How could I let this happen? It seems I have let real life intrude on comics to such an extent this year that not only have I failed to keep up with every DC New 52 first issue, but as of writing I'm ACTUALLY NOT EVEN SURE WHAT I'VE MISSED! Yep, I've placed so much value on things like housing, work, and even the odd social interaction, I really couldn't tell you every title in the 52 right now. Lame. I really have no excuse. I have betrayed my heroes.
I plan to remedy this, but I hope that helps to explain why I have a review for Constantine next to a review for Superman Unchained. I still have to chase up a copy of Threshold, then I don't know, there's some money thing and some other shit. Sigh, the borderline mental illness of collecting things...
Constantine #1 It's taken me a while to get around to this one. My knowledge of this character amounts to watching half of the Keanu Reeves movie pissed one night in a hotel room in Sydney. But that's what's great about the New 52 for people like me, eh? Well, not really, because if this issue is an introduction to John Constantine then John Constantine is a prick who'll let a teenager die to save his own skin. This might work as a setup for a less than perfect character if that's what Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes are going for, but it doesn't work for me. Comic shop conversations pointed to this being a disappointment for long time Constantine fans too. I'm not quite sure why, but it seems if you're going to piss on what the old fans like you should at least be doing it to access a new audience. I do like Renato Guedes' artwork here, and if I was leaning towards picking up another DC title, perhaps to fill the void after Resurrection Man, I could see this going somewhere after six issues or so, but that's not the case, and on first impressions Constantine fails the job interview.
Superman Unchained #1 Timed to pretty much be a new title as the Man Of Steel film gets bums on seats around the world, and also to celebrate the 75th anniversary of arguably the world's greatest superhero, Superman Unchained arrives like a Supes fan's wet dream, with Scott Snyder and Jim Lee steering the ship. Regular readers will probably realise I view this through Superman coloured glasses but I really couldn't ask for more. With the Superman book being frankly a little hit-and-miss, and Action Comics reading better as one large volume as far as Grant Morrison's run goes, Superman Unchained seems to be aiming to be something a little more accessible for Joe Cinema. The beauty is it also ticks the boxes for Superman fans like me. I love how Jim Lee draws the character, and I've been telling everyone Scott Snyder writes DC's best book for ages, so I really couldn't ask for anything more. Snyder brings some of his Batman chops over, with the villain being set up with a little mystery and not giving the game away too quickly. My only gripe is that the print version strangely has four pages of the story on a pull-out poster – you literally have to pull the thing apart to read it – hardly a collector friendly move. I got it digitally to actually read it, meaning I bought it twice, and at the $4.99 USD price tag I got screwed a bit. Lucky I thought it was awesome, eh?
Batman Superman #1 Friends and long time readers may know how much I liked Greg Pak's work on The Incredible Hulk(s) a while back, a run with storylines that ranged from the cheekily experimental to the balls out headfuckingly surreal, and there's a bit of that here. This certainly isn't what you would guess the new Batman Superman book to be like, and to further accentuate that there's the unique artwork of Jae Lee (well for two thirds of the book, Ben Oliver takes over the rest, but don't worry, there's a legitimate plot point to excuse it), whose unmistakable style was a little too bizarre for me until I settled into it with Before Watchmen: Ozymandias. There's plenty to chew on if you're into Pak's stuff, including a nice comparison of the two characters, a possessed Catwoman, and a spot of apparent time travel. If this creative team stands, Superman Batman will be a quirky take on DC's big guns, and proves that with this wave of the 52 it's time for something with a little more shine than.... I don't know.... another team book, or that Amethyst shit. Nice to see Supes in the jeans and t-shirt again too.
New Avengers #7 I won't go into the details of what has transpired so far in New Avengers regarding the incursions. It's too confusing to narrow down to a sentence or two, so if you're curious I suggest picking up issues 1 to 6. Right now the dust has settled a little, and while Reed is preparing to defend against the worst, tensions between Wakanda and Atlantis are rising, creating problems between Black Panther and Namor. While they are about to tear one another a new one on the cover, it's not the case (at least, not yet), but it does create an interesting subtext: how strongly do you hang on to your existing loyalties when you have inside knowledge your planet could literally be wiped out at any moment? This isn't something made obvious in this story, just something I considered while reading it, but it's been a while since I found my own thread that goes a little deeper in a superhero comic, and I dig that. While I'm a fan of the Panther and he's the reason I picked New Avengers up, I'm really liking Dr Strange's brief scenes in this title too, and none better than the way he chooses to tell Dr Doom to shut the fuck up. Nicely done.
I have ordered everything in DC's villains month. Hopefully I'll be motivated to review (or at least Comic Burger review) every one of them like I did the 52 number ones. Thanks kids.