Comic Book Reviews: DC BREAKDOWN WEEK 06-08-2016

– by Jeremy Scully
DC Comics

This week we continue the rebirth of the DC Universe, and in doing so see the rebirth of the Bat Family, a monstrous villain, the return of an “ancient numbering system”, a recycled Aquaman, and the truth of a Goddess. Read on to see this week’s breakdown of some of the top books from DC Comics .

Click on the images for a larger view.

Action Comics #957

Story: Dan Jurgens Art: Patrick Zircher Colors: Tomeu Morey

Review: It was very strange just now writing that issue number. 957, wow! I don’t know if DC always planned to forego the new 52 numbering to bring this back, or even if New 52 somehow made it past its eventual demise that DC would have just returned to this numbering anyway. Regardless, here we are in the midst of a Rebirth for DC Comics and we get the “Rebirth” of some classic numbering (see Detective Comics as well). This issue is a big one, DC brings back classic Superman writer Dan Jurgens to give the fans and the world the “true” Superman! Yes, Pre-52 Superman has been forced by the emerging Super Lex Luthor to be in the spotlight. It is a great little moment we see in Clark’s conflict of wanting to keep his identity and family a secret but still holding onto both his grudge against Luthor and knowledge that Lex just can’t be trusted. 

Seeing Lex wearing the “S”, and knowing this universe’s Superman is dead, Clark feels he simply has no choice. Jurgens and veteran artist Patrick Zircher give us a heck of a welcoming as we see Superman in full glory- except there is no red underwear. For some reason even pre-52 Superman is still in a very similar get up to New 52 Superman. That was a bit of a disappointment. I actually wanted this Superman to remain with the beard and black suit for a while, maybe slowly work into becoming comfortable wearing the classic costume. Still, Jurgens crafts an excellent story here, and didn’t just give us the return of Big Blue, but also the return of two very unlikely characters.  No spoilers, but the reveal opens a great many possibilities. Zircher is perfect for this book and with Tomeu pulling color duty, I can see Action Comics staying a “must have” series all the way until the big #1000!

Score: B+


Aquaman: Rebirth #1

Story: Dan Abnett Art: Oscar Jimenez

Review: Out of all the characters getting “Rebirth” stories, I really felt Arthur just wasn’t one that needed it. In the beginning of the New 52, Geoff Johns did a perfect reintroduction to Aquaman (also a great intro in Justice League series as well). He introduced just the right amount of humor and action to make Aquaman feel relevant and fun again. This time around, not so much. Dan Abnett is a really good writer, some of the galactic stuff he did with Marvel was fantastic. Here, though, we get a pretty weak and watered down reintroduction to Aquaman that pales in comparison to Johns earlier work. The entire issue is Aquaman dealing with a terrorist cell from Atlantis called the Deluge while everything is being watched and monologued by Black Manta. 

Why is Black Manta doing this entire long monologue? For no other reason than to hear his own voice I guess? He’s literally talking to no one, not even a recording device. He’s just there, standing in front of monitors watching Aquaman and just talking to himself, like some clichéd classic villain in a book that isn’t poking fun or playing with the concept of “Super Villains!”. In truth, it was all done in a very dull way to introduce the character to any new readers who somehow have zero idea who or what Aquaman is. Oscar Jimenez delivers an equally uninspired artist endeavor as well. That’s to say there isn’t anything wrong with the art in the book; it’s actually very well done. The problem is it also looks super generic. I don’t think everything has to be stylized but when you had Ivan Reis working with Johns on the New 52 first issue, you gotta give just as strong an outing here too. Hardcore Aquaman fans will probably just want to skip this one, as its nothing new (unless you’re just collectionists) and casual fans may enjoy if they’ve never read or heard anything about Aquaman ever.

Score: C+


Detective Comics #934

Story: James Tynion IV Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira Colors: Adriano Lucas

Review: Much like Action Comics, Detective Comics returns to the classic numbering system. Is it a cash grab by DC? Maybe. Will it work? Definitely. Regardless of the numbering system, don’t be fooled here- this is very much a continuation of the New 52 universe. We still have the newly rejuvenated Batman (from the Snyder/Capullo series) and all the Bat Players are their New 52 versions. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and we still don’t know the full ramifications of “Rebirth” going forward. For now, James Tynion IV is using what he has, and what he has is Batman teaming up with Batwoman to form a sort of “Bat Army” (Or Bat Family if you will). Azrael is attacked by what appears to be Batman, only for the real caped crusader to show up and save him. Now the mystery is trying to figure out who is watching and potentially attacking the allies of Batman? And with so many new unpolished heroes out there, how many are at risk? To deal with this potential threat Bruce comes up with the idea to get the assistance of his cousin Kathy Kane (Batwoman) who’s had some military training and background. 

