Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS presents A WHOLE ‘NOTHER COLUMN!!! A new batch of DC #0 issues are being released today & the @$$Holes review them here!

Published at: Sept. 12, 2012, 8:42 a.m. CST

Issue # 121 Release Date: 9/12/12 Vol.#11
Ambush Bug here. This week we bring you once again a sneak peek at the new #0 issues DC is releasing this week. Scroll down and find out which of the New #0’s are worth picking up and which are best left gathering dust on the shelves!

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
DEATHSTROKE #0
BATMAN #0
TEAM 7 #0
DEMON KNIGHTS #0
FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #0
SUICIDE SQUAD #0
SUPERBOY #0
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #0
BATGIRL #0
GRIFTER #0
BATMAN & ROBIN #0
RAVAGERS #0
LEGION LOST #0


DEATHSTROKE #0

Writer & Artist: Rob Liefeld
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I come here to praise Rob Liefeld, not to bury him. Because quite frankly it takes a man who possesses epic courage to cast a smug burn-victim smile to the heavens with an outstretched middle finger decrying “I defy your cursed order of the universe God, Yahweh and Sha Ka Ree!” Most living organisms find this defiance arrogant or lazy, but I’m with comic publishers and Robert Kirkman that these other 99.999%ers are just too stupid to appreciate genius when they see it.

Get ready kids, because DEATHSTROKE 0 is the perfect swan song to Rob’s career at big-bad corporate overlord publishers and an epic testament to Rob’s particular permutation of the anti-life equation.

We’ll start with the expected complete and reckless abandon for the properties of physics. There is panel-a-plenty of people miraculously running on air as Slade Wilson begins his training days in the special services. Seriously, feet simply don’t touch the ground in the Liefeldverse, people are propelled merely through the sheer will of gritted teeth.

Want to see someone shoot over their back, look no further than Mrs. Deathstroke, Slade’s too hot for any branch of the armed services, training officer, and future wife. Seriously there’s a panel with her bent over backwards – IN HALF – shooting targets behind her back. Hey, I get this is comics and someone shooting over their back without looking at the target is pretty bad ass, but most morons out there believe bad ass simply becomes ass when she does this with one leg in the air, one arm shooting in the sky above her, while the other gun shoots forward, and did I mention she’s BENT IN FUCKING HALF while she’s falling backwards. Despite this feat of kama sutra she hits every target. This is imagination with a capital I folks, if you want a real representation of gravity and logical progression of events, you need to look at every other book on the shelf, you uninspired troglodytes.

This bendy back leads me to Rob’s next feat of daring in defying the natural order of life, the 360 degree joint. No, this isn’t a commune of hippies who pass the dutchie on the left hand side. What I refer to is Rob’s ability to transform human joints from a hinge into a gyroscope. The most egregious example of this is the recent GRIFTER cover where Griff’s (hehe Back to the Future II FTW) hip bone is clearly constructed of silly putty, but DEATHSTROKE doesn’t disappoint on this front either. Limbs defy reason, probability, and necessity as DEATHSTROKE begins his transformation from regular soldier to super soldier. Crash through a window legs are akimbo. Crash through a door, legs are akimbo, and when falling from the sky a sitting position is always the most efficient way to go down if impact with the ground isn’t a factor. This is why many paratroopers are often recruited from the ranks of those with the softest and most malleable bone structure, and they train for hours a day sitting and standing - standing and sitting. If you have osteoporosis, Uncle Sam wants you today.

Fuck Darwin, humanity’s future is not found through genetic diversity, but rather a sameness of features so that the only discernible way to tell people apart is through facial hair. There are two types of heads in Liefeld’s master-race, which consist of the square angular jaw or the perfect oval when heads are covered by a mask. Forget the fact that these masks have the tensile strength to transform the prior square jaw into an oval shape without suffocating the wearer. If you want to pontificate things like breathing and the extreme pain this must cause anyone who wears one of these Torquemada branded costumes go sit in a science class nerd! We should also be thankful for the genius of Liefeld’s renderings, because without him the world never would have had Frylock.

All of this is old hat though, pick up a book from 1996, 2006 or today and you can see these creative choices in spades. To mark the truly special occasion that is DEATHSTROKE 0, Rob has defied a brand new law of nature – time.

Before reading DEATHSTROKE I presumed most human beings perceived time in a linear fashion. This simply goes to show how stupid I and the rest of humanity truly are. Liefeld shows us that a man can and should age at will. I can only assume the aging process is random since DEATHSTROKE goes from blonde to gray and back again about five times in this issue. He’s gray before his wedding day, blonde during his wedding and then back to gray…wait, fuck he’s blonde again, no wait, gray. Perhaps I’m being presumptions in thinking DEATHSTROKE’S cellular structure behaves like a chronological yo-yo based on hair alone, since his face doesn’t age one iota. Perhaps in the New 52 Slade Wilson is simply the master of hair color disguise.

