This week is dominated by the ladies. There’s Kara in Supergirl #3. Lana Lang in Superwoman #3 and Lois Lane in Superman: Action Comics #965 are the spotlight characters. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #3 is out, Barbara Minerva (Cheetah) has a solo tale in Wonder Woman, the teens of Gotham Academy work together with the other club members to solve a new mystery, and Batwoman and Harley Quinn continue to be strong presences in Batman: Detective Comics and Suicide Squad, respectively.
There’s even Rose Wilson in Deathstroke on the road trip from hell with her dad.
It’s a good week overall, too. There’s also All-Star Batman, Flash, New Super-Man. Even Earth-2 Society has something to offer this week. Then there’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps and Red Hood and the Outlaws. Ah, well, can’t bat 1,000.
Bonus review from Ray: Doom Patrol #2. Scroll to the end of the post for that one.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THIS WEEK’S DC COMICS BELOW.
Deathstroke #4, Christopher Priest, story, Joe Bennett, pencils, Mark Morales, inks, Jeremy Cox, colors
Corrina: Rose Wilson’s Road Trip From Hell
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: I’m so invested in the hot mess that is the characters in this comic. The dark humor makes me smile, like with Rose’s conversation with Wintergreen, her uncle of sorts, and certainly the sanest adult in her life. Then there’s Slade, whose idea of sharing a bonding moment with his daughter includes a road trip in disguise to Gotham City in order to trick Batman into doing something for them. Oh, and they stopped for a moment to take out a biker gang. We won’t even discuss Slade’s predilection for nudity while sharing a hotel room with Rose. As she said “Slade! Jesus!” (Aside: It is interesting to see the male lead nude in this situation, rather than focusing on the woman.)
So father and daughter kidnap Damian Wayne in order to force Batman to do something for them. Those familiar with Damian are going to be thinking that this time, Slade has no idea what hornet’s nest he’s just disturbed. But the scenes between Rose and Damian next issue should be a lot of fun.
Ray: This book certainly took a bizarre turn this issue, and I mean that in the best way possible. From the first four issues being high-octane assassin action, now we get a bizarre, hilarious father-daughter road trip. There’s still a lot of action – mainly because Rose, assassin though she may be, is still an impulsive teenager who doesn’t always make the right call – but the heart of the issue is Slade and Rose’s dynamic. And Slade dressed up as a shlubby old middle-American man? Hilarious. The trio of Slade, Rose, and Wintergreen (behind the scenes, but still very present) are becoming one of the best leading ensembles in comics.
The issue takes an interesting turn when Batman is introduced, because the style shifts more drastically than I’m used to seeing in a regular comic. For several pages, it becomes a text-comic hybrid. The slow breakdown of the panels, focusing in on a dog investigating a trash can as the events surrounding it unfold in text, is really unique, and then it speeds up in a big way as Slade gets the upper hand on Batman and Damian. Easily one of the best books in Rebirth.
Supergirl #2, writer, Steve Orlando, artist, Brian Ching, colorist, Mike Atiyeh
Corrina: Daddy Issues Galore
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Like any teenager, Kara is having some issues with her father. In this case, it means dealing with a Cyborg that claims to be her father, still alive after the destruction of Argo City. Kara destroys the Cyborg, not believing what she assumes is a lie, and returns to talk to her “mom” aka her handler at the DEO. But, more than that, to talk to the man she defeated earlier this series, now kept in a cell. Or, rather, listen and comfort him. That quiet moment stands out among all the others in this issues. Even more so than the appearance of a Cat Grant who’s remarkably similar to the television version of the character, so much so that I heard Calista Flockhart saying her lines in my head. This Cat, however, is at the start of CatCo and it seems like Kara will work there if she got past the job interview, and if she can learn to deal with the hostility of her fellow employee, a young genius who won’t let anyone get in his way of success.
At the end, though, Kara is shown a vision of the new Argo City by a nano-shard left inside her during the fight with the cyborg. Her father communicates with her and asks her to come see her new home. And tell her that her mother is still alive.
Oh, that’s not ominous at all.
