Note: This article has been updated with reviews of Constantine the Hellblazer, Starfire (featuring Dick Grayson), Catwoman’s first issue with a new creative team, and some Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover goodness. c
Welcome to our recaps of this week’s DC Comics. Ray Goldfied is our resident prototypical DC Comics reader, while I pick and choose among my favorites and whatever quality story grabs me from week to week.
This week, as the title suggests, Gotham as the place to be. The Robin War goes down as the police get the upper hand in a series of issues that were an improvement (at least to me) from the beginning of this crossover event. Then the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hide out in Gotham’s sewers, still ordering pizza, while trying to stop the bad guys and get home.
Plus, more DC Comics Bombshells!
Batman and Robin Eternal #10 – James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, script, Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges, art.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Without missing a beat, this issue continues the story of Jason and Tim’s mission in Santa Prisca, in the Church of St. Dumas, as they come face to face with the new incarnation of fan favorite Azrael. Surrounded by powerful goons who can terminate their technology, Jason and Tim struggle to hold their own against the evil Priests while their temporary ally Bane goes up against Azrael – and quickly gets dismantled, his Venom strain severed before he is subject to Azrael’s strange brainwashing power that gives him a painful form of clarity.
Jason and Tim escape and dig into the Church’s computer history, finding the records of Jean-Paul Valley, one of Mother’s children who is now Azrael. Before they can decide on a plan, Azrael attacks, and Azrael gets the drop on Tim, subjecting him to the same form of brainwashing. This is a weird acid-trip of a segment, with bizarre visuals that leave Tim nearly catatonic and rambling about how they failed Bruce.
We probably won’t find out exactly what this means for a while, but flashbacks give some clues, in a scene where Bruce and Dick have a falling-out over their mutual post-fear gas anxieties, which leads Bruce to meet up with Mother again to discuss what she can do for him. I’m wondering if they’re really going to reveal that one of the Robins was her “product”. The final segment checks in on Dick and Harper, as they head to David Cain’s secret hideout, only to meet with an agent of Mother’s known as the Sculptor – who knows Harper Row by name and refers to her as a “runaway”. Not quite as polished as the last few issues, with a little too much of the issue devoted to action, but this series never stops dropping interesting new tidbits for us to mull over.
Corrina: I hope the reveal isn’t that Robin is one of their products unless Batman “purchased” one to save him from Mother’s brainwashing. Given Tim was already activated by Mother earlier this series, and he’s the one Bruce kept the most at length so he could have his own life, it seems like this is going to be about Tim. I wonder if they’re rewriting his origin once more.
Makes me want to go grab my Chuck Dixon Robin issues. Those were good stuff.
I loved Dick and Harper’s banter in this issue. Not so much Tim and Jason’s. I’m not sure how much I can take of them commenting all the time about all the problems they had as Robins. Let’s have some fun with this, guys! Let’s have some male bonding about learning to do all the stuff you do in unison, instead of complaining about not living up to Bruce’s legacy or not wanting to be pulled into it.
Azrael! I’m giving him short shrift here, but he seems almost exactly the same as in the original Azrael series. I wonder if Denny O’Neil is smiling somewhere? Now, we just need Onyx and Slam Bradley back to complete the group of Bat-characters who haven’t shown up in some time.
Hey, where is Orpheus, anyway?
Batman #47 – Scott Snyder, writer, Greg Capullo, pencils, Danny Miki, inks.
Corrina: Highly Recommended.
Ray: Jim Gordon’s first arc as Batman is running pretty long, and it seems like his term in the Bat-suit might wind up being one epic-length story. A story of this length could feel drawn out, but it really doesn’t here, as Snyder delivers two compelling plot lines with an epic whammy of a final page that I didn’t see coming at all. In the main plot, Jim Gordon has finally found his way to Mr. Bloom’s lair and confronted him, only to have his Bat-suit (or partner, as he likes to call him) be reprogrammed and turned against him. So Jim, sans armor, finds himself in a two-on-one battle. He’s able to dismantle the Bat-armor, but Mr. Bloom quickly overwhelms him and reveals his plan to plant his monstrous “seeds” around Gotham – only for Gordon to use the remnants of the armor to release an electromagnetic pulse, deactivating the seeds and crippling Mr. Bloom. He’s able to capture the villain and transport him back to headquarters – until Bloom gets loose, stabs him, and possibly reveals that he’s not the only one anymore.
