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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The New 52 Part One: The Superman Comics

Well, it’s time again for me to be a complete frikkin geek and look into something that only nerds seem to have any interest in whatsoever nowadays.  It’s finally time for me to take a look at D.C.’s The New 52.  As I mentioned in previous post, I’ve always had a hard time getting into comics, especially those of the D.C. and Marvel Universes because it’s kind of hard to find a starting point.  And that’s why I actually liked the idea of The New 52 as it gave new readers like me a starting point to get into these series.  For those of you who are unaware, The New 52 is, in a nutshell, a reboot, (although relaunch is the word they used), of the D.C. Universe that started back in late August and began with The Justice League and has sense released five issues of 52 titles with the sixth being released throughout February, (unless I have my dates wrong).  Now I’ve been meaning to do something on this for a while now but kept putting it off due to a number things, including personal issues, the intimidation of reviewing 52 different comic series, and potential ridicule from peers.  But you know what?  The hell with it.  I want to give my thoughts on these things and that’s I’m going to. 
But rather than just giving brief thoughts on each series in one post the way Korsgaard did, I’m going to be giving a critical look at each series and determining what I feel is good and bad about them.  As such, I’m going to divide this into eight parts and review them in the way D.C. has them categorized on their website with the final post being a reflection of The New 52 as a whole.  This post will be on the Superman based comics of The New 52.  The next will be Batman, then Green Lantern, The Justice League, The Dark, The Edge and finally Young Justice
Rather than giving a one to ten scale on these books, I’ll just be sorting them into three sections.  The first will be Read, meaning that it is really good and I highly recommend it.  The second will be Browse, meaning that I may like it but you may not, or vice versa and I encourage you take a look to get your own opinion on it.  And last, Burn, meaning that I can’t find anything good about this story and its best place is in your fire place.  Before I go any further I would like to thank Korsgaard for giving me this idea and wonder why you didn’t use it yourself.  Oh well, it’s mine now.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!    
So now that all the introductions are out of the way lets finally get into the comics themselves.  This is The Illusive One’s Review of The New 52 Part One: The Superman Comics.

Action Comics

If you’re going to reboot one of, (if not the), longest running comic lines in history, then you better have something spectacular planned for it and in my personal opinion, they delivered.  While Final Crisis was a massive mess, I still think that Grant Morrison is still one of the best comic writers out there and the number of good things he’s done far outweigh the bad.  So the fact that he’s spearheading this line of comics really gives me hope that it will stay good for a while. 
So what is the story about so far?  Well, in a nutshell it’s about a young Superman fighting crime and corruption in Metropolis as both Superman the superhero and as Clark Kent the Reporter.  And when I say young I mean young, probably not even twenty-three.  As the story unfolds we find that much of Metropolis is “owned” by a man named Glenmorgan and that the U.S. Military is after Superman as is views him as a threat.  As luck would have it, however, an alien only known so far as “The Collector of Worlds” attacks Metropolis.  And that’s all I can really say about the plot without giving anything away.
So what do I think was good or bad about the series?  Well, for starters, the concepts were great.  Having the military and much of the population distrust Superman is something that breathed new life into the series and gave it a breath of fresh air which was something the series really needed after so many issues over the decades. 
The characterization, for the most part, is also really good.  I really like the way Superman tries to fight crime, not only as Superman but also as Clark Kent the reporter and thought that was a great thing to include in the story.  I also like the way Clark and Jimmy are basically best friends, rather than him being the dorky lackey he was in previous stories.  Lois is also good, but to be honest I was never much of a fan of the character.  I also like the way that Clark Kent actually looks different then Superman and makes his “disguise” plausible.  John Henry Irons/Steel is also really cool and I really liked what they have done with Metallo, (I was never much of a fan the original, Terminator looking thing).  Finally, the action panels are very well depicted and flow very well together
That said there are a few things about this story that put me off.  For starters, I’ve heard people complain about the way Superman looks, mainly his costume and the way he acts.  However I think this can all be attributed to the fact that this is a young Superman and he hasn’t developed the patience or restraint he has later on.  As far as his costume goes, again this is a young Superman and this is probably just an early outfit for him.  That said, I still have to admit the T-Shirt/Jeans thing is kind of weird.  They also try to put a little more science into why Superman has his powers and depending on your point of view this is either a good or bad thing.
With that aside, there are four things that annoy me about this series so far.  For starters is the villain, the Collector of Worlds.  It’s implied that it’s Brainiac but stuff in Issue Five contradicts this so it makes it a little confusing.  However, if it is Brainiac, I feel that they’re breaking out the big guns to soon in terms of villains and I also don’t care for the way he’s depicted in this.  The dialog in Issue One was also really bad and the drawing of several characters just seemed really off to me.  Annoyingly, they cut away from battle against the Collector after a cliff hanger to go do the backstory of Superman in issue five which will continue on until seven, (dick move guys!).  Finally, I can’t help but feel that Lex Luthor is a bit of an idiot in this.  I’m not entirely sure why but he doesn’t seem all that threatening the way he had in other versions.
All around this is a solid entry in The New 52 and I’m really glad I read it and highly recommend it to others.  It has its faults but the good far outweighs the bad and I hope they can keep up the good work they’ve been doing so far.



