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Cartoonist (and Non-Superhero Reader) Carolyn Main Reviews the ‘New 52,’ Part 2

We’re 3/4 of the way into the release of the 52 new comics relaunched at #1 by DC Comics, a move designed not only to refresh the books but to invite new readers into the superhero comics audience. But are the books really accessible to new readers?

If you’re a long-time reader of superhero comics, it can be difficult to look at the books without the baggage — and knowledge — you’ve acquired over the years, which is why ComicsAlliance reached out to Carolyn Main, a cartoonist and the creator of the extremely NSFW comic Sex Wizards, for her impressions. As someone who works in the world of comics but is largely unfamiliar with superhero titles, we were curious about what Main would take away from some of the new 52. She sent us back her impressions as a new reader, complete with original cartoons that expressed her thoughts about the debut issues of Action Comics, Batwoman, and Suicide Squad.As Main explained:

I am mostly a cartoonist for a living, and yet, I am rather terribly read in my field. I’ve read the emotional graphic novels, all the classic Sunday Funnies, and stared deeply into many an “Art.” But I’ve read very few mainstream super-hero comics, and never new ones that had just hit the shelves.

Action Comics #1

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman! And he’s spent the entirety of his Abercrombie and Fitch gift card. Superman is all about helping the poors now. He even stumbles into squats where a hipster Scooby gang is squatting and manages to save them. Lex Luthor is still all bald and ruthless, so he’s pretty much directly The Man now. And Superman takes a tank right in his chest like it’s all Tiananmen Square, kaboom! Laser Eyes Superman steals lines about nightmares from Rambo, and holds fancy businessmen over buildings, as if it’s soon to be raining men. (hallelujah) Seriously, though, I thought that was American Batman’s job.

Jimmy Olsen feels like Clark Kent texts him too much about trains that will probably blow up while he’s too busy being on a train that will probably blow up. Indeed, that train blows up for a while, goes through some office buildings, and pins Superman against a train and a hard place. Reminds me of prom night. No it doesn’t. Then Lex Luthor says that’s good enough for the capturing. Even though there’s probably still another step of tossing a net on him, he’s just done.

The drawings were fun Americana, with a tendency toward slack-jawed pointing and wall-eyed gaping. It’s interesting that Superman is fighting political corruption and poverty, because those are like, intangible enemies that are hard to punch, which is what Superman can do super hard. He could also set up free breakfasts for children like the Black Panthers did, and go join the protest on Wall Street right now, while he’s at it. Or you know, just continue to fight poverty by throwing a wrecking ball into a police tank, which is what his universe seems more able to accommodate. Whatever gets us to peace fastest.

Verdict: If I was rich with my trust fund burning in my pocket I would buy it for 3 real dollars.

Batwoman #1

Batwomen. They are just like us. They have tattoos and might be lesbians. They reminisce about all the times they changed clothes with a blonde lady, and then went to go out and punch some guys. They chase down Mexican spooky ghosts that kidnap and sometimes drown local children. They mourn their long-lost sister who was into shooting guns and hanging out with wolf and squid men. They put on a wig, the same color as their real hair, but longer, when they go out, to be official Batwomen. Meanwhile, this spooky skeleton is smoking a cigar and being real mad about the aforementioned activities of Batwomen.

Seriously though. She wears a wig of longer, redder, hair when she’s out ‘batting. That would get all itchy. And she wears the wig hair down instead of up — WTF, it would be in her face, obscuring her vision, and easy for an assailant to grab. At least it’s a wig so it would come off easily, but that makes me wonder why it doesn’t fall off when she’s doing backflips and sh*t.

Non-African Batman shows up at the end. I guess spooky ghosts and kiddie pools are in the feminine Bat-jurisdiction, so he can only talk about footprints, and cough awkwardly about how women lie about being on birth control when you are a millionaire. He didn’t say that but it was implied in the silence.

The art had some fun color and shape, and liked to sometimes abandon panels and get all Art Nouveau with hair and stained glass. The story made some kind of sense if you like to absorb abrupt flashbacks in sets, and take your supernatural spooky ghost murders alongside your maybe lesbian bat detectives.

Verdict: I would click “Like” on this on Facebook if I had a friend who was paid to make it. I would also pay one real dollar or 50 online cents for it.

Suicide Squad #1

This delightful tableau opens to some hawt goblin applying rat-to-nipple torture porn. Which is what I’ve always wanted but have been too ashamed to hope for, so it was a strange moment for me. And a bunch of other guys are all getting water boarded and sliced and electrocuted and stung and being forced to listen to Rebecca Black’s “Friday” over and over on a Thursday.

And a bunch of guys in burlap sack masks, which I think they made themselves during a craft night, are all like, “Hey, tell us the name of your secret clubhouse!” And all the guys are all, like, “No, we won’t, so kill us or fart on us or whatever.” This squad totally keeps the secret until King Shark cunningly eats a guy’s arm, which was thereupon played 50 times in slow motion during Shark Week. That was too much for the guy getting attacked by mosquitos and butterflies, so he done spilt the beans on the name of his super secret clubhouse. King Shark is cool.

This secret club, Suicide Squad, has Harley Quinn, who I really enjoyed in Batman: The Animated Series, but this time Quinn is pretty terrible and likes to dress like she’s working the pole for Faygo at the Juggalo Gathering. She is often traced directly from screengrabs of Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary, and that’s very handy for all bondage shots of her relishing being in bondage. I’m obligated to point out that her costume is an irrationally slutty take on the neck ruffle.

Reading this comic felt like peering into the creepy guy’s sketchbook in art class. The art was either way too specific and obviously traced, or way too generic and obviously not traced enough. The writing failed to grab me, and I don’t know why anybody would be interested in this wacky group of D-list super villains who are good at withstanding torture, except King Shark, who’s cool. I felt kinda bad about reading this, and was glad that I was alone and nobody would notice me reading it and want talk to me about it.

Verdict: I really really would not buy this with real or online dollars, in a boat, or with a goat. I would buy the King Shark book, though, or look at it, at least.

Here I am pictured with the last comic book I bought with real dollars, The Pro.

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