After a slow second week it is now the third week of DC Comics’ Zero Month. There are a handful of books I want to cover this week, so I will skip the banter and dive right in!
Batwoman #0 – Writer: J.H. Williams III, W. Hayden Blackman Artist: J.H. Williams III
Batwoman’s last arc “To Drown the World” was a big disappointment for most readers, with its unconventional narrative approach split among several characters. Thankfully, like last month’s #12, Batwoman #0 is return to form for the title. J.H. Williams III is an impressive writer/artist combo (with help from W. Hayden Blackman.) The way that Williams changes his style for Kate Kane scenes and Batwoman scenes always makes me do a double take to see if it was two different artists. The story is a great one-and-done issue that lends new readers a little of back story while establishing Kate’s complicated relationship with her father. Well done.
Final Grade: ★★★★★ 5/5 Stars
Catwoman #0 – Writer: Ann Nocenti, Artist: Rafael Sandoval
Catwoman #0 is another example of a book I dropped after issue #1, picked up the zero issue a year later and will drop once again. Having Judd Winnick off of the book and placing a female writer behind the wheel was a good forward step, but this book feels all over the place. Now I will admit there could have been things that I wasn’t familiar with, having not followed the series in a while, but the plot was complicated. Selina Kyle was searching for Selina Kyle’s past on a database only to find Selina Kyle doesn’t exist. That’s pretty much the heart of it. The art by Rafael Sandoval was sub-par, possibly channeling former series artist Guillem March. Ann Nocenti has yet to impress me on Green Arrow or Catwoman.
Final Grade: ★★ 2/5 Stars
Green Lantern New Guardians #0 – Writer: Tony Bedard, Artist: Aaron Kuder
This has got to be the oddest zero issue that I have read yet, mostly because it was merely a prelude to the Green Lantern-book event “Rise of the Third Army.” The issue deals with a lot of fallout from Hal Jordan’s dissapearance in Green Lantern Annual #1, most likely to introduce Carol Ferris into the mix of New Guardians. The art by guest-penciller Aaron Kuder was pretty weak, however I was glad to see Carol Ferris in a Star Sapphire costume that didn’t make her look like a swimsuit model. Green Lantern New Guardians #0 promises some big things on the horizon for Kyle Rayner, but ultimately the issue felt like a filler.
Final Grade: ★★★ 3/5 Stars
Justice League #0 Writer: Geoff Johns, Artist: Gary Frank
I didn’t hate the concept of the Shazam back-up stories in the past couple issues of Justice League, but it was nice to see a full issue dedicated to the character this month. After months of character development we finally get to see Billy Batson become the world’s mightiest mortal: Captain Marvel…I mean Shazam. This is a more modern version of the hero for our cynical 21st century, no longer a bright-eyed and earnest boy-man. It’s a logical step, but I do kind of miss the ridiculously small cape. Gary Frank is great as always, really nailing the emotion in Billy’s surprise and fascination at his transformation. There’s a back-up story about Pandora that is the “vague for vagueness’s sake” approach we’re used to with the character, which I could have done without.
Final Grade: ★★★★ 4/5 Stars
Nightwing #0 Writer: Kyle Higgins, Tom DeFalco Artist: Eddy Barrows
I’m a big fan of Dick Grayson as a character, but have never found his solo Nightwing stories to be that compelling. I really dug Nightwing #0 though, probably because it was a lot of nostalgic retread on the origin of the first boy wonder. The beginning and end of the story have little nods to what we’ve seen so far in Kyle Higgins’ run, as well as whats to come. The meat of the issue is dedicated to Dick Grayson’s origin as Robin, which is something we’ve seen before, but certainly benefited from a 2012 touch up. Eddy Barrows’ pencils aren’t perfect, but he’s getting better and better every issue. This is a great story that provides a clear-cut distinction between the styles and methods of Bruce Wayne and his surrogate son Dick Grayson.
Final Grade: ★★★★½ 4.5/5 Stars
Red Hood and the Outlaws #0 Writer: Scott Lobdell, Artist: Dwayne Turner
Jason Todd has had a rough go of it since his debut in 1983. Fans didn’t like the second Robin as much as Dick Grayson and ultimately voted for him to be killed at the hands of the Joker. In recent years after a silly resurrection he’s had a different kind of problem: bad writers. I’m certainly no fan of Scott Lobdell’s work, but I thought I’d try out the zero issue. Everything about this issue feels wrong, from the sloppy art to the lousy and unlikable characterization given to Jason. The nail in the coffin is the “back-up story” where Lobdell details how the Joker sets the events in motion that make Jason become Robin,which has got to be one of the most ridiculous things to ever happen in the character’s 39 year career. Which is saying a lot for a guy whose original resurrection was due to a whiny Superboy punching a wall. Awful.
Final Grade: ★ 1/5 Stars
Wonder Woman #0 Writer: Brian Azzarello, Artist: Cliff Chiang
Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman has been very unique compared to past incarnations, and his zero issue is no different. The book reads like a story out of the Silver Age of comic books, with wacky editor’s notes and absurdly grandiose exposition. At the same time however, the book very much feels a part of the epic that Azzarello has been weaving since last September. It’s a self-aware story that highlights Wonder Woman’s strength as well as her compassion. I’m glad to see series artist Cliff Chiang pencilled this issue instead of a fill-in-artist. And I am almost positive that Chiang drew the god of War, with his bald head and long stringy goatee, to look like Azzarello.
Final Grade: ★★★★★ 5/5 Stars