          While Action Comics showed us a new, younger version of the Man of Steel, Superman seemed to try to go for a more traditional style while still trying to tell the story in a serious way.  The result is something that I have mixed feelings on.  The storyline seems to take place several years, (although it isn’t clear how many), after the events in Action Comics where the Daily Planet has been bought by a company with a shady reputation.  At the same time a number of creatures constantly attack Metropolis with Superman as their apparent target.
          So with my mixed feelings on it, what do I actually like about it?  Well, for starters the characterization is still really good.  Lois is better than she was in Action Comics and a lot of the supporting characters like Perry and Jimmy are all really good as well.  I also liked the way they explored the isolation Superman goes through.  After all he does have powers that are borderline dietic and that’s something that would probably make you feel detached from the rest of society. 
As far as the main storyline goes, it isn’t great but it isn’t bad either and you really get drawn into the mystery of what exactly these things are and why they’re after Superman.  Right alongside this, it brings up a question that can be directly applied to just about every superhero our there; Are they doing more harm than good?  As anyone probably knows a lot of supervillains that emerge in any comic book universe came about specifically to fight the superheroes.  This is something that has been brought about before, most notably in the 2008 film The Dark Knight but this was probably the first time it was really asked directly as well as leaving it for interpretation.
            There are a few things that annoy me about this series, though.  For one thing the action panels come off as being underwhelming, especially compared to those of Action Comics.  They aren’t bad but they aren’t really that good either.  At the same time, I’m not really sure about the villains of this series.  While they aren’t bad they just seem like they’re building up to something else which annoys the crap out of me.
With the traditional style they’re going for you also get the thing about comic books I almost always hate: Quips.  In the first few issues he spews them out constantly and it got on my nerves really fast.  And is it just me or does his outfit look really stupid?  I mean it’s a step up from the outfit he had in Action Comics but it still doesn’t look right.  For one thing, its skin tight and shows off all his muscles which just looks stupid and he has this turtleneck that just looks stupid.  Finally, he has what looks like a utility belt.  Why?  Just why?  Yea, I know this is kind of a nitpick but seriously, the whole outfit just looks really odd to me.
All around, this series kind of comes off as being Action Comics’ less talented brother.  It’s good but not as good and just seems a tad boring in comparison.  Hopefully it will get better as time goes on but as is, it’s just ok.



