martes, 21 de agosto de 2012

Let's Talk About The First Year of the Relaunch, The Best 10 Comics

Top 10 BEST Comic of the Relaunch
Is been a good year

Honorary mentions
15- Nightwing by Kyle Higgins
14- Dial H by China Mieville
13- Flash by Francis Manapul
12- Earth 2 by James Robinson
11- Justice League Dark by Peter Milligan/Jeff Lemire and Mikel Janin
Now the list

10- All-Star Western by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti and Moriat

For #10 it was between this and JLD and the reason why I went with this is simply cause All-Star Western has been consistently good since the beginning, while JLD is very enjoyable and has one of the best art of any comic books right now, the run of Peter Milligan has its ups and downs, while the run of Jeff Lemire has been just fantastic but is just the last few issues of 12

All-Star is just a consistently good comic, It has a great setting, we have the greatest hero in DC westerns here with Jonah Hex, written by Gray and Palmiotti, 2 writers who have driven this character for 70 issues of his own ongoing and know him perfectly inside out, and we also have Amadeus Arkham,  a character that perfectly serves as a contrast for Hex, a great part of this book is the whole exchange of dialog and ideas between this 2 characters who are completely different.

But of course the greatest difference between this book and the previous Jonah Hex ongoing is that this is taking place in Gotham City in the 19th century, with that in mind if you are interested in the world of Batman this book dig deep into its roots.

This book also includes cofeatures which sometimes and most of the time is a different one each month, some have been good, some have been boring and others just felt like a nice introduction to a new character without really adding much to that character, but the last cofeature made in this book about Doctor 13 is just Fantastic, it’s a very different take from the main story but equally entertaining with a very interesting character with a lot of steampunk style on it.

you can buy this comic here

9- Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

One thing out of the way, the new Diana sucks, she lost pretty much everything that made her unique and special just to become a new Hercules or Xena, that being said, this book is not about that, this book is NOT about Wonder Woman, WW is just merely peripheral, this book is about Gods, and as such, it is brilliant.

Ever since Neil Gaiman’s Sandman I have yet to see such originality and development over beings who are literally gods on earth, some are selfish and others are kind but the sole point of these characters is that you can actually believe that this are who they say they are, the designs of every single character is excellent, conceptual and terrifying in some cases, It is because of characters like Strife and Hades that makes this comic so entertaining and fascinating, Strife alone is easily my favorite new character  in the new 52, she is not really evil, she is not a villain and not even an antagonist she just sees the whole drama and destruction around her and can’t stop being entertain by it, she is just a Machiavellian figure in this book well deserve of the title of her original inspiration, Eris of the Greek Myth.

The plot is really good; it’s a battle of wills between gods and just like any greek myth the hero of the story must face the challenges of the gods facing adversity, going down to the Tartarus to face death and came back, and on top of that we get the character of Zola who is carrying the new son of Zeus who ultimately becomes the trigger that sets all in motion and its very reminiscent of the greek myth. 

However this is not a perfect book, the main problem with this book is simply Wonder Woman, this has to be the most naive  version of wonder woman ever, is pure emotion and no brains, sometimes it can be well used in the plot like how she defeated Hades but on most of the book she is just dull, the changes that she experiences on this new incarnation are mostly unnecessary and on some cases troubling, for example the new version of the amazons are now murders and rapist, this is very similar to amazons of certain greek myths(not all myths of the amazons are equal), however it opens a huge plot hole, how is that Diana, being an amazon, didn’t knew any of this, wasnt there any kids when she was around?  Didn’t knew the whole “birds and bees” speech from her mom? How come she never questions the sole existence or her island and race even after getting to know the Men’s world? and several other questions, or something else how is that she actually believe the BS of being born of clay, unless she knew it then how did she believe in the clay origin any ways, It’s just hard to change a history that is 70+ years old organically any ways but this felt like it had a lot of problems to begin with, I just think it could had been done differently with the same method and better results.

And then there are the amazons as characters, they appear very little but they are just a-holes, basically bullies to WW, who call her names behind her back, not even to mention the rapist/murderers change. 

There are other changes that aren’t really that important, like now WW lives in London and not on Washington DC, which I think is great since it opens more possibilities for new set ups and stories as well it stops concentrating all the main guys of DC in one country.

And this is a personal preference but I really dislike the character of Lennox, he is the new brother of WW but I don’t really recognize from any greek myth however he actually feels more like a rip off of John Constantine, I don’t know if Azzarello requested Constantine and was denied by the editor for whatever reason and created this guy as replacement but I just can’t to think of him as anything but a Constantine imitation and it would probably had worked a lot better if it was Constantine, after all WW now lives in London, makes sense.

