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Ranking the DC New 52: 52-40

By Bobby Shortle

Welcome to my ranking of the DC Comics New 52! I have spent the better part of the last month reading and re-reading all of the comics that debuted in this industry changing relaunch, and now over the next week or so I will be ranking them 52-1.

A couple of caveats, I have not read all twelve, or for some thirteen, issues of these series. Instead, I read as much as I could, until picking up the next issue seemed like the last thing I would ever want to do. For some that came at #3, for others #6 and for some it never came. If a book went under a creative change, I would always read at least one issue from that new creator in case things dramatically changed.  I’m confident this allowed me to get a clear picture of the quality of the current runs and also helped me rank based on my gut feeling, rather than cold hard logic.

To give context to the article I have included excerpts from Talking Comics’ original reviews of these books and also sales numbers for the series in question.

I welcome your reactions, disagreements and feedback which I hope you will leave in the comment section below. So, without further delay here is the Talking Comics DC New 52 Rankings:

Part 1: 52-40

52. The Savage Hawkman

The Verdict Then:

From Brian Verderosa’s Review of The Savage Hawkman #1 
“The Savage Hawkman is one of the poorer books to come out of the New 52, with an unintelligible story and confusing and off-putting art.”

The Verdict Now

The Savage Hawkman, whether written by Tony Daniel or Rob Liefeld, is the worst of the worst in the DC New 52. At its best the writing is sophomoric, and plain stupid at its worst. There is not a situation, relationship, or plot point that rises above that which a 13 year old would write in the margins of his math notebook. The Savage Hawkman also comes up short with its main character, as it spends so much time slingshotting between Carter Hall and the new Venom like Hawkman persona, that you never have any sympathy for either.  I had a lot of internal debate about the rankings of these books, but placing The Savage Hawkman at the bottom was very easy.


09/2011: Savage Hawkman #1  — 55,954

10/2011: Savage Hawkman #2  — 47,763 (-14.6%)

11/2011: Savage Hawkman #3  — 35,177 (-26.4%)

12/2011: Savage Hawkman #4  — 28,263 (-19.7%)

01/2012: Savage Hawkman #5  — 23,967 (-15.2%)

02/2012: Savage Hawkman #6  — 21,316 (-11.1%)

03/2012: Savage Hawkman #7  — 19,433 (- 8.8%)

04/2012: Savage Hawkman #8  — 18,300 (- 5.8%)

Liefeld Takes Over

05/2012: Savage Hawkman #9  — 17,626 (- 3.7%)

06/2012: Savage Hawkman #10 — 16,417 (- 6.9%)

07/2012: Savage Hawkman #11 — 15,460 (- 5.8%)


51. Static Shock

The Verdict Then:

From Brian Verderosa’s Review of Static Shock #1 

“There’s really no nice way to say this, so I’m just going to come out with it. Static Shock #1 is not very good. It’s not even passable….Skip It”

The Verdict Now:

Once again I’m in agreement with Mr. Verderosa. Static Shock is loud, annoying and lacking anything in the way of character definition. One of the biggest failings of this series, which will become a theme of the bad New 52, is that it starts out expecting us to have intimate knowledge of this hero. This is unacceptable for a number one issue, in a universe wide relaunch and it so hampers the series that it never truly gets off the ground. But, the biggest problem with Static Shock is it’s just plain boring. Avoid this.

06/2011: Special #1 of 1 — 9,976 (before new 52)

09/2011: Static Shock #1 — 37,782 (+278.7%) [43,046]

10/2011: Static Shock #2 — 32,360 (- 14.4%)

11/2011: Static Shock #3 — 24,374 (- 24.7%)

12/2011: Static Shock #4 — 17,514 (- 28.2%)

01/2012: Static Shock #5 — 15,056 (- 14.0%)

02/2012: Static Shock #6 — 13,081 (- 13.1%)

03/2012: Static Shock #7 — 11,739 (- 10.3%)



50. Hawk and Dove

The Verdict Then:

From Brian Verderosa’s Review of Hawk and Dove #1

[Hawk’s character is] given to us in the script, but Hank’s forceful ways and bullheadedness are a giant turn-off – he’s not someone I like to root for. Dawn, who seems to be the unwilling participant in all this, is far too mousey and quiet for the nonsense Hawk seems to have been perpetually pulling.”

The Verdict Now:

Hawk and Dove isn’t a horrible book, but it’s one of the most painfully mediocre things I’ve ever read. The characters are meant to embody the differences between war and peace, but instead of being insightful, or at the very least clever, Hawk and Dove  is obvious and lazy.  There is also an inconstancy in the way the art reflects the tone of the book. Rob Liefeld’s pencils are big and bright one moment and then in the next panel someone is getting their head bitten off.  This may sound satirical or arch in some way, but trust me, that is giving the book too much credit. It’s self serious and poorly executed and the New 52 is better off without it.


09/2011: Hawk & Dove #1 — 42,294 [47,999]

10/2011: Hawk & Dove #2 — 36,068 (-14.7%)

11/2011: Hawk & Dove #3 — 27,464 (-23.9%)

12/2011: Hawk & Dove #4 — 20,016 (-27.1%)

01/2012: Hawk & Dove #5 — 17,528 (-12.4%)

02/2012: Hawk & Dove #6 — 15,879 (- 9.4%)

03/2012: Hawk & Dove #7 — 14,146 (-10.9%)



49. Mister Terrific

The Verdict Then:

From Brad Jones’ review of Mister Terrific #1

 “…there is some fun here to be sure, and I’ll keep reading, but not a ton of substance and few surprises.”

The Verdict Now

I’m a fan of the idea of smart heroes and the science in Mr. Terrific gives it a layer that sets it apart from a lot of other books, but the main character lacks any true personality. Instead the writers try desperately to make him someone akin to Tony Stark, but their recipe for this is just to give him one unfunny quip after another. It’s also part of the parade of titles that is confusing from word one. Mister Terrific is not a household name and he also brings with him a lot of multiverse implications, so why would the book be so quick to jump into the middle of his tale? In the end the book’s strong science is not enough to save it from its otherwise bland premise.


09/2011: Mister Terrific #1 — 41,450

10/2011: Mister Terrific #2 — 35,963 (-13.2%)

11/2011: Mister Terrific #3 — 25,282 (-29.7%)

12/2011: Mister Terrific #4 — 17,963 (-29.0%)

01/2012: Mister Terrific #5 — 15,336 (-14.6%)

02/2012: Mister Terrific #6 — 12,890 (-16.0%)

03/2012: Mister Terrific #7 — 11,800 (- 8.5%)



48. Detective Comics

The Verdict Then:

From Brad Jones’ Review of Detective Comics #1

“Visually familiar, yet refreshingly modern, the images pop off the page (or the screen, depending on how you’re reading the New 52) and help to usher in what could have been a conventional Batman tale and rocketing him into an uncertain future.”

The Verdict Now

From day dot Detective Comics just didn’t sit right for me. It seemed run of the mill, violent and wrong headed. Issue #1 is buoyed heavily by its fantastic ending page, but the series never rises to those implications and I frankly found myself bored by every proceeding issue of the book. Detective Comics, like the other bad Bat books, has a strange fascination with sex, and more specifically Bruce’s obsession with it. This is a horribly off model way to portray the character, and it cheapens the very nature of the Batman mythos. This book is a struggle to get through and that is sad considering it’s one of the most storied titles in DC history, Here is hoping a new creative team can bring new life to this.


08/2011: Detective Comics #881 — 39,729 (+ 3.0%)* Before the New 52

09/2011: Detective Comics #1 — 114,880 (+189.2%)

10/2011: Detective Comics #2 — 123,099 (+ 7.2%)

11/2011: Detective Comics #3 — 111,197 (- 9.7%)

12/2011: Detective Comics #4 — 99,366 (- 10.6%)

01/2012: Detective Comics #5 — 99,342 (- 0.0%)

02/2012: Detective Comics #6 — 94,415 (- 5.0%)

03/2012: Detective Comics #7 — 89,891 (- 4.8%)

04/2012: Detective Comics #8 — 87,675 (- 2.5%)

05/2012: Detective Comics #9 — 96,016 (+ 9.5%)

06/2012: Detective Comics #10 — 83,317 (- 13.2%)

07/2012: Detective Comics #11 — 79,835 (- 4.2%)

47. Voodoo

The Verdict Then:

From Steve Seigh’s review of Voodoo #3

I was really hoping that Voodoo would make it’s way into a book worth reading. Sadly, this issue did very little to pull me into her alien world of deception and tight fitting clothes. The problem with Voodoo is that she has very little personality for a lead character.

The Verdict Now:

Voodoo is one of those books that I have a hard time feeling either way about.  It has a solid sci-fi premise, that brings up sense memories of the Natasha Henstridge film Species, but it also seems like fan service to those worried about the incorporation of the Wildstorm line into the DCU proper. It’s also obstensivly a villain book and those are always tough sells because it’s tough to connect to  their lead characters. One thing that did stand out about Voodoo is the gorgeous art by Sami Basri, who is almost certainly a talent to watch out for. Other than that Voodoo is a book that lacked an identity or purpose.


09/2011: Voodoo #1 — 40,301

10/2011: Voodoo #2 — 34,690 (-13.9%)

11/2011: Voodoo #3 — 25,067 (-27.7%)

12/2011: Voodoo #4 — 20,703 (-17.4%)

01/2012: Voodoo #5 — 17,683 (-14.6%)

02/2012: Voodoo #6 — 16,422 (- 7.1%)

03/2012: Voodoo #7 — 15,097 (- 8.1%)

04/2012: Voodoo #8 — 14,589 (- 3.4%)

05/2012: Voodoo #9 — 13,762 (- 5.7%)

06/2012: Voodoo #10 — 12,928 (- 6.1%)

07/2012: Voodoo #11 — 12,120 (- 6.3%)



46. Justice League International

The Verdict Then:

From Brian Verderosa’s review of Justice League International #1

“The real thing that shines about Jurgens’ script is that he manages to give each character their moment and nobody feels out of place or awkward. His Gardner is much more the 90s era, hot-headed and ignorant, which kind of contradicts the Green Lantern Corps Gardner. But the art is exceptional, and Batman shows up for more than just a few panels. I’m also really interested in how the Booster Gold as leader angle is going to work out in the future – will he step up? Collapse? Anything could happen, and if the splash page finale is any indicator, it will.”

The Verdict Now:

Unlike Mr. Verderosa, I find Justice League International to be a book without a purpose. In a rebooted DC Universe, featuring a young Justice League, why would they all ready need a new team? It’s also troublesome to introduce this many new characters without really giving them any type of origin story. Booster Gold is a ridiculous character, all be it one who can be sued effectively, and he’s the type of hero who badly needs to have his origin explained. There seems to be no interest in that here, merely a cursory introduction to our bizarre cast of heroes, and a token appearance by the Batman. Justice League International attempts to straddle the line between silly and serious, dangerous and benign, but it does both unsuccessfully.


09/2011: Justice League International #1 — 67,866

10/2011: Justice League International #2 — 66,100 (- 2.6%)

11/2011: Justice League International #3 — 54,413 (-17.7%)

12/2011: Justice League International #4 — 44,062 (-19.0%)

01/2012: Justice League International #5 — 41,147 (- 6.6%)

02/2012: Justice League International #6 — 37,534 (- 8.8%)

03/2012: Justice League International #7 — 35,274 (- 6.0%)

04/2012: Justice League International #8 — 33,773 (- 4.3%)

05/2012: Justice League International #9 — 32,558 (- 3.6%)

06/2012: Justice League International #10 — 31,015 (- 4.7%)

07/2012: Justice League International #11 — 29,802 (- 3.9%)



45. Men of War

The Verdict Then:

From Brad Jones’ review of Men of War #1

“The book is split into two parts, with the first part following Corp. Joseph Rock through his assignment on a special ops mission to retrieve a missing senator from a war zone. Everyone except for Rock seems to die in this siege after a superbeing flies through the area, destroying everything in sight. We’re left with an image of Rock cradling his dying Sergeant. This story was okay….[In the second story] Everything, from the banter of the troops to the twist ending of the little girl sniper to the art direction of the book feels cheap, overdone and overdramatic.”

The Verdict Now

There isn’t a lot to say about Men of War except that it is a victim of its own structure. The first story, featuring the origins of Sgt. Rock is one filled with potential. Rock is an interesting man with a layered character and I dig the premise of a group of regular people who are thrown into overwhelming circumstances, and if Men of War was all about this it would have been a better book. But instead its a bad one and  this is due in large part to the awful back up story Navy SEALs Human Shields which takes us away from the Sgt. and is confusing and bordering on unreadable.


09/2011: Men of War #1 — 37,488

10/2011: Men of War #2 — 31,446 (-16.1%)

11/2011: Men of War #3 — 23,770 (-24.4%)

12/2011: Men of War #4 — 16,641 (-30.0%)

01/2012: Men of War #5 — 14,110 (-15.2%)

02/2012: Men of War #6 — 12,080 (-14.4%)

03/2012: Men of War #7 — 10,758 (-10.9%)



44. Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men

The Verdict Then:

From Steve Seigh’s Review of  Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1

“One would think that when you receive awesome inhuman abilities that one would have some questions, but not here, no sir. We’re just going to move the story forward and have the two main characters continue their pointless spat about black and white relations like a bad episode of Saved By the Bell, all that was missing was the studio audience ready to chime in a good “Awww.” or “Booooo.”

The Verdict Now:

As you can tell Steve was not particularly fond of Firestorm and I, while not as fervent, agree with a lot of what he has to say. I think the book presents racial and class politics in a very surface, and heavy handed way, that severely hampers the potential of the story being told. There is cool territory to be mined in two characters who don’t like each other, who are forced to work with one another towards a greater good, but too often their relationship devolves into pettiness that endangers a lot of lives. How am I supposed to root for people who would do that?  This stands in stark contrast to the villain in Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men who, like all great antagonists, is a mirror to our heroes in every way. That type of opposing force deserves a better landscape to play in. The book also is guilty of the New 52 sin of not explaining its character in a comprehensive way. Firestorm is a bizarre concept and if you don’t know who he is, it’s east to become confused and then tune out entirely.


09/2011: Firestorm #1 — 51,537

10/2011: Firestorm #2 — 43,990 (-14.6%)

11/2011: Firestorm #3 — 31,654 (-28.0%)

12/2011: Firestorm #4 — 25,610 (-19.1%)

01/2012: Firestorm #5 — 21,329 (-16.7%)

02/2012: Firestorm #6 — 19,162 (-10.2%)

03/2012: Firestorm #7 — 17,786 (- 7.2%)

04/2012: Firestorm #8 — 17,076 (- 4.0%)

05/2012: Firestorm #9 — 17,240 (+ 1.0%)

06/2012: Firestorm #10 — 15,789 (- 8.4%)

07/2012: Firestorm #11 — 14,931 (- 5.4%)


43. Deathstroke

The Verdict Then:

From Steve Seigh’s review of Deathstroke #1

“The book moves along at a steady pace and never makes you wait too long for new elements to be introduced. What I like about the book most is that it serves to tell you right away who Deathstroke is and what he does (or rather, does not) care about.”

The Verdict Now:

Deathstroke is an overly bloody, death filled and larger than life look at the actions of hit man Slade Wilson. There is no doubt he is a bad ass of epic proportions, but the biggest problem is, that’s all he is. There is nothing redeeming about the man, so as a reader I felt no sympathy or concern for his well being. The first arc ‘s story is a slow burn, it’s well structured and it’s full of intriguing twists, but the positives never out weigh the negatives of having someone as cold Deathstroke in the protagonist role.

This is another series that falls into the trap of not properly introducing its main character and it suffers for that. The book changed creative teams at issue nine and when Rob Liefeld took over the book from Kyle Higgins, the writing took a turn for the worse, but the art actually got less ridiculous. In either incarnation, it’s clear that Deathstroke belongs as the antagonist of a book, able to bring his bad ass nature to the party, without a ton of careful introspection. Sometimes its okay to remain the interesting villain and this title proves that.


09/2011: Deathstroke #1 — 47,028

10/2011: Deathstroke #2 — 44,647 (- 5.1%)

11/2011: Deathstroke #3 — 33,754 (-24.4%)

12/2011: Deathstroke #4 — 26,367 (-21.9%)

01/2012: Deathstroke #5 — 23,872 (- 9.5%)

02/2012: Deathstroke #6 — 21,306 (-10.8%)

03/2012: Deathstroke #7 — 19,744 (- 7.3%)

04/2012: Deathstroke #8 — 18,834 (- 4.6%)

Rob Liefeld Takes Over

05/2012: Deathstroke #9 — 20,878 (+10.9%)

06/2012: Deathstroke #10 — 19,722 (- 5.5%)

07/2012: Deathstroke #11 — 17,107 (-13.3%)


42. Blue Beetle

The Verdict Then:

From my review of Blue Beetle #1

“Its oddly refreshing to have a high school aged super-hero and I look forward to his normal life issues as much as his hero troubles. But this issue is a slow burn. Itʼs like buying Spider-man and only seeing up to the point where he crawls up that first skyscraper. Iʼm not sure where the story is going yet and that worries me as a reader but the atmosphere and character work are good enough that Iʼm willing to keep going.”

The Verdict Now:

I did keep going and I’m sad to say that the potential I saw never panned out. Blue Beetle is one of those books that had a good foundation, but could never put it all together. It gets points because it’s a true origin story, it has an unique main character and I quite like the art. But its slow moving plot and “I’m not in control of my own powers” gimmick, began to grate on me very quickly.


09/2011: Blue Beetle #1 — 44,448

10/2011: Blue Beetle #2 — 39,396 (-11.4%)

11/2011: Blue Beetle #3 — 27,612 (-29.9%)

12/2011: Blue Beetle #4 — 21,408 (-22.5%)

01/2012: Blue Beetle #5 — 19,042 (-11.1%)

02/2012: Blue Beetle #6 — 17,034 (-10.6%)

03/2012: Blue Beetle #7 — 15,780 (- 7.4%)

04/2012: Blue Beetle #8 — 15,180 (- 3.8%)

05/2012: Blue Beetle #9 — 16,607 (+ 9.4%)

06/2012: Blue Beetle #10 — 14,413 (-13.2%)

07/2012: Blue Beetle #11 — 13,923 (- 3.4%)


41. Red Lanterns

The Verdict Then:

From my review of Red Lanterns #1

“Red Lanterns #1 is an oppressively dark, unyieldingly bleak, and unapologetically violent tale of the vengeful side of the Lantern Corp. If nothing else the creative team of Peter Milligan,Ed Benes, and Rob Hunter should be commended for the commitment and consistency of tone that permeates this first issue.

Red Lanterns #1 is plagued by mediocrity. There is nothing bad about the writing. The story is well paced and the action is done reasonably well but that can’t make up for the greatest fault of Red Lanterns. Its main character Atrocitus.”

The Verdict Now:

Of the books on today’s list Red Lanterns is the book that I most desire to give more time too. That is because there are a lot of good craftsmanship behind it. Peter Milligan is a fine writer, Ed Benes is an excellent penciller and it exists in the Green Lantern universe, which is a section of the DCU that I have a lot of interest in. However, it is also a book that is oppressively dark, brutally violent, and is about not just one villain, but a whole corp of them. Atrocitus is a ball of pure rage and, much like Kratos from the God of War games, he goes around screaming to heavens about how he has been wronged. He lacks the depth and shading of  someone like Sinestro and that, plus the lack of personality in his minions makes this a hard book to enjoy.


09/2011: Red Lanterns #1 — 73,940

10/2011: Red Lanterns #2 — 74,163 (+ 0.3%)

11/2011: Red Lanterns #3 — 60,823 (-18.0%)

12/2011: Red Lanterns #4 — 50,271 (-17.4%)

01/2012: Red Lanterns #5 — 46,992 (- 6.5%)

02/2012: Red Lanterns #6 — 43,450 (- 7.5%)

03/2012: Red Lanterns #7 — 41,628 (- 4.2%)

04/2012: Red Lanterns #8 — 40,189 (- 3.5%)

05/2012: Red Lanterns #9 — 39,215 (- 2.4%)

06/2012: Red Lanterns #10 — 38,005 (- 3.1%)

07/2012: Red Lanterns #11 — 36,462 (- 4.1%)

40. Grifter

The Verdict Then:

From Steve Seigh’s review of Grifter #1

“Grifter came off as a bit of a snooze read. I’m not sure if it was the lack of personality from our hero or the fact that he spent more than half the book ranting and raving into thin air, frightening those around him indefinitely.”

The Verdict Now:

Grifter is a pleasant enough read, with a character that shows potential, but its alien storyline shows its face too quickly and that saps much of the intrigue out of this tale. There are some interesting elements layered in, such as sibling rivalry and a unbalanced love life, but they are not enough to push Grifter into must read territory. It’s the first of the bad books to light a flame of interest in me and for that I give it credit, but thats not enough to recommend it.


09/2011: Grifter #1 — 41,222

10/2011: Grifter #2 — 39,900 (- 3.2%)

11/2011: Grifter #3 — 29,802 (-25.3%)

12/2011: Grifter #4 — 22,486 (-24.6%)

01/2012: Grifter #5 — 20,060 (-10.8%)

02/2012: Grifter #6 — 18,057 (-10.0%)

03/2012: Grifter #7 — 16,559 (- 8.3%)

04/2012: Grifter #8 — 15,686 (- 5.3%)

Liefeld Takes Over

05/2012: Grifter #9 — 15,228 (- 2.9%)

06/2012: Grifter #10 — 14,258 (- 6.4%)

07/2012: Grifter #11 — 13,382 (- 6.1%)


Bobby Shortle is founder and Editor in Chief of Talking Comics as well as the host of the weekly Talking Comics Podcast. When he's not writing about comics he's making short films which can be found at and talking…

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