Last week (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy -- Why There Are Always New Superheroes”), I wrote how in spite of the fact the mainstream comic book industry continues to revolve around them, it’s extremely difficult for publishers to create new superheroes that can sustain a title of their own I did that because I wanted to write about The New Age of DC Heroes (The Silencer, Sideways, The Terrifics. Damage, The Immortal Men, The Curse of Brimstone, New Challengers and The Unexpected), but I kind of ran out of space.
One of the interesting things about this new line is, as far as I can recall, it’s the first attempt by a mainstream publisher to launch an entire line of new characters since the go-go 90 ’s. As any retailer who was around back then knows, it's exponentially harder to successfully launch multiple new characters in multiple new titles all at once. Case in point, DC’s Bloodlines line which ever so briefly gave us such worthies as Blood Pack, Razorsharp, and the Psyba-Rats, Anima, Loose Cannon, Argus, and Gunfire.
DC co-publisher Jim Lee has called New Age a “most aggressive push towards new concepts” but I didn’t find that many in the comics I read. The Silencer is another super assassin, Sideways another teen hero, Damage a Hulk-like monster (a legacy name previously held by a 90’s short-lived teen hero) and The Curse of Brimstone another supernatural sort-of hero. Which isn’t a commentary on the quality of any of those comics, it’s entirely possible those are exactly the concepts readers want right now. But they hardly qualify as “new.”
Even with two issues of it out, I haven’t made up my mind as to what I think about The Immortal Men, but must admit that along with engaging characters and an intriguing premise it’s like nothing else being published by DC. New Challengers is a pretty grim take on The Challenges of the Unknown and the concept of being “on borrowed time." But it’s hard to find fault with any comic done by Scott Snyder, Andy Kubert, and Klaus Janson. And while there’s nothing remotely new about The Terrifics, that's ok because it’s everything a good superhero team book should be. Jeff Lemire and Ivan Reis are doing absolutely incredible work here.
As I predicted, only because it was so utterly predictable, I liked Man of Steel #1 a lot. Brian Michael Bendis fully demonstrates his ability to find fresh takes on both Superman and all of the overused conventions and tropes connected to him. The only disappointing thing about the issue was Bendis’ first new Superman villain, Rogol Zaar.
What’s particularly disappointing about Rogol Zaar* is at Marvel, Bendis demonstrated a talent for creating memorable, absolutely terrifying villains. Yet the first one he creates at DC seems to be just another big ugly alien I like his motive for hating Kryptonians, (and the last twenty years or so of Superman comics have shown there are plenty of legitimate reasons for someone to hate Kryptonians). And I understand he's supposed to have some kind of tragic backstory, but so far...he just seems like another big ugly alien.
*First, there's that name. Rogol Zaar sounds like something that came out of an Internet Random Alien Name Generator. Even calling him Black Zero, the name of the first guy to blow up Krypton in Superman Vol. 1 #205 back in 1968, would have been better.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.