The Midas Touch, But With Poop: Rob Liefeld
Oh, Rob Liefeld, there are so many things that could be said here. We could spend paragraphs about how your writing and art helped killed Hawk & Dove, but we won’t. However, it’s fair to say this: Rob Liefeld simply hasn’t evolved his way of storytelling.
His runs on The Savage Hawkman and Deathstroke are classic Liefeld. The art wasn’t just bad, it’s consistently terrible. Almost every kind of Liefeld trope you can think of is almost mirrored in both stories. Adding the fact that they both read like a violent old Image comic, it’s no wonder why they’re two of the worst-selling comics in all the New 52.
Iconic Character That’s Seen Better Days: Superman
Writing stories for the Man of Steel requires a will to match, as coming up with compelling narratives for a perfect being is a tall order. Before the New 52, some of the best Superman arcs were those outside of the regular continuity, such as Elseworlds stories like Red Son.
The New 52 was supposed to get people interested in vanilla Supes again, but despite a cool new origin it simply didn’t take. The cocky young Superman from the early issues of Action Comics – with his t-shirt, jeans, and work boots – was quickly pushed out of the way to get back to the bland ol’ boy scout we’re all kinda tired of.
The Superman book hasn’t been any better, with uninteresting stories against a ho-hum range of superpowered aliens. It all fell apart when George Perez quit the book in July, citing creative differences with editorial and having to work within the bounds set by Grant Morrison’s Action Comics – bounds Morrison wasn’t willing to disclose even to Perez.
DC’s flagship character deserves better, and so do those that care about him.
Mysteriously Absent: The Joker
You know The Joker – he’s the greatest villain in DC’s vast stable of characters, and arguably in all of comics. Yet since his appearance in Detective Comics #1 – where he had his freaking face removed – he’s disappeared. DC is currently putting out five Batman books a month and plenty of other books in the Batverse, so it’s a little strange that he’s only been mentioned in passing since then.
But fear not! You see that creepy-ass image up there? That’s a teaser that DC put out recently to hype the return of the Clown Prince of Crime in the upcoming Batman #13. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been talking up their Joker as the creepiest, scariest iteration of the character yet. If you’ve been keeping up with their Batman run so far, then you know better than to doubt them.
We’re Not Yet Sure If This is Terrible: The Wonder Woman/Superman Power Couple
Whether or not you think the idea of Wonder Woman and Superman shacking up is dumb or not, you’ve got to admit that it’s a little weird. Many can’t shake the feeling that Lois Lane should be Clark’s one and only, and it’s also a bit hard to believe that Wonder Woman would ever hook up with a big blue Boy Scout.
Despite how lazy detractors think that this power coupling is, it’s never been done inside of regular DC continuity. No one knows if it’ll bomb — or if it’ll even hold for an extended period of time — but you can be sure that people will be buying Justice League in droves to find out.
Can’t Get Here Soon Enough: Justice League of America by Geoff Johns and David Finch
Wonder Woman and Superman playing tonsil hockey wasn’t the only interesting thing about the latest Justice League issue, you know. DC teased what was to come for the League in the upcoming year, but they also revealed a brand-new Justice League of America — written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch – in a two-page spread. Holy crap!
The spread has Martian Manhunter at the helm, along with classic JLA characters such as Hawkman and Green Arrow. The rest of the lineup is plenty interesting, too: A Green Lantern is in, but it isn’t Hal Jordan. Instead it’s the newest Lantern, Simon Baz, an Arab-American introduced in this week’s Green Lantern #0. Rounding out the lineup is Steve Trevor, Catwoman, Katana of the Birds of Prey, Stargirl, and Vibe (not pictured above).
The hook is that these supposed B-listers are proving their worth, as the current Justice League has been actively rejecting new members. The new series is slated for February 2013, and we can’t wait.
Best Single Issue: Batman #5
While there have been plenty of great single issues throughout the entire New 52, none encompassed the comic book medium as well as Batman #5 did.
In the issue, Batman is trapped in an underground labyrinth by the Court of Owls, who are taunting him at literally every corner by reminding him that they’ve been embedded in Gotham City long before the Waynes ever were.
Days pass as Batman’s mental state deteriorates, and Greg Capullo’s take on it is inspired. The pencils themselves are excellent, but Bruce’s downward spiral is shown to great effect by Capullo’s rotation of the pages as the book progresses. That effect simply couldn’t be replicated in other creative mediums, making Batman #5 well worth celebrating.
Honorable Mentions: Batwoman #4, Swamp Thing #10
Best Crossover: Swamp Thing/Animal Man
Both DC and Marvel both love them some crossovers, and the New 52 is no exception. There have already been a couple in the past 12 months, but Swamp Thing and Animal Man stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Both books have been hinting at a crossover for months now, and the streams were finally crossed in Animal Man Annual #1. The Rotworld event has both Buddy Baker and Alec Holland fighting back Anton Arcane, as The Rot looks to throw the balance of life in its favor. The writing in both books has been sharp and the art has been bloody fantastic in a very literal sense up to this point. What Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have in store promises to be nothing less than that.
On to Page 3!