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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Rebirth Batman DC Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEWS: DC ROUND-UP WEEK 07-27-2016

DC’s Rebirth is going strong, as the company gives us some fantastic books with great creative teams. Geoff Johns begin given more power and helping craft this road for the company was definitely the smart choice here. So with all the praise being given, there are a few areas I’d like to see some improvement. The most important is being “continuity”. Part of what brought about this change was getting the characters back to basics, back to remnants of their pre-new52 personas which so many readers were drawn too. That’s great, and I think it’s starting to show through the writers the company has on each title (thus far). However, there are some aspects that make feel like these books exist in their own self-contained worlds, which is fine, but then at other points some series try to reference other series, making it all kind of muddled.  Case in point, Tom King has Batman handling two super powered beings called The Gothams in “Batman”, however over in Detective James Tynion IV has Batman held captive and using Batwoman to create a sort of mini Bat Army/Team using the younger heroes. How are these two events happening in Batman’s life connected? Why does neither reference the other in anyway? I’m all for self-contained stories but some interaction would be nice between series which center around the same character. Also, what from New 52 is still good to go? In a lot of the “Rebirth” Stories there are some references to events that are blatantly pre-new52 (pretty much all of the Superman stuff) and other aspects from New52 are kind of glazed over or loosely mentioned. It’s a very strange story telling concept but hey, it’s working! In my reviews you’ll see some questions posed, if you have the answers please sound off in the comments!

Action Comics #960

STORY: Dan Jurgens ART: Tyler Kirkham COLORS: Ulises Arreola

Review: The fight between Superman and Doomsday rages on! Now Wonder Woman has joined the fray! All we are missing is Batman and we can get a BvS reunion! The shadowy figure watching it all still remains a mystery, but it’s implied he’s involved with the return of Doomsday and non-super powered Clark Kent. Everyone in the world is checking out this battle (even though only WW seems to care enough to show up to help) including Lois and Jon, with Lois extra worried due to the events that took place last time Kal went up against Doomsday. Just when it looks like things might be getting ready to be finished off, Doomsday senses young Jon and now the stakes are raised. It’s one thing to mess with Superman; it’s another thing to mess with his family! Jurgens continues to show why he is one of the best Superman writers over the last decade, and truly has a way of getting the essence of these characters. Jurgens also makes sure to visit the awkward elephant in the room of the previous Superman’s relationship with Wonder Woman, and the new dynamic of this Pre-52 Superman and his wife Lois. It was nice to see this plot point addressed and just the right amount of time was given to it. Lex Luthor was more marginalized this time, and I just hope this doesn’t lead to “evil super Lex” and instead we can hold on to the “Superior Superman” version of Lex. Making this entire battle truly epic is the awesome artwork of Tyler Kirkham. The dude was killing it on Deathstroke, and now he’s bringing those skills over to Superman and I love it! Please keep this team on this book!

Score: B+

Batgirl #1

STORY: Hope Larson ART: Rafael Albuquerque

Review: A Batgirl in Japan! Not sure how this ties into anything going in Birds of Prey, but like my opening statement it seems DC is more focused on just telling stories with these characters and continuity be damned. On the plus side, this is a new batgirl series with a new creative team and no more hipster style dialogue and story. At least not in this issue, instead award winning writer Hope Larson gives us a very mature Babs this time around, who is on a journey of self-discovery. The first stop is here in Japan where she plans on meeting and interviewing Fruit Bat, a female costumed vigilante from the 40’s that Bab’s hopes to get some wisdom from while telling her story. Much to our heroine’s surprise, her roommate at the hostel she’s staying at turns out to be an old child hood friend from Gotham. Their reunion gets cut short when a mysterious assassin seems to be targeting the child hood friend and Batgirl needs to come and save the day! Rafael Albuquerque delivers some really nice artwork here, pages are bright and full of warm colors, and characters are super expressive. It will be a tough call to see which series hold my attention more, this or Birds of Prey but one thing is for certain-Batgirl is in good hands!