But like I put it before, this is not a book about Wonder Woman on the new DCU, is about a completely new and fresh take to her mythology, which ironically should be what WW is all about.

you can buy this comic here

8-Green Lantern by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Green Lantern is a book that has been very solid in the past few years but the relaunch completely revitalized the book, it just feels fresh, it takes 2 characters that have been really well developed of the past few years and just goes deeper into them.

The book in a nutshell is another buddy book like All-Star Western, Sinestro is in a quest to remove his green ring but in the process it becomes more of a redemption journey for him even if he is not aware of it, and for Hal is more of path to discover humility, he loses a power that he took for granted and now he is learning to appreciate it again, and at the same time rediscover who really is Siniestro.

It continues to expand the world of Green Lantern, the plot is unique and interesting and the direction that is following makes every issue enjoyable and satisfying and the interaction of Hal and Siniestro is very entertaining and well develop

you can buy this comic here

7- Demon Knights by Paul Cornel & Diogenes Neves

Ok imagine that DC grabs things like Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons and all their very best medieval properties as well as supernatural, then put it in a blender, hit the turbo, and then put it all on the table and then you do this with it.
That’s the demon knight’s experience

It’s just the very best Team Book in the comic industry right now.

It fun, its well written, the characters are awesome, all of them are different and interesting on their own ways, strong female characters, funny ambiguous protagonist and just a pure sense adventure and discovery.
Every new chp and every new pages opens up a completely new world of concepts in the DC, to read this book you need to have an open mind for exploration and just go deep into it, With Characters like the Demon Etrigan going in and out of hell conspiring to betray his own team for personal glory, Horsewoman who brings an interesting wisdom and a mysterious past, Vandal Savage who is just a blast to read and you cant never expect what he is going to do next, and others like them, this book is just never boring for a single page.

Finally the Art of Diogenes Neves is perfect for this book, is dynamic and stylized perfectly for the dark ages, the different designs of every town, of every monster, or every face and background, from hell to a simple town to a majestic castle, It takes work and talent to pull this off and here there is a lot of those though is a very sad news to know that he will be leaving soon the title, though I think we will see more of this artist in DC
you can buy this comic here

6- The Shade by James Robinson and several artists

The Shade is a great character, when James Robinson created the universe of Starman he took a character forgotten by the ages and make it his own, and in this miniseries he is utilizing that character in new ways that goes beyond what he did with him in Starman with a fun journey through the different times of the world of DC.

The plot is that the Shade is being target to be assassinated, but since he is immortal it’s not a big problem, more like an annoyance, so he travels around the world following clues on who might be behind this hit which lead him to encounter with his own family and his own past, and that’s where the book really gets interesting, most of the issues take place in the past where Shade comments about his adventures around the world, meeting many interesting people also forgotten by the golden age of comics or just simply new inventions from the mind of Robinson who are always a delight like an ancient teenage Vampire from Spain or a group of godlike beings bound by a satanic cult.

The art is right, for what it is, we have several artist on this book, all with different backgrounds and styles but each one of those styles fits perfectly for the type of story that is being told  
This book is just a good read and is highly recommended.

you can buy this comic here 

5- Aquaman by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis 

The best Superhero book of the moment, it’s just a well crafted book, good art, good writing, good characters.

The book resolves about Aquaman and his wife Mera living a peaceful life at Mercy’s Reef when suddenly a town nearby gets attacked by fish-like creatures and is to them to stop them, they do but in doing so find several connections to Atlantis, in the next arc one of Arthur’s old friends gets assassinated by Black Manta which sends him in a quest to discover even more secrets about Atlantis and himself.
The plot is really well presented, the quest of Aquaman is interesting and every single one of the old Aquamans friends, also known as the Others is well design and with a fascinating story behind them, and finally Aquaman is a full multidimensional character with a great personality behind them, and that’s not even mentioning Mera which is easily one of the strongest and most interesting female characters in DC at the moment.

This is Geoff Johns writing at its finest, but it’s also thanks to Ivan Reis exquisite art that pulls it all together, the characters feel alive and radiant, and the battle scenes are full of energy and dynamism. Which is very sad to see this team leaving the title soon, but I hope that whoever is in charge of talking this title be able to fill the shoes.

you can buy this comic here

4- Penguin: Pain and Prejudice by Gregg Hurwitz and Szimon Kudranski

This is probably the most depressing book made by DC this year and an excellent analysis on the character of the Penguin, we see him from his childhood, explore his traumas and issues and what ultimately drives him to be who he is.

