DC This Week – Back to Basics for ‘Blue Beetle’

Reading Time: 22 minutes

 

Deathstroke rebirth images
A full cast of past and present dangers and loved ones for Slade Wilson. Image via DC Comics

This week sees the reappearance of the Jamie Reyes’ Blue Beetle, definitely cause for rejoicing, as the original run featuring Jaime Reyes was a severely underrated all-ages title. There’s also a terrific version of Tim Drake running around in Detective Comics (but maybe not for long?) , Wonder Woman’s¬†disparate plot lines begin to tie together, and Doomsday and Superman have their final battle in Action Comics.

But our favorite comic this week? Deathstroke, which continues to impress under the pen of Christopher Priest and the art of Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz.

WARNING: MAJOR AND COMPLETE SPOILERS FOR ALL OF DC THIS WEEK.

DC Rebirth Reviews:

Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1 – Keith Giffen, Writer; Scott Kolins, Artist; Romulo Fajardo Jr., Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Jaime & His Cast Are Back & Intact

Ray: I’m pretty sure most people have erased the disastrous New 52 Blue Beetle run, which included Paco being murdered and transformed into an evil Black Beetle, and Jaime punching Brenda in the face to save her from being killed somehow, and ended with Jaime being lost in space and forgotten for several years, from their memories.

That’s a good thing.

This title forgot it too! This is essentially a wholesale reboot that sets things back to the classic Blue Beetle status quo. Although it’s great to have this character back in good form – and original co-writer Keith Giffen being on board is a big part of that – it does feel like at times this series treads a bit too much familiar ground. First the good – the Reyes family is back to being a loving, functional family. Milagro, now a sarcastic pre-teen, seems like she’s going to be a lot of fun. Paco and Brenda, while maybe a bit too mean to each other in the first issue, are a lot more likable too.

The big change is the addition of Ted Kord as Jaime’s mentor. Here a nerdy tech genius fascinated with the Scarab, he seems to want to be Jaime’s tech support in their superhero partnership. Jaime, though, just wants the Scarab off him so he can go back to being normal. Ted, even though he’s never been the Blue Beetle, seems like he’s a lot like the original character. I’m not sure why the book essentially reprints the scene between Ted and Fate from the Rebirth book, but it establishes a major plot point. The issue’s biggest problem is that its introductory villains, a pair of artificial humans named Rack and Ruin, are as generic as it gets. The reveal that Brenda’s Aunt is behind them is inevitable for anyone who has read this title before in any form. Still, just the fact that the characters are back as they should be is very good news. That puts this title in a good position to hopefully tread new ground soon.

Cover to Blue Beetle, image via DC Comics
Cover to Blue Beetle, image via DC Comics

Corrina: For those not familiar with the original launch of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle, go find those trades and read them right now! Jaime is a tremendous character with a terrific supporting cast, and this was my older children’s favorite comic for years. Those stories are well worth reading. (Though I wince at Ray’s “classic” comment, as Jaime is the newest of the Beetles. Makes me feel old. ūüėČ

Does this issue bring back that old magic?

All the pieces are in place, as Ray says, and it is a relief to have the new 52 stories completely wiped off the map. (What was DC thinking??–though I say that about much of the new 52 books.) The new piece is Ted Kord. For those who hated him being graphically shot in the head to kick off yet another one of DC’s endless crossovers way back when, there’s no sign of that. Ted is back to his classic self, as a normal, tech-genius inventor.

However, the story itself didn’t completely gel for me, mainly because the wisecracks between Jaime and Ted and Rack and Ruin felt flat for me. So, great setup, the¬†execution could use work, but thrilled to have this title back.

