There was a whole lot of punching this week in DC comics. True, superhero comics are made out of action sequences but this week was particularly heavy on them and particularly light on character moments.
One of the exceptions was Scooby Apocalypse, which featured self-conscious bonding between Daphne and Velma, and Batman, which had Duke and Gotham Girl forging a possible romance. And, of course, Supergirl, which brings the comic character closer to the television version.
DC Rebirth Reviews –
WARNING; MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THIS WEEK’S DC COMICS
Supergirl: Rebirth #1 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Emanuela Lupacchino, Penciller; Ray McCarthy, Inker; Michael Atiyeh, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Supergirl’s had a longer wait than most characters for her Rebirth return, as not only is she one of the last to debut, but she’s been without a solo title and with only sporadic appearances for all of DC: Rebirth. There’s been a lot of speculation about why she was shelved, but most people suspect it was so she could be relaunched more in line with the TV series. The character’s always had a bit of a rough road creatively since she was relaunched, with her pre-Flashpoint series beleaguered by constant creative team changes and event tie-ins, and the New 52 series never really giving her much of a supporting cast or set personality. So Orlando had a tough task ahead of him – especially with me given how much I love this character. Did he pull it off? Well, in a word – yes. Completely. This issue is pretty much excellent.
There’s definitely some hasty story developments to bring things back in line with the TV show, but thankfully they’re done in context with the comic book version of the character, instead of with abrupt retcons. Kara’s working with the DEO and has the last name Danvers now, yes – but here the DEO is supervising her activities and the Danvers are her foster parents/handlers. The title doesn’t forget that she’s a teenager and I’m hoping for a lot of fun secret identity stuff given that she’s going undercover in a high school. I know Midnighter is getting his own series again, but can I still hope for him spying on her while posing as a gym teacher?
The issue opens with a spectacular segment that shows Kara getting her powers back just in time to confront a Kryptonian were-beast, and the use of Zor-El is strong. Although his initial use as the Cyborg Superman was weak, here his legacy as a increasingly dangerous regent of Argo in the post-Krypton days is intriguing, as it seems his questionable decisions have left a lot of hidden dangers in the Phantom Zone. Good use of Kara’s compassion over strength when it comes to how she deals with the monster, as well. There is a lot of set-up here, but this character needs it and it’s all handled deftly. Finally, after a relaunch where the Bat-family runs circles around everyone, the Supers have a book that can stand with the best.
Corrina: Here’s the problem with reading the comic based in Supergirl’s television show and then reading this issue with its DC Comics universe Supergirl: they were so similar and of such similar quality, that I became confused as to which was which. But this is a good thing because the television Supergirl comic was excellent and now the DC universe version is following in its footsteps. Welcome in both series is an awareness that Supergirl is an optimistic character and gone is her overwhelming angst and anger.
Orlando gets the whole “Supergirl lost her powers” issue out of the way quickly, moving into setting up her status quo with the Danvers as her handlers, and introduces a potentially fascinating villain/friend in the genetically altered Kryptonian pulled from the Phantom Zone. (Fight #1 this week.) Like Ray, I’m glad to see Kara’s biological parents will still be in her thoughts. She’s a teenager overcoming (to her) the recent loss of her world. Not sure I’m big on the high school setting but we’ll see.
Lupacchino was an excellent choice as artist as she makes Supergirl attractive without ever forgetting she’s underage. Lupacchino is also capable of the big action sequence as well, witness Supergirl’s plunge into the sun and her confrontation with the renegade Kryptonian. But it’s in the faces of the character that she shines, conveying emotions with various expressions.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 – Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Writers; Claire Roe, Artist; Allen Passalaqua, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Serious Dislike.
Ray: It’s good to have a proper Birds of Prey book back with the core three reunited, but two issues in, I’m starting to notice some real problems with this version of the team. Or maybe that’s not exactly fair. Two-thirds of the team are just fine. Batgirl and Black Canary are written well, and their slightly biting friendship feels genuine. A flashback segment to a tense battle on a speeding subway train with Black Canary in combat during Barbara’s Oracle days is excellent, and kicks the issue off to a fast start. The problem, entirely, lies in the third main character, Huntress.
