DC Zero Issues Review, Week 4, Part 2 - Mania.com

DC Zero Issues Review, Week 4, Part 2

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DC Zero Issues Review, Week 4, Part 2

The Last Reviews of Zero Month!

By Tim Janson     October 01, 2012
Source: Mania.com

To mark the one year anniversary of DC Comic’s New 52, September has been tabbed as Zero Month.  The New 52 titles will be getting #0 numbered issues all month featuring stand-alone stories that tell the origins of a character or team, or offer surprising new details about the New 52 Universe.  

Teen Titans #0
Written By: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund
Grade: B
Well Lobdell delivered a perfectly terrible Superman #0 this week but does a better job with Teen Titans #0.  Like most of the other zero issue team books, Teen Titans #0 looks at one character exclusively, in this case Red Robin, Tim Drake.  The central emphasis of Lobdell’s story is how very different Tim Drake is from Dick Grayson or Jason Todd.  He’s not an orphan…he’s not fueled by vengeance or rage, but rather an ordinary kid.  Well, not so ordinary…As Batman and Alfred put on disguises in order to observe Tim Drake incognito during a gymnastics competition, Batman realizes that Tim is an incredibly gifted young man who is driven to be the best in everything he does.  But he also comes from a good, loving home as well.
In fact, Batman makes the point that Tim is more capable than either Grayson or Todd but that said, he has no desire to take on a new Robin, partly because Tim does have a good family life but also because of the tragedy of Jason Todd.  Despite Batman’s stance, it is Tim himself who forces the issue…hacking into the back accounts belonging to the Penguin and stealing a million dollars.  With the Penguin’s goons closing in on Tim’s family, Batman has no chance but to intervene.
Lobdell definitely pushes the boundaries of plausibility with how Drake becomes Batman’s new partner although at least it’s not the same clichéd origin as Drake had originally.  Drake is really Bruce Wayne but without the driving force of vengeance that Bruce had.   

Firestorm #0
Written by: Joe Harris
Art by: Yildiray Cinar, Marlo Alquiza
Grade: D
There are certain comic book characters who should just be quietly laid to rest and one of those at the top of the list is Firestorm.  Does anyone really like this character?  Has anyone EVER really liked this character?  Firestorm seems like he’s been forced down our throats ever since being created in 1978.  He’s been changed from sharing his body between Ronny Raymond and Professor Stein, to being composed of Raymond, Stein and Russian Mikhail Arkadin, to be coming a fire elemental (for no other reason than Swamp Thing was mad an Earth elemental), to then being new character Jason Rusch, to now being a character who combines Rusch and Raymond.  Seriously?
So now Ronnie Raymond and Rusch are both high school students.  Raymond is the start QB on the football team and Rusch is a bookworm nerd.  They’re happy to not have the Firestorm powers anymore but their happiness doesn’t last long.  Soon their powers begin to reassert themselves.  When an old villain reappears both Ronnie and Jason have their powers return in full although it’s with Ronnie controlling the body and Jason in his head similar to Stein in the old days.  Does anyone find this interesting?   Does anyone care?  Even the art is bad…It looks like an Archie Comic.  This title isn’t long for this world.
Justice League Dark #0
Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Lee Garbett, Cam Smith
Grade: B-
Justice League Dark actually features a couple of different characters from their youngest days, John Constantine and Zatanna in a tale of black magic gone awry.  John Constantine arrives in the U.S. for the first time, intent on expanding his magical abilities.  He heads to an underground club which caters to magicians hoping to meet a well-known practitioner named Nick Necro.  He not only meets Necro but also his girlfriend, Zatanna although Nick has no desire to take on an apprentice.  But when a member of a black magic cult makes an attempt on Nick’s life, Constantine is in the right place at the right time to save his life.  
Nick naturally thanks John by taking him as his pupil but while Nick becomes more and more obsessed with learning the dark arts, John and Zatanna draw closer and eventually begin an affair.  Nick doesn’t seem to care as his only desire is to further his knowledge in forbidden magic.  But when Nick calls John in a panic late one night, it leads all three characters to a deadly crossroads which will change their lives forever.  
As a longtime fan of the Hellblazer Vertigo series I don’t like Constantine being more intertwined the the normal DCU.  It takes a great character and dilutes him down for the superhero fan masses.  The tie-in with a young Zatanna is an interesting plot twist and shows a bit of a darker side not only to her but also her father, Zatara.  The art by Garbett and Smith is capable but perhaps not as dark and gritty as you’d like for the subject matter.
Red Lanterns #0
Written by:  Peter Milligan
Art by: Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes
Grade: B+
Red Lanterns #0 fleshes out the origin of Red Lantern Atrocitus.  His backstory has been touched on before but Milligan puts the details on display.  On the planet of Ryutt, the android, Oan-created Manhuters stand guard.  When their programming leads them to believe that the only way of maintaining order in the galaxy is to completely eradicate the universe of all known life, they kill everyone on Ryutt except for one.  The survivor is found by four other aliens, all survivors of the Manhunter rampage.  Together they become known as the Five Inversions.
They battle the Manhunters and the guardians throughout the galaxy until finally they are defeated and condemned to a dead world.  However, Atrocitus’ rage knows no bounds and he uses it and the blood of his comrade to forge the first red power battery and red power ring, leading to the creation of the savage Red Lanterns.  Milligan tells the story of a tragic character, forged from the heartbreaking loss of his own family.  He does the job of taking a character this is still relatively new and filling in his backstory in a logical and powerful way.
Powerful also characterizes the art of Syak and Cifuentes.  In any of the Green Lantern family of titles you want the art to have a clean, cosmic look and they succeed on every level.

Voodoo #0
Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Sami Basri
Grade: C-
Here is yet another character who I just can’t get excited about.  I mean I don’t know if Jim Lee had an agreement with DC to have a certain number of Wildstorm characters get their own titles in the New 52 but it sure seems like Wildstorm is being shoved down our throats. Not only are there a lot of Wildstorm characters getting their own titles, but a lot of DC’s longtime characters are being shoehorned into having a background that ties in with the Wildstorm universe.  Considering the efforts that DC has taken to try and clean up their universe ever since Crisis on Infinite Earths in the 1980s, it seems ironic that they are making so many forced marriages with Wildstorm.
Anyone this zero issue finds Voodoo a captive aboard a  Daemonite ship as one of many humans that they are experimenting on.  Of course since Voodoo is a hybrid Human/Daemonite herself, their experiments have the unexpected results of waking up her latent powers which she uses to escape the ship.  She flees into what she thinks is the safe and comforting arms of the Black Razors….bad assumption.  
I’m going to rave about the lush, beautiful artwork of Sami Basri.  I love how he draws voodoo…beautiful but restrained and not going over-the-top in the sexuality department.  It’s the best thing about the issue.  I don’t think Voodoo has much staying power but I’ll read anything that features Basri art.  


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