Time also stops after the age of twenty-two in the Liefeld verse. As DEATHSTROKE’S children, one who becomes his partner and one who is shielded from his bad bad ways age, Mrs. DEATHSTROKE remains untouched by time’s icy scythe. Her breasts remain firmly affixed to the top of her clavicle in her forties just as they were in her twenties.

For all of you old stuck in your ways comic purists, you’ll be happy to hear that Rob provided almost four backgrounds in this issue including a rendering of the moon that is completely circular. Now where you haters will probably want to attack Rob is the fact the moon is completely flat with nary a crater to be found. Personally, I agree with Rob, the moon would be so much prettier to look at without all of those dark blemishes and actual features.

So there you have it folks, the mastery of DEATHSTROKE’S prequel as seen through the eyes of a man who defies convention, status quo and any semblance of reality.

God speed back to indies Rob, preferably while you are inking at the same time.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.


BATMAN #0

Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo
Back-up Story Writer: James Tynion IV
Back-up Story Artist: Andy Clarke
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo


For the first time, I actually WANT a Point One issue! Sadly, that's a Marvel thang. At any rate, this hero's Zero Issue was aces. The bee's knees. The tits. That is to say....great!

At the first, we are treated to a heist that is as engaging and stressful as the bank job from Nolan's Dark Knight. The Red Hood and his appropriately titled Red Hood Gang are looking to make some bank by robbing one. As you probably expect, things don't go as expected, but not in the way you might be expecting. As anyone who has read The Killing Joke might notice, this Zero Issue wasn't just a look into the early career of the Winged Rodent, but of his most infamous yukster. This is a tense opening with only one problem. The Red Hood's ...hood. Not sure why the decision was made to have it fit him the way it did, but sweet sassafrassy did it give me eye-giggles.

After the Bank heist S hits the F, the F has even more S dolloped onto it in the form of a young Lt. Gordon, sporting his adorable and in-no-way-creepy ginger-stache. Ok. I can't keep a straight face, I'm a ginger myself and even I can't condone a red-head with a molest-stache. I can only assume that like Turk from Scrubs, he has some horrible talking mole under there that he has to keep hidden. That's the only excuse. In all seriousness though, the rooftop chat that takes place is wonderful. Not only is the tension maintained due to a great little ticking timebomb of sorts, but the conversational minefield amps up the scene's heart-rate as well. What does Gordon suspect? What does he KNOW? It's clear that this version of the character doesn't get to be commissioner of the world's most violent and corrupt city by accident.

And then...and THEN: the Robin back-up story. Finally, we get to wet our beaks a little bit about how all of the "intern" Robins start to work on the new time-line. Now, I know some of you Tim Drake fetishists are going to get pissy about this portrayal of his attitude here, but this was honestly one of his best scenes so far. He has a bit more gumption and sass than I'm used to from him, but I'm loving it. We also get a great Jason scene and an ...interesting new Flying Grayson outfit, that kind of bugs me just a lil bit. It makes sense given his eventual career path, but one of the only ways I was able to accept the silliness of the Robin outfit was that it was inspired by his circustastic past. There's also a nice little framing sequence that directly references Batgirl #0, which is pretty cool! Which brings us to my other review later in the column…

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, drawing a weekly webcomic, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD. He is also now co-hosting another Comic Book discussion show on Party934.com alongside Bohdi Zen. They discuss comics and play music, check it out live every Saturday from 4-5pm.


TEAM 7 #0

Writer: Justin Jordan
Art: Jesus Merino
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Though it’s a tried and true form of starting a story, I have to admit, I love the “gathering of the team” motif issue #0 is schmelded around. I know it’s been done before, but there’s something about a good montage introduction that just gets me interested. Now, what makes for a good montage intro? Let’s see what this issue gets right.

I can’t attest to knowing all of the team assembled in this issue. I recognize Dinah as the future Black Canary, but am perplexed at her last name of Drake (is this some suggested connection with Tim Drake, one of my favorite Robins? Mmmmmm—possibly). Then there’s Slade Wilson who we all know as the Terminator. Cole Cash I am familiar with as Grifter, though I have never read a single issue of his series until the zero issue I will be reviewing below. Amanda Waller is present all fit and tough trying her best to be the Nick Fury of the DCU. Finally, I see someone I thought I recognized in Steve Trevor, but it seems he isn’t a part of Team 7 anymore and now it’s some guy named James Bronson. The final two I’m clueless about and either are obscure characters from the fringe of the DCU, Wildstorm characters which I have no knowledge of, or brand new characters (though one’s last name is Fairchild which indicates he’s related to GEN13 and RAVAGERS’ Fairchild). Either way, mixing the familiar with the unfamiliar is a good way to bring me in, especially giving me some hooks of Dinah (another member of the team’s last name is Lance, so I imagine these two will be getting together some time soon) and Waller, who I am thoroughly enjoying in the straight forward balls-out action packed SUICIDE SQUAD.

