So, with week 2 of the reboot/relaunch, I have to admit, as someone who was quite sceptical about the whole thing, there’s a lot to recommend it here.
Its really no surprise that Action Comics was excellent. A Superman whose powers aren’t quite up there yet, and a nice reference to Smallville early on (at least, I have to assume it was intentional ). Its interesting to see Clark pushed more into a Green Arrow esque role here, but it works, especially with the idea that this is Superman starting out. He’s not at the level of cosmic threats yet (although Luthor’s dialogue hints towards something coming). Morrison’s on good form here, and Rags Morale’s artwork is great. I do wish artists would stop overusing the Superman with glowing red eyes thing, but that’s just a personal peeve. To be honest, given that this is the premier Superman title, and is probably the earliest set of the superhero books in the new 52, I think they could’ve easily used this as the launch title instead of Justice League. Really strong first issue that shows Clark as much more of a Superboy than a Superman, and also a nice showcase of Luthor. Very interested to see how this book develops.
Batgirl, also lived up to the hype. Its no secret I had a lot of misgivings about the book. Barbara’s role as Oracle had been a big part of the DCU for years, and the character of Batgirl had gone on to enjoy success first with Cassie, and then more recently with Steph. To be honest, pre-reboot the Steph Batgirl series by Bryan Millar was one of the best books DC was putting out, so I really disliked the way it had the rug pulled out from under it. However, then DC put Gail Simone on the book, who was possibly the only writer that could’ve convinced me to pick it up. And Gail came through brilliantly.
Instead of being ignored or rebooted, the story nicely uses Barbara’s disability throughout the book. I did have a nagging wish for more of a bridge between this and the previous series, which is a peril of not rebooting as cleanly as Superman has – but I do find myself itching to know what happened with Steph and why Barabara’s walking – only one of those questions is likely to be answered in the near future though.
The way Gail used the fact that Barbara was new to being back out as Batgirl worked brilliantly, and her characterisation using The Killing Joke is built up to the point where Barbara freezes when a gun is pointed at her, causing her rescue of someone to go badly wrong. Its powerful stuff, and despite really being against Barbara’s reinstatement as Batgirl, I now can’t recommend it enough. Between this and Action Comics, DC couldn’t have asked for a better couple of books for this first proper week of the reboot.
JLI was fun, but entirely setup. Dan Jurgens definitely convinced me he can pull off this team book though after writing Booster Gold’s solo adventures for so many years, but I was quite surprised just how quickly Guy exited the title. Frankly putting him on the cover was a bit cheeky (makes me wonder if he was sticking around longer in the initial plans?). For me, it seemed to carry on the tone of the recent Generation Lost series I enjoyed, so I’m happy. It was nice to see Booster brought in from the beginning as the team leader, and it feels like the dialogue between the team is just right to capture that lighter hearted JLI feeling. I’m also a big fan of the friendly relationship between Booster and Batman, something that in this rebooted universe is pretty unexpected. I assume there’s a story there that’s going to be revealed at somepoint (I’m not going to be surprised if this is the original timeline Booster who went to the DCNu’s Bruce for help after finding himself stuck here – we know Bruce found out about the timeline changes from Barry).
Animal Man was a nice surprise too. Really well written and intriguing. I had been going to skip it, but I was glad I didn’t. There’s some nice balancing of the superheroics, Buddie’s domestic life, and the horror elements.
The two books that didn’t blow me away were Detective Comics (enjoyable, but didn’t feel as fresh as the other books to me – I have to wonder if not rebooting Batman and Green Lantern in a similar way is going to make them stick out in all this), and Stormwatch, which I’d expected really good things from but didn’t really grab me (And good lord, Midnighter’s new costume is bloody awful – although that’s not a complaint restricted to him in this new DCU). I have to wonder if Stormwatch was just juggling too many characters in its first issue. And the fact that part of the setup seems to hang off of a Superman issue that’s not out for a couple of weeks seems a weird decision.
So overall, as someone who wasn’t entirely convinced of the reboot, this first proper week of books did a lot to convince me. Action Comics, Batgirl, JLI and Animal Man are all books I’m definitely going to keep picking up.