COMIC BOOK REVIEWS: DC ROUND UP WEEK 08-17-2016
DC Comics has been killing it with sales lately, and for good reason! The Rebirth has been a success with almost every series delivering well-written and illustrated stories. Whatever editorial direction Geoff Johns put the company on, it’s worked! The characters feel fresh and new again, while still keeping true to the status quo set up in the New 52 Universe. Could the books do a slightly better job at feeling more “interconnected” (No that doesn’t mean crossover!)? Sure! But regardless, each individual series feels very well put together and on a focused plot. So without further delay, check out the hot books from this week’s DC Comics Rebirth line up!
GREEN ARROW #5
STORY: Benjamin Percy ART: Juan Ferreyra
REVIEW: If you were to tell me a year or so ago (or even further back) that future me would be excited for a Green Arrow book, I might have slapped you and called you a liar before challenging you to a duel. Boy, would past me be blushing now! Seriously, Green Arrow is the perfect example to me of what Rebirth should be doing (Superman is also in this type of praising). They successfully rejuvenated the character and brought back elements that made them whole. This week, Benjamin Percy wraps up his storyline involving the Ninth Circle, Oliver Queen’s money/legacy, and all the loose plot threads involving his evolving team. The future looks bright for Oliver despite some definite hardships, and as long as the book keeps Juan Ferreyra onboard, I will remain a happy camper!
STORY: Tom King ART: David Finch, Matt Banning, Sandra Hope, Scott Hanna COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
REVIEW: I really like Tom Kings style of writing. It's introspective without getting overly expository or dull. I’m enjoying the thought process Bruce goes through as he tries to take on a being seemingly more powerful foe than Superman. While the storyline is a bit weak -- I'm not excited about the origin of the Gotham’s powers or the weird future tense prose spoken by Gotham Girl at the end -- the plot as a whole held up and was an excellent introduction to King’s Batman! Helping, of course, was David Finch, getting each issue in on time and looking amazing, some of the best work he’s put out in a while (including his previous Batman work). I wanna see Duke start to come around more, as he still seems kind of useless, but I’m guessing the next story arc will really focus more on his and Bruce’s dynamic. Regardless, I will be waiting impatiently for the next installment.
BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY #1
STORY: Julie Benson, Shawna Benson ART: Claire Roe COLORS: Allen Passalaqua
REVIEW: I liked Batgirl, but I LOVE Batgirl & the Birds of Prey! The Benson sisters have got an amazing talent for plotting a story and giving some excellent dialogue! They really have a handle on these characters and are making their interactions feel fun and natural (unlike some books where “female friends” interact—not looking at A-Force or anything, or Spider-Woman or anything..nope..) while keeping the action turned up. Claire Roe delivers big time on the art, with some beautiful color work from Allen Passalaqua. If you’ve been wanting a return to form for Babs, then I suggest picking this series up, pronto!
STORY: Dan Abnett ART: Philippe Briones COLORS: Gabe Eltaeb
REVIEW: I gotta admit, at first I wasn’t really feeling this Aquaman series. It might have been one of the weaker Rebirth issues, and while I’m a fan of Dan Abnett’s writing (LOVE all his Guardians of the Galaxy work) I just didn’t care for his Aquaman. Now, things are getting interesting, as there some real potential in Arthur being a sort of “enemy #1,” and branded as a terrorist! Yeah, the concept sounds ridiculous and it's really stretching my ability to accept “nonsense” rationale in comics, but putting that aside and just giving in to the story I can see how it all might get really intense going forward. Arthur isn’t responsible for all the acts being conducted out by Atlanteans, but he’s the king and gotta take responsibility, but how can he do that if he's being labeled as a terrorist and fighting the U.S. troops/government? It’s an interesting dilemma, as Aquaman needs to hold back as much as possible and not incite a war between Atlanteans and USA. Phillippe Briones handles the follow up issue from his debut in Issue #4, and that already is a longer streak than any other artist on the book. Maybe he will be the fit that the book needs, and finally there can be some consistent art going forward, which with Briones is a really good thing!
