Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DC Comics the New 52 – Part 2

At the end of my last post, a review of Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, I blamed what I consider to be a pretty bad comic book on DC Comics and the writer, Scott Lobdell. My naming Lobdell as a culprit and not the artist, Kenneth Rocafort, stems from the notion stubbornly stuck in my head that what the artist drew reflects the writer’s wishes. You’d think I’d be over that by now. It once was that way, long ago, but I know from personal, frustrating, recent experience that it seldom is these days. Sorry.

So, to be fair and balanced, after “…Scott Lobdell, get a grip,” I should have added: “Kenneth Rocafort, learn to tell a story.”
Catwoman #1

The cover:

Beautifully drawn. However, Catwoman seems to be floating above, rather than resting upon the ledge. She’s totally detached from the background. The cast shadow under her doesn’t seem to help much.

Because lower ledges of the building, some distance away, are colored the same shade of gray as ones closer to our POV, depth is lost. Even a few cars way down on the street are colored that same shade of gray. Little depth-killers.

The logo doesn’t read as effortlessly as it should, because the “C” is a little “G”-like and the pink, cat-clawed “W” is mostly up against darker background elements and loses some pop.

In general, running a logo against a variegated background with light and dark values makes it hard to read. Painting them a variety of light and dark shapes was the way they camouflaged battleships, when there were battleships. A “battleship camouflage” background is a good way to obscure a logo, whether light or dark.

Despite all that, this logo works reasonably well. The halo around the letters helps.

Back to Catwoman herself. She’s apparently comfortable in high, precarious places. She’s languorously lolling. Maybe that sparkly white stuff coming out of the bag is super catnip.

So, what is the “hook” this cover offers? Curiosity about the catnip, I suppose. Intrigue inspired by her looking carelessly comfortable up high without a net. Wondering if she’s high the other way….

Mainly though, I’d say it’s cheesecake. Super cheesecake. If that’s what DC is selling here, as with Red Hood and the Outlaws, I defend to the death their right to do so. If that’s their plan, I’d say they did a pretty good job with this cover.

The interior:

Storytelling:

The artist, Guillem March, tells the story pretty well. Not the way I would have done it, and I have quibbles here and there, but I didn’t have any serious trouble understanding.

March does some nice things with the body language and acting. On page five, for instance, panel three, I love Catwoman’s pose, gesture, and the fact that she’s not looking at her friend Lola, rather looking down as she ticks off the particulars of her situation. Very natural, very human.
I also like the fact that Lola has a distinctive face and physiotype. Not the cookie cutter comic book standard looks. Real-person looks.

For that matter, while Catwoman has the over-the-top “babe” body, her face isn’t the standard babe-glyph. And, as he did in panel four of page four, March gives her human expressions.

This is great: In panel three on page eighteen, March uses a border to select a detail of his drawing, then does a matching inset showing a subtle change—Batman’s grip has relaxed!
Wow. As one who demands a great deal of subtlety from artists and seldom gets any of it, I am impressed.

So…March conveys information pretty well.

Now about some of the information he chooses, or is instructed to convey….

The first time we see Catwoman’s face is on page three. However, by then, we’ve seen close ups of her breasts barely contained by her delicate-looking-but-obviously-industrial-strength bra and her body, front and back, in action poses shot from angles chosen for display purposes. Oh by the way, when we finally see her head to toe, including face, she’s still only halfway into her skin-tight cat-suit. More bra, one cup trying to hold a cup-and-a-half.
The cover accurately represented the contents, then. Cheesecake.

There are lots more examples, some shown below.

So, what else do we have here?

Violence.  Blood.
And sex. With Batman. Don’t worry, nothing X-rated is shown, because, as the title avers, “…and most of the costumes stay on….”
The art:

March draws well enough, I suppose, especially things he’s especially interested in, like cheesecake and tight, shiny catsuits.

If he’s going to draw this series, he should learn what a cat looks like. Those little three-toed critters he draws are not cats. He should also get ref on a cat carrier, or at least decide if the one he’s drawing opens on top or at the ends.

The story:

I suppose that I should warn everyone that what follows is a mega-spoiler. Then again, can you really spoil a story if there is no story?

Writer Judd Winick gives us a series of incidents strung together. It’s not a story. I suppose it might be the beginning of a story, like a bunch of Lego blocks dumped out on the table that might, with the addition of many more blocks, become a little cabin or something.

I have my doubts.

Selina Kyle/Catwoman is attacked in her apartment. Apparently, she saw it coming. She escapes the skull-faced intruders. They blow up her apartment.
I wonder if the neighbors sustained any collateral damage? Well, no one cares about that.

And Catwoman doesn’t much care about having been attacked, or her attackers. Doesn’t know who they are or exactly why they attacked her. No response required, apparently. They are not heard from or spoken of again.

Catwoman goes to her friend Lola for help. Lola, her “fence” and her “intel man.” Fence? Catwoman is a thief?

Yes, I know that the original Catwoman, dating back to 1940, was a criminal, but this is the New 52, a partial do-over, so can we really take anything for granted?

Lola knows of an unoccupied luxury penthouse where Catwoman can “squat” for two weeks and tells her where she might find information that she can use to make money. A “job.”

Posing as a bartender at a Russian Mob soiree—rife with cheesecake, of course—Catwoman, who speaks Russian, learns of a painting worth a lot of money, but only to the mobsters. Why not steal it and sell it back to them…!

But, she sees a mobster, Renald, at the party who should be in prison. He’s free?!

Renald brutally murdered a young woman for doing something that pissed him off. This is shown in a flashback.

Abandoning her post at the bar, Catwoman (still disguised as a bartender) follows Renald into the men’s room, partially strips and approaches him seductively. Purple bra this time.
He buys it. Once she’s in his arms, she takes him by surprise. Half-dressed, she wreaks bloody vengeance.

She’s exposed in more ways than one.

The mobsters discover that the “bartender” is an infiltrator while she’s still in the men’s room. Fortunately, she has her Catwoman costume hidden above the suspended ceiling tiles…

…in the men’s room?!

She changes into Catwoman and fights her way out through dozens of burly, heavily armed mobsters, doing them major, bloody damage en route.
Wait a minute. If she’s able to easily rip through a dozen big thugs absolutely unscathed, why did she need to strip, pretend to come on to Renald and sneak-attack him? Why not just walk in and carve him up?

Oh, right. Cheesecake.

Speaking of which, Catwoman apparently has some kind of very sharp claws built into her gloves. However, when she carves up Renald, she does it with bare fingernails, which seem to be every bit as effective. Super fingernails?

Interesting that Catwoman was moved to seek vengeance for the young woman murdered by Renald but didn’t even bother to check on neighbors who might have been killed when her apartment was blown up by skull-faces.

I acknowledge that there is a mystery hinted at regarding the murdered young woman. Maybe the reason for Catwoman’s uncontainable, killing rage will emerge, who knows how many decompressed issues from now.

Back at her fabulous penthouse “squat,” a pensive Catwoman sits among her pet kitties.

Batman enters. He knows her apartment was blown up. He’s worried about her.

There is no introduction or explanation of Batman. We’re supposed to know. Fair enough. I guess most people these days know who Batman is. Or do we? This is the New 52. Can we really take anything for granted?

Catwoman throws herself at him, kisses him. She wants sex. He says no.

No means no, right?

Nope. She persists. Tackles him, in fact. They struggle on the expensive carpet, her on top, going for the pin. So to speak. After some resistance, he “…gives in.”

They have sex, shown as graphically, I suspect, as DC’s “Teen +” rating allows.

That’s the end, for this issue.

The collection of episodes presented here in issue #1 is pretty sparse. Very much decompressed. I make it sound like more happened than did.

Catwoman speaks to us through narrative captions, most of which are declarative: “I’m Selina Kyle, Catwoman.” “This is Gotham City.” “This is the Ivgene clan. Russian Mob.”

Or expository: “I’m a good eight rooftops away before I bother to look back.”

Some are her describing herself: “I’m not sure I like doing anything unless it puts me out on the limb. ‘Cuz that’s where the fruit is, right?” Her musings about herself tell us that she’s a thrill-seeker who loves danger. Okay.

At least it’s clearly her narration and there are no other narrators.

The dialogue, when there is dialogue, is pretty tepid. People say baldly what we need to know or mouth boilerplate lines: “<You think this is a game? Some kind of joke?>”

Then there’s this exchange:

Renald: “… You should know…I am not easily impressed.”

Catwoman as the Bartender: “Good. I like a challenge.”

Sigh.

So, what is this thing?

It’s cheesecake, as is evident on the cover. It’s nasty-violent, which isn’t evident on the cover, but the “Teen+” is a license to kill, I guess. It’s sex in the form of a blatant sex scene—“Teen +” strikes again.

I guess that’s what DC, Winick and March were going for. If so, they accomplished it well. Luckily for Winick, basic story-crafting and wordsmithing skills were not required.