Deathstroke #1 РChristopher Priest, Writer; Carlo Pagulayan, Penciller; Jason Paz, Inker; Jeromy Cox, Colorist 

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Complex & Fun

Ray: Priest’s return to big two comics continues to be one of the most interesting books DC has put out since the start of Rebirth. An intelligent thriller focusing on a group of amoral but pragmatic assassins who form a very odd sort of family, it manages to be many books at one time and yet come together into a cohesive whole. The bulk of the issue focuses on Slade and the newly returned Wintergreen playing a long game con with the ruthless dictator of an African Nation, as well as his allies in the US. The way they find a loophole in their contract to ensure the re-election of a particularly vile US Congressman, especially the small snapshot of what they blackmailed him with, is one of the issue’s best moments. In all of this, Slade’s bond with Wintergreen is given a surprisingly strong focus, especially towards the end.

Surprisingly, the flashback segments are just as strong, as we get strong ideas of what drives Slade’s relationship with his ex-wife Adeline, as well as the way the assassin work essentially functions as a drug for him – pulling him away from his family and wife until it all falls apart. These definitely aren’t your typical DC leads, as almost everyone in this book is essentially a terrible person in some way, but it works in getting you invested in them anyway (unlike another DC book we’ll talk about much later). Still no reference to Rose, who seems to have her original origin back – she’s not part of Slade’s happy family. We know she’s coming and playing a major role, though, and Priest has done a great job of making me interested in Deathstroke again as a whole.

Corrina: Intelligent is the world I’d use to describe this overall book. The story is far beyond the generic assassin tale we had in the beginning of this series. First, I have to work to make sure I have the twisty plot straight, then Slade uses his smarts to take out Clock King, rather than brute force. Excellent. Then my brain is engaged by wondering exactly what’s up with Wintergreen and Slade¬†until that final 3-panel sequence which made me laugh out loud.

Yes, laugh. This is a fun book. Even Grant’s teenage rebellion is darkly funny. And speaking of that, the flashbacks are integrated as part of Clock King’s attack on Slade, an excellent way to work in backstory, complete with Slade and his ex-wife Adeline sparring and then…not sparring. Quite an adult sequence for a mainstream comic book and I’m not talking about the nudity–I’m talking about the complexity of the entire relationship.

The Hellblazer #1 – Simon Oliver, Writer; Moritat, Artist; Andre Sczymanowicz, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Interesting Supporting Cast

Ray: Unlike the previous Constantine series, which had the fast pacing of a DC Universe title, Simon Oliver seems to be bringing this title back to its Vertigo roots, with very deliberate pacing, slowly unfolding mysteries, and a lot of tension in the air. The issue opens with two brothers who serve as some sort of mystical guardians fighting in 1914, torn apart over whether to stop Gavrilo Princip from killing Archduke Ferdinand. The concept of these characters is interesting, but I could have done without yet another Trump reference – and one I found in rather poor taste. Meanwhile, in London, Chaz wakes up to find Swamp Thing growing in his greenhouse. Yep, it’s that kind of book.

The constantly tense and sniping relationship between Constantine and Swamp Thing never fails to amuse me, and their convoluted series of favors and who owes who was great. Right now it’s Constantine’s turn to do Swampy a solid, and it seems Abby Arcane is missing from the Rot. Constantine takes Swamp Thing to see his young ally Mercury, who is none too pleased to see him but for some reason geeks out over Swamp Thing and is all too happy to help him. I’m not sure what this girl’s story is yet, but she’s an intriguing addition to the book. Meanwhile, Constantine is still haunted by the end of events in New York, and the two brothers are still around – well, until one decides to off the other because it’s time to take matters into his own hands. Intriguing issue with a strong take on Constantine so far.

Corrina: The supporting cast so far in this reboot has been more interesting than Constantine himself, which wasn’t the case with the DC title. That doesn’t make it better or worse but it certainly reads differently. The dialogue is the star of this issue as it’s note perfect, especially in the interactions between Mercury and Swamp Thing and John and Swamp Thing, though everyone immediately giving John a lecture about what an awful person he is when he arrives could get old fast. (On the other hand, it could make for a funny repeating gag, where the new person begins to lecture and John cuts them off with a ‘heard it before,’ comment.)