For me, though, the best part of the issue was Bruce Wayne’s story. We start with Duke Thomas barely escaping from the Penguin and his goons, only to be met with Bruce Wayne who tries to get some information out of him. Duke reveals that he knows who Bruce was before, and tries to get him to remember via an insanely risky maneuver involving a speeding train – which gives Bruce an odd flashback to a Bat crashing through a window. Reeling, Bruce goes to the site of where he lost his memory to think, and a man sits down next to him. A normal-looking man with an unusually-sized grin, who says he had an accident at the same place. That’s the SECOND time Snyder has hit us with a shocking Joker reveal! Hail to the kind! This continues to be the most compelling book in DC’s stable by a wide margin.
Corrina: Aw, Jim Gordon got a win, finally. Wait, no he doesn’t, or, more accurately, he seems to realize that nobody quite wins in Gotham for very long. The ability to think on his feet and use his surroundings is one of Jim strength’s as he’s seen the insanity of Gotham up close. I also loved the narration about playing poker with the “Gotham” card, a wild card that completely resets the game. I’ll miss his narration as this issue is definitely hinting Bruce is back.
As for the Joker reveal, eh, I’m so sick of the Joker that I could do without him for a long time but I guess if we’re going to have Bruce resurrected, we need the Joker too, for balance. Maybe it’ll be yet another switch, and Joker will leave Gotham sane. At least for a while, until someone else wants to use him. But it will be interesting to see what kind of Bruce Wayne we get back.
Can we take a minute to praise the art team for making Mr. Bloom and his minions so creepy? None of these reveals would work without the outstanding art behind it.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 – script, James Tynion IV, art, Freddie E. Williams II
Corrina: Fun Crossover.
Ray: Inter-company crossovers are a really tricky thing to pull off. It’s always hard to figure out how the two characters fit into each others’ world, as well as to come up with a plot that feels relevant to both of them while standing alone in a story that isn’t likely to be followed up on. This is one of the best first issues of a miniseries like this that I can remember, and I put a lot of that success on the writing of Tynion, who is both very versed in the Bat-verse and has a great voice for younger characters like the Turtles.
If I have one complaint, it’s that Batman and the Ninja Turtles don’t actually meet until the final page of this issue, but the setup is strong. It’s got the Foot Clan breaking into Labs around Gotham to steal experimental technology, leading to a dramatic showdown between Batman and Shredder. Meanwhile, as Batman tries to track down the source of these raids, Killer Croc, and his goons decide to ambush the outside of the lab and raid the Batmobile. Their path to the site leads them through the sewers – and right into the lair of four green teenagers. When Croc destroys Mikey’s favorite Pony-based fighting game, you know it’s on. The plot is a bit thin in the first issue, but it serves really well as both a Batman comic, a Ninja Turtles comic, and a crossover. There’s a lot of clever little bits, such as the Turtles buying a pizza through a sewer grate, and it feels like the team-up between the two properties will be a lot of fun. A strong launch for a book I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.
Corrina: I have no strong feelings for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so I’m likely not the ideal audience for this book. (That would be GeekMom Dakster.) That said, I thought this was a strong opening for the crossover, tossing the Turtles into Gotham, and into hiding, as Batman investigated, trying to sort out what was happening between Shredder and the Turtles. The story gave each Turtle a distinct personality, put them into a predicament, and had a lot of fun with their encounter with Killer Croc. Careful, Turtles, you never know what else is hiding in Gotham’s sewers!
Though I had to laugh at the comments about the ninjas. What’s so unusual about ninjas in Gotham? It’s like practically their second home. In any case, this is a solid, fun Batman story.
Grayson #15 – script, Tom King, plot by Tim Seeley and Tom King, artist, Mikel Janin.
Corrina: Buy It! Highly recommended.
Ray: Robin War is in full swing, as the official Robins take charge of the training of the rookies. The idea of “Robin School” is kind of brilliant, and the best part is seeing the different way the four Robins train their charges. Damian just likes to fight everyone while yelling Drill Sergeant Nasty lines at them and takes a liking to Isabella because she’s the only one who doesn’t seem intimidated.