I would have loved to see Green Lantern John Stewart included in this squad from five years ago since it seems they don’t know what to do with the ex-marine in the GL universe than have him kill people over and over and then wrack himself with guilt about it, but alas, no John Stewart for me.

On top of that writer Justin Jordan, who burst into the scene with THE STRANGE TALENTS OF LUTHER STRODE, incorporates the fun short descriptor caption describing the use for the team as each member is introduced as well as a nice quick scene illustrating a bit of character. Though this story plays a lot of “just the tip”, it’s enough to get me interested in all of them whether I know them or not.

Artist Jesus Merino makes it all look badass with a lot of people in extreme forms of action poses. I do have an issue with the armor everyone seems to be wearing. I like the way that it suggests a connection to Deadshot’s new look in SUICIDE SQUAD, but since I prefer Deadshot’s old look to his new armored turtle look he sports in that title, I share the same feelings towards these helmets. Design peeves aside, this is a good looking issue.

As far as first issues go, this one was successful in bringing me in. I’ll be checking out TEAM 7 #1 mostly because it seems to have the same sense of action the SUICIDE SQUAD book delivers on a monthly basis.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.


DEMON KNIGHTS #0

Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Bernard Chang
Reviewer: Matt Adler


Paul Cornell weaves a clever tale of parallel lives here. On the one hand we have the Demon Etrigan, frustrated with being unappreciated and mistreated by his boss, Lucifer. On the other, we have Jason Blood, frustrated with being unappreciated and mistreated by his boss, Merlin. Both resolve to change their circumstances, Etrigan by starting a rebellion in Hell, Blood by trying to usurp Merlin’s magic. There are a lot of amusing bits in here, particularly with Cornell showing that early in his career, Etrigan was total crap at his rhyming shtick, and he is taunted mercilessly by the other demons for it. And his means of raising an army for his revolution is Python-esque, with trial by combat against higher-ranking demons over and over and over again.

We also get some interesting insight into Blood’s character; he’s the ultimate disgruntled employee, and there are hints of a darker side even before he is joined with Etrigan, as he feels certain he is destined for something great, and becomes filled with more and more rage when things don’t work out for him. This makes a lot more sense of Merlin’s ultimate decision to bind him to Etrigan, teaching them both a measure of patience, humility, and the ability to work with others, not unlike Odin’s decision to put Thor in the form of Donald Blake. That would actually be a great crossover, Thor vs. The Demon, if they ever do Marvel/DC crossovers again.

Anyway, Bernard Chang is the rare artist who happens to be both a great illustrator and a great storyteller, and he does Cornell’s script great service.

One question though; can any regular readers of Demon Knights tell me what that airship attacking King Arthur’s castle is?

Matt Adler is a writer/journalist, currently writing for AICN among other outlets. He’s been reading comics for 20 years, writing about them for 7, and spends way, way, too much time thinking about them, which means he really has no choice but to figure out how to make a living out of them. He welcomes all feedback.


FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #0

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


FRANKENSTEIN and his parent organization SHADE have been two of my favorite entities in the New 52. For the past twelve issues Lemire and Ponticelli have crafted a book where the plots are forged in the fiery pits of Mount Weird, and placed characters in the epicenter with souls that are a million times more beautiful than their hellish visages. Most people think that Morrison’s SEVEN SOLDIERS Frank could never be emulated. To that I say poppycock, FRANKENSTEIN is just as imaginative and gut wrenching in-continuity.

Before we get into the prequel I know this book isn’t exactly setting sales records, so let me get you acclimated. This is especially important for those poor poor souls that never read SEVEN SOLDIERS. This isn’t the FRANKENSTEIN we all know from the thousand other sources we have loved or loathed over the years depending on your proclivity for horror. Personally, I hate horror movies, abhor them. So I was very leery to pick up FRANK even during SEVEN SOLDIERS, but I did; instead of being subjected to guttural utterances and aversions to fire though, I was treated to a purveyor of justice. FRANKENSTEIN in the DC universe is a creature born of death, but has the utmost respect for life and all of the things that encompass the experience – beauty, art and all intangibles of the human soul.

SHADE, the organization that employs FRANK, MRS. FRANK and a host of other weirdly HELLBOYish type characters is a character in and of itself. If you think STORMWATCH is the only invisible overlord in the DC universe think again. Father Time, the immortal body switcher that runs SHADE, had Ray Palmer shrink SHADE HQ down to a micron that contains a cosmos of weirdness as it travels the world watching the WATCHMEN and other nefarious deeds across all dimensions and time. Golem (not Gollum) like characters are the Oompa Loompas of SHADE, and that’s just one of the surprises that reveal each issue about this clandestine overseer.

OK, enough about what was. How does this 0 entry measure up? In short, perfect.

It’s a perfect jumping on point for new readers as we go directly back to the exact day of Frank’s creation.

Kindt serves as a perfect replacement for Lemire; keeping the humor, heart and horror that has made this such an amazing series to date.

Ponticelli continues the gritty goodness he’s delivered since issue 1. He also seems to revel in an extra level of glee this issue crafting Dr. Frankenstein’s lab complete with half dissected animal and human cadavers and a life engine that feeds on souls. I’ve heard people say his art is ugly. I say your face is ugly, yet the world still tolerates you. It’s called juxtaposition morons, look it up.

Pacing was spectacular, spending the right amount of time in the house of Frankenstein and then continuing the hunt of Father chasing son across time until Frank ultimately stumbles into his adoptive Father who is usually a Mother, Father Time.

Seriously, this is one of the true gems in the DC Universe. FRANKENSTEIN is wholly different from any other title, but packed with enough Easter Eggs and cleverly placed continuity drops to make it feel one with the complete DC tapestry. Please buy this book, the numbers indicate this book is headed for the dead zone and that would be an Optimous Shame. My only consolation is that if the book does get wheeled down to the morgue, at least Liefeld won’t be doing the pushing during its gasping last breaths.


SUICIDE SQUAD #0

Writer: Adam Glass
Art: Fernanado Dagnino
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Another issue-lite as this one feels more like an afterthought or something that is way too rushed to actual hit on the emotional level that was intended. This Times Past tale of why Amanda Waller decides to put together the Suicide Squad owes a lot to exposition as well as rushed action sequences.

Adam Glass is doing a bang up job with this series up until now, laying out a high voltage action comic with some nice multi-issue subplots he’s taking his time to unravel. Seems the single issue thing, though, just doesn’t seem to be his bag. I feel as if this story was not given time to breathe and expand on its own. Waller is supposed to be emotionally connected to a young soldier she helped recruit a while back. This initial meeting would have been much more powerful had we seen this recruitment process that took place at the young man’s mother’s house, but it’s just skimmed over and told in passing, most likely due to the limitations of a 22 page story. Because of this skimming, the emotional beat, which should have smacked the shit out of me felt like being smacked with a single piece of tissue paper. Too bad, because given the space, I’m sure Glass could have delivered a full on bitchslap.

Fernando Dagnino does a decent job of making this book feel gritty like those old Geof Isherwood issues from the late eighties. I can appreciate what he is trying to do and most of the time it pays off, but occasionally Dagnino’s handling of the human form seems a bit skewed and unearthly, something that is a detriment to a series with like this which is steeped in so much real world action and reality.

Though #0 pales in comparison to the regular series, SUICIDE SQUAD continues to be one of my favorite books of the New 52. Don’t let this issue fool you. It’s filled with a lot of action, character, depth, and story. This just isn’t the right issue to showcase all of that.


SUPERBOY #0

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: R.B. Silva
Reviewer: Matt Adler


If you’ve read Tom DeFalco’s Spider-Girl, forget about it. As much as I enjoyed that series, this is not that book. DeFalco has really reinvented himself here, with none of the stylistic tics that would normally allow me to identify his dialogue, and a tone that is pretty grim to say the least. This Superboy is not the happy-go-lucky Cadmus clone that I grew up reading about in the Reign of the Supermen storyline. He is a clone, but this time of a nefarious project called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. which has been popping up across the New 52 Universe. And they’re training him not to be a new Superman, but to be an anti-Superman, designed to kill the Man of Steel.

This is particularly interesting, given that a month or so back, DeFalco asked on message boards what they liked about past versions, and what they’d like to see in the current version. I can’t imagine this is the first thing the majority of people thought of, but I think that’s a good thing; it gives the character a fresh feel. This issue also pumps us full of Kryptonian history, giving us insight into all manner of things including what the armor that Superman wears is based on, why (in the New 52) Kryptonians never left their planet, and even what led to Krypton’s ultimate destruction. It also neatly ties Superboy into actual Kryptonian culture, rather than just giving him genetic ties. The downside is that it’s a little heavy on the exposition, where I would liked to have seen more of Superboy in action, though I suppose that’s to be expected for an origin issue.

There are a number of characters who are unfamiliar to me, and I assume were originally part of the WildStorm Universe; I know Caitlin Fairchild is from Gen-13, and it seems she plays a major role in this Superboy’s life. The one point that I found confusing was on the final page; Superboy is still in the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. facilities, and yet the head bad guy, Lord Harvest, says he’s made allies, and among them are shown Superman, Supergirl, et al. I haven’t been following the Superboy series up to this point, so I don’t know; does Superboy go out on missions and meet these people before he completely escapes from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.? All in all though, a very solid, interesting read, and DeFalco is building a mythos that makes me want to dive in deeper.


GREEN LANTERN CORPS #0

Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Fernando Pasarin
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Tomasi and Pasarin created a wonderful book as we learn about the early days of the great Guy Gardner. It’s really good, Tomasi hits all of the heart strings about Guy being the black sheep of his multi-generational police household in Baltimore. Everything was right…well…except a couple things.

