Ranking the New 52: 17-11

My ranking of DC’s New 52 titles continues.

17. Batwing

For the most part, I like Ben Oliver’s art. He reminds me of Adi Granov. The main problem is the lack of background, which is an issue in a series which is so dependent on the unique African setting. Chriscross is pretty good in the fourth issue, although he has a rather different style. It’s okay, as the issue deals with slightly different subject matter.

Batwing was originally maligned as the token black Batman, but the third-world setting is effective. It’s a solid spinoff of the Batman Incorporated series, showing what things are like for one member of the organization, who has had experiences different from any potential American counterpart. The villain is vicious, and the central mystery involving a legendary African superhero team is pretty cool. It’s a fast read, which isn’t a problem when trying to get through 260 comic books. But it’s different if you’re wondering if the book is worth the fifteen dollar cover price.

16. O.M.A.C.

GØDLAND, especially when Tim Sicoli was the artist, has been described as a book that dealt with Kirby’s style as if it were a genre. And that’s just what Didio and Giffen do with OMAC, a new version of a Kirby creation. It’s a fun title, with a protagonist that seems to have come from Silver Age Marvel, and I mean that in a good way. I like Kevin’s interactions with Brother Eye, much more than Jamie Reyes’s interactions with the Blue Beetle scarab. And the action scenes are a lot of fun.

O.M.A.C. was rated the 52nd best comic book of 2011 by CBR, the ninth-best showing of any of the new 52 titles. Sadly, it’s one of the worst selling titles.

15. I, Vampire

It’s a good enough vampire saga, with shades of the X-Men, if Professor X had no allies, his goal was to kill the other mutants and Magneto was his ex-wife. Andrew Sarrentino’s art reminds me of Jae Lee, although credit may also go to colorist Marcello Maiolo. It’s dark and appropriate for a series about vampires and vampire hunters.

Mary, Queen of Blood, is one of the most impressive villains of the new 52, a woman with a power set, an army, a vicious agenda and some depth. John Constantine and Batman both make effective guest-starr appearances.

14. Justice League

It’s refreshing to see the heroes when they’re young and cocky, but it gets to be a bit much. There’s no adult in the room, and it’s almost like they’re the Teen Titans. Wonder Woman is essentially written like Marvel’s Hercules, though that isn’t necessarily a problem. Jim Lee’ s art is gorgeous. Some of the details are amazing, especially when it comes to Hal Jordan’s various constructs.

It’s a fast paced title, but it can seem padded, especially at four bucks an issue. A minor complaint is that the first encounter between Batman and Superman seems a little bit wasted here, though I do love the take on the brash novice Superman. Justice League was #20 on Complex’s ranking of the best comic books of 2011, the seventh-best showing for any of the new 52 titles.

13. All-Star Western

The title definitely has an interesting hook with Hex teaming up with Amadeus Arkham in 1880s Gotham City, essentially serving as the Batman of the day. Technically, the book’s no longer a Western, as Gotham may not actually be in the American West, but that’s a minor quibble. It’s definitely worth it to see hints of later developments in the DCU (the religion of Crime, Mayor Cobblepot, etc) while the villains remind me of the bad guys in Sandman Mystery Theater.

The books’ s a lot of fun, with numerous high-casualty gun fights. Moritat’s art is fine, although it’s not the best I’ve seen on the series. The back-up features offering entertaining western tales by name talent (Phil Winslade, Bernet.) All-Star Western (combined with Jonah Hex) was rated the 59th best comic book of 2011 by CBR, the tenth-best showing of any of the new 52 titles. Sales are much better than those of Jonah Hex, so this is a title that has benefited big time from the new 52.

12. Batgirl

It was one of the most controversial titles, with the decision to have Barbara Gordon back in the suit after an extended period in which she was one of the highest profile handicapped characters in DC’s comics. I like Gail Simone’s take on the character, with a miraculous recovery leaving Babs with some issues and incredible upper body strength.

The villain’s motives are generic, but the mirrors motif is pretty cool. The strategy against him is satisfying, and ties into the current status quo quite nicely. The second arc is also promising, ending with one hell of a cliffhanger.

11. Swamp Thing

The book has some creative links to Animal Man, a slightly better series. And the post-Swamp Thing Alec Holland is an interesting lead. The rot is a creepy enemy, especially its avatar. Though it does remind me of a much shorter story in the Flight anthology, which is a problem when something is a big bad across several titles. The avatar is vaguely generic, mixing elements of Kid Miracleman and other evil children. Yanick Paquete toes an interesting line as an artist, mixing Vertigo grittiness with superhero grandeur. A soliloquy on how the green is actually aggressive is also quite effective, presenting a new way of looking at familiar things.

Swamp Thing was #12 on CBR’s list of the best comic books of 2011, the fourth-best showing for any of the new DCU titles. Complex was slightly less friendly to the title, rating it the 14th best comic book of the year and the sixth-best of the new 52. I doubt that DC expected Swamp Thing to be in the Top 40 five months later, so I’m sure they’re ecstatic about the sales.

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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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