Penguin: Pain & Prejudice is essentially a tragedy, we follow the villain of the story into his ultimate downfall, but it never feels predictable. We see Penguin committing some of the most horrible acts a human being can perform, basically destroying the lives of people around him and you can still to certain degree sympathize with him, not cause he is some kind of victim from the circumstances or cause of some little excuse but because he is a complex feeling  human being, and that’s one of the greatest things of this book, it transforms him into a multidimensional character that you can either love or hate, and is a credible threat for Batman.
The art is absolutely gorgeous, using only dark and gray tones, very stylistic to set the mood its going for.  
What The Killing Joke did for the Joker, this book did it for the Penguin.

 you can buy this comic here

3- I, Vampire by Joshua Kialkov and Andrea Sorrentino

This book is the big surprise of the relaunch, it has a Perfect tone and Style on the story that it tries to tell.
In essence is a love story gone wrong, Andrew Bennett turns into a vampire and share this new gift with her love Mary, but Unlike Andrew who turns into a vampire with a passive nature Mary becomes overwhelm with bloodlust, 400 years past and Mary has become the most powerful Vampire in the world and is preparing a war against the human kind, while Andrew has become simple Vampire with great power that just wants to live in the world and its up to him to stop Mary.

The Journey of Andrew takes us to very different places and meet very different characters without ever resorting in the overused clichés of vampire stories that have been going on lately, there is no teenage angst here, nor vampires that shine, we get vampires that turn into smoke and savage beasts that destroy everything on their path and we see them fighting zombies, vampire hunters, and zombie vampire hunters.

It’s just one of the best written books in the stands and sadly one of the most overlook too, the dialog is funny when it wants to be funny and grim and dark when it wants to be, we see a constant evolution in all the characters that are present, Andrew moves away from his own doubts to keep fighting and turns into basically Vampire Jesus in the middle of the run and still keeps moving forward.

And the Art of Andrea Sorrentino couldn’t be a better fit, it’s very dark and pale but still good to look at.

If you aren’t getting this book right now do yourself a favor and get it, you wont regret.

you can buy this comic here

2- Animal Man and Swamp Thing by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman & Alberto Ponticelli/Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette & Marco Rudy

It’s very hard to pick one over the other one, both have similarities and follow the same direction but by 2 completely different routes
First Animal Man, It’s just a perfect combination between a superhero book and a horror book, in just the first scene of the book you can see how big of a hero Buddy Baker is, in just a few pages you can see him as the idealist superhero when suddenly he is meet with a completely unexpected development that turns his world around, and is very easy to care about it, to wonder what is happening and why to him, but the biggest asset in this book is not only Buddy but the Baker Family, a son, a daughter, a wife, a grandmother, all connect with the reader in a different way just like buddy does and the different interactions of the family between them and the villains of the story. 

In a medium that is almost completely made out of lonely heroes with dead parents, no siblings or wives or families in any relevant way this book stands out above all for trying something different with the family dynamic and is very unique in an exciting and thrilling way.

Then we get the Swamp Thing, when Alan Moore came to DC he brought with him the essence of the Sophisticated Suspense to the whole medium in the form of The Saga of The Swamp Thing and created one of the finest comics of all times, in this new volume Scott Snyder brings an spiritual successor to that run.
Swamp Thing is divided between 3 stories, one is a love story between 2 persons who never meet before but can’t help to be in love, a classic battle between good and evil and a journey of self-discovery for a man who is given a second chance to live again.
The book is nothing short of Epic, it sets itself up to be Epic and rebuild the mythos of one of DCs best properties.

Both Animal Man and Swamp Thing share a similar tone and fight the same enemy from different sides until they merge their paths by issue 12 but both are their own separated story, they aren’t anything but intelligently written and beautifully drawn books with Excellent characters and a great direction.

you can buy this comic here & here

1- Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

The new 52 is a relaunch project, its goal tries to reinvent characters, get rid of things that didn’t work and just open new possibilities for them, but there only 3 exceptions to this, 1 was Green Lantern, another one was Batman and finally LSH, the reason for them to survive the relaunch is not because of the characters themselves, or because of sales, or because of the writers behind them, the only important factor for them is [b]Consistency[/b], both Green Lantern and Batman have had the same story for a long time the same direction, and why? Cause they work, Geoff Johns have 8 years on GL, Morrison had 6, and their stories just work, they sale well they entertain and they build themselves up to the next step, when you see any other title, no matter the writer or the sales, it just keep changing to something different, the stories never evolve to new high they just change to something else and that’s why they were relaunched, cause it doesn’t matter how good or bad the stories were cause none of them could maintain the same direction for more than a year, not superman, wonder woman,  no one.

