Top 10 New 52 Comics from DC | Steve Higgins

Williams is firing on all cylinders here, creating remarkable layouts and breathtaking linework to tell a truly action-packed and gripping story.


As I mentioned in my list of the top 10 comics of 2011, DC have hit a homerun with their relaunched line of comics, the New 52. Bringing in new creative teams with fresh takes on old characters, as well as taking chances on brand new properties, has allowed DC to revitalize its image as a company. Their output since taking their publishing company in this new direction has been very compelling creatively, and the following books deserve some recognition for leading that charge.
1. Batwoman (W: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, A: J.J. Williams III)
This book was one of the least changed by the relaunch, as it seemingly takes up directly where the previous run by artist J.H. Williams III and writer Greg Rucka in Detective Comics left off. And the reason for this approach is simple: you don’t mess with perfection. Williams is firing on all cylinders here, creating remarkable layouts and breathtaking linework to tell a truly action-packed and gripping story.
2. Animal Man (W: Jeff Lemire, A: Travel Foreman)
Despite its place at second on this list, Animal Man is in my mind the standout hit of the New 52 relaunch, because of how much it took comics fans by surprise. Perhaps due to the lingering shadow of Grant Morrison’s work on the character, no one expected this book to be as good as it is, and oh how quickly we were proven wrong.
3. Wonder Woman (W: Brian Azzarello, A: Cliff Chiang)
So much attention has been paid to how lush the world is that Azzarello has built around Wonder Woman in this comic that it seems the strong female character at the heart of this world is being ignored. This is the most relatable and human version of Princess Diana to see print in years, and Azzarello manages that characterization without losing a hint of her Amazonian strength. And need I mention Cliff Chiang, one of the most talented artists working in comics today?
4. The Flash (W: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, A: Francis Manapul)
Many fans have a tendency to look down their noses at artists who take over writing chores on a book, as if a dip in quality is guaranteed. For proof of just how wrong those naysayers are, look no further than the wonderful work Francis Manapul is pouring into every issue of The Flash, from its striking covers to its excellent characterization of Barry Allen.
5. All-Star Western (W: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, A: Moritat)
Palmiotti and Gray’s take on Jonah Hex was hands down one of DC’s best books before the relaunch. After the relaunch, this book has taken the rough-around-the-edges bounty hunter those creators honed and paired him with intellectual Amadeus Arkham to create comics’ most interesting odd couple.
6. Swamp Thing (W: Scott Snyder, A: Yanick Paquette)
Fine examples of horror are hard to come by in comics, if you ask me. The visual element of comics can sometimes lack the capacity to create the same kind of tense atmosphere as found in scary movies, nor does it have the raw power of the written word’s ability to engage the imagination. But some of the sequences Yanick Paquette has illustrated in Swamp Thing truly disturbed me down to my core, and on the basis of that alone, Swamp Thing earned its place on this list.
7. I, Vampire (W: Joshua Hale Fialkov, A: Andrea Sorrentino)
No one I know is talking about this book, and that is a true shame. It is a great example of how appealing the vampire genre can be when handled by someone who knows how to write well, and Sorrentino’s artwork is some of the best appearing in comics today. A comic truly deserving of more attention by two creators worth keeping an eye on.
8. DC Universe Presents (W: Paul Jenkins, A: Bernard Chang
The twist on the traditional view of Deadman presented in this book is an interesting one. Much like Sam from Quantum Leap, Boston Brand would enter the lives of some average joe and put right what had once gone wrong in his or her life. But in this series, the end result of that cosmic meddling is being called into question, as are the motives of the supernatural being guiding Deadman down this path, and it makes for an intriguing read to those familiar with the character’s history.
9. Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (W: Jeff Lemire, A: Alberto Ponticello)
With its off-the-wall weirdness, a quirky sense of humor, and unconventional heroes in the form of various monsters, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is the most abnormal book either of the Big Two comics publishers are putting out right now, and that makes it worth supporting.
10. Justice League (W: Geoff Johns, A: Jim Lee)
It is a testament to the quality level of the entire line when the flagship book, the relaunch of the Justice League, should end up at the bottom of a top 10 list. The very first issue was admittedly a bit short on plot, but the way the characters have been brought together in subsequent issues has created an amazing dynamic that is truly engaging to readers who are used to seeing the Justice League as a nearly infallible, tightly knit team. The interplay between the heroes as they meet one another for the first time is illustrative of the new life the New 52 relaunch has breathed into an old franchise.
And these books are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the quality stories that DC’s New 52 has available. Other top-tier books like Grant Morrison’s Action Comics and Scott Snyder’s Batman have been great, while Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis have taken second-string character Aquaman and elevated him to the same level as those A-listers. When Gail Simone left Birds of Prey, many feared the book would falter, but Duane Swierczynski has kept the quality level high (helped by the beautiful art of Jesus Saiz). Speaking of Gail Simone, the most controversial element of the relaunch has probably been the decision to put Barbara Gordon back in her Batgirl costume, but as always Simone has proven with her work that readers should trust her to tell a great story around this change in the status quo. New “team” books like Justice League Dark and Demon Knights have been slow to start plot-wise but are shaping up to have a dynamic between their disparate characters that is quite interesting. Even minor characters like Deathstroke, Captain Atom, and OMAC have proven more than capable of carrying their own title. In short, there is much in the New 52 to love provided readers can look past their preconceived notions about the “reboot” of the DC Universe to instead just lean back and enjoy the ride. | Steve Higgins

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply