COMIC BOOK REVIEWS: DC COMICS ROUND UP WEEK 08-24-2016
Recently I put up an article here on LRM about getting into Batman for new or casual readers (and to an extent, some of the more regular comic book readers out there). I broke it down to three good jumping on points, of which Tom King’s "Batman: Rebirth #1" was used. Now with some of the "Rebirth" books getting near issue six, I can say almost (Almost, not ALL!) all of the official "Rebirth" books have been an excellent introduction to the series for new readers. On that front, DC has been hugely successful (and the sales numbers are showing it). While continuity is still a bit funky, and events within titles don’t really seem to match up in a macro sense, each individual series has been a blast to read. While I am still reading Marvel books, I am definitely making my mainstay series DC (along with a good number of indie comics as well)!
ACTION COMICS #962
STORY: Dan Jurgens ART: Art Thibert, Stephen Segovia COLORS: Rob Leigh
REVIEW: Dan Jurgens brings us the conclusion to his Doomsday’s return storyline as Superman needs to think up something fast to finally put an end to the unstoppable monster! The solution is sort of a predictable one, but still serves its purpose and seems fitting. While we do get a resolution of sorts to the conflict, Jurgens makes sure to leave us still with the mystery of who the hooded figure is and what are his plans for Superman, Doomsday, and the powerless Clark Kent! Art Thibert and Stephen Segovia continue to bring some big action sequences involving the two heavy hitters, along with spectacular colors from Rob Leigh! The Wonder Woman dynamic came off a little strange as Diana seemed way too chummy with this “new Superman,” but that relationship aside, I’m enjoying the heck out of a Superman book, and I can’t think of the last time that happened? (maybe Action Comics #1 by Grant Morrison).
STORY: Hope Larson ART: Rafael Albuquerque COLORS: Dave McCaig
REVIEW: It’s strange to me that the Nightwing series acknowledges Batgirl in Japan, and even incorporates that into her guest appearance. Yet here in Batgirl, writer Hope Larson doesn’t mention that detour at all for Babs. Also interesting is how over in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, her time in Japan isn’t remotely mentioned at all. These are just some of the confusing timeline, in-universe continuity issues that I’m talking about when I say things are muddled. That all aside, Batgirl is a fun series, and Larson does a good job capturing the character of Barbara Gordon. I do think Babs would fare better against an MMA fighter than is portrayed here, but it seems this Barbara Gordon comes off more inexperienced and easily distracted than how other series showcase her. Rafael Albuquerque captures the fun facial and body expressions of the characters perfectly. From awkward kisses to self-disappointment, Rafael nails them perfectly! If the point of this story arc is to show Babs travelling the world to pick up new techniques (both fighting and investigative), similar to how Bruce did his, I hope we get to see some of it pay off in some way. Like maybe Barbara learns some cool new moves and she gets to use them as Batgirl which makes a difference in a fight. This way it is something more meaningful than just filler for the issue.
Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1
STORY: Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins ART: Scott Kolins COLORS: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
REVIEW: This is my issue with Blue Beetle. I never cared about the character, ever. I was only slightly interested in Dan Garret. Ted Kord never really was that “awesome to me (really just when Kevin Maguire was writing him), and Jamie Reyes is equally “blah” of a character. He’s another teenager with a power he doesn’t understand, trying to balance being in school, lying about his abilities to his parents, and trying to figure out what’s happening to him. Boring! It’s been done, over and over. Rebirth picks up SOME of the pieces from the ill-fated Blue Beetle New 52 series. There is a reason that series didn’t do well, wanna know it? It was boring! Bringing in Keith Giffen to write without Kevin Maguire (the two handled Justice League International 1987 amazingly) was a poor idea. Giffen with artist Scott Kolins do their best to make this book interesting, but they fail. It isn’t their fault, well maybe it is, but I get this feeling DC is just trying their damnedest to get Jamie Reyes over with fans to the point they won’t let the character remotely become unique. Regardless, the story is lame and just reinforces Ted Kord (former blue Beetle/Billionare) is trying to help Jamie learn more about his Beetle Scarab that gives him his powers, while reinforcing the notion Jamie should be a superhero. The rest is boring, go read Ultimate Spider-Man instead.
