COMIC BOOK REVIEWS: DC ROUND UP WEEK 09-14-2016
DC is settling into its new focused style of content storytelling, and producing some fantastic stories thanks to the new approach. While mostly everything has been a hit, there have been a few snags as well. One issue I keep having is trying to figure out how it all “fits” together in a bigger picture. Some books seem closer connected others; some appear not connected all to the larger DC Universe. This might not be a problem for most, it can be a little jarring for me, when I’m reading Batgirl is running around Japan in her book, but is also hanging out with Huntress and Black Canary in the Birds of Prey series, while appearing in Nightwing and referencing her time currently in Japan, but Black Canary appears in Green Arrow without any indication she’s even been to Gotham or around Batgirl. It doesn’t out right detract from the stories, but it does make me have to adjust to getting a “linear” focus on the contact and almost treat each book as their own separate entity and not part of the bigger DC Universe. The other big news is Gerard Way (front man for My Chemical Romance) heads up DC Comics new imprint “Young Animals” which according to Way will be a mature, pop heavy series of books AKA They will be weird. Let’s see how weird as Doom Patrol starts us off!
DOOM PATROL #1
STORY: Gerard Way ART: Nick Derington, Tamra Bonvillain
REVIEW: Weird is about the only way I can describe the latest Doom Patrol series by Gerard Way and Nick Derington. Not weird in a Grant Morrison hyper existential way, more like in a “what the hell did I just read” sort of way. Everything is ultra-surreal, and while it appears very grounded at first, the absolutely wacky and over the top circumstances that develop as the story moves, are casually accepted. I have to admit I’m not the most up to date on my Doom Patrol (Didn’t really follow much of their recent series) so I can’t tell how connected or similar this series will be to past incarnations. I will say it’s very different; the art reminds me of an old Archie book, and the dialogue is very Samuel Beckett inspired (Waiting for Gadot). It might not be for everyone, but I can definitely see this filling a certain niche market. Essentially you have a character Casey Brinke, she drives an ambulance and is a very strange character, so strange that when character Terry Tones enters the scene as a singing birthday telegram (note: it’s not anyone’s birthday) she blows up Casey’s current roommate. No one cares. It’s laughed off and the story goes. So yeah, except random moments like this galore, including a tiny little world that exists on a Gyro. Thus is our new Doom Patrol!
ACTION COMICS #963
STORY: Dan Jurgens ART: Patrick Zircher
Review: Who is Clark Kent? That’s the big question here, and one Superman, Lex Luthor and all of Metropolis wants to find out. For those not in the know, The New 52 Universe Superman seemingly died at the end of his series. When the Rebirth line up began, the Superman from Pre-FlashPoint era came out of hiding (He had entered this universe during an event called Convergence. A mostly forgettable event aside from the fact of Pre-Flashpoint Supes return). So while everyone in the DC Universe is trying to figure who this new Superman is, now they need to figure out who Clark Kent is. So here’s history lesson #2, In the previous Superman series, Lois Lane outed Superman as being Clark Kent effectively destroying his secret identity. Now Clark Kent is showing up, claiming Superman faked being him to protect him and that he really is just a mild mannered reporter. What’s the truth? Well we will need to wait at least one more issue to find out! Patrick Zircher is on art duty here and draws one amazing book. I’m curious who is behind all the weirdness going on in the DC Universe (see Doomsday popping up, Powerless Clark Kent, kidnapping a certain Batman character, etc) and if it will be the payoff to Dr. Manhattan and the beginnings of Rebirth.
ALL-STAR BATMAN #2
STORY: Scott Snyder ART: John Romita Jr, Declan Shalvey, Danny Miki, Jordie Bellaire
REVIEW: I do want to like this book, It has a lot going for it with Scott Snyder writing, JrJr doing some of the best art he’s put out in a while, and some major talent working on the backup story. The problem is the story itself. I just am not feeling Batman’s epic journey here. It feels like a contrived concept of “let’s just have Batman face EVERYONE because somehow Two-Face has accumulated the worst possible information on what appears to be literally every single person ever to set foot in Gotham”. So now we have characters like Killer Croc showing up (isn’t he over in suicide squad and been locked up in Bell Reve?) King Shark (also wasn’t he part of SS? And why does he look like that?) and the triumphant debut of KGBeast (except he already debuted in previous Aquaman series!) but again in this DC Universe it seems writers are allowed to cherry pick what they want to considered “cannon” (in continuity history) and what they don’t, and damn be anyone who argues otherwise. It’s a strong statement, and definitely will be causing a ton of confusion down the road. Until then, I guess everyone sit back and enjoy some fun art and ridiculous story telling.
BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #2
STORY: Shawna Benson, Julie Benson ART: Claire Roe COLORS: Hi-Fi
REVIEW: The Benson sisters are only 3 issues in (I’m counting Rebirth) and to me they’ve got the voice of the characters perfectly! I’m almost glad they haven’t found a way to tie this book into the other Batgirl series or anything else. It’s perfect as its own little world. Claire Roe delivers some exceptional artwork that really exemplifies the fun characteristics of Babs and friends! I’m still hoping there will be a big payoff on who the “new” oracle is (the evil one). We get some fun bonding moments between Canary and Huntress, and Barbara and her Dad. I like this Barbara isn’t afraid to speak up and doesn’t need to have her hand held by anyone. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey will definitely be staying on my pull list if this creative team continues to stick around!
STORY: Christopher Priest ART: Jason Praz, Carlo Pagulayan
REVIEW: This series has a polarizing effect on me. In a lot of ways I find it great. Fast past storytelling, awesome kickass actions scenes drawn beautifully by Praz and Pagulayan, and some sweet dialogue. My gripe is the constant time jumps in the story. In some way ways I really wish Cristopher Priest was simply telling a “zero year” type story about Deathstroke. Let’s re-establish what his origin is and then jump ahead to his most recent action adventures. Instead we get so many time jumps I think Tarantino would get lost. If you can get past that bit of confusion (it’s not terrible, just a bit jolting) this is really a cool book and you won’t be disappointed as we do get a peek into Deathstroke’s early days (and his family) while getting the modern day adventure of his search for a traitor. For those on the fence, this might be a book better picked up as a trade when it’s all collected.
DETECTIVE COMICS #940
STORY: James Tynion IV ART: Eber Ferreira, Eddy Barrows, Adriano Lucas
REVIEW: Robin DIES!!! Ok, not really. That statement is what angry uninformed fanboys and poorly researched comic book news outlets wanted you to believe. It’s the big payoff to the opening storyline of the rise of the Bat Army, but honestly it gives more questions than it answers. Yes, Robin seemingly dies from an assault by attack drones that for whatever reason, Tim thought was a good idea to turn on himself (he had the option to send them anywhere, at anyone/thing, but instead of sending it back at the armed floating military base, he figured it be a better idea to take them all on by himself). Then we get the not so post credits mystery moment-Someone actually has teleported Tim away at the last second! A mysterious figure that appears to be the same one whom was the cause of Pre-Flashpoint Doomsday showing up in Action comics. Rumor has it that the character is Ozymandias with the intent of stopping Dr. Manhattan’s plan for the DC Universe (see everything Rebirth-and Watchmen). Regardless if it’s true or not, Tim Drake is considered dead by his fellow Bat friends (I guess disintegrated into nothing, as there is no body left behind-despite that almost ALWAYS meaning the character will return alive-the Bat Family will be mourning the loss of ANOTHER Robin). So to recap Tim Drake takes on drones (seemingly dies), Batwoman stops Jacob Kane’s plan to murder potentially innocent people who he believes to be members of the League Of Shadows (a dangerous offset group of the League of Assassins). My final take-I don’t care. Tim Drake has been a wasted character since the New 52 Universe started and he’s just one of many really technologically smart kid sidekick heroes, within Batman there are at least 5 alone I could mention not counting the tons of others that exist in the DC Universe. Tim simply is just not needed and I’d rather him be away until a writer comes along (Where is Chuck Dixon?) to do a better job with him.
THE FLASH #6
STORY: Joshua Williamson ART: Carmine Di Giandomenico COLORS: Ivan Plascencia
REVIEW: Did you watch Flash Season 2? Did you like the villain, Zoom? Then you’ll love Josh Williamsons story here and his new villain GodSpeed. Why? Because it’s almost (not exactly) like the entire second season of Flash. Quick Catch up, somehow a story came through (thanks to a rogue science group) that gave everyone speed powers thanks to the Speed Force. So Central City was full of Speedsters. Flash teamed up with STAR Labs to develop a training program to help these individuals learn to control their powers. Shortly before all this, Barry Allen’s partner was also given speed powers and he’s been working as a close friend/partner with Flash to take down crime. Barry/Flash found a new love interest from a scientist at STAR Labs who also received speed powers (You get a speed power, you get a speed power, everyone gets speed powers! Thanks Oprah!) Well the fun didn’t last as a new villain showed up wearing all white and yellow, calling himself GodSpeed and seems to be able to “steal” other speedsters well speed! The effect kills the other speedster and makes GodSpeed stronger. This is the big reveal issue by Joshua Williamson on who Godspeed is! The result is well, not that shocking. The identity and motivations of Godspeed are pretty predictable and generic. I had higher hopes for this, but in the end it’s another generic evil speedster story. Still, Carmine di Giandomenico and Ivan Plascencia kill it on the art aspect, and make the whole book look very cool! Their speed effects are fantastic, and really bring the intensity to a whole new level. How will this all conclude, I’m not that excited to find out (a shame considering I am a fan of Williamson’s work) but I’ll stick along for the ride anyway.
