Each Wednesday, DC’s New 52 hits shelves and CBR Staff Writer Steve Sunu is looking for the best bang for the buck in ongoing series. Cutting half his pull list each month from the original 52 in a battle royale, Steve has already narrowed the number to just 13 books. Which titles will make it past Issue 3?
After a quick break, New 52 Pickup is back to cover two weeks’ worth of pull list books — and the cuts are starting to get tough. Last week had three quality titles, while this week features the fan pick that keeps coming back like Solomon Grundy, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Also joining the pull list from the poll is Batman and the Jonah Hex/Amadeus Arkham buddy Western All-Star Western. Let’s get to it!
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Written by Grant Morrison with art by Rags Morales and Gene Ha
Action Comics continues as one of my favorite books in DC’s New 52. Grant Morrison is giving the Superman mythos a face-lift for new readers and longtime fans alike, with an amazing opening sequence detailing the destruction of Krypton. While the Clark Kent sequences aren’t grabbing me nearly as much as I hoped, the Krypton mythos coming back around for the cliffhanger is slick and something I’m looking forward to reading. Rags Morales and Gene Ha continue sharing art duties, and it seems to work well. In my eyes, this is the Superman family book to beat, and it’s going to take some stiff competition from the other books to get this one off my pull list.
Written by Jeff Lemire with art by Travel Foreman
That said, Animal Man may offer just that competition as we get down to cuts at the end of the month. Jeff Lemire’s pseudo-horror saga continues to impress, building on the concept of the Life Web and the Red while exploring Buddy Baker’s relationship with his family. Before going further, I really have to commend letterer Jared K. Fletcher on an excellent job. The lettering for the supernatural creatures helps promote the horror aspect and ramps up the excitement significantly – and artist Travel Foreman continues his amazing run, perfectly setting the tone for Lemire’s saga. It’s impossible for me to say enough good things about this book.
Written by Scott Snyder with art by Yanick Paquette
Abigail Arcane is back, and even readers unfamiliar with Swamp Thing will get a huge kick out of Scott Snyder’s clever exposition and setup for the series’ antagonist. While the cover is a bit misleading, the interior pages really pull together everything that’s happened so far and shot-puts it in a direction that’s both intriguing and terrifying. Snyder’s passion for these characters and the story comes through while reading this book, and this issue is a great example of that. Even the recapping of Abigail’s history is exciting and interesting – and it’s only enhanced by Yanick Paquette’s gorgeous art. Paquette can make a mundane psychiatrist’s office look stunning. This creative team is killing it on Swamp Thing, and I don’t want to have to leave this book anytime soon.
Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman with art by J.H. Williams
Each time I open up an issue of Batwoman, I feel as if I should wear gloves, because every single page is a work of art. Each issue, J.H. Williams III manages to do something amazing with the layout that I would’ve never thought possible. It really is a gorgeous book, which only adds to the story and the handle co-writers Williams and W. Haden Blackman have on these characters. It’s interesting to see Flamebird come back by the end of the issue, and I’m excited to see how the writers plan to have her contribute to the Batwoman mythos as Flamebird rather than Kate’s diminutive sidekick. Williams and Blackman are making me care about Kathy Kane in a way that I never thought I would. This is an amazing book, both artistically and plot-wise.
Written by Paul Cornell with art by Diogenes Neves
This book really delivered in the first two issues with the assembly of the Demon Knights in Issue 1 and the attacking veloceraptors in Issue 2. By comparison, the third installment is pretty tame. Paul Cornell slows things down a bit so we can get to know these characters better as they prepare for an all-out assault on the ramshackle village they’re holed up in. There’s a lot going on, including Madame Xanadu’s sacrifice that steals her youth and the constant hypotheses about Shining Knight’s gender, but after all the action and ridiculousness of those two previous issues, it’s difficult to come down from that energy to these more intimate moments. Diogenes Neves is excellent on this book, and I hope he gets to draw dinosaurs again. While the issue didn’t overwhelm me, I do like the core concept of this title, and only time will tell whether it stacks up to the other books this month.
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Written by Jeff Lemire with art by Alberto Ponticelli
This is a fan-favorite book, and it’s easy to see why. Frank and crew are trapped on Monster Planet after the events of the last issue, and they discover the mountains are actually huge monster titans that they have to slay. It’s cool stuff, and Lemire hammers home Frank’s bad-assery. While I do enjoy Lemire’s writing, I’m still not the biggest fan of Alberto Ponticelli’s art. I can definitely see how it enhances Lemire’s writing, and it’s starting to grow on me. But with Lemire’s Animal Man as excellent as it is, I have high expectations of Frankenstein that just aren’t being met. I gave it my best shot, but I don’t think this book is for me.
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Fernando Daginino
I want more of Mitch Shelley. Sure, we get to see him put on a few new powers in this issue, but beyond him being stuck in the unnamed place between Heaven and Hell, we don’t get much of him in action. However, Abnett and Lanning more than make up for the lack of Mitch with some cool new revelations about the femme fatale bounty hunters. They may not be able to resurrect, but they can definitely regenerate – they have ridiculous healing factors and they’re set to use them to bring Mitch in. Fernando Daginino, who manages to keep Mitch looking like himself even with a rocky exterior, exquisitely illustrates each panel of their fight to great effect. Honestly, though, the most pleasant surprise of the entire issue was seeing Darryl, the retired super-villain, suit up as The Transhuman to try and save Mitch. Abnett and Lanning took a character that looked like a one-off and made him a huge part of the next issue.
That’s it for the first two weeks of November. What did you think about the issues on your pull? What worked and what didn’t? Sound off in the comments and we’ll see you in two weeks for the second half of the month and some really tough decisions to make in the cuts!