ComicsAlliance was recently given the opportunity to visit the DC Comics offices in New York City and read the first two weeks of the 52 relaunched books that will recreate the DC Universe Here are some quick, spoiler-free initial impressions of what we saw.

ACTION COMICS

Grant Morrison and Rags Morales delivered the best issue out of everything I read, and the one that's most got me most excited for more. Do not miss this book. Across all the books of the new DCU, there's a tone of superheroes being something that people are unsure about, even afraid of because they haven't been public for very long. Here in particular, Morrison begins with a story from very early in Superman's time in Metropolis, in which his quest for truth is a young, idealistic reporter's quest for social justice. This is a Superman who harkens back to the earliest days of the character, when he'd often fight on behalf of the less fortunate against the powerful and corrupt. And so while this Superman is feared, he's feared only by those in authority. I can't wait to see where this goes.

DEMON KNIGHTS


Of all the books I saw, I had two clear favorites, and the second after Action was emon Knights by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves, Oclair Albert and Marcelo Maiolo. It's a fun superhero fantasy epic ensemble adventure book that immediately feels like it has a grand story to tell. The art team does a great job of making it feel different from any of the other DC relaunch books, and Maiolo's color work in particular lends a great fantasy feel to a cast of several familiar characters and some new ones. There's the sense of an enormous tale to tell and I loved it. Please check it out and pass on the good word if you like it, I'd hate for this title to get lost amidst the other new release and have to fight to keep going.



JUSTICE LEAGUE

As the flagship release of the week, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's new Justice League book is a good introduction to DC's new setting. It goes more into the very early years of superheroes first going public in a time when the world's still suspicious of them and they're still suspicious of each other. The banter between Batman and Green Lantern is a lot of fun, showing a refreshing level of self-awareness of fans' attitudes toward these characters that's reflected in their attitudes toward each other.

BATWOMAN


We've been missing this series for a while since Greg Rucka's departure, and it's great to see it back again. And while not having Rucka as a writer weakens the book some, J.H. Williams III's art remains gorgeous, and was the strongest part of the series. There are still incredible splash pages unlike any other comic currently out there. While other books' first issues are more concerned with establishing the new status quo, this one picks right up from when we last saw these characters.

FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E.

DC's paranormal monster hunter team gives off a vibe that's similar to horror adventure books published by Dark Horse, and I intend that as a compliment. There's a grotesque roughness to the art of Alberto Ponticelli that sets a mood for the series better than the traditional superhero art style of their Flashpoint mini did. The settings are imaginative, and there's a great cast of supporting characters.

STORMWATCH

No other book felt as grand in scope as Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda's Stormwatch. With multiple storylines happening simultaneously around the globe as well as off of it, this is a series that screams big ideas in the tradition of the Wildstorm books that preceded it. I was a little surprised at some of the characters that were chosen restarted nearly from scratch rather than keeping an existing long backstory.

BATGIRL

I was struck by just how much this book is not shying away from the contentious issue of The Killing Joke. That event from Barbara's past looks to be significant to the first arc. And while that's bound to lead to continued debate over the topic, addressing it in the way it's being handled may end up better for the character and the series in the long run.

STATIC SHOCK

I've heard it said (by ComicsAlliance's own Chris Sims) that Wally West was the closest character the DCU had to Marvel's Spider-Man. With Wally now absent, the first issue of John Rozum, Scott McDaniel & Jonathan Glapion's Static Shock makes a good case for Virgil "Static" Hawkins taking up that mantle. With Virgil as a young wise-cracking genius living in New York trying to balance a personal life and superheroics, the comparison's obvious. And I can't wait to see him take a larger role interacting with the DCU as a whole.

GREEN ARROW

As has been pointed out on this site before, Smallville's Green Arrow often came across as a stand-in for Batman, a younger, hipper, wealthy vigilante crimefighter. That version's now carried over into comics. The new Green Arrow is the same younger, hipper, world-traveling version of Bruce Wayne complete with a team of younger, hipper Alfred-equivalents.



OMAC

Keith Giffen, Dan Didio and Scott Koblish's OMAC is more than a revival of one of DC's many Jack Kirby characters; the book's art is entirely an homage to Kirby's visual style.

SWAMP THING

Writer Scott Snyder's putting a lot of effort into honoring the character's long history, and his approach to finding a place for Alec Holland in that history and finding a way to fit Swamp Thing into the larger DC Universe starts promisingly.

MEN OF WAR

The first of the two stories in Men of War shows a world in which superheroes are introduced to modern warfare and all hell breaks loose. Almost reminded me of scenes from police superhero comics like Powers or Gotham Central where all the rules of ordinary police work are completely disrupted when superpowers intervene, except on a much larger, more violent scale.



DEATHSTROKE

Deathstroke was the biggest surprise out of the books I wasn't expecting anything from. I enjoyed it, mostly due to how well it builds up to a great conclusion to the first issue.

SUICIDE SQUAD

King Shark, Deadshot and Harley Quinn have been characters I've enjoyed reading in the past, so seeing them portrayed in this book as psychopaths with no sense of humor at all was painful for me.

THE LATER RELEASES


Only art previews were available for the books coming out in the second half of September, and the series I'm looking for to the most is Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's Wonder Woman. Chiang's the perfect choice here, his ability to draw a bad-ass, pants-less Wonder Woman that doesn't feel like pin-up art is something I'm always happy to see in comics. His mythological character designs on figures ranging from Hera to Hermes to Apollo impressed as well.

The other series that intrigued me most from visuals alone was Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato's Flash. Manapul's work is gorgeous, and the fact that he's both co-writing and doing the art on the series seems to have given him the opportunity to do incredible page layouts to portray moments ranging from action scenes to the Flash's accelerated thought processes. I'll be paying a lot more attention to this one.