Instead of our regularly scheduled review I’d like to briefly discuss something big on the horizon: for those that don’t know, DC is relaunching 52 of its titles to issue #1 starting at the end of this month in what they’ve dubbed “The New 52.” I’ve decided that I will keep everyone up to date by following five of the new titles that come out: Green Arrow (he’s one of my personal favorites after all), Superman (another one of my favorites and a comic book icon), Action Comics and Detective Comics (the cornerstones of DC since back in the 30s)…and a fifth title chosen by my readers! That’s right, I’m leaving it up to all of you!
Now, with four dozen titles to choose from it’d be remiss of me to make such an open-ended poll. Instead, this week I’m going to discuss four potential titles that all look promising to me. I’ll forgo giving my preliminary thoughts on the titles I’ve already chosen, since I’ll be talking about them more in depth as they are released. Now enough ranting, onto the candidates!
Candidate 1: Red Hood and the Outlaws
Jason Todd, formerly known as the second Robin, reappeared years after his supposed death at the hands of the Joker, only to reveal himself as a villain dubbed The Red Hood. Now, however, Jason hopes to put that dark past behind him and move on with his life…but it seems a group of young heroes including Arsenal, formerly Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy, and Starfire, ex-lover of Dick Grayson (the first Robin) and ex-member of the Teen Titans, seek out Jason to lead them against the forces of injustice. But, can these three ruffians make an effective team or will their difficult personas put them all at each other’s throats?
This title appeals to me for a few reasons: firstly, it follows a group of heroes that I personally don’t have very much knowledge of or exposure to. I’ve seen Arsenal at work in a few Green Arrow titles, Starfire has cropped up here and there in the odd Justice League title, and Red Hood made an appearance as a villain in a Green Arrow graphic novel I purchased earlier this summer. Even so, much of their personalities, backstories, and motivations are a mystery to me, and so I’d be excited to dive into characters that are almost totally unknown to me.
Another thing I like about Outlaws is that the plot looks like it’s going to be very different from much of the superhero fare I usually follow: the characters are grittier, the cast is smaller, and their methods seem less heroic and more about “getting the job done” (the Red Hood does, after all, wield pistols).
All in all, Red Hood and the Outlaws shows promise and looks like it will expose me to new characters and storylines that I feel most people will probably overlook for better known titles.
Candidate 2: Red Lanterns
Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps have been fixtures of the Green Lantern mythos for the past few years (though of course I didn’t find out about them until about three months ago). In that time, they’ve risen from a group of seemingly one-off villains to a powerful and intriguing group in their own right. Wielding the power of Rage, this corps is violent, vengeful, and vicious. They are, however, neither villains nor heroes: they are individuals who have experienced great pain in their lives and in turn were driven by wrath, seeking revenge on those who have wronged them. They have in the past killed innocents but also have helped defeat horrible villains bent on destroying the universe. Can such an unbalanced and ambiguous group of soldiers prove a boon to the galaxy, or are they just a bunch of loose cannons waiting to explode?
I’ve always been attracted to the angrier characters in comics, as they usually dominate stories and make for interesting characters. Guy Gardner, my favorite Green Lantern and a huge rager, even became a Red Lantern himself briefly, not because of boundless hatred but because he thought a friend had been violently murdered. That’s the thing I like about the Red Lanterns: they aren’t evil and, in fact, most of them have good justifications for their ire. Their leader, Atrocitus, watched his entire race get slaughtered by a group of androids programmed by the heads of the Green Lanterns, the Guardians of the Universe. Ultimately, Atrocitus does let his rage drive him to acts of rampant violence, but it is never without purpose. These characters are more than just pools of anger waiting to boil over and kill someone: they have complex back stories and are as distraught as they are angry.
Red Lanterns, though not written by Green Lantern superstar Geoff Johns, still promises to have an interesting story, assuring us that the titular corps will “[battle] injustice in the most bloody ways imaginable!” (DC Comics). I’m intrigued to see exactly who they will fight, how, and why…and that’s the reason this title is on my list!
Candidate 3: Justice League Dark
Shade. Madam Xanadu. Deadman. Zatanna. John Constantine. These heroes have battled the weirdest forces of the occult in the strangest ways, and now they’ve united to tackle foes too weird and wild for the normal Justice League of America. Though even other superheroes are wary of this motley crew, they must acknowledge that sometimes it takes a monster to defeat a monster. And who better to do this than a group who straddles the boundary between light and shadow?
As you may have seen in some of my other reviews, Deadman (aka Boston Brand) has recently become one of my favorite comic book characters. Zatanna has always interested me ever since I first saw her on the original Batman: The Animated Series back in the ‘90s. I am, however, unfamiliar with most of the other characters, so Dark promises to introduce me to some new faces that will surely be strange and amazing.
The Dark team is apparently facing enemies that even Superman and Wonder Woman cannot defeat (probably because of their vulnerability to magic) and so the stories promise foes with out-of-this-world abilities. A lot of spellcasting will definitely be involved, so the RPG and tabletop game lover in me will surely be pleased with the level of spellcraft floating around. Overall, Dark seems like something out of the ordinary with some familiar faces and plenty of new ones to make me feel at home and learn more about some old favorites while also finding out about some new individuals.
Candidate 4: Demon Knights
The Dark Ages are darker than ever in this title following the life of Jason Blood. Once one of King Arthur’s most loyal knights, Blood sacrificed the kingdom after he was seduced by the evil witch, Morgan le Fey. As punishment, Merlin bound Blood’s soul to a demon known as Etrigan, a beast that hungers for flesh and takes control of its host’s body at will. While Blood fights against his literal inner demon, barbarians are riding across Europe bringing death and destruction in their wake. Seeking retribution and perhaps divine forgiveness, Blood rushes off to defend the land from these invaders…but can he keep the monster inside him at bay long enough to save his countrymen or will he become worse than the enemy he seeks to defeat?
Jason Blood/Etrigan has appeared in a few DC titles I’ve read and was a recurring character on the Justice League cartoon from the early 2000s. I’m a bit familiar with him, but other than his back story there isn’t too much I know about him. This means Demon Knights will let me explore a single character fully, learning more about his troubles and turmoil, seeing more of his deeds, both the heroic and the demonic.
The setting of Demon Knights also really interests me. I’ve always loved medieval history, and knights have had a special place in my imagination since my childhood. Choosing to set a comic in this time period is not rare, but it isn’t exactly common either, especially for a “superhero” story. I’m wondering exactly how the Dark Ages DC Universe will fit into everything else. This title really does promise some entirely different and novel!
Well, there you have it, my proposed titles for review this Fall. For those keeping score, I’ll be reading five new comics a month, but with only four Silverwolf’s Den per month…how will I get to them all? The answer is that one review per month will be a special edition “double header,” discussing two titles rather than just one. I may even do a few of these each month depending on my free time and the number of comics I decide to read on the side. I look forward to your votes: the polls will be open until September 14, the date that Red Lanterns and Demon Knights (the first of the proposed titles to be released) hit stands.
Get excited for my new series of reviews starting in just a few weeks where I’ll be bringing you the scoop on Green Arrow, Superman, Action Comics, and Detective Comics! Oh, and your chosen title of course! Be sure to vote down below!
Brett Simon is a twenty-one year old recent reconvert to the world of comics. He’s thinking this article finally cemented him as a DC fanboy and hopes no one judges him for it.
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