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"The New 52: Zero Omnibus."

, DC Comics

Comic books: DC's 'New 52' is priceless

  • Article by: ANDREW A. SMITH
  • Scripps Howard News Service
  • January 17, 2013 - 2:50 PM

DC Comics shipped something big just before the holidays. So big, it might take you two hands to lift it.

"The New 52 Zero Omnibus" ($150) collects 55 comics that DC published beginning last September, all of which were numbered "zero" and chronologically preceded the first issues of DC's line-wide relaunch in September 2011. It includes zero issues for titles that have already been canceled, as well as for some new titles that have replaced them. Got all that?

Seriously, what that means is the comics collected here tell us what happened before we were introduced to the new version of DC's superhero universe in 2011, now generally referred to as "The New 52." Many of these comics are origin stories, while others are general background that led to this character or that. And while there's an occasional clunker, most are top-flight superhero stories by the company that has perfected superhero stories since it debuted Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman more than seven decades ago. There's also fantasy, science fiction, war stories and even a Western!

Naturally, many will balk at the $150 price tag, which is a pretty serious number. But so are 55 (the number of comic books this hardback collects); 1,344 (the number of pages it contains) and eight (the number of pounds it weighs). And the number of characters --from Aquaman to Zatanna -- makes it priceless.

Also at DC

More Powerful Than a Locomotive: For those who predicted the Superman-Wonder Woman liaison that began last August would be short-lived, the supercouple are still together. The pair shared a kiss in "Justice League" No. 12 five months ago, and recent issues have seen them dining and canoodling in Metropolis restaurants. Lois Lane was unavailable for comment.

Divine Right: Speaking of the Amazing Amazon, writer Brian Azzarello continues his terrific turn on "Wonder Woman" after he revealed that she is the daughter of Zeus in the first WW collection, "Blood." Now, "Wonder Woman Volume 2: Guts" ($22.99) continues Diana's exploration of the new, true history of Paradise Island (it isn't pretty) and her complicated relationships with her newly discovered family: the Greek gods.

I love this new take. Diana is now a true warrior, and she is drawn like one -- still beautiful, but no cheesecake pinup. And she has moved up the status scale to Hercules and Thor territory, by being a demi-god instead of a clay statue brought to life by goddesses. Plus, Azzarello is noted for his gift with crime noir, and he is at his best with the Greek gods, which he calls "the original crime family."

In Brightest Day: DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns continues his reinvention of "Green Lantern" as, essentially, a horror title, as exhibited in the latest collection. In "Green Lantern Volume 2: The Revenge of Black Hand" ($24.99), our hero and his once-greatest adversary, Sinestro, battle zombies, get buried alive and are tortured, imprisoned and brainwashed. "Green Lantern" started in the 1960s as a science-fiction title, but Johns has figured out that the most dramatic use of a character based on light is for him to face the darkest fears of our imagination.

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