STORY: Christopher Priest ART: Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz COLORS: Jeremy Cox
REVIEW: Between the Rebirth issue and Deathstroke Issue 1, I think Christopher Priest is like “Screw your series Tony Daniels,” meaning, he doesn’t care what happened in the New 52 volumes (neither of them: there were 2 FYI). To some this may be a problem (If you enjoyed those series), but to me they were terrible, and the more Priest can distance himself from them the better! I’m really liking this version of Slade Wilson, and am excited to see how the flashbacks to his dysfunctional family life will play in the current storyline. With so little care about continuity pre-Rebirth, a whole new world of story potential has opened up involving Slade’s kids and former enemies. Pagulayan and Paz work well with Jeremy Cox giving some big time action sequences that remain clean and crisp. The well-paced, easy-on-the-eye artwork is a major bonus to go along with Priest’s awesome story. In this issue, Slade plays two villains, faking being manipulated, while re-teaming up with old ally (and believed dead) Wintergreen! He gets some new armor, that for some reason a mysterious shadow figure wanted him to don. If you have never read Deathstroke before but wanted to start checking him out, this is the series to pick up!
Detective Comics #939
STORY: James Tynion IV ART: Eber Ferreira, Eddy Barrows COLORS: Adriano Lucas
REVIEW: So kind of SPOILER alert here, speculation says Tim Drake is getting killed off soon. All the standard signs are there. Big moments of closure for a character, over-emphasis on accomplishments and what their future might hold outside of fighting, and the eventual heroic about to stand off against an army in a self-sacrificial way. Why is Tim in this situation? Well it’s kind of a silly reason. When Jacob Kane launches his drones to attack hundreds of potential sleeper agents In Gotham, Tim understands the Bat Crew can’t possibly stop them all in time. So he hacks into their controls and gives them a new target-Him! It’s a great “hero” moment, but sort of dumb. If Tim could hack in and give a new target to attack, why not just make the floating base of the Bat Army the target? Make them deal with the onslaught of drones coming at them. Will Tim really die from this ordeal? Maybe, maybe not. I really don’t care as they haven't given me a reason to care about him in the Rebirth issues; nothing has been done interestingly with the character. There is literally a plethora of young super-tech genius crime fighters appearing in Batman books alone, much less the DCU as a whole. So I don’t think anyone will be missing the character. Wonky storytelling aside, don’t let this dissuade you from picking up the series as, while not the strongest Bat title, Detective Comics still remains fun, not to mention it has Eddy Barrows on art duties and that dude just kicks ass!
The Flash #5
STORY: Joshua Williamson ART: Andre Currie, Felipe Watanabe, Oclair Albert COLORS: Ivan Plascencia
REVIEW: So another issue of Flash and another artist jumps on. I’m not sure what’s faster, The Flash or the speed with which each artist leaves series! For what it’s worth, Felipe Watanabe does a good job (and Ivan Plascencia’s colors can make anyone look awesome) handling the action well. Still, with such jarring style changes between issues it feels like Flash isn’t getting the attention or love from DC Comics it should be. I had anticipated this series being the core title involving the bigger Rebirth storyline (about Dr. Manhattan and his manipulation of time/history in New 52), but instead it really is just a Flash series. Which is fine. The whole “city is full of speedsters after a freak speed form lightning storm” story is great. The villain Godspeed is essentially Zoom from Flash TV series season 2, but that’s still cool. I can get behind it all, I just want consistent artwork. Regardless of the artwork issues, Joshua Williamson is keeping the pace moving forward and crafting quite the excellent story arc here. I would like him to bring some of his more twisted storytelling (see Nailbiter, or Ghosted) to Flash and make Godspeed a much scarier character, or perhaps the next villain Flash deals with.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3
STORY: Robert Venditti ART: Jordi Tarragona, Rafa Sandoval COLORS: Tomeu Morey
REVIEW: I swear this title sounds like a bad '60s folk rock group. It doesn’t help it that Venditti’s story is starting to drag. There are just so many times I want to see Green Lantern get cocky, go up against some Yellow Lanterns and be like “Oh yeah? Well I’m gonna kick your butt.” The Yellow Lanterns respond, “NO you’re not, we got fear on our side!” Hal Jordon responds “I don’t fear you!” fight ensues, Hal has the upper hand -- oh wait, he doesn’t, never mind, he’s captured. Rinse. Repeat. Also did you read Green Lantern: Lights Out from Venditti? If yes, you’re probably able to follow along pretty well in this series. If you didn’t you might be lost (like myself) about what’s going on with all those other colorful Lanterns out there! Where is Saint Walker (the only Blue Lantern left), where is Kyle? (White Lantern, I guess?) Where are the Purple Lanterns (were they affected by Lights Out?) Where are the Star Sapphires (Pink Lanterns)? We know the Red are off trying to take over Earth and Yellow somehow survived through it all and now run the universe. Still, it’s a repetitive concept here and leaves me, a casual reader, confused; I can only imagine a new reader. Might just be worth it to skip or be prepared for A LOT of reading (meaning back to Green Lantern: Rebirth by Geoff Johns back in 2004!) If you jump in from Hal Jordan and The Green Lanterns Rebirth #1, you’ll be okay enough to enjoy the story, but just accept some things will seem confusing without all the other history.
