Welcome back to The Comics Project, where I asked 22 non-comics readers and lapsed comics readers to pick out an issue of the new DCU 52 and report back. Head over to Part One if you’d like to read a full introduction for the project. Without further ado, let’s dig in!
As always, beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the book!
NAME: Jeff G
BOOK: Birds Of Prey #1
OCCUPATION: Photographer moonlighting as an Office Manager for a NY firm moonlighting as a mad house!
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? I bought the first issue of Punisher for my brother when it came out in 1986.....and I think I used it as wrapping paper for his birthday present the next year (a koosh ball).
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? No, I had no idea.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. I would be interested in checking out Mr. Terrific, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad or Swamp Thing.
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? Birds of Prey was a book I didn't recognize but intrigued me for 3 reasons: I like birds, I like women and I recently finished reading a trilogy that involved a Mockingjay, so birds were on my mind.
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? Mr. Terrific because I suspect it might be slightly biographic for me. Wonder Woman, because she is always badass. Suicide Squad based only on the cover art, and Swamp Thing because I live near the Gowanus Canal.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? I did.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? The book jumped right into the middle of a story and then used flashbacks to get the reader caught up. I liked the suspense of being thrown into the storyline and then having it revealed by the characters.
WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Like all comic books, it was too short. I read through it and wanted the next piece of the story right away, realizing I would need to wait for the next issue to come out. Perhaps this is why I didn't get into comic books as a kid - while it catered to my short attention span, I was too impatient to wait for the next part of the story.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? Yes. I have never read this comic book, or many at all, and I was pulled right in by the graphics, the characters and the story itself. I wanted to find out more about these characters.
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? Well, as I said earlier, this story begins right in the middle of the action, so at first I was a little lost, but very quickly you are shown the flashbacks and then the mystery just pulls you along as the story unfolds.
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? Yes. I want to know if Katana will join. The cover has 4 characters and I've only met 3 so far! (so I'm assuming she will). [Ed. Note: Wrong Jeff, you only met 2 characters, that redhead you met was Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl, not the redhead from the cover - who most fans are assuming is Poison Ivy. Even more reasons to read? I say yes!]
IF SO, WILL YOU BUY THE NEXT ISSUE WHEN IT RELEASES NEXT MONTH? I am tempted to, but I can see the future (I'm a bit of a superhero myself) and I'm pretty sure my commitment and attention will wane.
DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE (AND LIST TITLES IF YOU CAN). I would be interested in reading some of the older issues of Birds of Prey to learn more about the back-story. And I still want to see Wonder Woman's update!
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF INTERESTED IN OTHER TITLES, WILL YOU ACTUALLY BUY THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY RELEASE IN THE COMING WEEKS? Honestly, probably not.
IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? YES! This definitely interests me. Both because it's cheaper AND because I could just wait and acquire multiple issues and then read them all back to back, satisfying my need for immediate gratification. Is this an option?? [Ed. Note: It IS an option Jeff - check it out!]
NAME: Paul Abbamondi
BOOK: Wonder Woman #1
LOCATION: Middle of the Woods, Pennsylvania
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? I've been reading comics on and off since I was a little boy. Mostly Uncanny X-Men--my first being #297, "Song's End," which had zero to no action, instead focusing on the personal relationships of Professor X, Jubilee, Beast, and so on--and I didn't get interested in longer forms of comics, such as graphic novels, until my mid-twenties, when I guess my attention span was much more capable. As a kid, comics went hand-in-hand with trading cards, TV shows, and action figures, and I considered them just another place to gobble up my fill. I liked comic books, but if I didn't buy an issue week after week, I got my superhero fix elsewhere. In fact, most of my comics in my collection were either given as gifts or traded for.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Vaguely.
IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? A website I frequent daily and am fairly active on is GiantBomb, a website about videogames, and they have a sister site called ComicVine, which focuses on all things comics. I saw an article go up there the day the news broke. There was a lot of confusion and backlash in the comments section, but I didn't understand what the big deal was. For me, this sounded like a great opportunity, to go in again fresh and clear of muddled pasts, retconning, and all the minute details that make these stories above and beyond, but only if you've read every single one, cover to cover, from the beginning of time. I've never been big on DC comics, but here was my chance to get in and give it a try.
WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Batman #1. Just to see what would change with his back-story, if anything at all. Swallowed a radioactive bat?
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. More than likely...Wonder Woman #2. But that's probably it. Haven't been hearing astounding things about some of the other titles from the New 52.
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? Wonder Woman is a very recognizable superhero to me, and I've always been a fan of women that fight the good fight, fight from passion. Such as Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck or Brienne of Tarth from A Song of Ice and Fire. I was curious to see if Wonder Woman would be all about the passion and drive...or the skimpy shorts.