A publisher can sell publications featuring T&A, violence and sex. A publisher can make the protagonist a thief, a self-appointed executioner and abusively, sexually aggressive. It’s up to them.

If you find any or all of the above offensive or of no interest, don’t buy Catwoman. What’s the alternative? Storm DC with torches and pitchforks?

If DC Comics thinks this is a good way to go, that it serves their goals, let them.

But, jeez, Louise, did they have to drag Batman into it?


NEXT:  I’m Determined to Find One I Like….





111 comments:

NatePiekos said...

So far, I've found the new BATMAN (just plain ol' BATMAN) the most palatable. Might want to try that one.

~Nate

Anonymous said...

Animal Man. Stop screwing around and go for gold.

Anonymous said...

I agree, The DC reboot so far has been dissapointing

Comic.Reviewer said...

Again, you are hitting the nail in the head. My respect for you as an editor has grown (it was already pretty high before) by leaps and bounds.
I commented in my review-blog that I liked the art, and didn't mind the Cheesecake, but the story was too vague, too full of holes, and was getting ticked off at so many reviews focusing on the cheese, and forgetting to complain about the cake.

Thanks Jim. Your review was totally worth the wait.

I'm sorry that you started reviewing the bottom of the barrel.
Maybe you should try Action Comics#1
or a little surprised like Men of War.

You may finally find some redeeming qualities in this DC relaunch.

Anonymous said...

Jim, right on the money with this critique. Writing, that is to say the story line, is what brings people back for more. I loved reading Spider-Man stories when I'd finish the book and couldn't wait until next month's issue. That was the "hook" back then. Using "cheesecake" as the "hook" will maybe get a copy or two purchased but it will not bring you back month-to-month. Today to many monthly books are just graphic novels split up. Good writing will always prevail which is why I'd like to see books use writing as the "hook" from issue to issue and not "cheesecake". My 2 cents... David Hennig

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,

Nice review.
Here are the ones I like:
Detective Comics, Batgirl, Animal Man, Resurrection Man, Justice League Dark, The Savage Hawkman, The Fury Of Firestorm. Action Comics and Frankenstein Agent Of Shade are ok too.

Things i didn't like or found a bit tasteless in them: DC is a bit too gore, and #2 has a secondary villain called Orifice (No, the issue isn't titled "Enter Orifice").

My biggest deception was Justice League(Of America Geof Johns/Jim Lee: Didn't like the way the characters are writen + there wasn't much story in the first issue.

I also read Demon Knight but was indifferent to it. Not enough text for my taste.

For the same reason (Not enought text.) I renounced to buy Blackhawks and Aquaman (The preview of Aquaman: 3 balloons in a page, and mostly used for stupidities, or as they call it "witty" dialogue.). I think that's also why i didn't buy Catwoman. Not much seemed to happen in the issue.

Those are the 11 titles of the New 52 I tried. I enjoyed 9 of them and decided to follow 6 (DC, Batgirl, Resurrection Man, JLDark,Hawkman, Firestorm) I was also very tempted to follow Animal Man . Not too bad.

Stephane Garrelie.

Anonymous said...

I confirm what another poster said above: Animal Man is one of the best titles of the relaunch. I finally decided to not follow it, at least not every month, because there's other characters i like more that have their own books, but Animal Man #1 was an awesome read.

Stéphane Garrelie.

James Nostack said...

I agree that DC has a First Amendment right to publish whatever it wants, including cheesecake and Catwoman getting penetrated by Batman as the (ahem) climax of her debut issue.

But with that in mind, jeez, it's just an incredibly lame thing to do with one of DC's best-known female characters. Especially given that part of DC's rebranding / PR push was to attract more women readers. It seems like the portrayals of Catwoman and Starfire almost go out of their way to insult.

Again: within their rights, go for it, cool story bro. But this approach to their few female starring characters doesn't align with their stated goal of making their readership more inclusive.

Anonymous said...

The artwork is stylistically disjointed, it almost looks like there are four different people drawing the few panels you posted.

bmcmolo said...

Dear James Nostack - I agree completely. Well put. Judd Winnick said "This is a Catwoman for 2011." Well, I suppose, unfortunately, he's right. Maybe she'll become a pop singer with a sex tape next. Histrionic Personality Disorders are all the rage these days.

(Actually, I wouldn't be at all surprised if "someone filmed Batman and Catwoman doing it on the roof and is selling it on eBay" becomes an anemic plot for this series down the line. Judd W, take note!)

Dear Stéphane - I kind of liked Demon Knights, but I looked at the clock after I finished reading it. It took two minutes and forty seconds. That's ridiculous! Everyone keeps mentioning Animal Man. I need to check it out. The guy at my shop said he put it aside for me. I guess I'll find out later today.

Dear Jim - Not that it's a particularly satisfying answer, but Dan DiDio's intent with the "don't bother filling in the backstory/ how people know each other, etc." thing was, according to him, to allow room for later creators to fill in whatever they see fit. Like I said, I don't think it's particularly satisfying or sensible, but that's his raison d'être for the lack of establishing captions/ backstory/ sketched-out causal connections, re-booting to five years in, etc.

cesare said...

I'd love to work for you.

Anonymous said...

If I'm going for cheesecake comics, I'd rather have some Golden Age Good Girl Art than anything I've seen previewed in the New 52. Even at their worst, I think most GA GGA was less trashy than what I see coming out nowadays.

Don F Stout said...

There are any number of things I could say to tear the cover apart. I will just simply say the coloring is really bad with no depth and the line work is much too thin. It should be much darker and have more shadows, especially if the scene takes place at night. Unless it was a deadline situation and the book just had to go to print no matter what there's no way a decent editor would have or should have let the cover go to print.

David Alastair Hayden said...

Wow. DC is really stuck in the 1990's, which is a bad sign in 2011. This looks and reads like an average Image t&a book from say, 1996. Very disappointed with DC. It's their right and all, but it certainly doesn't match their mission statement. And my biggest gripe is a complete lack of quality. It's like they don't even care.

Anonymous said...

I am really loving these critiques. The points you make on this book (both positive and negative) are much more interesting than any other review I've read of this title. That's probably because every other review I've read has focused only on one aspect of this book, whereas you have taken the time to break it down to its composition. I hope you'll find one you enjoy; there's been plenty of good suggestions made, however to some extent I guess it comes down to personal taste for things like artistic quality and interesting characters.

Brent E

Duke Harrington said...

Jim,

For what it's worth, here's how I ranked the New 52 books I bought. I won't attempt to explain the grading system - far to cumbersome for our purposes here - but the relative order should help shorten your search for a decent read.

Superman 104.12
DC Universe Presents 86.93
Detective Comics 84.71
Batman 83.50
Action Comics 84.56
Batwoman 81.86
Aquaman 79.64
The Flash 79.14
Blue Beetle 76.49
Justice League 76.34
All-Star Western 75.05
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 74.15
Legion of Super-Heroes 72.97
Superboy 72.91
Green Arrow 70.17
Wonder Woman 67.57
Batgirl 67.54
Green Lantern 67.39
The Savage Hawkman 66.68
O.M.A.C. 66.57
Legion Lost 64.45
Mister Terrific 63.79
Men of War 62.29
Supergirl 55.94
Blackhawks 53.58

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

Sigh. Catwoman reached her height as a solo character during Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench's runs on the book in the 1990s... even with Jim Balent's habit of drawing her boobs bigger than her head. There have been some glimmers of Good Stuff since -- like the "When In Rome" and "Selina's Big Score" graphic novels -- but its been mostly a downward slide.

I wonder if they've reached bottom yet?

czeskleba said...

James Nostack wrote:But this approach to their few female starring characters doesn't align with their stated goal of making their readership more inclusive.
****************
This relaunch reminds me of Marvel's Ultimate line. In both cases, the stated intent is/was to recruit new readers and appeal to the general public. But in both cases the content makes it clear that the real goal is to get more sales from the existing readership through shock and stunts.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

My philosophy of logos can be summed up as "legibility."

I didn't have a problem with the "C" of "Catwoman," but now that you mention it, yes, it barely verges on being a "G."

I don't have a problem with the pink "W" which contrasts with the dark purple on the one hand and the light green on the other. I'm surprised you think a light color "loses some pop" against a dark background. I thought contrast aided legibility -- hence the dark halo around the letters so they don't directly touch the light part of the background. Which color would you choose for the background of a white and pink logo?

The coloring of the "DC Comics" logo is far worse. Random shades signify nothing and impede readability -- of the corporate logo, no less!

What do you think of the bright pink street which is almost the same color as her goggles in the foreground? I would tone down the street to create the illusion of depth.

I don't think Catwoman's left toes were a good place for "The New 52!"

Her right boot looks like it's about to fall off the ledge. What's holding it up? The back of her right foreleg?