None of my gripes about GREEN LANTERN CORPS have a thing to do with creators of this book – these boys deserve blowjobs and ice cream for this issue and the entire past year. They have deepened the insanity of the Guardians, while keeping the hearth fires burning at home with deep introspections into both Guy Gardner and John Stewart. The recent arc, where once again John is placed in an impossible situation and forced to kill was some of the best GREEN LANTERN writing to date. Given Liefeld’s rant about editorial, I’ll admit there are a few messes in the DC verse. GREEN LANTERN and all it’s titles have run with precession of a Swiss Watch, which is a direct reflection of an editor running the entire property like a show runner would in Hollywood.

My problem is once again (wahh wahh – Optimous Bitch Fest) this five years before nonsense that the New 52 keeps harkening back to. It’s like looking at a piece of Swiss cheese, from far away the holes in some brands become indiscernible, but if you put the fucking thing up to my face, the holes become gaping and one can see right through.

GREEN LANTERN was one of the titles for us old foggies. It remained seemingly unscathed by FLASHPOINT, always just sort of being. True fans, truly didn’t care. When you place a story exactly five years ago though, while just following up from an arc built upon 20+ years of friendship, the math starts to become fuzzier than my Grandma’s vision without pot.

Perhaps my problem lies in the fact so much of the story took place five years before. Tomasi was forced by page count to make Guy’s transition from shamed cop to GREEN LANTERN happen faster than getting propositioned by a hooker in Vegas (Seriously, you walk off the plane and they’re on you). It was a great scene as guy is rushing his wounded Brother and his slain partner to the hospital after a shootout with gang lords; so great in fact I wanted another three pages of it.

Again, this book is simply one wonderful moment after another, I simply want mooooooorrrrrreeeeee.


BATGIRL #0

Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Ed Benes
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo


Overall, this is a solid issue, but much like the average teenage girl, some of it didn't make sense to me. Bab's characterization seems on point, and I liked reading about her shenanigans. She clearly loves and respects her father, the previously mentioned ginger be-stach'd Lt. Gordon, but isn't above playing the Daddy's Little Girl manipulation game to get what she wants. She is drawn by Ed Benes in a way that I'm not used to: respectfully. Nothing against Mr. Benes ,but he does like his cake with a fair share of cheese. But there is nary a panty-shot to be seen here. She is strong, motivated and perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

While this is definitely Barbara's story, Gail does a really fine job of throwing some creepy bits in there involving her little brother, James Jr. I must confess that I have yet to read a full story involving that fella from the pre-DCnU (The before time...the long-long ago) but I am aware that things did not go swimmingly for his sanity in the long run. Intelligent, yet distant..and even this issue's baddie Harry X can see "what he is."

All of these things are positives and drew me further and further into the narrative, which is the most important thing. Actually, to go back just a sec, the name Harry X was the first problem I had with this issue. Sometimes I have difficulty figuring out if a character has a terrible name simply because the writer can't think of a good one, OR if the writer is making a statement about the character by having that character call himself something dumb. This remains a mystery, but seemed worth mentioning. What's really important about this character is that he's big as a mountain and would be more than any normal teenaged girl could handle, so when she wins the day (Spoiler Alert? I doubt it) it's all the more impressive.

But what really left me troubled was this Harry X spends most of the issue going after Babs and then (SPOILER ALERT I GUESS) she shows up in a Bat-outfit and beats him senseless with Bat-fu. Ok, standard stuff. But isn't Harry going to piece it together when he sees a red-headed Batgirl Bat-fuing other criminals that OH HEY MAYBE IT'S THE DAUGHTER OF THE COP THAT I ATTACKED BUT THEN SHE PUT ON A BAT OUTFIT AND BAT-FU'D ME IN THE FACE A WHOLE BUNCH?? No? Well, maybe a guy who calls himself Harry X isn't that bright. OR...like many of the 0 issues, maybe it's setting up something for a future storyline where good ole Harry comes back armed with secret identity knowledge?

Also, in this issue, Harry calls Babs "Kid of the Commish". So it looks like continuity-wise, Gordon was Lt. 6 years ago, and was made Commissioner over 4 years ago, FYI.

Despite my little quibbles, this was a really solid issue and a great jumping on point, obviously! So...um...jump on it!


GRIFTER #0

Writers: Rob Liefeld (story), Frank Tieri (script)
Art: Scott Clark (pencils), Dave Beaty (inks)
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


I know Rob Liefeld is not the most popular dude in the world at the moment and for many, the mere appearance of his name on the cover of a comic is indication to stay far, far away, but since Liefeld isn’t really doing a lot with this issue, I tried to stay objective while reading it.

Firstly, Liefeld is not providing art for the book, which can only be seen as a plus. Here Scott Clark and Dave Beaty are able to churn out a dynamically looking and well paneled story. Occasionally, the panels are a bit big and blocky for my tastes, focusing on one or two big panels per page which probably should have only taken up half a page, but I really like the strength in Clark’s human forms and the foundation Beaty provides here. Say what you will about the story itself, but this is a damn good looking book.

