Want to hear the scoop on the three worst comics I've read so far, not counting the Rob Liefield "Hawk and Dove" issue, which I know can't possibly be any good? Then read on. Warning: this review contains spoilers for "Catwoman 1," "Suicide Squad 1," and "Red Hood and the Outlaws 1," all from DC Comics and part of the New 52 reboot. However, I consider it my duty to warn you away from these comic-book titles, so you could call this a public service. Read on if you want to be entertained. First, I can safely say I agree with this review of “Catwoman #1.”
"Do I believe that Batman and Catwoman would sleep together? Sure, absolutely. But I don't buy them taking that step without knowing their respective identities. And I sure as hell don't believe that they would ever go that far in costume. Prior to the reboot, Bruce and Selina actually knew who each other were and there was at least a basis for a romance. Retconning that away makes their union here even more unlikely. Here, Winick essentially turns them into 'underwear perverts.' Oh my God, Warren Ellis was right!"
Any review that concludes with "Warren Ellis was right" is a scary thing, though the famously snarky Ellis is actually writing a very fun and pulpy six-issues of "The Secret Avengers" from Marvel that so far doesn't take itself too seriously, but is high octane adventure.
The artwork in "Catwoman" is pretty in places and violent or action-adventure in others when appropriate to the situation. So the cheesecake of the lead character does not particularly bother me, but it panders to interested males and will not likely draw in a female audience. The writing has development issues, though it aspires to begin "in media res." The trouble with beginning in the middle with action is that at some point you have to establish what the heck is going on. This never really happens, though we do see that Selena Kyle, Catwoman is a criminal and usually down on her luck, not exactly the sort of woman that Batman should go for. Did I mention they’re apparently an item, or at least in heat with each other?
As far as the Batman sex goes, I'm no prude -- but it brings to mind the Alan Moore Watchman quote: "Did the costumes make it better?" I'm not sure hot, on the spot, sex is really in keeping with the character of the Batman I’m familar with. Maybe he’s changed in the reboot, I don’t know. (Maybe it'll make him more relaxed and laid back, though. But then he wouldn't be Batman.) Catwoman I know less about. If I was a new reader, I think I wouldn't like Selena enough to see what happens next. This title does have the most potential of the three I review, though.
"Suicide Squad #1." Torture-porn, best avoided. If you want to see unsympathetic, unrepentant psychopaths get beaten in gruesome ways, or see Shark Guy (I mean Killer Shark, whatever) eat a man’s arm and scream “Meat!”, this is the issue for you. A secret government agency recruits various criminals to do its dirty work on pain of having their heads blown off by implants. I'm not sure there are even any shades of gray here to discuss; nasty people make other nasty people do bad things. The criminal agents would probably do these things anyway, mind you, since killing is hardly foreign to them. The implanted bombs just keep them in line. "Suicide Squad" does have Harley Quinn in a stripper outfit, though, if that's a plus factor. (It wasn't for me.) I generally found the whole issue disgusting, distasteful, and not as good as the old series about a mix of desperate, morally gray characters working for their freedom. I don't think I have the stomach to comment further.
Next, I read "Red Hood and the Outlaws," starring Jason Todd (and why isn't he dead? He died decades ago as the original Robin), Roy Harper (formerly Arsenal), and Starfire. I'm clearly not the target audience for this one. You can look at the sample scans here and decide for yourself. Now, I used to respect Scott Lobdell's writing ability. But apparently he has lost all his mojo, probably in the same place the New York Yankees opening pitcher lost it to.
As a sex and violence fantasy, it's relatively tame, which perhaps just shows how jaded I am. I would be very hesitant, however, to put any collection of this title in the Young Adults section of a library. I don't think there is much literary value, and there are better influences out there for teenagers, though there's nothing here they won't have likely encountered before in popular media. Does appeal to the average 15-year-old male straight teenager? Sure. That's hardly a recommendation. I'm afraid this comic will alienate potential future DC readers, particularly if they are female.
Is Starfire, formerly a character with a lot of history and emotional relationships, now an emotionless sex doll with no memory of her past? Basically. However, she also melted down several tanks worth of soldiers without compunction, which makes her an alien sex object AND a ruthless killer. She can barely tell humans apart now and has little regard for human life. It's really best to think of her as a brand-new character with the same name as the old, if you happened to like the original.
Was the writing any good? Not really. We're never introduced to the main characters, but are instead expected to know the backstory, which is only alluded to. They come across as rogue adventurers with some previous superhero connections. So it's not much of an introduction for a first issue, but then, I can't imagine handing this to anyone to read. It's not bad so much as juvenile in its treatment of everything, not just Starfire. But the art is really pretty. Maybe the artist can find better employment elsewhere, and the characters a better home, when this project goes belly up. If I just want porn or Pretty Without Plot (PWP), I know where to find it. It's called the Internet. For three to four dollars of comic book, I want a better story.