A note before we begin: Last week was a tumultuous one for DC Comics. Shelly Bond, who lead Vertigo’s resurgence over the past two years, was let go, as her position was eliminated.
The anger over the loss of a universally respected editor led to the dam breaking on the public outing of DC Group Editor Eddie Berganza as a known sexual harasser, though the last documented incident was in 2012 when he was demoted.
But that Bond lost her job and Berganza still has one drew a lot of ire among comics professionals and readers. Several people made the point that once a human resources case is closed and the consequences imposed, there’s no further action to take against Berganza so DC and Warner Bros.’ hands are now tied on the matter.
My response to that: can we instead hold him responsible for the horrible mess that has been the Superman comics, not to mention the last year of Wonder Woman and the cursed Superman/Wonder Woman title? Do I need to mention H’el on Earth? Berganza has edited books, with perhaps a couple of exceptions, have been consistently the ones rated lowest in the reviews that Ray and I publish each week.
In other words, he appears to be doing a lousy job as an editor, the job where he was so supposedly invaluable that he was kept on despite reports of numerous sexual harassment complaints.
Onto the comics themselves.
Batman #51 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Greg Capullo, Penciller; Danny Miki, Inker; FCO Plascencia, Colors
Ray – 9.5/10 (Book of the Week
Ray: It’s the end of an era, as Snyder and Capullo wrap up their Batman run. After the full-throttle conclusion to Superheavy, this issue is very much a breather issue that sums up Snyder’s vision for Batman quite nicely. Despite the darkness of the run and the villains, it’s always been one of the more optimistic takes on Batman and what he represents, and that’s never been more evident than in this issue. Framed by a newspaper article titled “Gotham Is…”, it covers Batman on one intense night in Gotham. After an amusing interaction with Alfred where we find out how Alf gets his hand back (and Bruce displays a renewed sense of humor to go with his renewed body), Batman goes out on patrol, and a quiet night quickly turns very unquiet when a city-wide blackout hits. After conferring with Commissioner Gordon (Why is this guy back on duty already? Shouldn’t he be on a beach in Cabo?), Batman takes his investigation around the city, taking on the goons of Arkham Asylum and a group of rogue agents from the Court of Owls in some gorgeously-drawn segments.
It’s a chance encounter with a former capture of his, a petty criminal who made good, that packs the biggest emotional punch of the issue, though. The combination of Snyder’s tight writing and Capullo’s brilliant visualization of Gotham make this another great done-in-one issue to wrap this run. The only quibble I have? Would have liked to see something involving the rest of Bruce’s family. I know Snyder has reasons he doesn’t want to work with Damian, but Dick, Tim, and Jason feel like they’ve had minimal roles in this run. That’s more of a personal taste issue, though, and nothing can take away from the brilliance of this run as a whole.
Corrina: Once upon a time, way back in the days of the 1970s and 1980s, the main portrayal of Batman was as Gotham’s Guardian, the good man who took care of the citizens of Gotham and didn’t always use violence to do it. This issue read to me not just like a farewell to Batman for Snyder and Capullo but also an homage Denny O’Neil and Doug Moench. O’Neil because this is the Batman that he wrote, the Guardian of Gotham, and one that he shepherded as long-time DC Comics editor. Moench because this framing segment reminded me strongly of the use of Vesper Fairchild, the radio personality, to represent the views of the citizens of Gotham.
Snyder and Capullo are going to be remembered mostly for their epic long-running stories on the Court of Owls and the Joker. But I’m going to remember them for this issue, which is not only a definitive statement of who Batman is but also what Gotham is and can be.
Now, if it can be just another decade or so until the next writer wrecks Gotham via earthquake, flood, or other natural or unnatural disaster, that would be good. Because I’d like to spend some time with this Batman solving mysteries, fighting crime, encountering citizens of Gotham trying to do their best.
Justice League #49 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Jason Fabok, Artist; Brad Anderson, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: I Just Can’t With This Story.
Ray: I think this story has finally reached critical mass for me. I’m starting to agree with Corrina. I’m usually a huge fan of Geoff Johns and his big-scale epic events that bring in characters from every element of the DCU. This one, however, seems to have devolved into a series of explosions with very little characterization in the middle of it. There are a few elements in the story I’m actually interested in, such as Jessica Cruz and Cyborg’s escape from inside the Power Ring. These two characters continue to be written well and get some genuine development. I’m also enjoying Lex Luthor, who with his new God-like powers is finally free to unleash his inner narcissist.
Johns has always written Luthor well, and this is no exception, although I found him most entertaining in the post-Forever Evil status quo where he had scammed and blackmailed his way onto the Justice League. As for the rest of the story, Superwoman’s baby? Not interested, as none of the Crime Syndicate really stand out besides maybe Owlman. Mobius? Still a blank slate of a villain. By the time Grail and the newly empowered/possessed Steve Trevor show up, and we repeat the exact same scene that we got at the end of act one of this event, it starts to feel like we’re running in circles. Jason Fabok’s art is brilliant, but very few stories can carry a compelling narrative over a full year of stories. Court of Owls was one. Superheavy was another. This isn’t.
Corrina: Mark it down, readers. Ray agrees with me about a Geoff Johns story. That happens only once a decade or so. I also agree that Jessica Cruz and Cyborg have the most interesting segment this issue but, unfortunately, they only get a few pages. But, I still hate Lex Luthor. I’m so done with the one-note arrogant dude. Enough, already.
Superwoman and the Crime Syndicate seem only thrown into the story so Johns can wrap up their tale, while Mobus never seemed to have any personality whatsoever, despite having slain Darkseid. But that’s okay because somehow Grail can give Steve Trevor enough power to kill Mobius, thus setting up a confrontation between uber-powerful Grail Trevor with Wonder Woman and I cannot muster any enthusiasm for any of it.
It feels like we’re running in circles because we are. The Big Bad keeps getting replaced (3 times now?) and it’s all just ranting by the villains and desperation from the heroes. I will allow that Wonder Woman’s narration this issue isn’t awful and Fabok’s art is fine, though, please, with the making a woman in labor look sexy. She’s in labor people, can the gaze not leer at her?
I throw up my hands at this story and ask again when it’s going to be over.
Superman/Wonder Woman #28 – Peter Tomasi, Writer; Ed Benes, Artist; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Ray: Corrina and I have talked about this in the past, and I suppose it’s essentially confirmed now – Superman/Wonder Woman is a cursed title. This crossover storyline has given us two fantastic issues and one strong one – and as soon as it hits this title, the story goes right off a cliff.
The issue begins with Wonder Woman showing up at the Fortress to confront Superman after finding out that he’s dying. What ensues is four pages of cringe-worthy, connection-free dialogue as DC tries to sell us, one more time, that these two ever had a relationship that the audience bought into. They didn’t. Superman and Wonder Woman make for great friends and heroic partners, but they never connected in any meaningful way as a romance. From there, they’re called to STAR Labs where the mystery villain who thinks he’s Superman has been captured.
While Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor try to converse with the deluded man, he starts gaining in power and becoming more and more unstable until he escapes and tries to kill them. Meanwhile, Superman goes to confront Ulysses in his cell to see if he knows anything about what’s happening to this man. Unfortunately, while Johns’ Ulysses was a complex, tragic villain led astray by a more powerful force, this issue’s Ulysses is a deranged, revenge-obsessed stock villain who revels in Superman’s misfortune and kind of looks and talks like Lucius Malfoy. Very disappointing, but I’m assuming it’s just an off issue for the storyline. We’re at the halfway point, and the story as a whole shows massive promise.
Corrina: Yep, this title is cursed. It’s never worked, despite the talent on it, and it seems like when Tomasi got within striking distance of it, it somehow made his writing talent vanish. The first two chapters of this were so good and sad and full of emotion and this is people yelling at each other. Diana yells at Wonder Woman, Ulysses yells at Superman, and the energy being who thinks he’s Superman yells at everyone for not believing he’s Superman. I wonder if the conclusion of this Superman’s fate is merging with the energy being somehow?
Hey, at least STAR labs aren’t the bad guys in this. That’s something, right?
DKIII: The Master Race #4 – Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller, Writers; Andy Kubert and Frank Miller, Artists; Klaus Janson, Inker; Brad Anderson and Alex Sinclair, Colorists
Ray – 6/10
Ray: Biggest problem with this issue? Not enough Batman. I’ve been intrigued from the start by the status quo of the broken-down retired Batman and Carrie Kelly’s attempts to fill his shoes, but the overarching threat of this story doesn’t quite work for me. The idea of the Bottled City of Kandor getting loose and being…less than happy with Superman is intriguing, but these villains are more deranged cult leaders than convincing sci-fi threats.
I’m also not sure why Superman’s daughter Lara has joined their side (partially because it’s been months since the last issue, but also partly because her motivations have never been clear). After Lara switches sides, she follows her new masters’ orders and beats her father into unconsciousness before the Kandorians turn him into a statue covered in dark matter and sink him below the Earth. Then the Kandorians demand the surrender of Batman or they’ll destroy Gotham City. Naturally, Gotham wants to turn him over, including a Donald Trump cameo who is…surprisingly spot on with his dialogue. Maybe he really is a Frank Miller character come to life! There’s an odd Flash cameo, but the best part of the issue is the framing sequence involving Atom as he shrinks through the microverse and tries to find a way out. The mini-comic this issue features a new Batgirl beating up random thugs and meeting Aquaman, and features actually Frank Miller art. It’s better overall than the weak first issue, but this comic was finding its groove and this issue feels like a step back.
Corrina: As Ray said, there are a lot of characters this issue and none have enough screen time for their actions to make any sense. First on that list is Lara, who seems to want to turn away from her father for whatever reasons. I don’t have enough memory of DK Strikes Again to remember much about Lara and Superman’s relationship but her mother is Wonder Woman, so I would have expected Lara to pick up some of those Amazon ideals of compassion. Guess not. These are the action of an unhinged, deranged person or a sociopath who only cares about what she wants. There’s no underpinning for this behavior in the least. She’s not a sexy lamp but she’s certainly a plot device and nothing else.
The art surrounding Atom’s shrinking into the microverse is cool, cooler than a similar sequence in Ant-Man‘s movie but it’s also so far unrelated to the rest of the plot. Yes, we know he’s shrinking. We’ve known that already. Flash’s appearance is odd and seemingly disconnected.
After a decent start, this story is struggling.
Harley Quinn #27 – Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Writers; John Timms, Artist; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: A Deadpool & Harley Quinn crossover should be funnier.
Ray: Inter-company crossovers are a thing of the past, at least between DC and Marvel, but many people have commented that they would love to see a Harley/Deadpool crossover. Well, this issue may be the closest we’ll get. Last issue saw a new villain, a veteran with a robot arm and brain damage who blamed Harley for his plight, and he decided to seek his revenge against her at…Roller Derby League! You know, like villains do. The issue kicks off with a ballet of carnage as the two engage in battle on the track and do more damage to the onlookers than each other (including killing a mob boss’ son, which will definitely come back to haunt them).
The villain, calling himself “Red Tool” and speaking in yellow captions shaped like power tools, tattoos several of the onlookers and kidnaps Harley for a bizarre date atop a Ferris wheel. There are some great bits, including how the guy likes to retell his origin in an animated video clip that he can’t quite seem to get working, but the parody of Deadpool is a bit too on the money. Also, this doesn’t seem quite like the villain we saw last issue, who was a deadly serious ex-vet out for revenge. Overall, funny, but the parody character just made me wish it was the real Deadpool!
Corrina: The real problem with Red Tool isn’t that he’s a parody of Deadpool–it’s that Deadpool himself is already a parody and meta-commentary on the superhero genre. Even if you’ve only seen the movie, you know that. So if you’re going to create a crazy parody of him, it will fall flat because the inherent parody of the character is already mixed in.
Which is a long-winded way of saying that this issue works better if you stop reading Red Tool as a Deadpool parody and just read him as Deadpool himself. It’s a much more fun that way.
And now I can’t get the idea of Palmiotti/Conner Deadpool series at Marvel out of my head. Make it happen, Marvel!
Otherwise, fun issue, though the body count is unusually high, even for a Harley book.
Grayson #19 – Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly, Writers; Roge Antonio, Artist; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Spyral’s Secrets Revealed. Okay.
Ray: Things are hitting their tipping point in the penultimate issue, as our big bads reveal themselves and Dick finds himself pitted against former friends. When we last left off, original Spyral nemesis Doctor Daedelus had resurrected himself in the body of Helena Bertinelli, hijacking her to put his plan into effect. Daedelus is sort of a bland villain as a whole, and I don’t really care about him playing his daughters against each other, but it’ll be interesting to see Dick thread the needle in trying to stop the villain while protecting his friend.
Far more interesting is the reveal about Agent Tiger this issue – he’s a double agent, for Checkmate and Maxwell Lord. Lord is planning to take advantage of the chaos in the fall of Spyral to seize control himself, and when Tiger’s deception is revealed, it kicks off a high-speed chase between the former allies. This book is at its best when the story is at high-octane, and this chase sequence was easily the best this book has had since Lanzing and Kelly took over. I do wish the book had a little more humor in it like King and Seeley showed often, but overall this is an entertaining read with some great moments as Dick’s time as a super-spy wraps up.
Corrina: Everyone’s a double agent in Spyral! Dick, Agent Tiger, and there were hints that Helena herself joined Spyral to take it down from within. That’s a bad vetting process there, Spyral. No wonder why you’re going down.
I’m not sure if this story is what the creators had in mind for the end of Spyral. It seems that too many revelations happen at once and I wonder if events had to be wrapped up quick before (It’s Not a Reboot!) Rebirth this summer. But, overall, it’s entertaining, and Dick Grayson’s purity shines through. He’s going to save people, not kill them, not choose the least bad option, but save Helena’s life above all. That’s what makes him a hero.
Cyborg #10 – Marv Wolfman, Writer; Ivan Reis, Layouts; Felipe Watanabe, Daniel HDR, Julio Ferreira, Pencillers; Oclair Albert, Julio Ferreira, Inkers; Adriano Lucas, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: That Wrapped Up Fast.
Ray: Just look at that list of talent on art! That, combined with the switch on writer this issue, gives off all the marks of a comic that was changed up in a hurry. And it shows, as all the plots that David Walker set up in the last few issues are quickly wrapped up in a generic manner.
When we last left off, Cyborg surrendered himself to the government as part of the new Cybernetics Registration Act. Meanwhile, his father was trying to reconnect with the avatar of his late wife, despite suspicions that she wasn’t all she appeared to be. This issue…well, everyone’s suspicions are wrapped up very quickly, as Cyborg’s captors start torturing him seconds after they begin and shoot Shazam with electric guns when he protests. It turns out that the law was passed due to manipulation by the Technosapiens, who also created the avatar of Vic’s mother to manipulate him. There are some nice moments between Vic and his dad at the end, but the hurried conclusion makes this feel like a filler issue before the Rebirth break. It’s a shame Walker didn’t have time to take his run where it was going, because he had a few really intriguing ideas mixed in.
Corrina: Yep. I was all “wait, what happened to Vic turning himself over?” But it’s all revealed to be different from the setup and while it was heartbreaking to read that Vic’s mother was just another form of AI invasion, I’d hoped for something more complicated about this “ghost.” Can memories become real? Does it matter if they’re only partial memories? But ghost mom is just a flat out pawn that needs to be destroyed.
It does wrap up the whole Technosapiens plot and removes them from the board as a threat and I like that Vic’s ability to look human is kept. But, as a whole, it’s disappointing the series didn’t get a chance to shine. Note: Wolfman was Cyborg’s original creator, so it was fun to see his name as writer on this book.
Batgirl #51 – Brenden Fletcher, Writer; Eleonora Carlini, Minkyu Jung, Roger Robinson, Artists; Serge Lapointe, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: The main plotlines are wrapped up and these final two issues are more of a bridge between the current run and Hope Larson’s upcoming run in Rebirth. Stewart and Babs Tarr are off to Image, leaving a host of decent fill-in artists to assist Fletcher on this final short arc. This issue is actually more of a spiritual successor to the Batgirl annual from a few months back, bringing back those villains and reuniting Batgirl with most of her allies from that run.
With Batgirl still regaining her footing after tearing out her implant last issue, Operator dispatches her younger allies, Spoiler and Bluebird, to help clean up Burnside, and the scenes where these two are in action are the best of the issue. Fletcher’s always had a great handle on young vigilantes, and it makes me sad that he’s not on any other DC titles come Rebirth. Gladius and their commander are sort of stock villains and don’t make much of an impression, but I loved seeing Barbara reunited with the Gotham Academy kids as she tries to figure out Gladius’ plan.
The main thrust of the issue is Barbara attempting to get her groove back, consulting with Black Canary, Frankie, Luke, and Alysia, and deciding that she needs to head out of Burnside and seek out help to become a better hero. Very much set-up, but in Fletcher’s hands it feels very human and interesting to read. It took me a while to get into this new Batgirl, but the team won me over. I just wish the whole crew was around to wrap it up.