Red Robin wants them to fight smart – including blindfolded – and finds that Dre rises to the challenge. Jason, on the other hand, has a different idea of what constitutes training – stealing hubcaps from mob cars. Dax delivers in style. Dick, meanwhile, does some one on one training with Duke, and not only tests his skills but gets inside his head, determining that he has what it takes to be a leader of the Robins. From there, each of the Robins pairs off with their trainee in a mission to infiltrate the GCPD and find out more about where they’re keeping the captured Robins and what they’re planning. However, before they can pull off their plan, they’re betrayed and captured, with the GCPD being one step ahead of them at all times and ready to ambush all four teams. And the source of their info?
Grayson himself, who has decided that the mission is too dangerous for his brothers and the rest of the kids. He sets up their captures to make sure they’re taken safely and goes rogue to try to figure out more about Noctua and the power behind the scenes himself. And of course, the Court is always watching… This issue works smoothly as both an issue of Grayson with the regular creative team, and a strong second chapter of Robin War. And it dovetails right into Part Three this week.
Corrina: Yes, I was griping last week that this crossover nearly ruined the concept behind We Are Robin. This comic made me not so grumpy. Not only did it address the issue of so many untrained kids trying to be superheroes, not only did Dick Grayson show incredible self-awareness of the same problem, but then he did something entirely unpredictable.
And, might I say, Grayson was quite Bruce Wayne-Batman-like with the double cross to imprison the young Robins to keep them out of harm’s way. Usually, I don’t enjoy Jason Todd but his trial for his group of Robins, with the homage to his second origin–Batman caught him stealing tires off the Batmobile–was my favorite. I’m amazed that Dick convinced Damian to even try to train his crew but I still can’t get a handle on Tim. Between this and the events of Eternal, the Bat-sidekicks certainly have been busy.
Batman: Detective Comics #47 – writer, Ray Fawkes, artist, Steve Pugh
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: I said with the first issue of Robin War last week that I was getting strong flashbacks to Civil War. Well, in this issue, those parallels get much stronger. We find out where the Robins were taken after their capture last issue, and it’s not pretty. Instead of being processed like normal criminals, or having their parents called if they’re minors, they’ve been sent to a top-secret high-tech prison run by a shadowy side group of the GCPD.
Jim Gordon oversees this and is disgusted by how things are being handled, but is told that Councilwoman Nocturna is the one pulling the strings and she’s not being particularly forthcoming about what’s going to happen to them. On patrol, Jim is ambushed by Agent Grayson and the two have a knock-down hero vs. hero fight before…gasp…they actually talk things out and realize that they have common cause!
It has much more in common with the trailer for the Civil War movie than the Civil War comic. Damian pulls off a daring escape attempt within the prison and nearly pulls it off – but the jail is stocked with advanced technology that defuses his explosive device before it can go off, and the police are ready to descend on their captives. However, before they can take their frustrations out on anyone, representatives from the Court of Owls show up to take over the investigation. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. I don’t think this issue, especially the jail segments, are quite as polished as the first two chapters by King, but it does a great job of advancing the plot and leaving us wanting more. And speaking of more…(see Gotham Academy review below.)
Corrina: The Jim Gordon/Dick Grayson team-up is my favorite so far between the Jim Batman and anyone else. These two worked well together way back when, in Scott Snyder’s first masterpiece on the Batman books, The Black Mirror, and it’s great to see that trust reflected again here after some initial fighting. That made the issue for me.
Yes, I’m still grumbling about the Court of Owls and their obsession with Dick. Though, I guess, why should the Owls be different than anyone else in comicdom concerning its most eligible bachelor?
It’s official. I’m liking week 2 of Robin War quite a bit.
Gotham Academy #13 – Brenden Fletcher, writer, Adam Archer, pencils, Sandra Hope, inks
Corrina: Buy It!
