So worried was DC that spoilers would leak out about Tim (Red Robin) Drake’s fate in this week’s issue of Batman: Detective Comics that they sent it to us late Tuesday, in a separate shipment. Want to know how the Red Robin vs. Drone Army fight went? Check out the review below.
In other news, DC debuts the first book in Gerard’s Way “Young Animal” line, Way’s own Doom Patrol, which is as off-kilter and odd as expected and comes with a peel-off cover relevant to the story inside. Also this week, Gotham Academy is finally back with regular issues (yay!), Clark Kent (Not Superman) takes on the bad guys in Superman: Action Comics, All-Star Batman #2 is out, Deathstroke continues to be one of the strongest Rebirth series, and Superwoman becomes more like “Super-Family.”
WARNING: MAJOR AND MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THIS WEEK’S DC COMICS BELOW.
Doom Patrol #1 – Gerard Way, Writer; Nick Derington, Artist; Tamar Bonvillain, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: If you know anything about Way’s writing, you know the operative word for this comic is going to be “weird”. That should work very nicely for the new branding of the Young Animal line, an in-continuity revamp of the classic Vertigo line with a combination of existing and original characters. Kicking us off is Doom Patrol, a title that had several failed relaunches in the main line and that arguably had its finest days at Vertigo. I’ve honestly never been a big fan of the property, so I was going to be a tough sell. And based on this first issue, I think I’m in. Way makes a smart choice right off the bat by grounding the bizarre cast in a human POV. Casey Brinke, an EMT who is used to bizarre things happening on the job, finds herself swept up in an even stranger adventure when Robotman wanders in front of a truck and winds up getting shattered into pieces.
From there, she takes the robot pieces home, has an unpleasant encounter with her roommate – who then gets promptly disintegrated by Terry None, a very energetic and strange young woman who promptly welcomes her to the bizarre world of the Doom Patrol with a singing telegram. This is the main narrative, but the story jumps around all the time. Niles Caulder, Danny the Street, an evil cabal of fast foot executives planning to get their hands on a new source of meat, and a whole other random characters pop in and out, giving us teasers for what’s to come in this book. Based on the first issue’s aggressively bizarre tone, starting with the cosmic gyro on the cover, I could see this book getting on my nerves rather quickly if it doesn’t pick up a clearer narrative. That being said, judged solely on its first issue, I’m intrigued and really want to see where it’s going next. Young Animal is off to a good start.
Corrina: Vertigo traditionally meant odd, strange and bizarre, so I was expecting something off-kilter (vertigo-inducing?) when I picked up this issue, especially given Grant Morrison’s outside-the-norm work on the property. But, as Ray, said, this is “aggressively” odd. Begin as you mean to go on is the advice for the start of a story, and Way certainly has. There are a million (okay, four or five) stories teased here, along with moments such as a universe inside a gyro–that was used as inspiration for the peel-off gyro on the cover of issue #1, which has a universe underneath it.
If this type of thing is your jam, this is for you. For myself, I wanted more than just weird or bizarre in the story. In the absence of a not-quite-yet coherent plot–that will take time to reveal itself–I wanted a concept or person to use as my connection to the story. That might have been Casey, as the moment where she and her partner talk about his son is my favorite part of the issue, and Casey’s concerns for the bits and pieces of Robotman also helps. (The artwork in which he’s hit by the truck is top notch.) But all that quickly takes a turn into dark humor when the roommate is killed off-handedly and Casey simply shrugs. I may perhaps not be in the mood for deaths that mean nothing, which I freely admit. I am interested in what happens with Danny the Street and the aliens who seem interested in using him to produce fast food. But if I weren’t getting review copies, would I pick up the next issue? I’m not so sure. It just may not be my jam.
Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 – Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl, Writers; Adam Archer, Penciller; Sandra Hope, Inker; Msassyk, Background Painting; Chris Sotomayor, Serge LaPointe, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Excellent Focus & Reintroduction
Ray: The recent Gotham Academy annual was very much an old-school caper comic full of fun and adventure. With that in mind, I think the dark, surprisingly intense launch to the second volume of this title might take some people by surprise. I think it was an interesting choice that really worked for me, as it introduces an x-factor that is actually far more worrisome than any supernatural threat from the first season – even more so because it’s very real. We pick up with Olive alone at school during winter break, with only the king Professor MacPherson to keep her company. When the Professor is forced to cancel a dinner with Olive due to another obligation, Olive meets a sudden arrival at the school – Amy, a new student who moves into her room and wastes no time attempting to get Olive to make bad decisions.
What starts as harmless pranks quickly escalate when Amy baits Olive into throwing a rock through Professor MacPherson’s office and then leads her to break into a forbidden side building at the school. This story takes a very dark turn when they recruit a young, asthmatic student for help – only for Amy to steal his inhaler to blackmail him, and then lock Olive and the boy in the attic alone, forcing a daring escape as he gets sicker and sicker. The worst we saw in the previous volume was the occasional mean-girl Pomeline, who eventually became a friend of the main cast. Amy is clearly something different – a disturbed bully with a sadistic streak who brings a touch of harsh reality to this title. The issue ends with the regular crew returning to the academy, but this first issue already makes clear that the dynamic has changed, and there’s a new wild card here who promises to upset the balance of Gotham Academy.
Corrina: For me, the problem has always been that the cast of this series is so varied and so much depends on what happened before, that I sometimes got lost. I wanted to dig deeper into the characters and this issue gives me my wish with Olive and her exploration of Gotham Academy with her edgy new roommate, Amy. Given Gotham Academy, I wasn’t sure at first if Amy was real or a figment of Olive’s imagination, until the boy they encounter sees her as well. Amy gives the regular crew a new mystery to solve and a possible antagonist on screen, though the story suggests there may be someone with a heart under all of Amy’s bluster. But not much, given she endangered a life already.
About the only complaint? Needs more Maps.
DC Rebirth Reviews:
Batman: Detective Comics #940 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Eddy Barrows, Penciller; Eber Ferreira, Inker; Adriano Lucas, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: There’s a case to be made that James Tynion’s Detective Comics is the best book in all of Rebirth, combining a great cast of likable characters, a more human take on Batman, and a compelling new adversary that turns a former ally bad in compelling fashion. This final issue of the arc brings the threat of the Colony to a strong conclusion – and yet I know no one is here for discussing the quality of the issue. The only thing that people care about, myself included, is Tim Drake. Last issue laid on the Retirony VERY thick before leaving Tim facing off an army of Bat-drones himself in a dramatic sacrifice. The issue opens with Batwoman taking on her father while Batman desperately tries to stop the drones. However, in the end, it’s Tim facing them alone, and he comes out broken, beaten, but alive – just in time to see a second, larger wave of drones show up. Facing the end with dignity, he says his goodbyes to Batman and to Spoiler and stands strong as the drones incinerate him.
Or do they? Tynion has been trying to reassure people since the beginning of the arc, telling everyone that Tim was his favorite character and we needed to trust him. The issue plays out with Batman capturing Jacob and mourning Tim together with Spoiler in the best scene of the issue (and can I say how good it is to see Batman treat Spoiler with kindness and respect, given the genuinely toxic way he treated her pre-Flashpoint?). And then…we cut to Tim. Alone, in a sealed cell, as he’s greeted by Mr. Oz, who essentially tells him he knows too much and needs to be taken off the field. So Tim’s alive, but everyone thinks he’s dead. A part of me is annoyed at the third “dead” Robin since the New 52 began, but the idea of Tim being central to uncovering the secrets of Mr. Oz (who really, has to be Ozymandias at this point, doesn’t he?) is incredibly appealing. I kept the faith in Tynion’s love for Tim Drake, and I was rewarded. We got a genuinely spectacular final act for Tim and a respectful send-off – only it wasn’t actually the end, which makes it far better.
Corrina: That completes the set. Now all former Robins have been dead or thought to be dead: Dick, Tim, Jason (whose death and resurrection still stands as his backstory), and Damian, who died, then was revived. I guess we won’t count Spoiler/Stephanie Brown because her time as Robin has been retconned out. In a way, it’s kind of a hopeful pattern: you can kill a Robin but you can’t keep them in the grave. I’m glad the inevitable “Tim is alive!” mega-crossover won’t be necessary as the story makes it clear that he’s not really dead at all.
And onto the story: yes, it’s been a terrific start for Tynion’s run on the title, helped by the fantastic art team of Barrows and Ferreira, who need far more acclaim than they’ve so far received. The panel with Tim facing the army of clones alone would make their work on this issue outstanding but then there’s also the full-page sequence of Spoiler and Batman hugging.
All this almost pushes aside Kate’s confrontation with her father. I’m still a little oogy about sliding Jacob Kane into a more villainous role. Yes, I know, he believes he’s doing what’s right but their relationship has been the heart of Kate’s quest and I’m sad to see all that gone. However, the story does posit that the proper reaction to loss isn’t violence but the ability to stop violence. Batman’s way is better than Jacob Kane’s way, and he knows it.
One niggle: as much the fangirl in me is glad to see Stephanie and Tim’s romantic relationship confirmed, there certainly wasn’t a good lead up to it. Old-time Robin readers like me will layer in their own memories but there hasn’t been a ton of build-up on the page for it.
All-Star Batman #2 – Scott Snyder, Writer; John Romita Jr., Declan Shalvey, Pencillers; Danny Miki, Declan Shalvey, Inkers; Dean White, Jordie Bellaire, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Better Than #1. Still Not Into It
Ray: Interestingly, this issue the two stories sort of switch places for me. Last issue, the main story focusing on Batman and Two-Face was a little bit jumbled and threw so many twists at the wall that it confused me a tiny bit. Meanwhile, the Duke Thomas backup served as a compelling introduction to the character’s inner world and set up a bunch of interesting new twists to Batman’s training program. This issue, it’s the main story that’s the star. Batman and Two-Face are still on the run, and this issue is essentially a full-on action movie in comic form. Snyder has dug up virtually every obscure Bat-villain from the vaults, from Amygdala to Copperhead to KG Beast, who is getting a lot of attention and Snyder seems to think he can elevate to top-tier Bat-rogue status. The action is spectacular, and Two-Face’s machiavellian schemes entertain. Alfred’s seeming betrayal isn’t dealt with this issue, but Gordon and Bullock play a major role as a raid on Wayne Manor threatens to unveil the Batcave.
Duke’s story this week does a good job of one thing – delving into the mind of the character as his parents’ fate continues to weigh on him. Most of the Robins either have living parents or dead parents, but Duke is in limbo – his parents are alive, but may as well not even be human anymore. His inability to give up hope on them, as any person would, is starting to take its toll and leads him to lash out at Bruce. I thought Bruce was oddly cold at one point, but maybe he just figures Duke needs to work these things out on his own. The reveal of Zsasz as the villain they’re chasing didn’t excite me, as the serial killer was always my least favorite Bat-villain. Still, a solid read that continues Duke’s story and makes this extra-sized comic worth the higher cover price.
Corrina: I get that this story is BIG. So big. So many villains, a desperate Batman, but without knowing the driving forces behind the main journey with Two-Face (or, rather, hoping there’s something more behind it than we’ve seen so far), I’m having trouble parsing it all. I agree that the action sequences are spectacular, as are Batman’s clever takedowns of villains who physically outclass him. (At one point, I thought Batman would die as part of this storyline so the focus could move to Duke Thomas. Silly me. This is All-Star Batman.)
But Snyder to me has been all about the slow drip of suspense building to a sometimes horrific but gripping climax and with this title, he’s started off by knocking over the chessboards and throwing everything into it. For me, it’s made for a less satisfying reading experience but perhaps when this story is finished and collected, I might change my mind.
The Flash #6 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Carmine Di Giandomenico, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Guessed It!!
Ray: This has been one of the best new series in Rebirth, with Josh Williamson revitalizing the character of Barry Allen by putting him in charge of an army of rookie speedsters. He’s also introduced a compelling new villain in Godspeed, a serial killer speedster who drains the powers of his victims. Last issue saw the story take a dark turn, as Barry’s sanctum at STAR Labs was breached by Godspeed, claiming the lives of several speedsters and leading to the disappearance of Barry’s partner and new love interest Meena. The fallout from this has some pretty interesting elements, as the young Wally West – who was being mentored by her – lashes out at Barry and goes in search of her himself. Barry, meanwhile, buries himself in his work – and finds a clear clue to Godspeed’s identity. So clear, in fact, that it seemed like it has to be a fakeout.
Except it’s not. Godspeed’s identity is revealed, and it’s Barry’s good friend and ally August Heart, who murdered his brother’s suspected killer in cold blood and has been absorbing the power from speedsters to make himself fast enough to serve as judge, jury, and executioner. It all comes out very easily, and is extremely reminiscent of Hush – the hero has a never-before-mentioned best friend who is introduced at the same time as a new masked villain, and they later turn out to be one and the same. Godspeed has a better motivation than Hush did in his initial story, but he’s still a very obvious choice that brings the mystery to an abrupt ending a lot faster than I expected. I’m hoping next issue has some cool twists, but this story is a lot more straightforward than I expected.
Corrina: We have had six issues plus the Rebirth issue to grow attached to August, and his obsession with getting justice for his brother has always been there. I thought him being Godspeed made perfect sense, especially as this series has emphasized that the superspeed doesn’t just amp up physical speed but mental speed. Someone who’s still filled with rage, like August, could easily cycle fast into the need to collect more speed to take justice into his own hands. That gives him a rather different motivation for murder than, say, Hush, who was simply motivated by revenge. August wants to assuage his own loss by killing the guilty and protecting others from those he deems failures or risks.
Wally’s temper this issue seemed absolutely appropriate too. Of course, he’s going to be a mess after this and be impulsive (speedster, yes?) and run off.
Besides, we haven’t solved the main mystery. What gave all these people the speed force to begin with?
Superman: Action Comics #963 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Patrick Zircher, Artist; Arif Prianto, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Clark As Hero
Ray: After the action-packed but overly long first arc focusing on the return of the original Doomsday, this title thankfully takes a break from big action and turns the focus on…Clark Kent? That’s right, the star of this arc is the now human reporter best known as Superman’s secret identity. The book surprised me by actually making this new Clark Kent the narrator, and as such confirming that, yes, he is the genuine article, at least in his own mind. Apparently, the story is that he was placed deep underground by Superman when his investigation into a mysterious evil corporation, Geneticron, threatened his life. Perry White, the harshest critic of Superman/Clark during that storyline, has accepted this narrative and welcomed Clark back with open arms. Luthor, however, is more suspicious in his new role as leader of the Daily Planet.
Clark, despite a broken arm from the last arc, wastes no time getting back to his investigation into the shady genetics corporation, leading to a tense chase scene in the building that reminds me of the great “powerless Superman” stories that were fairly common during the weekly Superman era. Jurgens wrote a couple of those, and this version of Clark Kent very much feels like the fearless, gritty reporter that he used to be – except, of course, that this Clark Kent was apparently never Superman. Is this Clark Kent going to turn out to be something else? Of course. My money’s on one of Luthor’s experiments, maybe a modified Bizarro of some sort, but for now, he makes as compelling a protagonist as the new Superman.
Corrina: Given that Gentricron is a genetics company and given that we know that the other Superman was Clark Kent, that means this one is either a clone with implanted memories–perhaps the real Superman provided them as a back-up when he was powerless?–or an alternate universe version. That Clark is tossed out the window investigating Gentricron appears to point to the former explanation.
Or does it? There have been hints all along that the previous Superman wasn’t who we thought he was, meaning perhaps he was some sort of creation as well–especially given the Kents died in this version of Superman, making it easy for a substitute to be slotted in. I’m not sure but I certainly liked this issue, especially since, in my mind, Clark is the real person while Superman is the costume he wears to do good.
Superwoman #2 – Phil Jiminez, Writer/Penciller; Matt Santorelli, Joe Prado, Inkers; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Becoming a Superman Family Book
Ray: Obviously, this title went from one of the lowest-profile books in Rebirth to one of the most controversial with last issue’s big twist, and people – myself included – who were hoping for a quick fake-out are going to be very disappointed. It seems like Lana Lang is now officially the protagonist of this book, and Lois’ death is referenced without anything really being explained about it. The mysterious new villain who drained Lois’ life-force is intriguing, especially once it’s revealed that Mercy Graves is apparently another being just like her, as part of a plot to infiltrate Lexcorp. Jiminez, as a writer-artist, tends to be a very dense storyteller, packing a lot of panels and words into every issue. It’s generally pretty effective, but it can also make for a slow read.
The story picks up a good deal when Steel shows up, and the relationship between him and Lana seems more genuine than it did in previous appearances. I’m also very happy to see Natasha Irons return, complete with superhero costume. She was always my favorite part of the old Steel comic, and she’s one of DC’s underrated teen heroes. Overall, though, Lana still doesn’t make for a particularly compelling protagonist, nor does she have Lois’ built-in fanbase. The reveal of Lena Luthor as the new big bad of the series, and her agenda against Luthor, are intriguing, but overall I’m not sure this title has the hook needed to be the second fourth Super-title, especially given how strong the others in the line are.
Corrina: I expected this series to be about Lois but Lois shared the spotlight with Lana the first issue and now, Lana brings in John Henry and Natasha Irons as well, giving the book a Superman Family feel, which I enjoy. Jimenez took some heat publicly for sidelining Lois so quickly in what was supposed to be her own series but since it’s clear that she’s not dead, I am willing to wait for the story to swing back her way, though I will grow disenchanted if that doesn’t happen in the next few issues. Right now, I’m pleased to see other characters who have been sidelined share the spotlight as well, and I like seeing the friendships between everyone. (Aside: when were Lana and John Henry romantically involved? Did I miss this?)
Another neat contrast: those left behind by Superman have teamed up in friendship to support each other and carry on his vision, while Luthor, also left behind, has people surrounding him who are determined to bring him down. It’s a nice commentary on both characters.
Green Lanterns #6 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Will Conrad, Pete Herbert, Artists; Blond, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Go Jess!
Ray: “Terribly generic story, massively improving characters” is basically the main takeaway for this first arc, which reaches its finale this issue. The story is essentially what it’s been from the start – Atrocitus arrives on Earth and proceeds to beat up anything in his path. When we last left off, he had beaten Simon Baz and broken his arm, while Jessica Cruz was lying in a ball of fear at the bottom of the Hell Tower, trying to get the courage up to join the fight. She’s really the star of this issue, as she finally gets past the block she’s had in her mind and creates her first construct. It’s one of the best moments of the series as she finally shows up to join the fray. Simon displays more grit than anything else, but he gets a few good moments with his family as well.
Overall, the smaller moments are what really make this series work, such as Simon bringing the tattered bear to his nephew, or Bleez retaining flashes of her humanity from when Simon purified her earlier in the arc. The biggest problem, as always, is Atrocitus, who gets away to plot another day. He’s really no different from an 80s cartoon villain like Skeletor at this point, with the evil monologues and a face that somehow gets more and more hideous every issue. The introduction of the Phantom Ring – essentially a ring that anyone can use – is an interesting x-factor for the series. If Atrocitus stays gone, this will definitely firmly place itself as the better of the two GL books.
Corrina: Perhaps our disagreement over this comic shows our different ways of reading story. Because while I agree with Ray that the action has been generic, that’s not a big deal to me. What I’ve enjoyed are following Simon and Jess’ first time as Green Lanterns with the world at stake. These are the first Green Lanterns I’ve liked in a long time, and I love the contrast of a hero with anxiety and panic attacks having a GL ring. We’re asking for more representation from comics and, I suspect for one of the few times, those suffering from anxiety have a DC hero they can look up to.
Given the whole “phantom ring” reveal at the end of this issue, along with the cranky guardian, here’s hoping that Ray will be as satisfied with the next arc as I’ve been with a comic I never expected to like.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #4 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Ethan Van Sciver, Artist; Jason Wright, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: Speaking of Comics I Don’t Like
Ray: Van Sciver’s return to the Green Lantern franchise feels like it should be a big event, given that he’s been behind some of the all-time most iconic stories in the franchise, including both GL Rebirth and Sinestro Corps. Unfortunately, while his GL art is as strong as it ever was, he’s attached to a story that is one of the most generic Green Lantern has had in a long time. Sinestro is now firmly ensconced as the big bad of the GL franchise, and although there’s a moment that attempts to show that he’s still got some decency from his previous anti-hero days – he refuses to allow a child to be placed in the Fear Engine and instead insists that only the strong be taken – he’s still running a giant torture machine and killing underlings at the drop of a hat.
Guy Gardner winds up captured offscreen and dropped in Sinestro’s lap, as Sinestro plans to subject him to the Fear Engine with the help of the evil Sacrament cult. The Sacrament, like all other villains in this book, likes to monologue a lot. Meanwhile, Hal has been captured as well, but Soranik Natu has managed to keep him out of the hands of her father and is protecting him. So there’s a father-daughter conflict brewing, but thus far the story feels very predictable and slow-moving. It also lacks the character development of its sister book.
Corrina: Speaking of comics that bore me…here we are. About the only saving grace of this issue is Guy Gardner being, well, Guy. Naked Guy being immodest adds a good layer of fun and I’m not above being happy with a little fan service via Van Sciver’s art. The only other element that interested me is Soranik is doing something to Hal that I bet she thinks will bring down Sinestro.
The story is dull because while the art is spectacular–I’d love to buy one of these pages–the characters in it seem only two dimensional rather than complex. Even Sinestro’s saving the child but torturing the adults added little to his character. Villains should have great powers and great flaws and arrogance that always wins, at he has thus far, is dull.
Wonder Woman #6 – Greg Rucka, Writer; Nicola Scott, Artist; Romulo Farjado Jr., Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Love the Art. Fine Story
Ray: Easily the best chapter so far of Year One, this is the first issue that makes me think there may be a point to this half of the series aside from Scott’s gorgeous art. Diana and Steve Trevor have arrived back in the mainland in the invisible Jet, and the government reacts exactly as you’d expect. After a series of misunderstandings, Diana promptly winds up behind bars while Etta Candy interrogates Steve and tries to make sense of exactly what went on while he was missing. Rucka doesn’t sidestep the issue that the Amazons likely wouldn’t speak English, so Diana’s language barrier is something that plays a major role in the story.
It’s also the entry point for Barbara Minerva, here a disabled former explorer whose expertise in ancient languages leads the government to bring her in on the case. She’s intriguing, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her transformation into the very complex Cheetah we see in The Lies. I’m still not a fan of Steve Trevor and his angst over his death best friend, and I keep on getting Etta Candy confused with Amanda Waller in this book because of looks and the similarities in their roles. However, the scene where Diana gets her powers courtesy of a visit from her patron Gods is rather spectacular, and it promises to take the next chapter in an exciting new direction. Rucka rarely tells a story without a point, even if it takes a while to get there, and Year One is starting to intrigue me.
Corrina: I loved the gods visiting Diana in jail. Diana surrounded by animals, ala Snow White, is a scene I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it on the page. The Americans, of course, are paranoid about who and what Diana is and Diana is being more than patient with them. It’s the little touches I enjoyed, like Diana winning over the guard taking her mugshot or Steve comforting his friend’s widow or the connection between Diana and Minerva. But my favorite moment was when Etta walked in and Diana basically thought “Whew! Finally someone who’s in charge,” because that’s her natural assumption: that women are in charge.
Deathstroke #2 – Priest, Writer; Larry Hama, Breakdowns; Carlo Pagulayan, Penciller; Jason Paz, Inker; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Great Story
Ray: Priest’s fantastic globetrotting noir continues to unfold and develop interesting twists. Priest has gone for a slow burn in the first three issues, with a lot of elements floating around and the members of Slade’s families enter the picture exactly when the time is right. The first two issues focused heavily on the boys and his ex-wife Adeline, and this issue starts the same way, with the parents’ carelessness and disregard leading to Joey being kidnapped – by Deathstroke, interestingly enough, although this might be a feint. Still, we know what happened to Joey when he was kidnapped in the past, so I’m wondering if this is a way to retcon that back into the New 52 (Joey’s New 52 origins – yes, there was more than one – were very different).
More interesting to me, though, is the introduction of Lillian Worth, Slade’s lover and the mother of Rose Wilson. Rose makes her debut this issue as a young girl who already has menacing assassin skills, and while we haven’t seen her current version yet (I’m hoping the Superboy version is gone for good), she has a lot of potential. The introduction of Slade’s former assassin allies, one of whom has become a superhero, add a lot of tension to the story and give Deathstroke what every good title needs – a strong supporting cast for the hero or anti-hero to play off. Three issues in, Deathstroke is now one of my favorite titles in the DCU, and that would have been hard to believe months ago.
Corrina: Yep, this has fast moved to the top of the stack every time my comics arrive, delivering more story per panel that any other DC is putting out right now, without ever seeming too crowded. Like the previous issues, the story expertly mixes flashbacks with the current timeframe, providing background on Rose’s existence at the same time giving us a larger cast in Slade’s ex-mates.
Slade and Adeline are not good parents, both more concerned with doing what they want to do than with their kids. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when they decided to have kids. It makes me wonder how they ever came to that decision. Once, I can see. But twice? Perhaps Slade is just that careless or his sperm just that super, given that Rose was (likely) unplanned. Oh, crap, now I’m speculating on Slade’s virility. Anywho, that’s indicative of how much fun I’m having reading this series. A lot of characters, nimbly presented, with action so fast-paced that the story rolls along, but occupied by characters that fascinate me.
New Super-Man #3 – Gene Luen Yang, Writer; Viktor Bogdanovic, Penciller; Richard Friend, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: The Tale Open Up
Ray: A stronger third issue as this unconventional title starts to find its footing. In the aftermath of Kenan Kong’s decision to reveal his identity to the public, he nearly reveals the identity of his teammates as well – and promptly gets nabbed by China’s Wonder Woman and dragooned back to the base. My least favorite part of this book is Doctor Omen, her secret prison, and her tendency to resolve conflicts with people working with her by torturing them. She’s like a less likable, less compassionate Amanda Waller, and that’s not a very appealing combination. I do think the title is getting some good mileage out of Kenan’s teammates, though, as both “Wonder Woman” and “Batman” start coming off a lot more likable and promising as co-leads.
A slightly slow first half picks up in a big way in the second half as the trio investigates a new lead and accidentally unleashes a giant hydra with acid blood. This makes for a particularly exciting action scene, as the creature is an imposing villain and the potential major villains of the first act reveal themselves. There’s a lot of intriguing elements in this book, but three issues in I kind of wish that we were getting to see more of Kenan’s family and civilian life instead of such a focus on the conspiracy plots. Still, I’m sold for the series based on a likable main cast.
Corrina: The first issue made me understand Kenan, the second issue teased the secrets of his power and his possible mission, but this third one? The Chinese Batman and Wonder Woman steal the show. They get all the best lines, they have a nice friendship, and they also get to be mature and see that Kenan, for all his faults, may just be worth keeping around.
Kenan being a jerk struggling not to be a jerk might be a story that would get dull fast but not with this supporting cast, though, as Ray says, Omen is a weak point.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 – Scott Lobdell, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Didn’t Hate, Didn’t Love
Ray: Three issues in, this continues to be one of the biggest surprises of Rebirth, taking a title that had become one of the line’s biggest jokes (remember the grotesquely offensive Suzie Su, one of the main villains of the previous runs) and turning it into a compelling undercover adventure. My biggest worry was that while the current Jason Todd plotline is compelling, finding him working undercover as a member of Black Mask’s syndicate, the addition of oddball teammates Artemis (the Amazon) and Bizarro would throw the title’s rhythm off and make it more of an oddball story like the previous run.
Well, one issue into Artemis’ introduction, she hasn’t thrown off the title for me. Her new origin makes her a disgraced Amazon who was exiled for attempting to steal the Bow of Ra, an ancient weapon she’s obsessed with. She crosses paths with Jason when they attempt to hijack the same train for different reasons. Any fans of Steven Universe are going to like this take on Artemis because she very much reminds me of a less sociopathic Jasper – that gleeful warrior who just wants the joy of combat no matter who she has to fight. Once she and Jason figure out they’re not actually competing for the same thing, they team up because it means Artemis gets to destroy things. She’s a bit of a shallow character, but an entertaining one. Now, we’ll see what happens with Bizarro, who’s introduced this issue, but overall, I’m still enjoying this.
Corrina: I would think any fan of Steven Universe would rather watch that show than read this but maybe that’s just me. I don’t feel strongly one way or another about htis title. It’s just sort of there and I guess it’s somewhat good that Artemis is clearly Jason’s better but how such a goddess-type warrior fits in with Jason’s quest to take down the mob is a question and a half. This reads somewhat like Jason and Starfire’s interaction in the original incarnation of this title, minus Artemis being a blithering idiot. I guess Jay fans might find it acceptable?
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2 – Julie Benson, Shauna Benson, Writers; Claire Roe, Roge Antonio, Artists; Adrian Passalaqua, Hi-Fi, Colorists
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: Better But Still Not Right
Ray: One of the most disappointing books in Rebirth, this revival of the long-missed Birds of Prey concept suffers greatly from unlikable characters who have all been used better elsewhere. They’re finally not fighting, at least not physically, as Batgirl, Canary, and Huntress are now working together to keep a mob-affiliated criminal safe from the agents of Oracle who want him dead, but they’re still snarking endlessly at each other, and all three seem to have regressed from their previous characterization. Huntress is still the worst offender, coming off as a one-note violent vigilante, but both Batgirl and Black Canary have nowhere near the nuance of their past characterization.
Both Jim Gordon and Batman appear this issue to express concern with Batgirl going down the rabbit hole in investigating the mystery. While I haven’t had a big problem personally with Batgirl coming off as younger, this issue almost seemed to infantilize her in having her dad and mentor (who was never really a mentor previously) showing up to scold her. The villains are generic, and while we get our first glimpse of Oracle from behind this issue, I’m not sure how I feel about the implication that the character is severely disabled. Oracle as a disabled hero was a bold step. A disabled bitter tech-based villain is anything but. Overall, this title just comes off as generic and a waste of its three strong leads.
Corrina: Canary gets all the best lines and she’s better now than in the first couple of issue, and I like seeing Babs team up with her dad, something we haven’t seen enough of over the years. (Does Jim know? Well, apparently the book won’t tell us if he does but I’m going with he does, given his sadness about failing to reach her this issue.) The problem, however, remains Babs coming across as a non-planner who impulsively jumps into things. That’s Canary’s job and one she does well. But to have both of them doing it gives no contrast.
Lack of nuance. Yep. That’s the whole comic, little depth, all quick banter, no deep characterization. I’m so bummed I can’t like this title. ARGH.
Suicide Squad #2 – Rob Williams, Writer; Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Pencillers; Scott Williams, Oclair Albert, Inkers; Alex Sinclair, Marcelo Maiolo, Colorists
Ray – 4/10
Ray: In retrospect, it really was a big mistake to commit Jim Lee to this title, because it was painfully clear to anyone who followed his output that he would not be able to commit to the book long-term. Thus, we have the awkward fit of the first arc on this book being split into 10-12 page segments, with an origin story backup in every issue. The main story has the team crashing to Earth and finding themselves in a generic underground base where they have to escape floodwaters and beat up goons to get their way to a central top-secret room. Harley spouting strange political rhetoric aside, the story is fairly bland until it gets to the center, where they find the Phantom Zone projector and General Zod gets an odd introduction. I complained in a past review that this choice of team meant no one was going to die, but someone does die this issue – and it’s a fairly major character that strikes me as a bad choice not just for this title but for another franchise as well.
The backup feature focuses on Captain Boomerang, who is exposed here as a serial liar whose origin changes based on who he’s talking to, but Waller sees right through him and exposes him as the pathetic, lonely man he actually is. Ivan Reis’ art on this story is great, but all these backups seem to be “Amanda Waller psychoanalyzes and breaks down the Squad” and it feels like that’ll wear thin quickly.
Corrina: For a Suicide Squad book, this is so not edgy. It should have crazy, stupid action and fan along with characters not afraid to cut lose. I guess there wasn’t much of that left over from All-Star Batman for this title. It’s clearly designed to get fans of the movie to read it but it suffers from similar faults, especially the action, and doesn’t have the same vivid personalities as the movie.
Zod versus Harley Quinn should be fun. But I bet it won’t be.
Teen Titans #24 – Tony Bedard, Writer; Ian Churchill, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Tony Avina, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: Quiet Ending of the Run
Ray: This issue was locked down along with Detective Comics because it’s essentially a memorial issue for Tim Drake (who isn’t really dead, but that’s not stopping anyone). In the aftermath of Tim’s funeral, the Titans gather to share their memories of their leader and decide whether or not they’re ready to go forward as a team. Some of the stories are forgettable, others are rather nice. The only problem is, all these moments are essentially completely unearned. We know why the Bat-family is grieving Tim. The Teen Titans, as they were written since the beginning of the New 52, have not been written like a family or even really friends most of the time.
Bunker’s story, where he helps Tim change his style and they go to a gay pride parade, is more characterization than Bunker’s ever gotten. Raven’s segment is probably the best, as Tim stoically absorbs her lashing out at him and continues to show her support as she works through her issues about her origin. Wonder Girl and Power Girl’s stories are essentially generic team-ups with Red Robin that don’t shed any new light. Beast Boy, oddly, doesn’t even get a story, and the issue ends with everyone going their own ways – although Raven and Beast Boy are going to be in the next version led by Damian, which is teased at the end of the issue. Overall, this issue just doesn’t leave much of an impression, which for the New 52 Teen Titans, is kind of a win.
Corrina: This issue has stronger characterization than any issue in years past and probably only because Bedard was given the task of writing a memorial issue that serves as a bridge to yet another version of the Teen Titans. I would have found it more affecting if we’d seen any of this characterization before or if these characters had their previous history with Tim intact.
Earth 2: Society #16 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Angel Hernandez, Artist; David Calderon, Colorist
Ray – 4/10
Corrina: So Much Lost Promise.
Ray: One of the things that puzzles me the most about this title is the way it keeps going, long after every other pre-Rebirth title has ended. Maybe DC has decided not to relaunch this book and just sunset it after it concludes its story for a relaunch of the JSA? Because this issue feels for all the world like a series finale, but it’s just…not. When we last left off, Alan Scott had been possessed by the Ultra-Humanite and sent to capture the casket, the all-powerful artifact that has the power to reboot the world. Red Arrow shows up and manages to psych him out of being possessed somehow (it’s written very oddly), but then Ultra-Humanite shows up, kills Ollie, and decides to take the Casket personally. This leads to a long and generic battle until Fury decides that the only way to actually stop Ultra-Humanite is to use the Casket before he does. So she opens it and the world fades to white in a two-page segment that feels very much like a final conclusion – except it isn’t. We’re right back here next month for another issue. Like I said, puzzling.
Corrina: White Light reset! That’s a new one and better than Retcon Punch (TM) but not much. Why didn’t they do this at the beginning of the tale and start over then instead of all these issues that just rest it all? I can’t recommend this comic.
Scooby Apocalypse #5 – Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Writers; Howard Porter, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 3/10
Ray: Five issues in, the biggest problem with this book is the inertia. It feels like the same thing is going on every issue, with no real forward motion or status quo changes that stick. The characters are endlessly running and fighting monsters, constantly looking for answers and always getting hints of them but never anything concrete. Last issue Corrina saw some hope in this book based on the dialogue between Daphne and Velma, but this issue finds them right back to hating each other. Daphne at one point thinks that maybe she should ease up on Velma – only to bean her with a heavy object in the next scene. A little girl shows up at one point, and while I was sure from the start that she wasn’t what she appeared to be, her turning into a plant monster and being killed in the very next scene is fairly typical of this book’s lack of storytelling. It almost feels like a video game in comic book form at points, with the characters finding a new crop of monsters, developing a strategy to wipe them out, and moving on. It may be a halfway decent Resident Evil comic, but it’s certainly not a Scooby Doo comic.
Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #4 – Chynna Clugston-Flores, Writer; Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Penciller; Maddi Gonzales, Inker; Whitney Cogar, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: The first three issues of this miniseries have essentially been more and more people getting captured by the strange demonic Sweet 16 party going on at the manor lost in time, until this issue finds all the Lumberjanes and GA kids united once again behind the manor’s walls. The book works very well as a crossover because it neatly fuses the tone of both books – the scenery is bright and the tone is light, like Lumberjanes, but there is a tone of genuine menace lurking beneath the surface. With the cast reunited, the focus turns to escaping, and the idea that the best way to get out may be for everything to go smoothly is a smart one. There’s just one problem – the birthday girl’s long-lost crush is long dead from a Rollerblade/Macarena mishap (yes, really). Fortunately, the rules of the manor mean not everything is what it seems, and she mistakes Kyle for Simon, setting into play a ruse. Besides more hints at Colton’s crush on Kyle (really, it’s not even a secret anymore) and Pomeline running afoul of the ghouls, the issue is kind of laid-back – until Louise sees Olive and Kyle/Simon sharing a moment, and things take a turn for the very dangerous. This is one of the smoothest crossovers I can remember, genuinely feeling like it could take place in either of the two worlds.
DC Comics Bombshells #17 – Marguerite Bennett, Writer; Sandy Jarrell, Mirka Andolfo, Artists; Kelly Fitzpatrick, Wendy Broome, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Pages from this issue’s digital version were all over the internet for months now, and they introduced one of my favorite new characters in the Bombshells verse, as the power of Shazam finally comes to this universe in a very unique way. The second major battle of the series, this issue finds most of the cast – the Sirens, Batwoman and her team, the magical heroes – holing up in the Warsaw Ghetto as the Nazi forces close in to liquidate it. Of course, the resistance in the real world fought valiantly, but was tragically doomed. Here, it’s a different story. Here there’s superheroes. There’s a lot of great moments in this issue, from Harley’s bizarre gallows humor to Kate’s concern over the children fighting with them – given her and Renee losing Jason years earlier. But the issue is stolen by a young resistance fighter named Miri Batsen, a Jewish girl whose stories of Jewish heroines throughout history come to life and imbue her with the power of Shazam. The death of Kortni Starikov robbed the series of it’s most optimistic character, and Miri’s arrival goes a long way towards fixing that. The story takes a strange turn midway through, as Raven is revealed to have been the Joker’s Daughter all along and she then unleashes the real, somehow giant-sized Raven on the heroes, but overall this is a compelling story from start to finish that launches Bombshells into act three in style.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five #17 – Brian Buccellato, Writer; Tom Derenick, Artist; Rex Lokus, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Ray: Things start winding down for this volume of the series. After killing Hawkman last issue, Superman is weakened with Kryptonite poisoning, opening up an opportunity for the resistance. Batman has kidnapped Cyborg and downloads his archives, finding the proof that Superman massacred the army of Joker cultists several issues ago. He plans to broadcast it to the world – until Raven envelops the world in darkness and shuts down all electronic communications. With the regime winning another skirmish – and Superman taking extreme measures to ensure Cyborg’s archives are never used against him again – Batman meets with Lex Luthor to discuss a last-ditch plan involving dimensional travel. That’s the lead-in to the game and the next volume, of course, so we’ll see how it plays out with Taylor back at the helm. This book is well past its prime, and I’m ready to move on to volume two already.
Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel #3 – Ian Edginton, Writer; Matthew Dow Smith, Artist; Wendy Broome, Carrie Strachan, Colorists
Ray – 6/10
Ray: The crossover between Batman and the Avengers (really, that gag is the most interesting thing about this story) continues, as Batman and Robin face off against the Cybernauts in the Batcave. There’s a distinct 60’s charm to these robot henchmen, although their slow-moving attacks don’t leave much in the way of tension and they’re eventually taken out by an EMP. Once it’s discovered how they found the Batcave, the two teams of heroes head out on the road to track down their mutual enemy, and expose the villain in a very predictable reveal (really, there was only one suspect). I imagine that fans of the old Avengers show might like this, but it’s still lacking a lot of the eccentric charm of the Batman ’66 show, coming off as more like an old-school pulp drama.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received these comics for review purposes.