Score: B

Detective Comics #937

STORY: James Tynion IV ART: Alvo Martine, Raul Fernandez COLORS: Brad Anderson

Review: “Rise of the Batmen” continues, as we learn a bit more of the Colony and just what lengths Batgirls father, Col. Jacob Kane has gone to in order to create his Batmen army. Batman’s in a bad situation as his escape attempt fails and he soon finds himself surrounded, luckily he’s got his newly formed Batman team to the rescue led by Batwoman. Will it be enough though? And will Kate Kane openly defy her father and choose NOT to lead the Batmen army? We’ll have to wait until next issue to see what James Tynion Iv has planned for everyone! A plan I hope really delivers as this story seems to be a bit pointless. Jacob Kane decided Bruce wasn’t “batman” enough so he created an army that mimics everything Bruce has done, but goes one step further. He wants to use this army to fight the league of shadows (a crazy MORE evil offshoot of the League of Assassins) but for some reason spying and kidnapping Batman became part of the plan, I guess nearly killing Azrael too. It’s a bit of a weak plot, and we haven’t really seen much of a team building aspect when it comes to the supporting cast so I guess I’ll wait and see how this all unfolds before jumping to a conclusion that this might a weak batman series.  The artwork is strong though, as Martine and Fernandez along with Anderson deliver some pretty solid pages. Nothing is too jaw dropping, but each page is still very well executed and illustrated. Storytelling and pacing are on point and the line art is very crisp. The series has all the makings to be a huge hit, but right now it’s sort of floating just above standard. Hopefully all this turns around as this story keeps going and Tynion IV gets more into the groove.

Score: B-

The Flash #3

STORY: Joshua Williamson ART: Carmine Di Giandomenico COLORS: Ivan Plascencia

Review: Everyone’s a Flash! Well almost everyone. The speed force has seemingly unleashed a lighting storm that’s inflicted tons of people with SuperSpeed. Now Barry and his new partner Det Heart (also imbued with speed powers last issue) need to find a way to round up all the citizens using the abilities for less than noble purposes. Yet Det. Heart isn’t the only ally with newly given Speed. Barry meets a young female scientist working at STAR Labs who is attempting to find a way to cure and help those afflicted with the Speed Force. We get a touching moment with Flash helping a young girl learn not to be afraid of the newly emerged speed powers, only to then be juxtaposed by the arrival of GodSpeed! A villain seemingly able to absorb the Speed Force from others. My guess is GodSpeed will be the Rebirth’s “Zoom” villain. Regardless, hat’s off to Williamson for creating a pretty fun and cool storyline for the Flash. Having a city full of people who can do what he does, and trying to find a way to keep the chaos in check is pretty interesting. Giandomenico and Plascencia give us more action packed and vibrant pages, really letting us feel the power and speed the Flash and other speedsters are exuding.  The design for Godspeed is a little hokey, but I’m sure it will grow on me over time. I would like to see Zoom be used, as maybe a “Hannibal” type to Flash’s “Clarice” to track down and stop someone like GodSpeed.

Score: B

Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns #1

STORY: Robert Venditti ART: Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona COLORS: Tomeu Morey

Review: So, I’m feeling completely lost with this series. In Green Lanterns Rebirth Hal, Guy and John leave earth to meet up with all the other Lanterns to handle some threat at the edge of space leaving behind Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. Then Hal and the Gls (sounds like a bad rock band) rebirth has him wearing the Krona gear, forging his own ring, and all the GL’s missing. It also has a super old Sinestro, ruling warworld and his yellow lanters patrolling the galaxy having replaced the now gone Gls. This issue we even have Soranik as a full fledged yellow lantern which when did that happen? I know she was taken captive in forever evil, and I believe was an “ambassador” between Gls and Yls but what? Anyway, Hal fights some yellow lanterns, Sinestro becomes young again, and the GL Corp arrives back from wherever they were. I gotta say, I miss Johns on GL, I miss Tomasi on GL, I miss Ron Marz on GL! I’m just not liking Venditti here at all. This GL story feels so disconnected from everything else, that its even a loose follow up to the ending of GL 52. I love all things Green Lantern so I’ll continue reading but I can easily see this series being confusing or alienating (no pun intended) to new readers or those who maybe stopped reading awhile back. It is definitely not a series meant to welcome new blood. Helping matters is Rafa Sandoval on pencils with inks by Tarragona and colors by Morey. Rafa has a very sharpe, sometimes exaggerated art style but it’s all working really well here and his constructs look amazing. I can’t wait to start seeing some serious GL vs YL action going on and all the awesome objects that will be created.

Score: B-

Nightwing #1

STORY: Tim Seeley ART: Javier Fernandez COLORS: Chris Sotomayor

Review: People must really love Dick being undercover (pun intended). Seeley has our hero once more serving as a double agent, pretending to be an ally of the Parliament of Owls (off shoot of Court of Owls) while secretly wanting to take their organization apart from the inside. Even Batgirl isn’t crazy about the idea, with Nightwing just getting back his secret identity and re-establishing himself in Gotham. Still, a Nightwings gotta do what a Nightwings gotta do! That means protecting his friends and family by working inside a corrupt evil cabal, so be it! The real intrigue comes when, after failing to be as ruthless as they like, the Parliament of Owls sets up Nightwing with a new partner/mentor-Raptor a seemingly bad ass mercenary who’s going to toughen Dick up. Can Nightwing keep the balance of what Bruce taught him, while holding up the charade of anti-hero? Only time will tell.

