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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Superboy #1, Static Shock #1, Legion Lost #1, Batwoman #1 [DC Reboot Reviews]

September 15th, 2011 at 23:19

Superboy #1
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Pencils by: RB Silva

This one was a genuinely pleasant surprise – I picked it up mostly thanks to Wolverina’s recent nostalgia fest on the How I Got My Boyfriend Into Comics podcast, because I haven’t read Superboy since his original 90′s reboot run. After a series of dull, by the numbers comics from DC this month I was delighted to find a dynamic story with a narrative that genuinely feels modern and fresh, despite starting the character from his origin point.

Who knew? It can be done!

Superboy himself is an intriguing central character considering that he doesn’t actually do anything much beyond hang around in his cloning vat for this issue. His voice comes through clearly, though, sardonic and quietly angry, observing the scientists who are making decisions about him, not for him. We also get some cool female characters – ‘Red,’ the scientist in charge of Superboy’s care, two versions of ‘Rose,’ the sarcastic indie teen girl designed to interest him, as well as the adult she is based on, and even in a few tantalising panels, a very sharp Lois Lane.

There are clever moments throughout the script which kept me very interested, particularly the implications that there is something very wrong with this Superboy when it comes to empathy (and I’m hoping that what is implied about his human donor is true). What’s the point of a superhero who doesn’t see the point of saving people? I guess we’ll find out!

Superboy #1 is shaping up to be a smart piece of YA SF with appropriate but not overwhelming angsty bits, and I’m genuinely excited about where it’s going. Hooray! Of course this does mean I’m going to have to pick up Teen Titans, too, but that was probably inevitable.

VERDICT: finally, a comic that doesn’t insult my intelligence, and knows how to make set up interesting. I’m on board!

Static Shock
written by: Scott McDaniel & John Rozum
pencils by: Scott McDaniel

This is one from last week’s releases that I meant to get, but forgot about. I have to say, it probably suffers for being read straight after Superboy, as it’s also a teen boy story, and it’s not nearly as tightly scripted.

I like the set up, though, and the hero is bounding with a puppy-like energy as he crackles and pops his way across the city, carelessly leaving all kinds of electro-magnetic carnage around him and spoiling the day of any commuter unlucky enough to be in his path. The family are appealing, too, and the comic is so relentlessly upbeat that it’s hard not to like it.

Having said all that – it’s a fun comic, but I don’t think it’s one for me. I wasn’t left with any particular burning desire to continue following the characters, so I suspect it’s one that’s going to fall by the wayside. Still, for those looking for a contemporary boy’s own adventure which is reminiscent of 90′s Impulse, this could be the comic for you.

VERDICT: fun but forgettable

Legion Lost
written by: Fabian Nicieza
pencils by: Pete Woods

I wanted to like this one. I really did. But it spends the whole issue explaining to me who everyone is and what their powers are and their situation is in the clumsiest way possible, and forgets to make me care about any of them.

Seriously, I get the concept. Heroes from the future, crash into the past, stranded. It’s a great concept that’s a very easy idea to get across visually. What I don’t need is page after page of conversation about characters I don’t see and don’t know, indispersed with “as you know, X, my power Y complements your power Z to do XYZ” and “oh, K who used to be L, that’s a funny reference because M, I’m sorry did you not get it, new reader?”

But do they mention which of the characters are secretly shagging each other? NO THEY DO NOT.

Verdict: a wasted opportunity and one I won’t bother with in future.

Batwoman:
written by: J.H. Williams III & Haden Blackman
pencils by: Art by J.H. Williams

[note, this post had to be updated after a commenter let me know that Amy Reeder's art for Batwoman won't appear until Feb - she and Williams are taking the art duties for alternating story arcs to keep the book on schedule - I am sorry to hear I don't get to rave about a female artist for this issue but still love the art & have checked out Reeder's work online and really like that too. Also I'm even more impressed with this issue knowing it was (mostly) written, drawn and coloured by the same person.]

