Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – DC Comics (2017, Q1)

Recommendations for the New Comic Reader is exactly what it sounds like — the posts where I recommend current ongoing comics to new readers, mostly based on the current or most recent arc. I focus heavily on the series being new reader friendly, so if the latest masterpiece of Grant Morrison’s isn’t here, you know why. I’m mainly concerned with what I myself am reading, but will occasionally recommend something people have told me or I’ve heard is good, if I feel it bits (these recommendations will be clearly labeled).

DC’s output has finally levelled out a bit, with the Rebirth titles being frequent enough that I can now determine quality more accurately, so quite a few things have dropped off this list. At the same time, both the Young Animal imprint and the rebooted Wildstorm universe have been establishing themselves, and have been mostly excellent, so they easily fill in for the series that I wouldn’t recommend. Join me after the break for my comic recommendations for new readers based on Q1 of 2017.

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Killer Frost: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap

Written by Steve Orlando and Jody Houser
Art by Mirka Andolfo
Colours by Arif Prianto
Published by DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99 USD 

Review and Recap is where I give a quick review of a comic, usually less in-depth than my regular reviews, before recapping it and adding some commentary here and there. Obviously spoilers abound in the commentary section. Anyway, here’s my Review and Recap of Killer Frost: Rebirth.

The Review:

It’s taken a while, but DC has finally decided to push Killer Frost in their comics. She obviously has a bigger profile now, since Caitlin Snow (the most recent version of the character) has been appearing on The Flash since its first episode. Sure, they gave her a Villains Month one-shot, but that was oddly timed, since that was about a year before her live-action debut. Regardless, Dc has finally seen fit to utilise the character more, and while I found her appearances in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad — to which Killer Frost: Rebirth acts as a pseudo-epilogue — to be a mixed bag, Killer Frost: Rebirth does a much better job of making me care about the character.

Killer Frost finds herself tested by Amanda Waller before she can leave the Suicide Squad to join the Justice League of America, and it’s not played as a moral dilemma. It’s not about Frost questioning using her powers, as using them to drain heat, which she needs to do, would kill someone — if she does it, Waller has an excuse not to release her into Batman’s custody. Orlando and Houser do a very good job of getting you to care about Killer Frost, without going out of their way to paint her as some overly heroic victim, which was one of my problems with Joshua Williamson’s writing of the character. Orlando and Houser actually play with Frost’s morality a bit; Frost is played as mostly good for much of the issue, before a twist is thrown in that messes with that. It makes her an infinitely more interesting character. She has some heroic traits, but the ending leaves her morality up in the air, though it does clash a bit with one or two boxes of her narration.

Mirka Andolfo’s art is expressive enough to get you invested in Killer Frost’s story. While it sometimes leans a bit too much towards cute for this type of story and setting, it still works, as Andolfo is versatile enough that he can swing between a cute Frost to a stoic Frost. Surprisingly, Frost’s powers are underplayed, which is very surprising given the rest of these one-shots. It works for the story, though, given her situation. I just wish Andolfo got to cut loose a bit more. Prianto’s colours get the job done, and does a good job playing with lighting to keep things visually interesting in mostly same-y settings.

Killer Frost: Rebirth tells a good done-in-one story that, of the JLA one-shots, links the most to the actual ongoing and why its protagonist will be joining the team. It has enough ambiguity to make Killer Frost interesting, and makes you want to read more of her, just not as a narrator. If nothing else, it got me on board for the character to be in Justice League of America.

4/5 – Very Good

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Vixen: Rebirth #1 Review and Recap

Written by Steve Orlando and Jodi Houser
Art by Jamal Campbell
Colours by Jamal Campbell

The Review:

Vixen (Mari McCabe) is, like the Atom, another character I’ve never really cared for. I enjoyed her enough on Justice League Unlimited, but only in small doses and as a way to counteract the boring dry wall that was John Stewart (that version of him, at least). But as a comic book character, I’ve just never gotten her appeal. She’s a fashion designer and model, but career has never interested me outside of one scene with the Wasp in Uncanny Avengers, where she talks about fashion as a way bringing other cultures to people… and Snotgirl, I guess. And her power-set always struck me as “discount Animal Man”. But there’s a Vixen on Legends of Tomorrow and she’s got an animated series set in the Arrowverse, so of course she’s got to be in Steve Orlando’s upcoming Justice League of America. And this introduction to her is.. underwhelming

Vixen: Rebirth is an okay intro to the eponymous heroine, but it just lacks something and has story problems. It just doesn’t have the same emotional weight to it as The Atom: Rebirth, and I think that’s because almost all of the emotional weight to the story (well, Mari’s) is told in flashback, so there’s just a disconnect. In The Atom: Rebirth, Ryan Choi started out as a shy, awkward nerd and he managed to start his hero’s journey largely due to finding a kindred spirit who believed in him in his teacher, Ray Palmer. Here, Mari just… does things. There’s a catalyst, but it’s not very powerful and in fact comes across as forced more than anything. There’s some development for her as a character, but none of it feels satisfying.

At the very least, the art is nice, if not to my tastes. His Vixen is what a supermodel would actually look like: strong facial features with more understated sexual characteristics, especially compared to what is in mainstream superhero comics. It looks suitably exotic, with Campbell’s colouring really selling it. The comic has a nice fantasy aesthetic when outside of the fashion and business world, and Campbell obviously has fun when depicting Vixen’s powers. It suits the character very well, and Campbell’s ability to alternate between said fantasy aesthetic and the glamorous style he employs in the fashion and corporate scenes really helps sell this comic. Even though I’m not a big fan of art like this, I can say with confidence that many others would enjoy it.

2/5 – Below average
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