DC Reboot: Superman #1, Batman #1, Flash #1

From when the New 52 was still new:

As you might recall, I really liked the social justice superheroics of Action Comics #1.  Last night, I finally got around to reading Superman #1, Batman #1, and The Flash #1 and wanted to share my thoughts.

Superman #1:  Very ambitious.  We have the struggles of new vs. old media, the problems with media conglomerates in general, Superman as guardian of the past, Clark Kent rejecting a sweet cable news deal because 1) he despises cable news and 2) millions of people would see his face every day, like, forever, a Perry White full of vim and vigor, saying “let’s show them the hard-hitting analysis that only print can deliver!”  A lot of things like that, which I eat. right. up.   The conflict between Supes and the actually “villain” of the arc wasn’t as interesting to me, but I do like the fact that the book serves as a one-shot while giving us the seeds of some classic arcs.  Clark loves Lois like Dobie Gillis loved Tuesday Weld.  And there’s even a young (much nicer) Warren Beatty type between them.

Unfortunately, the content of Clark’s exclusive story about Superman and the big incident, which we get in caption boxes, doesn’t feel like the front-page work of a great reporter.  I’m eager to give George Perez the BOD on this because 1) I’m a writer, and yeah, it’s freaking hard, and 2) he’s George Perez. Maybe Clark’s unpolished style is part of his cover?  There’s also a very strange crossover page from Stormwatch that makes Ben 10 look like Beowulf.

Overall, a good read with a lot of interesting things to say in the first half about history, time, urban renewal, economic decay.  I want to give it a 7 out of 10, but Action was so good, Superman feels more like a 6.5.  I’m conflicted.  I’ll go 7.  That seems high on a ten-point scale, but not as good when you think about it as a percentage and covert that to an an academic grade.  (This is why I blog).

7.

Batman #1:  The best of the bunch.    Bruce’s new contact lens tech is great, the Batcave looks great, and the internal monologue that stitches most of the story together is top-notch.  Bruce’s love for Gotham, and his investment in its future, could be a template for the philosophies of hope surrounding some very pressing real-world reclamation projects.  He exudes a strong ethos, suggesting that forward-thinking and risk-taking for the common good are moral virtues.  I’m not saying this was a civics lessons disguised as a comic book, but it was uplifting and hopeful.  Not something you tend to expect from a Bat-book.  And did you notice that I keep saying “Bruce”?  That’s an effect of good writing and successful character development in a matter of pages.   This still isn’t a book for kids, as a crime scene near the end (central to the hook for issue 2) reminds us.  If you’re looking for a Batman title for younger readers,  The Brave and The Bold is good  if you don’t mind mostly slap-stick violence.

8.6

Flash #1:  There’s a very special place in my heart for the Flash.  But my Flash is and always will be Wally West.  Jay Garrick is my second favorite.  That’s not a comment on my feelings about Baby Boomers in general…Wally is the Flash I grew up with, an imperfect hero struggling with all kinds of emotional issues and mentored by an icon from the Golden Age.  What’s not to love?  I totally get that Wally’s favorite Flash is his uncle, original mentor, and former partner, Barry Allen.  I totally understand the overwhelming sense of loss that pervades Wally’s Flashness, especially in the 90s, is what makes his character so compelling.  I also love that he’s a screw up.  I’m not 100 percent sure where he’ll shake out in the new DCU, but I hope there’s a prominent place for him.  I hope he’s not de-aged like all the Robins, but I suppose he has to be if Barry and Iris aren’t married yet.

Onto the Barry-centric book at hand.  Loved the splash page.  Captured the Silver Age feel that brought us Barry in the first place.  The story moved quickly (ha) and ended on a cliff-hanger that has me interested.  It felt like a younger read, something akin to those titles from DC’s early-90’s Impact line.  (The Fly was my favorite).  Since Impact was meant to introduce new, mostly younger readers to old characters at an accessible level and the reboot is meant to do the same, mission accomplished.   The Flash has always been one of the most kid-friendly of the major DC heroes (emotional issues that we adults love aside), and I think that will continue.

It was a fun read, which is the point of a Barry book.  I don’t like the new suit.  Too panel-y.

8

A good mix, but nothing touches Action.

The Superheroics of Social Justice or “Action Comics #1: Awesome Then, Awesome Now.”

Action Comics #1 (June 1938), page 1: Superman...
Image via Wikipedia

You probably know about the DC Comics relaunch.  I picked up the new Action Comics #1 and really, really liked it.  Supes looks like Woody Guthrie.  He can’t fly (yet?) and is a wrecking ball for social justice.  He trifles with authorities and struggles to pay rent.  A hero for our times if there was one.

Commentators have been talking about this as a return to Superman’s activist origins.  Indeed, a read through the original Action Comics #1 from 1938 reveals a bold American character, an immigrant, “champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who has sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!”

I love this guy.  Read the original Action #1 here, and cheer with me as Supes dispatches the governor’s butler in a last-minute attempt to save an innocent woman from state execution.  Like I said, a hero for our time if there was one.