I’m not sure what’s going on with the two demon brothers. That feels like an original tale and could turn out to be excellent or horrible. Fallen angels, perhaps? I guess there’s a Trump reference but I’m not entirely sure Hitler didn’t say “make Germany great again,” at some point.

Batgirl #2 – Hope Larson, Writer; Rafael Albuquerque, Artist; Dave McQuaig, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Plot is Opaque

Ray: I love the concept of Barbara Gordon hostel-hopping around the world in search of better superhero skills, and I’m guessing Larson has done a good job of researching the various Asian cultures this takes place in, because the jump from Japan to Singapore is handled smoothly and there’s a good deal of local color in both issues. The fantastic art byAlbuquerque is a huge part of the appeal too, as he’s one of the rare artists who can do as good a job with character expressions and quiet moments/scenery as he does with big elaborate fight scenes. So the status quo overall is a big win for me, and I love what the addition of Kai has done to the title. It’s rare to see Barbara off-balance, and she clearly has a lot of unresolved issues with this part of her past.

This series seems to be falling into a bit of an anthology format, though, and that’s where my only issue with the series comes from. This issue’s central conflict just isn’t half as compelling as last issue and doesn’t have any character half as electrifying as the awesome Fruit Bat (who I hope will show up again shortly). Instead, in Singapore, Barbara is chasing the source of a mysterious tattoo she found on the arm of last issue’s villain, and that leads her to a MMA studio in the city. After being turned down by a sexist promoter, she’s taken under the wing of a mysterious trainer ¬†and winds up in a bout against a fighter called “The Moth” with a unique fighting style that takes her out easily. No real problems here, just a bit of a dip from a fantastic first issue in a title that has a ton of promise.

Corrina: To enjoy this comic (and, indeed, the Batgirl of Burnside as a whole), I have to put aside what I know about Barbara Gordon from over 30 years of reading the character. To me, she’s a planner and a thinker, one who works every angle and, yet, since the Burnside revamp, she’s been far more impulsive and reactive than pro-active. That’s likely my biggest problem with the two issues of the title. The old Babs would have been investigating Kai to an inch of his life to figure out what’s really going on with him because he has a big Neon sign of ¬†“trouble” flashing over his head. I like the Kai/Barb interactions a great deal but that she’s willing to basically shrug off his secrets doesn’t fit with what I know about the character and makes me hard to accept this version of Batgirl.

As they say, your mileage may vary on this. It could be I’m just still annoyed that Babs is a young, almost novice again after spending almost forty years of reading about her as a Congresswoman and Oracle. I could wish for more of her previous personality but, eh, that’s probably a personal reader issue.

The art, especially the fight sequences, held my attention when the story didn’t.

Titans #2 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Brett Booth, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Andrew Dalhouse, Colorist

Ray – 7/10

Corrina: Too Messy

Ray: This series declared itself to be one of the biggest pieces of the Rebirth puzzle, and it paid off in sales, transforming this book from a spin-off of the low-selling Titans Hunt to the top-selling Titans book in a decade. Three issues in, the mystery surrounding Wally West is continuing to unfold, but I felt like this issue was a rather big step back in terms of the narrative. The return of one of Wally’s biggest arch-enemies, the evil magician Abra Kadabra, was an exciting twist last issue, and he makes for a compelling foe here. Unfortunately, his master plan seems to be lacking. He uses magic to create evil brainwashed younger clones of the Titans¬†and sets them loose on the city to attack their counterparts.

This leads to a big brawl that takes up most of the issue and leaves relatively little time for the character development that made the first two issues strong. There are some interesting bits about Linda Park, although it’s no surprise that she gets damseled pretty quickly. Then we have Roy confessing his love for Donna under mind control in the middle of the issue, which sort of comes out of nowhere. Also, Abra Kadabra apparently killing Garth in the cliffhanger? Not buying it. Not worried about him, unlike another hero this week.

