Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thoughts on the New 52, Plus Adventures in Vodka Infusion!

So. DC's New 52 are on their fifth issues (or will be in the next few weeks). This massive reboot was intended to draw new readers into the DC universe, making the comics accessible. I am one of those new readers -- I never picked up a DC comic book before the relaunch. It was through comic book podcasts that I became interested in the New 52, so I ended up picking quite a few of the #1 issues.

I started out with Justice League Dark, All-Star Western, Batgirl, and Batwoman. Of these original four titles, I dropped two of them after reading the third issue. Justice League Dark has a great premise behind it: apocalyptic events are occurring due to the machinations of the Enchantress, and the traditional superheroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) are unable to save the world. Enter a hodge podge of occult-based superheroes (and possibly villains?), who must assemble themselves and take charge. In this case, I feel that there just wasn't enough of an introduction to Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, and company, especially for someone with a zero superhero comic book background. There are too many characters, and while the art is nice and the plot interesting, I feel like I'd have to read some kind of back story for each member of JLD to truly understand what's going on and why it's so significant that this particular cast of characters are being put together on one team. Honestly, I don't care enough to do the extra work. I decided not to pick up the fourth issue of this one. 

All-Star Western was a title I was initially very excited about. I saw the Jonah Hex movie and thought he was interesting enough to follow in a comic book. I also liked the idea of a western set in early Gotham City. Oh yeah, and there's a Jack-the-Ripperesque serial killer on the loose. What could be better than that premise? Sadly, I didn't like this one. Jonah Hex is actually not that compelling of a character. More disturbingly, there are no memorable female characters anywhere in the first three issues. They are either prostitutes who are then immediately murdered, or timid, nameless shopgirls. I realize that this is the Old West, and women aren't running around emancipated, but surely they could have more a personality or function! At the end of the third issue, a young woman who has been abducted by a group of renegades is summarily killed in the street. This signified the end of All-Star Western for me. 

For many DC readers, the first issue of Batgirl was a source of controversy. Barbara Gordon was the second Batgirl, but was shot and paralyzed by Joker in 1988. She was then replaced by a succession of two new Batgirls, while forging ahead to create her new persona, Oracle. Oracle became a beloved superheroine and the founder of Birds of Prey. She was also the only disabled superhero in the DC universe. I found this wonderful essay on Barbara Gordon here. I didn't know any of this when I first read Batgirl #1, of course. I didn't understand how offensive it might be for DC to erase Barbara Gordon's past as Oracle (which it appears they have essentially done), opting instead for a miraculous cure that allowed her to regain use of her legs. 

So now I know. And still, it will not deter me from picking up issue 5 when it comes out. Barbara Gordon is charming in this new series, a bit awkward and unsure of herself, still traumatized by her past. Gail Simone writes Batgirl as a three-dimensional person, and I'm interested in her ongoing adventures.

At the same time, I plan on picking up the graphic novels of Barbara Gordon's previous incarnation as both Batgirl and Oracle. I'm also going to read about the other two prominent Batgirls, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. 

I cheated a little when it came to Batwoman. I heard through the podcast/blog grapevine about Batwoman: Elegy, which is the graphic novel about the events preceding the first issue of the 52. There was nothing but wonderful reviews about Elegy, so I read it before picking up #1. And indeed, it was lovely. So is this new Batwoman series. Kate Kane is an assertive, brave woman who stands up for her ideals. She is also a formidable superhero. And wow, the art in this is freaking gorgeous. I'm so excited about issue #5. 
I picked up the first two issues of Animal Man at the comic book store yesterday. I haven't had the time to read it yet, but I have a lot of respect for writer Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth is brilliant!), so I expect to add this to my New 52 pull list. 

I'm also hearing good things about Birds of Prey (despite the absence of Oracle), Wonder Woman, and Swamp Thing. I might wait until these come out in trades to pick them up, however. 

In non-comic book news, I'm catching up on Doctor Who, Season Six, Part Two. I love Doctor Who, and it's even more enjoyable on the new blu-ray player I got for Christmas! I'm thinking about picking up the blu-ray copies of David Tennant's run as Doctor Who, just so I see the episodes in HD. Tennant is my favorite Doctor, hands down.

I've been kind of slacking off in the kitchen, but I did manage to make a nice batch of tofu scramble this morning. J reminded me that we had flour tortillas in the fridge, so we made insanely huge breakfast burritos.

I also made a small jar of Lifesaver candy cane-infused vodka. For some reason, J got a crapload of vodka for Christmas this year. I'm not much of a drinker, but I had a tiny amount of green apple vodka over the holidays, and liked it enough to try my own experiment using Lifesaver flavored candy canes. 

Here it is, after I added the vodka to the candy canes. 
And here it is, a few hours later. Look how pretty it is! 

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