Technically, these are the titles that are below average for the new 52. Though as I noted in yesterday’s ranking, none of these books is bad.
39. Suicide Squad
This series focuses on an appropriately and entertainingly nasty super-team. There are some good twists and lots of casualties. The missions are compelling, and in contrast to the the other titles, the story certainly isn’t padded. There’s essentially a different mission for each issue, though it’s clearly part of one storyline. It’s also not a slog to read through.
The team’s interesting enough. I don’t really care for Harley Quinn’s underwear, but this side of her was all hinted at in Mad Love. The twist in the first issue is familiar to anyone who has read or seen V For Vendetta.
38. Captain Atom
The book’s a tad derivative (parts of Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen, Doctor Solar from Solar: Man of the Atom). I like the hero’s outlook, but I’m not sure the series takes advantage of it.
It’s an interesting take of a hero undergoing a transformation, and some of his challenges are rather effective (a literal battle with a kid’s cancer, an accidental injury to others). But there’s an abrupt shift in others view him, and the big villain is set-up rather slowly. Artist Freddie Williams gets across the general weirdness of what’s going on with the hero.
37. Demon Knights
It’s essentially a team book set in a historical fantasy setting, though in five issues, it hasn’t quite gotten to the point where the team has gelled, or even has much of a clear mission. Some of the interactions between the various team members are fun, especially a twisted romantic triangle involving Etrigan the Demon, his human host and a woman in the middle.
Paul Cornell knows how to make things pretty nasty, Game of Thrones style. There are some cool moments, generally involving the viciousness of the bad guys and even the good guys. The environment is fully realized. Diogenes Neves does great work in a fantasy setting. But there just isn’t much of a story, yet.
It’s a slow burn X-Files type story, with some gratuitous sex and violence, told from the alien’s Point Of View. And it does feature a lead with an unconventional perspective of humanity, the reverse of the typical Avatar type story in which a human explores an alien society. The book tries to push the envelope (the lead is a stripper, there’s a sex scene with a female shapeshifter pretending to be a guy, people die in bloody ways) and it’s more successful at that than most titles that try to shock readers. The highlight is Ron Marz writing Kyle Ragner again.
It’s a hodgepodge team with most of the Authority, the Martian Manhunter and some new guys. The powers are clever, as is the threat. The art is adequate. But so far, I just don’t care about the team. There are some cool moments, but the things that are most interesting is usually just leftover goodwill from better runs on the Authority, a series that almost makes the stories here redundant.
Van Sciver and Simone do a brave thing in this odd couple book, making the guy comic fans would be more likely to relate to (the dork) a bit of a douchebag to the jock.
The villains are nasty, but almost in a cliched way. It’s like they’re doing an impression of Herr Starr from Preacher, without being as clever. Though I admit it goes in an unconventional direction, at least as of the end of the fourth issue. Things shift a lot, so I’m never sure of the status quo. It makes things less predictable, but also much less stable. They’ve yet to take advantage of the sheer power of the nuclear men. Still it’s interesting to see a realpolitik superhero story from the perspective of teenagers.
33. Resurrection Man
I didn’t read the original, but the concept is pretty cool, with a hero who dies and is reborn with new powers. I’m a bit unclear about some of the ground rules, though the sense is ably conveyed that things have gotten a lot crazier.
In the first issue, Abnett & Lanning manage to make me care for a group of doomed civilians. An arc featuring a guy with alzheimers who thinks he was a supervillain goes on a little bit too long, but it is entertaining enough.
32. Justice League Dark
I like the dynamics of a team, and the core concept: a Justice League that focuses on supernatural threats. The hero’s are damaged in interesting ways, especially Shade and Deadman. It’s essentially a PG-13 version of Vertigo, but it’s still done pretty well.
The main arc allows Peter Milligan to just show crazy magical stuff happening, as a witch goes mad. But it never quite lives up to the first issue, in which she beats the real JLA. The story’s very scattershot, though there is a narrative excuse for it, given the insanity of the enemy.