN
Even a great creative team can’t make me care about Firestorm.
FULL REVIEW HERE

20. DETECTIVE COMICS
Was better than I was expecting, thanks largely to Tony Daniel’s lavish artwork and a killer ending. But the story as a whole feels pretty pedestrian.
FULL REVIEW HERE

19. RESURRECTION MAN
A highly competent introductory issue, with solid writing and art, but amidst such hefty competition, I don’t know if it has enough to draw me back for another issue.
FULL REVIEW HERE

18. DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS
I like Deadman, and this offers some nice insight into his character. But the plot is really going to need to kick in next issue to keep me interested.
FULL REVIEW HERE

17. JUSTICE LEAGUE
Doesn’t quite live up to all the weight of expectation, and it suffers from decompression, but on its own merits this is a fun, good-looking comic.
FULL REVIEW HERE

16. STORMWATCH
Certainly not the worst New 52 comic, but based on its ranking VS how hyped I was for it, perhaps my biggest disappointment of the bunch. Some interesting concepts keep me interested for now, though.
FULL REVIEW HERE

15. ALL STAR WESTERN
The Jonah Hex writing team reunite and maintain that consistently great quality, this time tackling a different kind of story. The most successful of the last-minute additions to my pull list.
FULL REVIEW HERE

14. THE FLASH
Francis Manapul’s art is stunning, and the writing is fine so long as you accept it on its own merits as a blank slate and a fresh start.
FULL REVIEW HERE

13. BATWOMAN
Light on plot, but when a comic has this much gorgeous J.H. WIlliams III art in it, who needs plot?
FULL REVIEW HERE

12. WONDER WOMAN
I’m not quite sure I know what was going on for all of this issue, but whatever was happening, it seemed intrigiung.
FULL REVIEW HERE

11. GREEN LANTERN
Just when I thought I was out, Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke pull me back in. I said I’d be using this issue to judge whether or not I’d be dropping the title, but this relaunch won me back.
FULL REVIEW HERE

10. FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E.
I still have issues with the art, but the dizzying level of nutty invention in Jeff Lemire’s writing more than made up for it.
FULL REVIEW HERE

9. ACTION COMICS
Morrison didn’t blow me away quite so much as he usually does, but this was still a whole lot of fun, and I’m keen to see where his altered take on Superman’s early days takes us next.
FULL REVIEW HERE

8. BATGIRL
I was expecting to like Batwoman more, but this ended up winning me over with a likeable portrayal of Barbara Gordon. I should have known that Gail Simone would deliver the goods.
FULL REVIEW HERE

7. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
This chapter was mostly set-up, but it’s fascinating setup, with arguably the best ensemble cast of the New 52 being carefully brought together by Peter Milligan, while Mikel Janin provides atmospheric art.
FULL REVIEW HERE

6. I, VAMPIRE
Based on my original interest VS its final ranking, this surely stands as my biggest sleeper hit of the bunch. Joshua Hale Fialkov manages to tell a non-boring vampire story, while Andrea Sorrentino brings it to life with breathtaking visuals.
FULL REVIEW HERE

5. AQUAMAN
Another book that was much better than I was anticipating. The dream team of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis delivered the goods once more, making Aquaman cool again.
FULL REVIEW HERE

4. BATMAN
This was my most anticipated book. In the end, it didn’t quite reach the top of my list of best #1s after reading, but it was still a quality book, with Scott Snyder putting together the first chapter of what should be an engrossing mystery. And thanks to Greg Capullo it all looks slick as hell.
FULL REVIEW HERE

3. ANIMAL MAN
Animal Man better than Batman!? Jeff Lemire is one of the big winners of the New 52 in my book, with both his titles ranking higher in this list than my original hype-list, much higher in the case of this comic. Along with some unusual but memorable art from Travel Foreman, this acts as a fitting re-introduction to Buddy Baker and his family, with plenty for fans of superheroes and horror alike.
FULL REVIEW HERE

2. DEMON KNIGHTS
Paul Cornell knocks this one out of the park, with a masterfully constructed debut issue that – thanks to the lush pencils of Diogenes Neves – looks amazing, too.
FULL REVIEW HERE

1. SWAMP THING
The best of a great bunch. Scott Snyder gives us a debut that doesn’t falter under the mgihty shadow cast by Alan Moore, while Yanick Paquette kills it with some breathtaking artistic innovation. More than any other of the New 52, this is the one I can’t wait to get issue #2 for.
FULL REVIEW HERE

So, some clear winners and losers out of that selection. But even with the ever-expanding list of titles I picked up, there were very few that I outright regretted buying.

The big question is, what titles get bumped from single issue purchases to monthly commitments?  The way I’m currently looking at it, 21-24 are definitely chopped from my buy list.  19 and 20 are borderline cases, with my currently leaning towards not picking up issue #2, but maybe being inclined to give them a go for one more issue depending on how they look on the shelf.  16-18 are definitely getting picked up for #2, but if the quality doesn’t pick up I may not be back for #3.  11-15 are safe for their first arc, after which point I will re-assess any longer term commitment.  With the top 10 I’m in for the long haul, barring any drastic slump in quality.

So, for now, that’s DC got me onboard for 18-20 of their relaunched titles, with more titles launching in October that have also caught my interest.  So, overall, from my limited perspective, I’d say DC’s relaunch has been a big success.

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