Corrina: After a strong start, the story is beginning to lose me. There is a lot of mystery behind the Titans re-appearance and, yes, it’s hard to juggle so many different personalities but tossing in yet another full cast of Titans isn’t the way to go about that. I like the choice of villain but I spent half the issue wondering where the past Titans came from and how powerful Abra was to cause that, instead of paying attention to what was on the page. Booth’s art, as stylized and overly kinetic as it is, didn’t help me sort the story out at all.

Linda Park’s subplot had some great narration from but I hoped for more from the end of it for her to get damseled, as Ray put it. Love all these characters but this issue is a mess.

The Flash #5 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Felipe Watanabe, Penciller; Andrew Currie, Oclair Albert, Inkers; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Ending Better Be Fake Out

Ray: Guest artist Felipe Watanabe does a good job on art (much better than his recent Cyborg work) as the main story dials back a bit to focus on Barry’s life – that is, until things take an abrupt turn that leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Since the speed force storm hit, two new Speedsters have taken the focus – August Heart, who is one of Barry’s best friends despite a difference in their crimefighting philosophies, and Meena Darwash, a brilliant STAR Labs scientist who has become Barry’s closest ally in training as well as his new girlfriend. His decision to share his identity with her felt a bit abrupt, but it makes sense as now he has someone who can relate to him in all areas of his life. She even finds time to train Wally in the use of his new powers when he says he doesn’t want to give away his identity yet. I also like how every new speedster seems to have a unique ability.

Some of this issue feels like Williamson is taking us on a tour through Barry’s life, to show us how he thinks about the main supporting cast. It’s a nice break – until things go to hell. Once Godspeed shows up, the title turns dark and intense in a hurry. It seems like Williamson, who knows his mysteries (read Nailbiter, if you’re not!) is playing with our expectations. Both Detective Heart and Doctor Darwash have a lot of reasons to seem like the prime suspect – but both have encountered Godspeed themselves, albeit with some wiggle room. This issue’s mix of character development and speedster action is fantastic, and this continues to be my favorite Flash run since Geoff Johns said adieu.

Corrina: For the first time in, say, since Barry Allen died originally, I feel as if he’s a distinct character and not an amalgam of Barry and Wally. (Yes, that includes the TV show, where Barry has most of Wally’s personality but Barry’s job.) I cannot stress what an excellent job the creative team is doing on this title, providing a fresh approach to speedsters, Barry, a new vibrant supporting cast, and a villain that promises to be more than just another Reverse Flash. (Though I could do without the ‘stealing speed’ part. Small niggle.) There’s so much imagination in this book.

That Barry is thrilled to have partners and students is part of what separates him from the other heroes of the DCU, and that he becomes involved so fast with Meena makes perfect sense to me. They’re both science geeks, with similar approaches, and she can understand who and what he is more than anyone else he’s ever dated. This Wally, too, has quickly developed into a specific person and not a sidekick or yet another iteration of the iconic Wally West. That’s the best thing I can say about this title: everyone, no matter their power, is a full person, and not a prop.

I’m sure the ending is a fake-out. If it’s not, I’m going to be so disappointed.

Batman: Detective Comics #939 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Eddy Barrows, Penciller; Eber Ferreira, Inker; Adriano Lucas, Colorist

Ray – 9.5/10 (But with a Caveat)

Corrina: Awesome. Also, Batman Is Now Canonically Jewish

Ray: Barrows takes over on art for the final two chapters of this epic introductory story, and it’s probably Ferreira’s inks, but this is the best his art has ever looked. Smooth, almost photo-realistic in places. After an introduction that shows the root of Jacob Kane’s ruthlessness and the first moment of friendship/family bonding between Bruce and Kate, we head back to the present for an almost unbearably tense storyline. Kane and his sociopathic lieutenant Ulysses Armstrong have unleashed an army of Bat-drones on the city to hunt down the members of the League of Shadows – no matter how many innocents die in the process. Virtually all the team gets moments to shine in this issue – and I was surprised by how much I’m liking Clayface – but the issue belongs, undeniably, to Tim Drake as he pulls off an incredible Batman gambit and willingly places himself in danger to stop the drones, reprogramming them to target him instead.