The two together will round up the younger Bat-Allies and help train them to get to a point where they can work as a cohesive unit. The team ends up being Red Robin (who for some reason is back to his Robin like costume and friends with Bruce again), Clay Face (in a redemption style story), Orphan (Cassandra Cain), and Spoiler (Stephanie Brown). Oddly missing is Harper Row who I thought would make a return here, but I guess her spot is sort of filled by Spoiler. So this will be the team for Detective Comics and while there will most likely be a lot of “training” going on, there will be just as much detective work! Tynion very much gives us insight into the more methodical internal workings of Batman and it’s a nice change of pace from previous Detective Comics issues. Eddy Barrows joins Tynion as the artist and he always makes a book look fantastic. I love his take on these characters and he can draw batman books for all time (he was amazing on New 52 Nightwing), Adriano Lucas also gives some really great color work, which combined with Ferreira and Barrows makes Detective Comics are true stand out title.

Score: A-


The Flash: Rebirth #1

Story: Joshua Williamson Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico Colors: Ivan Plascencia

Review: The first half of the book reads like the introduction to the TV show “THE FLASH”. The plot points are all shown and explained, spliced in between a few moments of dialogue involving a current case Barry is working on that has eerie similarities to his own mother’s murder. Once the reintroduction to the Flash is over (for all those new fans) we pick up where DC Universe: Rebirth left off and the reunion of Barry and Wally. Its short lived, and I was little annoyed how fast they sort of just came to terms with what happened, but the story must move forward! So we see Wally running off to find his old Titans pals, and Barry meeting up with Batman to see if they can solve the mystery of the smiley face button (don’t you just wanna scream, it’s DR. Manhattan! Come on guys!!-except we know those two universes have never crossed paths before). 

Overall this is a good starting point, but it really doesn’t seem to care much about the previous few years of work done in the Flash universe and borrows a bit from the TV (probably hoping to bring that fan base in) and ultimately I get the feeling this will tie very closely in with the rest of the full Rebirth storyline. Carmine Di Giandomenico and Ivan Plascencia team up to bring some pretty cool artwork. While I will be missing Francis Manapul, I did really enjoy what these two pros brought to the table. Carmine has a strong sense of classic Flash poses and movements, and I really liked how he handled the constant movement of the character. Ivan Plasencia delivers some really nice soft colors to compliment Carmine’s art (yes I am avoiding typing out his full last name). I know going forward we are going to be seeing a lot more speedsters and I sort of hoped this issue would set some of that up but I guess we will just have to wait for the true restart of the Flash.

Score: B


Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1

Story: Greg Rucka Art: Matthew Clark, Liam Sharp

Review: There have been quite a few histories and origins for Wonder Woman: she was made of clay, she was the daughter of the queen of the amazons, etc. It seems Rebirth is going to try and give us the “true” history of the character. Rucka seems to be setting up exactly that, as Diana suddenly begins to question everything about herself and what her true identity is. Someone is playing a deadly game, messing with reality and truth and she refuses to be part of the plan. Maybe the answers lie in Olympus, but even that seems to be a lie! 

Where are the answers? And just who is Wonder Woman really? Those are the questions Rucka will be exploring in his this new series and I’m quite curious to see how it all ends up. Matthew Clark and Liam Sharp jump as the artistic team, and while I’m not crazy about multiple artist working on a book, it seems to be ok here. I’d much rather just one artist working on this (ooh the days of Cliff Chang) but I guess with the book going bi-weekly they need to have multiple artists working on it. Neither artist is bad, but neither also really jumps out as amazing. Hopefully they will grow on me more as a writer like Rucka deserves to really be working with the best, and Wonder Woman deserves to have the absolute top artist working on her book.

Score: B

Comics DC Comics, DC Universe Rebirth, Top Comic Buys, News, Reviews, Action Comics, Aquaman: Rebirth, Detective Comics, The Flash: Rebirth