21 October 2012

“Robin wants to get her to be her superhero self.”

Last year when DC Comics launched its “New 52” magazines, HiLoBrow asked eleven-year-old Max for his reviews. This is late, but I wanted to acknowledge the quality of his responses to the Batman family of books.

Max took seriously his brief to review the books as a kid. For example, on Detective Comics, #1, in which the Joker slices off his face, he said: “I would not recommend it to readers my age.” And DC Comics would be the first to say that many of these titles aren’t meant for young readers.

But of course they’re all linked within the same fictional universe, one has the word “teen” in the title, and another co-stars a ten-year-old. So kids will be picking them up. Some of those young readers would be thrilled to see content not meant for them. But Max has some pretty firm ideas of what’s appropriate, both for comics storytelling and for upright heroic behavior.
Teen Titans #1 [here]: The overall idea was pretty good — Robin looks up all these heroes on his super-computer, and goes to find them. In this one, he finds Wonder Girl — but she’s naughty. She steals. Robin wants to get her to be her superhero self. This chopper starts firing at them — she’s forced to turn into Wonder Girl. Good action scenes. I’m excited to read more issues, especially because its plot merges with Superboy’s plot.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1: It had a little nudity — Starfire — that I did not like. Great action scene at the beginning, but too bloody. I liked how funny it was, but otherwise it wasn’t that great.
Though Starfire showed a lot of flesh in this issue, and early plans called for a see-through bikini, she wasn’t actually nude. But nudity for an eleven-year-old is different. I thought Red Hood and the Outlaws, #1, was well aimed for males in their late teens who have Maxim under their mattress and think their older brother’s girlfriend is really hot but are scared of trying to converse with her. But maybe I do its core readership a disservice.
Batman and Robin #1: I thought Robin was a little rude to his father. His father is Batman. He kinda reminds of a vampire, how Robin looks — pale skin, and dark lines around his eyes, and black hair pulled back. He’s sleeping in a bed and Alfred the butler is coming to wake him up, and as Alfred is about to tap him, Robin grabs his hand and says, “I’m awake.” There wasn’t a ton of action in this issue, but I’m sure there will be more action in #2. The graphics were OK — more realistic than Batman #1 but less realistic than Batwing #1. I’m guessing this one will get better and better.

Batgirl #1: When she was in her costume, Batgirl creeped me out. But when she moves in with her new roommate, it was realistic and good — because it was funny. I liked how they incorporated Batman a tiny bit in the story. It had a bit of a mystery story, which I think I’ll like. But I don’t like how sadistic the burglars are in the beginning — why does every comic that’s not for babies have to have torture in it?

Nightwing #1: Pretty good. The graphics were appealing, I liked the front cover. I liked how Nightwing looked in and out of his costume. There were a lot of good acrobatic scenes, where he’d do flips and crash through a train window or whatever. There was too much murder.

Catwoman #1: The graphics were like Batman and Robin #1. It was a little gross at the end — between her and Batman. Sex, is what I’m trying to say. There were some cool action scenes.
Some older readers might have found the rooftop climax in Catwoman, #1, to be the sort of “cool action scene” they were looking for. Along with the cheesecake cover, it certainly established that magazine to be on the “adult” side of this line. (Sex is what I’m trying to say.)

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