COMIC BOOK REVIEWS: DC ROUND UP WEEK 08-03-2016
When I first started writing reviews for LRM I stated I would stick with all the DC REBIRTH Issues until at least issue 6 before considering any to drop. So far, I’ve pleasantly been surprised by my complete interest in ALL the REBIRTH Titles thus far! We are approaching issue 4 for most of the newly revamped series, with still many more trickling in that show promise. As the first “wave” of books get closer to issue 6, I’ll do a quick rundown on those series and try to help new readers choose which books might be best for them. Until then, be sure to sound off in the comments on how you’re liking (or disliking) the DC REBIRTH!
STORY: Dan Abnett ART: Philippe Briones COLORS: Gabe Eltaeb
Review: AQUAMAN has become a sort of love hate series for me in this DC REBIRTH. I’m overall enjoying the art by Briones, and colors by Eltaeb, but its Abnett’s story that hasn’t quite hooked me in yet. Aquaman and Atlantis seemingly being labeled a terrorist threat, the total lack of investigative initiative or cooperation by the American Government, and the quick decision to just imprison a Justice League member all seem a little too far-fetched. It’s like in a horror movie, where the writers/directors want the audience to get scared or worried so they purposely make characters do stupid actions so it can set up the cheesy jump-scare moment. That’s kind of what Abnett does here in a way. He makes every character overly-aggressive and defensive (except Aquaman, who is overly passive) so that it keeps everything feel tense, even though it wouldn’t really play out that way. Regardless, the story moves along, and a small part of me hopes this turns into some sort of Aquaman “most wanted” story with the world turning on one of the “brightest” heroes.
STORY: Tom King ART: David Finch, Matt Banning
Review: Is it possible that BATMAN will continue to be one of the best titles under DC Comics? In the NEW 52, love them or hate them, Snyder and Capullo put on one heck of a run for the Dark Knight. Here, it seems King and Finch are on a roll to do the very same thing! The "Monster Men" storyline is heating up, and it, of course, ties into Amanda Waller and Task Force X (Suicide Squad). Seems Waller is the one responsible for Hugo Strange and Psycho Pirate’s current terror spree, which including the manipulation of Gotham and Gotham Girl. Now Batman has to deal with an out-of-his-mind Gotham (ya know, the guy with Superman-level powers and seemingly no weakness) and whatever else Strange has planned. The most interesting point to come out of all this though is Waller’s belief that Batman is the cause for the pains in Gotham (an argument made by many over the years). Does Batman bring out the “crazy” in people? Would Gotham have been better off without him? Zero Year, two major Joker attacks, Bloom, etc. the list goes on and on. King’s taking a very interesting approach here, and I’m very much excited to see how this all ends up in the "Monster Men" crossover coming soon. Also let’s give a big applause to David Finch (and Matt Banning) for going four issues straight without any delays! No slight against Finch, the dude is amazing on art but he has a history of being on the slower side of things. This schedule isn’t easy for any artist especially one of Finch’s caliber, so big props to him for pumping out the pages! Let’s hope that keeps up and this creative team pulls another Snyder and Capullo run.
GREEN ARROW #4
STORY: Benjamin Percy ART: Juan Ferreya
Review: “The Death of Oliver Queen” continues, and it sure looks like he’s gonna want to be dead when it’s all over! Obviously the hero of the series remains alive, but as Oliver digs deeper into Ninth Circle and its ties to Queen Industries it becomes painfully obvious just how corrupt his company has become. Some very simple “comic book magic” might happen by Percy to “fix” all of the problems, but if he keeps it remotely grounded then all of these revelations should have major consequences for Oliver and his company. On the plus side, his relationships have gotten better as Diggle is back on Team Arrow (after some bro fighting) and Canary is still there! Except now she’s being held captive by Oliver’s seemingly evil younger sister. So that sucks. What doesn’t suck is another fantastic issue by Juan Ferreya (of COLDER fame). The dude’s artwork is just sick, with beautiful colors that set the scenes up perfectly. I’m missing Otto Schmidt, but if they keep Juan Ferreya (who I still say needs to do a Joker story) then I’m okay with it! The semi-gripe for me is that once this is done I’d like to see Percy take Oliver back to his social justice roots, fighting for the little guy and sticking it to the Man!
