Ranking the New 52: 24-18

My ranking of DC’s New 52 titles continues.

24. Detective Comics

I could see why this is one of DC’s biggest hits. It’s a solid Batman series with a creepy new villain, and an interesting mystery with the Joker. It starts off with a generic but good enough single issue battle between Batman and his archenemy, which had to make DC’s marketing folks quite happy.

Daniel’s artwork and the depiction of the detective work is satisfactory, though a little bland. Bruce Wayne’s private life is explored through his relationship with a reporter, and Daniel establishes her as a good match for Bruce. The romance has to be seen in a different light when you consider contemporary subplots in Catwoman and Batman: the Dark Knight. The Dollmaker is a successful addition to Batman’s rogues gallery. His “family” is sufficiently creepy, and it’s an effective dynamic for the villain. Daniels also takes care to individualize the various sidekicks, and establish them as challenges for Batman in their own right.

23. Green Lantern New Guardians

It’s a spinoff book which builds on some developments from the Green Lantern monthly, while providing a new arc for Kyle Rayner, who has been somewhat directionless since Hal Jordan came back.

The title is a bit padded. The second issue cliffhanger is rather obvious after the way the first issue ended. But it’s also a lot of fun. Larfleeze and all the multi-colored lanterns bring a sense of entertaining chaos to the title, and Kyle is the perfect Green Lantern to deal with it all.

22. Supergirl 

Especially in the first two issues, this is one of the most decompressed of the new DCU titles. Aside from that, it’s pretty good. I’d rather spend four satisfying minutes reading a comic book than ten boring minutes. There have been many renditions of Supergirl’s arrival to Earth, but this one works rather effectively, showing an alien outsider’s view of an absurd situation. Writers Green and Johnson avoid many of the easy cliches when it comes to an alien learning to love humans.

The villainous organization in the first arc is average, but not bad. The young evil genius is entertaining. Superman’s appearance is almost a teaser for future stories, but it’s still fine. There’s something about the pacing and the coloring that reminds me of New Frontier,  while artist Mahmud Asrar’s pencils remind me of Mark Bagley. It’s an effective combination.

21. Teen Titans

Scott Lobdell shamelessly attempt to make this series into the X-Men, with young heroes fighting against the forces of a world that fears and hates them. It’s not a bad approach. The book is a lot of fun, especially in the interactions and attitudes of the young heroes, especially Bart Allen Impulse. Brett Booth delivers some solid 90s Image clone art, and some legitimately clever storytelling.

20. Birds of Prey

The new Birds of Prey is a fun and entertainingly dysfunctional superhero team. Black Canary’s been framed for murder. Katana is a widow who keeps talking to the ghost of her dead husband. Starling’s the first DCU heroine I’ve heard utter the words “Who does a bitch have to cut for some service around here?” And then there’s Poison Ivy.

The enemy is a little vague, but often quite menacing, a mysterious army with access to camoflauge suits, often used in clever ways. The villains also have a way of getting into the hero’s heads, figuratively and literally (they put a bomb in Black Canary’s brain) so I’m looking forward to what’s coming up with those guys. As for artist Jesus Saiz, he has a talent at drawing good-looking kickass women who get into lots of fights.

19. Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

It’s a fun series, but it reminds me a lot of Hellboy, with a big old inhuman bruiser leading an eccentric team of monsters (including one that’s half-fish) against evil monsters.

The adventures are crazy and entertaining. An interesting dynamic is quickly established for the team. The side characters have personality, and a little backstory turns someone who seems like a female version of Abe Sapien into something more interesting. And then there’s that whole chaotic battle on Mars.

18. Green Lantern Corps

This one’s about a superhero team on a galactic scale. It take a while for the enemy to get really interesting, but there’s an excellent twist in the fourth issue tying them to the history of the Green Lanterns in a way that really fits the line right now.

Many of the members of the team are undefined, although I trust we’ll get to know them better in the future, and it may also be different for someone who has read Tomasi’s earlier work on the title. It’s still accessible to a new reader, given the initial focus on Guy Gardner and John Stewart, and the way a handful of the other members are slowly developed.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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