Ray: Following the conclusion of GA’s first big arc, we have this tie-in issue with guest art by Adam Archer. Robin War comes to Gotham Academy with a student chasing down a thief in his Robin costume – only for both to come across a zombie rising out of the greenhouse. Both kids are expelled for violating the rules, but naturally the Gotham Academy Mystery club is interested in just what they saw there. However, Maps and Olive are distracted by the arrival of a new student – Riko Sheridan, from We Are Robin – who is now Olive’s new roommate, which Maps is less than happy with.
Most of the issue is pretty much in line with the Gotham Academy standard, with a creepy mystery unfolding and the kids staying just ahead of danger. I was also glad to see Kirk Langstrom play a bigger role this issue. There’s a sense of tension between the kids that isn’t usually there, but that makes sense given the arrival of Riko, who screws up the comfortable dynamic of the kids, especially once her secret is revealed. I did think the “Zombie” was the weakest part of the issue, as there are some interesting hints dropped – especially about its face – but the creature is fairly generic. Still, when Damian shows up at the end and Olive makes a shocking decision about Riko, things heat up. The art change takes a bit of getting used to, but Gotham Academy fans will definitely like this issue.
Corrina: The creators did a nice job making this issue interesting for first-time readers who grabbed it because of the Robin War tie-in. Olive and Maps came across clearly and well, as do the rest of Olive’s Scooby crew. There were also the touches that should intrigue new readers, such as the identities of the faculty members, and dropping in hints of past adventures for those who might be tempted to grab back-issues. (You should if you don’t have them.)
As a story, it was nice to have a one-off tale concerning Riko while at the same time teasing a greater mystery with the zombie from the greenhouse. This book is always high-quality. Once again, I’m grateful for each new issue.
Red Hood/Arsenal #7 – Scott Lobdell, writer, Javier Fernandez, artist
Corrina: Not Needed for the Crossover.
Ray: The final Robin War tie-in of the week, and easily the least of them, this comic separates the title characters as Jason heads off to deal with some family matters. The opening segment where Jason tries to convince Roy not to follow him is amusing, but that’s the only real laugh I got out of this issue. The segments with Jason and Tim in Gotham are pretty decent, although I am a bit weirded out by Jason referencing Tim as his favorite member of the Bat-family. I know there’s been a reboot, but in the pre-boot, they couldn’t stand each other, to the point where Jason at one point tried to stick a Batarang in Tim’s jugular. Now they’re besties, apparently. It’s a dramatic change that doesn’t quite feel backed up in the text.
It was still far more interesting than the story in which Red Hood and Joker’s Daughter fight the Circus of the Strange, Professor Pyg’s former creepy minions. Cojoined triplets, a massive bearded lady, and Doctor Phosphorous do not make for compelling villains. I’m never sure whether the title wants us to feel sorry for Joker’s Daughter or not, but if we are supposed to, having Roy threaten to execute her in cold blood if she kills the villains was not a good move. Then they get swallowed up by lava golems from the underground because everyone was clamoring for more plot lines from Subterranea.
Corrina: Very little of Tim’s new personality seems backed up by text and I thought Jason’s comments about him were weird, too, but they distracted me from the odd (in a bad way) team of Joker’s Daughter and Arsenal. I suspect the title wanted us to see JD as someone who could’ve gone another way, in a different time but is too far gone to be restored to sanity, hence Roy’s decision at the end. This is the best of Lobdell’s titles for DC.
That is not saying much.
DC Comics: Bombshells #6 – writer, Marguerite Bennett, art by Bilquis Evely, Laura Braga
Ray: Another strong outing for this clever, unique WW2 take on DC’s favorite heroines, as we get ever closer to the group finally joining forces as a team. In the first story, Mera finally gets a spotlight story as she helps out a ship fend off a German U-Boat with the help of her dolphins, only to then encounter the fleeing Supergirl and Stargirl from Russia, She’s able to restrain them, but then finds out who they are and makes clear that they don’t need to run anymore.
In the second story, Batwoman’s incredibly satisfying war against the Nazis continues, as she sabotages their bases with the help of her new self-appointed sidekick, Helena Bertinelli, who may have some ties to this world’s Selina Kyle. Rendezvousing with Luthor and Selina, this top-secret mission heats up as Luthor produces a possible secret weapon – Kryptonite. The third story brings almost everyone together as Diana escapes from military prison to meet up with Waller and her crew, who induct Supergirl and Stargirl in their number and make plans. We see a bit more of Harley and Ivy, and a lot more of Zatanna and Bunny John Constantine, who is my new favorite thing. This universe gets richer and more fascinating every issue, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.
Corrina: For those not familiar with Batwoman’s back story, she’s Jewish. And a lesbian. So two of the things Nazis hate, which is why Ray finds her crusade in Nazi Germany so satisfying. Sadly, I can’t comment much further because this was missing from my review stack. Which is a bummer because, hello, Diana, Supergirl, Stargirl and Waller together. Must find…c’mon, buy this everyone. Bunny John Constantine!
Justice League Darkseid War: Lex Luthor #1 – Francis Manapul, writer, Bong Dazo, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy.
Ray: Definitely the better of Manapul’s two Darkseid War one-shots, this one covers Lex Luthor’s journey to ultimate power as the new lord of Apokalips. The story flashes back and forth between the present day, as Luthor wanders the wilderness of Apokalips with his skeptical guide trying to gain control of his abilities, and his past that shaped him into the ruthless man he is today. The flashbacks include a look back at his childhood, where his cruel father attempted to forge him into a man through harsh tests and demands. We also see his first showdown with the Daily Planet, and his first encounter with Superman where he was willing to risk death rather than seek out Superman’s help.
It’s a pretty decent take on Luthor, grounded equally in the mad scientist of Morrison’s version and the classic evil businessman. My interest flagged a little bit during the Apokalips segments, for the simple reason that we’re not quite sure how Luthor’s new powers work, but the idea of Luthor in command of an alien war planet with billions of subjects? Not good. At the very least, I can say that this comic did its job, which was to get me excited to see Luthor as the new Darkseid take his power back to the Justice League and give them a good fight. Justice League has done some really interesting stuff with Luthor since Forever Evil.
Corrina: It’s a pretty decent take on Luther, but it didn’t rise anywhere near the level of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern issue. Admittedly, that’s a high bar to follow, but this story mostly felt like yet another chance for Luthor to display his trademark arrogance.
Why that arrogance never seems to come back to bite him over the last ten years is a mystery. But I’m not at all interested in Luther as a super-powered being unless it’s the old Alexander Luthor alternate version. This is decent but it didn’t rise above the level of “crossover event tie-in.”
Green Arrow #47 – Benjamin Percy, script, Fabrizio Fiorentino and Federico Dallocchio, art
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: After a very promising start to this run, this latest arc sort of went off the rails a bit with a bizarre story involving Mexican death gods, skull-faced cultists, and an undead little boy looking for a child bride. When we last left off, Ollie and his dog were captured by the villain Jefe after being betrayed by Tarantula, who chose to save her young cousin from becoming said child bride. To no one’s surprise, she does eventually decide to return and help them, but not before the heroes are prepped for sacrifice while we get an extensive flashback to what brought them here. A former drug worker, Jefe’s son was born with cancer and he made a deal with Ah Puch to keep him alive at the cost of other lives. Hence the boy’s bizarre appearance.
The issue is fairly decent until the midway point when things start going badly for the villain and the comic just gets grotesque. I’m talking maggots of abnormal size wriggling out of a little boy’s body, and skull-faced moths eating a man’s face off. This is the stuff of hard-boiled horror, not superhero comics. And after that, Ollie and Tarantula’s reunion and kiss don’t feel particularly earned. They made decent partners in the first few issues, but there was never any real romantic spark between them. Reminds me of the forced hookup in Ant-Man more than anything.
Corrina: I’ve been saying all along this felt like an original horror story with Ollie simply dropped into the plot. Had this been an original horror tale, it might have rated higher with me. Instead, by putting Ollie in a place he has no reason to be, for a woman he hardly knows but somehow loves now, makes everything odd and disconcerting.
Granted, Ollie is known to be okay with sleeping with any woman but that Tarantula valued him so highly at the end made no sense in the context of this story.
Damn, can’t anyone tell a great Oliver Queen story any longer?
Telos #3 – writer, Jeff King, pencils, Stephen Segovia and Igor Vitorino
Corrina: Don’t Buy It. Such a Puzzling Series.