Story-wise, this book didn’t dazzle me. It basically follows Cole Cash aka Grifter as he works his way though a mind-fucking machine only to have him cause it to fizzle out. A mysterious figure from his dream appears and breaks him out, leaving him in a hotel room dazed and asking how and why he ended up there. Now, my reaction to the vagueness to this story may have mostly been because beat for beat, this is how my prom night went. But despite that, there’s not a whole lot going on by way of story.

Knowing that Liefeld was involved in making it, I tried to pay extra close attention to the writing of this book while reading it, wanting to give old Rob a fair shake. By the time I finished it, I ended up saying to myself that this wasn’t all that badly written. Had I not known Liefeld had written it, I doubt I would have guessed it. The dialog didn’t blow my socks off, but it didn’t feel fake or cheesey either. Upon rereading the opening page, it appears Frank Tieri provided dialog here, leaving me wondering what the hell did Rob do here.

So though he didn’t provide art or the script, Rob is credited for the story. The one I just explained two paragraphs up to be really vapid and vague. So despite the ok dialog and the above average art, I was left with an empty feeling after reading this issue. It doesn’t tell me a whole hell of a lot about the character of Cole Cash, a character I knew nothing about prior to reading this book, but it does have him jump through a window and kick a guy in the face. So this book has that going for it…


BATMAN & ROBIN #0

Writer: Pete Tomasi
Artist: Pat Gleason
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


When a character is birthed from a matrix, then seconds later forced to swim in a Lazarus Pool filled with his wet nurse’s split blood from insolence, that’s a special young man who I want to know more about.

Fortunately I already do, Damian Wayne was a much-needed breath of fresh air to the BATMAN mythos. Tim Drake was ready to move on. Another “ward” would be trite at this point. A true son of Wayne was ready to come forward and making his Mother the world’s greatest assassin who lives on a completely 180 degree ideological wavelength from Bats has created the most dysfunctional and engrossing nuclear family in entertainment.

But to truly understand Damian, I needed to see more of Miss Talia’s relationship to her son outside of her recent assassination attempts in BATMAN INC. We could all guess at the expected moments, brought forth in action packed glory as Talia and Damian battle year-after-year from his toddlerhood till tweens.

The date of the battle that matters though is always on Damian’s birthday. The prize for winning? Talia finally spills the beans on who Damian can call for a transplant donor if a ninja zealot punctures his kidney.

Not only where these training days interesting and actually…endearing and informative…Tomasi also remembered the fundamental rule of Damian – never EVER forget he’ still a kid. From my favorite shot of the year (Bat Cow) to this issue where Damian finds his Father’s cowl in Mom’s hope chest and plays dress up, his sweetness is never that of a normal child’s. There’s a certainty to his actions that come with an affluent background and even with big doe preschooler eyes, that arrogance and certainty of rightness should be forever omnipresent.

And it was, right up until the last page when Damian meets the kidnapped Bats and makes a height joke while Dad is being held to the ground by henchmen.

BATMAN & ROBIN #0 is one of those truly necessary prequels and promises great things for issue 13 next month.


RAVAGERS #0

Writer: Howard Mackie
Art: Ian Churchill & Norm Rapmund
Matt Adler


Beast Boy is the star of the issue, as we see how he suffered under the experiments of the evil Lord Harvest and his minions. They’re tying his shape-changing powers into the Animal Man concept of “The Red” which I suppose is why we now have a red Beast Boy instead of green.

I’m honestly not entirely sold on the concept of the Ravagers; they feel like a Teen Titans B-team, with a slightly darker origin as escapees from a mad scientist’s lab. This issue really doesn’t give us much background on Harvest or his project; it basically just shows us how tortured the various members of the team were before they escaped, which is really something we could already gather from the initial Ravagers issues.

The issue also doesn’t give us much insight into the characters others than Beast Boy and Terra, which is puzzling since those are the characters who I would think would be most familiar to readers. Ian Churchill’s art is pretty, and there are some nice action scenes, but honestly, you could skip this issue and not miss much.


LEGION LOST #0

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Art: Pete Woods
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


I specifically wanted to focus on books I don’t usually follow in this new DCU for two reasons. One being that I wanted to see if there was something interesting going on in these books that I was missing in hopes that either my reasons for not buying the book were confirmed or that I would be tempted to follow the books from here on out. The second reason comes more from a critical standpoint on the idea of this#0 issue idea thing as a whole. Did this issue tell me enough about the characters and story so that I didn’t feel as if I had to track down twelve issues in order to understand it? In other words, I used Stan Lee’s old credo that every comic has the possibility of being the first comic a person has ever picked up and because of that possibility, it should entertain both the die hard reader without alienating the casual one and vice versa, meaning the die hard shouldn’t feel as if it is redundant to read and therefore a waste of money. With this criteria in hand, I approached LEGION LOST with high hopes, only reading one issue prior to this one.

