Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quick hit thoughts on a few new 52 titles from month two

Teen Titans no. 2-3
Kid Flash has been captured, Tim Drake is disappointed to be in the friend zone with Cassie, and we are introduced to Skitter (a teenage girl who has transformed into one freaky alien-looking creature).  Drake mixes it up with some N.O.W.H.E.R.E. agents to keep Skitter out of their hands and Cassie ends up having to save his bacon from the creature.

Kid Flash escapes (though in his narration he mentions NOWHERE even though there is no indication he should have any knowledge they are his captors) and extricates a female prisoner.  Drake takes the cocooned Skitter cross-country via a railway car (guess Bruce couldn't afford better transport) and encounters another hero wanna-be called Bunker (whose costume and name are amazingly lame). Drake and Bunker find themselves stuck in a town full of mind-controlled people following an unexpected train stop. Drake scouts around and is accosted by cybernetic scrap that spontaneously generated intelligence and calls itself Detritus (no, I am not making that up regardless of how incredibly stupid it sounds). Detritus wipes Drakes mind while telling him he is conducting experiments and will soon create others like himself and wipe out humanity.  Drake returns to the train after forgetting the encounter and finds Skitter is no longer Skitter but instead has transformed back into a teenage girl.

Unfortunately, it actually is as bad as it sounds (especially the parts involving Detritus).  It is very disappointing because this is a series I want to like, but when you stick a garbage concept like Detritus in front of me, I just can’t take your title seriously.

All Star Western no. 2-3
Hex and Arkham return to Arkham's home after discovering last issue that most of the rich and powerful in Gotham are part of an underground organization that, among other things, has been responsible for the murders of the prostitutes.  Hex prepares for the fight he knows is coming, and soon enough a dozen armed men attack.  Hex guns them all down but leaves one alive to be questioned. After getting more information about their plans, Hex kills him.

The two try to save Chief Cromwell, who the criminal cartel have decided to eliminate so they can take control of the police force.  Arkham saves Hex after he is overpowered by one of the cartel members.  They rescue Cromwell and the existence of the cartel is revealed to the populace at large.  Plans are made to locate the rest of the cartel members, but Cromwell and Detective Lofton are gunned down on the street.  Hex decides he has had enough of this business and the city and turns his attention to the real reason he came to Gotham in the first place – to collect the bounties on the Trapp family.

In the backup story, a man comes to a town overrun by the dead. He finds a small group of survivors, but they are about to be overrun. He tells the people he is host to a demon and they must knock him unconscious to release the demon. One of the men finally does so and El Diablo is revealed.  He defeats the walking dead and then faces off against the individual responsible for raising them – Black River.

This series is still going strong.  I’m not quite as enamored of the second and third issue the way I was with the first, but I’m still enjoying it thus far.  I would like to see a little more effort with the backgrounds because there are a fair number of panels where they are notably absent.  But overall all, the art is still quite good and a good fit for this title.

Grifter no. 2-3
Cole continues to be hounded by Daemonites. He tries to meet with his former partner Gretchen to explain what happened to him but she doesn't believe him. We find out that he previously did black ops in the military during their conversation. Gretchen runs out on Cole after he gets into a fight with a police officer who is actually a Daemonite in disguise.  Cole is forced to flee in a police car (and he puts his mask on --- because driving a police car with a mask on isn't going to look suspicious to anyone).

Military officials at the Pentagon are aware of the Daemonites and send Cole’s brother Max to intercept him after watching footage from Cole’s incident on the airline.  Max tracks Cole down and the two engage in a shoot-out before being interrupted by the arrival of Daemonites who have been tailing Cole.  Max is caught in an explosion when a Daemonite’s attack causes errant shots to bring down a helicopter.  Cole kills the Daemonite and captures the other, his goal to track down the rest and get payback for what they did to his brother.

The good thing about these two issues is we get a little more insight into Cole’s past so that we see he isn’t just a con man but actually served in the military and was involved in black ops.  That at least moves him a little closer to what the Cole Cash of the old Wildstorm universe was.  We also get a reason for him keeping the mask (which I suppose is a little clever in a way – however that reason didn’t come until after he had driven off in the police car wearing it, and that part didn’t exactly make sense).  I guess I’m a little more pleased with these two issues than I was with the debut issue, but I’m still not entirely sold on it.

Detective Comics no. 2
Bruce conducts a business meeting while climbing a rock wall, then gets surprised when he discovers his 2:15 appointment is waiting for him even though he believed his schedule to be clear for the afternoon. He walks in to find reporter Charlotte Rivers waiting with lots of questions. After some short banter, the two drop the act and get hot and heavy (and I realize they are in a dark room, but Bruce got worked over a bit the previous evening so you'd think there might be some bruises that might cause some discomfort and thus be noticeable by Charlotte).

Following the 'encounter', Batman takes his batcycle for a spin and meets with Gordon to get more details about the investigation at Arkham.  Gordon receives a dispatch that the man they are seeking has been spotted. He and Gordon race separately to the scene. Batman discovers it is an ambush and comes face to face with Dollmaker and his crew.  Unfortuantely, Dollmaker has Gordon and appears to have performed some of his handiwork on him.

Seems like we’ve gone from a hero who for decades was considered ‘sexless’ to one who is suddenly getting more action than a Hoover dam laborer in a bordello on pay day.  I suppose it does make it a little more interesting for Bruce Wayne to have something of a regular partner, though at the same time it definitely isn’t sustainable.  As far as the villain of this piece goes, I’m still unsure as to whether the Joker really had his face removed last issue, and whether what appears to be a stitched Gordon at the end of the issue is actually real or not (it certainly doesn’t seem like there was enough time to have done all of that that work on him).  Even with those questions in mind, I don’t plan on returning for subsequent issues.  I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy this series, but one Batman title is enough for me.