Ray: I was a bit skeptical when this series was announced about bringing back the odd plot point of Kara’s father being the Cyborg Superman. The original story wasn’t particularly good or memorable, and was tied into the bizarre H’el story. However, Steve Orlando has taken the germs of a good idea in this plot and blown them up into a fascinating story. Zor-El’s memories are restored, and while his mind is distinctly addled by the transformation he’s gone through, his love for his daughter is genuine. How he feels it’s best to express that love, though…dubious. Especially since it involves resurrecting Argo City – including his wife – as cyborg hybrids like him.
Although the battle with the Cyborg Superman takes up a big chunk of the issue, the best segments are in the quieter moments. Kara’s interaction with her foster mom, or her visiting last issue’s villain in jail to try to reason with him, are both really well-done. It seems like Cat’s going to be a bigger part of this series as well, as by the end of the issue both Kara and her new frenemy Ben are working as interns at Catco. Maybe a bit too fast with bringing the TV continuity in, but Cat is written with some nice nuance here and some interesting details are teased about Ben. There’s some great flashback segments to Kara’s childhood, and overall the title successfully makes her an extremely endearing lead character. This is, hands down, the best run Kara Zor-El’s gotten since her return in 2005.
Superman: Action Comics #965, written by Dan Jurgens, pencils, Stephen Segovia, inks, Art Thibert, colorist, Arif Prianto
Corrina: Lois’s Story. Finally
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: The current DC Universe has two Lois Lanes. One is presumed to be dead (though we all suspect she’s not) and one is an immigrant from another universe where she married Clark (Superman) Kent and they had a son, Jon. But with the disappearance of this world’s Lois, the other Lois decides to finally take action and waltzes into the Daily Planet as herself (sort of) in order to find clues to her doppleganger’s disappearance. It’s a terrific sequence as the slightly older Lois runs into familiar characters, including the always annoying Steve Lombard. Until, that is, Lana Lang/Superwoman arrives and demands to know why an imposter is pretending to be her “dead” friend. Oops.
While DC has made strides in moving Lois back to center stage in Rebirth, I’ve been a bit hard on them concerning her role so far. The older Lois has mostly acted as mother and wife, which is fine as far as it goes, but that’s not all that Lois can be. Finally, this issue gives investigative reporter Lois something to do and promises a possible team-up with Lana and her younger self. Excellent.
Ray: I will echo everything Corrina says and agree that it is great to see our new Lois Lane get her moment in the sun. Having been reading Dan Jurgens on Superman since 1992, I remember very well how he can create a compelling Superman story here without actually using Superman much – the big guy is mainly limited here to literally sweeping Lois off her feet so they can get some alone time back at their farm. This is Lois’ story, through and through, and she’s never more compelling than when she’s trying to sink her teeth into a mystery.
A mysterious letter from the other Lois Lane leads her back to the Daily Planet, where she has to try to get access to her doppelganger’s files. This is complicated by both an angry Perry White questioning her absence – and the Planet’s new owner, Lex Luthor, who is more forgiving, but always has his own agenda. I really like all the little details of how trying to slip into someone else’s shoes would be a challenge – for instance, this Lois hates her doppelganger’s trademark favorite food. The encounter with the new mystery Clark Kent is just as awkward as you might imagine. I was surprised by the final scene, not expecting that character to show up here, but I wasn’t particularly excited – for reasons I’ll discuss in another review.
Batman: Detective Comics #942, Steve Orlando and James Tynion IV, story, Steve Orlando, script, Andy Macdonald, artist, John Rauch, colors
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Oddball but Fun Crossover
Corrina: The Finale of the “Monster Men” saga. There is nothing quite like the visual of members of the Bat team at the controls of their various Gotham skyscrapers fighting off kaiju. All hail the art team in this issue because that is something I never expected to see in a Batman comic. But I also have to credit the writers because working with this plot could have been ridiculous and over-the-top and, instead, they’ve zeroed in on the characterization and made it emotionally real.
The final confrontation between Hugo Strange and Batman seemed anticlimactic but it’s also good to see Batman win a situation with his brains and teamwork, rather than brute force. This crossover has been really fun!
