Week two came rolling around with far fewer comics that whetted my appetite that week one (I will probably go back and pick up Swamp Thing and Animal Man just to see what all the excitement is about). However, two in particular made me very, erm, whet.
The concept - a bunch of DC's immortals, among them the aforementioned Madame, Etrigan the Demon (and his human host with the very un-dark-ages name Jason) and Vandall Savage, fight various medieval threats and magic - doesn't seem like the stuff hits are made of. But Cornell has a real deftness of touch, balancing humour (a great face-palm moment, a brilliant first line for Exoristos) with buckets of gore, including some pretty horrific stuff surrounding a possessed baby.
The characters are all introduced in a hurry but here Cornell and the artisits Neves and Albert show JLA just how an ensemble should be introduced - all have distinctive voices, motives and facial expressions. Shining Knight, for instance, has next to nothing to do, but is conveyed through smirk alone.
It was my most pleasant surprise of the DCnU so far, and also probably the comic I most enjoyed. Possibly because it is a genuine Number 1 with a completely new scenario and some new characters, rather than rehashing old stories from the old continuity.
Everyone talks about just how gorgeous the art is, so let's get that out the way now: It is hands-down the most beautiful comic I've ever seen. The shift in art styles to indicate Kate's dreamy nocturnal adventures as Batwoman and her real life (still making her stand-out with her utterly colourless skin) are flawless. The layouts are inspired. Thanks to Williams, Batwoman is one of the most striking and instantly recognisable characters in the DCU.
Elegy already put Batwoman in a world slightly more surreal that Batman, so the watery ghost lady seen here isn't out of place. It just further drums home the fact that the Dark Knight will be chasing psychos across Gotham's rooftops while Kate deals with the... weirder elements.
Williams and Blackman set up a strong cast of characters, adding Maggie Sawyer, Cameron Chase and Bette Kane to the roster, and very little has been changed by the reboot. So little, in fact, that Bette's reference to being a former Teen Titan was either a tantalising hint that the DCnU's team wasn't the first after all, or that the DC editors failed to notice the error. I'm hoping for the former, simply because I am still unspeakably furious at them for undoing The New Teen Titans.
I came into this book with high expectations, and they were met. Which, by my standards, means that this has been the best Bat-book so far in the reboot. Sorry Batgirl.
I also skim-read Superboy, just to make sure I was up-to-speed for Teen Titans, which I plan on picking up in week 4, and to make sure Rose Wilson was still psychotic (spoiler alert: She is) From what I saw, it looked like an enjoyable book. The burning building section was especially good.
But, on the bad side of things, what THE FUCK have they done to Amanda Waller?!?