While DC published four special Rebirth comics this week, it wasn’t all they published. Doctor Fate, Batman Beyond, Bloodlines, and the out-of-continuity DC Comics Bombshells, Superman: Coming of the Supermen by Neal Adams and Injustice: Gods Among Us all came out.
Were they worth picking up?
A big ‘yes’ for Doctor Fate. The rest have flaws here and their thought Bombshells does feature Harley Quinn fighting Nazis.
Doctor Fate #13 – Paul Levitz, Writer; Ibrahim Moustafa, Artist; Lee Loughridge, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Keep Khalid!
Ray: A lot of people were worried about the return of Kent Nelson shoving Khalid out of the title role, and given the history, those worries weren’t ill-placed. History is littered with legacy heroes who were shoved aside after their book ended. Fortunately, DC seems to be aware of this history and nicely threads the line between re-establishing Kent as an important figure while ensuring that Khalid still has a place.
When Kent said “I believe you have something that belongs to me” last issue, he didn’t mean he wanted the helmet per se – in fact, his connection to the power of the helmet is so strong that he doesn’t need it. He can transform into Doctor Fate on his own at will. His long-time connection has also rendered him a little loopy, however, so when he offers to train Khalid in the use of his new powers, his advice tends to be a bit ambiguous. It doesn’t last long before the two Doctors Fate are pulled into a battle against some sort of Egyptian fire-gremlin, likely unleashed by Anubis in the first arc. This series’ weak point is definitely the villains, as most of them seem to be plot devices more than anything. However, this issue works nicely as both a set-up for the return of the JSA with the mysterious Kent as one of the keys, and as a strong solo story for Khalid as he figures out exactly how deep the power of Fate goes. I’m hopeful that both these characters will wind up with a decent role in Rebirth.
Corrina: The series’ strong point has been Khalid and his family’s characterization, which reminds me of Jaime Reyes’ family in the Blue Beetle revival. But Ray’s right, the weakness has been the villains, who exist more as training exercising for Khalid than as personalities in their own right, save for the original arc connected to the Egyptian myths and, even then, they were remote entities.
Kent being inscrutable is perfectly in keeping with Doctor Fate’s long characterization and, yes, I was one of those worried he would replace Khalid. Doctor Fate in particular has been hard on legacy characters. There was the Man Called Fate who died so the Justice Society of America could be reborn, and there was Hector Hall, who also died. I have no idea if it was DC’s plan all along to connect Khalid to Kent as his nephew but perhaps that will comfort long-time DC readers and make them check out this worthy book.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning Sonny Liew, whose art is always outstanding on this title. He’s listed as the artist still in upcoming issues, which is a relief, though I enjoyed Moustafa’s fill-in art in this issue.
Batman Beyond #13 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Bernard Chang, Artist; Marcelo Maiolo, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: Yep, Terry’s Coming Back.
Ray: Is something even a mystery if there’s only one suspect and the evidence is repeated frequently through the issue? That’s the question this issue, as Tim battles the new Rewire and tries to stay alive after his suit is shorted out. The issue opens with a rather bizarre segment as he seemingly gives up on life and lets the suit shut down because…he lost a fight and he misses home?
Definitely a bizarre and morbid scene. Barbara shocks him back to life remotely, and back at base they discuss the Rewire mystery and what happened after Tim disappeared in the future. The story then flips back and forth between Terry’s search for Tim in the past that led him to a Jokerz ambush, and Tim’s search for Rewire. There’s a lot of discussion of Terry, a mention that the original Rewire, Davis Dusk, has been killed off-screen. I think we all know where this is going, and sure enough, Rewire is unmasked as Terry, complete with new cyborg parts and being brainwashed by Spellbinder. Ever since the Rebirth announcement, Tim’s days in this title were numbered, and frankly he’s been a complete misfire as Batman Beyond. I’m looking forward to having the genuine article back, and to seeing the real Tim Drake in Detective next week.
Corrina: DC is retooling the title to bring Terry back, so Tim’s decision to give up on his life is an awkward way to show that he wants to go back home. Or else, this Tim will die to clear the decks for Terry and the Tim currently starring in Teen Titans. That would be an ending, though a depressing one, as DC sweeps all the Futures End stuff under the rug. (Deservedly so!)
Best case scenario? Tim goes back in time to when he disappeared, all is reset, and the Batman Beyond universe goes back to usual.
Bloodlines #3 – JT Krul, Writer; V Ken Marion, Penciller; Sean Parsons, Inker; Andrew Dalhouse, Sotocolor, Colorist
Ray – 3/10
Corrina: It Was Definitely A Comic With Art and Stuff In It
Ray: Last issue set a grim and gruesome tone for the series that doesn’t really change this issue, and this book’s biggest problem continues to be that it’s a massive cliche storm. You’ve got the grizzled monster hunter who was forced to kill his own possessed family, out for blood against the invaders, the conflicted police officer, the tough girl, and various high school archetypes. I am glad to see Sparx, one of my favorite of the Bloodlines characters, back again, but she’s not given all that much to do. I’m pretty sure the alien injections didn’t work like the Walking Dead in the original series, but here it quickly takes over the entire body and transforms people into mindless, carnivorous beings.
