A Marvel Guy Rates The DC Books: Week Two

I’m not a new reader, but where DC is concerned I might as well be.

Whether it started as brand loyalty, Spideyphilia, or just an aversion to Crises, my love of comics started with Marvel books and stayed that way for a long time. Over the years, I’ve broadened my horizons from Dark Horse to Dynamite, but for some reason no matter how omnivorous I tried to be DC’s titles never stayed on my pull list for long. From The Flash to Green Lantern to Action itself, I always failed to connect with the stories and lost interest. Was it the baggage? Was it the writers? There was no better time to find out than this month.

What follows over the next few weeks are the books I’ve tried and how they looked to my (relatively) fresh eyes, (mostly) free of bias.

Batwoman #1Batwoman

What Made Me Try It: I had no intention of buying this one; “the artist is the writer now!” always puts an Image-y, worst-of-the-nineties taste in my mouth, and Greg Rucka’s unceremonious disappearance left an even worse taste. It was yuckmouth all around, and then Conor sang its praises and put it back on the bubble.

What I Knew Before I Bought It:
 I believe I have read every prior Batwoman appearance, which sadly is not saying much due to the way they’ve handled her up till now. I basically did it on accident.

What I Thought About It:
 Between this, Animal Man and Action Comics, it’s become clear that the key to this enterprise is expectation management. I bought this skeptically, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the week. J. H. Williams’ art was at its hypnotic, panel-pushing best, and the writing of the characters did not miss a beat from the last arc years and years ago. The story picks up right where it left off (“relaunch”?) but the issue takes great pains to bring newcomers completely up to speed. From a meta point of view, it’s almost funny: essentially, Batwoman’s sidekick spends the whole issue badgering, “Please, please tell me the exposition,” and Batwoman sullenly refuses until it all comes out of her in a one-page burst of anger. Fairly clever, as those things go.

Will I Stick With It?:
 Without a doubt, true believer. Nuff said.

Demon Knights #1Demon Knights

What Made Me Try It: Paul Cornell. Are you kidding me? I’d buy Paul Cornell’s My Little Pony fan fiction.

What I Knew Before I Bought It:
 Is there a way to know less than nothing? Like, to know so little that knowledge you had leaks out of you? I had that. Wait! No. I knew the name of the book. That was how I bought it.

What I Thought About It:
 That was a Paul Cornell book, all right! Cornell stories are like those moving walkways at the airport: you just step on and hang onto the rails as things go zooming past you. Little to no attempt is made to explain who the hell anyone is (Madame Who? Androgynous Knight why?? King Arthur where???) and I had no idea why anything was happening or what motivated anyone to fight anyone else, but none of this made the book any less entertaining. I’m confident I’ll pick it up as we go, and in the meantime there will be exploding demon babies and dragons that might be dinosaurs and jolly wordplay. Replace dragons with vampires, and I’m in pretty much the same position I was when Cornell was doing Captain Britain and MI:13 at Marvel.

Will I Stick With It?:
 Yes, assuming that in the next issue or two the main characters will introduce themselves to one another, and by extension to me.

Frankenstein Agent of SHADEFrankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

What Made Me Try It: I really like Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth, and I’d been hearing a lot of praise working in phrases like “off the wall” and “B.P.R.D.-y.”

What I Knew Before I Bought It:
 I read Mary Shelley’s first arc.

What I Thought About It:
 The book does an excellent job of setting up the stakes, and the main character seems to know as little about S.H.A.D.E. as we do, giving Lemire a nice opportunity to bring us all up to speed together with a kind of talking Wikipedia device. (I could have used an extra panel or two on who this “Father Time” is. He’s in the body of a schoolgirl now? Is this something we don’t blink about when a Father Time does it? Who is this clown we’re all listening to?) There’s something very familiar about this one; a couple of copy-and-pastes on the proper nouns, and this could be any Incredible Hulks script from the last year, with Hank Pym building their HQ for good measure. And I liked it exactly as much as Incredible Hulks.

Will I Stick With It?:
 We’ll see. A lot is riding on #2. Sweet Tooth is great.

Resurrection Man #1Resurrection Man

What Made Me Try It: Abnett and Lanning. I follow my writers, especially if they can make me care what Ronan the Accuser is doing somehow.

What I Knew Before I Bought It:
 I get the impression that this is a man capable of some kind of resurrection.

What I Thought About It:
 This is how a launch is launched, my children. We start from scratch, but there’s no expository rambling here; we learn who our hero is and what he does by watching him do it and going through it with him. He gets up off a morgue slab and says, “Oh, I have magnetic powers this time; I wonder who I’m back to help,” and just like that you have everything you need. The action could not be more exciting, and the stakes could not be higher. My only complaint is that I’d like to know a little bit more about this guy beyond why he’s called Resurrection Man. It suddenly occurs to me that I made it all the way through the book without learning the name of the main character. A supporting cast could not come soon enough. (P.S.: I hope your next life gives you the power of getting a haircut, hippie.)

Will I Stick With It?: If you don’t want to stick around to see how a custody battle between God and the Devil ends, you may want to stick to nonfiction.

NEXT: It’s ladies’ night!


  1. Cool comments, keep it up! 🙂

  2. Good reviews. It’s interesting seeing how someone largely unfamiliar with these characters reacts. I’m glad you are enjoying some of these so much.

    “One of us…one of us…” C’mon, drink the Kool-Aid, it’s cherry!

  3. I liked your take on Resurrection Man. I think you really summed it up with “It suddenly occurs to me that I made it all the way through the book without learning the name of the main character. A supporting cast could not come soon enough.”

    something was bugging me about this character…that might just be it!

  4. Resurrection Man’s name is Mitch Shelley. I thought it was mentioned a few times by the woman on the plane with the red tear tattoo on her face. I could be wrong and, only read it once because I wasn’t particularly impressed. Might be remembering from solicits.

  5. I also enjoyed Mary Shelley’s first arc on Frankenstein.

  6. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying these. I liked all four of these books quite a bit.

  7. I knew absolutely nothing about Demon Knights, and had the same reaction you did. I didn’t who was who, or why they were in a middle ages-y setting, and why they were fighting but I enjoyed it. Not POTW worthy to me, but nonetheless a solid book. Will give it a few more issues to really grab me.

  8. Just so you know, Shining Knight is a woman after the Grant Morrison reintroduced the character to the DCU in his seven soldiers series. The fact that it was a girl and not a guy was the twist in that story.

  9. Really enjoying these comments, as my DC knowledge is one tiny sliver more than Jimski’s, so we are absically in the same boat with this relaunch. I would ALSO buy Paul Cornell’s My Little Pony fan fiction, not because I follow Paul cornell, but because my list of the best shows on TV looks like this:

    Mad Men
    Breaking Bad
    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

  10. “What I Knew Before I Bought It: I read Mary Shelley’s first arc.”
    Thank you for this bon mot, Jimski. It caught me by surprise and made me cackle with glee!

  11. Appologies in advance! This has nothing to do with this post per se, but i was wondering why you guys haven’t payed any attention to comic based video games in a long while. Maybe i’ve just missed the posts, but i haven’t seen anything on here for the upcoming batman: arkham city, Spider-man: Edge of time, X-men Destiny, or Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Again, my appologies, i just didn’t know where else to ask and this didn’t have a ton of posts so i figured it was more likely to be seen here.