Friday, November 4, 2011

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS - The Pulp of the New 52

Review by Nick Ahlhelm

DC Comics recently relaunched its line with 52 new number ones. Many titles were canceled, others were brought back. All that being said, several titles seemed to take inspiration from the pulps.

With his origins, many might think the Batman titles would find their way on to the list. Strangely though, most of the Bat-titles instead focused either on his enemies or on his bigger plans for the future. It took his former sidekick Dick Grayson to really bring the pulp forward. Writer Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows have brought Nightwing back to his own book. Dick has been turned in to something of a lone wolf again as he faces a mysterious vigilante somehow related to his former circus.

Deathstroke is the pulp hero through the filter of modern anti-heroes. Also written by Kyle Higgins, but drawn by Joe Bennett, Deathstroke introduces an aging assassin in search of meaning in his career. This book is clearly meant to give us a dark view of the reality of the new DC, but Deathstroke’s powers and motivations could come straight from the pulps.

Blackhawks takes the tried and true specialist team structure from classic pulps like Doc Savage and Suicide Squad, then runs it through G.I. Joe and Wildstorm filters. This book is all about a specialized unit designed to move in and quickly destroy threats to mankind, though the tech jargon may need to be scaled back to really make it work long term. With Phantom artist Graham Nolan on layouts (and eventually full art), the book will look gorgeous nonetheless.

Finally, DC revamps Jonah Hex in to All-Star Western. The book takes the classic pulp western hero and moves him out east, specifically to Gotham City. Of course he ends up involved in a grizzly crime which may be related to an old enemy of his.

Other titles show hints of classic pulp influences: Batwoman, Voodoo and Grifter for example. How well these influences play out in the New 52 remains to be seen, but one thing seems certain.

They can’t be any worse than First Wave.

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