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Starburst Magazine Issue 406 - Out Now
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52 COMIC PICK-UP

PrintE-mail Written by Ian Mat Friday, 14 October 2011

Feature Articles

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DC’s big summer crossover is finished and everything is back to normal with the conclusion of Flashpoint. Not quite. DC chose the bold move to hit the reset button, wiping over 75 years of history. Or is it more like 25 years since the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986?

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A mysterious robed woman hinted during Flashpoint’s finale that the DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm universes were deliberately split to weaken them before “they” came and only unification would save the day. Cue 52 new number ones released in August. Starburst examines the new line-up, each title summed up in exactly 52 words.


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Action Comics #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Rags Morales

A new take on the Man of Steel. This Superman is a blue collar hero six months into his career in the rebooted DC universe, concerned with social injustice, capable of being hurt and a lot less powerful. No cod piece for this Clark Kent, just jeans, a T-shirt and cape. Excellent


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All Star Western #1
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Artist: Moritat

Face-ache bounty hunter Jonah Hex is out of his element (in a good way) when he’s drawn to Gotham to catch the prostitute-slaying Butcher with an unlikely accomplice, psychologist and infamous asylum founder Amadeus Arkham. This anti-Sherlock Holmes duo sees Hex’s frontier attitude clashing with the corrupt underbelly to unravel a conspiracy.


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Animal Man #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman

Can Buddy Baker return to his Morrison-roots? This fresh incarnation is on the road to that rarely-duplicated cocktail of wacky supernatural/animal rights/family life. Animal Man doesn’t seem to be in the same universe of DC’s clean cut heroes – which, perhaps is a good thing, but the Red? A series killer last time.


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Aquaman #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis

Aquaman has always been a small fish in the big pond of the DCU and this is pointed out to Arthur Curry several times by Johns. But from the deeps comes a new menace with teeth, bringing with it a rare chance for the understandably surly Aquaman to establish himself post-Flashpoint.


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Batgirl #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ardian Syaf

Barbara Gordon’s back on her feet ‘three years’ after the Joker shot her and the police commissioner’s daughter finds herself on serial killer The Mirror’s hit list. Simone is no stranger to the former Oracle through Birds of Prey but will Gordon stay out of the wheelchair Alan Moore put her in?


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Batman #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

Rising star Snyder and ex-Spawn man Capullo take the trophy for best Bat title in the 52 titles. Beginning with the most unexpected team-up and then poisoning it at the end is genius, with good old-fashioned clues, character building, a who’s who of villains and fine art between, this is a must-must-buy.


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Batman and Robin #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

Like father, like son for Bruce Wayne and Damian. Jolly Batman and surly Robin are now surly Batman and surlier Robin. Wayne is back where he belongs, at the heart of a violent mystery in Gotham with someone killing Batmen. This doesn’t stop Batman from doing something unexpected in his parents’ memory.


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Batman: The Dark Knight #1
Writers: Paul Jenkins and David Finch
Artist: David Finch

The third Batman title out of the stall sees a very poetic Bruce Wayne dampening down a breakout at Arkham Asylum, led by a very different Two-Face and a new squeeze is introduced. Solid Batman stuff but at this point you have to question - how will all the titles rub shoulders continuity-wise?


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Batwing #1
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Ben Oliver

A new hero is added to the DC roster: Batwing of Batman, Inc. This Congo-based Batman is fresh into his career to clean up crime-ridden Tinasha and encounters his nemesis, Massacre. Batwing adds some ethnic diversity to the DCU but will he have longevity or become a cameo in the Bat family?


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Batwoman #1
Writers: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Artist: J.H. Williams III

Openly-gay Kate Kane and sidekick Flamebird are knee deep in a watery urban legend that’s kidnapping children, giving Williams scope for his signature panel breakdowns to ripple across the pages with plenty of spreads and non-linear storytelling last perfectly executed in Promethea and Swamp Thing. Worth picking up for the art alone.


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Birds of Prey #1
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Jesus Saiz

The Charlie’s Angels of the DCU are back but this time without Oracle/Batgirl and rather reduced in the roster stakes, with just Black Canary and gun damsel Starling signed up to protect a journalist linked to clandestine enemies of theirs. Katana and Poison Ivy are tipped to swell their ranks soon, though.


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Blackhawks #1
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley

A Thunderbirds concept is reinvented as G.I, Joe as a buttoned-down paramilitary outfit with access to bleeding-edge weaponry in a metahuman world. The cast looks big but everyone has a nickname and a role when they go up against nanocite-infected terrorists. Surprisingly good black ops fun, well distanced from its original concept.


