Sixteen Thoughts About Sixteen DC Comics – The Ray, Legion Lost, Suicide Squad, Grifter, Batgirl, Mister Terrific, Batman And Robin, Frankenstein, The Shade, Deathstroke, My Greatest Adventure, Resurrection Man, Green Lantern, Demon Knights, Batgirl and Batwoman

This week brings five of my current favourite New 52 books. Guess which ones they are?

I talked about the new Batgirl earlier and how smart it is, so there's only one more thing I want to say about this issue. Want to commit a crime in Gotham? There's an app for that.

Batwoman is beautiful. JH Williams III continues to provide us with a book just just doesn't look as good digitally, what with the double page format. If any of the New 52 deserve an Absolute format,  it's this one – but hopefully using Scott Dunbier's sideways design for Absolute Promethea, rather than the one we got. Volume three of that out today as well.

Demon Knights is also one of my favourite New 52 books, and this issue defines their quest in a fashion that both reminds you of classic lore… But also Monty Python. It jumps from tone to tone, from raucous and comic, to ethereal and symbolic, to bloody and gory with ease. It also helps that it is a bloody beautiful comic book. And I mean that literally.


My Greatest Adventure continues its triptych of oddness… and we also get another look at a massive monster trying to eat you in the Tanga story. Red Hood, Wolverine And X-Men, Incredible Hulk, Stormwatch, there seems to be a lot of this about right now. I feel a meme article coming on.

The new Green Lantern gives us a Sinestro trying to do the right thing, battling with a legacy he won't reject – this is no redemption arc – but every attempt to be a good man leads to far worse problems. I could never enjoy the adventures of Green Lantern, Kyle or Hal (Justice League International ruined me for anyone but Guy, written by DeMatteis/Giffen) but Sinestro is someone I'll be happy to read, as long as he stays front and centre in the comic. too much Hal, not enough Sinestro though…


Batman And Robin gives you a rather definitive chapter in the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Damian – a truly great character find. This is the classic father/son relationship, told through a filter of action and adventure, strange men in gimp suits, death and murder. There is trust and distrust. Respect and betrayal. Devotion, fear, it all gets mixed in. For any child to grow up they have to reject their parents, its the only way to separate them. It's a lot harder when you're ten and part of a father/son superhero team of course. Poignant.

Deathstroke seems to be lining up a number of crossovers… Hawkman for the Nth metal, Blackhawks for a way to his son. This is a kind of PunisherMAX Lite, suggesting dangers and cutting edge material, but steering well away from the edge. There is a sense of humour, there is an understanding of how ridiculous the character can look, but then even those scenes are played straight.


Grifter gives a conflict of sub genres. The man with a gun versus the superhero with a bow and arrow. Who'd win? Superheroes every time, they're just better aren't they? Better than normal people, shiner, happier, in control, while the rest of us have to make do on a combination of accident and best guesses. Grifter is definitely in that second camp. Of course what the ordinary guy can do is cheat… and while the main cameo is Green Arrow, there are other, closer references here to ponder.


Legion Lost sets out to separate its characters here, both physically and in terms of identification. We are given a narration from Dawnstar, and in doing so contradicts and comments on her other teammates. We learn more about them, and so much more about her, and her attitude to the world. It's a clever trick and works well. But I've still finding it hard to care. My Legion allergy has reader its ugly head again.


Resurrection Man gives us an opening fight scene reminiscent of the battle between the two changelings, as each side keeps amping up their abilities to take advantage of the new threat. It's the fight where two swordsmen reveal, in turn that they are actually right handed after all. It's a scenario of Mutually Assured Destruction. Oh, and bitching each other out while they are doing it. And some actual danger to the man who cannot die, provided from above.   what? That might work.


Shade is just a beautiful book to sit down and read. I recommend comfort, a roaring fire say, and a glass of dark red wine. Candles if you have them. No music, just the sound inside your had and the rustle of your seating arrangement. And then fall, sleepily, treacly, dreamily into the new issue of Shade. From the very off it's so seductive, so tempting, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman but with slightly more exposition. Oh and big supercharacter fights scenes too. Strangely thre seems to be no disconnect. Read this comic.


I may slowly be starting to get my head into the right gear to read Suicide Squad. That's a cynical, nihilist state in which no one matters, no one es for each other, people are as ephemeral as objects, and… I don't really mind. It's part of the fun, a dazzingly run through DC's darker tunnels like you're playing Duke Nukem with people as targets, sex objects, it doesn;t matter, they are chaff. And now they have a whole lot more chaff to play with.

Has Suicide Squad broken me? Do I care?

Also don't look for too much hidden meaning in Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E., it plots like a Moorcock novel, it plays like a resource managing FPS game, its pop culture references are Claremont X-Men and it's lightly inked with Morrison Doom Patrolliness. But damn it, if it isn't a fun book to read… and I don;t feel as quilty for enjoying it as I do reading Suicide Squad.

I feel that Superboy has been overlooked n favour of his older semi-sibling. But if you haven't been reading this book, you're missing out on a story of trust, betrayal, lies, innocence and a byzantine Machiavellian conspiracy. oh and by the looks of things, a stealth turn of Gen 13, integrated into the DC Universe.
mini-series imminent?


Mister Terrific! In! Space! I confess that I didn't expect this comic to twist into Flash Gordon/John Carter/Buck Rogers terrotory, one man lost in interdimensional space, trying to create his own loyalties in order to survive. Can the third most intelligent man in the DC Universe stand up to intergalactic scrutiny? Looks like we have a Planet Hulk/Johnny Storm journey to go on…


The Ray… a superhero whose very power makes him naked? That's a new one, yes? Considering hoe many characters change size, or get into battles and yet keep al their clothes on, this is clearly a superhro in need of unstable molecules.

Its a funny, bouncy superhero comic book. Seriously, you need more of these in your life.

Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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