Ray: The most puzzling book in DC’s staple continues to unfold, as the all-powerful cosmic bad guy of Convergence goes on a space adventure with the cast of the long-forgotten cosmic jailbreak book Threshold from three years ago.
When we last left off, they were stranded on Colu fighting Validus after Telos was revealed as a long-forgotten character from DC lore. This issue, they fight off Validus, discuss their plans, and anger Computo, who contacts Brainiac to discuss their mutual plans to betray Telos. Computo makes for a pretty bland villain, coming off like a stock space tyrant whose appearance always briefly confuses me with Hellspont. Other than that, the good guys raid a science lab filled with experiments, euthanize some tortured aliens, and come across an even more, powerful, mutated version of Validus. There’s just no dramatic thrust here and no characters to latch onto. It feels like a version of Omega Men without everything that makes it unique.
Corrina: I know a ton of DC history and I was so confused that I had to go back and double check to make sure that I didn’t miss an issue. I have no idea of the true stakes in this battle or why Telos is suddenly so relevant.
It didn’t feel like much to me save a bunch of characters I don’t know fighting a fight I don’t care about. This comic puzzles me.
Batman/Superman #27 – Greg Pak, writer, Cliff Richards and Jack Herbert, artists
Ray: I’ve said for a while that Pak’s work was the saving grace of this depowered Superman storyline, and this latest issue proves it, delivering not just a great Superman story but a great Jim Gordon story as well.
The relationship between Jim and Superman has been tense since this run began, mainly because Gordon believes that Superman in his current state can’t protect people from the trouble he attracts. He sort of has a point there, as Superman hasn’t had the smoothest run in adjusting to his new power levels. There’s some good flashbacks to the first meeting between Gordon and Superman, where some enemies of his attacked Gotham and Superman was forced to make a difficult choice to save the whole city – or his best friend Jimmy’s life. The present-day story is strong as well, as all of the players are finally here ready to make a final stand against Vandal Savage’s occupation of the small mining town he’s blackmailing. There’s some really good segments where the various heroes get the drop on Savage and trick him, although it relies a little too much on comic book science at points for my taste. It’s all very fast-paced and action-packed, and lets the heroes get in a pretty solid win over Savage before the inevitable final showdown between Superman and Savage in the annual. And in the process, Jim develops a new respect for this version of Superman and the two part as friends and allies.
Overall, not a groundbreaking issue, but Pak gets all the characters right and delivers an entertaining story. I’m going to miss Pak on this book, but hopefully Tom Taylor will prove a worthy successor.
Corrina: Overall, this issue was the best with the depowered Superman in quite some time, probably because it included Jim Gordon. (Okay, that’s probably just me…) But, yes, it’s a solid story with all the Bat characters teaming up to help Superman save all the scientists, with several fine fake-outs by the good guys.
Still, this storyline…ugh.
Catwoman #47 – Frank Tieri, writer, Inaki Miranda, art
Ray: We’re coming off the most inventive and unique Catwoman run since Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke put Selina’s title on the map over ten years ago, and Genvieve Valentine’s slow-burn mob thriller will be a hard act to follow. So what does Tieri have in store for us?
Well, he basically sets Selina right back where she started before that run began, with Selina opening the issue by talking about how happy she is to be done with running the mob and being back to stealing jewels. After barely escaping from a Russian mobster who she relieves of a gem from the Russian Revolution, she meets up with her fence and good friend Louis the Moustache, who takes the loot and lures her into a new caper, liberating a legendary diamond from a mysterious Billionaire. Selina’s hesitant to get involved with a job for an anonymous client, but Louis reveals he’s dying of cancer and wants to leave the money to his family. So Selina goes in, charms secretive billionaire Grant Brice, and causes chaos at the party so she can slip away and take the diamond. She gets away with it, and returns to Louis’ place – only to find his throat cut, and the police waiting for her, as part of a set-up. It’s not bad, but everything about Louis was a cliche set up to die for minute one, and it feels like we’ve seen every party of this story before. It comes off far worse for being the following act to such a memorable run.
Corrina: Meh. So very meh. It’s absolutely predictable from point A to point B, nothing surprising, nothing terribly interesting though I suppose people who wanted to see Catwoman stealing things again have their wish. It’s good to see that at least the cheesecake level is under control. Thank you, art team!