Helena Bertinelli was a great character in Grayson, but this version of the character bears little to no resemblance to her. Granted, some stuff went down at the end of Grayson that partly explains this, but not entirely. It feels like she’s been set back to her earliest characterization in the pre-Flashpoint era, where she was single-mindedly obsessed with vengeance – with a touch of the even worse Arrow characterization, who was practically a villain. Most of the issue is the two heroes chasing Huntress to stop her from killing a mob henchman with information on the identity of Oracle, but then it takes a turn with the introduction of The Asp, a snake-summoning super villain who works for the mysterious crime boss who hired Oracle. The new Batgirl series got off to a fantastic start, but this title has some kinks to work out if it’s going to bring back the BoP dynamic we love.
Corrina: I wanted to love this comic. The writers came with some serious writing credentials. I loved the previous version of this team. I expected there to be tension at first between Huntress, Canary and Batgirl.
But this? I hated this.
It’s the characterization, not the plot or the artwork. (Though I still am annoyed we had to see–yet again–that sequence with Barbara being shot in the relaunch of this title.) While Ray found the bickering between Canary and Batgirl genuine, I found it forced and ridiculous. Yes, I know, Canary was often mean-spirited during her guest-appearances in Batgirl‘s book but I hated that too. Dinah isn’t the mean-spirited type, she’ll tease but gently. (See Gail Simone’s “they totally cyber-did-it” sequence in the previous run of this title.) This feels like arguing, not banter, and since when is Babs so totally disorganized? I get that she’s off-balance because someone has stolen her Oracle identity but here, she’s almost Jason Todd-levels of reckless, with little of the intelligence I expect from Babs. (Not muting her cell phone? That’s not funny, that’s just dumb.)
The concept of chasing down a new Oracle is a good one. I’m less than thrilled with this Helena but given what happened to her in Grayson, I can give some leeway because Helena’s just finding out who she is and what she wants. (Her actions lead to Fight #2 of the week.)
But the appeal of Birds of Prey has always been characters you want to spend time with and who want to spend time with each other, even when they’re at odds. These people are so unpleasant that I’d walk out of their party.
Suicide Squad #2 – Rob Williams, Writer; Jim Lee, Jason Fabok, Artists; Scott Williams, Inker; Alex Sinclair, Brad Anderson, Colorists
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: Good: The Wall is Back.
Ray: So, we clearly knew that Jim Lee wasn’t going to be able to draw bi-weekly comic books for any length of time, but I have to say, I expected it to last longer than…well, zero issues. It’s only the first issue and we’ve already got what amounts to fill-in content, with Lee’s main feature splitting time with origin stories in the back half. The front story is a fast-paced affair that sends the team into space, but the bigger problem is that in terms of characterization, it mainly seems to exist to have the main characters spout their generic lines from the movie. Boomerang is a layabout who’s constantly trying to get out of missions, Harley is LOL random (nice Pokemon reference), June Moon is constantly scared and doesn’t want to become Enchantress, and Croc…hates space? There’s a sudden disaster, lots of explosions, and then the story ends for this issue.
The backup story focuses on Deadshot this week, and it’s a fairly generic story focusing on what we already knew about him. He’s behind bars as Amanda Waller briefs him on his latest mission and decides to psychoanalyze him in the process. We find out the story of how he wound up with the Squad, involving him being hired by Kobra to assassinate Bruce Wayne – and by “hired”, I mean they kidnapped his daughter. The story is kind of light on drama, as the big dramatic finale is just his daughter finding out that he’s an assassin and being terrified of him. It’s not a good thing when the movie handled this scene more dramatically. Overall, both stories are pretty much just okay, but that’s really not good enough to get this story off to a strong start.
Corrina: Since this isn’t one of my favorite properties, a creative team has to work hard for me to love it. I didn’t love this but I loved some elements of it. Harley’s random Pokemon reference was the highlight and this title could be a lot of fun if the team members get to exchange banter like this. Alas, I didn’t buy the cliffhanger. Wouldn’t someone have checked if Croc would throw up in his helmet or something? I guess not but since it endangers the overall mission, I would hope it would occur to someone, especially since they’re risking what’s probably a billion-dollar piece of equipment on this one. Waller may not care about the team but she wants them to succeed, right? But the big change with Waller was that she’s back to looking like the Wall. Good!
Some of the other bits felt like “well, this character does this in the movie, so we want to get that in,” especially the part with June but, overall, it’s enjoyable enough but might feel like a retread if you’ve watched the movie. Deadshot’s back-up story was okay but didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know before.
Also, for this title, there’s no big fight. Hmm…weird.
Batman #5 – Tom King, Writer; David Finch, Penciller; Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, Scott Hanna, Inkers; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Unexpectedly Poignant.
Ray: King delivers a spectacular finale to his first arc in a huge-scale issue that somehow manages to mix the absurd and hilarious with the dark and tragic without missing a single beat. The opening segment this issue, involving Gotham on a rampage to destroy the city and Batman too far away to stop him delivers a lot of tension – as well as the funniest thing you’ll see in any comic this week, in the form of a very exasperated Alfred having to briefly impersonate Batman, just long enough for Bruce to get there. His running commentary had me bursting out laughing more than once. However, from there it’s a straight, gripping thriller as the increasingly mad young man takes everything Gotham throws at him until Batman has no choice but to do the one thing he never does – call the JL for help.
However, with every new threat, Gotham just seems to get stronger and stronger, and the only person who may know how to stop him is Gotham Girl. The reveal of how their powers work – the stronger they get, the more it takes off their lives, and the process is voluntary – is a dark twist we haven’t seen before when it comes to new Superman-types. Gotham’s death was pre-ordained for a while, since the solicits for next issue leaked, but it’s really Gotham Girl and Duke who steal the show, as Batman’s newest protege’s compassion is what gets through to her. The narration this issue towards the end has some rather big potential spoilers – like, so big that I assume it’ll all be disregarded once King leaves – but overall, just about everything in this issue had a huge impact, and this was one of the best overall issues released since Rebirth began.
Corrina: I like reading an unpredictable comic that takes me on a ride. Like this one. As Ray said, an excellent opening arc for King and Finch.
Before I talk about the plot, I have to give the art team credit for two sequences: one with Alfred standing next to the Batmobile looking as if he’s just so done with this whole superhero thing that Bruce roped him into; and the smashing of the Bat-plane into Gotham (the person). The Justice League looks excellent too. (How come Finch’s Wonder Woman didn’t look like this when Finch drew her in her own comic??)
It’s great to see Batman call for help when he needs it, instead of the jerk loner. I also loved, loved Duke and Gotham Girl’s sequences, as she awakens from what must seem like a dream to her. Her final actions are heart-tugging, as is the ending. (Fight #3 this week, and the saddest one.)
Superman #5 – Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Writers; Doug Mahnke, Penciller; Jaime Mendoza, Inker; Wil Quintana, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: It’s Fine. Well. Sorta.
Ray: What could have been a boring straight action issue is enlivened by the rest of the cast as Superman confronts the Eradicator on the moon. Mahnke’s art is spectacular, as the Super-family heads to a top-secret base on the moon to fortify before the villain finds them. Their safety doesn’t last long, though, as Eradicator quickly joins them there and attacks. Superman tries to fight him off, but it’s only a third of the way through the issue when Eradicator opens his mouth and Superman joins Krypto in the Phantom Zone. And that’s where things get interesting. While Superman meets with the spirits of the Kryptonians Eradicator has absorbed, Eradicator ruthlessly pursues Jon, looking to purge his human half.
This story almost plays like a horror movie – and everyone knows in a space horror movie, the female lead has to climb into some sort of kick-ass robot armor. Lois Lane inside Batman’s Hellbat uniform taking on a Kryptonian cyber-monster? Put that high on the list of things I never knew I wanted but now can’t possibly live without. At its core, this version of Superman and his family work best when it’s about just how far these two will go to protect their son. Superman had his best moments in Action Comics, but it’s Lois Lane who steals the show here. Sure, Superman returns powered up by an army of Kryptonians by the end, but it’s Lois’ grit that people will really remember from this story.
Corrina: All the 90s Superman villains are coming out! Doomsday! Eradicator! In this case, I like Eradicator especially this take of his gathering all of Krypton’s “people” in the form of spirits inside him, though I have no idea how that works. Seeing Superman rally the Kryptonians against Eradicator from the inside was a terrific moment and emblematic of what makes Superman a hero. (Fight #4 this week.)
However, then there’s Lois. Here I part from Ray. Much of Lois’ characterization since her “identity” was revealed on this new Earth has consisted of cheerleading for Clark or telling Jon to relax, their father will take care of it, or telling Jon to find his inner hero. She’s a person, not an appendage to the dudes, creators! What I wanted was to see what’s unique about Lois on the screen, perhaps her using some of her intelligence and investigative skills to turn the Moon Batcave against the Eradicator. For instance, while they’re being carried across the moon, Lois seems annoyed at Jon’s questions, instead of being fascinated by being somewhere new. If anything, she should have been egging her son on with her own curiosity.
But…well, the callback to Aliens is fine but it seemed to me the most generic of the things Lois could have done.
Overall, this characterization of married Lois is no doubt why some people demanded an unmarried Superman. She’s not strong enough in her own right lately. That’s not a problem with the marriage, it’s a problem with the writing.
Nightwing #3 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Javier Fernandez, Artist; Chris Sotomayor, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: The Past is Haunted?
Ray: Another genuine gem in the revitalized Bat-line, this book continues to cultivate a fascinating structure by balancing an ongoing conspiracy plot line with single-issue missions that team Dick and Raptor and let them slowly develop their uneasy partnership. This is another favorite issue of mine, as it introduces an x-factor – or in this case, ex-factor. Barbara Gordon, stood up by Dick at their “Date” last issue, decides to tail him and winds up finding him and Raptor just as they’re about to go on a new mission. This week’s task involves infiltrating a deathtrap mansion and finding the world’s best designer of labyrinths so the Parliament can get their hands on his blueprints and silence him for good. Barbara doesn’t trust Raptor at all, but she agrees to accompany them to keep an eye on him.
I’m a huge fan of anything involving surreal, unusual houses, and this issue does not disappoint at all. Javier Fernandez delivers a surreal mansion filled with traps, puzzles, and bizarre shifting architecture. I almost wish it had been dragged out to a few issues so we could see more of this house. However, soon enough we make our way to the center where the builder is hiding, and Raptor seemingly assassinates him, driving a wedge between Barbara and Dick. Of course, it’s all a fake, and Raptor once again proves that he’s a long-gamer on the level of Batman. I’m not really sure what Barbara’s problem after that is – this book seems to play a bit too hard on her being a by-the-book hero who believes in following the law to the letter – but the core of the issue is extremely strong. Raptor, equal parts moral and amoral, seems like he’s quickly developing into an anti-hero who could develop a solo fanbase someday. Right now, though, I am enjoying the hell out of his partnership with Nightwing.
Corrina: Dick needs a good foil, especially with this setup of him being “undercover,” and Raptor is fitting that role perfectly. Sure, right now it seems like Raptor is on the side of the good guys. But what if Raptor is playing a long con by being a triple agent, and is working to corrupt Dick from within? There were already hints Dick was compromised last issue. So I’m not so sure he’s as in charge as he believes he is. It’s almost as if this house full of traps is a metaphor for what’s happening in Dick’s life. (Fight #5 this week.)
This issue delivers the best Barbara Gordon of the week, however, the one who comes after Dick when he breaks off their date because she’s worried something happened to him, not because she’s angry at being stood up. (Jeez, Dick, can’t you text a few words to cancel a date?) In some ways, she is basically Dick’s own doubts about what he’s doing personified.
So far, this Rebirth title is rich in characterization and that’s what I love.
Harley Quinn #2 – Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Writers; Bret Blevins, Layouts; Chard Hardin, John Timms, Finishes; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 4/10
Corrina: Zombie Fight (Fight #6 this week)
Ray: The first issue of Harley Quinn was a rather big disappointment for me, eschewing most of the offbeat humor of the original series in favor of exposition and graphic violence. I was hoping for things to change up significantly in the second issue. Well, there was definitely a change in quality – it got worse. What little genuine humor and fun there was in the first issue is pretty much wiped away in a tidal wave of zombie-killing frenzy, most of which is played completely straight. The little humor there is in this issue comes from Harley’s complete disregard for the safety of surrounding people, which seems like a rather big set back for the character. Case in point, her blowing up floor after floor of a hospital’s windows to try to create an open space for the de-handed Red Tool to land.
From there, the military comes in and starts taking out the zombies, while the civilians of Coney Island get massacred in graphic fashion, with scenes like a zombified seagull poking out a man’s eye. Harley then rides a zombie horse around town and kills as many zombies as she can while making bad jokes. There’s an odd number of references to poop as well. She and her friends get surrounded, and then out of nowhere Poison Ivy shows up with a weedwhacker to try to even the score. I’m glad to see Ivy back, but this arc as a whole is so devoid of fun. I’m not saying this title can’t rebound – the book changes story and tone very frequently, with massive swings in quality – but this was very much the wrong note to start off with when bringing in what could be a hundred thousand new fans.
Corrina: This comic is always a precarious balance between gore and humor, and bad and even worse characters. That balance is lost this issue because of what Ray mentions: Harley is firing into a hospital and…that’s not funny but the comic seems to have expected me to find it so. The people of Coney Island are clearly victims here but they die in swaths. I don’t mind Harley joking about it, it’s what she does, but, again, the comic seems to revel in the violence.
Plus, the villain is just faceless and mindless and that’s not doing much for me. Harley works better (most protagonists do) with a real antagonist.
Justice League #3 – Bryan Hitch, Writer; Tony Daniel, Penciller; Sandu Florea, Inker; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Made Me Interested in the Villain! (Fight #7)
Ray: This series got off to an oddly slow start for me, with the team taking a while to fully form and the villain remaining vague. However, this issue I feel like Hitch and Daniel get down to what I would expect from their run – big, blockbuster visuals befitting a widescreen JL book. The Kindred are now fully formed, with millions of possessed individuals being combined into a hive mind that forms energy-powered titans, each filled with the abilities of one Justice Leaguer. It’s kind of like the people-totems from Memetic, only with less body horror. Diana confronts one of them, and is absorbed inside her, giving her the chance to explore exactly what makes these terrifying beings up. One by one, the gigantic Kindred cross the world, eventually meeting in a circle to combine their abilities.
The other Leaguers don’t get all that much to do, although Simon and Jessica exploring a ruined planet with odd life-forms tied to the Kindred on it delivers some great visuals. The character who really steals the show this week, though, is Superman. It’s his first mission with the JL on this world, and while it feels like he’s had this conversation with Lois many times over the last few months, the emotion feels real and Jon gets some good lines in. From there, he takes on the mission of flying to the Earth’s core – a risky proposition even for him – and destroying the Kindred’s machine hidden there. What’s great about this action scene is that it shows the biggest danger for Superman there is just getting lost in an endless sea of heat with no gravity and nothing to make sense of. A whole different kind of threat. Not a great issue story-wise, and the Kindred are still sort of a blank slate, but a fast-paced, exciting read.
Corrina: Okay, other than Lois and Clark having that conversation yet again (sigh), I have no problems with this issue. The Kindred is, as Ray says, a threat worthy of the Justice League and that’s not easy with a cast this powered up. Plus, there was the suggestion this week that perhaps the Kindred themselves aren’t the threat but were created to fight yet another type of powerful threat. That’s what made the issue more than a slugfest to me.
By the way, while I’m glad to see the League calling on the alternate universe Superman, I would love to see more of their interactions, especially Superman and Batman. Seems like those conversations would be a goldmine. Maybe after the fighting is done.
Green Arrow #5 – Ben Percy, Writer; Juan Ferreyra, Artist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Officially Down On This Title
Ray: A thrilling finale to the first big arc, Ollie and Diggle finally make their way onto the Ninth Circle to confront Dante and the Burned, and what ensues is one of the fastest-paced, most exiting issues of the week. I will say despite my overall feelings towards this arc, I’m glad to be rid of these villains. Dante was one-dimensional, and the whole “burns his henchmen alive” routine was kind of over the top for this title. That being said, I know there were a lot of issues with this arc and certain decisions they made (for me, Emiko going evil. For Corrina, Dinah being captured and damseled AGAIN), and fortunately, both of those are pretty much resolved this issue. Emiko switches sides again, revealing her true motivations and how she helped Ollie survive, and she helps Dinah get loose long enough for Dinah to unleash the Canary.
The reunion between Ollie and Emiko was my favorite part of the issue – although it seems it’s not to last, because Shado captures her at the end of the issue and drags her on a helicopter. It seems Percy isn’t putting the whole “broke Ollie” thing back in the bottle, either, as he decides to destroy the Ninth Circle’s base with all the stolen money of his on board. I’m fine with that, as a back-to-basics GA is always fun to read. However, it doesn’t seem like the story’s getting back to Seattle just yet, as the issue ends with Ollie washing up alone on the same island. Jeff Lemire did a definitive arc on Ollie’s return to the island in his run, so it’ll be interesting to see if Percy can find something new to say. Overall, there were some issues in this arc, but it won me over in a major way by the end. I’m hoping Percy and his incredible artists on this book keep raising the bar.
Corrina: Ray finds it thrilling and I’m just frustrated. As I’ve said before, Percy’s scripts seem to veer between some great moments and some terrible ones. This issue is the same and I believe I’m finally willing to call it: I’m just not a fan of this creator. Ray is, so it may be just personal preference, but often it seems like the characters are doing things because the plot needs them too, rather than the plot arising from their characterization.
That’s the case, for instance, with Dinah’s super-easy capture last issue. The plot required her to be captured, so she was. Emiko had to be evil and then good, so she was. All these things could have emotional resonance, including Oliver’s being broke but they don’t, not really. I don’t feel any of it. I especially disliked Ollie and Dinah’s little reunion. Really? “You have to come after me?” Oh, c’mon. That’s a kid view of a relationship and both characters should be better than kind of immaturity by now. Especially since Percy hasn’t sold me on their connection in the first place.
As for the island, that again seems random. How the heck did they get there from Seattle? Did they leave from Seattle? Even Diggle and Emiko being awesome couldn’t save this for me, nor the big blowing up of the “base.”
Green Lanterns #5 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Robson Rocha, Eduardo Pansica, Pencillers; Jay Leisten, Julio Ferreira, Inkers; Blond, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Churning in Place. (Fight #8)
Ray: This book had two major problems from the start – one of the main leads was deeply unlikable, and the villains were generic and boring. One of those two issues has been resolved nicely, as the previous two issues added some much needed depth to Simon Baz, and this issue continues to build on that. I have to say, I love that Humphries has taken a character stereotyped around violence (the gun, his initial story arc) and given him unique Lantern powers that center around healing and prophecy, of all things. I’m still not sure how the prophecy thing works, since it really comes out of nowhere, but it adds an interesting wrinkle to the story. Unfortunately, the story he’s surrounded by does neither him nor Jessica justice. The Red Lanterns are on a rampage, and Atrocitus is seeking to plant a red seed in the Hell Tower and activate Red Dawn. What is Red Dawn? No one knows, but hey, Dex-Starr darting around with the seed in his mouth is adorable.
Simon attempting to purge the rage from Atrocitus is the kind of move I can see him going for, but it’s also the kind of move that you just know is going to end in failure. Not everyone can be Steven Universe and heal eldritch abominations through the power of love and forgiveness. Jessica’s relapse and panic attack, though, work really nicely. As someone who struggles with depression, I know for a fact that relapses can happen at any time, even when you think you’ve had a breakthrough shortly before. I like that this book isn’t papering over just how challenging it would be to be a superhero with anxiety. In general, this book does seem to be finding its footing with its lead characters. However, it desperately needs a new villain and central plot in order to reach its potential.
Corrina: This is my favorite Lantern title in, say, forever? That is due entirely to the creative team making me give a damn about these two new Lanterns. I want them to work together and get over their differences! I want them to like each other and support and understand each other. It’s the exact opposite of what I felt when I read Birds of Prey this week: the disagreements and failures arise not from some attempt at conflict or banter but because Simon and Jessica are in a very tough situation.
However, the plot could move faster. There’s been a lot of fighting and little of it has been essential, save Simon curing the other Red Lantern and then trying the same on the main villain. Otherwise, the battle sequences are melding together for me.
I’m glad Ray talked about Jessica’s anxiety and relapse because this is the first time in a superhero comic that I’ve read a layered portrayal of a hero dealing with those issues–and they do interfere with what she’s supposed to do and aren’t handwaved away as “well, I got bettter.” My only complaint is that sometimes fiction isn’t like real life and I would like to see just a small amount of forward momentum for her struggle.
Aquaman #5 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Philippe Briones, Artist; Gabe Eltaeb, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: Fight #9! Let’s Bring in the Army
Ray: Probably the biggest missed opportunity in Rebirth, Aquaman continues to limp through its first arc with a plot that mainly seems to rely on everyone acting as irrationally as they possibly could. Arrested for being the leader of Atlantis when the kingdom is blamed for terror attacks, Aquaman is freed from jail by Mera, and the two are quickly confronted by the US military. Despite Aquaman being one of the most well-known heroes in the DCU, the military wastes absolutely no time issuing a shoot-to-kill order. They even mention that “he’s not even one of the good Justice Leaguers” or something similar. The in-story mocking of Aquaman because Super-Friends is one of the oldest and most boring tropes to use with the character, and I’m more than ready to see it go.