Why is she dressed in brown on the color but in black inside? Her goggles are pink on the cover but yellow inside. I prefer black and yellow to brown and pink.

I was really surprised by the depiction of Lola. Not at all the sort of character I was expecting in a comic like this. I applaud whoever came up with her design. I can't find her in this DC character index, so I wonder if she was created for this new series.

Expressive Catwoman pose in panel three, page five, but wonky perspective of the drawers to the right of Lola. Strange-looking cat to the left of Lola. Yeah, I know nobody buys this to see kitchen furnishings or even cats drawn properly, but the artist is otherwise so good that these oddities stand out.

Was the hiding place of Catwoman's costume chosen for a reason other than "It has to be there to set up the fight scene"?

At least Catwoman told us her real name and the name of her city!

I can't get over how (male) fans who were (once?) attracted to female comics characters depicted as in the panel at the bottom of the review (chosen by you or by JayJay?) are now supposed to want stuff like this. Some do, I suppose. But enough to keep the title alive? Maybe the idea is to attract men who never read comics before. Good luck with that, DC.

Maybe your readers could answer these questions:

Were previous modern Catwoman comics similar to this issue?

I don't watch movies or TV these days. Is there anything in those media comparable to Catwoman #1?

Dear bmcmolo,

"[T]he lack of establishing captions/ backstory/ sketched-out causal connections" just sounds lazy to me. I prefer worlds with pasts and futures thought out in advance. Not as a creative straitjacket, but to simulate the interconnectivity of the real world and to provide a sense of long-term direction.

bmcmolo said...

Dear Marc - I totally agree.

Anonymous said...

Judd Winick is, to my mind, one of the biggest wastes of talent in comics: his Barry Ween is some of the best comics I have ever read (funny and touching even on repeated re readings) and his superhero stuff just seems laclustre by comparison. It really seems such a shame he is working on stuff like this.

James Nostack said...

czeskleba wrote:
"This relaunch reminds me of Marvel's Ultimate line. In both cases, the stated intent is/was to recruit new readers and appeal to the general public. But in both cases the content makes it clear that the real goal is to get more sales from the existing readership through shock and stunts."

Yes, very much so. It seems like a big part of the appeal of the Ultimate universe was keeping track of the minute continuity differences between it and the regular comics, while the creators basically told updated versions of classic storylines. The pay off, in other words, is that Ultimate comics rewarded you for being a huge comics fan. Likewise DC keeps changing continuities, I guess because it's like a drug to the really hardcore reader.

The New 52 project also reminds me of Marvel's New Universe project from 25 years ago, in which some very talented people launched a bold new project, but it proved to be very complex, expensive, the intended audience was never entirely clear, there were signs of rushed work, etc., and it all ended in tears.

DC's New 52 is merely six and a half times more complex than the New Universe was. And encompasses the entire line. So it's not like it's a potential disaster with really high stakes or anything....

Mr. Shooter, what's your take on the same-day digital comics initiative that DC's using with this reboot? Does it mean the end of dedicated brick-and-mortar stores?

Brunomac said...

From what I can gather, Catwoman doesn't seem to be wearing socks with her combat boots. This is a serious issue, as this can lead to sweaty "boot feet." Smelly feet are not hot, even on a hot chick. Sock-up those dogs, Selina!

Lee in Limbo said...

'I’m Determined to Find One I Like…'

Me, too. Actually, I quite enjoyed Batwoman, but it's J.H. Williams III, of Promethea fame, so the pages are beautiful but pretty complicated to read. I'm not sure how she'll fare by you. I think the thing is, that comic was in production a while before the rest of the New 52 thing was being talked up, so I sort of read it as being its own creature that just happens to be concurrent with the reboot.

The rest have been okay, but I can see some problems. Justice League Dark is beautiful as well, but I seem to remember a few pages that were a bit complicated as well. The rest that I've read so far have been alright, but I'm not opera-crying, yet.

I will say that I've enjoyed what I've read so far more than a number of regular DC readers who are either disappointed or completely pissed off. In both cases, I think people are bringing too much baggage to the table. They're a lot easier to read if you leave your expectations at the door, I find. But I can see where the disappointment is coming from.

Anyway, thanks for the rundown on these two issues. I'm probably going to sit and read them myself and see what my thoughts are, though I doubt I'll be moved to review them individually as you have. Something tells me they'll be quick, disposable, forgettable reads, as far as I'm concerned. Considering the price of comics these days though, I'm not sure that's a good thing.

jimshooter said...

Dear Marc,

The pink "W" is a medium color. It loses pop against the light blue, the medium gray (what you're calling "dark purple," I think). It does okay against her boot, which is pretty dark. It would do best against black or white. Or solid yellow. Contrast is key to legibility, but the contrast is not sufficient as is.

RE: the street: It's so different, however, such an abstraction, that it didn't really conflict to my eye. The pink of her goggles and skin is sufficiently lighter that it didn't strongly relate to the street for me.

Good point re: her toes.

She and her boots are apparently anti-grav. : )

I can imagine Catwoman smuggling her costume in and stashing it someplace in case she needed it. But, the men's room?

Like you, I prefer pasts and futures thought out in advance.

JediJones said...

Very interesting analysis on the cover, Jim. Those are great observations about the coloring and logo I wouldn't have noticed.

I think this issue was a mixed bag, not at all the worst of the 10 or so New 52 issues I've read. I'm more forgiving on the plot because I think it was intended as more of a character piece. A thin plot is at least better than a plot that doesn't make sense (Wonder Woman #1) or no plot at all (Supergirl #1). I think the events were disjointed because this was supposed to be a snapshot of a "day in the life" of Catwoman, not a plot-driven vehicle. It wasn't entirely successful but was interesting enough that I want to see where things go in the 2nd issue.

As for anyone who argues that the sexiness is inappropriate, c'mon, it's Catwoman, not Batgirl or Supergirl. Sex appeal has been a part of the portrayal of Catwoman for decades. Cheesecake is not out-of-place or out-of-character for her. I do think that a comic like this ought to be polybagged with a warning label because that final scene is not something kids should be able to readily page through and see.

Just came back from the comic shop and picked up Turok #4 and Mighty Samson #4. I noticed Turok #3 had come out recently as well. It didn't hit my comic shop when it was on Diamond's list last month but it must have shown up in the interim.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who sees this "New 52" crap as the Ultimate-ization of DC?

Zanazaz said...

Wow. I'm kind of glad I don't read comics right now. The cover looks like crap to me. What's with the pink street???

One look at the blue bag, and the white, "sparkly" dots, and I immediately thought... she's dropping all the diamonds she just stole? I know part of her persona is she enjoys the thrill of the heist, but hey, seems like a bit of a waste to me. Even if this is just a cover with no correlation to the story it's still bad.

Then I noticed her toe nails! Ouch! 'Nuff said...

I have a theory about the cover. I think there was one artist who drew Catwoman, and someone else did the background. Then with the use of a computer Catwoman is superimposed over the "background".

Hold the presses! Was that the Joker in one of the cheesecake example panels??? Green hair, pale skin... lounging around with a young lady in a club? I really don't think Catwoman should piss of the Joker.

Oh well...

czeskleba said...

Jedijones said:
As for anyone who argues that the sexiness is inappropriate, c'mon, it's Catwoman, not Batgirl or Supergirl. Sex appeal has been a part of the portrayal of Catwoman for decades.
**********************
I think it's not so much that Catwoman is portrayed as sexy that's the problem, but the extent to which objectification of her body dominates the story. It's true that Catwoman has been a sexy character for decades, but this comic has several pages in which she is half naked, with multiple close-ups of her breasts. That's not something that's been going on for decades. Sexiness in the context of a good story is fine, but in this case the story seems almost secondary to the sex, like in porn.

And again, it puts the lie to DC's claims about attracting new readers. Who is a story like this going to appeal to, other than middle-aged male comic fans who enjoy seeing super-heroes in sexualized situations? I can't imagine many females enjoying such a story. Maybe some adolescent boys might like it for the sex factor, but in this day and age there's enough real porn readily available that kids don't have to look to comics for a cheap thrill.

Ricardo said...

OMAC is the best one of the bunch for the single reason it's obviously the only one that works SOLELY as a comic book. It would be ridiculous as a film or as a book.
And Giffen is genius.

Zanazaz said...

Jim, have you ever written a book about writing comic books? If not, you should think about it. With your experience and knowledge it would be a best seller. Just a thought...

Gerald Cooper said...