Ray: I was genuinely wondering how this title would handle the final showdown between Batman and Strange here, because I couldn’t see an actual fight between the two delivering a strong story. Strange might have bulked up, sure, but he’s still an old man in a Bat-suit. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Batman win this fight partially through smarts and trickery, and partially through sheer will – Remember Batman: Rebirth where he obsessively pushed his breathing capacity past its limits? That’s the Batman I love – the one who games out every situation to an obsessive level. Prep time isn’t just a meme – it’s the only way he stays alive.
As intimate and intense as that showdown is, the rest of the issue is bold and crazy. There’s a bit of a tonal disconnect with Batman outthinking Strange in one scene and Nightwing hurling himself into the gullet of a monster in another, but it works. Andy MacDonald’s art is suitably grotesque and bodes well for his upcoming run on Justice League of America. The characterization is strong, and this whole crazy crossover was more of a breather before the next big arcs, but it delivered spectacular action just like it wanted to.
Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #3, Julie Benson and Shawna Benson, writers, Claire Roe and Roge Antonio, artists, Allen Pasalaqua, colors
Corrina: Flashbacks to Young Dinah Save the Issue
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: I’ve been hard on this title because thus far it’s failed to capture the magic of the previous incarnations of the Birds of Prey. All the pieces are there but the puzzle is jammed together with bad dialogue, odd pacing, and off-kilter characterization. This issue finally slows down the frenetic and sometimes over-the-top pace to provide a flashback to Dinah as a foster child, in the system. Most anything that spotlights Dinah will catch my attention but this is well done, giving us a glimpse into how difficult growing up was for this version of Dinah. It also fits in with her characterization over in Green Arrow, so kudos for emotional continuity.
The main story, however, is failing to grab me. The plot of finding “Oracle” aka who stole Babs’ former identity, is a good one but it’s marred by the inconsistent pacing.
Ray: This was definitely the best issue since the Rebirth launch, and Dinah’s role in it is the main reason. We’ve seen Dinah’s past before, in the very first run on BoP in the New 52, but never quite from this perspective. We’ve seen her training with Sensei Lamarr, but we’ve never gotten quite a close perspective on her trauma from being abandoned by her mother. Now that Dinah’s mother – a critical part of her history – seems to be back in continuity via the recent Black Canary series, revisiting it is a good idea and it works nicely here.
The main story…I found it a bit more compelling than past issues, but it’s still very generic. The mystery of Oracle is going on for quite a while, and the villains are just so generic. These cut-rate Serpent Society rejects all sort of blend together, and it doesn’t help that one kind of looks like Mouse from the short lived “The Movement.” Huntress and Batgirl have another argument over Huntress killing, but I’m not sure that Batgirl starting to see her perspective (Huntress’ killshot saves Jim Gordon’s life at one point) is where I want to see this go. The cliffhanger indicates that Fenice is someone significant, but I’m not sure who. Improving, but still a far cry from BOP at its best.
Wonder Woman #8, Greg Rucka, writer, Bilquis Evely, Romulo Fajardo Jr., colors
Corrina: As Advertised, Dr. Minerva Solo Issue
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: A bi-weekly publication schedule is allowing Greg Rucka to spotlight characters and situations that don’t belong in the current storyline, as Wonder Woman investigates what’s true and what’s not. This is an excellent solo tale. I’ve no idea if it’s different from any other incarnation of Dr. Minerva but her dedication to her quest and that no one believed her about the quest resonated. It seems as if Rucka is positioning Cheetah to be more of an ally than a foe for Wonder Woman and given this background, I can see why that works so well and why Diana hasn’t given up on her friend.
Ray: In the last week, it was announced that Bilquis Evely would be taking over regular art duties on the Year One story once Nicola Scott finishes her arc, so I want to talk a bit about her art. It’s good. Very good. I only knew her from the bizarre Sugar and Spice series, but even there her art was the best thing on offer. Here, paired with a new colorist, it’s got a unique vibe that perfectly captures the mythological vibe.
The story introducing a young Barbara Minerva is compelling enough, pitting her against a cruel father determined to stomp out her fascination with mythology, and later a skeptical dig supervisor who dismisses her research into the Amazons. She’s a compelling character, but I do have to say I don’t see any traces of Cheetah yet. She seems like a genuinely decent person – which, like Corrina says, goes a long way to explaining why Wonder Woman still seems to treat her like a friend years after her transformation.
