Comics Spotlight on the DC Relaunch Titles, Part 2

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In part one of the spotlight on DC’s relaunch titles, I picked the comics had hooked me into a “must buy.. Part 2 is about the titles that are somewhat off the beaten path, have my attention but could turn out to be duds or classics.

Or, worse, turn out to be excellent and get canceled prematurely because of low sales.

Note: These comics can be obtained on day of sale over at the DC store on Comixology or the DC app at the Apple Store. Additionally, you can find the link to Comixology by going to the DC Comics site and clicking on the READ button. This should be intuitive but I went to their store when I was searching for a digital link, rather than the “read” button. I wonder how many others might make the same mistake. It would’ve been easier to find under a “digital DC titles” button.

Batgirl written by Gail Simone, art by Ardian Syaf & Vincente Sifuentes

This has an excellent creative team and features a character I love. Why am I ambivalent? Because to get this title, we had to lose Barbara Gordon as Oracle, the Birds of Prey comic was completely changed, and the fine new Batgirl series by Bryan Q. Miller was canceled. Those are fangirl complaints, I know, but the two titles I mentioned above are the two I recommended most to parents who wanted to get their children, particularly girls, into reading comics.

Those complaints aside, Barbara Gordon is a character just about everyone knows and likes, and she comes with a supporting cast featuring her father, Jim Gordon, and other famous Gotham characters. So it should be a fun read and sell very well.

Animal Man written by Jeff Lemire, art by Travel Foreman and Dan Green

Comics junkies often mention Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run as his best work. He’s the one who put Buddy Baker on the map. Baker is unique among superheroes as he has a loving family, including two very interesting kids. Maxine, his daughter, seems to play a prominent role in the new series and with Buddy’s animal based powers, this is a title that can go anywhere the creative team can imagine.

Batwing written by Judd Winick, art by Ben Oliver

This spins out of the Batman, Inc. storyline that introduced several new Batmen from all over the world. Batwing is an African based hero that, if done well, could really expand DC’s international appeal. The writer, Judd Winick, was great on Marvel’s Exiles but I didn’t like his work on Green Arrow/Black Canary at all. Essentially, great location, cool new character, nice looking art but I’m not sure if the creative team is up to it.

Justice League International written by Dan Jurgens, art by Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan.

This is mostly the same group of well-remembered and well-loved from the 1990s JLI incarnation. The cast is Booster Gold, Batman, Fire, Ice, Vixen, Rocket Red, August General in Iron and a new female character who was once on the cover but is now missing. This new series keeps the international flavor and the blurb suggests that it will also keep the humor and fun that made the original series so memorable. But it’s hard to juggle the serious/silly tone of JLI. I hope the creative team pulls it off.

Men of War written Ivan Brandon, art by Tom Derenick

From the blurb and stories surrounding this series, it looks to be a modern update of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, who were featured in a number of World War II-set DC stories. I like military adventure stories and this team is going to be modern mercenaries perhaps taking on super-villains. Still, war comics can be tough to write and the title will stand or fall on the strength of its stories. And perhaps on the big name of the villains that the team confronts.

Static Shock written by Scott McDaniel and John Rozum, art by McDaniel and Jonathan Glapion

Static is more popular outside of comics from his television show than he has ever been inside of comics. Here’s hoping this series can change things but even before it’s published, the title seems to have undergone some tinkering and changing of creative teams that scream editorial tinkering. The initial storyline brings Virgil Hawkins to New York City and closer to the center of the DC Universe, even giving the young hero a job at S.T.A.R. labs. McDaniel’s artwork has a great kinetic flow and should be perfect in showing Static’s powers.

Stormwatch written by Paul Cornell, art by Miguel Sepulveda

The second of Cornell’s two titles in the relaunch. I’m drawn to it but the idea of ” a dangerous super human police forc,” could be difficult to pull off. DC has moved some of its more gritty Wildstorm characters over to DC, such as The Authority characters Apollo, Midnighter and Jack Hawksmoor. Also in the mix is the Martian Manhunter from the Justice League as his alien origins make him an outsider.

Swamp Thing written by Scott Snyder, art by Yanick Paquette

Snyder is coming off a fantastic noir-like run on Detective Comics. If anyone is going to capture the strangeness and pathos of the Swamp Thing, he could be the one, especially with art from Paquette. Still, this Swamp Thing is reboot, and it’s unclear whether he’s the swamp elemental or a combination of human and monster again.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E written by Jeff Lemire, art by Alberto Ponticello

The famous monster, who has been used in DC Comics since 1948, was recently worked by Grant Morrison in a 2005 mini-series. I think it’s a loopy idea for Frankenstein’s monster to be the protector of Earth from threats stranger than himself. It also seems reminiscent of Hellboy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Grifter written by Nathan Edmondson, art by Cafu

Grifter’s another Wildstorm character, a con man (see code name) who usually works on the right side of the law but isn’t afraid to live in the gray or go completely over to the black. The premise of the new series has him hunting monsters in human form, which gets him in trouble with authorities as a possible serial killer. This could be a fantastic book and it’s all going to depend on the writing. Remember, however, the last guy to jump start his career with a Grifter book was Ed Brubaker.

Resurrection Man by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

I love the concept of this hero. Every time he dies, he gets a different power. Resurrection Man was apparently created around the time I wasn’t reading comics in the 1990s because it wasn’t until recently that I knew who he was. He’s being written by Abnett and Lanning, his creators, and it appears nefarious people are after him to study his powers.

DC Universe Presents written by Paul Jenkins, art by Bernard Chang

The return of the anthology series with a rotating cast, a welcome addition to the DC Universe. This one begins with a Deadman story that spans five issues. Anthology series have sunk quickly in the direct market. Here’s hoping there will be some interest digitally because they’re a great way to introduce new or obscure characters to readers.

All-Star Western, by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti

This is the team that’s been writing the recent Jonah Hex western series for DC and wrote the fun Time Bomb miniseries that I reviewed. I’m not so sure of the plot of this one, which has Jonah ride into 1800s Gotham City to help the police force track down a serial killer. Gotham history can be interesting but I’m not sure Jonah Hex belongs. On the other hand, it could be DC’s version of Deadwood.

Voodoo written by Ron Marz, art by Sami Basri

“Who is Voodoo?” says DC’s blurb for the title and I find that a very good question. The blurb is a bit vague on her powers, save that see can see things in the DC Universe that others cannot. On the one hand, excellent, another female character headlining a book. On the other hand, I have no idea what to really expect from this series.

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