GREEN LANTERNS #5
STORY: Sam Humphries ART: Robson Rocha, Jay Leisten, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira COLORS: Blond
REVIEW: I get this feeling Sam Humphries has a cool idea to use the Red Lanterns but hadn’t really fleshed everything out to its fullest, and before he could DC was like “Okay, you’re the writer on Green Lanterns and you need to start pumping out issues next week!”. So now he’s gotta drag out moments and consistently retread covered ground as he slowly gets his Red Lantern story out there. It isn’t horrible, but it feels redundant. We get it, Jessica’s inability to control her fear and self-doubt is overwhelming (how the heck does that ring still work??). Simon Baz is a hot head, but better put together and seemingly suited for the job. Now let’s see them actually work together a bit more. Instead, we just keep getting shown moments of Jessica about to be heroic only to crumble, and Simon being left on his own and trying to do carry it all. I’m sure the big moment is going to be Jessica finally creating a construct and that will somehow be what defeats Atrocitus but will it have been too long a wait for it to be impactful? Guess we’ll find out. Also maybe Robson Rocha needs to have Eduardo Pansica alternate art duties with him on the series, as each issue requires a lot of fill in artist to help out with the pages. Robson is super talented, but if it’s taking too long to get a full issue done, let him switch it up someone like Pansica whose style isn’t too different. Just a thought. Regardless, Green Lanterns is still a great book to pick up and read!
HARLEY QUINN #2
STORY: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti ART: Bret Blevins, Chard Hardin, John Timms
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
REVIEW: Issue 2 picks up right where #1 left off, which seems to pretty much pick up where Harley Quinn 30 left off. So, overall it's more of a continuation for fans of the series than a jumping-on point for new readers. That sort of puts me in a weird position, because I enjoy the writing but I’m also at a loss since I know nothing about any of these characters, except Red Tool who is an obvious rip off/parody of Deadpool. The fun part, though, is the book is completely bonkers, doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and some really slick artwork by Hardin, Timms, Blevin and Sinclair. So there’s always that. If you were already a fan of the Harley Quinn series then you’ll obviously love this, and if you were not but were curious based on the movie -- then this book isn’t for you. There are little to no comparisons to other forms of Harley Quinn I could say match this (not Batman: The Animated Series not Suicide Squad, not even the Arkham games). So check it out if you’d like, but be aware this is more of a comedy slapstick Harley than anything else.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #3
STORY: Bryan Hitch ART: Tony S Daniels, Sandu Florea COLORS: Tomeu Morey
REVIEW: Okay, so for all my praising of the DC Rebirth lineup there is one book that just remains flat and lifeless. That book is Justice League. I just can’t get behind Hitch's story of some weird invasion that features poorly written characters (including a horrible representation of the Lois). It’s like he wants to have this great big concept going here with these beings that seem to be from ancient times, and they are the true owners of the “powers” in the DC Universe (which makes zero sense), but it all just falls so flat! A part of me wants this to be somehow connected to Dr. Manhattan and his manipulation of the New 52 universe, which it might end up being cool, and could save the story, but at the same time it’s still just dumb. That’s the best way to describe this BEAUTIFULLY drawn (seriously Tony Daniels is the man!) series -- dumb and boring.
STORY: Tim Seeley ART: Javier Fernandez COLORS: Chris Sotomayor
REVIEW: Seeley has Night and Raptor needing to break into a house that is literally one giant maze created by one of the great maze/puzzle makers of the era! To complicate things even more, Batgirl has shown up, worried about Dick after he failed to meet up with her in Japan. Now the three must find a way to break into the trap-filled Labyrinth to steal a map, which depicts the floor plans of the Parliament of Owls! Seeley handles a really good mix-up of action, comedy and that Dick Grayson charm! Raptor has been a fun co-lead in the series and I hope he sticks around even after this Parliament of Owls storyline wraps up. Javier Fernandez artwork continues to be strong, while nothing about is very unique or stand out, it’s a safe style and keeps the eye moving along comfortably. I’ll still wish Mikel Janin was on the series and maybe one day we'll get him back on.