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Blue Beetle #1
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Ig Guara

A new origin tale for the modern scarab-wielding Blue Beetle plays out similar to Spider-man’s, albeit in El Paso, Texas. Teen Jaime Reyes becomes joined with an alien weapon of mass destruction which turns its host into a one-man army. Think a Puerto Rican Guyver but with an enmity for Green Lanterns.


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Captain Atom #1
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Freddie Williams II

No-one’s known what to do with Captain Atom before but Krul takes the ex-air force captain in a new direction.  Looking more like Watchmen’s Dr Manhattan, the hero’s Firestorm-esque abilities open up new vistas of science – and new dangers. Is Atom powerful enough to sustain both himself and his own title?


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Catwoman #1
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Guillem March

Selina Kyle’s life starts at square one in the new 52 when her apartment and everything she owns is firebombed by intruders unknown. Out to make a score in the Russian underworld, two faces from her past resurface, one of which she beds, the other she shreds. Guess which one Batman is.


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DC Universe Presents: Deadman #1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Bernard Chang

Deadman Boston Brand goes all Quantum Leap with a more clearly-defined mission from his spectral boss Rama. A neat visual metaphor of Boston taking steps to rebalance his selfish life through a selfless afterlife is a good touch and an imaginative display of his powers show what he’s capable of. Solid stuff.


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Deathstroke #1
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Joe Bennett

Wade Wilson jumps into his own series after Flashpoint – think The Punisher except on the criminals’ side – and makes it his mission to carve back respect in the DCU as a top player. Great Simon Bisley cover of the newly-armoured mercenary and a plot twist that shows Wilson hasn’t mellowed with age.


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Demon Knights #1
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Diogenes Neves

The form of demon Etrigan rises in the Dark Ages of England in a Magnificent Seven style romp with other medieval DC characters like the Shining Knight, Vandal Savage and Madame Xanadu versus the Questing Queen. A clean reboot of the Kirby classic with lots of blood and thunder. A must read.


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Detective Comics #1
Writer/Artist: Tony Daniel

Despite the 52 revamp Batman is still very much Batman, in slightly new costume, on the cusp of a mystery surrounding the Joker with a shadowy Dollmaker lurking in the background. A solid Batman tale, yet nothing original. But what an end splash page. Will we be seeing a new look Joker?


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The Flash #1
Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelato
Artist: Francis Manapul

The (fastest) man who caused 52 new titles bursts into the new DCU with vibrancy in art, colour and plot with Barry Allen using fast-thinking and faster legs to keep up with a plot involving a former friend. A great All-Star Superman style credit page and a Silver Age style of narrative.


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Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli

The monster squad that debuted during Flashpoint moves into DCU continuity with Morrison’s creation teaming up with a vampire, wolfman, fishwoman and mummy to find his wife in a town overtaken by thousands of monsters. Much more impressive than their last outing but still lacks that Morrison characterisation that made Frankie super-cool.

 

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The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1
Writers: Ethan van Scriver, Gail Simone
Artist: Yildiray Cinar

A clunky name for this title but an intriguing plot that starts pulling in all the strands of the complex Firestorm history and variations into one uber version featuring two nuclear men who hate each other. Nice to see contemporary physics like Higgs Boson and Large Hadron Collider used in a superhero.


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Green Arrow #1
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Dan Jurgens

Another reboot for the emerald archer. This new Oliver Queen, looking more like his protégé Red Arrow, is mirroring Marvel’s Punisher by going up against low-key superpowers – without the killing – and has more gadgets than Bond up his sleeve. He still espouses liberal philosophy but seems much more a man of action.


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Green Lantern #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke

Recent events have turned Hal Jordan’s life on its head. Booted out of the Corps and out of his pilot career, a down-on-his-luck Jordan finds himself out of touch with his fellow humans and love interest Carol. Meanwhile, his replacement, Sinestro, is also battling upset – and the corps that bear his name.


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Green Lantern Corps #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Fernando Pasarin

Guy Gardner and John Stewart turn their back on civilian life and stick to what they are good at – galactic crime solving, starting with a massacred world with all its water robbed. It’s good to see the corps strike out on their own without being mothered by Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner.


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Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Tyler Kirkham

Artist Kyle Rayner leads up this extra Lantern series and any fears he would be forgotten in the new 52 are extinguished with six other job offers from the other Corps. It’s good to see Jordan’s more imaginative stand-in lighting the way, joined by the leading cast members from the emotional spectrum.


