Now that the first month of the DC Relaunch is done, we’ve decided to do a fun little top ten before we turn our attention on how well this whole thing went. And what’s more fun than looking at ten examples of visual insanity, of the good and bad variety?
10. O.M.A.C. Suplexes a Factory
Danny Djeljosevic: O.M.A.C. #1 was one of the biggest surprises of the New 52 for me. It was colorful and action-packed and just a really fun, unpretentious read. And then I got to this two-page spread of O.M.A.C. SUPLEXING A FACTORY.
Nick Hanover: Yes, that’s right, we’re starting you off soft with an image that’s a good kind of crazy. When we talk about how comic creators have an infinite budget and can therefore just make whatever crazy shit happen that they want, this is exactly what we mean. Take a look at how epic this scene is: a ridiculously strong blue man-like creature with an electric mohawk is about to slam the heart of a factory down to the mat.
Danny: So much detail. So much color. A sound effect that reads FRITZ-KRACK. I just noticed the guy splooshing out of the purple liquid. It’s the entire first issue in a nutshell. If this doesn’t sell you on the book, we can’t be friends anymore. Keith Giffen, you are comics’ Intercontinental Champion.
9. Two-Face Hulks Out, Imitates Ali G
Danny: Oh, hey, is the Arkham City tie-in comic out already?
Nick: This is actually set in-between the events of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, where Two-Face had to get a blood transfusion from hulked out Joker. Needless to say it didn’t go very well.
I’d also like to know why it is that when artists get to helm their own books, their first move is to hulk out whatever character is most handy. Is there something about giving artists’ full control over a title that makes them just want to test the waters of muscle mass?
Danny: In David Finch’s defense, drawing muscles is his “thing.” Though the Mr. Hyde version of Two-Face seems like mixing metaphors. Also, “Batty Boy?” Who’d have thought Harvey Dent is a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen?
Nick: I’m more worried that Two-Face went in thinking he was getting facial reconstructive surgery and instead got the full Barry Bonds treatment instead. Why else is he calling himself One-Face when he clearly still has two faces? So don’t want to be there when he finds out the doctors were just fucking with him.
8. Etrigan and Madame Xanadu Have Some Hot Makin’ Outs
Danny: I really dug Demon Knights, but this is a panel I never, ever, thought I’d see: Etrigan — typically a creepy Jack Kirby-created demon known for speaking in rhyming poetry — making out with Madame Xanadu. RULE 34 HAS GONE MAINSTREAM
Nick: I bet his breath tastes like sulfur. Mmm, sulfur. After reading Justice League Dark though I have a sneaking suspicion that Etrigan’s breath is some kind of drug and Xanadu is just getting high. It’s really no more gross than some of the ways people get vodka in their systems, if you think about it. Except with that at least they’re not tasting anything. Hmm, maybe it is grosser.
Danny: The best part is the aftermath in the next panel, when Xanadu exhales a puff of smoke. It’s like he’s a big talking bong!
Nick: That would explain a lot of things. Especially the rhyming, which in that context indicates Etrigan is like your average bro who does a couple hits and thinks he’s the next 2Pac.
Danny: I always likened him to DC’s Afroman.
7. Joker Reenacts Face/Off
Nick: Detective Comics #1 was labelled by some as simply a Spawn script where that eponymous character was replaced by Batman. But I have a different suspicion: I think it’s actually an attempt to take the plot of Face/Off and turn it into a Batman story, with the Joker as Nicolas Cage and Batman as John Travolta. Or vice versa, depending on how you’re looking at it.
Danny: You see, it’s setting up a genius commentary inspired by The Killing Joke that posits the Joker and Batman as actually being two sides of the same OH FUCK IT
Nick: Really it’s just an excuse to make the Joker even more disgusting by literally taking his face off. Before we know it, he’ll be an extremely psychopathic take on Spider-Man’s foe the Chameleon. Or DC Comics’ own Leatherface. But at least it’s gory! That’s what new readers want, right?
Danny: My favorite part is that someone took the time to nail his face to the wall. With multiple nails.
Nick: So much for keeping that collectible in mint condition.
6. Wonder Woman Headbutts a Centaur
Danny: For a long while there’s been an ongoing discussion of what a Wonder Woman comic should even BE like, considering the weird, kinky early stories, the weird depowered era and the fact that her sense of feminism and skirt length are inversely proportional. I didn’t even know, but when I saw Wonder Woman headbutt a centaur I knew exactly what a Wonder Woman comic should be.
Nick: Are you implying centaurs are some kind of symbol of the patriarchy? Or do you just mean that it’s about goddamn time that we got to see a Wonder Woman who truly kicks ass and hits all the right mythological notes?
Danny: Little of both. What are horses but penises with legs? Either way, it really makes up for the whole “no pants” thing.