Justice League # 1. An OK and fun book, but just fun and OK. Not BIG and GRAND. It doesn’t blow your mind. If Darkseid is the reason for a global threat that causes the heroes to come together, then we should have seen an open and obvious global threat. Not a single parademon trying to plant a bomb in downtown Gotham and another parademon (if not the same one) planting a Mother Box in a Metropolis sewer. They are also putting way too much emphasis on Batman, using him as the one who brings the Justice League together. A street crime fighter. That’s just not big and grand. It should have been Green Lantern coming to earth to warn its heroes of an oncoming threat. Compare this Justice League # 1 to the Kurt Busiek and George Perez Avengers # 1. It’s not even close. Yeah DC can say something like, “Well they’re the Justice League and not the Avengers and we’re not Marvel”, or something. But you know that comic fans are going to compare the two and if you want us continue to spend our money on every issue …

You see, DC Comics should have established the characters for us first before bringing them together as a team. The Justice League # 1 should have been the last book on the stands for us to buy. Not the first. I don’t know these characters. To have Superman hit Green Lantern as hard as he did, and not yet knowing Green Lantern’s powers and abilities because they never met? This is a clear indication that this Superman is not the Superman that we know. It read more like a cross between the Brave and the Bold and the Teen Titans. The Justice League # 1 should have been big and grand. It should have been amazing. Maybe it should have been Justice League # 0 as an introduction rather then the actual first issue.

Well let’s see what happens in the second issue. They’ve already started the infighting again. But don’t worry, we all know what’s going to happen again. I’m sure that Batman is going to again find a way to defeat Superman again. Again. Hint : only a regular human being can defeat Batman. Am I nit-picking here? Probably, but it’s because I want to book to continue with top sales.

Action Comics # 1. I’m not going to judge this yet and I’m not going to get critical just yet. I really can’t say why but I actually want to read about 5 or 6 issues and then get joyfully judgmental and critical! I do find myself just trying to have fun with Action Comics # 1 and I did. When this Superman (19 years old?) smiled as he ran away, I smiled too. Clark looks like he should be in college with Peter Parker (LOL). Since this Superman is the people’s champion, I’d actually like to hear him make a few public speeches. Have a following. A cross between Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X? Is he gonna be on talk shows to express his points with another on the talk show (Lex Luthor anyone?) with an opposite point of view? How much of a true activist is he going to be? With the media being run and owned by corrupt bodies of power, how will Superman be viewed in the offered public opinions? Let’s go for the ride and see where they take this …

Looking forward to you reviewing of these books, Jim.

Pastrami said...

Keep them coming!

I thought that the Green Lantern was 'okay' as well as Frankenstein. Was not able to track down Swamp Thing or Animal Man. I stayed away from Batman because I can't afford all 12 titles he'll be in.

Diacanu said...

Well, I was right Monday, this review did cheer me up.
That, and finding out in yesterday's comment thread that Ambush Bug has a trade collection.
Things are turning around for ol' Mikey.
What other gold will this place yield?

calmixx said...

Not one of the new 52 has held my interest for more than 3 pages. Not one. Nope, not even THAT one. Stunt.

GePop said...

The only DC title I'm picking up now is BATWOMAN, not only because it's excellent, but also because creative team J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman seem to be avoiding/ignoring the 52 reboot and are adhering to the original continuity.

Anonymous said...

OMAC is amazing, it's just Giffen riffing on Kirby in glorious, bombastic fashion. I'll be getting Batwoman in trade. Everything else is recycled dreck. Even the breakout hit, Animal Man, is nothing more than a greatest hits collection of previous, better-told, story lines. Cosmic Yawn.

I have to agree that for the last few years the Ultimates line has been godawful, but the new relaunch currently happening has been nothing short of inspired. Apparently Jonathan Hickman was given free reign by Marvel and expressly told to do things that couldn't be done in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Two issues in on his "Ultimates" and we have already seen a jaw-dropping paradigm shift. I am more excited about the ongoing adventures of Miles Morales as Spider-Man than I have been for Peter Parker's in about a decade. There is a sense of off-the-rails, no holds barred mystery about what comes next that has sorely been missing from mainstream comics. I would encourage anyone who is experiencing buyers remorse over the DC reboot to seek these books out. All were released in the last two months.

Anonymous said...

I think there's a real disconnect between the stated purpose of the relaunch of the DCU and its execution. I do not think any of the marketing has done anything to attract non comic book readers. If anything they will get the lapsed reader and some Marvel fans who usually avoid DC.

The commercials, for example- say nothing about the brand or give anyone but comic book fans any reason to get on board. The only motivation for the comic book collector is the 52 new # 1s.

Xavier Lancel (SCARCE) said...

Well, you are sure picking the worse titiles of the lot!
Yes, Guillem March is really good. You should definitivly check his short run on the last volume of Azrael (issue 10 to 13), way more impressive than this cheap excuse of a script for cheesecakes panels. I was ready fo follow him to hell, but Dc really put the bar higher than expectd by teaming him with Judd Winnick on a cheesacake Catwoman title. So I'm not following...
DC has, to my taste, really missed their communication on this "reboot". Even by following the comics news, I only learned some days ago that this is a 5 years after reboot, meaning that all the heroes already had 5 years of adventure previous to their new first issue. IT will probably quickly turn into something as convulated than previous continuity when they're gonna try to "correct" things by using flashbacks and then change their minds (it seems that those days that neither Dc or Marvel can stick to a decision for more than 1 year). Shouldn't I have learned of that instead of having information on variant covers?

Cousin Vinny said...

Jim Shooter-

If I recall, when you first started out, you submitted scripts to Mort for the LSH series on Adventure in a comic book layout. Curt Swan just took your cue and did the pencils, someone else did the inks, colors, lettering, etc. Was your art and layout crudely drawn, or was it usable enough for Curt to work on?

I don't know how it's done now, but I still think writers have some influence over the artistic process. I also know it's easier to break into the industry if you can competently draw a story in a sequential art format. (Pin-up artists need not apply!) So, I'm guessing the artists have the upper hand now in the comic book creative process.

Thank you for another stimulating comic book review. Enjoyed your dissection of *both* style and substance of the comic books that you review. It helps me understand better the mechanics that go into producing each and every single comic book.

Anyway, I had the same initial reaction as you did when I saw the title; I thought she was floating. And umm, my jaw dropped when I learned about the spoiler at the end. I understand DC wants to publish provocative content and be on the 'bleeding edge', but DC has done a better job in the past, such as Batman/Silver St. Cloud, where the sexual tension was nuanced. More power to DC, I guess... Just count me out on reading this title.

And lastly, Jim, thank you for completely ruining the word, 'cheesecake'! I can now never think of that word in the same way again. I shall curse you with a 5-minute writer's block! :)

I do have some more thoughts about the comic book industry... Will come back later as I try to make concise sense of them!

Diacanu said...

Hey....yeah...why IS she sprinkling diamonds on her tit?

WTF?

I thought it would make sense if I gawked at it more, but I can't even get a snarky parody gag out of it.

This is like "if it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college", I'm never gonna know, and it'll drive me nuts, and someday kill me.

William said...

In my opinion, the problem with this book seems to be the problem with all so-called comic-books today… they are not really comic-books. They are not written like comic-books, they are not drawn like comic-books and they are not colored like comic-books. So, what are they? I don't know what to call them… maybe illustrated magazines, or something even more appropriate like toilet paper perhaps.

A comic-book is a very specific thing to me. It looks a certain way and reads a certain way. When you take away the essential elements that make a thing what it is, it ceases to be that thing.

What passes for comics these days are as different from traditional comics as Rock-n-Roll is to Country music. They are similar things. They are both considered "music" but, at the same time, they are vastly different and thus appeal to a vastly different audience. So, the people who used to be comic fans aren't going to necessarily be fans of what passes for comics today, because comics as they knew them no longer really exist (for the most part). So, by the same token, "comic-book" fans today, aren't really comic-book fans at all, because what they are exposed to and offered at retail aren't really comics. In other words, referring to this "Catwoman" periodical as a comic-book would be akin to calling Time Magazine a newspaper.

On top of that, there is just not enough story-telling in "comics" today. As I've stated before… these days you get about 5 minutes of so-called plot in an entire book. It now takes at least 6 issues of a modern comic to get through one part of one story. Who the hell wants to wait 6-months to finish a single chapter of a story (at $3.00 a pop no less) that used to fit into one issue???… Not me brotha!

The "big 2" should just give up and start publishing everything as graphic novels 3 or 4 times a year with rotating creative teams, instead of going through the farce of publishing monthly installments that are just going to end up as trades anyway.

Anonymous said...

[MikeAnon:] I guess I'm so jaded toward comic book covers these days that I kind of blip over them now rather than trying to seriously evaluate them, since most of them are just so unappealing, particularly from an informational perspective. I didn't really *expect* the Catwoman #1 cover to convey any real meaning attached to the character or the interior of the comic. Which is a sad commentary in and of itself on the state of comic book covers.

If I had to give a first impression of the cover of Catwoman #1, it would be, "Look at my boobs." That's the only draw here, plain and simple. The cover sells sex, from the low cleavage to the headdress lying beside her like a stripped-off pair of panties to the diamonds she's allows to spill over her boob like a standard porn motif I probably don't need to spell out to anyone here. The bag of diamonds indicates she's a thief, but her spilling the goods plus her lying brazenly in a dangerous position tells me she steals for pleasure and thrills rather than for money. Not a character I'm particularly interested in reading about, but that's just me. I'd pick it up only for the chance to see even more disrobing. (And it looks like the payoff starts on page 3.)

