On The Cheap: Five Must-Have Issues From DC’s New 52 Sale
If you're the kind of person who does a lot of digging through Comixology sales and digital dollar boxes waiting for a good deal to roll around, then you probably noticed that DC spent last month putting a whole slew of back issues on sale every week to support the stories used as source material for Convergence. This month, Convergence is over, but it looks like the sales are going to keep going --- DC launched what it's touting as its biggest digital sale ever to promote its new roster of "DC You" titles.
This week, they've put up a pretty massive chunk of the New 52 for 99 cents an issue, and while that means it's a pretty good time to catch up on long runs like Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, Grant Morrison and Rags Morales's Action Comics or Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's Wonder Woman, I always like to pick out a few highlights. So if you've only got five bucks in your pocket, here are five great issues to grab!
One of the toughest things about picking single issues from DC's New 52 — from any current comics, really — is that they tend to be written in much longer arcs. Morrison and Morales's run on Action Comics is the same way, really, and it holds up as a solid 18-issue story even better than it did while it was coming out. But it also features a few great single issues, and this one, featuring guest artist Travel Foreman, is by far the best.
For one thing, it's got one of the best opening lines of all time, "It was Halloween on the planet Krypton," and for another, it does a whole heck of a lot in 20 pages. It feels like an amazing blend of three different stories — it's a spooky ghost story, a strange sci-fi adventure and, most of all, a story about a boy and his dog that goes a long way toward setting up the last panel of the run. Plus, if the backup story about what Krypto was doing while he was trapped in the Phantom Zone doesn't make you mist up just a little bit, then you may actually be a robot. Try it on your friends, and help prevent the rise of the machines. We can all do our part.
I realize that Aquaman and his watery adventures are a pretty frequent punchline when I'm writing about comics, but really, all it takes for me to really, really like that guy is to put him in a situation I'm interested in. Like, say, getting into a fistfight with a telepathic talking gorilla who eats brains.
That's right: This is an issue where Aquaman and Gorilla Grodd, newly minted star of the small screen, just straight up beat the living heck out of each other while shouting things like, "I could also control all sea creatures... IF I ATE YOUR BRAIN!", which I think makes it the single greatest Aquaman comic ever published. Admittedly, it's part of a larger story about a network of portals that connect pieces of a fallen Atlantean empire, but everything you need to know to keep up is right there on the page, including some really nifty connections between Aquaman and the Flash's respective histories that really makes the new DC Universe feel like a cohesive whole. Plus: Gorilla punches. That's the stuff I'm into.
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang
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Speaking of forming a cohesive universe, we have Wonder Woman's trip to New Genesis with Orion of the New Gods. When the New 52 first kicked off, Wonder Woman was the last place I expected Jack Kirby's Fourth World Saga to make a comeback. Those two mythologies have never quite been brought together before, but here we are, and it's pretty great. Chiang does some amazing redesigns for characters like Orion — that jacket and the slightly sleeker helmet are among my favorite redesigns of the New 52, and getting hints at stuff like The Pact and the extent of the devastating war between Apokolips and New Genesis are the best kind of world-building. It's also pretty fun to see it through Wonder Woman's eyes as the viewpoint character.
If you like what you see in this issue, the whole run's worth checking out, but you're definitely going to want that issue where Wonder Woman punches Orion so hard that he turns back into a Jack Kirby character. That's pretty great too.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
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Listen, if we're going to be honest with each other here, you should probably just use this sale as an excuse to buy the entirety of Zero Year. The updated Batman origin is my favorite thing Snyder and Capullo have done in their four years on the title, going as far as they can from the gritty, street-level Year One by making everything a thousand times bigger, throwing in neon-pink super-hurricanes, bone monsters, the Riddler, and a whole darn apocalypse to boot. If you didn't read it when it came out, then you really ought to pick it up — and get Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's tie-in from Action #25, too. It's good stuff.
If, however, you really do just want a single issue, then it needs to be this one, because this is the one where Batman rides in on his dirtbike wearing his Batman t-shirt and then wrestles a pair of lions in a post-apocalyptic gladiatorial arena. If that doesn't convince you that it's worth dropping fifteen bucks on the whole story, then you're probably not going to enjoy the rest of it anyway.
Okay, this one might take some explaining given my feelings on Deathstroke — and the polarizing nature of the Rob — but I have a genuine, wholly unironic love for this comic for one simple reason: It has a scene that's so over the top that it rivals everything on this list, from Batman wrestling lions to Aquaman punching out a psychic gorilla.
I'm tempted to leave it at that, but if you need convincing, here's the short version: This is a comic where Deathstroke, who is wearing his full costume underneath a trenchcoat, visits his wife's grave and gets attacked by a bunch of mercenaries, and then reveals that he has prepared for this inevitable moment by rigging the entire graveyard to explode. The graveyard where his wife is buried. There is literally nothing you can say that will convince me that is not absolutely brilliant.