SUICIDE SQUAD #1
STORY: Rob Williams ART: Jim Lee, Scott Williams COLORS: Alex Sinclair
REVIEW: So DC really wants you to read this book, if you saw the movie. Almost everything that takes place here is devoid of any connection to New 52 continuity or just about any continuity at that. Even Amanda Waller looks different. I honestly expected Deadshot to suddenly be black and bald with a beard. I know this book will end up somehow getting tied into big company crossovers, but it genuinely should have just been an Earth One version. So, regardless, here we are with a story by Rob Williams. Versions of characters don’t quite resemble their movie counterparts, and don’t resemble their established versions in the current landscape of the DCU. What does that mean? We get some pretty generic dialogue, followed by generic action sequences in a generic story. The only, and I mean ONLY thing keeping this series relevant is the artwork. It’s Jim Lee with trusty sidekick inker Scott Williams. That alone just makes it ten times better than it should be. He’ll be alternating with Philip Tan on the series who is also no slouch by any means. So, for that reason, I might keep giving the book a shot and hope Williams does something interesting with book that does very little to earn any respect aside from copying the movie lineup. If you aren’t a Jim Lee fan, then this book probably won’t interest you unless you’ve got some major desire to read about these characters. A shame, as I had high hopes this book would have something special going. Maybe it just needs a better writer or script.
SUPERGIRL: REBIRTH #1
STORY: Steve Orlando ART: Emanuela Lupacchino COLORS: Michael Atiyeh
REVIEW: Confession -- I haven’t watched any episodes of the Supergirl TV show. I’ve heard this book apparently borrows heavily from it, but I can’t attest to any of that. I also lost interest super (get it?!) fast in the Supergirl series during its last New 52 run. What does any of that mean? Well it means when I started this Rebirth issue, I was hoping for some sort of eased introduction to what’s going on. Instead I get a very vague set up of who this Supergirl is, why she has the identity of Kara Danvers, how the D.E.O. are part of this -- but what the heck is Argo city? With all those questions floating around, I still managed to enjoy this story, but wasn’t blown away by anything. There isn’t anything about Kara/Supergirl that jumps out as unique. She’s not overly cute, or quirky, or sarcastic, or stern, or anything. She’s basic. Her dialogue is safe, and dull. Her supporting cast are predictable and average. Does any of it read as terrible? No, it just also doesn’t read as exciting. There was little to make me think “oh man, I can’t wait for next issue!” Hopefully Steve Orlando can put some life and excitement into this series before it dies a horrible (and boring) death. Similar to Suicide Squad, a saving grace is the artwork from Lupacchino and Atiyeh. The two really pour some beautiful images onto the pages and find a way to make some dull scenes more exciting than they should be. From Kara emerging from the sun super charged again, to the weird Kryptonian werewolf creature, all of it just looked really well polished. Now just to get the story up to par with the art and this could be a real stand out book.
STORY: Peter J Tomasi, Patrick Gleason ART: Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza COLORS: Wil Quintana
REVIEW: I accused Humphries of dragging out a story, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t do the same here with Gleason and Tomasi. I like the Eradicator storyline and it definitely feels less “dragging” than what Humphries has with Green Lanterns, but still this issue felt a lot like “filler” than forward momentum for the story. Now we are at the moon where Superman knows about a secret base that Batman keeps inside a crater. Apparently the only security this crater has are robot bats that don’t do much but fly around screeching. Even a hi-tech super powered Batsuit has no fail safes or security measures, as Lois can easily equip and get right into the action! We get some more moments of Jonathan Kent showing he has what it takes to become Superboy, and continued rhetoric from Eradicator about his mission (in case you didn’t get for the last couple of issues, he wants to rid Jonathan Kent because half breeds don’t have a place in the world, and Kryptonians need to stay pure). Doug Mahnke and Mendoza have a very unique collaborative style, and you always know when they draw a book. Their artwork here really shines, and Wil Quintana adds some spectacular color work. I still have this hope somehow Eradictor can be redeemed or fixed and be a staple of the DCU again (maybe as a “Vision”-like character), but I don’t see that happening unfortunately. For now, we will continue with Superman fighting characters that existed in the pre-New 52 world! (Yes I know this is a New 52 version of Eradicator-enough with schematics!)
That's it for DC comics this week! What have been your favorite Rebirth titles? Any characters not yet introduced you're hoping for? Is there a series you just don't like? Sound off in the comments below!
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