GREEN LANTERNS #6
STORY: Sam Humphries ART: Jack Herbert, Will Conrad COLORS: Blond
REVIEW: We get another intro from Sam Humphries that basically goes over who these two main Green Lanterns are and what their current predicament is. So, if you’ve never read a Green Lantern’s book yet you can still pretty much pick up issue 6 and still be mostly caught up. It’s a good bad tactic. Good, in the sense that yeah a new reader can just grab this (or really any issue so far) and start reading as the first few pages almost always seem to be a variation on a re-cap. Bad, in the sense that if you’re already a consistent reader you need to basically deal with a few pages of stuff you already and know and information that is completely redundant. It’s a small gripe, but a gripe nonetheless. Putting that aside, the story of Rage Planet comes to its conclusion as the GLs must dig deep to stop Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns from turning Earth into one big rage world! With Simon Baz in a bad spot, Jessica has to overcome her anxieties to do something truly amazing to turn the tide in their favor. Robson Rocha may have taken a break from this issue, but the art team doesn’t fail to deliver on this conclusion which has a few big moments. I’m curious what big threat will come next for the two GLs, the after effects of the RLs, and if this book will ever connect with the current Hal Jordan series.
HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORP #4
STORY: Robert Venditti ART: Ethan Van Sciver, Jason Wright
REVIEW: have you ever wanted to see Guy Gardner naked? Well if the answer is yes this is about the closest thing you’ll get (aside from some Yaoi drawings on Deviantart with Guy and Hal-I watched Tweek x Craig South Park episode the other night. Disclaimer: I don’t know if any Guy x Hal Yaoi art actually exists). Venditti has Sinestro do some classic villain monologing to Guy about the Fear Engine! (Is that trade marked?) And Van Sciver continues to prove why he’s simply the best damn Green Lantern artist ever…EVER! The other nice part about Hal and the GLs that I’ve come to accept is you really don’t need to care about any other DC book. You do need to have read the New 52 runs of GL corps and Hal Jordan and New Guardians and all the other GL books if you want a the “FULL” picture. If not, just accept that the GLs have been “elsewhere” battling for their lives, Hal was left alone, Yellow Lanterns are running the show, but now Hal is in full gear ready to kick butt, and the GL Corp is back ready to free the Universe from the Yellow Lanterns!
NEW SUPER-MAN #3
STORY: Gene Luen Yang ART: Richard Friend, Viktor Bogdanovic COLROS: Hi-Fi
REVIEW: This is another one of those fun wacky stories that you think would be terrible but turns out to be a lot of fun! We continue the adventures of Kenan Kong as the Superman of China! He gets a few bonding moments with his teammates (The Batman and Wonder Woman of China) after he gives away his identity to everyone on camera. So now the world knows China has a Superman, and who that Superman is. What effect will this have going forward if any, that remains unclear but it could introduce a bunch of possibilities. So far I’m really enjoying what Yang is doing with the characters, and how he hasn’t put too much emphasis on the political climate of China, but at the same time doesn’t completely shy away from it. We’ve got an interesting rogues gallery forming, and the dynamic with Batman and Wonder Woman of China feels genuine. Bogdanovic is pulling some off some really beautiful page work in this series, and I really hope he can either continue on for a while or gets moved to another main stream book. He is way too talented to be left floating around. I’m not sure how long New Super-Man will keep going, as it’s definitely been floating under a lot of people’s radars but I really hope more fans start to pick this series up and enjoy something different from the other DC titles.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #2
STORY: Scott Lobdell ART: Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini
REVIEW: What happened to Scott Lobdell?? I feel like there was a point in time where he was one of the “go to guys” for writing comic books. Now his stories just seem to lack any depth, mostly revolve around corny one liner, and very poorly written plots. We’ve seen his formula of Red Hood, sexy Tough Girl (Starfire) and wacky weird third wheel (Roy/Arsenal) already in the previous Red Hood and the Outlaws series. Here we are again with sexy tough girl Artemis (who somehow will have an Origin that doesn’t tie into anything Wonder Woman series has shown) and Bizarro (just makes a final moment debut here but we all know where it’s heading). I am glad we seem to have moved away from the caste storyline that plagued Red Hood in the previous volume, but once more having a “hero” go undercover to stop a crime organization is also getting old (see Grayson/current Nightwing series). Why can’t we just get a Red Hood series, where basically he’s what happens if you merge Punisher and Batman together? That’s a fine series. Have him travelling the world to put down international criminals that normally float under the radar of heroes due to the lack of international heroes/vigilantes. That’s the Red Hood series that should be happening (not written by Lobdell!) Major plus side (also similar to the previous volume) the artwork is amazing! Dexter Soy is a top notch artist and draws the hell out of this book. Similar to how great it was for Roccafort in the previous series. So, if you don’t mind mindless storytelling, some T&A, gun fights all look awesome with a lackluster story, this just might be the series for you!
