We've already crowned Animal Man as the best thing to come out of the DC relaunch, but what about the other twelve titles from last week?
Let's tier these suckers — comics will be judged on quality, overall accessibility, and whether or not I fell asleep midway through reading.
The Vertigo-tinged books under The Dark banner are so far DC's strongest new releases. On Swamp Thing, Yannick Paquette does a bang-up job on art, turning the gutters between panels into a chaotic latticework of vines. Scott Snyder delivers an intriguing script — Dr. Alec Holland has returned as a human but remembers being Swamp Thing — but folks who weren't following Brightest Day aren't done any favors here.
Grant Morrison's Action Comics has been on the stands for less than a week and there's already been an aggressively stupid controversy about his brassy and brash new Superman. The first issue immediately introduces us to a green-around-the-ears Superman who roughs up Metropolis' corrupt upper crust. It's a hoot seeing Clark Kent pontificate like a kid who's read A People's History of the United States for the first time. Action is promising but lacking a certain gonzo panache. But hey, this is Grant "All-Star Superman" Morrison we're talking about, so I'll be buying the second issue.
Finally, I'm not sure what DC novices will make of O.M.A.C., but this is Keith Giffen on a Technicolor tear. In this bare-bones story, a cyborg with a giant blue mohawk beats the hell out of a bunch of obscure Jack Kirby's science villains. I guess Dubbilex is a bad guy now? Retro, trippy, and worth a look.
Gail Simone's Batgirl starts out strong. It's good to see Barbara Gordon kicking ass in the cowl again, but the plot keeps getting waylaid with continuity issues that are hand-waved away just as abruptly as they're brought up. The issue ends on a silly, no-stakes cliffhanger. On the plus side, Ardian Syaf's artwork is enjoyably dynamic.
Same goes for the rest of the Gotham Knights. Batwing and Detective Comics' merits were mostly aesthetic. Ben Oliver's photorealistic work on the former and Tony Daniel's claustrophobic pencils on the latter bolstered otherwise middling Bat-tales. Detective at least had a decent closing hook.
Justice League International was an endearingly goofy 1990s throwback (and Aaron Lopresti's art is super-clean), but it's not a revolutionary read. Same with late August's Justice League, but replace "1990s" with "Ultimates-era" and "Aaron Lopresti" with "Jim Lee."
There's nothing all that memorable about Static Shock, Men of War, and Hawk and Dove. I suppose they're worth checking out if you're a fan of the Milestone Universe, Sergeant Rock, and Rob Liefield, respectively.
Green Arrow seemingly draws its inspiration from the Smallville incarnation of Oliver Queen (a.k.a. Green Arrow as Tony Stark in a green hoodie). I know that's the most mainstream popular version of Green Arrow, but is that really a model anybody's champing at the bit for? The plot was so generic it was soporific. Dan Jurgens' art was clean stuff, though.
I had high hopes for Stormwatch, what with Paul Cornell at the helm and the possibility of Martian Manhunter and Midnighter sharing a dormitory on the Carrier. Instead, this issue simultaneously A.) reads like a melange of recycled Authority plots; and B.) doesn't give new readers a reason to care. Seriously hoping this picks up.