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? Swamp Thing #1 and Animal Man #1. The former for nostalgic reasons, but the latter just sounded odd to me. I've never heard of Animal Man at this point, and I was curious to learn more. Is he a man made up of multiple animal parts? Or more like Ace Ventura, with a gift for calling animals to his aid? Alas, others got to the titles before I could.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? I liked it. Did not love it or fall into its pages with mouth agape, but the few minutes it took me to read were well spent. I thought the art style was nice, colorful, and there was one particular story moment that nearly made me chuckle, which is definitely an achievement these days. Zola learns Something Major, and she reacts as anyone properly should, with half a cuss. The action sequences had a good flow to them, even if I was a little lost on the why of everything. You know, like why are these monster centaurs attacking this woman Zola? Why did Wonder Woman reveal her superhero identity so quickly? Why did the key teleport Wonder Woman and Zola right back to the danger zone? We don't get a lot of answers in the first issue, just sprinkled breadcrumbs.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? The cover. Done by Cliff Chiang, it's a striking image, with Wonder Woman in mid-air, deflecting arrows and readying a strike of her own. The lack of a distinguished background really helps her pop off the page too. Reminds me of Samurai Jack for some reason. The style is somewhat different from what's inside the comic, but both work well.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? I'm gonna say no, it's not. I am not a Wonder Woman expert (Wonder Womanarian?), and it's been some time since I've had any experience with the character. I know she's an...Amazon, but I don't exactly recall how she came to be and what she is ultimately after. I thought that was what the first issue was going to be, her origin. We don't get any info on this part of Wonder Woman. Instead, she's already a known superhero and thrown recklessly into a horrific fight--the adjective here meaning terrifying, not horrible or bad. Well, maybe now I'm seeing it the other way. With that kind of set-up, anyone could read Wonder Woman #1 and enjoy it, so long as they weren't looking for how she came to be.
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? Yes. During the issue's major fight sequence, there was a string of text boxes, and it was unclear who was talking, and who they were talking to, if anyone. Maybe just thinking out loud. It just became easier to ignore the text and read the fight scene panel by panel, punch by punch, blocked arrow by blocked arrow.
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? Yes. I burned through the Percy Jackson book series in a few months, and those were heavy on Greek gods and prophecies and mysterious characters. Same deal here. Curious as to how it will all unfold, and what Wonder Woman's connection will be to all of it.
IF SO, WILL YOU BUY THE NEXT ISSUE WHEN IT RELEASES NEXT MONTH? Yes. If I can remember. Or find a brick-and-mortar that sells comics. The Borders near me is no longer, much like all the Borders not near me.
IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? Yes, definitely. I have already touched upon the difficulty I have in picking up actual physical comic books. Don't have an iPad, but any kind of downloadable PDF would work too. Probably be easier to keep up with the series, too.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS/CRITIQUE/PRAISE/CRITICISMS: With all the ballyhoo about Catwoman and Starfire these past weeks, I'm a little surprised I haven't heard much about Wonder Woman. Her introduction is far from perfect. First off, we don't get to meet Diana until ten pages in. She's faux asleep in her apartment when Zola teleports in. Oh, and did you know that Wonder Woman likes to sleep completely naked? [Ed. Note: This is canon actually] Good thing her sheet is able to cover up just enough flesh bits. And when she gets up to get dressed, we're treated to leg shots and then, yes, sideboob. After that, Wonder Woman dons her rather safe costume, and we get going with the story. I guess I just don't understand the point of having her naked. Was it an opportunity for Chiang to draw sexy poses where she wraps a bedsheet around her body only to drop it a frame later, still in plain sight of Zola, to get changed? Why not just have her strut over to the closet completely nude? Why not put her in, oh, I dunno, pajamas? It's okay, y'know. Women wear pajamas. I have proof.
NAME: brian kelly hahn
BOOK: Batman #1
LOCATION: Portland, OR
OCCUPATION: I make things for movies
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? I had friends in college that lent me comics. I believe the first time I got hooked on my own was on a trip to Chicago, I stopped in Quimby's Comics. At the time, I read more zines and self-published fare rather than official type comics. I found a few of Chris Ware's first Jimmy Corrigan books and was hooked.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Yep.
IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? I heard about it on NPR and chatted about it with a few comic-minded friends.
WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Nope. Although I love the genre and more specifically the concept of superhero or superpowers, every comic I've seen have been the least effective medium for telling these stories.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? Nope.
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I was hoping for a good origin story. There is so much potential with telling the story of how a character came into being. How a human becomes something more than human and the consequences that come from that transformation. It's a story focused more on emotion and relations rather than shiny gadgets or extreme perspective fist fights. I thought that any relaunch would be just that - an origin story - the beginning. Why else # it 1?
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? I think it was called Voodoo. It looked like the style would be interesting.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? No. The story was simple and not compelling. Too much name-dropping. Who the hell is Alligator Man? Instead of building characters, it just listed them.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? “... “
WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Ads that made me ashamed to be reading it at work. I am obviously not the intended demographic.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? Big fat NO. The entire thing from page one is just a list of names and places that, without knowing of Batman prior, are meaningless.
DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A LAPSED READER THAT WANTS TO RETURN? Perhaps. I cannot imagine how. The story just is not interesting.
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? Honestly, the second page had me thinking I was looking at an ad for a different Batman comic. I flipped past a few thinking to myself, "This can't be the actual story. This is probably some teaser for another comic."