This issue has one saving grace: reading it made me appreciate the last creative team that much more.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #7 – Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, writers, Riley Rossmo, pencils, Brian Level, breakdowns
Corrina: More Magic Fun? in NYC.
Ray: Another fun, done-in-one Constantine story as he’s reunited with one of my favorite sparring partners/allies or him, Swamp Thing. It’s always good to see the guardian of the Green again since his title ended, and his sarcastic banter with John is a highlight here. The mystery of the issue is perfectly suited for him – something is coming out of the trees in Central Park and tearing young lovers apart.
John is trying to have a nice morning with his ex Oliver when Swampy comes out of the drain to get his attention. He reveals that he can no longer feel any connection to the Green in Central Park, indicating that there’s something dark and dangerous lurking there that’s even more powerful than him. Riley Rossmo’s art is always one of the highlights in this book, and there’s a bunch of hilarious moments such as the two paranormal heroes riding the Subway together. I will say the issue lost my interest a bit with the reveal about the source of the threat – evil wood nymphs are sort of cool, but the idea that they’re just children who cease being a threat when the Nymph Queen shows up? These are savage monsters who literally tear people apart!
The ending has Constantine ready to cut things off with Oliver to protect him – only to find out that Oliver’s already in Papa Midnite’s clutches. Midnite is always more of a wild-card, so I’m guessing Oliver’s not going to be in any real danger, but that’s still a pretty quick turnaround from entering the title to getting captured by a villain!
Corrina: Given how quickly the problem of the people-destroying trees was solved, their horrific setup took up too many pages. Still, the issue was worth it to see things oozing out of John’s bathtub while his current lover was “okay, you know what, I’ll just shower at my place…” Oh, he takes it in stride now but after he’s freed from his predicament at the end of this issue, he might not be so mellow about it all.
I also like how all the smart heroes come to Constantine with the same attitude. “Okay, so, I hate you and don’t trust you, but there’s this thing I need help with…”
Starfire #7 – Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, Emanuela Lupacchino, pencils, Mirco Pierederici, pencil assists, Ray McCarthy & Sean Parsons, inks
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: After a few issues where I felt like the tone was all over the place, this issue rebounds and delivers what this title is best at – offbeat Key West adventure with Starfire surrounded by a quirky group of supporting characters. After a session of communicating with a dolphin, Kory catches up with Sol and the two go out on their first date, aboard a romantic dinner cruise. However, they’re not the only ones boarding – Dick Grayson is there, in disguise as an old man with a sob story, on the trail of an trigger that could activate a super weapon. Kory and Sol share a connection, but Sol pulls away due to memories of Maria, his late girlfriend who died in a rescue years ago. Palmiotti and Conner manage to insert some real emotion into this scene, but soon we’re thrown into action as a group of mercenaries storm the ship, looking for the trigger. Dick reveals himself, and he and Kory jump into battle to stop them.
I’m amused by the resolution of this battle – with Kory’s practical problem-solving style clashing with Dick’s espionage skills. I am a bit puzzled by how emotional Kory gets about the reunion, though – I was unaware of just what a connection these two had in the New 52, as it seems like they were brief teammates at most. But for fans of Dick and Kory, this is going to be a great issue that gives them what they’ve been hoping for since the New 52 began. Another example of DC finally ending the various blacklists and retcons that turned many fans off to the New 52.
Corrina: Had there been ‘shipping way back when the New Teen Titans were at the height of their popularity, Dick/Kory would have been my OTP (One True Pairing.) Possibly because my nickname is Cory and possibly because the odd relationship of alien and Gotham hero worked despite itself. But times changes, universes are rebooted and now…here we are again?
It’s hard to tell, as most of the original Titans history has been hand-waved away as not happening. That doesn’t diminish the old stories but it does make it confusing as to what these versions of Dick and Kory mean to each other. Something, for certain, given Kory is thrilled to see Dick alive. (He’s been pretending to be dead for…reasons?) But, yay, this is only the first part of a two-part story.
