So that was that, folks.
DC's huge gamble trying to half-reboot their entire universe of comics is complete with this week's last batch of New 52 #1s, so it's time to take a look back at the big batch of badass and see what hit, what missed, what disappointed and what offered pleasant surprises. So our three reviewers who have read every one of these books – Iann Robinson, Blair Marnell and myself – have compiled our choices individually and, lo and behold, we've got some overlap and near-consensus. There were hard choices and some certainly deserve honorable mentions, but here are the selections that won out in the end. Check 'em out.
FAVORITE BOOK OF THE NEW 52:
Iann Robinson: BATMAN #1 - Scott Snyder uses gifted story telling abilities and a knack for great dialog to help maintain the class, integrity and general kick ass nature of Batman and his rich legacy.
Blair Marnell: BATMAN #1 – Scott Snyder showed once again why he is quickly becoming one of DC's top writers, with a single issue that not only confirms that everything we love about Batman is intact, but it's also an intriguing first chapter in a larger story that throws a surprising accusation at one of DC's long standing characters. Greg Capullo also turns in a strong performance on the art, marking his official return to mainstream superheroes. This is more than just a good Batman comic, it's one of the best comics from any company.
Andy Hunsaker: BATWOMAN #1 – This might not be fair, because J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman had a hell of a lot more lead time than most of the New 52 writers did, as this was a book which was announced long before the reboot ever was. Nonetheless, this book is stunningly beautiful, loaded with mystery, full of compelling drama and it even brings in some always-welcome Mr. Bones action. This would have been my 'pleasant surprise' entry if it wasn't also my favorite book of the bunch, because I had no expectation that I'd ever enjoy Batwoman.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE:
Iann Robinson: AQUAMAN #1 - Taking the many potshots the King Of Atlantis has endured and folding them into the plot, writer Geoff Johns gives a new lease to Aquaman by making tougher, grumpier and ready to slap down all comers. This could be the series that gets Aquaman the respect he deserves
Blair Marnell: AQUAMAN #1 – Prior to this, the only writer who really gave Aquaman a real personality was Peter David. It's been a long time since the King of the Seas was given this kind of push, but Geoff Johns' affection for Aquaman shines through the comic as Arthur faces the mockery of the average DCU citizens… who instantly regret mouthing off to him. This Aquaman doesn't take crap from anyone and the art by Ivan Reis is terrific. There's not a lot of plot progression in the first issue, but I want to see more from this creative team.
Andy Hunsaker: ACTION COMICS #1 – Honorable mentions go to Static Shock #1 for sheer fun, DC Universe Presents Deadman #1 for a great macabre mood, and one probably should go out to Judd Winick's Batwing considering how good it is compared to his Catwoman problems, but truth be told, I really expected to dislike the heck out of Grant Morrison's blue-jeans take on Superman. It's not without it's flaws and concerns, but the sheer delight taken in bringing the Man of Steel back to the old days and having the crux of the story be proving whether or not he actually is "more powerful than a locomotive" was really endearing. The fact that he can't fly yet means you know he's going to say "up, up and away!" very soon, and you know people are going to mistake him for a bird and or a plane. Overcoming bad expectations is the most pleasant of surprises.
Iann Robinson: ALL-STAR WESTERN #1 – Jonah Hex is returned to us via a heavy handed rip off of From Hell. The story is cliche, the writing forced and the idea of sticking Hex in Gotham just plain old lame. I hope there's a brighter future for the iconic gunslinger.
Blair Marnell: STORMWATCH #1 -The best idea to come out of the reboot was to take the Wildstorm characters off of the shelf and insert them into the DC Universe. Prior to actually reading it, Stormwatch #1 was my most anticipated New 52 comic because it featured most of the cast from The Authority. But instead of the wild and incredibly over the top stories in the vein of the original Wildstorm series, what we got was an average book with characters who were pale imitations of their previous incarnations. Not to mention a couple of Warren Ellis pastiche characters, like The Projectionist and The Eminence of Blades.
Andy Hunsaker: JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 – I was tempted to list Suicide Squad, but I knew that would suck as soon as I saw the cover. I was tempted to list Catwoman, but I knew that would suck as soon as Judd Winick couldn't shut up about how "sexy" it was going to be back at Comic-Con. I was tempted to list Red Hood and the Outlaws, but I had no expectations for that in the first place. So instead, I'm listing the book that should have been absolutely amazing as the big kickoff to this entire world-shattering event, but turned out to be almost nothing but Hal Jordan being a giant douchebag. It was just good enough to get me on the hook for a few more issues, but it really should have been a whole lot better.
WORST BOOK OF THE NEW 52:
Iann Robinson: CATWOMAN #1 – I'm really sorry that Judd Winick needs to get laid but forcing spank books about legends won't help matters. The only thing to be impressed by with Catwoman is Winick's ability to set the feminist ideal in comic books back 50 years in just 20 pages. Winick now not only brings back characters nobody cares about, he also degrades characters we love.
Blair Marnell: CATWOMAN #1 – In retrospect, I should have known by the cover that this one wasn't going to be any good. Regardless, I wasn't prepared for just how bad Catwoman #1 actually was. Unusually when a book fails, it comes down to either bad writing or bad art. Catwoman #1 managed to have both in abundance. Even without the infamous Batman and Catwoman scene at the end, Judd Winick and Guillem March have set a new standard for mediocrity.
Andy Hunsaker: HAWK AND DOVE #1 – I didn't like Catwoman either, nor Voodoo, for that matter, but for sheer, unadulterated unreadability, the buck always stops at Rob Liefeld.