Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Ahhh September…the gentle chill at dusk, school buses adding another 15 minutes to my commute each morning, and comic shelves stocked with covers thematically aligned to trounce the sales figures of the competition.

Last year, DC KOd Marvel with the New 52. And before you choose to blindly disbelieve my words, love it or hate it, the sales numbers don’t lie. This year, DC’s sacrificial lamb is a time before last year, a time before 1, 0 time (like Hammer Time without the parachute pants).

Some will foolishly ask, “Wouldn’t the time before last year’s Ones technically be pre-flashpoint and thus old DC continuity?” You know what, take your silly goddamn logic and go read a text book. This is comics damnit. This is whatever time DC says it is. HARUMPH!!!!

Despite being a staunch DC defender, I’m not blind. These 0s have an uphill battle ahead, especially if expected to perform on the same level of last year’s #1s. This year DC will have to contend with a split market share thanks to Marvel Now ( a name by the way that reeks of Disney’s Mousealinni branding department), and frankly it’s own baggage. Last year we were willing to give everything a chance since we didn’t know what to expect. Now that we’ve all had time to choose our favorites, I predict there will be much less title exploration since these are essentially one-shot deep dives and what some are calling a continuity course correction to fill gaps between the end of Flashpoint and the start of the #1s.

Personally, I’m going to read them all for two reasosn: one, most of the creative teams have gone through a shake down. Liefeld wasn’t the only dead wood last year, he was simply the douchiest and most vocal.I believe firmly in the theory there are no crappy characters, just crappy creators. There were also quite a few pleasant surprises last year. I had never been into characters like ANIMAL MAN, FRANKENSTEIN or CATWOMAN for that matter, but they all quickly became some of my favorite reads in 2012.

I traverse this first set of 0’s asking two questions:

  1. Is this a course correction for books that have lost their way?
  2. Is it a necessary stop in the action, does it correct a misstep from before or provide valuable information to catapult the second year of New 52 (which by now we should probably call sorta-new-52)?

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Tomas Giorello

EARTH 2, like most of the New 52 Team books has been missing an extremely necessary infusion of evil. While I applauded the premise to 86 the Holy Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to allow a modern JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA to rise in their wake, the book until now has been the equivalent of super hero speed dating without any palpable sense of danger to drive the joining.

Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Flash needed a reason to come together. Well, now we have it in the form of Terry Sloan. Sloan is the smartest man on Earth 2 and one of this earth’s original eight meta-humans.

Sloan or Mr. 8 as he went by before the cataclysmic events of EARTH 2 issue 1, should not be confused with the Pre-52 Sloane or the original Mr. Terrific. Aside from being the smartiest smarty pants in tights there are no other similarities.

Sloane basically joins the league of other smarty pants like Ozymandias and Hitler who believe the only solution to what ails the world is the final solution. So this prequel is actually an exercise in genocide once Sloan decides the only way to erase the anti-life equation plaguing Earth 2 is to blow the living shit out of everyone affected.

Most believe that Sloan died during this process, but as we see at the end of this zero issue and I imagine in upcoming issues of EARTH 2, Sloan is alive, well and ready to pit his big brain against the JSA (once they meet each other that is).

EARTH 2 definitely passes my two pronged test of offering a deeper look at EARTH 2 history and giving the JSA the one thing it has been terribly missing – danger.

phantom stranger 0 reviewPHANTOM STRANGER # 0
Writer: Dan Didio
Artist: Brent Anderson

I was ready to decry prequel shenanigans when I looked through my stack and came across PHANTOM STRANGER. Doesn’t a book need a #1, before it can have a 0? Well, you can feel free to shut my mouth and call me Sally, because STRANGER did have a #1, it simply came packaged as a little known event in comicdom called Free Comic Day.

STRANGER definitely falls into the category of heavy narrative as Didio gives us a deeper peer into the Trinity of Sin, which is not to be confused with the Trinity of sin that was the weekly book TRINITY a few years ago. This Trinity consists of PHANTOM STRANGER, Pandora (that crazy caped lady who kept appearing Where’s Waldo style during last year’s launch) and a third character to be named later. Their masters consist of a wizard council that seem to be the architects of…well…everything.

Like the STRANGER of yore, this new one is very much an enigma wrapped in a puzzle. After his sentence of eternal penance is passed down from the wizards, STRANGER is forced to  walk the earth never being remembered or mattering until humanity requires a monumental catalyst of change. His neck is adorned with 30 pieces of silver, while this appears to be a mere necklace it actually serves as his shackles of cataclysmic servitude. The only time he can lose apiece of the necklace is when he ruins the life of good people for the sake of cosmic destiny.

