Review: Which DC Books Should You Pick Up After The Relaunch?

Review: Which DC Books Should You Pick Up After The Relaunch?

In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on September 7, 2011.

Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Action Comics #1

What it’s about: Nearly everyone was skeptical about DC relaunching their entire line of superhero comics in the wake of Flashpoint; it felt like a cheap publicity stunt solely focused on shock value over creative content. However, as the months before the reboot began to unfold, it became evident that DC was pooling all of their resources into making these books as artistically diverse and exciting as possible.

No book echoes that sentiment more than Action Comics. Written by Superman expert Grant Morrison and illustrated by the underappreciated Rags Morales, Action Comics retells the early years of the Superman legend in a way completely removed from past interpretations. Morrison has described this version of the Man of Steel as being more like “Bruce Springsteen” than a God, echoing the character’s 1930’s roots as a purveyor of social justice and equality.

Here, Superman enters the public view in nothing but a cheap T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans, and sets out to use his powers against government and corporate corruption, rather than generic alien attacks. This book will set up the tone and direction for the rest of the “new” DC Universe, and will add a new dimension of intrigue to a character that has grown woefully out of touch with the general public.

Even the most jaded of comic book fans should give Action Comics a chance. Morrison has proven over and over again that he is always one psychotic rant away from being permanently placed in a straightjacket, so it will be interesting to see how he and his mania treat the Man of Steel.

Animal Man #1

What it’s about: If you’re familiar with Grant Morrison’s turn on Animal Man from the late ‘80s, then you’re already aware that it was one of the most groundbreaking comic books to ever come out of DC. If you have no idea who Animal Man is, then that’s even better.

The most obvious benefit of DC’s “New 52” is that obscure characters and cumbersome continuity will be presented to new audiences in a way that is easy to understand and embrace. No character exemplifies that more than Animal Man.

Granted the power to absorb the physical characteristics of any animal that is nearby, Buddy Baker is actually a family man first and a Spandex clad crime fighter second. Writer Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth) is the perfect choice to depict the bizarre family dynamic of Baker and his super powered offspring.

Make no mistake about it, this isn’t like a rehash of the awful ABC show No Ordinary Family; Animal Man is a strange, dark fantasy book with unpredictable plots and fantastic art by Travel Foreman. Lemire isn’t a typical “superhero” writer, so don’t expect Animal Man to be packed with blockbuster brawls and soap opera level plots. But if you give it some time, this book will definitely be a top three title at the company, and maybe in mainstream comics in general.

Detective Comics #1

What it’s about: What more can you ask for to kick off the second volume of DC’s oldest book? Right off the bat (awful pun intended) writer Tony Daniel throws Batman headfirst into a conflict featuring the Joker and a new, and maniacal, villain called the Dollmaker. Daniel is concentrating on the detective aspects of the Dark Knight’s character and promises to deliver the cerebral type of story that people expect from Detective Comics.

Sporting a new armored costume and facing off against foes both familiar and new, Detective Comics promises to appeal to fans of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, while still retaining the fantasy aspects that made the character so successful in the first place.

This opening story arc goes back to basics. Batman working in the shadows, going up against the police, all while struggling with a plethora of sociopaths and villains that seem like they jumped right out of the frames of a David Fincher film. For people familiar with the Caped Crusader, but maybe not his comic exploits, this book will be a perfect transition into the medium. 

Tony Daniel may have struggled a bit towards the end of his run in the old DC Universe, but this new book and direction should provide him with the freedom to truly tell his desired Batman stories.

Green Arrow #1

What it’s about: The Green Arrow has gone through several iterations: slightly corny 1950’s Batman imitator, socially conscious Robin Hood imitator, much darker 1980’s Batman imitator, and directionless stock hero. What the character has never truly had, however, was a long lasting identity of his own.

That's about to change (hopefully) with this new Green Arrow title written by JT Krull and drawn by Dan Jurgens. This book won't follow Mike Grell's overly realistic take on the character, nor will the Arrow be a sidekick to the Green Lantern like he was during the '70s.

Instead of all that, Krull has reimagined the Green Arrow as more of a globetrotting adventurer, in the same ilk as James Bond. With an assortment of advanced weaponry and a team of cutting edge information gatherers at his every beck and call, this new Green Arrow book is both a throwback to old spy comics of the '40s and '50s and current movies like The Bourne Identity

Green Arrow won’t have the emotional impact, or overall seriousness, that some of DC’s books have, but it should be the perfect example of a sharply written, and sophisticated, superhero title.

Swamp Thing #1

What it’s about: Most people wouldn’t be caught dead reading a Swamp Thing comic under normal circumstances, but with Scott Snyder now on as the writer, this new series has the potential become one of DC’s sleeper hits. This opening story arc sees Swamp Thing combat a new evil that has taken shape in the desert, which is a place very foreign and dangerous to a creature that thrives in murky, watery environments.

What’s even more interesting is that Snyder is bringing back Alec Holland, Swamp Thing’s human form, a concept that was completely abandoned by acclaimed writer Alan Moore during his legendary stint on the character in the ‘80s. The reintroduction of Swamp Thing's human half will help the book gain the type of psychological conflict that is the hallmark of any good monster book.

Snyder has said that this book will be a straight-up horror title, so don’t expect it to read like most comics on the shelf. Snyder has made a career of writing scripts that appeal to people that aren't sold on the brightly colored world of comic books, so expect Swamp Thing to do the same.

There's no better time to start picking up DC comics, as they are dipping their toes into different genres, tones, and styles that should appeal to just about anyone. 

Tags: batman, superman, green-arrow, animal-man, swamp-thing, dc-comics
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