P.S.: Hey, since DC appears intent on teaching kids that even superheroes can have one night stands without losing "hero" status -- "villains with benefits," anyone? -- I don't it's too far-fetched to ask whether there are Bat-condoms involved? Surely the superhero who actually constructed a *backup personality* for himself in case his mind were ever assaulted and broken came prepared with some goodies from his fellow "superhero" Trojan Man, right? [--MikeAnon]

Diacanu said...

William-

Um...illustrated fictional incident pamphlet?

Knightsky said...

Demon Knights is fun, if a little light and breezy. Action was quite good, but it's not going to appeal to everyone. Probably my favorite of the new 52 is All-Star Western, which is just absolutely wonderful.

Suzanne de Nimes (suedenim) said...

The comment about how badly the artist draws cats got me thinking more generally... Isn't it odd how, even in GOOD Catwoman stories, actual cats seldom if ever play a major role. I think we've seen more of Power Girl as a cat lover over the years than Catwoman!

Thunder said...

I heard all this hype about Animal Man #1 so I went to the comic shop today (for other stuff) and thought I might pick it up as well. The store I go to has jacked the price on it up to $11 (from about $4 originally). It really IS the 90s all over again! Needless to say, I left it in the store...

JediJones said...

I have seen people say they heard about the New 52 reboot and went looking to buy some of them for their kids. So I think the marketing has been effective in expanding outside of the normal comics market to some degree.

Czeskleba, Catwoman's been wearing skintight outfits, leather and so forth since the '60s TV show. The fact that she's seen in a bra here doesn't shock me or give me pause. The trend in our culture for a century at least has been to become steadily more permissive with sexuality with each passing year. So by flashing a little more skin, she's only being current with the times. If she dressed like she did in the '60s, it wouldn't have the same effect as it did then, because that's considered tame and not risque now by most people.

It doesn't matter to me if they're trying to appeal to women, men, both or neither. I can only judge if it was worth the paper it was printed on based on whether I liked it or not. They have 52 titles so the idea that one or two can't have some sexual content or cheesecake aspects seems nothing short of prudish. Supergirl doesn't have it, so maybe that's the one they intended to appeal towards women.

Whether it's porn or a story, kind of all depends on one's personal critical analysis of the story, I think. To me there was enough of an attempt at a plot and characterization here that I think they were going for storytelling, not pornography. The sexuality is used in part to tell us what kind of character she is (and of course also to make the comic nice to look at for those who like that sort of thing). Catwoman's not the same person as Supergirl. I expect Catwoman to be a villain to some extent and certainly to be a bad, naughty type of character. I'll take this behavior for her over the homogenized, milquetoast, generically superheroish Halle Berry movie version. She's not a nun.

JediJones said...

William...I don't think less story per comic or bigger panels are a storytelling problem so much as a pricing problem, as you allude to. Panels may be twice as big, but if we got twice as many pages, we'd be getting the same amount of story. Same thing if they cut prices in half so two issues cost as much as one.

Pricing is a big, big problem with the industry that cannot be understated, especially in light of the current economy. I've compared comic prices to toys, movie tickets and other periodicals, based on where prices were in the '70s-'80s, and the stats say comics should cost between $1.50 and $2.00 today.

I don't think that a quarterly trade paperback publication schedule is a bad idea. I think the public has spoken that they like trade paperbacks, since their sales have skyrocketed while comics have been flat or falling. People seem to like getting a complete story in one chunk rather than getting it piecemeal. I'm not sure if trade paperbacks have a lower price per page, but that could be the last word in why people would buy them over regular comics. I do see that they often creep down in price on stores like Amazon as years go by, like most books do, which is a lot more consumer-friendly than comic books being jacked up in price as back issues after a few weeks on the racks.

Granted, a more densely written comic might feel like it had a complete story. But I think I might prefer to get a larger book with more pages than to see panels shrunken down in an effort to fit more story into the same pages. From a practical readability standpoint, it's more of a strain on my vision to try to peer into small panels searching for details. It's more pleasant to see things blown up bigger and clearer. My vision's always been worse than 20/20 and it's not getting any better as I get older.

I don't think a less densely packed set of panels is necessarily a bad thing. More breathing room in the images can create some compelling and cinematic "shots" that can contribute to storytelling by helping with things like setting the scenes. I don't think a slower pace in the plot is necessarily bad either. It can allow more time for characterization and subtlety.

Because art has evolved to be far more detailed than in the '60s-'70s, it makes sense that comics are less wordy now. You need less narration to describe what's visible in the pictures and you need less dialogue to express what can be seen in a character's face. Larger panels also help show more expressive and detailed emotions in a character's face. All of this of course depends on a good artist working smart and hard.

I think I could get used to less story per book as long as the story that is there is told better and they cut the price in half. Which will most likely not happen.

Sometimes country music evolves into rock 'n roll or vice versa. Some people like one, the other, or both but that's not a knock on either of them. Comics of today aren't like comics of 30 years ago but then neither are TV, movies, music, etc. I find some of the stylistic changes in comics interesting and think they have potential to contribute to storytelling. On the other hand, some I don't like, such as the more frequent rendering of caricatured and cartoonish-looking humans rather than realistic figures. Personal taste is always an issue.

Overall I don't feel a yearning for comics to change their style exactly to what they were 30 years ago. I would like to see new and better ideas, better storytelling, more interesting character development, etc. If anything, the trend in modern comics seems to be towards more creative and innovative artwork but at the same time more pedestrian and unimaginative writing. If I was a writer I would relish the chance to bring some great stories to life through the work of some of these spectacular artists. I'd feel lousy about giving them something boring and meaningless to waste their time, effort and talent on.

Defiant1 said...

I don't plan on ever reading this or even picking it up. The story sounds a little shallow. Nah! I take that back, it sounds a lot shallow. Cheesecake is fine, but I want a good entrée. Comic book porn always disturbed me a bit. There is such a thing as real porn. Even better, there's such a thing as real women. There is absolutely nothing special about the way I look, but even I was able to date a Playboy coed model. Comic readers really need to get out more. It actually disturbs me when I have to explain to women that men find entertainment in cartoon porn. Nothing is wrong with a well drawn female form, but surely no creator takes pride in knowing that all he's done is draw fictitious sexy women when they are tasked with telling a story and growing a readership. I guess if they get a paycheck, they don't care.

The art is tolerable in most places, but it's not the least bit exciting. How many muscles does Batman have on his stomach? Exaggerated features are okay to a degree, but I really wish artists would study anatomy. Showing two dozen non-existent muscles on a body part is something that distracts me in a way that annoys me. The coloring really bugs me. I'm tired of everything being exceptionally shiny or glowing on modern comics. It's distracting because I want to know what they are wearing that reflects that much light. The more I looked at the picture, the more I was trying to figure out where the light source was. On the sofa scene, it looks like there must be a floodlight shining up from the floor. Modern coloring makes everything look plastic or molded. I'm honestly sick of it. Exotic colors were neat maybe the first year of computer coloring. Exotic colors are now the default and they are annoying. I'm tired of color combinations not found in nature. I guess that's something my mom taught me when I was little... to pick color combinations found in nature when I choose what clothes to wear.

Janet made a very good point that everything is colored very dark. Are the backgrounds completely irrelevant in modern comics? In the comics I like, the background usually is relevant. Someone sent me a pdf of the 8 page Harbinger story Jim wrote for the last Harbinger TPB. I spent about 2 hours researching the relevance of a painting on the wall. I believe it was there for a reason. It was a real painting, but I didn't know much about it. I like a little more depth to the writing than what I see in this Catwoman story.

A comic like this isn't exactly food for thought.

Anonymous said...

The comment that the artist couldn't draw cats got me thinking that he couldn't find the right reference. That would also explain why there is no consistency in the drawings posted by Jim.

Jim said...

Thanks Jim for your two reviews, I have enjoyed them.

One thing I think has been lacking in comics for a long time are actual editors. I think most are reduced to being production coordinators and just managing to keep the trains on time. So often I read a book and I ask what is the long term viability of the series, what is the plan for the book and where is it going. One of the few complete writers in my mind right now is Scott Snyder.

The star system hurts because some of the big names (Johns and Bendis to name two) seem to be given carte blanche no matter how their idea impacts other things.

DC's relaunch was needed, but with more thought and time a lot more of the books could have been great. The problem is everything was so bad before the lowered expectations make okay seem good to many and good comes off as great.

In general I think there is a lot of talent in comics, but not enough strong editors or editors who know how to work with the talent to raise the bar.

jimshooter said...