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Grifter #1
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Cafu

Cole Cash, aka Grifter, lives up to his namesake as a conman but stumbles out of the Wildstorm universe and into the DCU when extra-terrestrials steal 17 hours of his life. Pursued and looking for answers, Grifter feels like Lost meets The Fugitive with an inspired background touch for introducing a flashback.


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Hawk and Dove #1
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Rob Liefeld

The odd couple are back, riding on the success of their bit parts in Brightest Day. The war and peace pair face a science terrorist and an unknown avatar of the gods who gave them their powers. Hawk and Dove, like Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger, have appeal but a continuing series? Hmmm.


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I, Vampire #1
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

The commercially-powerful genre that is 'Vampires' is slotted into the DCU with gorgeous Jae Lee-esque art and clever storytelling. Andrew is the conscience-hounded vampire protecting humanity from his less scrupulous cohorts who plan invasion. Sounds a bit twee but has the hallmarks of a Vertigo title. Will vampires and spandex mix, though?


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Justice League #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee

The tentative first steps towards putting a new league together, beginning with the fugitive Batman and Green Lantern stumbling onto a Darkseid plot and coming up against a rough-and-ready Superman in his movie-friendly new costume. Expect a team-building story arc though the real cliffhanger is: will Jim Lee meet his art deadlines?


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Justice League Dark #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin

Most of the Vertigo refugees and some C-list DCU ones have been snowballed into this “adult” league thrown together to combat magical threats, beginning with Enchantress who smacks down Superman and co. Milligan can be hit or miss when it comes to weird (and Shade in particular) but this one’s on target.


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Justice League International #1
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Aaron Lopresti

A rival Justice League toeing orders from the UN, with Booster Gold in charge, sees the team hunting missing scientists without their heaviest hitter, Guy Gardner. Great banter between Russian Rocket Red and China’s August General In Iron but most surprising is Batman’s faith in their PR-obsessed leader. This one’s got potential.


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Legion Lost #1
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Pete Woods

The Legion of Super-Heroes are flung back into the past on the trail of a criminal who has released a pathogen into Earth’s atmosphere. Newcomers can expect to be overwhelmed by a large cast and a lot of references to off-panel adventure. Will the Legion get back to the future? Who cares.


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Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela

With half the roster stuck in Earth’s past and their own title, the others remain in the 31st century, moaning about being short staffed (though there’s still like 30 of them). A lot of references to continuity and a quick who’s who combine to make this title a bit impenetrable to newcomers.


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Men of War #1
Writers: Ivan Brandon / Jonathan Vankin
Artists: Tom Derenick / Phil Winslade

Sergeant Rock returns as a young infantryman in the modern age. His squad get embedded in hostile country while an unknown metahuman brings the city down on their heads. In the back-up story, the Seals go Full Metal Jacket against a surprising sniper. Not quite Garth Ennis’ War Stories, but refreshingly different.


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Mister Terrific #1
Writer: Eric Wallace
Artist: Gianluca Gugliotta

Follow the science with this refreshing combination of Sherlock Holmes derring-do, James Bond action and bravery to touch upon race issues with the JSA’s criminally underused Michael Holt aka Mister Terrific. The comparisons with Batman are there – billionaire, genius, athlete – but this series stamps out its own identity. Terrific from word one.


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Nightwing #1
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Eddy Barrows

Stand-in Batman Dick Grayson is back in his own tights but still in Gotham. Claiming to be on top of his game, the ex-Robin is quickly beat down by a mystery opponent whose timing coincides with the return of Grayson’s circus. But how does this tie in with the events in Batman?


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OMAC #1
Writers: Keith Giffen and Dan Didio
Artist: Keith Giffen

OMAC gets reimagined from Greg Rucka’s complex Machiavellian spy drama into a Kirby-esque Hulk-a-thon. Brother Eye has co-opted a young scientist into breaking into Cadmus for reasons unknown. Great homage art throughout from Giffen and a clean-cut, simply told story riding that 1960s vibe of misunderstood monsters and science-bending Flash Gordon adventuring.


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Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort

An intriguing reintegration of ex-Robin Jason Todd into the DCU under his moniker of the Red Hood. He’s putting his own band of outlaws together, starting with Red Arrow Roy Harper and Starfire before being dragged into an alien conspiracy which could drown the impatient reader in questions. Gorgeous art by Rocafort.


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Red Lanterns #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Ed Benes

The success imbued into the Green Lantern titles spills out into a new one focused on another pantheon of colour. Atrocitus finds a new goal after the events of War of the Green Lanterns but will rage fuel this into another on-going addition alongside New Guardians, Green Lantern and the Corps titles?


