New 52 Review: The Dark Knight, Blackhawks, The New Guardians, The Savage Hawkman, Teen Titans

Batman: The Dark Knight #1, David Finch & Paul Jenkins (w), David Finch (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: Batman, but you know, eXXXtreme.

HOW WAS IT? If you liked what Finch was doing on Batman before – basically, his distilled, ‘roided out version of Gotham City action, you’re probably still going to like this, as it doesn’t miss a beat. In fact, there’s even a neat visual metaphor for the title on the last page. It’s a big, dumb action movie. To break it down: Detective Comics is aiming for being The Dark Knight; Batman is aiming for Batman: The Animated Series; and Batman: The Dark Knight is trying to be the WWE.

Yes, I know that’s the most confusing sentence ever written. Deal with it.

Basically, this is not my cup of tea, but I can see people liking it.

BEST BIT: The last page is ridiculous, and promises much more ridiculousness to come.

WORST BIT: While we’re all talking about women in the DCU, Finch’s sexy ladies are alarmingly tiny with huge boobs.

EASTER EGGS: None to speak of.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Not totally… If you know who Batman is, what Arkham Asylum is, and what the general background of the world is, sure.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Probably not.

RATING: 28/52

Blackhawks #1, Mike Costa (w), Ken Lashley (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: An elite team of international heroes take care of super science terrorism… When they’re not falling into bed with each other.

HOW WAS IT? I think this will become a bit of a theme this week, but this title is not totally my cup of tea, because I’ve read waaaay too many, “This is an elite team…” books in my lifetime. To be fair, here its competently written, and the art is mostly clear (though gets a little mussy in the action scenes). The dialogue is cracky most of the time, but even with winky jokes about the broad strokes characters, they’re still broad strokes characters.

In particular, I wasn’t a fan of introducing a concept halfway through the book, then expecting a massive pay-off twist based on it only several pages later. At the beginning? Sure. If it was a surprise? Sure. If we remotely understood the stakes for any of the characters? Hells yeah. As is, though, we don’t have any of that, so the issue ended with a fizzle rather than a bang.

BEST BIT: The first shot of the Blackhawks hanger is pretty cool.

WORST BIT: I’m pretty sure there’s a bit of dialogue about someone being a biter that was in entirely the wrong panel.

EASTER EGGS: Could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure some of those planes were Ted Kord style Beetle Bugs.

ACCESIBLE TO NEW READERS? Sure. You guys have seen G.I. Joe before, right?

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Nah.

RATING: 25/52

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1, Tony Bedard (w), Tyler Kirkham and Batt (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: What is Kyle Rayner was attacked by a bunch of people? I think?

HOW WAS IT? Okay, look. I get that Green Lantern is one of the lines that didn’t reboot. And I get that there’s certain tweaks that have happened anyway, so here we get a slight realignment of Kyle Rayner’s origin. But after reading the first issue, I have no clue what this series is, what its about, what the cast is, or why I’m supposed to be reading it. If it was an arc in the ongoing Green Lantern Corps book? That might be a different story. But as is, we’re given Kyle’s origin (which is inexplicable to new readers regardless, I think), followed by several things that have nothing to do with Kyle Rayner. Then some other stuff happens.

Point being: why call a book “Green Lantern: The New Guardians,” if there is literally no mention of new guardians anywhere in the book? At least at the end it feels like we’re getting somewhere, but I have no idea where that is. And not in a, “I want to know more,” way.

BEST BIT: I’m all for a little meta-commentary, so people telling Kyle Rayner to his face he’s the lamest Lantern was fun.

WORST BIT: Expecting people to know or care who Fatality is, when she’s introduced briefly in one page, unconnected to the main action.

EASTER EGGS: Yeah, so Fatality, who was a “big” Kyle Rayner villain, returns as an anti-hero or something.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Nope.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Nope.

RATING: 19/52

The Savage Hawkman #1, Tony S. Daniel (w), Phillip Tan (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: Carter Hall is done being Hawkman… But is Hawkman done with him?

HOW WAS IT? As a fresh start, not that great. Where writer Tony Daniel excelled with Detective Comics was streamlining the title and characters, and focusing on giving us a killer match-up – Batman versus Joker. Here, there’s a germ of a really good idea, but it makes a fatal mistake right up front.

The good idea? Carter Hall is an expert xenoarchaeologist, called in to investigate weird, alien artifact mysteries. He’s also secretly Hawkman, a hero with alien powers who can fight the baddies who sometimes come out of these artifacts. Cool, right? Except Daniel kicks it off with Hall giving up being Hawkman, burning his costume, and then getting the alien Nth metal sucked into his body.

Here’s why I think this is a mistake: why does he, at all, need to have previously been Hawkman? Everyone knows Hawkman is a convoluted, confusing concept, when it should just be some angry dude who puts on a hawk costume and hits people with his mace. So why honor previous continuity at all, when you don’t have to? It’s unfortunate, because like I said, I think there’s the germ of something genuinely exciting, simple, and new for the character here, but it gets lost in talk of Nth metal, alien properties, and generic baddies. Oh well.

BEST BIT: The baddie on the last page is a pretty sweet design.

WORST BIT: How many times have we seen a hero wake up in a strange place with no idea how he got there, the night after getting his powers? Lots of times, FYI.

EASTER EGGS: Nah, none.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Sort of. It’s trying to be accessible, but ends up inaccessible most of the time.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Don’t think so.

RATING: 23/52

Teen Titans #1, Scott Lobdell (w), Brett Booth (a) [Print Edition]

THE PITCH: Someone is hunting teen heroes, so its time for them to band together to save themselves.

HOW WAS IT? Teen Titans is another one of those comics I’m a total sucker for. I love the sidekicks, I love them all together, and I love their stupid T shaped headquarters. Here, we’ve actually got a pretty good set-up: teen heroes have been popping up all over, following in heroes’ footsteps… But they’re not that good at it. Kid Flash makes a fire-rescue worse, Wonder Girl is one step away from being a criminal, and Red Robin is just hiding out in the shadows. When the latter gets attacked, though, its up to him to track everyone down and make them fight back.

Unfortunately, beyond that fun set-up, its all a big pile of clichés, from Wonder Girl as the bad girl with a chip on her shoulder, to Kid Flash as the goofy red-headed kid who acts before he thinks. And the fight scenes are generic as best – so much so that it sometimes is impossible to tell what’s going on. That’s no good. And, it all ends with a crossover with Superboy, which is, you know, weird for a first issue of a comic book.

I’ll keep reading, but it better get better, fast.

BEST BIT: Red Robin taking out some thugs was true to the character, though a little hyper-violent.

WORST BIT: Red Robin’s inner monologue fawning over Wonder Girl. Who talks like that?

EASTER EGGS: There’s a bunch of teen heroes in the background of one scene, from the upcoming Bunker, to, I believe, Raven.

ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Yeah, pretty much, though there’s some general background from the other New 52 titles that’s important.

WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? I’m a sucker, what can I say.

RATING: 25/52