SUICIDE SQUAD #2
STORY: Rob Williams ART: Jim Lee, Scott Williams COLORS: Alex Sinclair
REVIEW: See what I wrote about the lackluster story telling but awesome artwork above for Red Hood? Well take that and times it by a hundred and you get Suicide Squad. This book is just dumb. That’s the best way to describe it. Events happen that don’t really need too or make sense, there aren’t any major stakes, everything feels over the top for no reason, and even though Jim Lee is supporting this series (he does every other issue) it also feels a little “blah”. It’s like Lee realizes this is a silly book, and doesn’t want to give it a 100%. That said, even 70% from Jim Lee is still freaking amazing. I know Rob Williams has said he wants very intense short lived storylines, but two issues in and I’m already bored of this one. Other than the blatant tie in for the movie (look at the lineup of the crew) the only big surprise comes at the end when the item the Squad was sent to retrieve is revealed, and it is a pretty big deal. A deal so big I’m really curious to see how the heck Williams’s plans on showing the Squad deal with this threat. So, who knows maybe this book will turn around for me and I’ll end up enjoying it again.
STORY: Phil Jimenez ART: Matt Santorelli, Jeremy Cox
REVIEW: Superwoman has been an “OK” title thus far. I can’t really say if I like or dislike the series, but it does intrigue me. The series has a cool way of bringing back the “energy” superman concept via Lana Lang. I liked the twist at the end of the previous story about Lois seemingly dying, and now Lana is the real Superwoman left. I can enjoy Steel being a supporting character in the series, along with Natasha Irons. So it has some good foundations here to be a fun series, but there is something just throwing me off. Maybe it’s the characters, or the dialogue or the threat that feels a bit weak. Phil Jimenez is a good artist, but he’s definitely lacking on some of the better points for writing. To help keep the story interesting Matt Santorelli and Jeremy Cox both produce some strong artwork that can make some of the most dull moments interesting. The problem for me is Steel is almost exactly like Cyborg, and both are boring. When Steel was first introduced (Pre-Flashpoint) created by Louise Simonson, he had some attitude, and even in his solo series there was bit of “street wise” aspect to the character that almost gave him a Luke Cage vibe. Now, he’s just another generic dude. I’m glad he’s around and there is some diversity in the story, but come on Phil! Give John Henry some personality! It would work so much better against Lana’s more hot headed nature. Anyway, all that aside the series has some potential and I’m never one to turn down a book with a strong female protagonist (just write her well!).
Wonder Woman #6
STORY: Greg Rucka ART: Nicola Scott, Romulo Fajardo Jr.
REVIEW: Greg Rucka should just always write Wonder Woman. He’s proven he can tackle this character in so many variations that is it ridiculous how well and smooth he does it. You’ve got this current storyline giving us a new and potentially solid history for Diana, and then on the “off” issues, you’ve got his work with Sharpe which is a completely different take and setting for Wonder Woman. The contract is amazing and (I hope) intentional. If not, wow! Are there some subtle muses working in the minds of this creative powerhouse team. The Nicola Scott arc is bright, cheery, and shows a very young naïve Diana about to embark on becoming the hero she is destined to be. While the story is still serious, there is a more playful tone to the narrative, as oppose to the future storyline where Diana is more battle weary, the colors are more dulled, and the stakes are much higher. Here, in the past, Rucka shows the early stages of Diana getting her unique abilities while stuck inside a jail cell (damn American’s don’t trust no outsider!). The significance of this aspect is, it’s a complete departure from previous histories of how Wonder Woman received her gifts/abilities. The Gods represent themselves as creatures of Earth and bestow upon Diana her powers (Kind of like Shazam but not really), all of this is completely different from the early George Perez powers at birth story. I for one am completely ok with the retelling (loyalist and purists might get upset) and really want there to be a full series by Rucka and Scott showing all the early years for this character (I know it won’t happen). D yourself a favor, and start reading this series if you haven’t yet!
Whew! That was a lot of books! The crazy part is I'm most likely going to be sticking with ALL these titles! So unless something really dumb comes a long that completely puts me off, stay tuned for more reviews for these awesome DC:REBIRTH titles! What books have you dropped or decided to stick with? Sound off on the comments below!
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