Dear Xavier,

JayJay picked the first two reviews because she thought they were the most discussed online. I'm picking the next one.

Pierre Villeneuve said...

OMAC OMAC OMAC

Just a sugestion Jim.... you should review OMAC. ;)

Pierre Villeneuve said...

I feel..... old.

I see many online rave about Batwoman... WW... Animal Man... and to me... those comics are pretty much unreadable.

Although these comics have a strong Vertigo feel to them... and other then some select Vertigo titles... I never was much of a Vertigo fan.

If it was not for OMAC, Green Lantern and maybe 2 other comics... the DCnU would be a perfect jumping off point for me.

Although I don't see much reviews comments praising the OMAC comic... so I fear that Green Lantern will be the only comic left for me to read before long. :(

Heck the NEW Teen Titans Games GN came out not long ago..... and I did not see many praise... or even at the very least review it.

I fear I am obsolete and should start collecting stamps instead or something. :(

JayJayJackson said...

The cats don't look much like real cats, but they remind me of the Aristocats. Perhaps the artist should look at Steinlen. There's a man who could draw him some cats.

Anonymous said...

First of all--great to hear the opinion of an industry veteran on the subject of the New 52. Secondly, I agree with your points and those of most of the commentors here--we need better artists/writers/editors, and we need them as a requirement. I've vowed not to buy any of the new 52, ever since it was announced. Instead, I'm waiting on the sidelines, watching, seeing if this thing can be successful when future issues come out. If it tanks, then I'll be doing what the devil did in Don McLean's American Pie--laugh with delight. Then after that, I'll pitch in to try and salvage the industry. In the meantime, I'm trying to at least turn people on to the idea of checking these out, in an effort to boost new readership. Maybe things would've been better if the comic industry stayed a mass medium, am I right?
By the way, I found a good copy of the Marvel Graphic Novel you wrote in 1984, Dazzler: The Movie. I can't wait to read it.

JediJones said...

You can get that recent Harbinger hardcover that has Jim's new (at the time) 8-page story for $9.50 on Amazon. Dreamlandcomics.com also has it as well as the hardcover Archer & Armstrong (with another new Jim story) and X-O Manowar (with a new Bob Layton story) for good prices, about $16 each. Those two are $25 on Amazon. If you want them all, the best deal is probably to buy them on Dreamland and add on another comic to get the price over $50 to qualify for free shipping.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,

Would you please review the brand new Ultimate Spiderman title, issues #1 & #2?

I believe the creative team is successfully doing, what DC has been failing to do with a lot of their new 52 books, and I would love to read your awesome insights and opinions.

Thanks.
-C. Jay

jimshooter said...

Dear Cousin Vinny,

My layouts for my early work at DC were just layouts, not good enough to be worked up into final art. That said, the characters were reasonably in proportion, the perspective was reasonably sound, the composition was decent and the "visual thinking," as Mort called it, was good. Mort's term, visual thinking, lumped together shot choice, angle, frame (the precise frozen moment of time depicted), dramatization and creativity. The artists followed my layouts usually, improving them a great deal, usually. As far as I know, the artists all liked them and found them very helpful.

These days, some work is still done "Marvel Style" and some from full scripts. It doesn't seem to make much difference. Whether working from a plot or a script, artists today seem to feel free to do as they please or take liberties with the writer's work. Editors seem unable or unwilling to exert any governance. I think only the biggest "name" writers at Marvel and DC have any real clout.

It never ceases to amaze me that all-time greats like Woody, Gil and Curt would do exactly what young writer me asked, but artists today, even young beginners, feel that it is their right to change what is called for in my scripts as they see fit.

Dimitris said...

"And again, it puts the lie to DC's claims about attracting new readers. Who is a story like this going to appeal to, other than middle-aged male comic fans who enjoy seeing super-heroes in sexualized situations? I can't imagine many females enjoying such a story."

While I agree with you that this issue doesn't seem a great way to attract female readers, shouldn't DC's whole initiative be judged as a whole rather than title by title (with regards to attracting new readers)? I mean, expanding your audience means having something for everyone, not necessarily having everything for everyone.

Believe me, from everything I've seen on the Internet regarding that issue, I'm glad I didn't buy it and I'm not that happy with the use of both Batman and Catwoman in it. But is it fair to say that it (along with "Red Hood and the Outsiders") can put off female readers for good? How about the female characters in the other books, (not just the ones with female leads)? I'm not a big fan of the reboot, just trying to be fair.

Anonymous said...

Jim, You wrote: "...all time greats like Gil, Woody, and Curt..."
Several posts back someone (I forget the name) said the top artists today are better than the top artists of yesterday, but the the average artist in the "old days" was better than todays average artist.
Now we all have our own opinions, but I don't see it at all. If there is someone around today as good as Curt Swan, they have escaped my notice.
I'd say the "top artist" working in the mainstream today is Photoshop.

Anonymous said...

I'm picturing Catwoman in a room with a bunch of guys hooting. All of a sudden Curt Swan's Dream Girl walks in, and the place goes silent.

Diacanu said...

...seriously, why IS she sprinkling diamonds on her tit, and letting them fall to the street?!?!?

It makes no damned sense!!

It robs me of sleep!!

Diacanu said...

Oh, also everything Defiant1 said about "comic book porn".
Except the bit about the Playboy model.
Never dated one of those, probably never will.

But the rest...

Mark said...

...seriously, why IS she sprinkling diamonds on her tit, and letting them fall to the street?!?!?

It makes no damned sense!!


*sigh*

Of course it does.

What do I need to do? Draw you a diagram?

Diacanu said...

Mark-

Yeah, yeah, I know the allusion they're going for...I'm just being stubbornly practical minded about the loss of currency.

All the people she coulda fed...the children she coulda clothed...hell, think of the cats, dammit...a diamond buys a lot of Meow Mix.

JediJones said...

Here are links to all the New 52 5-page previews I've found around the net.

Action Comics #1
Action Comics #2
All-Star Western #1
Animal Man #1
Animal Man #2
Aquaman #1
Batgirl #1
Batgirl #2
Batman #1
Batman: The Dark Knight #1
Batman and Robin #1
Batwing #2
Batwoman #1
Birds of Prey #1
Blackhawks #1
Blue Beetle #1
Captain Atom #1
Catwoman #1
Deathstroke #1
Demon Knights #1
Detective Comics #1
Detective Comics #2
DCU Presents: Deadman #1
Firestorm #1
Flash #1
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
Green Arrow #1
Green Arrow #2
Green Lantern #1
Green Lantern Corps #1
Green Lantern: New Guardians #1

JediJones said...

Grifter #1
Hawk & Dove #1
Hawk & Dove #2
Huntress #1
I, Vampire #1
Justice League #1
Justice League Dark #1
Justice League International #1
Justice League International #2
Legion Lost #1
Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Men of War #2
Mister Terrific #1
Nightwing #1

JediJones said...

O.M.A.C. #1
O.M.A.C. #2
Penguin #1
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Red Lanterns #1
Red Lanterns #2
Resurrection Man Trailer
Resurrection Man #1
The Savage Hawkman #1
Static Shock Trailer
Static Shock #2
Stormwatch #1
Stormwatch #2
Suicide Squad #1
Superboy #1
Supergirl #1
Superman #1
Swamp Thing #2
Teen Titans #1
Voodoo #1
Wonder Woman #1

Diacanu said...

JediJones-
Oh for crying out loud, that's too much stuff, who's gonna look at alla that?

Geeeezz....

czeskleba said...

Dimitris said:
shouldn't DC's whole initiative be judged as a whole rather than title by title (with regards to attracting new readers)? I mean, expanding your audience means having something for everyone, not necessarily having everything for everyone.
*****************************
That's fair enough. DC's new line has been hyped as an initiative to attract new readers, and I guess I took that to mean the entire line was going to made more accessible to new readers. But you're right, that's not necessarily true. I wonder though if it doesn't invite confusion to have some titles that are more accessible to newbies and some that are squarely aimed at existing old readers, without anything to distinguish between the two?

jimshooter said...

Dear JediJones,

Wow. Thanks!

Diacanu said...

Jedijones-

Forgive me...I was grumpy about...stuff...today..

JediJones said...

You're welcome, Jim. I thought this might help you narrow down what you wanted to review if you hadn't already decided. Because if you tried to review all 52, it would take another 2 months and you'd end up being 100 issues behind on reviews for issues #2 and #3 anyway. The life of a critic is hard.

You could easily become the Roger Ebert of the comic book world with your well-written, in-depth and expert reviews. But then we wouldn't get to hear your nostalgic musings of days gone by anymore. I expect you'll find a way to strike the right balance between new topics and old.

I wasn't aware of just how many comics are previewed on the web nowadays. There are a lot of previews out there for other companies' titles too and not only for #1 or special issues.

Some of the previews show all the pages on one screen but some have them split up. So if you just see the cover on the page there is a Next button somewhere on the screen to move forward.

I made one mistake in the list. My link to Green Arrow #1 is to a different series from a couple of years ago. The real New 52 Green Arrow #1 preview appears to have been an L.A. Times exclusive. They made it too small to read though unless you dig into the HTML to find the actual image links, which are here, although these might be too big to read without some resizing: Cover, Page 1, Page 2-3, Page 4, Page 5

JediJones said...

Ah, just found the elusive Swamp Thing #1 preview. The NY Times has it in convenient PDF format. DC made the bold choice to put Superman on every page of the Swamp Thing preview but to never show Swamp Thing. Keeps the audience in suspense, I guess.

Diacanu, I thought you were just joking about that, so you were safe until you brought it back up. Either way, no harm, no fowl, to quote Howard the Duck. Your penance will be to read in full every one of the New 52 previews. You better get cracking because you've got a little over 300 pages to go.

JediJones said...

Ah, and now for the Batwing #1 preview courtesy of the Huffington Post, the web site where you can huff and you can puff and you can blow the post down. This is like a scavenger hunt.

Defiant1 said...

Diacanu,

I'd name her, but I decided she wasn't right for me.

http://bit.ly/pCmL5D

Jacob said...

JediJones wrote:

"I do think that a comic like this ought to be polybagged with a warning label because that final scene is not something kids should be able to readily page through and see."

Why isn't the Teen+ on the cover sufficient? Why must the first and foremost concern be that a kid might catch a glimpse of some pretty PG-13, USA Up All Night-caliber heavy petting? I have been in a whole heck of a lot of bookstores in my time but I've never seen Portnoy's Complaint or Lady Chatterley's Lover or Naked Lunch in a polybag - nor do the restaurants I eat at come with helpful warnings that the food might have icky spinach in it.

I think the onus is on the parents who buy things to do the job of checking its appropriateness, not on retailers to make things inconvenient for the rest of the world lest some kid get a glimpse of...well, not much at all, really.

Jacob said...

And Jim is absolutely right, I think, to pin a lot of storytelling problems on editors who can't or won't rein in their artists. Grant Morrison has lamented on several occasions that he feels like the writers who get the best results in the current business are the ones who really go out of their way to network and cultivate personal relationships with their artists (who might be on the other side of the world!), smooth over issues and massage egos themselves and act, effectively, as their own unpaid editors. Which is why Morrison increasingly restricts himself to working with a very small coterie of artists he personally trusts, like Frank Quitely and Cam Stewart.

Greygor said...

The thing that's confusing me in the Bat line is that Bruce Wayne has been Batman, he's disappeared and Dick Grayson has taken the role. He's now back to being Batman again.

In addition there have been 3 Robins, Grayson, Todd and now Damien (IIRC based on what I read in Batman #1, Detective #1 & Batman & Robin #1).

The #1's are set 5 years after the appearance of Superman, Earth's first superhero. So all the above happened in a 5 year period.

It's not tracking for me.

On the other hand, Animal Man was great, Swamp Thing showed a lot of promise and the modern take on a Golden Age Superman (powers developing over time as he has more exposure to the sun one presumes) is interesting.

After reading your two takes I'm interested to go back and re-read my own purchases and try and apply a more critical eye to them.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else concerned that the company name 'DC Comics' contains a glaring redundancy?

Pete Marco

Ole M. Olsen said...

I have to agree with Pierre - I loved OMAC too, and it's definitely my favourite so far (after one issue...). So Dan DiDio IS in fact able to do something good. :-)

I've liked a few others as well, mainly "traditional" titles: Action Comics, Superman (I'm not sure I really like the new Superman CHARACTER, though, and definitely not the costume), Batman (the plain "Batman" title), DC Universe Presents (Deadman), The Flash (I think... haven't properly read it yet, just browsed through it), Green Lantern (I found Corps and New Guardians okay too).

I also actually thought Justice League was okay. I'm hopeful about Superboy and Legion of Super-Heroes (that's two separate titles these days, folks!).

And then there was a lot of s**t and a lot of "Image"... and then there are the hyped "Vertigo" titles like Animal Man, Batwoman, Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman.

Well...

I mean, it's fine if you like them! But I was never a big Vertigo fan, and never a big fan of the horror and occult elements. So they don't give me personally much joy.

I may be growing old too, but I don't necessarily want comics to look and feel like they did 30-50 years ago. I just want back the excitement and good storytelling of those days - not necessarily old-fashioned stories. I do think good storytelling is a timeless art. And I think that if you do feature good storytelling... THEN you have a chance to attract new readers!

I do think modern technology is partly to blame for bells and whistles having largely taken over for storytelling, though. I mean, if you have a fairly good artist who's good at drawing splash pages, pin-ups and "imaginative panel layouts" and you couple that with a decent colourist with Photoshop, you can fairly "easily" get good looking pages, and may not have to spend that much time or energy actually coming up with a good story that will keep the reader wanting to come back the next month.

If you're limited by printing technology, you may work a bit harder to make the most, and the best possible, of what you have...?

Jim, please do continue writing stories about "the old days"! Not because they ARE the old days, but because they're very very fascinating and entertaining and because, with some notable exceptions, the present day world of comics is anything but.

Ole M. Olsen said...

Oh, and speaking of the good old days... and the bad old days: I'd absolutely LOVE to hear some stories about the Valiant days.

There was SO much fun during those first couple of years when Valiant was starting up. There was really something to be enthusiastic about again, and it felt sort of like it must have felt to be in at the beginning of "the Marvel Age of Comics" in the early 60s.

And then your face suddenly disappeared from the Valiant "bullpen" pages after Unity, Jim... and since then, life have never been quite as fun again. :-(

Dimitris said...

@ czeskleba: I mostly agree with you, I was just arguing that the simple existence of the Catwoman comic is not enough to destroy their efforts. How DC markets/presents their product though, what titles are recommended to which part of the audience (especially considering that a lot of their characters appear in cartoons and merchandise for children), can definitely make them or break them.

It could also be true that their product is just bad on the whole. I can't defend them on that since I read few of their new titles. I'll give a good vote though on All Star Western. And Batman.

Anonymous said...

Reference two other New 52's: Justice League International and Legion of Super Heroes (both by teams that should know better).

1. Godiva - "menage a trois "
2. Jo Nah - confusing Sci Police costume bit, a la Red Hood

It's clear there have been two mandates handed down from on high:

1.Your title must include a minimum of one sophmoric piece of sexual inneundo for absolutely no reason (well, beyond being sophmoric sexual innuendo for its own sake) per issue. In case female lead, this requirement is doubled.
2. For team books, you must costume our costumed heroes with a non-costume costume. Make sure the transition is as confusing as possible.

G. Bob said...

Jedi,

Your point about price is pretty good. Adjusted for inflation, a .35 cent comic in 1980 is worth about .91 cents in 2010 currency. If I had to buy comics back then at today's rate, it would have been the equivalent of 1.15 back then. Considering that my weekly allowance for doing chores was about .50 cents, I'm sure that I never would have touched a comic as a kid...and therefore never would have spent a single penny on it as a teen.

Now, in fairness to the publishers, price is not an easily addressed issue. The paper used in a modern comic costs far more than the paper used back then. They also sold comics in much greater volume, allowing them to offset the costs per unit. Complaining about comic prices is a bit like complaining about the cost of a coffee at Starbucks. Pricier ingredients, an a different buyer demographic.

If sales were strong, then it would show that this isn't an issue. Since sales, however, have been terrible for over 15 years now I think it should be looked at by publishers. Digital sales won't work unless the price point is figured out.

On another note, I would like to thank Mr. Shooter for giving us a great look at how an editor approaches content. Any writer, or for that matter anyone in any creative field, should take advantage of this learning resource.

Matt Hawes said...

Jim, I really love the reviews! I hope that in between the comic book history (which I also love), we will see more reviews. I wouldn't mind it if you mixed old and new comics in your reviews. It's fun! Thanks!

-- Matt

Hagop said...

Jim-
I would advise against reading Justice League #1. It will only take 5 mins. of your time, but the regret you'll feel afterwards will seem eternal.

Stuart Moore said...

A few notes:

After one month the digital editions of DC's books now drop in price by a dollar. So the first week's books are now available for $1.99 each on Comixology (except ACTION, I guess, which is $2.99 -- and worth every cent). This is a great way to try out the new titles.

I second the recommendation of the new ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. Great ground-up storytelling by Bendis, and amazing amazing art by Sara Pichelli. Solid storytelling and some of the best facial expressions in comics.

Finally, I can't remember who commented that the two 52 books reviewed here reminded them of Vertigo titles. But I will say that, like these books or not: As a founding editor of the Vertigo imprint, I just don't see it.

Best,
Stuart

Anonymous said...

[MikeAnon:] One thing I noticed in the Batgirl #2 preview is something I don't see used often enough, though I'm not sure it's used all that well here.