Black Canary #11 – Brenden Fletcher, Writer; Sandy Jarrell, Artist; Wayne Faucher, Inker; Lee Loughridge, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: I’m Going to Miss This Series.:(
Ray: The best globetrotting Kung Fu Rock adventure comic on the stands gets closer to its conclusion, with Sandy Jarrell continuing to fill in for Annie Wu. Jarrell is a solid artist, but her art lacks Wu’s sheer kinetic energy in places, especially when it comes to the big music showpieces. Traveling to Berlin, Dinah tracks down the mastermind behind all her recent trouble – eccentric musician Izak Orato, who had ties to her mother and aunt, and may have been responsible for her mother’s disappearance. He’s got the rest of the band under his spell, and forces Dinah into a strange performance where he attempts to hypnotize her until Ditto breaks the spell. The band reunited, they tried to make their escape – only for Orato to reveal his true nature.
That’s where things start getting rather bizarre, and where this comic starts losing me a tiny bit. Orato’s one of the shadow demons that were pursuing them at the start of this run? Okay, I can roll with that. Apparently he was “torn apart” by the Five Fingers Palm at some point and needs Dinah to use it on him again. It was good to see Vixen again, but the reveal that Dinah’s aunt is one of the shadows as well? It feels like the ending may be leaning a bit too heavily on the supernatural elements, which was my least favorite part of the book. Still, Fletcher’s storytelling is strong enough that any narrative quibbles get glossed over by the sheer energy of the book.
Corrina: I like everything about Black Canary’s personality in this issue and, once again, the fill-in art continues to live up to Wu’s high standard. This series has always had a unique look and that’s well-preserved in this issue.
Ditto saving the day caught me by surprise but it worked. Still, the quest for Dinah’s mother sometimes seems unconnected from the first arc that concerned Ditto and the shadow demons. I’d liked to have a more direct line drawn there thoughout the series. But those are quibbles because the action is superb, Dinah is awesome, and my inner fangirl loves the reemergence of the original Dinah Laurel Lance’s backstory, especially that she’s carrying on her mother’s legacy.
We Are Robin #11 – Lee Bermejo, Writer; Jorge Corona, Art; Rob Haynes, Breakdowns; Rish Mulvhill, Colors
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Robins Doing It For Themselves.
Ray: I said last issue at the cliffhanger, with Smiley and the Jokerz invading the Robins’ high school heavily armed, that this issue had the potential to be one of the most intense and controversial comics DC had published in some time. I don’t think it quite turned out that way, for one significant reason – this is an issue about a school shooting where no one gets shot.
On one hand, that takes away a good deal of the intensity, because as bullets fly by and no one gets hit, the tension decreases a bit, but on the other hand, that gives it a more idealistic, comic book-y vibe than I would have expected. Plus, it kind of emphasizes that Johnny Bender aside, the Jokerz are posers. They’re kids playing at anarchy and terror. The core of this issue is the Robins and how they work together, uniting with the civilian kids at the school, to get everyone out safely and take out the assailants. A bit idealized? Perhaps, especially how the Principal protects these teen vigilantes in the end and keeps them from being arrested, but in a positive way. The Robins didn’t get many individual moments this issue, but some – like the conversation Dax has with his mother on the opening page – really stick. I know Duke is bound for bigger things, but I hope the rest of the We Are Robin crew sticks around as well. This is a great ensemble and one of the most authentic and realistic groups of teen heroes we’ve seen in a while.
Corrina: It is rather like the comic was leading readers to a particularly realistic school takeover and shooting. The Jokerz are not too far off from real world school shooting events. It does make perfect sense for something like this to happen in Gotham.
But this is one case where I’m glad fiction differed from reality. It’s great to see the younger Robins take care of themselves and take down the evil from within. It provides them with the agency they’ve demanded as characters for the whole series and shines a nice ray of hope on Gotham itself.
A diverse group of young people taking on the evil of the world together and winning. That’s a message well worth sending and an excellent way to close out this series.
Secret Six #13 – Gail Simone, Writer; Tom Derenick, Artist; Jason Wright, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Best Dysfunctional Family Ever.
Ray: Yay, Elongated Man is back! It’s great seeing Ralph and Sue back as they should be, even if the shift from the morose Big Shot to the cheery Elongated Man is a bit jarring. The six have a fairly small role this issue, actually, as they debate how best to go after Strix. I was surprised to see the local corrupt cops who Catman has spent this entire run beating up show up to help, but hey, any port in a storm. Ferdie and Shauna, who I’ve been rather vocal are the weak links in this run, get some nice scenes that show they may actually have bonded with these weirdos a bit, and Catman getting “That call” from Scandal is as funny and vaguely uncomfortable as you’d expect it to be, but oddly sweet at the same time.