I can’t say that I was convinced to continue to pick up this book, but it was a solid, self contained story which seems to be telling the origin of LEGION LOST’s central character Timber Wolf. Now, the character has always been a mere shade of Wolverine in my book and there’s not a lot to separate the character from Logan going on here despite small details. Both are results of twisted lab experiments. Both have a feral nature about them and attack foes with a savagery usually found only in beasts. And both prefer to go the lone wolf route, though find themselves a part of a team most of the time. DeFalco does a good job of establishing conflict, motivation, and some sort of vague resolution, filling this issue to the brim with action, character, and story. Having just read Liefeld’s story lite GRIFTER, I can appreciate that and have to commend the writer for not filling these pages with splashes and blank space.

On the other hand, not enough went on here to get me to buy into the seemingly impenetrable shell the Legion section of the DCU seems to be coated with. So much continuity and re-continuity and retro-continuity goes on with the Legion that everyone has a favorite. Starting over once again just isn’t something that is going to appeal to me.

On top of that, DeFalco is tapping into his old school nature here which at times is charming and refreshing as with last year’s THUNDERSTRIKE miniseries. But here, as DeFalco uses the line “Springing forward Brin somersaults off the back of the onrushing Tor” as Brin does exactly that in the panel. Describing exactly what is going on in the panel is too old school for me and an exercise in redundancy.

So while DeFalco’s rock solid story structure is fully intact here, my disinterest in all things Legion is unchanged, especially with old old school writing at play. Pete Woods as always is great on art. I’m sure fans of Legion will continue to love this title, but it didn’t make a convert out of me.


Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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Readers Talkback

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  • Sept. 12, 2012, 9:04 a.m. CST

    CW should make Batgirl their replacement for Smallville.

    by Snookeroo

    Quit screwing around with Green Arrow and a young take on Wonder Woman. Batgirl lands squarely in their demographic. And to make this relevant to the talkback at hand, I liked issue zero. Simone has done a good job of handling the reboot.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 9:53 a.m. CST

    aggreed @snook!

    by Poptard_JD

    I would love to see a college-aged Batgirl show. Far more than a GA show

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 10:03 a.m. CST

    That Liefeld GRIFTER cover...

    by bottleimp

    ...ugh. How in god's name does an editor NOT look at that and say, "We can't run this." He's got NO LEFT THUMB, for chrissake! As well as two left legs, no groin, a giant staple gun shooting off to the side, etc. etc... Really, the amazing thing is that Liefeld had to QUIT DC. A competent publisher focused on quality product would have fired him after the debacle that was HAWK & DOVE.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 10:09 a.m. CST

    "Quit" doesn't Always Mean Quit Brother

    by optimous_douche

    I've found in my career when you hit a certain prominent level in an industry, you are sometimes allowed to walk away to save face. I wonder if this quitting was merely a precursor to avoid outright firing for slumping sales.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Let's leave Liefeld alone...

    by Whitemouse

    It's not worth it anymore, it really isn't

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 10:48 a.m. CST

    @bottleimp -- that's not a staple gun, that's a caulking gun!

    by Inexplicable_Nuclear_Balls

    Coming soon from Rob Liefeld... The Plumber. Evil better get ready to suck caulk.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Liefeld...

    by MattAdler

    ... threatened to release emails if anyone at DC suggested that he was going to be fired anyway. Make of that what you will.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Thank You Optimus

    by Homer Sexual

    I laughed all through that review, and haven't even read the rest yet, I just had to post a thank you for making my morning fun. God Help Me, your review makes me want to buy that issue just to see it and amuse myself and others. Especially with the mask on/mask off thing. Classic. Thanks again!

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Grifter's ammo belt

    by Snookeroo

    that goes over his shoulder and disappears mysteriously into his pants seems like a lot of bother for six bullets. Just sayin'.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Wolverine is the rip off.

    by chavee

    Timberwolf predates Woverine by 10 years. I used to collect both LSH and X-Men but my first love is the Legion. I started reading that comic when I was in 5th grade.....something like 32 years now. I gave up on X-Men around the time after Age of Apocolypse. Which is kind of a rip off of the Legions 5 Years Later storyline. I know the Legion can be daunting with all of its continuity issues but there is a wealth of old great storylines to explore. Hell, I've even bought some old issues for on my new ipad. Comics are kinda cool on a tablet.

  • That said, reading that Deathstroke review and seeing the Grifter cover...the more things change, the more they indeed stay the same.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Poetry...

    by Mr_Fancy_Pants

    No, this isn’t a commune of hippies who pass the dutchie on the left hand side.

  • ... and devolving into a swaggering, belligerent, jack-ass after experiencing the power and capacity of the ring.. oh well, just sayin

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 2:46 p.m. CST

    DC suits....."I got a great idea!!"

    by thelordofhell

    Let's make our cover's look like they're bursting out of the comic book.......it's 3D!!!

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 3:11 p.m. CST

    The Wire

    by Emikandi

    Anybody catch the reference in Green lantern Corps 0?

