THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team discusses a trio of new title launches, including The Vigil #1, Cyborg #1, and Titans #1.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the discussion for our final verdicts.
The Vigil #1
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Lalit Kumar Sharma
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Sumit Kumar
Zack Quaintance: Hey everyone, welcome to another DC Round Table here at The Beat! There is a lot going on this week in the DC Universe, and we’re going to cover as much as we can. Let’s start with the newest addition to the DCU, The Vigil! I know we’ve all seen our fairshare of attempts at new superheroes in our time reading comics…but what did we think of this one?
Cori McCreery: This one feels like a very different take from most new heroes, and not just because it’s a team. In reality this feels a lot more like Checkmate than it does traditional superhero fare. And I mean that in the best possible way. Greg Rucka doing spy stuff is one of my favorite types of comic, and it seems like Ram V is also excellent at this genre.
Joe Grunenwald: I know we’ve met these characters before during Lazarus Planet, but as a first proper introduction I feel like this is a solid start. It didn’t knock my socks off, but the hook of a team of superpowered people who primarily just find things before they fall into the wrong hands is pretty great.
Quaintance: To Cori’s point, there’s also an international espionage angle to it that I think sort of separates it from a lot of similar comics faire, especially given that the U.S. isn’t the centerpiece or focal point. I thought that was a cool choice.
Grunenwald: Yeah, I didn’t expect the espionage aspect of the book. The governmental/political piece of it is also very intriguing. I can totally see the Checkmate comparison Cori’s making.
McCreery: And to Zack’s point, decentralizing America is very nice. America’s been the primary audience for comics for so long that we forget there are large populations of the world that aren’t us and deserve to see themselves as heroes too.
Grunenwald: That’s kind of the whole point of We Are Legends, right? This book does do it more than Spirit World did last week (though Constantine’s also not American, now that I think about it).
Quaintance: Yeah, it’s expanding the scope of the DC superhero line. It’s a cool thing to get worldwide readers invested, but it’s also nice just for variety’s sake, in my opinion. But I thought this book was pretty well-structured. The powers of the new heroes are pretty cool, and they got introduced and explained in here without entirely bogging things down. All in all, I enjoyed this introduction, and I’m curious to see where it goes.
McCreery: I think my one complaint about this first issue is that the art from Lalit Kumar Sharma felt a little too cartoony for the subject matter? A dude gets garroted and it just looks silly.
Grunenwald: I definitely see what you’re saying about Sharma’s art not fitting the tone of the story. A lot of that may be in Rain Beredo’s colors, too. Everything’s very bright. It looks good, but maybe not a perfect match for the vibe Ram V is going for in the writing. If I have a complaint about this issue it’s that it felt really plot-heavy with not much characterization for any of the new characters. I’m sure we’ll get more about them in future issues but it still didn’t give me a ton to invest in on a character level.
Quaintance: Anything else anyone wants to add before we go to verdicts?
Grunenwald: This was an entertaining intro with an interesting plot hook, but for the lack of characterization it gets a BROWSE from me.
McCreery: It’s also a BROWSE from me mostly due to the art not syncing with the story. May upgrade the title after we have a complete arc though.
Quaintance: And sharing none of my cohorts qualms on this one, it’s a BUY for me.
Writer: Morgan Hampton
Artist: Tom Raney
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Edwin Galmon
Quaintance: Up next we have Cyborg #1, the latest entry in DC’s slow-rolling Dawn of DC initiative, and also the first Cyborg-headlined title in some time, perhaps going as far back as the 2016 book that was part of Rebirth…what did you all think of this comic?
McCreery: It’s hard to get me to bite on a Cyborg solo comic. They’ve tried so hard to make him a thing since the New 52 started, and not a single series has really landed for me. That said, I think this one might have a bit more bite than most have? But I’m still hesitant.
Grunenwald: This one was a very pleasant surprise for me. Cyborg’s been kind of a mess ever since The New 52 updated his origin, but I feel like Morgan Hampton has a really strong feel for Vic and does a nice job blending his retconned history with the thirty years of stories that preceded it. Centering Vic’s relationship with his father is also a really smart move.
Quaintance: I agree with everything you all of said here, from Cyborg being a tough sell as a solo book headliner to the relationship with his dad being central. I’ll even go a step further here (and make full use of our spoiler warning) to say I think killing Vic’s dad and bringing him back as a robot is way more interesting than it would be just using him as the usual, cold scientist who turned Vic into what he is. It made this feel like a take on Cyborg I’d really never seen before.
Grunenwald: It’s absolutely a look at their relationship that’s entirely new, and feels like it opens up a lot of storytelling possibilities.
McCreery: Yeah, this plot hook with robodad is infinitely better than anything we’ve gotten from Cyborg recently.
Quaintance: It feels like the concept for a long-lost late ’80s sitcom (not a knock).
McCreery: Know what else I liked that could come out of the same sitcom? The reporter that seems to have a bit of a hate boner for ol’ Vic.
Grunenwald: I also think putting Cyborg firmly in Detroit is a smart move. Giving him his own city with its own identity is really helpful. I don’t recall if that’s been done with Vic before but I really like how it’s done here.