It’s never outright stated that STRANGER is Judas, but it is definitely well implied. While I would have preferred an outright reenactment of the last supper, I can understand DCs reluctance to avoid being suffocated by the cinching of the Bible Belt.

From a continuity standpoint the end of this book leaves a very indelible mark on the DC universe moving forward. STRANGER is able to lose his next piece of silver by creating the next SPECTER.

So how does this measure up on my two point test? Uhmmm…while entertaining, I think this just asked a lot more questions than it answered.

action comics 0 reviewACTION # 0
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ben Oliver

Jesus, this is a beautiful book. I mean stunning, I mean so beautiful that I think Ben Oliver wasn’t born, but rather shat by an angel on to this mortal plane. As for the importance of this story, well, I can’t give the same emphatic hurrah. This is a good story, a great story as a matter of fact. Morrison pulls every heart string in this issue; Clark’s pining for Lois, Jimmy’s pining for a photo job that will garner respect, Perry’s pining for facts of SUPERMAN’S existence, and a beautiful moment of a boy who uses SUPERMAN’S found cape to help end the cycle of abuse for him and his Brother. ACTION 0 truly was beautiful. As for passing my two prong prequel test though, I simply can’t let it slide. It didn’t really fill any gaps and in my opinion helped create a greater rift in continuity versus a correction.

SUPERMAN has truly been a hot mess post 52. And this is one case where I think the writers bemoaning about editorial might be justified. We’re all well aware of Morrison’s writing prowess and as I said the art in this issue and past issues has been beyond A+. While I still don’t believe in the 5 year before decision, this prequel reminded me of how happy I was in the beginning of the  New 52 with Big Blue. Back before I read Perez’s SUPERMAN mutant of the week run and the mute version of SUPERMAN in JUSTICE LEAGUE. A time before ACTION jumped to the present and we can’t figure out if Clark is alive, dead, a reporter, a fireman or an Indian chief. Morrison is a creator that works best in his own sandbox, unfettered from whiny little bitches like yours truly who demand a consistency of voice and characterization  across all titles.

I’m sorry I want every book to be the SUPERMAN from ACTION and this prequel didn’t bring that to fruition it merely distanced ACTION further ahead.

green lantern 0 reviewGREEN LANTERN # 0
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke

Now wait one gosh darn Guardian blumpkin minute here. I distinctly remember in my last year of formal education my 4th grade teacher telling us that 0 comes before 1. So why then does everything in this book happen after the events of GL 12 and Annual 1? Hmmm…well perhaps I was presumptuous in my dogmatic adherence to numbers dictating chronology or perhaps I simply misread the press releases or the other books that all take place in the time between FLASHPOINT and New 52. I will say though. GREEN LANTERN issue 13, I mean 0, does meet one of my expectations for the 0 issues in that it drastically changes the trajectory of this title for the remainder of 2012.

Hal Jordan is dead. Sorry if this comes as a shock, but since it happened 3 weeks ago, you probably really don’t care or just came back with the rest of the castaways aboard the newly repaired SS Minnow. Aloh castaways Hal Jordan and his new GFF Sinestro went with him.

So that leaves a ring without a wielder, and here is where my sarcasm ends and my sheer adoration begins. Bravo Johns, DC, or whoever made the decision to make bring forth a ring wielder straight from the Arabic slums of Detroit Michigan (I’m guessing Johns since this was his old stomping grounds). The man under the hold-up mask wiellding the most powerful weapon existence…and a gun (don’t ask it wasn’t explained) is Simon Baz. Baz is an Arab American iin the wrong place at the wrong time. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s far  from being a man without sin, but his car thieving ways go horribly wrong when the van he jacks is carrying enough TNT to level an entire abandoned auto factory.

So after a harrowing opening  car chase and explosion thanks  to Mehnke’s tight penciling, the story moves to Gitmo where Baz is being “lawfully” held as an enemy of state.
Johns hits every hot button with this issue, some will call it pandering, I call it timely and an infusion of truth we need to see more of in comic books. Political? To be sure, but comics should be political, they should inject real world woes to give the fantastical more impact.

So that’s our new GREEN LANTERN. No this doesn’t fill in  any gaps, but it made think about an issue that hasn’t been explored since the news cycle got bored with it, and I’m more excited for the direction of GREEN LANTERN than I ever was before.