New Suicide Squad #15 – Sean Ryan, writer, Philippe Briones, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: This title is getting a creative team change in a few issues, and I think that’s probably a good thing for the series. Sean Ryan’s writing isn’t terrible, but it feels oddly low-stakes for a series called “Suicide Squad”, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Tim Seeley’s take on these characters.
This issue feels like we’re in a bit of a holding pattern, as the team is on the run and lands in Dallas so that Amanda Waller can confront Pesta, the CEO of the corporation backing Vic Sage’s attempt to seize control of the Suicide Squad. The two of them have a pretty tense standoff, but in the end it boils down to both sides explaining what they know about the other and agreeing that nothing will come of killing each other. Pesta agrees to help Waller take down SHIELD in exchange for protection, and they part on tense terms. Meanwhile, the rest of the Squad holes up in a lab while Parasite attempts to reboot his on-the-fritz absorption powers, Harley continues to struggle with her sudden moral qualms about being a killer, and Boomerang plays psychologist to the team. And back at base, Black Manta breaks out of his cell. It’s all readable enough, but it’s also fairly forgettable and not likely to leave any impact on the characters past this arc.
Corrina: This title is basically the picture of “we’re not sure of the direction of this title.” Vic Sage made an odd choice as a behind-the-scenes villain, the missions have seemed kind of aimless since the one about infiltrating the terrorist organization, and everyone is moping around, showing little signs of personality, save for Boomer.
I can’t see what would draw anyone to the book. I’m not excited about the creative team change either unless it brings a purpose. Or it brings back the previous version of Amanda Waller, who could terrify a team without getting into a pointless tussle with them.
Earth 2: Society #7 – Daniel H. Wilson, writer, Jorge Jimenez & Alisson Borges, artists
Corrina: Pointless :sigh:
Ray: The conclusion of the first big arc is here, and after six pointless issues of everyone fighting and hating each other, they all have to come together to fight evil Jimmy Olsen. Some of the good guys, including Huntress, are fighting alongside Jimmy to create a new utopia out of the planet, with other heroes working to stop them. There are a lot of tense moments in this issue – that are almost all ruined when the issue is resolved very quickly. Flash’s mind is scarred by a glimpse of Hell under Johnny Sorrow’s mask and no one’s sure if – oh, he’s okay. Kara and Val-Zod hate each other because she blames him for Superman’s death and – oh, he apologized and they’re working together now. In the end, Jimmy attempts to betray his allies, is trapped in an eternal prisoner by Green Lantern, and the heroes seem united for the first time in this series. But after seven issues, we haven’t really been given any reason to care about anyone here, and these heroes do not look like the makings of a good Justice Society. It’s amazing how this series, one of my favorite DC books under Robinson and Taylor, has lost virtually all of its momentum.
Corrina: Yay, new planet! Boo, six months ahead and everything is horrible! But we won’t really tell you why. Watch heroes fight each other! Jimmy is the Big Bad and it’s not a joke.
I’m so disappointed in this book.
Ray’s Bonus Review!
Star Trek/Green Lantern #6 – writer, Mike Johnson, artist, Angel Hernandez,
This crossover concludes the day another, bigger crossover from DC begins, and while this one didn’t deliver the same immediate thrills as Batman/TMNT does, overall it was a pretty fun read for both Green Lantern and Star Trek fans. I think the former are going to get much more out of it, though, as it serves as almost a direct sequel to Blackest Night and features essentially an all-star cast of GL heroes and villains. With the heroes up against Nekron and the resurrected planet Vulcan, all hope seems to be lost – until everyone is able to combine their powers and allow Spock to harness the white power ring, resurrecting the Life Entity and destroying Nekron.
Given the passing of Leonard Nimoy, seeing Spock play the hero here was especially sweet. I was surprised by the fact that unlike most crossovers, there was no reset button at the end here – the GL universe is still destroyed, and they stay in the Star Trek universe, the two groups of heroes working to build a better world together. An interesting choice, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this setup in a future crossover.
Ray Goldfield is a writer/editor for Grayhaven Comics, as well as the author of two novels currently in editing. He’s a comic fan for over 20 years, particularly of DC and Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans in particular. Now that Cassandra Cain is coming back, he will not rest until DC greenlights a Young Justice: Season Three comic.
Disclaimer: GeekMom received these comics for review purposes.