The Magnificent Seven

Heartache or not, renumbering is not exactly a new concept in comics. Believe me, almost 30% of my comic collection is plagued by renumbering, it’s a constant frustration, but hey, that’s life. Despite my reservations to openly embrace these new titles, there are seven titles that I am particularly excited to read. 

Although it’s a whole new DC, the higher-ups still haven’t forgotten how to makes readers excited about their books. Below are listed the seven books that I am most excited to read, and if you’re a little lost on what titles will be good or bad, here’s a guide to help you navigate the stormy seas of change.

 

Action Comics

Written By: Grant Morrison

Art By: Rags Morales

It’s strange that I chose this book. If you would have asked me during Batman R.I.P. that I was going to fall in love with Morrison-style storytelling, I might have punched you in the face for slander. But, here I am. This isn’t Morrison’s first go at the Kryptonian boy wonder. There was that little title with Frank Quitely called All-Star Superman, which has in recent years been published in every format that DC can offer. There’s something about Morrison’s storytelling that keeps me intrigued (even in the most acid-trippy of action sequences). Currently, Morrison is crushing it on Batman Inc., almost claiming the top spot for my favorite, current Batman comic (Sorry, but Scott Snyder’s James Gordon Jr. is delightfully creepy.)

What else can be said that hasn’t already been said about Rags Morales’ work. It’s visually stunning, and can almost stand alone without script (no offense Mr. Morrison). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these two creators are handling the most iconic character in the comic book industry. Morrison developed a whole new world in Gotham, killing off Bruce Wayne and bringing him back with a much more global perspective. It’s exciting to see what he has up his sleeve for Metropolis, and more likely that not, things will never be the same.

 

All-Star Western

Written By: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey

Art By: Moritat

This was an easy choice. The main thing that the book Jonah Hex suffered from in its 60-plus-issue run was that it was too good all the time. Unfortunately, when a book is good all the time, it tends to not get as much mention as it should because the book sets the bar at excellence, and that can be hard to top. I was completely unfamiliar with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey when I started reading the book about three years ago. But every issue is consistently brilliant. Although westerns is not my favorite genre, Jonah Hex was a book that reminded me of the storytelling potential that still lived in the wild West. 

From what I can tell (at least where writers are concerned), this book is a continuation of Jonah Hex. For .5 seconds I considered letting Jonah Hex rest with the final issue, and then I remembered the amazing Jeff Lemire penciled issue that came out last month and I couldn’t say no. I must say I’m not particularly familiar with Meridat’s work, but Jonah Hex had always had an amazing group of rotating artists, I can’t imagine All-Star Western being much different. It will be exciting to see if they try to integrate Jonah Hex more into the DC Universe, but either way, I’m saddled up and ready.

 

Animal Man

Written By: Jeff Lemire

Art By: Travel Foreman and Dan Green

The relationship with a reader and a writer is an interesting one. Once you read a title that absolutely blows you away, you are forever a loyal reader. Perhaps not reading every single thing that person writes, but there is an understanding that sooner or later, you will read everything that writer does. Thus is my relationship with Jeff Lemire. Lemire is young blood in the comic industry, getting his first foothold with his creator owned work, Essex County. But his first work I read was Sweet Tooth, kind of like if the apocalypse met Bambi. I quickly surveyed the rest of his catalog, made sure to purchase his first foray into superhero comics with Superboy #1, and even read the short Multi-Alien story in Vertigo’s Strange Adventures one-shot. Long story short, this guy does amazing work. There’s a simple elegance to his story telling, and there is definitely a unique voice. I’m glad that DC is recognizing the talent.

Although Lemire’s pencils are amazing, I’m glad they’re giving him artistic help with Travel Foreman and Dan Green. This means only good things for Lemire: more attention to story and he gets to keep working on Sweet Tooth. Happy Days! I don’t really have an opinion on the character Animal Man. The only exposure I've had to the character was Morrison’s work many years ago. Hopefully comic readers are willing to give Animal Man a chance, because knowing Lemire, it might be the best book from DC in 2011.

 

Batman

Written By: Scott Snyder

Art By: Greg Capullo

If you hunt around some photo albums that are neatly stacked in a cabinet at my house, I’m sure you’ll find a picture of me dressed as Batman ready to assume my role as the Dark Knight of Halloween. At that point in time, I was pretty chubby kid. To this day I have no idea how I fit my fat cheeks in that Batman cowl. So as you can probably already detect, there’s a little bit of personal bias going into this choice, but believe me there are valid reasons as well. Yes, much like everyone else, I grew up with Batman. Superman was fun and good and Spider-Man had cool super spider abilites, but none of them were Bruce Wayne, the OG badass of DC comics. In the last couple years, the cape crusader as gotten the royal treatment, easily considered DC’s strongest character. Not only was he kicking ass in the box office, but with Grant Morrison reimagining the character followed by Scott Snyder’s amazing work, Batman had been given new life. With Dick Grayson behind the cowl and Batman spreading his influence globally, Batman was fresh and exciting.