Which leads me to the caveat. Tynion is working very, very hard to make us think Tim is dying next issue. Several people get to testify about how amazing he is? Check. He’s making plans to leave the team and retire to a normal life (going to college in Ivy Town)? Check. He pulls off an epic sacrifice and ends the issue facing death with a smile on his face? Check. We’ve seen all these tropes before. And the thing is, Tynion absolutely achieved his goal in this first arc of reminding us of how great the character is after four years of misuse. This is the best Tim Drake story in years. But if it’s the last, that will be an epic waste of potential. Learn from the massive backlash you’re getting from Superwoman, DC – Suprise!Death rarely wins you new fans. That being said, if this issue was essentially an epic troll job on a certain rumor site, I salute everyone involved.

Corrina:¬†Judging by Tynion’s previous stories, he wouldn’t be so obvious to set up Tim’s death as a cliche, as he seems he’s doing. On the other hand, all the Robins are alive again and I guess Tim seems the most…expendable? The story has certainly set up the idea that Jacob Kane has no idea of the damage he’s causing and perhaps a death would shock him into reconsidering his way? Perhaps. But no Robin stays dead–not even Stephanie Brown–so I’m not too worried.

Panel from Detective Comics #939 copyright DC Comics
Panel from Detective Comics #939 copyright DC Comics

Overall, it’s a fantastic, fast-paced chapter with excellent characterization all around, in Clayface’s soul-weary but amusing dialogue, in Tim’s act of heroism, in Steph’s pep talks to herself, and in the relationship between Kate Kane and Bruce Wayne. I still am leery of the whole cousin angle, which seems grafted to Kate’s story, but it works well here. That Jacob Kane wouldn’t reach out to Bruce as a young, orphaned boy seems odd, but perhaps the death of Kate’s mom and disappearance of her sister took place shortly after the deaths of the Waynes. Also, I noted since it’s now clear that Jacob Kane’s sister, Martha, was Bruce’s mother, that would definitely make Batman Jewish. Which may mean a great deal for those seeking more representation for Jewish heroes.

My one niggle is that I enjoyed Jacob and Kate’s relationship a great deal and this transformation of Jacob to basically yet another version of Sam Lane isn’t one to my taste. But then I’d guess we’d lose the whole plot.

Action Comics #962 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Stephen Segovia, Penciller; Art Thibert, Inker; Ulises Arreola, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Nice Defeat of Doomsday

Ray: The conclusion of the Doomsday arc is finally here, and there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. Namely, how did pre-Flashpoint Doomsday wind up here at all? I’m pretty sure Mister Oz had something to do with it, but it’s unconfirmed. Last issue saw Superman have Wonder Woman take his wife and son to safety, while he attempted one last dangerous gambit against Doomsday. That takes him to his makeshift Fortress of Solitude with the Kryptonian monster hot on his heels and leads to a tense, multi-level battle that uses the two characters better than they have been in most of the series. Ultimately, he sends Doomsday to the Phantom Zone with WW’s help. It’s an exciting finish, but I very much wish Lois had more to do.

I was frankly more interested in the stuff that happened after Doomsday was defeated. Superman and Luthor’s confrontation was tense and compelling, and I’m very happy to see the long-game Luthor who can actually clear his name and keep it cleared instead of doing things for the evulz. He’s being set up as a fascinating long-term foil for Superman, one who Clark won’t be able to punch his way out of, and that’s the way Luthor should be. Meanwhile, Mister Oz intercepted Doomsday from the Phantom Zone and is keeping him for his own purposes? That’s an Ozymandias move if I ever saw one. Decent issue, but I’m happy this arc is over and hopefully the next arc will have more compelling adversaries.