MRIs reveal that it’s alien parasites winding their way around the body, causing the powers as a side effect before they completely take over. And then we get a rampaging walking corpse that turns into a Spider-monster of some kind. It feels like a hodgepodge of Alien, Walking Dead, and Breakfast Club, none of which are used to their full effect. At least no little girls slaughter any birthday parties this month?
Corrina: It’s sad when the best thing we can say about a comic book is that a little girl didn’t slaughter a whole bunch of other little kids. So…yay? At least we know from this issue is that it wasn’t her fault, it was the fault of the alien parasite. That little girl is going to need some serious therapy if she’s ever cured of the whole parasite thing. (No, I doubt we’ll see that. I’m sure the little girl will vanish into oblivion instead.)
We do have plot forward momentum this issue and that’s good. It doesn’t explain how some of the infected people have some control over themselves while in their alien forms, though. (No, I’m not really curious as to why this happens but for those following the story, it’s nice to have answers.)
Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #5 – Neal Adams, Writer/Artist, Tony Avina, Colorist
Ray – 4/10
Corrina: Epic Art, Needs New Dialogue
Ray: This comic continues to deliver all the unintentional laughs right from the start, as Superman plows through 95% of Apokalips while shouting Rafi’s name endlessly. I mean, I guess Superman is always going to care about any child, but he seems more invested in this random war orphan he met a few days ago than Batman does in most of his Robins! And he shows it by yelling his name and punching things. He rescues him from Granny Goodness and meets up with his allies on Apokalips to help him shuffle Rafi back to Earth. This leads to him discovering that Metron and the Kandorian Supermen are involved in a complex scheme to smuggle refugees off Apokalips via making everyone think they’re dead. There’s some amusing action in this issue, but it’s dragged down by weird characterization, including Superman being oddly patronizing to Lois repeatedly. And then the random green alien shows up again and suddenly speaks in street lingo. Much like it’s spiritual predecessor, Batman: Odyssey, this comic needs to be read to be believed. Is it good? No, but it’s certainly unique.
Corrina: If you took all the art and wrote new dialogue for everyone, I think the issue would be improved, as there’s a decent story in a bunch of Supermen from the new city of Kandor helping Superman fight Darkseid. That story might even be in this book but every time there’s a cool visual, like Lois Lane taking out Granny Goodness, someone says something ridiculous and I facepalm.
But, hey, at least Luthor is dead. I like that. Too many people let Luthor off the hook.
DC Comics Bombshells #14 – Marguerite Bennett, Writer; Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Artists; J. Nanjan, Wendy Broome, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: For the second issue in a row, we’re dodging the fact that this title killed off part of its heart and soul and clearly doesn’t want to go back to the main cast! That’s okay, because I’m digging these side stories a lot too. This issue is an odd belated Valentine’s Day issue of sorts, focusing on the various romances our heroines are involved with.
The first one is the most conventional, as Mera finds herself washed up on the beach near a lighthouse belonging to a handsome Irish lighthouse keeper – by the name of Arthur Curry. The banter between Mera and the man who would in another world have been Aquaman is a lot of fun, although occasionally a bit too cute by half.
The second story, and the darkest, focuses on Zatanna and John Constantine trying to escape Axis territory and eventually making a fateful decision to stay together over their safety. Is Constantine Jewish in this version? That’s an interesting twist, if so, and this story manages to capture the gravity of the situation without being overly graphic. I hate Joker’s Daughter in all forms, though. The third story is the one that steals the show, though, as Harley and Ivy go on a tear through enemy territory and we finally learn Harley’s origin and the history of the Joker in this version. And it’s great to see a version of Harley and Ivy where we don’t have to be coy about exactly how those two feel about each other!
Corrina: I think the current Harley Quinn series has been far less than coy about Harley and Ivy, but I agree, it’s nice to seem them team-up and who doesn’t love the idea of Harley and Ivy beating up Nazis?
The Aquaman story was the most oblique, as it seems to me that this Arthur Curry was hinting at being far more than he seems. Either that, or he has some fey Celtic blood in him. Their whole segment read like something out of an Irish legend and that was an interesting change for the book.
Zatanna and Constantine versus the Joker’s Daughter would have been more interesting to me without the Joker’s Daughter. That character still doesn’t work well, even in this alternate universe environment.
Overall, this was a good but not great issue of Bombshells but, I would like more fallout from the big death.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five #11 – Brian Buccellato, Writer; Bruno Redondo, Xemanico, Pencillers; Juan Albarran, Xermanico, Inkers; Rex Lokus, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
This Harley Quinn-centric done-in-one shows off some pretty strong characterization as some of the side characters get to do things other than die horribly like characters have been doing for most of this season. There’s a nice scene involving the Flash showing up at the wake for two of the Rogues that will be familiar to fans of the JLU cartoon, and a tense face-off between Alfred and Superman, but the bulk of the issue goes to Harley Quinn trying to figure out exactly where she stands in Superman’s new world order. This leads to some rather ill-advised ventures such as seeking therapy from a cardboard cut-out of herself, and picking a fight with Shazam as Billy Batson leaves school. There’s some light touches of humor mixed in with this issue, and that’s much needed in a series that was quickly becoming all grim, all the time.