Nick: Remind me to never go to a ranch with you. But yes, seeing Wonder Woman running around, taking charge and headbutting mythological beasties is satisfying on so many levels. No one wants to see some pandering empowerment stereotype, but everyone can get behind a Wonder Woman who proves she’s not only a force to be reckoned with but also immersed in a world that Batman and Superman would never function in.
5. The Moon is Threatening Us
Danny: The premise of the first story arc of the Stormwatch reboot is that our heroes must battle… the Moon. So, to start things off, the Moon starts threatening the Earth. Because how else would the Moon get somebody to try to fight it?
Nick: What would the Moon’s next step even be? Disrupting the tide tables? Making a gigantic middle finger at the Earth? Turning its entire face into one huge Rickroll?
Danny: My favorite part of this panel is The Engineer’s reaction: “The Moon seems to be threatening the Earth.” Uttered
without a sense of irony or self-awareness. Paul Cornell, I like your moxy.
Nick: I think this is exactly what Hollywood types are talking about when they bring up “high concept.” In fact, wasn’t this actually the plot of a Transformers movie?
Danny: It should be the plot of ALL movies.
4. Hawkman Really Doesn’t Like His Costume
Nick:I haven’t even read Hawkman so I have no idea if this panel makes any sense whatsoever in context, but goddamm do I love it. Hawkman…shooting his own costume…while the narration reads “DIE, you S.O.B.” Does it get better than that?
Danny: It’s perfect. Easily the best thing to come out of a completely forgettable comic. This makes the whole DC New 52 totally worth it, in my opinion.
(Do we even need to say any more about this one?)
Nick: No, that image says pretty much everything anyone would ever need to say. Ever.
3. Ed Benes Fails at Drawing a Cat
Danny: “By the mother of pain, what is it?” Even the alien can’t seem to tell that Ed Benes tried to draw a cat.
Nick: That cat is probably so angry because someone has hideously disfigured it. It’s like it was put on a medieval torture rack and then someone slapped a red jumpsuit on it to add insult to injury.
Danny: A real cat would fidget until that ring flew off of its tail, and then it would die in space. No more Dex-Starr.
Nick: Screw the ring, a real cat would never allow anyone to dress it up like that.
2. Justice League Dark Shows the Importance of Good Dental Hygiene
Nick: If Justice League Dark had just been a series of panels like this one, I would have given it a perfect score. There’s something that’s immensely appealing about seeing Superman meet a foe he can’t deal with, for one, but there’s also a certain irreverence in Milligan’s decision to have Superman get cut up by a tornado of poor dental hygiene.
Danny: This ended up being my favorite part of that issue. It’s the Justice League Lite being beaten, for one thing, and being beaten by something intentionally weird and creepy.
Nick: It is genuinely unsettling, especially since a lot of people have fears surrounding them. Like having that dream where all your teeth have fallen out, which is weirdly common. But it’s also unique: that’s not the kind of image you’re going to see in any other Justice League book.
Danny: Unless DC accepts my pitch for a bold new A-list character called Hyperdentist.
1. “Mom, Why Don’t We Have Any Black Friends?”
Nick: Our own Jason Sacks made the bold claim that Fury of Firestorm is the worst of the New 52, and while that may be a bit extreme, it’s clear that the first issue is a gigantic mess of factual errors, slack editing, poor understanding of anatomy and extremely awkward dialogue, of which this panel might be the worst.
Danny: It could not ring any more false if it were a pulled fire alarm at a high school.
Nick: What’s odd is that the intent of this new series seems to be to turn Firestorm into a comic representation of those buddy cop movies that were all the rage from the late ’80s to the early ’00s, where white and black partners with completely antithetical personalities were paired for laughs, and here we’ve got a seen where the white half of the duo realizes he might be racist. Or something.
Danny: There was a great (no, really) Acclaim Comic in the ’90s called Quantum and Woody by Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright that did the same thing, complete with superpowers that made it impossible for the racially mismatched heroes to be apart from one another. It was really funny, too. And it had a goat. Maybe Firestorm is missing a goat, even though it got Jason’s.
Nick: I think what this book really needs is a guest issue penned by Melvin van Peebles that features Ronnie living out the plot of Watermelon Man. I’m sure Melvin could work a goat in somehow.
Danny: See, I was thinking Mario van Peebles could do it, and make ’em a couple of New Jack superheroes.
Nick: New idea: Firestorm actually becomes a comic about Mario and Melvin van Peebles having to share the same super hero body.
Danny: Mario would just get on his dad’s case about making him pretend to have sex on camera as a boy.
Nick: There would be an issue where Melvin forces Mario to have sex with Starfire.
Danny: Then they fuse to form… Firestar!
Nick: You know you want to hire us, DC.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his newest comic, “Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men,” over at Champion City Comics.
When he’s not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for “Partytime” Lukash’s Panel Panopticon.