Corrina: Yay! It’s about time that Doomsday is out of the way, since it’s clear he was a pawn to the main villain and especially since he’s not interesting in his own right, either. All you can do with Superman and Doomsday is write fight scene after fight scene and that was old after two issues of this. However, excellent use of the Phantom Zone projector, though I’m unclear as to how Superman has one in this universe. Maybe he built it himself?

There are a ton of questions here that have been pushed aside for fight scenes. Isn’t WW interested in how this Lois and Superman came to this world at all? I get they’ve been too busy to sit down and sort out everything but, still, it seems a waste of Lois and Wonder Woman’s interaction to have them basically chat about the fight the whole time. And so we’re back to my annoyance with the endless punching. Which is over. So, hopefully, we’ll see more of this mysterious Clark Kent Who Is Not Superman and the odd Mister Oz. (By the way, even if he’s not Superman, this Clark should still be a heroic person because that’s who he is but I see no signs of this Clark having any heroic qualities. Not sure if that means anything or not.)

Wonder Woman #5 – Greg Rucka, Writer; Liam Sharp, Artist; Laura Martin, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: And So the Threads Come Together

Ray: It’s the third part of “The Lies,” and anyone who has an issue with Greg Rucka’s very deliberate pacing is going to start losing patience with this comic. I’m not there yet, because this book still has a lot of things going for it. For one thing, Liam Sharp’s stunning art, maybe the best on any DC book right now. He manages to capture stunning beauty and dark horror in the same comic. For another, Diana’s relationship with Cheetah is one of the best parts of this book. No one has ever really delved into the emotional toll it would take to be sharing your body with an ancient cat spirit, and Diana’s compassion for her arch-enemy is well-written. I was also thrilled to see the return of one of Rucka’s favorite characters, Sasha Bordeaux, who meets with Etta Candy – and has a few big secrets of her own.

Where the issue is falling down a bit for me, though, is in the other half of the story. I’m just not a big fan of Steve Trevor and his army of redshirts, who are being held captive in-country by an African dictator with a twisted obsession with the same demon who cursed Cheetah. He gets to monologue a lot and intends to subject Steve Trevor to a ritual that will make him the host for the demon. This is the second time in six months that Steve Trevor was turned into a host for some sort of evil cosmic being, and it’s not a plot I care to see rehashed. I’d like to see more progress on unraveling the mystery of Diana’s past and less on Steve, who I rarely find interesting outside of Legend of Wonder Woman.

Corrina: I have a different take: I’m certain that the mystery of Diana’s past is tied to the African dictator and the demon he worships, that’s why Wonder Woman was drawn to this area. To me, this issue showcased how, eventually, all these disparate plot threads will combine for the final story of who’s been lying to Wonder Woman and why. (Though I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with Maxwell Lord.) ¬†In essence: I found Steve’s plight to be part of the main story and not a side issue.

Wonder Woman, of course, shows up to rescue the redshirt team, and, one hopes, eventually Steve. I’m not thrilled with him being taken over by a demon but I bet what happens will be more interesting than last time. (And I’m vaguely amused that Steve is now getting all the ‘damsel in peril’ and ‘taken over by evil entity’ plot usually reserved for girlfriends.)

Cheetah and Diana’s conversation, however, is the best part of the issue. As to Sasha being back, good news.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Rafa Sandoval, Penciller; Jordi Tarragona, Inker; Tomeu Morey, Colorist

Ray – 5/10

Corrina: Meh.

Ray: There continue to be two major storylines in this issue, and the one that actually interests me gets completely short shrift compared to the other. When we last left off, Guy Gardner had been dispatched by John Stewart to search the unknown sector of space the weakened Lanterns have found themselves in. This issue, he’s in some sort of alien fight club, urging enemies to come at him. And…that’s it. We don’t see him for the rest of the issue. And what we do see is a massively disappointing turn for Sinestro that essentially completely throws his character development out the window.