Not much happens as Aquaman and Mera fight their way through the army besides what’s essentially a pre-marriage counseling session as they sort out their issues, with Aquaman angry over Mera disregarding his wishes and freeing him, while Mera is frustrating by his unwillingness to stand up to the surface world. Meanwhile, Atlantis gets ready for war as word spreads of Murk and his soldiers being engaged by the US military, and Black Manta meets the head of NEMO and forms a new alliance to take down Aquaman. All stuff we’ve seen before, and much like Green Lanterns, this is a book that desperately needs to get past its initial storyline and move on to more interesting areas.
Corrina: Not much happens, Ray says. That’s my big, big problem with the fight sequence. Mostly, it’s just background so Mera and Aquaman can talk about their relationship and given the gravity of the situation, that conversation just doesn’t fit. I’d rather see them arguing about the differing types of diplomacy/how to lead rather than the whole “do you still want to marry me” thing. Banter in a fight tends to only work in a light-hearted comedy, not a dire situation. Well, unless you’re bantering with the villain.
In any case, I suppose NEMO is going to be the big bad eventually. I’m quickly losing interest.
Doctor Fate #15 – Paul Levitz, Writer; Sonny Liew, Artist; Lee Loughridge, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Still Like Khalid.
Ray: I’m as surprised as anyone by the fact that this series keeps on going despite low sales, and currently it seems extended to at least 18, well past the end of the DC You era. It’s a pleasant surprise, because Khalid and his family and friends are mostly likable, intriguing, real characters (with one or two exceptions like Akila, who only seems to speak in slogans). The best part of the series as a whole is Khalid and his adjustment to the confusing powers of Fate, which has taken a new turn with the introduction of Kent Nelson as his mentor. It blends the old and new in a way that many titles have trouble with (I’ll talk more about this in my Legends of Tomorrow review).
However, since the first arc this book has a consistent problem with antagonists. Anubis was a fantastic villain and everything since has paled in comparison. This issue unleashes a plague of Mummies on New York, and it feels like it’s right out of a stock Egyptian horror movie. A new villain is introduced at the end, but the issue was sort of lacking in dramatic tension until then. It’s great to have Sonny Liew’s fantastic arc back again, though. I’m hopeful that these characters will find a new home when this series ends.
Corrina: Good: reintroducing Khalid’s normal life and his girlfriend. Providing a stable background for him is essential in building a new character. That includes Kent as well, whose story can be a nice contrast to Khalid’s struggles. But it’s also not great that much of Khalid’s fighting style consists of being annoyed the helmet never tells him anything. Like with Jessica in Green Lantern, I want to see more progression in his use of his powers. The mummies, by the way, underwhelm me too.
Legends of Tomorrow #6 – Gerry Conway, Aaron Lopresti, Keith Giffen, Len Wein, Writers; Eduardo Pansica, Aaron Lopresti, Bilquis Evely, Yildray Cinar, Artists; Rob Hunter, Livesay, Trevor Scott, Inkers; Andrew Dalhouse, Chris Sotomayor, Mat Lopes,
Ivan Plascencia, Jeremy Colwell, Colorists
Ray – Firestorm – 6, Metamorpho – 7, Sugar and Spike – 4, Metal Men – 6.5
Corrina: Metamorpho and Firestorm Are Worth Reading. Rest? Eh. (Also, More Fight! #10?)
Ray: This series has always been pretty much a collection of just-okay stories featuring characters who weren’t deemed strong enough to carry their own miniseries, so I guess it’s not a surprise none of them stood out in the final issue. That being said, a bunch of these ended in ways that disappointed me overall. Firestorm spends most of the issue in a mostly generic battle with Multiplex while alternatively fighting to stop General Eiling from launching a nuclear attack on them. Then it randomly introduces a roofie storyline back at high school – and the perpetrator gets away with it, because oddly, Jason doesn’t want to “sink down to her level” by reporting her for drugging him. The issue ends with Ronnie and Stein still as Firestorm and Jason on the sidelines, which is a disappointing end to my favorite Firestorm partnership of Ronnie and Jason.
Corrina: What annoyed me was the point at which Firestorm wants to turn something off and a character says “oh, that’s easy, push this button.” It’s like the Staples Easy Button of defeating super villains. Other than that, I like the relationship developing between Ronnie, Martin and Jason but I still feel as if Jason’s character was somehow shafted by being thrown out of the Firestorm matrix. As for the roofie thing, I got nothin.’
Ray: Metamorpho was overall the strongest of these minis, with inventive visuals and a creative fantasy world. The final issue has the main confrontation with Java, although it ends somewhat abruptly when Sapphire takes him out via a tranquilizer. A bizarre series of events then has her merging with the orb and becoming some sort of higher being, so Rex saves the universe but has to return without his true love. The issue ends on a cliffhanger of sorts as he’s about to confront Simon Stagg, but overall still probably the most entertaining story here.
