Last Wednesday, September 7th, marked the first official week of the reborn DC Comics Universe. 52 new titles will launch this month, and last week saw the release of the first 13 titles. Below I’ve ranked those 13 titles, plus I’ve thrown in the new JUSTICE LEAGUE which debuted the last Wednesday in August. I’ve broken the 14 titles into 5 different categories and keep in mind the dip in quality between the last title in one group and the first title in the next group is significant. Now here’s the best of the best:
1. ANIMAL MAN: The DC model has often been plot over character, but Animal Man is unquestionably a character driven title. Where many of these DCnU comics start with the cliche first issue “hero in mid-battle” scene, Animal Man starts around a family’s kitchen table. At the same time, it’s not all talking, there’s plenty of action, and a trippy dream sequence revealing Animal Man’s villains. Animal Man balances the mundane with the fantastic brilliantly.
2. SWAMP THING: While a little heavy on narration, Swamp Thing offers a very interesting lead character and some truly impressive and disturbing horror sequences.
3. BATWING: I have to be honest, before reading Batwing I thought it would be taking up residence at the bottom of this list. But Batwing is a pleasant surprise. Taking place in Africa, Batwing offers something new and is a welcome addition to the overcrowded Bat-corner of the DCnU.
4. STORMWATCH: I had high hopes for Stormwatch given it was penned by Paul Cornell, it didn’t live up to my expectations. Nonetheless, Stormwatch #1 has a few moments of greatness. Here’s hoping the second issue can deliver them more consistently.
5.OMAC: While I think Dan Didio had a fairly awful run as DC’s Executive Editor, I have enjoyed the couple books he’s written. His Metal Men story for WEDNESDAY COMICS was old school fun and the same can be said for OMAC. Didio isn’t reinventing the wheel here and OMAC feels a bit derivative of Marvel’s INCREDIBLE HULK, but still, OMAC is a light, campy ride and a needed departure from all the darker titles that were released in DCnU’s first week.
6. MEN OF WAR: Another nice surprise, Men of War starts as a fairly standard war comic, but gets tipped on its head when super-powered beings enter the mix.
7. JUSTICE LEAGUE: The new Justice League feels like a relic from the 1990s. If you’re going to reboot your entire universe, shouldn’t the formation of the Justice League feel new and epic? Here it feels stale and unoriginal.
8. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL: Remember all those 1980s cartoons where a character from another country would always be a one-note walking stereotype? Well, those days are back in the DCnU with the new JLI! I have a soft spot for Booster Gold, and his character is fairly enjoyable here, but the rest of this book is a mess.
9. ACTION COMICS: Action Comics #1 may be the most boring comic Grant Morrison has ever written. Morrison-penned comic books almost always elicit a strong reaction (whether positive or negative), but they are rarely boring. Here though, the author of the outstanding ALL-STAR SUPERMAN delivers a truly yawn-worthy tale.
10. BATGIRL: If you’re going to put Barbara Gordon back in the Batgirl costume and eliminate Oracle from the DCnU, you sure as hell better deliver a story that justifies such a drastic action. This issue fails to do that in any fashion. On the bright side, the events of THE KILLING JOKE haven’t been written out of continuity altogether.
11. DETECTIVE COMICS: While this issue ends with one truly haunting page, the rest of Detective Comics #1 is otherwise just another generic Batman/Joker tale.
12. STATIC SHOCK: I was happy to see Static was getting his own book as part of “The New 52″ but, sadly, this book is a bore.
13. HAWK AND DOVE: Honestly, I could bash Rob Liefeld’s art here, but if you buy a Liefeld book, you know what you’re getting. The story, however, is a bigger mess than the art. I criticized JLI for having one-note characters earlier, but JLI at least has a large cast of characters that each need to be given time. Hawk and Dove has two and both are about as three-dimensional as the paper this comic’s printed on.
14. GREEN ARROW: The emerald archer battles a group of baddies who post videos of their crimes on the internet. The subject feels so forced, you’d think writer J.T. Krul had never been on the web. Meanwhile, Green Arrow’s weird new beard looks less like facial hair and more like Oreo crumbs or ants crawling over his chin.
So what are your thoughts on DCnU’s first week? Post your comments below!