Apologies for taking so long to release the second part of the list. Nonetheless, Here’s the second part of the Geekend Gladiator’s 10 Highlights of the DC New 52.
5. NOT SO SUPER SUPERMAN
One of the harder characters to write is Superman. Partly because of the rich history that he has, and partly because at some point how could you bring a fresh new take on a character that is as powerful as he is. Issue # 40 of Superman did just that.
Fresh from discovering and using a new powerful ability (a Goku like one at that) against Ulysses, we see Supes powered down and with an all new humanlike vunerability. We see just how sensitive and prone he is to getting hurt, what with sustaining bruises and cuts just doing his ordinary saving, heck, just even handling paper resulted in a papercut (ouch!).
Sure, this is all normal in showing how vunerable he is. But the highlight of the issue was, and the reason why it’s on the list, was when Supes served as an interrogator for a hostage situation and even had the gun pointed right at him. The tension was palpable with the question whether he would be shot point blank. Good news is that he didn’t. But the main take away from that was it really isn’t Superman’s power that makes him effective, but waht he stands for and the symbol on his chest that makes him one of the best superheroes there is.
4. CHARACTER BUILDING
When the New 52 was launched, it served an opportunity for DC to give their stagnant characters a fresh take. Some worked, some didn’t. But the characters that benefitted the most that comes to mind are Wonder Woman, Aquaman and later on, Green Arrow.
Wonder Woman received rave reviews from comic book enthusiasts and continued its strong push until Azzarello’s last issue. The whole series focused on a new mythos for Wonder Woman and made her a demigod which opened up the character to all new posibilities and a new origin at that. Even her powers and accessories were given a new take which made Wonder Woman even more badass and at the same time propelled her to new heights. All of a sudden Wonder Woman was once again a hot commodity for DC Comics, it was just too bad that the new-found popularity of Wonder Woman wasn’t sustained after the change in creative teams.
Aquaman, as stated earlier, also benefitted greatly from the relaunch and solidified his reputation as a hero to be reckoned with. Even through the changes in creative teams throughout the 40 issues, Aquaman remained one of the must read books in the DC New 52 line. Just when you think that his mythos has already reached a high point, the book would deliver even more. Its the gift that keeps on giving.
Green Arrow, on the other hand, started out slow and went through the motions of Oliver Queen’s early days. But alas, when Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino hopped-on and took over the series we were instantly treated with a whole new world for Green Arrow. It not only improved the book, but also broadened the whole Green Arrow story by giving us a story behind “the stranded at sea and left to survive on his own” origin. The new mythos provided for a deeper purpose for Oliver and brought to the forefront just where the Queen family fit in the world of the Outsiders. What resulted was a fresh origin story for Green Arrow and thus it brought Green Arrow to a whole new level.
3. THE GODDAMNED BATMAN
Snyder and Capullo gave us an epic run with Batman from issue 0 to 39. Yes, that is 0. We saw the brilliance unfold right before our very eyes with the creative team dropping little bits of nuggets throughout one story arc to another. Starting with the Court of Owls story line to the End Game arc, we were immersed in a neat, clean story that even years from now would be talked about.
Court of Owls introduced to us a new foe in Batman’s rogue gallery and created a new element in the mythology of Batman. It was followed-up by the Death of the Family which brought us an even creepier Joker than anything we’ve seen before. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Zero Year was launched and it solidified Riddler as a top villain in Gotham. And finally, the coup de grace, Endgame was released. You could never really find a low point for the run of Batman comics because every story is compelling and constantly increases in terms of tension and mystery. And the suspense for the finale of Endgame is killing me.
The beauty of the whole Batman line is that every little thing in the story is connected, and the little easter eggs given to us pay-off in a big way, unlike in other comic book series which often gets disregarded with the change in creative teams. The main advantage of having Snyder and Capullo throughout the series is exactly this, to deliver us a hero that Gotham deserves.
Believe it or not, the Joker made his New 52 debut on the Detective Comics line, and not on the main Batman series. But the whole Joker creepiness only peaked when his face was cut-off and served as a message to Batman and Gotham. A year after, the Death of The Family arc was launched and Joker was elevated to an all new level of sinister. Snyder understood the horror-like approach needed to successfully bring this iteration of Joker to an all-new sinister level, coupled with Capullo’s ability to properly portray the scenes.
Easily the best scene in that arc was when Joker gathered the Bat-Family with bandages on their faces, and served their faces literally on a silver platter. The suspense, horror and drama was all there, and the illustration was properly made. It gave readers that emotion of dread and fear altogether, making them wish that hopefully this was all a joke orchestrated by Joker.
The horror-bar was further elevated in Endgame. The creepiest part came when Gordon discovers Joker appearing in ancient photos of tragedies in Gotham. Endgame even dug deeper in Joker’s origin, giving him some sort of ability of immortality. But he didn’t stop there, now Joker knows the deepest secret of Batman, and Alfred paid for it dearly. Truly, Joker has really tested Batman on every type of field there is, and Bats has had to dig deeper everytime he faces him.
1. SUPERMAN UNCHAINED
Not quite what you’d expect right? But the Superman Unchained title has earned the right to be on top of this list. With the top notch team of Snyder and Lee on board, Superman was given an all new approach and has provided depth to his persona.
From the start of the story, the reader is immersed instantly into the action and mystery of who the villain is. From there we dive into the mind of Superman and we discover that even the best superhero has his moments of doubt and hesitation in his mind. In fact he even second-guesses himself in times of crisis.
What made this to the top of the list is the fact that we, as readers, were given the opportunity to examine the psyche of Superman and at the same time gave Superman that much needed touch of humanity and made him relatable.
The icing on top was the opening sequence in issue #2. I’ll just leave the whole sequence right here.
Hope you enjoyed the list. Feel free to leave your comments, suggestions and (hopefully not violent) reactions in our comments section.
Shout out to members of the comic book group for pointing out that New 52 isn’t ending.
Gino is the Gladiator’s resident TV and comic book reviewer. Lawyer in the making at day, and full on geek by night. #AgeOfTheGeek