Sunday, October 7, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Detective Comics #13 and Green Lantern #13

I actually felt pretty bad going into the comic book stores this past Wednesday.

Well, maybe it would be better to describe my experience as bittersweet.

What I came to realize is that two of the comics that I read fairly consistently but don't buy – Detective Comics and Green Lantern – were really, really good, but I only had enough budgeted to purchase one.

I don't really collect these books, so I mainly buy for story because I'll need to re-reference them in the coming arc. Plus, I like to support those who make a living producing these stories when I actually enjoy them.

But I definitely had a choice to make. Here are my thoughts on both so you can get an idea about them.

Green Lantern #13

Simon Baz is by far my favorite New 52 Green Lantern.

Johnathan Stewart was the GL I was raised with and the one I immediately think of (thanks to the Justice League animated series,) but while I find him to be the most likable Lantern, he has the least compelling stories. It's not that good stories can't be written, but the character's actions (while noble) are exactly what I'd expect him to do so there's no suspense.

The opposite is true for Guy Gardner. I've seen compelling stories with him and many writers know how to write him well. But I don't like the character. He is irksome to me. Sorry for those who are Guy fans, but it's really hard to shake off early impressions and Guy came off as too brash for my tastes early on.

Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner are middle ground and can be really compelling. However, to this point I hadn't been super interested in Hal's story and the New Guardians book just hasn't been a high priority for me.

Baz, however, is OWNING my interest in the GL name again. In this book, he is just trying to figure out what the ring does, and the advice he's given is mixed up thanks to Hal and Sinestro sharing the ring.

It's a basic aftermath of origin story, but the layer of being a suspected terrorist and seeing his family dynamic really fleshed out Baz for me tremendously.

Meanwhile, President Obama is seen telling his aide that a situation like this needs investigation by the Justice League. (Who else finds it epic when a sitting president is drawn summoning the Justice League?) And the League's appearance toward the end has set up an interesting next issue.

Interestingly, this book doesn't tie strongly into the Rise of the Third Army crossover, only showing a few panels of what the Third Army is doing at the moment. This will make the book pretty accessible and also makes sense given that Baz is really not an initiate into the Corps just yet.

Overall, it's a great start to the event and an even better start to the Simon Baz journey.

Detective Comics #13

Tony S. Daniel is gone, and John Layman has taken over with a vengeance.

Unlike many, I didn't hate Daniel's work. The first Dollmaker arc last year was solid, and I was excited when Issue #5 introduced a Penguin arc.

However, that arc progressively weakened and I'm still not entirely sure what conclusion I was supposed to come to with that. Issues #8 and #9 were great one-shots (even if they allowed WAY too many one-liners), but then Issue #10 set the tone for a pathetic arc.

Given how well Issue #0 went, I'm surprised that one really weak arc got Daniel booted. But I guess when you consider that this is the flagship book of not only Batman, but the company as a whole; when you consider that they added $1 to the book's cost via just awful side stories; and when you consider that the arcs, while good at times, were inconsistent while Batman and Batman & Robin were publishing greatness, I can't really fault DC for the move.

And I really can't after seeing the product. Oswald Cobblepot reads SO MUCH better through Layman, coming off as more ironically dignified, which is the essence of the character.

The story focuses on Penguin's desire to assassinate Bruce Wayne so that he can take over the sponsorship of Gotham buildings so that he may be loved and respected in addition to the fear people already had for him.

A farewell to you, O Tony Daniel one-liners
Meanwhile, he's keeping Batman busy with crimes timed so that he wouldn't be able to save Wayne in time (Oh, the irony!).

There is some good humor worked into the book, which had really been lacking in the Daniel era, and it felt like the Kevin Conroy animated Batman, which is always good.

The backup was also really strong, focusing on Penguin's main henchman and his training of a new recruit. I really enjoyed the psychology and planning that went into the Penguin end of the stories and actual detective work that was going on with Batman's side.

Overall, this was a great start for Layman, and I'd highly recommend picking up a copy. This arc will be fairly short, as this book joins with the Death of the Family crossover in December, but it should be a fun conclusion over the next 1-1.5 issues.

As to which book I picked, I ended up going with Detective. My reasoning was that since I'll have to start buying Detective for the crossover, it was best to get acquainted with Layman's work.

Also, DOTF will end up costing me an additional $30 over the next few months, meaning that I can't buy the full GL crossover. I plan to buy it in TPB form, but if I buy the GL portion, not only will I only understand part of the story, it wouldn't be cost effective to buy a large trade after picking up a quarter of the crossover already.

Your purchasing decision should be left to what works for you. If you have to only go with one, though, I promise neither will be a disappointment.

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