Yes, it is a free comic and yes, it does feature some pretty darn good art, but the glaring error on DC's part is to make the primary focus of this comic an event slated for "next year." Not only is it unclear if that's is the entirety of 2013 or sometime within the year between Free Comic Book Days, but the final image is one of total chaos and calamity.
Given that the underlying notion of Free Comic Book Day is to draw attention to comic books and, ideally, bring in new or lapsed readers, I set this before my lovely and talented wife who hasn't regularly read a comic since "The Ray" by Christopher Priest and Howard Porter back in 1994. I asked her what she thought of the final image, which Steve Sunu and Stephen Gerding shared on CBR. "Well, it looks like Superman's fighting Green Lantern. Why's Superman fighting Green Lantern? Which Green Lantern is that? What's wrong with her face?" The last question came before I could answer the one before it and was directed towards Mera, who is either falling or was teleported into a portion of the background. Maybe Wonder Woman hit her, it's hard to tell.
One thing that is easy to tell is that this comic is directed towards fans in the know or at least slightly out of the insider bubble. How else do you explain the appearance of Vibe?
That said, Geoff Johns and his fantasy art team of Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Gene Ha and Kenneth Rocafort fill the sixteen pages of new story in this comic with scads of details, lots of clues and a "secret origin" for Pandora. This issue pulls back the mystery on Pandora a bit as well as revealing some history with Phantom Stranger and introducing a new Question. See what I mean about not necessarily being the friendliest book for new readers?
All the same, the art looks great. Some of the pages, Gene Ha's in particular, are so jammed with details that devoted fans are sure to study them far beyond what Steve Sunu has already prepared for us. In this sense, "DC Comics -- The New 52 Free Comic Book Day Special Edition" #1 is a great comic book, but a limited one.
Also included in this comic are two-page samples of the Second Wave books: "G.I. Combat," Batman, Inc.," Worlds' Finest," "Earth 2," "Dial H" and "Ravagers," three of which have already debuted this week and can be found reviewed right here on CBR.
In the end, what should be an open invitation just comes across as an inside story, one that only long-term fans are going to get or appreciate. It falls short of including any winks, nods or secret handshake instructions though, leaving the readers to try to retain knowledge of this adventure while testing those same readers to find enthusiasm for an event somewhere on the horizon. Good thing DC also had another offering in the form of "Superman Family Adventures" and "Green Lantern" flip book.