Superwoman #3, written by Phil Jimenez, Emanuela Lupacchino, pencils, Ray McCarthy, inks, colors Hi-Fi
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: Like the Premise, Needs a Little Something.
Ray: I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about this book since issue one. I felt a bit burned by the twist, but between Lana’s visions this issue and the other Lois getting mysterious messages over in Action, it seems pretty clear that Lois isn’t fully gone for good. I love the addition of Steel and Natasha back to a prominent place in the Superman universe, and both artists – Jiminez and Lupacchino – are excellent when on their game. Lena Luthor and her torment of her brother are pretty interesting and make for a compelling villain for the series. At the same time, though, something’s missing, and it’s now pretty clear to me – the problem for me is Lana herself.
I appreciate the creation of a female hero with depression, and I like how it’s dealt with in a matter-of-fact way (the same way Natasha not being straight is addressed in this issue), but Lana is quickly becoming a very unlikable character. Not caring that Lex Luthor has been mistreating super-criminals in his prison? Saying that they have it coming for being cons? Is this supposed to be some bad attempt at creating a hero on the opposite end of the political spectrum from most of them? A flawed hero is a good thing (New Super-Man is a prime example of this), but not a fatally flawed hero, and that’s what this issue makes Lana feel like.
Corrina: I’ve liked all of Jiminez’s past work and I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt about Lois’s disappearance/death in the first issue. But I expected to have Lois back by now, not have Lana sincerely believe her co-hero is dead. (Because who really stays dead in the DC Universe?) The best part, as Ray says, has been the supporting cast, especially John Henry and Natasha, and the art is epic in the battles and yet also excellent in the more personal moments. But, Lana as the lead isn’t grabbing me. I don’t find her unlikeable. I think it’s because she lacks a specific goal and seems to be confused and at sea. That might make for a reallistic emotional reaction to getting powers and facing a fatal illness, not to mention losing her partner in crimefighting but Lana having a tangible goal would go a long way into making me more invested in the story
All-Star Batman #3 – Scott Snyder, Writer; John Romita Jr., Penciller; Declan Shalvey, Artist; Danny Miki, Inker; Dean White, Jordie Bellaire, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Love Duke Thomas But Not the Story
Ray: Three issues in, I’ve finally figured out exactly what Scott Snyder is doing with this first arc – it’s essentially an ultra-violent Batman ’66 pastiche. Snyder’s brought back the utility belt with something for every situation, including Bat-Shark-Repellant – and in this issue, Bat-knuckles, which I’m pretty sure Adam West never carried around. The no-longer-KG Beast makes for a great villain. Although his motivation is never quite clear beyond chaos, that’s sometimes enough. He’s an agent of pure carnage and destruction, and provides some of the best action scenes of the issue.
There’s a lot of great little details in the issue, such as Penguin’s flamethrower umbrella, and the return of one of the more controversial and strange members of Batman’s family – who here, is treated with far more respect and decency than he ever was during his original incarnation. Duke gets some great scenes, coming to the rescue of Bruce and a mortally injured Two-Face, and we get a really compelling flashback to Bruce and Harvey’s childhood friendship (that puts a rather dark twist on Bruce’s childhood when he was dealing with his parents’ death). The cliffhanger is certainly dramatic, but it’s clearly a fake-out.
The backup feature focuses on Duke as he recovers from Zsasz’ attack, and includes some flashbacks to his childhood where we find out more about his parents. Shalvey’s art is fantastic as always, although the case is fairly slow-moving. Still, Duke’s evolution as a crime-fighter is a critical part of this story, and the backup provides some nice behind-the-scenes material for the main story.
Corrina: I thought perhaps the creative team were doing their own version of a video game. Set up an impossible quest, set different levels with different vehicles, and then have safe places, and the ability to play new characters, like Duke and Harold in this issue, get some healing points, then head out again into a different level, in this case, down in the sewers/underground rivers.
The only part that invested me, however, was the flashback to young Harvey and young Bruce at a camp for traumatized kids. The rest? The logic works for a video game, I suppose, but I can’t buy into the premise, and therefore the fight scenes Ray loved just make me shrug.