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Resurrection Man #1
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Fernando Dagnino

Mitch Shelley, one of the DCU’s more unusual powers, has been resurrected into his second series after a cult run in the 90s. This time he faces Heaven and Hell but with so much of his convoluted history mopped up first time is there anything left on his bones to pick over?


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The Savage Hawkman #1
Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Artist: Philip Tan

A solo outing for Carter Hall with nary a thought towards his mixed-up past as Egyptian king-cum-alien space cop who has lots of regrets. The concept of a man with wings has always been a weak one but this new Hawkman hopes to take his alien nth metal to the nth degree.


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Static Shock #1
Writers: Scott McDaniel and John Rozum
Artist: Scott McDaniel

Virgil Hawkins aka Static jumps from the Kids’ WB! TV show into his own title after a seven-year hiatus. There’s a lot of big-brain science in this juvenile superhero romp which assumes you watched the show but you have to admire its ballsy final page. Anyone remember Animal Man #1 from 1988?


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Stormwatch #1
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda

Wildstorm’s premier team The Authority is folded into the DCU under its former guise of Stormwatch. The team of familiars – and new faces like the Martian Manhunter – is put together to stop something cosmic. This is also the first cross reference to another 52 title, Superman, and is definitely one to watch.


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Suicide Squad #1
Writer: Adam Glass
Artists: Federico Dallocchio, Ransom Getty and Scott Hanna

The best and most gruesome, beginning pages seen to date. With some titles graded ‘edge’ or ‘dark’ this is definitely the latter and topples Marvel’s Thunderbolts from the top of the bad boy league. Inspired casting with Harley Quinn, twists following twists, Suicide Squad is the hidden ace in the 52 pack.


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Superboy #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: R.B. Silva

A new origin story for the Man of Steel’s teenage clone. Very different from the cocksure young man who emerged during Reign of the Supermen, this Kon-El is positively alien, passively studying humanity with an unseen before intelligence from the confines of a virtual lab before being set upon the Teen Titans.


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Supergirl #1
Writers: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar

First she was a cousin, then an angel, then a retcon of a parallel world cousin, now she’s a full-blooded Kryptonian who’s crashed onto Earth before being attacked by armoured forces in Siberia before a timely rescue from the new-look Superman. No answers revealed this issue, just a lot of burning questions.


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Superman #1
Writer: George Perez
Artist: Jesus Merino

New cloth for the Man of Tomorrow, and a new status quo with the Daily Planet absorbed into the less-ethical Morgan Edge media monopoly. Clark Kent’s unease grows with a new alien threat and there’s that cryptic Stormwatch link. Action Comics is Superman in his infancy; this is him at his peak.


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Swamp Thing #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette

Alec Holland is back in his own series set firmly in the DCU – and so is Swamp Thing. The pair are not the same entity anymore but that doesn’t prevent birds, fish and cattle dropping dead and dinosaur bones reanimating. An intelligent return to DC’s former crown jewel and one to watch.


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Teen Titans #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Brett Booth

Tying into Superboy and mimicking the team-forming adventure of Justice League, Red Robin proves to be as bad-ass as Batman in squaring up to shadowy meta teen-snatchers N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with some equally new personas for Wonder Girl and Kid Flash. A clean, fresh start for a title once bloated with cast and continuity.


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Voodoo #1
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Sami Basri

This Voodoo is a far cry from the Alan Moore version steeped in New Orleans hoodoo, posing as an alien spy with a talent for shape-shifting and learning how to be human. The art is full of nice touches, with lots of clever effects done with reflective surfaces.  Another strong Wildstorm evacuee.


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Wonder Woman #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

Diana Prince is back in her short-shorts and pulled into protecting the consort and unborn child of Zeus from a mysterious queen. We learn how centaurs are made, that Hermes looks like a sick chicken and one of Zeus’s sons plots in the wings, waiting for his father to be created …


DC Comics were roundly criticised for resetting some 75 years of history. Credit where it’s due, the opportunity to do it right wasn’t squandered. Some will undoubtedly sink, however, so here are our predicted sure bets, titles worthy of attention but unlikely to attract it, and rank outsiders worthy of cult success.


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As for the mysterious purple lady who started it all. She’s been lurking in the background in every title. She hasn’t done anything, yet, but the aforementioned threat of something big and powerful coming could be a crossover event aimed at killing off the weaker titles. Let’s hope it’s not another crisis.

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Have you read the New 52? Which is your favourite/most hated? Is it a work of genius or a fool's errand? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on twitter @STARBURST_MAG



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