The bulk of the issue, though, focuses on Strix as she arrives with Shiva at the headquarters of the League of Assassins and is put through a series of sadistic tests and orders to fit her into their mold – including taking on a gauntlet of assassins patterned after her friends, with the Six’s lives on the line. I’m still a little iffy on the way Strix’s disability and disfigurement is handled in this run, especially since the changes she resists so firmly here were something she was okay with in the Birds of Prey run she previously appeared in, but Gail’s the creator. The idea of assistive technology can be tricky in certain situations, although here it clearly comes from a source without her best interests in mind. Overall, strong issue, and I can’t wait to see the Six come in and raise hell to rescue their friend next month.
Corrina: Simone said on her Facebook page that this Sue is back for good, not a brainwashed plant by the Riddler, so, whew, I’m glad not to worry about that. I’m so pleased to see Ralph and Sue back together and for Ralph to reclaim his identity as the Elongated Man. Some may see him as a second-rate Plastic Man but Ralph and Sue together were as formidable a detective team as Holmes and Watson back in the day and given that Sue was one of the elements that held the “It’s Not the Justice League” crew together, she’s also formidable in her own right.
Now that I’ve fangirled happily about that, the issue itself is intense in several ways. There’s Catman being asked to be a father by Scandal and her two wives, a scene that is oddly touching, as Ray said, and then the heartbreaking sequences with Strix and Shiva. Shiva’s cold-bloodedness has always been one of her defining traits and it’s in full force here. She wants out of her situation and if she has to shove Strix into it and also sacrifice a bunch of pawns for that, so be it.
All this tells me the final confrontation and rescue of Strix should be epic.
Teen Titans #19 – Greg Pak, Writer; Ian Churchill, Alvaro Martinez, Pencillers; Norm Rapund, Raul Fernandez, Inkers; Tony Avina, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Hey! That Wasn’t Terrible! (It Was Kinda Good.)
Ray: It’s the conclusion of Greg Pak’s very brief run on Teen Titans (Tony Bedard fills in next month until Ben Percy jumps on for Rebirth), and while it showed significantly more promise than any run on this book since Flashpoint, it was dragged down just like Pfeifer’s run – it has to work with the characters in the New 52. This arc has focused on Wonder Girl, as she discovers her true origin as a quarter-God – and niece to Wonder Woman. She, Diana, and WW villain Cassandra are on a quest to capture Apollo’s staff so they can restore Lennox to life, and the Titans besides her have very little to do besides tag along and help on occasion. Cassandra’s betrayal is not a big surprise, but the way it was possible, the way it was able to surpass Diana’s lasso, is.
It’s a shame that this comic is still touched by the ridiculous Grimdark of the Lobdell run – Wonder Girl in full venom-armor ripping someone’s throat out in a double-page spread is nothing that needs to appear in a Teen Titan comic. I did like what it showed us of the new relationship between Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl, who are interacting for the first time – although I’m hoping it’s actually followed up on, since Cassie’s presence in Rebirth has yet to be confirmed. It feels like this title was just starting to find its groove, and now we’re already on to a new creative team. Frustrating.
Corrina: Yes, frustrating because just at the end of this, we’re finally getting stories that we shouuld have had at the beginning. Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl working together was soemthing that should have happened a long time ago and Wonder Girl’s turn from angry, vengeful teenager to someone who chooses her team was long overdue. It’s good that we have it but bad we had to wait so long.
This is another title that has seemed cursed for a while despite the talent on it. (Excepting Lobdell.) I hope the next creative team has better luck.
The Omega Men #11 – Tom King, Writer; Barnaby Bagenda, Artist; Romulo Fajrardo Jr., Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: The Conclusion Brings All Full Circle
Ray: The best sci-fi comic in DC’s stable is wrapping up next issue, and based on this one, that finale should be one hell of a ride. The war against the Citadel is in full swing, and the individual Omega Men all have their missions to try to turn the tide. Kyle Rayner makes a clandestine visit to Blorff’s Travel Emporium to purchase an item that may just be enough to turn the cities of the Citadel against each other – as well as a personal memento that brings his story full circle. Scrapp, meanwhile, returns to the temple where Broot died to deliver an epic shut-down to Broot’s father in my favorite scene of the issue. Tigorr battles for control of his clan in a non-stop fight scene with some of the best visuals of the issue. And bringing the story full circle, Primus makes another of his iconic video-casts to the universe and serves notice to the Citadel.
