Saturday, March 31, 2012

DC Firsts - The New 52 part 12

Yes, we have finally reached the last installment of my look* at (most of) the first issues of DC's new 52 relaunch.

[* Reminder - I am looking at these comics with three things in mind. First, as an established reader, how do I feel about the direction and any significant changes that have been made to the characters or title in general. Second, is it new reader friendly. Third, and perhaps most importantly, is the comic good.]

Voodoo no. 1
Ron Marz/Sam Basri
In the original WildC.A.T.s, Voodoo was part Kherubim and part Daemonite. In this new series, she is introduced to readers as a Daemonite and is on Earth as an alien spy.

Since this is a new take on the character, new and previous readers are meeting Voodoo and learning about her for the first time. She is being trailed by two government agents, one of whom explains to Voodoo (and the reader) they are aware she is not of this Earth and believe she is gathering intelligence about the planet and its heroes. The story takes place almost entirely in a strip club where Voodoo works as a dancer. It is apparently near a military base and the agents believe she has been gleaning information from the soldiers stationed there who are frequent customers at the club.

The story is new reader friendly but I found it to either be not so smartly written or perhaps just that one of the agents was written as an imbecile. Of the two agents trailing Voodoo, one is male and one is female. While the female agent decides it isn’t necessary to directly observe Voodoo’s act in the club, the male agent takes a more direct approach. And when he has Voodoo in one of the private dancing rooms, he explains to her that if she doesn’t come into custody willingly and cooperate, they will eventually take her by force and probably start dissecting her. It is incredibly stupid, to say the least, for the agent to lay that sort of threat on an alien who they don’t really yet know the full extent of her powers, especially when he is alone in a room with her. You can probably figure out what happens. Anyway, while I thought the story could have been a little better, the art was definitely quite pleasing. Sam Basri has a clean style and is certainly no stranger to comics with a female lead (he previously was the artist on Power Girl).

Wonder Woman no. 1
Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang
The thing about this comic is that it isn’t what new or existing readers might expect. It is a little darker than the Wonder Woman most of us are used to. And that isn’t a bad thing. [Not to say that Wonder Woman hasn’t had its dark moments in the past --- during Greg Rucka’s run Wonder Woman beheaded Medusa and marched into Tartaus where she fought the armies of the dead to restore a young boy’s life.]

This debut issue is really a great jumping on point for both new and existing readers. Similar to Superman, I would expect most people have at least some passing knowledge of Wonder Woman so they will have at least a base understanding of what she can. As such, there really isn’t any point in doing an origin issue, and thankfully Brian Azzarello did not take that track. The action and gore begins fairly quickly as a woman appears and cleaves off the head of a horse. Within the span of a page, a surprised young woman (Zola) finds herself under attack from two centaur creatures while a stranger who has suddenly appeared uninvited in her home attempts to rescue her. The stranger is struck down, but he provides an escape for Zola that takes her into the bed chambers of a sleeping Wonder Woman. Following an unpleasant introduction, Wonder Woman and Zola are returned to the woman’s home where Diana battles the centaur creatures.

This comic is pretty fast paced, but there is also some nice exposition from an opening subplot that reads over most of the Wonder Woman’s battle with the centaur creatures. It makes for a nice combination that really allows the reader to follow the visual action while contemplating the narrative that is building off the opening and closing scenes of the issue. It is a nice effect and allows Azzarello and Chiang to tell a lot more story in the span of these 20 pages. I was very pleased with this issue overall. I think it was well written and the art was really good. This is definitely a series to look out for. I am certainly giving it my recommendation.

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