I bring all this up because even though the Morrison era is finally coming to an end I have never been more excited for Batman in a long time and looking at what Snyder is doing in this book is exactly what every single of the other 51 books should had done, It’s beyond the story itself, it’s how its being constructed, this book in just a year constructed a base that can endure change, Its gonna keep that same consistency that made the stories of Morrison and Johns last for so long, simply put, if next year we get another relaunch, this book will not change, and that for me is what made all of this books the best of their kind and why all of the worst of the relaunch are bad, those bad books, those bad changes will be wash away when DC gets their chance and some already have been while this stories will remain.

Coming out of his brilliant run in Detective Comics, Scott Snyder keeps that same energy on this book despite having a different character under the Cowl, and the same master on dialog and tone, He just knows how exactly to create an scene, in Black Mirror you keep feeling like there is something else coming from the pages, not dialog or thoughts but like a voice from behind you that tells you “Is he telling the truth? is he lying” “Is he really a psychopath?” “is there a head in the toilet?”  and that same voice accompanies you on this book too. 

What makes Batman so good is just its simplicity, Snyder knows exactly the story that he wants to tell and he tells it in and interesting and entertaining way, the art by Greg Capullo is simple, easy to follow, appealing to the eyes, the characters feel real, their pain feels real as well as their emotions.
One thing I love for this is that it tries to evolve the weapons of batman, I rarely see a writer make him develop Batman’s arsenal in a way that is so believable, I guess is cause DC doesn’t want to end up in an Iron Man hole where he just gets a new suit every 6 months, but here it feels right how he develops his new gadgetry and how he uses it,  and at the end of the run when he faces he final enemy, he just realizes that there is much more to do, that even after 70+ years it can still grow in more different ways, reminded me a lot of the Dark Knight movies.  

For me the best part of this book is how serious can it be sometimes, specifically issue 6, is rare, extremely rare to actually have a book with Batman and think for a second that he might not make it, Snyder just knows how to create a feeling and tone in an scene, little to no dialog in certain portions just relaying in the art to tell the story and it just evoke the sensation that you, just like batman are trap into this place, the next issue has one of the best fight sequences I have ever seen, once again it gets that feeling for struggle and victory, there are several well placed twist by the end and the book at its conclusion gives us one of the best open endings I have ever seen since The Long Halloween.

That said, this is not a flawless book, there are many ppl with valid complains, like how is that batman gets wounded so severely and then heal so fast or act like is nothing in a next scene, despite being a big wound, things like that, but ultimately this is a great book, with an good story but the best thing, the uniqueness that separates them from all the other titles is that it builds to be better, this is just the threshold of a long epic run.

you can buy this comic here

Final Thoughts on the Relaunch so far
I read almost all of the books of the relaunch, with a couple of exceptions.

And just for everyone to know, I really love continuity in comics, I love that we can revisit and old story at any point, that such possibility can exist and that is tied to the character, the bad part is that is a 2 way route, a great story can rise a character to a new high, a back story can turn into an stain in his record that can ruin him forever, with that in mind I should be conflicted about the relaunch cause one one side is getting rid of a lot of stories that are great, but on the other hand is getting rid of the bad ones.

The lost of continuity is probably the biggest complains that I have seen for the new 52, the problems of it, of what is it or what is not inside the 5 years of history, that’s important, is just not what the relaunch is about, the relaunch is about the characters.

What a character can do has nothing to do with what a character has done, for me the worst parts of the relaunch are when we are shown a character who is to some degree a reinvention of such and we get to realize that’s not what the character would do, that’s not what DC can do with it and is just not embracing its full potential, at contrary, when we get a character with a new continuity, with a new story and just believe in this new person as the new Alan Scott, as the new Bucky Baker, as the new Bruce Wayne, and still identify that voice, what we lost is not that important.

As I said in the other thread Static is the very worst of his kind cause of how it wastes such a chance and doesn’t show off his potential despite keeping his continuity intact, is the perfect example of a failure on the relaunch, or other books Like Batgirl and Green Arrow reinvents their whole concepts but forget what make them iconic in the first place.

The things that can be done with a character with little to no ties on continuity just by basing it only on the best parts of such continuity can end up becoming great. 

For example, I love Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown and Wally West, and that’s why these characters DESERVE a relaunch.
It doesn’t matter if Cassandra Cain wasn’t batgirl, if DC understands her potential as a character and understand how she works and what she can do, then I won’t mind seeing her starting once again from 0, what she can do with another chance can be bigger and better than anything she has ever done, not being tied by the bad parts of her own continuity and release her from those mistakes on the past and still learning the lessons from them  as well as the good parts which can open new possibilities, that’s an objective in fiction, not to tell the same story over and over again but to get to the next step and  that’s exactly what the relaunch can accomplish, it can give us the very best of it and use it in new ways we couldn’t have ever expected or even be possible. 

The Relaunch is potential, it can be potentially worse or it can be potentially better, but is not good or bad on its own and I hope we see more like this 10 titles in a future.

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