GREEN LANTERNS #4
STORY: Sam Humphries ART: Ed Benes, Robson Rocha, Tom Derenick, Rob Hunter, Mark Irwin, Vicente Cifuentes, Jay Leisten, Tom Palmer, Marc Deering COLORS: Blond
Review: Enough artists for ya?! It’s not a good sign for a book when it requires an entire army of pencilers and inkers to make its deadline. It’s not a good sign when the difference in style shows in the pages. Keep in mind, every single one of the people mentioned above is top notch, and luckily styles are somewhat similar to each other that maybe, to some, it might not be noticeable. But to me, each artist's handiwork stuck out like sore thumbs. It was distracting, and took away from a bit from the story as characters looked different depending on the page. That said, this is one of those issues where a lot of it takes place in the “inner monologue” of the hero -- in this case, mostly Simon Baz. It’s a bit annoying, as he essentially covers everything that’s happened for the last four issues, (stuff that’s already been covered to death in those four issues). It kind of came off as if this was supposed to be a jumping-on point for new readers -- except we are in part four of a storyline! So because of this whole recapping inner monologue issue, the bigger part of the Red Lantern story doesn’t start coming into effect until around the last few pages. Is this an example of dragging out a story so it can fill up a trade paperback later? Maybe. To me it just seemed like a lot of needless exposition. The story is great so far, the Red Lanterns on earth and two rookie GLs having to stop it is a great concept, just this one issue was weak, unless you just happen to be a new reader, then I guess it can be okay.
HARLEY QUINN #1
STORY: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti ART: Chad Hardin
Review: So I’m a bit new to the Harley Quinn comic books world. I know Conner and Palmiotti are constantly getting praised for their series, so I figured I’d check out this new REBIRTH issue. Sooooo, yeah. It’s definitely a unique taste to get into. Harley is very over the top and wacky, to a point where it feels a little forced at times. We jump from good old-fashioned girl time with Poison Ivy to an introduction of a slew of supporting characters, including a character named Red Tool (obviously a pun on Deadpool to fill all those Deadpool/Harley fan fiction peeps) who eventually loses his arm thanks to Zombies. Yeah, all that in one issue. We got the obligatory REBIRTH “catch up” on Harley’s origin, but quite a few references harken back to the previous series, making this feel more like HARLEY QUINN #30 than a REBIRTH new start. Still, if you enjoyed Harley before, there is no reason why you won’t continue to enjoy, and if you have been curious about jumping on, I guess this is as good of a time as any. Just don’t expect the same Harley you might have seen from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES or even the recent SUICIDE SQUAD movie (or comic for that matter!). On the art front, Chad Hardin does a bang-up job getting all the goofy moments to be clear and funny! I kind of wish Conner was full art duties (not just cover work) but make no mistake, Hardin definitely is a good fit for this book and wont disappoint.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #2
STORY: Bryan Hitch ART: Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea
Review: So maybe its not always true, but I often find that great artists do not make the best storytellers. In this case, Bryan Hitch is an excellent artist (just look at ULTIMATES 1) but this JUSTICE LEAGUE book is simply not doing it for me. The threat is starting to feel massive and wide scale, but still it seems disjointed and the team feels too disconnected. I wanted to see a REBIRTH: a renewed vigor in the dynamic with some unique twists thrown in due to new members. Instead everything is pretty much the same, with the biggest storyline really being the League having to learn to trust and work with Pre-NEW 52 Superman. Can the team learn to do that in time to defeat whatever the latest alien threat is? Probably, since it’s already kind of happening. Why isn’t Aquaman in chains and considered a bioterrorist here, by the way? Small parts like this annoy me. Regardless, Hitch continues his lackluster story of something called the Kindred which apparently has ties to Atlantis. What are the Kindred? Guess we’ll find out soon, along with probably the origins of this latest alien threat. Overall the story is just very dull, and even with Tony Daniel’s beautiful artwork, it isn’t enough to really make me care that much. Maybe Hitch should switch to doing covers or interior art and let someone else take over JL for a while.