Now all that’s over. There are several questions on my mind regarding this title. Is Bruce Wayne Batman? Is all the R.I.P, Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman Inc., all moot? Is Grant Morrison pissed? A lot is uncertain, but what is definite, is that there is a strong writer to usher in the new era of Batman. Scott Snyder, much like the aforementioned Jeff Lemire, is new to comics. But don’t let his freshman status fool you, he has quickly became a big name in DC. He even teamed up with Stephen King for his Vertigo title, American Vampire. I guess he really likes bats. We’ve already seen Snyder’s writing chops on this character. He just understands Batman. Detective Comics is currently the best it’s been in years. DC made a good decision keeping one of their most talented writers on one of their most popular characters. I'll be there—Same bat time, same bat channel.

 

Catwoman

Written By: Judd Winick

Art By: Guillem March

For any frequenter of the blog, this pick should come as no surprise. A couple days ago I posted this article explaining my fanboy infatuation with writer and artist Judd Winick. I have a deep respect (jealousy) for writer/artists such as Matt Wagner, Jeff Lemire, Darywn Cooke, and Terry Moore. Winick is no exception. Winick has danced around the DC universe, almost writing every character possible. He recently did work on the successful Justice League: Generation Lost bi-weekly. Teamed up with Guillem  March, who isn’t new to drawing the infamous feline vixen (See Gotham City Sirens), this book is just built for success.

It was a sad day to watch Catwoman leave the shelves more than a year ago. The series had enjoyed an 80-plus issue run and had great writers like Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, and Will Pfeifer. It’s great to see the character in her own series again. Although she is just an ancillary character in Gotham, she holds a gravitas all her own that is perfect for her own title and Winick’s talents.

 

Green Lantern

Written By: Geoff Johns

Art By: Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

With the recent events (last issue) of Green Lantern and Geoff Johns stating this is a continuation of the story, I have no choice but to keep purchasing this book. It’s no secret that Johns is a talented writer, but what really keeps him around DC is his ability to tell in-depth personal stories with larger-than-life superheroes, and of course, crazy freaking cliffhangers. Although it’s the latter that is pushing me to purchase this book, there’s no doubt that John’s grasp of the GL universe is sound. This is the definitive Green Lantern story, and DC would have made a huge mistake ending it before its prime.

Johns and Mahnke have been long time co-creators and are the authorities when it comes to the expansive DC Galaxy (I’m remembering you too Paul Levitz, you got the 31st century covered).  Now with the relaunch there are a few other GL books coming out of the woodwork. Red Lanterns and New Guardians both look intriguing, but I’m going to let first impressions circle back to me before I begin making any purchasing decisions. For those of you who are sad to see Guy Gardner and Emerald Warriors leave, be sure to check out JLA International featuring your favorite, redheaded ringslinger. The GL Universe, at least at first glance, seems unaffected by the events of Flashpoint. Although their might be minor changes here or there, this is one series that will not disappoint. Have no fear.

 

Swamp Thing

Written By: Scott Snyder

Art By: Yanick Paquette

This is the “gamble book” ladies and gentleman. But trust me, I don’t gamble unless the odds are stacked in my favor. By all appearances, it looks like a safe bet. Snyder, as previously mentioned, has already established himself as a top-tier storyteller, but he’s got some shoes to fill. That is the unfortunate side effect of amazing stories, all subsequent stories are compared to its greatness, and they ultimately pale in comparison. Of course I’m talking about Alan Moore’s monumental run on Swamp Thing back in the 80s. For Snyder, Moore's series is a godsend and a curse. On the one hand, it got readers interested in the character, but it’s inevitable that people are going to compare his story with Moore’s.

I’m going to give it to Snyder. I like his ambition. This character has been out of the DC limelight for sometime, so Snyder definitely has his work cut out for him. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with the character—If we will see flashbacks into Alan Moore’s work or if we will be seeing a completely new swamp thing. Snyder has yet to disappoint with any book he works on, I see no reason for him to start now.

Runners Up:

JLA #1 (Geoff Johns and Jim Lee)

Superman #1 (George Perez)

Batgirl #1 (Gail Simone, Adrian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes)

Aquaman #1 (Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis)

Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #1 (Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli)

Batwoman #1 (J. H. Williams, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder)