This week, Vinny takes a look at DC Comics’ daring direction.

So, this one is going to be a little different, for two reasons.

First, I admittedly didn’t get to read everything I wanted to last week and so you’ll see some books from last week in this week’s column.

Second, I noticed something that I feel is very positive going on at DC Comics, and thought this was an appropriate feature to highlight it.

Okay, back to business.

Runner Up – Batman: Damned #1 (DC Comics)

The debut book from DC Comics’ new Black Label imprint got a lot of attention for displaying a certain aspect of Bat-Anatomy, selling out its first printing shortly after its debut. Fortunately, the book deserved that accolade with or without full-frontal nudity and highlights the potential of this Mature Readers brand. Damned presents a version of Batman that is quite familiar, but not tied down by the restraints of continuity. Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo remind us how they got to the top, and this issue is some of my favorite work from either. What I love most about this title is how accessible and enjoyable it is for readers old and new. Yes, it is a distinctly adult story, but I think that is a big part of the modern DC legacy. It does feature a surprising amount of guest stars, but they are presented in a way that does not require background knowledge. Batman: Damned is the Vertigo book we never got, and Constantine’s presence only makes that feeling stronger.

Runner Up – Mister Miracle #11 (DC Comics)

Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle has not been the most accessible book on the racks, but it has never ceased to be intriguing. You know what? I’m going to step that back a bit. I don’t know how accessible it has been, because I knew too much about the character. What I can say is, whether you’ve loved him for years or started here, this book has been an emotional roller-coaster. I know some of that is tied to my focus on the character, but I can’t imagine it doesn’t carry over to the less invested. In issue #11, it all pays off. I don’t want to give anything away here, but I’ll make an important comment.

If DC wants new readers invested in their universe, this is the way to do it.

Pick of the Week – Heroes in Crisis #1 (DC Comics)

Tom King and Clay Mann have earned a bit of confidence and clout at DC Comics. Here, they exhibit not only their willingness to use it, but editorial’s willingness to let them do so. Heroes in Crisis is dark, depressing and I can’t imagine you’ll feel good after reading the first issue. I love the storytelling, I love the art but I’m sitting here thinking about how uncomfortable I am with some of the choices made in the book.

But that’s not a bad thing.

While I’m not a proponent of meaningless death and resurrections in comics, big shifts are necessary to place characters into new situations. Risks have to be taken to flesh out the identities of these heroes and villains. I can’t say for sure that by it’s conclusion I’ll still like this book, but if I do, it is going to have a major impact on my view of the DCU. DC Comics is starting to show a reborn commitment to intelligent experimentation, and even if this particular one fails, it might all be worth it in the long run.