Most of the issue is Hal fighting off Sinestro Corps members, as it has been for most of the series. This issue, though, we see Sinestro Corps members start to kidnap random civilians on various alien planets via a giant fear construct tentacle monster. It’s a cool visual for sure, but then it’s revealed that Sinestro plans to use these civilians to power something called the Fear Engine, which…I’m sure is not pleasant. So in one fell swoop, Venditti seems to have reset Sinestro to be even more evil than he was before his development under Johns and Bunn, which is very disappointing. The end of the issue has Hal defeated and captured, so we’ll find out more about Sinestro’s plans next issue, but he seems to be aligned with an ancient death cult that the GLs threw out of the galaxy eons ago. Losing interest in this title.

Corrina: Like Ray, I’m much more interested in the story of the rest of the Lanterns than in what happens to Hal Jordan and found not enough of that this issue to hold my attention, especially when the alternative is Hal fighting a bunch of interchangeable members of the Sinestro Corps. The Fear Engine holds no interest for me either but, then, Sinestro and his plots haven’t held my interest for over two years of reading the Lantern titles.

If you like Lantern stories, this is adequate enough. If you don’t, this issue won’t convince you to be a fan.

Additional Reviews –

Hard-Travelin’ Heroz: Six-Pack & Dogwelder #1 – Garth Ennis, Writer; Russ Braun, Artist; John Kalisz, Colorist

Ray – 2/10

Ray: …Look, people remember Corrina and I reviewing All-Star Section Eight when this column debuted, right? Just repeat most of that.

…Oh, people want to hear what I think about this comic anyway? Okay. Well, suffice it to say that this is a comic that starts with a happy family where the two kids survived having dogs welded to their faces by their deranged father, who is spying on the family from outside. It then goes into a mentally ill drunk rambling while occasionally projectile-puking on screen. Meanwhile, a sentient pile of guts is getting relationship advice because her violent rapist husband has been cheating on her. (FYI, this “Bueno Excellante” character has never been funny, not even in the original Hitman run.) Power Girl, Catwoman, and Starfire, none of which actually have titles now for some reason, cameo as one-dimensional sitcom caricatures of themselves. Then the Spectre shows up because it’s that kind of comic.

An additional point because I really like Russ Braun’s art. But overall, Garth Ennis has created some of the most brilliant comics ever published, between Preacher, The Boys, and his Punisher run. To put it lightly, this is not one of those.

Corrina: ::picks up comic:: It can’t be as awful as All-Star Section Eight, right?

Wait. Those first few pages are decent. Okay, maybe that’s Constantine. And…UGH. ¬†More drunk unfunny bar ramblings and a scene with super-ladies that seems to be a parody of those “Girl’s Night Out” stories or making fun of those who write those stories. I can’t figure out which but either way, it’s terrible.

Whoever the audience for this is, it’s not me. I dislike this comic and it’s predecessor so much that I want it all out of my house. NOW.

Harley’s Little Black Book #4 – Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Writers; Billy Tucci, Joseph Michael Linsner, Flaviano, Artists; Paul Mounts, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: In one of the best crossovers I never knew I wanted until now, Harley crash-lands in the world of the Bombshells and causes exactly as much chaos as you’d expect. The issue starts very oddly, as Harley is referencing events from NEXT issue’s crossover involving Superman and his “magic balls”, but really, what would you expect from Harley. Soon, through some time-travel shenanigans, Harley winds up in the 1940s and is mistaken for Bombshells Harley just as that character gets pulled into a top-secret rescue mission in Nazi territory. The relative seriousness of the Bombshells world contrasts nicely with Harley’s absurdity, and leads to a hilarious Dracula parody involving Joker.

