Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Best of DC Comics New 52!


While reverting from Gotham City's one and only Batman back to original identity Nightwing could be seen by some as a demotion, Dick Grayson has proved just as important in his New 52 role as he did pre-Flashpoint. Kyle Higgins has been on writing duties since the relaunch and in conjunction with Batman's Scott Snyder has created the perfect companion piece to the recent "Night of the Owls" crossover event. Just as Bruce Wayne has come to find his life shadowed by the fabled Court of Owls, so has Dick Grayson. Over the course of the first year, it's been revealed that long-time staple Haley's Circus was aiding in the creation of the next generation Talons and Dick was to be a leading candidate, if not for the timely intervention of his adoption and subsequent crimefighting career. All being big developments in the origins of the former Boy Wonder and leave me wondering what might happen next.


This is a bit of a cheat, as there's only been one issue of this series set firmly in New 52 continuity so far. However, in that single issue, Grant Morrison achieved more than some creators have been striving all year for. Due to the luck of the draw, he's managed to pick up exactly where he left off in Volume One. After being hounded for months by a mysterious organisation named Leviathan, their leader stood revealed as none other than Robin's mother, Talia Al Ghul. Not only is the writing top notch, but the art by Chris Burnham evokes the same pop-art sensibilities usually only captured by Frank Quitely. A masterful book that's only ever going to rise in my estimation over the coming months.


Geoff Johns has been writing the spectacular adventures of Hal Jordan consistantly since 2004. Picking up seemlessly from where the last volume left off, following "War of the Green Lanterns", Hal has been stripped of his power ring and banished back to Earth by the Guardians of the Universe, having deemed him too rebellious (whilst secretly fearing his true power). In his stead, long-time nemesis Sinestro has been reinstated and tasked with bringing down the Corps of his own creation, who've invaded his homeworld of Korugar. While not remotely new-reader-friendly, relying heavily on one's knowledge of the past eight years of Green Lantern mythology, this series is unrelentingly entertaining with it's buddy-cop dynamic between the two leads. It's only a matter of time before they have an inevitable falling out and Sinestro is returned to his villainous roots, so I'm enjoying the pairing while I can. In recent months, there have been no end of hints towards a major new story arc entitled "The Third Army". The Guardians have secretly turned against the Green Lantern Corps and are plotting to supplant them with a new galactic police force, just as they did the Manhunters before them. Jump on board now, before the s*** hits the fan.


Anyone who's not reading this series already, what the hell is wrong with you? Admittedly, Aquaman has always been a tough sell (even to me), but this new volume has addressed that criticism head on. Not happy to write a plain old Aquaman story, Geoff Johns has no problem pointing out how the world at large laughs at the notion of a water-based superhero. The first handful of issues are rife with situations where members of the public bombard our hero, Arthur Curry, with ridiculous questions about the usefulness of talking to fish or what he intends to do to stop a crime on land. Instead of shying away from the inherent trouble this character has had in the past, Johns has embraced it, making it one big running joke and taking the sting out of any true criticism. Not to mention Ivan Reis has drawn the King of Atlantis to be the most dashing, awe-inspiring hero of them all. Whether it be stopping a bank robbery on land or fighting off a legion of carniverous sea-life underwater, never has the character looked so good. Put aside your scepticism for a single night and read the first arc, you won't be sorry.


As alluded to earlier, Scott Snyder's Batman is really knocking it out of the proverbial park at the moment. Continuing themes he began way back in his run on Detective Comics, Snyder treats Gotham City as a living breathing entity, that just as soon as you think you have a handle on it, it'll churn out a new threat specifically tailored to mess with your head. In that spirit, it's revealed that as confident and comfortable as Batman has grown in his home town, there has always been an unseen force operating in the shadows, namely - The Court of Owls. Initially hinted at as merely a nursery rhyme to scare the small children as Gotham, the threat becomes increasingly real, attacking Bruce Wayne from all sides. Nests spring up unexpectedly in his place of business and home. The situation ever worsening, the fearful Talon assassins eventually drag Batman down into the depths of madness. Never has an enemy shook our hero's core belief system so utterly. He can no longer trust his place of birth, his methods, even his closest allies. The Court has it's claws in them all. If you were under the impression that Grant Morrison would strole back in after a year and reclaim his mantle as head of the Bat-writers, Scott Snyder stops him dead in his tracks. Where Morrison has been building his masterpiece over the course of years, Snyder has given us one in a matter of months. The collected saga of "The Court of Owls" will undoubtedly become a classic before our eyes.  

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