This is one I was anticipating greatly, thanks to the buzz around it. I read some of Kate Kane’s character in the original 52 when she was launched, and liked her, but sadly crashed with 52 fatigue and never caught up. This is a very good re-introduction to her and her style, without getting bogged down in backstory (do you hear me, Legion Lost?). I like that there’s a nod to Renee Montoya and her importance in both Kate’s life and that of the Gotham Police Department, but no complicated explanations.

Also, you know what’s awesome about having a lesbian superhero? The book is FULL OF WOMEN. Her love interest/police contact, her youthful apprentice and her approaching antagonist are all female. The only men in the book, Kate’s father and Batman, both have very brief appearances in which they say little compared to what she has to say. While that’s a standard thing for Batman, I thought the conversation between Kate and her father was particularly interesting because it was so much about her angry words, and not his own version of events. Also of course a convenient way to get a bit of backstory in, but at least it was tied to a nice big chunk of emotion.

The art is gorgeous – a bit more arty and spiky than the clean lines I generally prefer, but the use of colour is very powerful, especially the reds of Batwoman’s costume – and I love the fact that Kate puts on a longer wig for Batwoman, but it’s the same colour as her natural hair. I was a little freaked out about daytime Kate’s colouring – really, isn’t there a law about a character in Gotham City having unnaturally white skin unless they’re connected to the Joker or Harley Quinn in some way? It was extremely distracting.

(I didn’t realise until tidying this post to publish it that the art of this book is by a woman – currently the only female artist working the DC universe, I think? Also I think notable that Amy Reeder J.H. Williams III is credited for ‘art’ as a whole – rather than having the pencils and colour separate, the colour did feel more integrated in the artwork before I knew that. Hmmm, interesting)

Bette was an interesting character – I’ve read comics with the original Kathy Kane & Bette as Batwoman and Batgirl (aka Batman and Robin’s girlfriends) but didn’t realise Bette was part of Kate Kane’s universe. I love that she looks exactly the same as she used to, in a 1960′s pin up kind of way, and the scenes that show Kate trying to train her seriously. I do like a ‘tough older female, annoyingly peppy younger female’ training dynamic, so that’s fun.

Anyway, a very good comic, among the best I’ve read as part of this experiment. Onwards and upwards!

Verdict: So far so good!

Note: as with last week, I accidentally overlooked a title that I had intended to buy – in this case Demon Knights which, like Stormwatch, is written by Paul Cornell. Rather than let myself descend into dangerous impulse buying, I’ll do like I did with Static Shock and hold that one over to next week. I’d love to hear from people about their DC comics haul, whether they’re reading them in paper or e-version, and what they’re looking forward to or dreading in the New 52 to come.

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3 Responses to “Superboy #1, Static Shock #1, Legion Lost #1, Batwoman #1 [DC Reboot Reviews]”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Cool to see that you enjoyed Batwoman 1. It was brill, close to my favourite of the DC relaunch books I’ve read so far. You should read the Greg Rucka/J H. Williams Batwoman: Elegy trade which is the Kate Kane origin story and is fantastic. Rucka’s entire Detective Comics Batwoman run was really good, they had a 99c an issue sale on it a month or so ago on Comixology which I used to get the Jock drawn second arc.

    Worth noting, it’s J.H. Williams on art for Batwoman 1 as well as co-writing and he’s really hitting career best work with Batwoman, really taking page layout for mainstream superhero comics to a new level of inventiveness. The very talented Amy Reeder is going to be drawing the second arc and her and Williams are rotating art chores to keep the book on schedule. If you can find it (might be on Comixology, I’m not sure) last year they had the Batwoman 0 preview issue which split art chores between Williams and Reeder, with Williams drawing the Batwoman scenes and Reeder drawing the Kate Kane scenes. Their styles meshed surprisingly well I thought.

  2. tansyrr Says:

    Hey Kevin

    Thanks for that correction. I kind of love the idea of different artists drawing the alter ego scenes, what a marvellous idea!

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