STORY: Tim Seeley ART: Javier Fernandez COLORS: Chris Sotomayor
Review: In the latest issue of the NIGHTWING we get more team up action with the deadly and mysterious Raptor! The deadly dynamic duo must retake a cargo ship hijacked by agents of Kobra (no not the G.I. JOE one! And no, not the Marvel one either). Raptor looks to push Dick close to the edge, but there is more going on than meets the eye with the hired thief. How long can Nightwing go with his plan to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls before he comes to a line he just can’t cross? Tim Seeley has been doing an excellent job showing us the extremes Richard will go to in order to complete a job and not fall into the darkness, while keeping us on edge to see if Raptor is actually a friend or a very clever foe! Javier Fernandez keeps the action moving with clean line work that allows veteran colorist Chris Sotomayor to showcase his full talents! Another great thing Seeley does is include all the aspects from the other Bat Books making Nightwing feel current and connected. Barbs is in Tokyo, The Bat Crew (over in Detective Comics) is mentioned, as are the Gothams. It’s subtle and quickly thrown in, but little bits like this really make a book feel like it’s part of something bigger, all while keeping mostly self-contained. I wish more of the Bat books were able to do this, since I fear once MONSTER MEN starts up (crossing over all the Bat Books) it will feel a little more disjointed. So for these reasons and more, Nightwing with two issues in remains a high point in the DC REBIRTH line up!
SUICIDE SQUAD: REBIRTH #1
STORY: Rob Williams Art: Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna, Sandu Florea, Alex Sinclair
Review: With the movie coming out, it was a definite that DC was going to want to push a relaunch of SUICIDE SQUAD. The last series had been getting stale, and in my opinion fell apart right at the start when Adam Glass left the series. Nothing was the same, and there was even a point where for whatever reason the artists were drawing Deadshot in his pre-NEW 52 style and switched back without any rhyme or reason. Stories were all over the place and disconnected, characters kept switching up personality traits based on whatever the writer was feeling at the time, and the book simply failed to live up to its own potential. Now there is a chance to reset and restart the clock. What we get instead is a very loose introduction to Col. Rick Flagg (NEW 52 version) and for some reason, we are back to the team of Boomerang, Harley (which seems really disconnected to the recent HARLEY QUINN REBIRTH issue), and Deadshot. My guess (and based on the cover) we will see more of the movie characters joining the team in the form of Killer Croc and Katana. I’m sure others will be joining on soon. The big action sequence was mostly to show that these are not “good guys,” as their extraction turns more into an assassination for “the greater good.” Based on the mixed reviews (critics disliking/fans liking) of the SUICIDE SQUAD movie, I’m curious to see if DC makes any changes to the lineup or tone of the book going forward. What was possibly the marque title for the company might once again fade into obscurity and redundancy. Only time will tell.
STORY: Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason ART: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray
Review: There’s a lot of ethereal action going on in this issue with the souls and spirits of Kryptonians being held within The Eradicator. An interesting concept, but one that only plays in a way to prolong the fight between Supes and Eradicator. We get Bibbo introduced, and as he was a favorite of mine from the old Superman days, really glad to see him featured here. My hope is they slowly try to bring in NEW 52 versions of the supporting cast from the older Superman series. I’d like to see how Clark interacts with many of them, and how they react to this very different Superman/Clark. Jon gets featured a little more here as well, and Tomasi really shows how well he handles “younger” heroes. He did it back with Damien Wayne and now he’s doing it here. Someone should be putting him on a YOUNG JUSTICE book (with Gleason!). Speaking of Gleason, he draws one sexy book! Eradicator looks awesome, and the fight scenes are big and explosive. Supes looks strong and each hit feels powerful. I have this hope that somehow the Eradictor will be re-programmed to serve as a “protector” to Kryptonians or maybe Earthlings and we can get a heroic Eradicator again, but I think this will just end with Superman decommissioning the sentient A.I. Regardless it will be one hell of a battle and nice introduction to the new (old!) Superman.
That's all for the Rebirth Reviews this week! What's you're favorite series so far? What do you think needs to be improved? Is there a character you wish had their own book? Sound off in the comments!