Part Two (of Two)
And the week of judgment has arrived! Let’s see which New 52 books have improved with the second issue, which have gotten worse, and which have managed to maintain the same quality as the first.
Action Comics #2
Superman in Chains
Written by Grant Morrison
Pencils by Rags Morales & Brent Anderson
The first issue of Action Comics received a hell of a lot of praise, but I found myself in the “it’s pretty good” crowd. I was a bit more impressed with Superman #1, which I also didn’t think was great, but found it to be closer to what I was looking for in terms of character development and an introduction to this new world. It’s safe to say, though, that Action Comics #2 is easily the best Super-book of the reboot so far. This thing is good.
Readers might not like that there are only twenty pages of story and the book is priced at $3.99. However, there are eight pages of extras (character designs with notes from Grant, Rags, and also Gene Ha) that make this book well worth the charge. But if the storytelling stays this good, I’m willing to shell out that extra dollar, because Grant Morrison spins quite a yarn with this issue.
I got a lot clearer picture of who this new Superman is in this issue. While the opening scene of the first Action was great, this is a whole issue of that excellent. Luthor is a calculating bastard, and the stuff that Grant and Rags say about him (and the choice to make him a bit heaver) in the extras makes his scenes even more powerful. This is just the book that’s necessary to get people excited about Superman again.
And man, how about that Action Comics #1 homage on the second to last page?
Detective Comics #2
Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel
While Action Comics #2 greatly improved on the first issue, the second installment of Detective Comics only serves to highlight the flaws inherent in the writing, which sadly takes the first issue down a few notches in hindsight. The writing is just all right (with often stilted dialogue and clichéd exchanges), the art is pretty good when it’s not trying its hardest to gross the readers out, and the plot is so dark and gritty for the sake of being dark and gritty that it sadly delves to a Frank Miller-esque self-parody. It wasn’t a completely awful issue, but it’s so damn violent that it completely severs any emotion connection that I’ve had to the story. Which is sad, because I love these characters, and I think they’re put to great, great use in Scott Snyder’s Batman.
This could be a good read if it dials down the violence and shock value, concentrating more on building story and character. I’ll follow it through this story arc and see how it ends.
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Ben Oliver
I have to be honest. I was two seconds away from dropping this book after the first issue. I was about to submit my pull list for this week without Batwing #2 on it, but then I paused. I figured I’d give David, the Batman of Africa, one more try. All in all, I’m glad that I did. This is Winick’s best effort of the New 52 so far, standing head and shoulders above the first issues of Batwing and Catwoman. It’s violent, maybe as violent as Detective, but there is a strong emotional center here. David cares about the people being murdered, and it’s written in a way that we, the readers, do as well.
The art is beautiful, just as it was last time. If Ben Oliver stays on pencils/inks and Judd Winick keeps improving this story from issue to issue, I’m in for the ride. I’ll certainly pick up this book next month, because the story of Batwing vs. Massacre is admittedly pretty interesting. Let’s just see if, after this battle is over, Batwing can support a book of his own.
NEXT WEEK: New York Comic Con! Reviews for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #2, Batgirl #2, Ghostbusters #2, Batman & Robin #2, Green Lantern #2, Joe Hill’s The Cape #2, CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 #4, Suicide Squad #2. That is a lot of books, but I’d expect no less the week of the convention. These might be a bit late, what with me prepping for NYCC, but I’ll do what I can! There will definitely be big con reports, though, pictures ‘n all.