Picking Up The 52: Huntress, Batwing, Hawk & Dove & Deathstroke #1s
I recently came into a stack of DC’s New 52 #1 issues. I didn’t think I’d be reading any of these books until word of the best ones popped and the trades came out, but here we are. I figured it would be fun to read them in the order they came to me in and just dove in. Here’s my thoughts.
Huntress #1 (of 6)
Written by Paul Levitz, drawn by Marcus To
This was an interesting book to start off with. On my first read through it was enjoyable enough. You’ve got Huntress in pretty much the same outfit she had in the previous universe and basically the same MO, traveling abroad and stumbling upon a human trafficking ring. She uses her vigilante crime fighting skills to crush skulls and put a stop to the problems, though she doesn’t quite get to the big boss man yet. But, then, on the second flip through I realized that there wasn’t really much in the way of new-ness in this comic. Pretty much every scene in this book has shown up in movies or other comics and winds up not being all that interesting upon further inspection. I do, however, think that Marcus To has some pretty solid chops. He draws ladies as well as action pretty well. He even does some good face work when he’s given the chance to do so. I hate starting these things off negatively, but it does seem like this would be an okay entryway for someone who’s used to action/vigilante movies but not into comics. You could probably give this comic to the Dirty Harry/Death Wish fan in your life and they’d probably get into it and maybe come back for more.
Batwing was actually one of my favorite books from this stack. It introduces us to the African Batman, more specifically, the man who Batman visited and tasked with instilling fear in the hearts of men. I should note that this is the only one of the New 52 books I read that Batman actually appears in, so I’m not sure what the deal is moving over from the Grant Morrison stuff pre-New 52, but I’ve heard it’s actually pretty similar. I’m not all the way caught up on that stuff either, but I know the point of Batman, Inc. was to set different Batmen up around the world where they’re needed. And, boy, does this area need a Bat. I’m no expert, but Winick seems to have a good handle on the stakes in this part of the world and places our new armored hero in them to worrying degrees. There’s even one point where he notes that Batmen won’t scare such hardened people. It’s a really interesting point that I hadn’t thought of, which is something I dig when reading comics. Also, Ben Oliver has a big bold style that looks like it’s almost painted (maybe it is?) that I liked though he could have done more with the backgrounds, which is becoming my biggest pet peeve in comics lately. The issue ended with a cliffhanger that made me want to move on to the next issue. I will definitely have my eyes peeled for the Batwing trade when it comes out.
Another comic book pet peeve I’ve got is when a book opens with tons of text, especially if it’s a news broadcast which is how Hawk & Dove kicks off. I know it means I’m lazy, but that’s how I roll. Other than that, this is an alright book. The concept of Hawk and Dove is one that I just don’t dig. One person likes to fight and the other doesn’t, but they’re both superheroes? It just doens’t grab me because it feels very limited. This book also seems very connected to the old DCU considering this is the same pairing that came back to life in Brightest Day and that Dove is with Deadman which I’m guessing is also a carryover. Heck, the last page reveal shows that a guy who looks like Kestrel is going to be a bad guy. Only a very specific audience–the people who would have bought a Hawk & Dove book anyway–would really care about this last page reveal. But, maybe it gets better or maybe those H&D fans dig this book.
Written by Kyle Higgins, drawn by Joe Bennett
Thankfully, Deathstroke is a concept I can definitely get behind and have been taken with since I first encountered him way back when. He’s a one-eyed assassin who uses all of his brain to figure out how to kill you before you can even throw a punch. That, I like. This issue finds him working with a team of younger support people to steal something from an in-flight airplane and kill a guy. The job goes a little wonky and he winds up throwing down with some monsters and getting the chance to swing that gigantic sword of his. At the end, he shows exactly what he’s about and winds up breaking ties with the people he had been working for. Like Batwing, there’s enough here to get me to come back for the trade. I also dig Bennett’s art. I know I’ve read his comics before, but this looks different than I remember. He’s got a little Jim Calafiore going on. He’s a bit stylized which really fits this cross-genre book that stars a man in armor. I dig it.