Very light week this week, with the majority of the titles from DC Comics. Out of the Big Two comic publishing houses, I have to tip my hat to DC as the one that seems to have a more unified, concerted approach to their universes. We’ll take a look at the pulls in a few paragraphs, but I want to take the opportunity to wax philosophically.
I have to confess, when The New 52 hit the shelves in 2012, I was really uncomfortable. Not only was the entire comic history of the DC universe as I knew rendered obsolete but it also made me feel … old. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other comic readers in my generation felt this way. Given that comic reading has shifted demographically to a more mature audience, it made me question DC’s decision, not simply from a creative perspective but from an economic one. I mean, let’s face it: the people buying most of their comics are the ones DC risked alienating.
But, after a couple of years of reading x-men-20-cover-detail, I am re-thinking that whole theory. Sure, there have been a few victims of this whole process. Swamp Thing and Constantine are a couple of the casualties I mentioned in last week’s picks. Their respective storylines have faltered a bit and I think it’s fair to say that the central values of those characters have been compromised to a degree. Alec Holland has too much power and not enough imagination to figure out what to do with it while John Constantine is no longer the fringe con-man he used to be, and is now more of an A-list character in his own right. But for the most part, I think the core components of The New 52 have managed to re-define themselves and carve out new respective niches for the continuity-lovers like me and the next generation of comic readers.
At the very least, DC has managed to sustain a brand new direction for their titles that includes a new, and smaller continuum to manage. The only problem I foresee for this new continuum is managing it correctly. I totally buy why DC had to do this, and I think it turned out okay; I just don’t think it was necessary.
Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis and 52 were all attempts to bring the DC Universe into synch. Unfortunately it wasn’t done effectively. There were too many titles, too many cross-overs and not enough continuum management. Too many stories were out of control and individual characters were popping up in various titles almost simultaneously.
Sound familiar, Wolverine fans?
It isn’t a problem specific to DC; Marvel is clearly in the same fix, but I just find it ironic that it was Marvel that had the tighter reigns on its properties back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I would argue that it was that control that kept them on top for those two decades. Now DC is manifesting a severe control and has the top four titles out of the top ten sellers for March. Marvel still maintains the dominant market share, but I would argue that DC is maintaining the dominance in quality. Maintenance is key in ensuring the continuation of quality comic creation and DC needs to keep a close eye on The New 52 unless they want to break it all down and start it all up … again.
Let’s get to the titles:
Justice League #29
Uncanny X-Men #20
The Mercenary Sea #3
Wonderfully drawn by the amazingly talented Dale Eaglesham (a fellow Canadian and fan-favourite), we find Sinestro drawn back into the politics of leading the Sinestro Corps. Written by Cullen Bunn, the storyline is fairly simple and expected, but the initial introduction to Sinestro builds upon his depth by presenting him as a daunting character even without his ring.
Sinestro is a character who has gained a great deal of acclaim in the last four years. The creation of the Sinestro Corps, the other Lanterns in the spectrum and the Sinestro Corps War have brought him to the forefront and made him more than just Green Lantern’s nemesis. He is a character who has become worthy of his own book and this is a worthy book to pick up.
Justice League #29
We are getting closer to wrapping up the Forever Evil story event, and even though we haven’t seen a lot of the unified Justice League in the last few copies, what makes this issue of Justice League stand out is the second appearance of the re-invented Metal Men. Bob Kanigher created these guys back in the late sixties, and they remain one of my fondest DC characters. Robots with emotions – true artificially intelligent lifeforms, they were ahead of their time back then and have a definite place in this new DC universe. They’re a great property and it’s good to see DC keeping them true to their original inception.
I’ve been enjoying Forever Evil, but it’s taking a while to get there. Justice League has been a good title to pick up and while it was a little shaky at first, Forever Evil has solidified this comic’s place in The New 52.
There are two words to explain why I’ve been buying this comic: Scott Snyder. The man has a true grasp of Batman’s personality. This issue is the first one in the Final Act story arc of Zero Year – essentially, Batman in the beginning as he learns about the master villains, like The Riddler, that he will encounter throughout the rest of his career.
I like this series because it’s outside the regular continuum of the current publishing event of Forever Evil but with good reason. It’s masterfully written by Snyder and cleanly drawn by Greg Capullo. It’s incredibly close to how I would imagine Batman in his early days and I can’t get enough of this title. I also find it strange that I’ve never been a Batman fan, but I look forward to this book coming out every month.
Uncanny X-Men #20
Yeah … this is my mindless devotion to the X-Men franchise acting up again. I’m sorry … I truly am sorry. I just wish that Marvel would get its house of mutants in order. I hate the schism between Cyclops and Wolverine. I want Scott Summers to apologize, find a way to bring Professor X back to life and get on with educating young mutants in the right way. What was wrong with Astounding X-Men? The X-Men, The New X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Men Legacy, The Amazing X-Men … I’m tired of it! The wildcat and flagrant proliferation of X-titles is damaging the integrity of these characters to the point where the fans will simply stop buying them.
Of course, I know … I didn’t. But I’m working on it … honest. It’s my problem and I’m getting help.
The Mercenary Sea #3
Buy this. Seriously … great story. Each issue so far is a perfect slice of a larger tale that I am eagerly and hungrily anticipating every month. My problem? I want it all NOW! Kel Symons and Mathew Reynolds have partnered an amazing book that truly deserves to be its own hardcover collection but I’m impatient and can’t wait that long.
I reviewed the first issue of this book a few months back; it’s great to see it thrive and succeed. I love that Image Comics is maintaining its commitment to creator-owned books because of books like this. Amazing talent is exactly what the comic industry needs and Image is one of the companies getting it out there.
If you haven’t seen this book – go to your local comic shop and ask for back issues. It’s truly worth your time.
So the pick of the pull for this week is:
Again, it was hard this week to choose between Batman and The Mercenary Sea. The Mercenary Sea is an amazing book with a great amount of potential, but we just haven’t seen enough for to compare to the work that Snyder has developed with Zero Year since June, 2013. This is Batman, stripped to his barest essentials. We see him making mistakes, learning how to become the master strategist and constantly pushing himself to think four, five six steps ahead of his opponent.
If you’re not familiar with Snyder’s work –or any of the work by these great artists, then you really need to make a trip and go and support your local comic shop!
Oh, great guru of comics. I kneel eternally at your feet.