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 3:45 p.m. CST

    no emikandi

    by foree forehead

    what was it? something about 'lake trout'? or re-upping??

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 4:31 p.m. CST

    Officer down on McNulty and Simon

    by Emikandi

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 5:40 p.m. CST

    Optimous

    by Tigger11

    Thank you for the funniest review I have read in a long time. And its completely accurate. I thought some of his old X-Books were bad, but Deathstroke really took Leifield to a whole new level but not in a good way.

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 5:56 p.m. CST

    I am to please - thank you for reading

    by optimous_douche

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 8:48 p.m. CST

    About Black Canary...

    by Tom

    Drake is her maiden name. She married Larry Lance to become Dinah Lance (mind you this was all Earth-2). At some point they had a daughter, named Dinah Lance (as well)- who had the sonic cry and migrated to Earth-1. She's the Black Canary we all know and love... until now I guess :P

  • Sept. 12, 2012, 10:29 p.m. CST

    Legion Lost 0

    by Gislef_crow

    Yeah, it wasn't a great issue. For one thing, they seem to retcon TW's origin every few years, or give him a new look. Remember when he was Fuzzy in the Bierbaum era, and then got the 90s Liefeld look later in the 90s? No? Neither does almost anyone else. I'd rather have seen Tyroc. Or Gates. Or Tellus. Or whatever Wildfire is this time around. But I suppose TW is the big draw.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 12:06 a.m. CST

    Wow...that Grifter cover is...Wow.

    by Sean

    Anyone else annoyed at all these little back up stories that keep popping up in comics? I mean, i've talked before about glancing through Justice League and though i have (for the first time ever) not been utterly blown away by Lee's art...that last thing i want is some Shazam thing coming off the end. Blah.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 5:42 a.m. CST

    Zero numbered issues and 90's style art -- DC is in a sorry state, these days.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 7:53 a.m. CST

    Grifter 0

    by NightArrows

    That Grifter cover is just awful. Although his "fans" will no doubt be dazzled by the line work and pouches, guns and awesome "I found a dime in the carpet" pose.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 8:40 a.m. CST

    And Liefeld laughs an laughs

    by Hedgehog000

    If I were Liefeld I'd come to this site just to enjoy how much effort people can put into dissecting how bad my work is. It's as if instead of a film student doing his dissertation on Citizen Kane, he decided to do an in depth analysis of Resident Evil 5. I don't think I've ever knowingly bought a Liefeld book so I'm certainly no fan, but it's almost as if the man stood you up at Comic Con (like Wil Wheaton did to Sheldon on Big Bang).

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 8:42 a.m. CST

    Guy Gardner

    by Hedgehog000

    Wasn't he a teacher originally and got hit by a bus trying to save his kids? He wound up in a coma and was slightly brain damaged, hence his belligerence.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 9:14 a.m. CST

    It's Liefeld's Laughing

    by optimous_douche

    That I am trying to thwart. No, he never stood me up. And no, I wouldn't be so adamant in tarnishing his name if it was just his work that was horrible. I rip apart a ton of work, but never digress into attacks because most creators have at least an ounce of humility. I rally against his horrible work, but more so his blind arrogance towards it all.

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Legion: Years of crap with moments of goodness.

    by Homer Sexual

    I confess to having read the Legion since childhood. I always liked large groups and when I came in was the "what's holding up their costumes" era. It was a good time. The Great Darkness Saga was also a classic era, when they finally actually had some diversity and compelling stories. This was followed by another classic story when Karate Kid dies. then it became lame again. There was another good period with Laurel Gand, Andromeda, dealing with her own xenophibia while fighting the white triangle. I didn't like Legion Lost very much, but it was popular. I love the times when they have aliens like Tellus as opposed to aliens like Bgtzl, where everyone is totally white. So I didn't like the Waids' Most people don't really do much with the future aspects of Legion, so it's often not that great. and Timber Wolf? Sooo boring. Yawn. Definitely not going to try that one.

  • Sept. 14, 2012, 11:47 a.m. CST

    pay attention

    by devilish21ca

    In the Batgirl book, the mention that Harry X was shot by a cop - no one knew who - immediately after the hostage taking. He never had a chance to put it together.

  • Nov. 21, 2012, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Hey Optimous, About Deathstroke #0

    by MidnightSkulker

    I know I'm way late with this, and I hate to defend Rob Liefeld, but this has been nagging at me and I finally got around to verifying it. The panel you deride with Kane bent over backwards firing behind her was directly lifted (along with much of the dialogue) from the first time this scene was shown way back in part 3 of The Judas Contract (Tales of the New Teen Titans #43). The only significant difference is that in the original drawing, she had one leg tucked beneath her so she didn't look like she was about to fall on her ass (which, really, why did Liefeld think it looked better this way?). Anyway, just know that when you slam Liefeld for this depiction, you're also slamming George Perez. Which is fine, of course, just thought you'd want to know.