This scene pretty much sums up a common theme that King has explored in both this and Sheriff of Babylon – sometimes, even the “Good guys” are faced with a no-win choice of winning the war and keeping their soul. Princess Kalista, now Queen Kalista, seems to have no problem with this question gleefully choosing the former and killing her father to take the throne. It’s Star Wars by way of Martin Scorcese (not Tarantino, as I said in an earlier issue), and this is an excellent lead-in to the finale.
Corrina: What impresses me so much is how King takes all the disparate plot threads and characters introduced at the beginning of this series and ties them all together in this next-to-last issue. The pacing is perfect and, at this point, we understand the actions each character takes on their own worlds perfectly.
This is perfect and intricate world-building. Ray called this the best SF series in DC’s stable. It may well be one of the best-written and best-drawn SF series in comics, ever, and it’s those themes of what peole could/should/would do in the midst of a war that makes it rise above a simple action story.
Sinestro #22 – Cullen Bunn, Writer; Martin Coccolo, Blond, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: So, Yeah, Rage Kitty. Rest? Meh.
Ray: Unlike Omega Men, there’s no shades of gray, or political tension in this sci-fi comic. There is, however, a crazed Rage Kitty spewing acid at everyone! In some ways, that’s enough. Yep, the Red Lanterns are back and they want to take the Cosmos from the Sinestro Corps. Sinestro, meanwhile, is dealing with his own problems. He’s fighting off a mysterious medical condition that is draining him, has handed over control of the Corps to his daughter – and is manipulating things from behind the scenes, trying to protect her from a traitorous uprising within his ranks that would love to see her killed off. Soranik has some allies, in the form of a Sinestro Corps priestess, but overall the members of the Sinestro Corps are still lacking all that much development.
I do like the contrast between Sinestro’s ruthlessness and Soranik’s compassion. Things pick up near the end, as one of the Corps winds up in the clutches of the Red Lanterns, but the book is an entertaining read that never quite reaches the next level due to few characters with distinct personalities. Still, rage kitty!
Corrina: Rage Kitty! I always enjoy him but, let’s face it, he’s a one-note character too. What annoys me most about this series is that Sinestro is the only one who seems to posssess any intelligence whatsoever. That’s why the rest of the Sinestro Corps are so one-note: Sinestro is clearly their better in every way. It’s like he’s sucked up all the personality in the room. Without even antagonists to match him, the series is just one long “Sinestro knows best” story and that’s not very interesting to me.
Deathstroke #17 – James Bonny, Writer; Tyler Kirkham, Artist; Arif Prianto, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: EXTREME! (That Doesn’t Make it Good.)
Ray: “Waiting for Priest” is the best way I can sum up this book. This title has never been a standout, and this current arc has gone on for the better part of a year, but we’re finally getting some answers. And those answers are – Lawman is essentially another Deathstroke, with healing factor, but even more crazy! He was a war buddy of Slade’s who was presumed dead, but was found by shady scientists and experimented on, and now he walks around with a skull-mask on his face trying to kill his old friend. Deathstroke is pitted against all the rivals he faced over the course of this run, including Snakebite and last issue’s foe, Red Hood, but overall the fight scenes are just generic.
I did like seeing Rose finally realize she’d been played by Lawman, but it came a bit abruptly, as did the appearance of Ra’s Al Ghul (spoiled on the cover, no less). Overall, it’s not terrible, and if you like seeing Deathstroke stab things, you’ll be fine. There’s not much else here to recommend, though.
Corrina: Yep, if you like Deathstroke stabbing at things–and like people being stabbed–you’ll get your fill of it from this comic. What you won’t get is any compelling story, not even the one between Rose and Slade, as her realization of being brainwashed seems quite inevitable. I’d thought Joseph was dead, again, so his return was midly interesting but only that.
If nothing else, Priest should offer something different and unique for this character. About time.
Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot/Katana – Mike Barr, Brian Buccellato, Writers; Diogenes Neves, Viktor Bogdanovik, Pencilers; Ruy Jose, Richard Friend, Inkers; Carrie Strachan, Michael Spicer, Colorist
Ray – 4/10
Corrina: Outsiders Reunion, Yes, New Deadshot, No.
