DC 52 Review: Those OTHER men in tights … (Aquaman, Hawkman, The Flash)

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Ok. I don’t think any of these men are actually wearing tights, but the point is that these are a handful of heroes that we certainly know by name – but that’s about all we know of them. They don’t have major movie deals. They don’t have kids dressing as them for Halloween. They stand in the shadows of bigger names. Yet these heroes certainly have something to offer …  

Aquaman #1

Oh man. Geoff Johns you did it again. This is the surprise pick of the week right here.  I actually walked past this issue about three times before I decided my pile wasn’t quite big enough and I shrugged and picked it up for good measure. Yeah – Geoff Johns knew that I and a lot of other people like me were going through this exact process – and he masterfully included this audience disinterest for this character into the book making it dryly, sarcastically, hilarious.

There is a lot of downtime in this comic, which is well-spent in that wonderfully witty explanation of Aquaman’s powers, history, and general argument of why he does NOT suck. But so to engage the reader right from the beginning, prior to these pages of explanation is our first view of Aquaman’s new foes. They are creepy, deep-ocean creatures who look hungry and savage and everything primal. I love it.  These creatures come back again in the end to promise hardship for Aquaman in the future. Their threat is simply stated in bloody water.

Ivan Reis’s art perfectly complements the writing. The creatures look like they have dramatically stepped out of a nightmare. The scenes in the water are particularly well created. Best of all, Aquaman’s personality absolutely exudes from his features in the way he is drawn. His dry tone of voice can practically be heard in his chosen dialogue and the expressions on his face. He’s a little arrogant, which just makes the fact that he’s a bit of a running gag an utter annoyance to him.

This is my #1 favorite issue of this week hands down, and probably up-there tied with Batgirl for my overall picks. If this book keeps up this level of personality, it’s got my subscription for sure!

The Savage Hawkman #1

If you’re like me and at the beginning of your DC reading lifespan, perhaps you know about the same amount of info about the superhero Hawkman as I do: 1) He was in a cartoon as some point, though I don’t remember which version of the various Justice League-esk  cartoons it was. 2) His name is kind of funny. (“Hawkman.”  “A Hot man? Where?” … “No, Hawkman. You know, the guy with the wings.” And that’s about the end of my knowledge.

Considering this is a character filled with history and potential for a greater fan-base (I’ve been doing research), I would think that this issue would have more background story. Some of these New 52s are starting characters at the very beginnings of their tales and therefore don’t need any background information.  But The Savage Hawkman #1 is a story about a man with a past and his struggle between leaving it behind and embracing it. Problem? For those of us newbs, I have no idea what that past is and this book didn’t really take any time to explain it.

That being said, the story itself is solid. Carter Hall struggles as he tries to move on from being a superhero, but the power of Hawkman – which is derived from something called the NTH metal – is not yet ready to give him up. The last thing Carter remembers is being engulfed by flames. Next thing he knows he back at his apartment, naked and with not nearly enough burns on his skin.

While Carter is having this identity crises, a scientific team is making some pretty amazing findings in a salvaged alien wreckage complete with mummified body. But the body is not as dead as it seems …

The pacing of the story was great. It really moved along swiftly and engagingly. Backstory research I can do on my own – at least it made me want to and do that legwork. Even better – the art was spectacular! While Philip Tan’s drawing was great, really it was Sunny Gho’s colors that made the artwork shine.

 

The Flash #1

I like Barry Allen. He’s a good guy. A very sincere guy. I’m glad that much crossed over unto this new Flash series. He’s another hero that you can really tell has been stepped back several paces in his life due to this reboot – he’s no longer (or yet) married to Iris West, he is not yet quite trusted as a superhero, and he still generally seems like he is in the process of establishing himself. Part of Barry’s problem has always been that he is always reflecting on the past – that much is still true to form – especially when he’s not sure if he just accidentally killed a friend from his youth.

Even though these is this past-reflection, like in Hawkman, I didn’t real nearly as lost. The writing and artwork are able to subtly explain what readers need to know about The Flash to at least begin this reading relationship. Perhaps this is because Francis Manapul is extremely comfortable with this character, having done the artwork for his series when Geoff Johns was at the reigns. Manapul now is both co-writing with Brian Buccellato as well as doing the art with Buccellato taking on the colors. If I had to explain this series in a word it would be “easy” – it is very easy to read this story, understand the premise, have a sound idea about the characters, and reach the end far before it feels like it should be over. The Flash is speeding towards a great start!

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