Quaintance: And it actually felt like Detroit. Sometimes superheroes go regional, and you have to wonder if the creative team has ever been to that city before. Boise, Idaho, looks and feels like New York, or something.
Grunenwald: You’re thinking about how Washington D.C. is usually depicted, aren’t you.
Quaintance: Yes, yes I am. There’s no skyline here!
McCreery: Don’t get him started, Joe.
Quaintance: I’ll stop, but I was very close to starting.
Grunenwald: What do we think of Tom Raney‘s art?
Quaintance: I am a fan, generally, and I thought it paired well here. I think Cyborg can be a challenge because of all the fantastical tech you have to draw at times, but everything in this book had an aesthetic that worked well for me.
McCreery: It was a good fit for the story, Gizmo in particular looked great.
Quaintance: Robodad too.
Grunenwald: Agreed. Raney’s style isn’t my favorite, but it’s a good look for Cyborg and it fits the feel of the story well. Michael Atiyeh‘s colors also pair with Raney’s work well.
Quaintance: Anything else we want to note or add here before we move to verdicts?
McCreery: I think I’m good to give this one a BUY. Genuinely enjoyable Cyborg book.
Grunenwald: Agreed. Like I said, I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s a BUY for me as well.
Quaintance: Same for me, definite BUY. Fun book, and a nice, new take on the character.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Nicola Scott
Colorist: Annette Kwok
Letterer: Wes Abbot
Cover Artists: Nicola Scott & Annette Kwok
Quaintance: Okay, I wanted to save the bulk of the time tonight for our last book, Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott‘s Titans #1. Since I know you two are both big Titans-heads…so, crew, what did we think of the new Titans comic?
Grunenwald: Oh this book is a warm hug for my Titans-loving heart.
McCreery: Yeah, same. It felt like coming home. Just a nice T-shaped tower (now with vegetation) that is a perfect home.
Grunenwald: This Titans book is basically a spinoff of Nightwing, so I feel like we sort of knew what it would be like coming in. The first issue is definitely bigger in scale than their Nightwing appearances have been, and it’s easy to see where there’s room to grow from here. For readers coming in cold I could see where there’s a lack of introduction to the characters and why they’re coming together, though. What’d you think, Zack?
Quaintance: I liked it. As you said, it’s a direct extension of Nightwing, but also to an extent of Dark Crisis. I think the thing I like the most is the underlying idea that there is no Justice League right now, so not only are the Titans back, but they’re serving a bigger role than they ever have before.
McCreery: I very much loved the Rachel and Gar dynamic here too. It felt very sweet and warm, and I want the best for both of them. And the fact that Rachel said “The heck we will” when Nightwing tried to give them separate rooms.
Grunenwald: Their dynamic was entirely new for me. I did not realize they were a couple currently. I thought it was introduced very well, and a nice indicator that this Titans book won’t be exactly like their past books have been.
McCreery: I think they’ve been on-again off-again since the Geoff Johns Teen Titans but this is the most ‘on’ they’ve ever been.
Quaintance: I’d like to talk about the big thing here, which is that Joe’s all-time fav, Wally West, was once again murdered (in part) by a man named Tom, the second time in roughly four years
Grunenwald: I’m starting to develop more of a complex than I already had.
Quaintance: He’s definitely dead for good again too right?
Grunenwald: Yep, no way out of this one, Zack.
McCreery: Oh I thought the big thing was Garth telling them to kick sand. Seems a lot more important than a Flash dying again. That’s just a Tuesday at this point.
Grunenwald: I’m very curious what’s going on with Garth, actually. If he’s thrown in with Amanda Waller that might be the most interesting thing he’s ever done.
Quaintance: Amanda Waller showing up behind the scenes is one of my favorite DC things, so I like that.
McCreery: Also I’m mad for Roy.
Grunenwald: He’s busy with the Green Arrow Family.
Quaintance: Roy has essentially a lead role over there right now.
McCreery: Sure but he’s getting shafted by his real family. (See what I did there? Shafted. Hehe.)
Grunenwald: Yes, Cori, you’re very clever.
McCreery: Thank you, Joe.
Grunenwald: But getting back to Zack’s point, I can’t be too upset about Wally’s death here. The manner of it is more interesting than it was before, and I fully expect present-day Wally to join in the investigation next issue.
Quaintance: It’s always something with these Flashes.
McCreery: Anyway, I’m a hard BUY on this one.
Quaintance: I liked this book as a fan of the tone of the current Nightwing comic, and also as someone who thinks the idea of elevating the Titans to the lead DC superteam is a fun one. I’m a BUY on this one.
Grunenwald: It’s a BUY for me as well. A great start that builds on what’s come before and sets up some new mysteries for the future.
McCreery: Before we head out though, I just want to say something about the reveal in Superman #4.
Quaintance: The floor is yours…
McCreery: JIMMY OLSEN IS SHACKING UP WITH THE FREAKING SILVER BANSHEE?!?!?!?!
Quaintance: It seems to be going well.
Grunenwald: “Shacking up” is so crass, Cori. They are in love.
McCreery: Well at least Jimmy is.
Grunenwald: I definitely did not expect that, though. It was a great cliffhanger.
Quaintance: It was indeed. Well, that’s all the time we have for today, thank you everyone as always for reading along!
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