Ray: Once again, two stories with completely different tones this month. The Katana story, which leads us off, is pretty decent if forgettable. Kobra has taken over Markovia, leading Katana and the Suicide Squad to make a fast-paced escape from the European nation. While the Squad’s addition to this story does seem a bit ancillary, there’s some fun dialogue, especially involving Katana and Harley Quinn. There’s also the best depiction of what Katana’s Soultaker actually does that I’ve seen in a long time. Katana herself remains fairly stoic and forgettable, and Brian Markov isn’t particularly memorable in his pre-powers incarnation either.
Still, it’s a decent read, which is far more than I can say for the Deadshot story. This one goes right off a cliff now that the new Deadshot is under the mask. Thus far in the story, Evans has been a ruthless, businesslike hitman who was better at the game than Deadshot was. Here, his origin is dumped on us quickly and he goes from being a stone-cold assassin to a madman looking to eliminate his former bosses, no matter how many of his own team members he has to kill in the process. The ending makes very clear they’re not actually forcing Floyd out of the role, which makes this whole thing rather pointless.
Corrina: The Katana story conclusion relies far too much, I think, on my fondness for the original Outsiders, of which Brian Markov was a founding member. From that perspective, I enjoyed it but Ray’s right, he’s in this story without too much personality save what the reader brings from their memories of Geo-Force. However, Katana’s conversations with her sword and the souls within it was compelling and reminded me what an amazing character that she can be. I’d like to see more of this Katana.
The Deathstroke story? A killer goes off his leash. Hey, who couldn’t see that coming? Amanda Waller, I guess, which makes her incompetent yet again. I throw up my hands at this Deathstroke story too.
Justice League 3001 #11 – Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Writers; Skott Kolins, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 4/10
Corrina: I Wish the Creators Were Back on ‘It’s Not the Justice League.’
Ray: I was pleased to see old fan-favorites Larfleeze and G’nort making their return last issue, and any scene where they’re in is the best of the issue. I was amused by the best way to deal with Larfleeze being convincing him someone is withholding something from him. However, the appearance of these two goofballs doesn’t make up for the overarching problems of the series. These include – the team members are inherently unlikable, with the slight exception of Fire and Ice. The villains are generic, especially Lady Styx. I’m still not sure what Ariel Masters is up to, nor why Lois Lane is supposedly evil. There’s only one issue left of this comic (as the writers point out several times) and a lot of plots are still hanging, including the disappearance of Booster and Beetle in the last run. The cast overhaul a few issues back did improve this title somehow, but the concept has been flawed since the start, and it just never clicked.
Corrina: So that’s maybe three cursed titles, Ray? Superman/Wonder Woman, Teen Titans and this one. Only TT has a good concept that can be redeemed. This series was apparently supposed to be more humorous and fun from the beginning rather than the joyless grim darkness that it’s become. It seems to me that even the creators are going to be happy to end this comic, given their in-jokes about it.
Batman ’66/The Man from UNCLE #5 – Jeff Parker, Writer; David Hahn, Penciller; Karl Kesel, Inker; Mad Pencil, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Now that Hugo Strange has been unmasked as the mastermind behind THRUSH, this story takes a distinctly more psychological turn as the villains capture Batman and his allies, allowing Strange to psychoanalyze them and pick at their weak points, attempting to manipulate them and turn them into agents of THRUSH. The “analysis” segments are intriguing and well-done, and I laughed quite a bit at his response to Robin’s outburst of “You’ll never get away with this”. Strange’s secret lair is one of the best-designed ones I’ve seen in a while, looking more like an art-deco aquarium than an evil lair. And the issue ends with Batman and Co. fighting a giant octopus! Can’t beat that. There’s a bit of an issue with Hahn’s art at times, making it feel like we should be wearing 3D glasses. But overal, it’s an old-school blast and makes me very excited for Batman ’66/Steed and Ms. Peel come July.
Corrina: I like that the comic brings in concepts and sets that could never be handled in a television series, like the underwater lair, which is all kinds of amazig to see on the page. For me, this series works best when it moves beyond the confines of the television show, rather than trying to stick to it exactly.
Hugo Strange is also a good choice for an overall villain, and this is a great team-up. Bring on Steed and Peel next!