New 52 Review: Batman and Robin, Deathstroke, Demon Knights, Red Lanterns, and Resurrection Man

Batman and Robin #1, Peter J. Tomasi (w), Patrick Gleason (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: Batman and his son are generally jerks to each other.

HOW WAS IT? There’s nothing wrong with this book, persay. Tomasi and Gleason are a good team, and know how to tell a story. Unfortunately, this suffers from a lot of expectations: it’s a number one issue; it’s part of the relaunch; and it has to live up to the high level Grant Morrison set on the title.

This book does a better job of introing who Batman is, and who he’s about than Detective Comics, sure – but at the same time, it just continues where we left off in the previous issue. It’s also nowhere near as wildly creative (read: insane) as Morrison was when he launched the title. And particularly as Robin(s) appear in a few other DC books, I continue to question why this title was necessary given the relaunch.

BEST BIT: The villain is good and creepy.

WORST BIT: Batman standing in the sewers under where his parents were killed, being a total douche to his own son.

EASTER EGGS: None that I noticed.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? I guess? That they continued the idea of Batman having a ten year old son is definitely going to make a few heads scratched.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Probably not.

RATING: 35/52

Deathstroke #1, Kyle Higgins (w), Joe Bennett (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: The biggest bad-ass in the world is hired to take on a new job… And might be in for more than he bargained for.

HOW WAS IT? Beyond the busy new costume which I assume is supposed to make Deathstroke the Terminator – an impossibly old metahuman with insane reflexes, a healing factor, and super strength – more realistic, there’s the matter of the also rather busy plot. I’m all for a down and dirty revenge tale, or the story of an over-the-hill assassin proving he’s still the bad-ass we think he is.

Except, this book goes to great length to tell us – and show us – that Deathstroke is a bad-ass, and everybody thinks he’s a bad-ass… And then by the end of the book we’re told the opposite. That’s just the largest of the sometimes confusing plot points in an otherwise straight forward comic book, which aren’t helped by the confused action.

This book WANTS to be a grittier Mission Impossible. Unfortunately, it’s a more confusing XXX.

BEST BIT: Nothing wrong with Nosferatus turning into Clayfaces.

WORST BIT: There’s a panel of Deathstroke turning and glaring at a character who hasn’t said anything, ready to kill them. I assume there was some dialogue cut here?

EASTER EGGS: None that I saw, though the mystery woman is pretty obviously “hidden” on the first page.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Sure! You get everything you need to know from this book.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Nah.

RATING: 23/52

Demon Knights #1, Paul Cornell (w), Diogenes Neves (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: The Justice League, but in the Dark Ages. And Superman is a Demon.

HOW WAS IT? Let’s get this out of the way: god bless Paul Cornell for not making The Demon Etrigan rhyme. This – like Bizarro speak – has been something that drives me up the wall… Beyond constricting what a writer can write for a character, most author’s aren’t necessarily great at rhyming.

Beyond that? This book is the most enjoyable, purposeful mess of DC’s New 52, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. Probably approximately 1,000 things happen in this first issue, and though I have no idea why they do, or how they connect, I loved every minute of it.

I’m not going to even explain the plot, but suffice to say there’s demonic babies, evil dragons, double crosses, some gross kissing, a little gender-bending, and the funniest you’ve seen Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage, maybe ever. Plus, Neves art is pleasingly reminiscent of Jim Lee, so can’t go wrong there.

BEST BIT: Demon baby. That is one terrifying and hilarious image. (Though Madame Xanadu’s lament about “one pint” was pretty good, too)

WORST BIT: The last page, like the rest of the issue, is a bit of a crazy mess, but this errs a bit on the mess side.

EASTER EGGS: Well, pretty much every character is immortal, so they have a modern day equivalent. Maybe some readers could help me with the symbol on Vandal Savage’s belt, and the name of the pub: “The Victory in Rome”? I’m guessing those mean something.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Yup! It probably helps if you know a little something about DCU history for context, but crazy is as crazy does.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Oh yeah, and I hope it makes even LESS sense.

RATING: 42/52

Red Lanterns #1, Peter Milligan (w), Ed Benes (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: The Red Lantern Corps is powered by rage… So what happens when they’re leader isn’t mad anymore?

HOW WAS IT? About what you’d expect! There’s a lot of blood vomit, a lot of anger, and some really gross visuals. There’s even a plot in between all that, as Red Lantern leader Atrocitus laments the fact that he finally defeated his arch enemy Krona, the source of all of his rage… Or rather, he didn’t get to defeat him, his vengeance was taken on Krona by another being.

As opposed to Green Lantern #1, which magically balanced new reader friendliness with ongoing continuity, Red Lanterns reads like a title that could have easily launched out of the Old DCU… And in fact, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to. Yes, Milligan does a good job catching you up to speed, but this reads like in any other circumstances, it would have had “War of The Green Lanterns: Aftermath!” emblazoned on the front cover.

It’s sort of the same thing with Ed Benes… I’ve never been particularly bothered by his art, but I know a lot of fans find him stiff and over penciled. If you like his style… This book looks great. If not, well, you fill in the rest.

Look, in summary: Milligan is a good writer, Benes a solid penciller. Green Lantern fans will want to pick this up. For others? I’m not sure about its ongoing potential.

BEST BIT: Atrocitus making a rather disturbing discovery about Krona’s body.

WORST BIT: Man, that’s a lot of red, huh? I feel bad for colorist Nathan Eyring.

EASTER EGGS: There’s a prophecy style look at what’s coming up in the series… Let’s see how well future issues line up.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Eh, 50/50. The Red Lanterns are the villains in the new Green Lantern ‘toon, so that should rocket up this titles Q-factor quite a bit.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? On the fence.

RATING: 35/52

Resurrection Man #1, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (w), Fernando Dagnino (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: Every time Mitch dies, he comes back to life with a new power and a new mission. Don’t think Heaven and Hell haven’t noticed…

HOW WAS IT? Well, it certainly helps to have Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning back on the cult favorite title they created, I’ll tell you what. This issue neatly and succinctly introduces the concept, a few over the top action moments, and a really dark denouement. For those of you complaining about decompression in comics, this comic is, if anything, compressed… There’s about a pilot-episode worth of ideas jammed into one issue, but it never really feels over-packed.

Only downside is Fernando Dagnino’s art… He knows how to draw monsters, and his women are super sexy, but the angles get a little wonky sometimes… A scene on an airplane, in particular seems implausible even with fudged camera angles.

That said, the action is exciting, the writing crisp, and the premise smart and intriguing. I’m glad this is back on stands.

BEST BIT: The nasty little end to Mitch’s fight on the airplane.

WORST BIT: That conversation mentioned above…

EASTER EGGS: By Easter Eggs, do you mean the visible nipples of a monster in a T+ book? Also, seems like something weird is going on with the mystery DC lady’s fingers…

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Yup!

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Yup!

RATING: 40/52

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