This is a series that, in all honesty, I have no idea how it came about.  When I think Superboy, I think of a young Clark Kent stopping crimes in Smallville or something.  Here…well, he’s a clone, apparently made from a mixture of Superman’s and human D.N.A. with hardcore telekinetic powers.  I’m sorry, that’s just wired.  The biggest question this series raises for me is why call him Superboy?  I would understand if he was just a clone of Superman, a younger version of him, or his illegitimate child from Lana Lang from his younger time in Smallville but calling this guy Superboy just doesn’t make any sense.  Hell, if they had gone with the Lana Lang thing, who know how many great storylines they could have come up with to addressed that.
But I’m getting way off subject.  Anyway the story is about Superboy, a clone made from both Superman’s D.N.A. and the D.N.A. of a currently unidentified human, (although they do imply who it is in the first issue).  The story so far is him discovering the limits of his powers and working for a mysterious organization known as N.O.W.H.E.R.E. that is trying to capture or kill all the metahuman teenagers in order to control the next generation of them.
Like a lot of stories that seem like they are just beginning, it’s interesting to see our protagonist discover his/her powers and how they will decide to use them.  The plot dealing with N.O.W.H.E.R.E. does a really good job of keeping you in suspense of how exactly they intend to further their goals and how Superboy plans to handle them.  The villain apparent known only as Zaniel Templar also does a good job of being…well an asshole with baggage that I shall not reveal to you for spoiler purposes but let’s just say he’s a character with a lot of potential.  The character of Rose Wilson, (daughter of Deathstroke in case you didn’t know), is kind of cool and I am curious to see what they do with her in the future.
The biggest downside to this whole thing, however, is that it is incredibly slow paced and boring.  Aside from one or two major things that last maybe three panels nothing that interesting really happens.  While the drawing style is pretty good for the most part there are a few moments where you’ll just look at the art work and just think “what the fuck?” as well as few coloring inconsistencies.  There is a painful lack of action within the series makes it all the more slower and whenever it is there, it isn’t that well depicted.  While I do like some of the characters here, Superboy himself kind of comes off as being a little emo, (not the last time you’ll hear me say that about young characters in the reboot).  The last thing that may put a few people off is that it contains several references to events and features crossovers in the Teen Titan series.
All around, I say approach this one with caution.  It certainly seems like they are building up to something good but after five issues I’m starting to lose my patience.  It also seems like they made this one with the sole purpose of having crossovers with the Teen Titan series and that irritates me on a whole new level.  It’s not bad enough to where I say burn, but something better happen in issue six or it will go there.

(But Keep Your Flamethrowers Ready)


And now the final story of the Superman collection and our last comic of the day, Supergirl.  I have to admit, as a kid I always found the concept of Supergirl more than a little stupid.  I’m not entirely sure what it was but something about Krypton having more survivors and them just appearing when Superman was in his late 20s to mid-30s just seemed off to me.  I can suspend my disbelief to where I can accept that an alien has dietic powers because of our planets yellow sun but the fact that not a single other Kryptonian would show up until this stage in the game just seemed like a bit of a stretch to me.  So I had a certain amount of prejudice going into this series.  So did it deliver a surprise to me or did it just reinforce my dislike of the concept of other Kryptonians coming to Earth?
Well the storyline is basically the same as most of the other versions.  Kara crash-lands on Earth at least two decades after Superman for reasons that escape me and have yet to be answered.  But surprisingly, I really enjoyed this one.  The story thus far, follows Kara as she tries to find out just what the hell happened to Krypton and her friends and family and why Superman is claiming to be her cousin even though the last time she saw her he was only a few days old. 
What’s made this series work so far is, (and not meaning to sound clichéd), the emotion.  Kara is a really good and compelling protagonist and you really feel her loss.  The writers and artists really do a great job of making you feel the pain she goes through because of the loss of her home with dialog that does a great job of complementing this.  The story also progresses in a good way and seems like it may lead up to something that explains just why it took her so long to get to Earth.  It also helps that the action panels are done really well and makes for some kickass fights.
The only real issue I have with this series so far is that the drawing style can look really weird a times and the coloring just had this grainy look to it that I can’t get past.  This may be another nitpick put it still bothers me.    
All around this is one that I would recommend almost as much as Action Comics.  While there are still things in it I question, it looks like they will be answering said questions before the too long.  But with that aside, the action is good, the characters are good and is really worth a look.


So that’s it for my first part of my look at The New 52 and I have to say, so far it’s pretty good.  While Superman seemed a tad underwhelming and Superboy was a little dull, there really wasn’t anything in them that killed it for me and recommend getting your own opinion of it.   Action Comics and Supergirl were both fantastic and I highly recommend both of them.  As I mentioned next time I’ll be looking at the Batman category and well see if The New 52 can keep it up.  So until next time this is The Illusive One signing off. 


  1. Thanks for referencing my review, and glad to see you finally get these started! As for why I didn't use the BUY, BROWSE, BURN thing, too many of them were BROWSE, and I wanted them to be more even if I was going to use them.

    So far, I would swap Action Comics for Superman, and torched Superboy, but aside from that, spot on.

  2. Man, I hate Superman, good stuff regardless.