Corrina: Agreed that this miniseries was the most enjoyable of them all and that’s saying a lot for me, as Metamorpho had always seemed one-note previously. I thought Sapphire’s character arc was a good one–trying to do science her way and being as driven as her father, only to realize that’s not the way at all. It gave her character complexity and agency, even if she is dead/ascended to godhood. (Maybe someone should get Amy Acker to play her sometime; she’s good at humans becoming gods.)
Ray: Sugar and Spike was…well, it was an experiment. I appreciate the ambition of Keith Giffen, wanting to see if he could spin modern-day stories out of those bizarre nonsense stories from the 50s like Wonder Woman marrying an alien, but with a constant influx of arguing guest stars, it doesn’t quite come together into a compelling whole. Also, the biggest problem here from the start was Sugar and Spike themselves. They come across less as friends and partners than as a toxic relationship that neither party really wants to end.
Corrina: I understand this was supposed to be one big joke, ala the fun Giffen once had with the Legion of Substitute Heroes and Ambush Bug, but it fell flat. This last chapter is a good example, one overstocked with different versions of the Legion. It has some fun sight gags (Saturn Girl confronting herself about that the 1970s Grell costume) but mostly it tries too hard to make Sugar and Spike’s banter fun. Ah well.
Ray: Metal Men was probably the most predictable of these stories, if still fairly readable. This final showdown with Chemo ends the way most Metal Men stories do – with them getting destroyed and rebuilt. The ersatz Metal Men clones built by Magnus’ rival are destroyed for good except for Copper, and the Metal Men get new horrible 90s designs. I mean, so bad. The original designs had a classic charm to them, but these look like Tron rejects from the 90s. Overall, none of these stories are likely to be remembered or referenced in the future.
Corrina: Aw, poor Metal Men! Wait, we can rebuild them! Also, Chemo isn’t a good villain because all he does it hit things. (More boring fighting!) I guess the new designs are okay. I’d hoped this property would talk about how artificial life can come to be and why it chooses a gender and personality but, mostly, it’s been punching and jokes.
Scooby Apocalypse #4 – Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Writers; Howard Porter, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 3/10
Corrina: Hey! Ray! I Liked This!
Ray: I mean, we basically know exactly what this series is by now, don’t we? It’s a grim, overly violent take on a zombie/monster apocalypse that takes our favorite characters and strips them of anything resembling fun. Every issue, Fred will be awkward around Daphne, Daphne will berate Velma, Shaggy and Scooby will say something funny once or twice, and then they’ll kill a lot of zombies while expressing horror. This issue, there’s Vampires. They really don’t act too differently from zombies besides being more articulate, though. Daphne and Velma finally make peace – only for Daphne to then be horrified by Velma’s research techniques and call her a monster again pages later. Nothing to recommend here, although points for revealing that the evil dog who is after Scooby is in fact Cyborg Scrappy Doo. Kudos for going there.
Corrina: What makes the issue for me? Daphne and Velma have a conversation that reads like a conversation that two very different people in a horrible situation would actually have. I don’t care about the various Vampires or Zombie fights but people finding a way to friendship? That interests me. I wish I’d have felt this between Dinah and Babs in Birds of Prey or Dinah and Ollie in Green Arrow.
Not sold on the concept but enjoyed this issue.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five #16 – Brian Buccellato, Writer; Marco Santucci, Artist; Rex Lokus, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Ray: As this book enters its final act towards the relaunch, Batman mounts a final, desperate assault against Superman’s citadel while cracks start to form within the regime. Hal Jordan and Flash are becoming increasingly convinced that Superman is a monster, with Hal wondering if Sinestro had anything to do with Alfred’s murder. Meanwhile, Batman’s attempt to capture Cyborg and cut the legs out from under the regime’s tech division is on the verge of failure – until Hawkman shows up with a Kryptonite mace determined to beat Superman to death personally. There’s some tense moments in the issue, but the problem with the latter half of this story has been consistent – we know how it ends. It’s preordained. Superman doesn’t get taken down until he faces heroes from another dimension, including his doppelgänger. So every attempt to take him down is doomed to failure. That makes this comic, like many issues before it, feel like an exercise in futility.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received these issues for review purposes.