Things don’t get really out of control until Bombshells Harley shows up and our Harley is exposed as an impostor, though. Assumed to be a Nazi spy, she’s locked up and promptly escapes, setting off an insane chain of events that leads to her kidnapping Hitler and setting into motion the end of WW2. Can I say how happy I am that the writers let Harley be exactly as pissed off as any Jewish woman would be in this situation, even a crazy one in a clown suit? Alternatingly hilarious and surprisingly intense, this issue is far better than any we’ve gotten in the main Harley title for a while. As long as the issues of this series are as creative as they have been, I hope we keep getting it for a long time.

Corrina: Double Harley plus the DC Bombshells. What could go wrong? Not much, as so much goes right this issue, from Harley sniggering about saying “Superman’s balls” to the jokes about taking parachute jumps in dresses, to Harley’s big confrontation with Hitler.

Yes, if you ever wanted a comic where Harley Quinn gets to kill a bunch of Nazis, including Hitler, this is absolutely the book for you. The fascinating thing is that the Bombshell story itself is a good one, keeping all our alternate history heroines in character and giving them awesome stuff to do while they’re perplexed at the appearance of two Harley Quinns.

Agreed that this is the best Harley book we’ve seen in a long time.

Teen Titans #23 – Tony Bedard, Writer; Miguel Mendonca, Penciller; Diana Conesa, Inker; Tony Avina, Colorist

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: It’s Decent.

Ray: This incarnation of the Teen Titans is slowly limping towards its conclusion, and while Tony Bedard hasn’t made any big missteps in his short run, he’s also got very little to work with. This issue, taking place after the Titans dealt with Amanda Waller, uses the HIVE Queen as the main threat. She attacks the city with a massive psychic wave that turns the public into her slaves. They start forming people-towers and satellite dishes made out of their body, in a scene oddly reminiscent of James Tynion IV’s Memetic. The team pulls together and uses some decent teamwork to get out of it and stop her, with Tim finding a particularly clever solution to the threat. A lot of team members seem to be mostly ignored, especially Cassie and Bunker. Overall, this issue seems to mainly be here to set up Tim’s departure from the team, with him essentially giving the team his blessing to continue as he heads back to Gotham. Nothing bad, but nothing memorable.

Corrina: Yes, this issue mainly seems to be putting things in order for the next run on the title. A thankless job but Bedard does what he can with a bunch of plot points dictated by circumstances. It reminded me of an old-fashioned Bob Haney-style story with wacked-out crowds and the Titans having to overcome weirdness together. And reminding me of Haney is a good thing.

However, given Tim’s peril over in Detective and his disappearance from this title, perhaps I’m wrong about the end of Tim next month, as it might just be an editorial plot point. We’ll see.

Wacky Raceland #3 – Ken Pontac, Writer; Leonardo Manco, Artist; Mariana Sanzone, Colorist

Ray – 3/10

Ray: The best issue of this series so far, which says very little. The race has taken the characters to Big Sur, now a washed-out wasteland. The sadistic announcer creates a tidal wave that knocks all the cars off-course and winds up stranding Dick Dastardly and Penelope Pitstop together as they struggle to survive against waves and sea monsters. In the middle of this, we get to see Penelope’s backstory, which is distinctly less grotesque than the last two we saw, and rendered in the style of a children’s storybook.

Don’t be fooled, though – it’s just as hopelessly bleak as all the others, which is the biggest problem with this book. It’s a rigged world where everyone loses at all times. The other big problem is that we still don’t know anything about 75% of the characters, and there’s way too many for anyone to break out. It’s a shame, because the art is genuinely great in places, but unlike the updates we see in Future Quest and Flintstones, the whole idea here is all wrong.

Corrina: I don’t know who the audience for this book is but given I don’t even know much of the setup and the world and I have no attachment to any of these characters, and well, I have trouble even finishing reading this book.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received these comics for review purpose.

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