November brought with it attempts to refresh or refurbish several major characters. How did it turn out?
1. Spider-Man. Brand New Day is over, Big Time has begun and . . . Big Time is, so far, more brand new than BND ever was. Finally, Peter Parker’s brilliant mind (and Spider-Man’s, for that matter) is put to use, he finds himself successful (it probably won’t last, though) and he has a hot girlfriend, and he even mixes it up in gentle, loving conversation with Aunt May. When was the last time Peter was happy? And the new look—artist Humberto Ramos has thickened Spidey’s eyes and made a few other minor costume adjustments—is terrific as well. And as for the new Hobgoblin(s)? F-ing excellent. Best relaunch since . . . Well, since Brand New Day.
2. Uncanny X-Force. Two issues in and Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña have brought with them the chaotic lunacy of their Punisher run. I’m not a huge Rick Remender fan, but at least he seems to have a goal here—and teaming up with Opeña is a good idea: The artist can take an above-average script and make it pop to even abover-average. X-Force was never a big book for me, and there’s still too much X-trivia for non-X-fanatics to really feel involved in the story.
3. All the Bat-Books. Now that Batman has returned, new creative teams, new titles, and title relaunches abound. I can’t possibly read them all, but I hear their all pretty much what you’d expect. Except for Batman Incorporated, which I endorse wholeheartedly and without reservation. Also see point 6, below.
4. Young Justice and G.I. Joe. No, not comics, but . . . Young Justice returns (with vocal work by teenthrob Jesse McCartney) on Cartoon Network, and it’s (gasp!) really darn good! We got to see the kids’ adult components (with Batman being a bigger jerk than usual), a fun romp introducing clone Superboy, a very cool (and very powerful) Aqualad (based on the Brightest Day version), and indications that at least Red Tornado and Black Canary will be recurring characters when the series launches in January. We’ve also been promised several episodes with Batman, and over 150 DC characters appearing throughout the first season. Looks like DC is going to give Marvel’s Avengers ‘toon a run for its money. And speaking of animated relaunches, The Hub’s G.I. Joe: Renegades is actually pretty darn good as well. Very surprising, the series is action packed, funny, and the art is well-done. Yeah, the story is kind of A-Team/Losers-ish, but so what? It’s good stuff.
5. Teen Titans. Once upon a time, Teen Titans was a flagship title for D.C. Then it sucked for a while. Then Geoff Johns rebooted it to greatness. Then it sucked again for many years. Now, JT Krul and artist Nicola Scott are trying to garner new interest. The first issue, introducing cocksure Damian-Robin to the team, was a fun ride and required little to no knowledge of the past years of dreck that appeared under this title. This is really what this book ought to be: It’s a book for younger readers about younger characters. I hope they keep this in mind as the story progresses. If we don’t have titles that are smart enough for adults and kids alike (i.e., not overly crude and violent, but not simplistic one-and-dones either), we’re going to lose the next generation of comics readers—the way we lost so many in the 1990s. Thumbs up!
6. Batman and Robin. The mighty B&R, which may have been the best title of 2010, has fallen into the hand of Paul Cornell. I know lots of folks dig him, but not I. I found Captain Britain to be Captain Boring, and this first issue of B&R relied waaaaay too much on lore for me. I just didn’t care about Bruce Wayne’s ex-girlfriend being killed. Sorry, but I’m out.