The Hellblazer #1
STORY: Simon Oliver ART: Moritat COLORS: Andre Szymanowicz, Moritat
REVIEW: The character John Constantine has always been a favorite of mine. Despite his sex pistol-like demeanor, I just really enjoyed how flawed and vulnerable he is as a character. He wants to do the right thing, but he’s also a selfish prick, usually leading him to try and find a way that helps himself personally more than helps save the day. This issue focuses a little less on any manipulation from John, but more about his dynamic with characters like Swamp Thing and Mercury (the magically-powered girl whom he duped into helping him in Rebirth #1). Is Constantine capable of thinking about anyone but himself? That’s the storyline Simon Oliver is exploring with artist Moritat. That brings me to my second point, the art for the series is a little strange. Sometimes Moritat is very technically sound and has some sharp line work, other times it comes off a little sloppy and cartoonish. There is a hit or miss with him, but luckily it doesn’t detract too much from the story and is serviceable for readers. Although personally I’d want Damien Worm or Ben Templesmith on this series. If you’re new to the character, I suggest picking up the previous Rebirth special and this issue, as Oliver has crafted an easily jump on point for new readers.
STORY: Dan Abnett ART: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund COLORS: Andrew Dalhouse
REVIEW: What is going on with this book?!! Abnett has essentially made old Titans villain Kadabra the big bad that is responsible for Wally West (The White one) from disappearing from everyone’s memory and history. So, if that’s the case, what the heck was going on in the DC Universe Rebirth special? I was of the understanding that Dr. Manhattan was somehow responsible for it all. So now we have Titans vs. their Teen Titan counterparts, which doesn’t make sense because in this continuity (The New 52) the Teen Titans were a totally different team! Why does Arsenal not seem to acknowledge his time with Green Arrow? Or Jason Todd and Star Sapphire? Why is Nightwing here completely detached from Nightwing in his solo series (except they wear the same costume)? It might be nitpicking, but stuff like that annoys me a little. Helping the book be more palatable is the artwork by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund (with veteran colorist Andrew Dalhouse) making the book absolutely gorgeous to read. Abnett dialogue is okay here, but not his best work. Titans is quickly becoming a series I might drop if it remains as pointless as it is.
Wonder Woman #5
STORY: Greg Rucka ART: Liam Sharpe COLORS: Laura Martin
REVIEW: Congrats to artist Liam Sharpe getting an exclusive gig over at DC. Seems he will be sticking around on Wonder Woman for a while, which is a good thing since his artwork has been excellent for this "Year One”-type storyline for Amazon princess. Rucka continues to seem to want to re-write Diana and ignore her previous New 52 run, which again adds confusion for a regular reader like me, as I don’t understand what’s accepted as having “happened” and what hasn’t. Did Justice League Darkseid War happen? Was Trevor possessed by the Omega Power and used to attack Wonder Woman? None of that is mentioned in this series. I dunno, and I guess I just have to not care and enjoy this series for what it is. I do like the dual storylines, as one is a full-on flashback and the other seems to be a flash forward (taking place ahead of any other series currently happening in the DC Universe, I think). In this issue, Diana and Cheetah infiltrate Urzkartaga’s base, which also contains the recently-captured Steve Trevor and his crew. It seems Trevor’s special ops handlers are aware of the situation and putting their faith that Wonder Woman will save the team before they need to send in a backup squad. I see a heel turn in the future for Cheetah, and a rekindled love affair with Steve Trevor in future. New readers sit back and enjoy as it really does seem like you need minimal knowledge of Wonder Woman before getting into this series, starting from the Rebirth special.
Have a favorite DC REBIRTH Series? is there a series you're looking forward to? Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you think of the current line up!
Follow me on twitter @LRM_JEREMY