Gotham Academy: Second Semester #2, Brenden Fletcher, script, Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl, story, Adam Archer, pencils, Sandra Hope, inks, Msassyk, background painting, Serge Lapointe, colors
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: After last issue’s surprisingly intense introduction of Amy, the renegade new student at Gotham Academy, this issue brings the entire cast back together for their second semester, and it soon becomes clear that the bonds between them are growing a bit frayed. Although Maps is excited to be closer than ever to her friends, having been promoted a year in her studies and sharing classes with her friends now, she quickly starts to feel alienated by Olive’s closeness to her new roommate. Maps is always a burst of light in this series, so to see her feeling depressed instantly casts a pall over things – and quickly lures her into danger.
Ah, yes, danger, because it wouldn’t be Gotham Academy if something wasn’t lurking in the shadows. This issue, it’s something mysterious disappearing students around Gotham Academy one by one, via a mysterious figure that lures lost students. Kyle and Maps take the starring role in the investigation this issue when one of Kyle’s teammates gets kidnapped, and they uncover the existence of a mysterious, brainwashing “Witch Club” on campus. What’s going on? What’s Amy’s deal? No answers yet, but it’s good to have this title back. One of the most unique and clever books in DC’s stable.
Corrina: I’m beginning to be so annoyed with Olive for the way she’s neglecting her best friend! I guess having to deal with that is part of growing up but I’m so worried for Maps. (Which tells you how much I love Maps.) However, I do love the mystery now set up with the “Witch Club” and hope that the resolution will have Olive saving Maps and apologizing.
New Super-Man #4, Gene Luen Yang, writer, Viktor Bogdanovic, pencils, Richard Friend, inks, Hi-Fi, colors
Corrina: Here Comes the Inevitable Betrayal!
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: I love this book, mainly because our new Super-Man is such a product of his ever-changing emotions. Kenan can see logic sometimes, and even act on it, but he’s a teenager, and he acts like one. More, a teenager with issues about his parents, particularly his father, who never seems easy to please. I expected the reveal of his father as his arch-enemy at the end of this issue but that didn’t dilute the emotional punch.
Ray: Combining elements of conspiracy thriller with traditional superhero action, this book has been a surprisingly slow burn so far. However, it remains consistently entertaining. I still think Dr. Omen is the weakest part of the title, but Kenan’s growing rapport with his teammates is appealing, and it’s good to see young reporter Laney Lan get a bit more to do this issue. The introduction of the villains last issue does take the title a bit more into “Generic slugfest” territory, but the team of villains have fairly unique powers that make for great visuals.
Then there’s the last page reveal that Corrina mentioned. It seemed a bit odd to me that Kenan’s dad was featured so prominently early on but played very little role in the narrative from there, and I guess we know why. That would certainly explain why Flying Dragon General seemed to be pulling his punches during this issue. The title still has some narrative issues to work out, and the reveal seems a bit abrupt, but the fact that it has a compelling lead character in Kenan means it’s already a good part of the way to success.
The Flash #8, Joshua Williamson, writer, Carmine Di Giandomenico, artist, Ivan Plascencia, colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: This is the only Barry Allen that I like right now. The television version seems less a hero than a moody adolescent like the new Super-Man. But with the new Super-Man, the reader knows he’s making mistakes. TV Barry Allen? No. However, the Barry Allen in this comic is, first and foremost, a hero, a good man doing everything in his power to save everybody that he can because it’s the right thing. He doesn’t run roughshod over people and he listens to them, like he listened to Wally.
Perhaps that’s why I like Godspeed better than any version of the Reverse Flash. He’s more a warped version of Barry Allen than anyone of them: a villain who thinks he’s a good man doing the right thing. I hope Williamson never leaves this book.
Ray: I suppose it’s fitting given the title, but Josh Williamson has managed to make this one of the fastest-paced comics on the stands. There’s so much going on in this issue that it can almost feel a bit overwhelming at points, but it works. When we pick up, Godspeed aka August Heart is headed towards Iron Heights to kill Flash’s rogues’ gallery, and only Barry and Wally can stop him. In the process, Wally finally gets his Kid Flash costume and better control over his powers, and the two are able to team up and overwhelm Godspeed. This is a great high-speed fight scene, but interestingly enough, the title actually gets better when things slow down in the second half.
