Hello… Can anybody hear me?

Yes, yes, yes… I’ve been away far too long. If you just pushed me out of your memory, I don’t blame you for not staying. I can only say to you, dear reader (if I have one left), that this little black duck has been muy busy.

From hellish move (don’t ask unless you know me personally) to working this art hustle, this brother has been moving and grooving. This is the Hustle, y’all, and sometimes the gig takes precedence over the love. But, I’m coming back, taking a second to breathe and will continue to politic & bulls*&t on the same semi-regular basis you’ve come to know and tolerate. So please, keep reading.

Real quick: LOVING THE DCU NEW 52!

New DCU 52

Man, I was getting bored with comics… GASP! Yes, it’s true. I was wondering what was going to come next. The indies were letting me down and I felt that the Big Two were just going through the motions. Shoot, I was getting behind on my own book because I got bogged down working on other, immediately paying, projects…

… Then I heard the rumble as I was reading the Flashpoint mini-series and read that DC was doing a complete overhaul. The blogosphere was all a tither. YES! NO! A WELCOME CHANGE! HOW DARE YOU SCREW WITH MY CONTINUITY! You know, the usual in this crazy industry. I got excited and thought that it was a welcome and needed change. I waited with bated breath until August 31. That Wednesday, I walked into G-Mart Comics (my favorite and local comic book store) and it felt like I was back in 1990s Ann Arbor at Schoolkids Records waiting for A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders to drop. The buzz was electric, a truly amazing energy. I felt like a little kid again when I rushed home and opened my copy of Justice League #1.

Justice League #1

I have to say, I was not disappointed.

What DC has done is rather amazing. Don’t get me wrong. There have been comic universe relaunches before and there will be relaunches in the future. However, most relaunches are either just cosmetic changes to characters or costumes or the relaunch goes too far making the characters unrecognizable to the established audience and unaccessible to the new audience the company is trying to entice. The New 52 stands out to me because DC got the concept of the relaunch right. Going beyond whose the hot artist or whose the hot writer of the moment to push this initiative forward, they took the time to assemble the right teams for the right characters. Most of the redesigns of the characters work honoring the original costume and look of the character, but pushing them into a more modern context (I do think, however, that they kind of missed the ball on Superman’s redesign). Also, the folding of the Wildstorm and Milestone universes into the DCU is brilliant and organic. DC took the best of those universes & concepts and not only recontextualized them in a logical way to fit the DCU, but their inclusion enhances the DCU proper, making it at once familiar, but also a new and exciting universe to visit and explore. I’m a comic fan all over again and DC made that happen. Bravo.

These are the books that picked up from the relaunch. Drop me a line and let me know if you agree with what I’m about to lay down…

Action Comics #1

ACTION COMICS #1
The grandaddy of all super hero comics gets a fresh update to a classic myth by going back to its roots. People always like to front on Superman because of the fact that, over the years, he’s gotten too super. He was too good and too nice. He was perfect. In other words, people couldn’t relate to the character because he put the standard for people to strive to become too high. Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’ “new” take on Superman is actuallly how Superman was first portrayed in 1938. They have, in effect, done what Denny O’Neal and Neal Adams did for Batman in the 1970s… They brought Superman back to his roots. This Superman is not as strong, can only leap tall buildings in a single bound, can get hurt by us ‘ol regular humans and is a young, slightly cocky, old-school, two-fisted folkhero looking out for the common man. By bringing this Superman back, DC has put the “Super” in Superman once again.

Detective Comics #1

DETECTIVE COMICS #1
When it comes to the core character direction of Batman, DC worked that out years ago. So, when we re-enter the bat-world, it’s pretty much the same as we left, albeit with minor changes. I’m enjoying the fact that Bruce has accepted the father-figure role and that Dick, Tim and Damien are his sons. In fact, Jason Todd can be considered the “black sheep” of the family as well.

Detective Comics (which, at first I did not pick up, but caught up with issue 2) reads more like early-years Batman a la Batman: Year One. Tony Daniel is riffing on Frank Miller and Jim Lee, respectively, in terms of writing and art. I have to admit that I have not been a Tony Daniel fan, but with each project, he grows as an artist and a writer. I kind of consider him to be a 21st century Jim Aparo, a journeyman with an incredible amount of talent who can carry a title monthly leading up to “event-style” artist/writer teams. It’s been pretty good stuff so far and I’m interested to see where it’s going.

Batman & Robin #1

BATMAN & ROBIN #1
This title is a good exploration into the new Batman and Robin dynamic. What I loved about Dick being Batman while Bruce was lost in time was the relationship between he and Damien. It was a great twist on the partnership with Dick being the big brother trying to keep his bratty baby brother in line. With the book truly taking on the father/son dynamic, it’s interesting to see Bruce being concerned about how he’s raised the previous Robins in relation to Damien. What’s also cool is to see that Bruce isn’t necessarily the baddest on the block when introduced to the character of Nobody (which also gets cool points for having the character be a brother), a Batman-type of vigilante without the moral limitations of Bruce. It’s looking like he’s going to be the Devil on Damien’s shoulders in upcoming issues and I’m looking forward to future developments with this storyline.

Batman

BATMAN #1
This book is just cool. It’s great to see Greg Capullo bringing his “A” game to the book. And the Court of Owls idea is just awesome. I’m loving the design of the new bad guys in the bat-universe and I’m loving the idea of pitting Batman against his own philosophy of justice with characters like Nobody and the Court. It’s a cool spin on his rogues’ gallery.

Batwing

BATWING #1
At first, I discounted the “Black” Batman. Then, I thumbed through the book at my local comic book store, G-Mart. Judd Winick does a great job of linking the Bat-brand to an African sensibility, making the character cool enough to stand on his own. Adding to that the mystery of the villain Massacre and the original African superteam in the DCU, the Kingdom, makes for some good reading. If they decided to do a Kingdom one-shot or mini-series, I would be first to throw my hat in the ring to write the bad smoker.

Batwoman

BATWOMAN #1
Yeah, I bought a lot of the Bat books… Because they were so good! I’ve been waiting for Batwoman for almost a year, even before they started promoting the new 52. The book is worth the wait. It’s urban, it’s military, it’s wierd… All of these elements make Batwoman and stand out character. JH Williams III has made this character completely his own and I think that anyone who follows up on the title has some extremely big shoes to fill.

Catwoman

CATWOMAN #1
Ok. I’m buying Catwoman mainly for the European-styled art of Guillem March. I’ve been following him since Gotham Sirens and he’s just a great comic book artist. Yeah, they really pushed up the “kink” aspect of the character (especially with the last sequence of her and Batman doing the do… in costume), but it’s still a damn good read. I just hope that in future issues that they show what a strong character Selina Kyle truly is and temper all that sexiness with some brains and some true feminine swagger.

This is Part One of my foray into the new DCU. In Part Two, I’ll be talking about the rest of my foray into this new, yet familiar universe including the flagship title Justice League… Join me on the journey… Cheers!

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