Score: B+

Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth #1

STORY: Scott Lobdell ART: Dexter Soy COLORS: Veronica Gandini

Review: So the set up for this book in solicitations is all wrong. Maybe eventually Jason is going to team up with Artemis and Bizarro, but this rebirth issue is entirely focused on introducing Jason Todd to the uninformed. It seems to gloss over the whole Joker potentially being the one responsible for all his life’s pains (aside from the blatant killing him part) and we get the classic Batman finds Jason as a teen stealing the Batmobiles tires, and eventually takes him in. We learn all about the death and resurrection of Todd, leading up to his current status of anti-hero, and his hidden desire to still make Batman proud. Redhood is just going to go about it in a different way. So, if you’re uncertain just who Red Hood is, Scott Lobdell pretty much gives us the full run down of the character. Now hopefully we get similar treatments for Artemis and Bizarro to understand what their current incarnation’s history and personalities are before we do the whole new team up thing. It’s also strange that the time Redhood spent with Starfire and Arsenal is nowhere mentioned in the history lesson, equally none of that seems to be mentioned in the Titans series by Roy either. I’m wondering if this will be part of the “forgotten” parts of new 52 to make way for new histories to be suddenly created out of nowhere. Either way, that series was by Lodbell, this series is by Lodbell so I guess if anyone gets to ignore a story, it should by the creator of it. Oh and Dexter Soy is drawing one hell of a book here. If Dexter is the regular artist on this series after the rebirth, then it definitely will a must title for me (much like Rocafort being the artist on the New52 relaunch version).

Score: B

Titans #1

STORY: Dan Abnett ART: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund

Review: So this series sort of picks up on the mystery of “who manipulated the titans and DC universe into forgetting 10 years” story. However, I gotta wonder if something has happened editorial wise since the Rebirth special. The reason I say this is (spoiler!) it was heavily hinted at that the being whom was manipulating the construction of time/space (creation of new 52 Earth) was Dr. Manhattan. Yet, here it seems the reveal is a completely different, third tier villain. So, I’m not sure where Abnett is going with this. Plus side, Abnett gives us a fun story full of great character development, and a cool explanation for Wally’s new suit. I also really like Brett Booth’s style when drawing Wally in action. The whole issue is actually drawn super sharp and looks amazing. It might not be the best book in the Rebirth line up, but it’s definitely going to be in the top 10!

Score: B+

 Wonder Woman #3

STORY: Greg Rucka ART: Liam Sharp

Review: I still don’t get what’s going on here. I know this story line is set years after the concurrent Wonder Woman story line (the one happening on the even numbered issues). This takes place after JLA 52 and the Darkseid War. What I’m uncertain about is how much further than everything else going on it takes place, and is the reason why Diana can no longer find Themyscira because of what Dr. Manhattan did, or are other forces at play? Last we saw Cheetah was in Forever Evil and she was captured. Cheetah blames Diana for being the way she is, but I don’t recall that going down that way in New 52. Regardless, Rucka has Wonder Woman teaming up with Cheetah to fend creatures of the “Hunt” out to kill Cheetah in return for the villain’s assistance in finding Themyscira. Another example of a story that seems to just be existing in its own little world, borrowing loosely from various continuity taking place before it. Rucka is a great writer, and one of the best Wonder Woman has had, and even here with this sort of vague storyline he’s doing an excellent job. I just almost wish at this point everything was a “Earth One” story so writers could just keep doing whatever they wanted and it didn’t look odd their lack of caring for what came before or is currently happening involving the characters. Someone else that gets the character of Wonder Woman is Liam Sharp! The guy is drawing a beautiful book here, and the lush agriculture of Africa is on display. Everything feels alive in these pages, and the warm glow captures the moments perfectly. It definitely helps keeps me exciting to see what the next issue has in store.

Score: B

There goes this weeks DC Rebirth titles! I’ll continue to read up and review each series for at least six or so issues before deciding which ones I might drop (if any). What are your favorites so far? Anything stand out? Any characters you want to see get relaunched in a series? Got a dream creative team in mind? Sound of in the comments!

-Jeremy Scully

Follow me on twitter @LRM_Jerem

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.