DC’s ‘One Year Later’ titles hit their 100th issue this past week. The actual 100th issue could be any of several, but I’m going with Batman #654. The 101st issue is without question Brave New World. Below are my first thoughts on the book’s seven features.
Framing sequence: “Look To The Skies?” by Tony Bedard and Ariel Olivetti
The silhouetted figure in the house ad for Brave New World was a dead giveaway as to who the “most unexpected star of all” was, but there was a cool twist at the end that made me go “wow,” then “now what?” There’s only so much potential given the character’s capabilities, but DC now has the luxury of expanding on them and I’m sure this is a set-up for their next big DC Universe event. But do we really need, or want, this guy (and then some) back?
Martian Manhunter by A.J. Lieberman, Al Barrionuevo and Bit
Personally, the biggest disappointment. Why does DC feel compelled to change the Martian Manhunter’s look, and alter his origin again? And why is someone who has had his origin confounded so many times during his existence going to get such a determined mad-on because it may not be as it’s always been, as if that’s something new? C’mon, Mr. J’onzz, just think it through and deal with it rationally, accept it when you’ve got your answers, acknowledge that it might even change again, and get back to fighting crime with your unique otherworldly perspective on human behavior!
OMAC by Bruce Jones and Renato Guedes
Personally, the weakest of the batch. There is no clue as to the point of this series, other than we’re probably going to have the last OMAC standing, which I don’t find real appealing because they were better, and much more frightening, as a controlled, powerful group attacking en masse. Whether the individual introduced here controls the OMAC or the OMAC controls him is probably going to be the heart of the book. Unfortunately, I haven’t been impressed by Bruce Jones’ output lately; elsewhere, his Nightwing and Warlord are falling flat, and this is from the man who did such great things with the Hulk a few years back. To treat this opening tease as apparently some kind of dream sequence, a drug-induced one, I must add, is just plain unimaginative storytelling.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Daniel Acuna
I have a soft spot for the Freedom Fighters going way back to the 1970s so I would like this series to not only work but also draw a solid following. The dark tones applied by the artist will hopefully translate better on glossy paper stock (assuming DC allows the series to be printed on glossy stock), but here they’re a little too dark on the ‘flatter’ paper. I do like the look of the new Ray; classic costume, but brighter, shinier. The return of Uncle Sam, ready to rumble, was nice. Good set-up for the new series.
The Creeper by Steve Niles, Justinano, and Walden Wong
I get the impression that Jack Ryder has only been the Creeper for a short period of time, so a lot of old Creeper continuity appears to have been scrapped. I don’t like that. I did like Justinano’s artwork on Day of Vengeance, and it works well with a more, um, you know, creepy title such as The Creeper.
The Atom by Gail Simone, John Byrne, and Trevor Scott
This is my favorite of the bunch, which is ironic because it was the one I was initially most wary of, and that’s strictly because I’m a big fan of Ray Palmer as the Atom. But I found everything about this tale entertaining: the story, the art, the narration, the dialogue, and the scientific quotes as footnotes. The footnotes were a nice touch, especially the one by ‘Dr.’ Groucho Marx. The new series starts next week and I look forward to it.
The Trial of Shazam! (Captain Marvel) by Judd Winick and Howard Porter
While not my favorite (that was the Atom), I feel this is the series with the most potential to be something different in a good way. The revelation here is Howard Porter, who unexpectedly takes a painted approach, and that perfectly suits the mythic qualities of the Marvel Family that Winick is going to convey. I wish the story continued next week.