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? Nope.
IF IT DID NOT INTRIGUE YOU, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY NOT? I could care less. It just seemed like standard superhero beats up bad guys fare.
DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE: It made me want to return to the type of comics I love. Shortly after reading this I attended a talk given by Craig Thompson and picked up his new graphic novel, Habibi. I very much look forward to carving out a few quiet hours to swim in that gorgeous story.
IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? Only if lower is free. I honestly will not pay for something that shows no signs of a compelling story. I might purchase them if the proceeds went to charity.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS/CRITIQUE/PRAISE/CRITICISMS: Maybe I have a problem. I'm just plain frustrated by the whole superhero genre. I tend to like the beginnings and hate the rest - although I mostly experience it through movies. First half of - Spiderman, Iron Man, The Dark Knight- great, everything else that followed- crap. A perfect example is the Heroes TV series. It had so much potential in the first few episodes. It was a good show. Why? Good, realistic characters with interesting stories about coping with new found powers. It turned to crap pretty quickly though. Is there something out there that has held on to that ? The good old-fashioned storytelling?
NAME: Tim Cummings
BOOK: Nightwing #1
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
OCCUPATION: Actor, Writer, Artist
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? Not really any.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? No.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Well, I could certainly keep reading the Nightwing series....
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I thought Nightwing was hot. I didn't know he was Robin's new superhero identity! I liked the artwork on the cover. I liked the name NIGHTWING.
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? There may have been, but by the time I got to the list I had to choose from what was left. Crushing time-management issues can do that... But I actually am glad that my choices were limited, as I believe the right comic came to me.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? Yes. I like the color scheme of the whole thing...it's all washed in a kind ghostly midnight blue with accents and flashes of bright red and the glowing yellows in the windows of the skyscrapers.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Haly's Circus rolls into town...a piece of his past bubbling under his present; it signifies that he has to face up to his demons. I like that, thematically.
WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Some of the dialogue was very elemental.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? Well, there are a lot of ads in it and it breaks up the story too much. Commercials!
DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A LAPSED READER THAT WANTS TO RETURN? Probably, as this particular book IS about a returning, of sorts.
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? It did. Well, I like that he is filling in for Batman, and I like that the circus is in town. I like that there is a creepy kick-ass hired killer after him, who seems to have Nightwing mistaken for someone else; some 'fierce killer who doesn't even know it."
IF SO, WILL YOU BUY THE NEXT ISSUE WHEN IT RELEASES NEXT MONTH? Sure!DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? I wouldn't want to go overboard and take on anything more than I already have on my nutsoid plate, so as much as I'd theoretically be interested in ALL of them, cos I think this shit is cool and always have, but there is no way I could take them on--I'd get lost in a thick fog of comic books, and all my responsibilities would fly out the window...IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? Maybe. There's something cool about having the actual comic book in a world that's gone cuckoo for digital cocoa-puffs.
Another complaint about ads! Crazy. They really do bother people. I say it again, perhaps ad-less trades are the way of the future when it comes to "new readers"...it addresses al lot of their complaints by removing ads and telling much more of the story (sometimes a full story) in one chunk. I honestly can't blame them. As someone that came to comics at an obsessive time in my life (15 represent!) and a time when I had precious little I had to do and was desperately looking for something to fall in love with, going to the store once a week was awesome. Now, it's a huge pain in my ass. I have to make sure I can get there after work before they close, or grab books on my way in to work, which rarely works out, and sometimes they don't have everything I want (I shop at a great but very small shop)...if they don't have everything I want then I'm running all over NYC to track it down or ordering it online...it's a project. Most people that didn't learn to do this (and maybe love it a little) when they were younger, are going to be hard pressed to do it now. And as I've said before, comics doesn't make it easy to know what's going on, what's coming out, etc. You really have to stay connected on the internet as well so you don't miss the first new issue of a series you might like, etc. I'm jacked into this stuff nearly every day and I still miss stuff. Anyway, it's an interesting problem and while I hope digital and trades might be a partial solution, I don't know that there's really any comprehensive thing that can be done.
All that said, reviews were a funny mixed bag this week, we had a lot of positive reviews, but one of the best reviewed books of the entire new DCU (Batman) got a a huge negative reaction, which may speak more to the reviewer's incompatibility with modern mainstream superhero comics than the quality of the book, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Most mysterious of all - still more interest in Voodoo. I'm half tempted to buy enough copies to send everyone that expressed interest in the book a copy and ask them to tell me what they think. If doing these projects has proved anything to me it's that I don't know how people will react to these books, or what they'll express interest in for that matter, but while I can see what appealed to people about the cover and solicit material, I have trouble imagining most of them responding positively to what they found inside. If I find myself with an extra $50 and I see ten copies of Voodoo somewhere I'll consider it.
Anyway, onto our final installment next week! Make sure to come back to read reviews of: Voodoo #1, Aquaman #1, Savage Hawkman #1, I, Vampire #1, Justice League Dark #1, All-Star Western #1, and The Flash #1.