In the panel where she says, "I was too late to save that cop on the floor," there's an editor's note asterisk (*) linked to the text "See last issue." In my opinion, these editor's notes were tremendously helpful in stirring up a back issue collector's impulses, and although there are some who complain that they break the narrative flow, I think that whatever promotes more books and generates more interest is better for comics overall.

Now, in this particular case, "See last issue" in reference to a scene that couldn't possibly have been done anywhere *but* last issue is a little ridiculous, and it breaks the narrative flow for no good reason. If this had been a crossover book such that you would need to refer to a whole other title, or if this were in reference to a scene that happened a couple issues or more back, then yes, a little note there would be appropriate. But "see last issue"? Please give us *some* credit. [--MikeAnon]

Anonymous said...

[MikeAnon:] Superman #1: "Enough is enough! Time to get snuffed!"??? Embarassingly cheesy dialogue. Or maybe "immature" is the better word. I've gotten used to thinking of Superman as a veteran, but the stated intent of the New 52 is to de-age them and return them to a more inexperienced and maybe overconfident vibe, which I guess isn't going to resonate with me. Thought I'd be picking this title up for sure, not so convinced now.

Blackhawks #1: I couldn't tell at first that the guy in panel #1 was the guy throwing the punch in panel #3 OR the guy headbutting in panel #4. Too quick a cut to page 2, is "Wildman" the guy from page 1? Is the girl flying in panel 3? Oh, guess not. NO transition from page 3 to page 4. Miserable read.

Supergirl #1: OMG, is she wearing anything on her hips at all??? Is that a proto-S-shield on her CROTCH??? Just because I'm reading this, I'm looking around to see if Chris Matthews is sneaking up on me!

I'm really thankful for all the previews. I think that with the exceptions of the first Action Comics and Justice League arcs (for the sake of setting the tone of the new universe) and one or two of the Green Lantern titles (for the sake of finishing off the pre-New 52 storylines) I might just take a pass on all of the New 52. The hype had me impressed, but the end product, not so much. [--MikeAnon]

Diacanu said...

Mikeanon-

Agreed, how many times have they redone the Superman origin, especially a regression to "Superboy"?

Off the top of my head, Smallville, "Secret Identity", and "Superman Earth One", the latter being just a few MONTHS ago.

Geez, then there's gonna be ANOTHER origin redo with the upcoming flick.

All right, we GET it.

Anonymous said...

Judd Winick is one of the worst writers in DC's stable. His writing on "Trials Of Shazam" was awful. The DC Reboot seems to be obsessed with porning up superheroes (but then again, DC did "allow" Vivid Entertainment to make porn versions of their characters).

I can't wait for the bubble to burst, and for the DC Reboot to implode. I hope the next Reboot does the smart thing, and uses Alex Ross' "Justice" as the foundation.

Pete said...

"But I will say that, like these books or not: As a founding editor of the Vertigo imprint, I just don't see it."

Don't know whoever it was but it wasn't said that these two books feel like Vertigo. Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing and Animal Man apparently feel like it (and with the later two I'm quite glad it is the way, though i haven't read them yet; being an overseas customer it takes a couple weeks till I get my ordered comic books).

Stuart Moore said...

Yeah, I may have misread that -- sorry. I haven't read Animal Man or Swamp Thing yet either, though I'm looking forward to it.

JediJones said...

MikeAnon said...
One thing I noticed in the Batgirl #2 preview is something I don't see used often enough, though I'm not sure it's used all that well here.

In the panel where she says, "I was too late to save that cop on the floor," there's an editor's note asterisk (*) linked to the text "See last issue."


I recently saw poorly done version of this that serves as another example of What's Wrong with Comics Today. I was looking at, if I recall correctly, a 2000s Amazing Spider-Man issue on the official DVD-ROM collection. One of those asterisked references appeared, but ALL it said was "* See the Galactic Attack Saga." Or maybe it was "Space Revolution Saga" or perhaps "Robot Alien Clone Invasion Saga." Whatever it was, that's all the note said. There was no issue number, no reference to what title or titles said saga actually happened in and no mention of how recently that event occurred. Clearly they weren't expecting anyone who wasn't a well-versed comics reader who already knew about the "saga" to be reading that issue. Why even bother to include such a footnote at all if it's not meant to inform the uninitiated?

Anonymous said...

"Judd Winick is one of the worst writers in DC's stable. His writing on Trials Of Shazam was awful."

[MikeAnon:] I actually liked Trials of Shazam. It wasn't high art, but it was entertaining. Where Winick lost me was his bringing Jason Todd back from the dead after Jeph Loeb had already squandered all the shock value of such a radical move during "Hush". [--MikeAnon]

Anonymous said...

I've read a number of reviews of Catwoman #1. I agreed with most of them that this is a weird book if it's aimed at women.

I think yours is the first review that mentioned being insulted by the treatment of Batman.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell this Catwoman-dreck from the previous Catwoman-dreck.

It didn't need a new #1. By Christmas, the new numbering won't make any difference anyway.

jimshooter said...

Dear James,

I'll talk more about the same-day digital comics thing and the future of the business in a post soon. Thanks.

What!? Studio Art said...

Finally, some honest, professional critique!

Anonymous said...

"But, jeez, Louise, did they have to drag Batman into it?"

Don't worry, if Batman's your favorite, you have *lots* of other options ("Batman and Robin", "Detective Comics", "Batman", "Justice League", "Justice League International"...)

Of course, if Catwoman's your favorite, I guess you're kind of screwed, huh? :(

KintounKal said...

Jim Shooter wrote "If she’s able to easily rip through a dozen big thugs absolutely unscathed, why did she need to strip, pretend to come on to Renald and sneak-attack him? Why not just walk in and carve him up?"

I think a couple valid explanations are possible. Maybe she didn't want to risk squandering her opportunity for vengeance while Renald was still close to his entourage. Making him suffer for murdering the young woman first and then focusing her attention on escaping alive seems smart to me. It's not fair to dismiss the fact that Catwoman utilizes a whip which Selina can't carry around out of costume. Is it really far fetched to suggest that makes a big difference?

Perhaps she simply doesn't want to rip through thugs if it can be avoided. Her grude is against Renald after all not his whole organization. Those gashes on the mobsters faces look deep and permanent. Why make a dozen more enemies than necessary? Another theory is that she didn't want Catwoman specifically to be identified as Renald's attacker. When the cat is out of the bag that the bartender is really an infiltrator, her attempt to be inconspicous turns out to be fruitless.

KintounKal said...

Mark,

I think your jumping to conclusions here. I honestly doubt Guillem March drew Catwoman letting diamonds fall to the street with lewd imagery being foremost in his mind. Back on June 11th, Vaneta Rogers from Newsarama asked Judd Winick who his Catwoman is and he replied "She is a character who is addicted to danger. That's the key to her character. She's not stealing because she needs the money, and when she steals something, she blows through it really quickly. She enjoys the rush." The cover conveys this message very nicely. She's dropping the diamonds because she didn't steal them for their value.

Diacanu said...

KintounKal-

Then that makes her a self absorbed brat at best, and a sociopath at worst, and then I don't buy her wanting to avenge people.

KintounKal said...

Diacanu,

What topic are you referring to? You seem to be implying that only decent people avenge others and that's absurd.

Diacanu said...

Well, yeah, I guess gang members avenge their homies....

jimshooter said...

I'd bet every mobster in that room had committed heinous crimes. Catwoman's vengeance must have been motivated by some personal connection.

Anonymous said...

Catwoman 52 page 11. The scene when she's at the bar, bartending and explaining that everyone else is either a prostitute or a gangster. Towards the left of this page by the curtains there is a woman wearing a trench coat. I have seen her before on other comics.who is she?

Anonymous said...

So just saw the new Dark Knight Rises movie trailer with Catwoman, and reminded me that I needed to catch up on some Batman and Catwoman reading. So I did.

Maybe I'm keying on the wrong things here, but I really liked the cover art on this issue. Yes, she seems to be enjoying lounging on that ledge a little too much, but shes Catwoman for cryin' outloud! I mean if she can't make seductive poses in high places who else can?!

Oh, and yes, clearly Catwoman would not be wearing socks with her boots. Seriously. She does not seem like the sock wearing type of lady. The fact that the art clearly shows her toes and bare feet out of the boots only confirms what I have long suspected: that Catwoman does not wear socks with her boots, probably never has worn socks with her boots, and probably generally dislikes wearing socks with any other kinds of footwear. Maybe wearing her boots barefoot gives Catwoman blisters, I don't know, but Im sure she could just put bandaids on and tough it. I mean, if Catwoman were to be wearing high heels, she wouldn't be wearing socks. In fact, Selina's such a fashionista that I'd bet that she probably wouldn't even wear hose with her high heels, and would instead go bare legged, since hose are mostly out of fashion these days. Just sayin. The no socks thing is clearly dead on to her personality.