Final week of DC’s 'All New 52': The big guys add some punch

Aquaman, the Flash, Hawkman, and Superman headline the last batch of first issues of revamped story lines from DC Comics.

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DC Comics’ "sold-out" September goes out with a bang. The final 13 new #1’s – the last 13 comic books to be released as part of a revamping of the story lines of DC Comics' most beloved superheroes – are All-Star Western, Aquaman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Blackhawks, The Flash, The Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern: New Guardians, I, Vampire, Justice League Dark, The Savage Hawkman, Superman, Teen Titans, and Voodoo.

Once again there’s a great selection to choose from and here’s some titles that are worth a special mention:

All-Star Western #1, by writers Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and artist Moritat, brings bounty hunter Jonah Hex to the fledgling city of Gotham (yes, the home of Batman) in the 1880s. He’s hired by Doctor Amadeus Arkham to track down a Jack the Ripper-like serial killer roaming the streets. It’s fun to see Hex’s unease at being in a city and being reluctantly saddled with the Doctor as the killer's trail leads to some unexpected places. The art is perfect, capturing the look and costume of the time period and you can almost hear and smell the sights and sounds of the city's slums. It's a great start to a compelling story that combines a classic Western character with a Victorian murder mystery.

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Aquaman #1 by writer Geoff Johns and artist Ivan Reis launches the undersea hero in a refreshing new take. Johns and Reis quickly establish that he can be formidable out of the water and doesn’t need a "day job." His new "base of operations" is his father’s lighthouse. As all that is being revealed, Johns’ script pokes fun at the character’s "joke" status in pop culture. Also Aquaman is unique in being the only big hero that is still married in the "New 52."

Superman #1, story and layouts by the legendary George Pérez and art by Jesús Merino relaunches the Man of Steel wearing an updated costume (no shorts!) in a new but familiar Metropolis. Yes he’s still Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet, but he and Lois Lane are no longer married (she’s involved with someone else) and his fair city has mixed feelings about having an alien protector. Pérez wraps in the current state of newspapers, having the Planet bought out by a big news conglomerate, Lois posting news videos online, all of which infuriates Clark Kent (and his old editor Perry White) who still hold onto the idea of print journalism and the integrity and analysis it can provide. One of the nicest features of this book it that it’s the only one of the "New 52" that is pretty much a self-contained story. Sure, there are subplots but a casual/new reader can pick up this issue and have a fun read without feeling forced to pick up the next issue to get the rest of the story. Most monthly comic books are written in 6-issue story arcs so they will fit nicely in a trade paperback that can be sold on Amazon and bookstores. I hope with the "New 52" will come more single-issue stories or shorter multipart ones. That would make comic book reading an easier, more accessible, and more enjoyable experience.

A real surprise this week – and during the whole month, actually – is DC’s horror releases. This time we have I, Vampire #1 by writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino, an entertaining, haunting take on the good-vampire-versus-bad-vampires theme. This one is off to a moody, suspenseful beginning.

Justice League Dark #1 by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mikel Janin is the best of the "Justice league" books. This story is about a group of misfit mystics coming together to take down a magical threat that has already defeated the combined might of Superman and Wonder Woman. Against such overwhelming odds it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. I have never seen Janin’s artwork before but it’s one of the best in the "New 52."

So now that all 52 new first issues are out, it's hard decision time: Which books are you going to read regularly?

Rich Clabaugh is a Monitor staff artist.

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