Once August is safely locked away at Iron Heights, the revelations start flying fast and furious. August reveals that Dr. Carver was nothing more than a pawn and the true culprit behind the Speed Storm is still out there. In return, Barry drops a bit of information on him that completely shatters the anti-hero’s worldview. We get hints that not everything is what it appears to be with the de-powered Speedsters, especially Avery – and we even get a hint of exactly what’s happened with Meena. Josh Williamson’s created a massive status quo shift in this title, and it’s quickly somersaulted up to one of my favorite DC books.
Earth 2 Society #17, Dan Abnett, writer, Bruno Redondo, penciller, Juan Albarran, inker, Rex Lokus, colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Last issue, Fury opened Pandora’s Box and deleted the world. Sort of. Now we’re stuck in the pages of a comic book where the only finished pencils and inks are our heroes, as they struggle with a threat from beyond those sparse pencils. Yes, it’s probably a commentary on the inevitable ending of the series but that’s okay because it allows for some nice character moments with our cast members. I can’t say I’ll miss this title but I wish more issues had been of this quality.
Ray: This series has taken so many weird twists and turns, and it’s hard to get excited about yet another big change, but this issue surprised me with just how compelling it was. A big part of this is the unique art style, which takes place in a strange, half-formed ghost city populated only by a few surviving heroes – Hawkgirl, Power Girl, Flash, and a repentant Fury who is convinced her actions spelled the end of the world. The characters and their bickering is still the least compelling part of the series, but what really does work is the tension once it becomes clear that they’re not alone in this ghost city after all. Someone is watching, hard at work – and sees them as interlopers threatening their important work. This series seems to be on its final arc based on the cover, likely to make way for the return of the JSA, but it looks like it might have a bit of life left in it.
Suicide Squad #4, Rob Williams, writer, Jim Lee, penciller, Scott Williams, Sandra Hope, Jonathan Glapion, Trevor Scott, inkers, Alex Sinclair and Hi-Fi, colors
Ray – 5/10
Ray: This continues to be one of the most disappointing books in the Rebirth lineup, mainly owing to the title biting off more than it can chew in the art direction. Of course Jim Lee wasn’t going to be able to draw 40 pages a month for long, but only ten pages an issue? This feels like it should have been planned in advance to avoid this issue, because the main story is this title’s big issue. It’s essentially a generic action story, parceled out in ten-page segments every two weeks. The team fighting Zod should be exciting, but there’s too many unanswered questions. Why is Zod talking like Conan? Who are these grotesque Russian supervillains? Zod’s defeat is sort of anti-climatic, and the story as a whole feels like a dud.
Corrina: What’s going on with our villains? I kinda forgot, save that they were fighting Zod and I think Boomerang is stuck in the Phantom Zone, maybe? Though I have a No Prize worthy answer on why Zod talks like Conan: being in the Phantom Zone for so long has made him a little nutty.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #6, writer, Robert Venditti, penciller, Rafa Sandoval, inker, Jordi Tarragona, colorist, Tomeli Morey
Corrina: No Final Confrontation Yet?
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: And once more unto the breach….well, not quite yet. I was hoping this was the climatic showdown between Sinestro and his Fear-Powered War World but it seems as if we have one more issue to go. Perhaps once the series is done focusing on Sinestro, I can be interested in it. It’s just after a year of reading Sinestro’s solo series, and this series, I’m so bored by him.
However, the space scenes look great.
Ray: I never thought I’d read a Dragon Ball Z reference in a Green Lantern comic – intentional or not – but Sinestro spending the majority of the issue charging his power up until he was OVER 1000 made me laugh. I doubt that was the intention, but Sinestro reaching a new level of power has been done so many times that it’s the height of predictability. Sure enough, by the end of the issue he’s sporting his standard Parallax outfit again. As for the Green Lanterns? Feels like they’re running in place. Guy is still being tortured, and at the end of this issue he’s subjected to the “baptism” that’s been teased for several issues. John now has new allies as they head towards Warworld, while Hal is punching out every Sinestro Corpsman in sight. Sandoval’s art looks great, but the story here is almost completely lacking.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #3, Scott Lobdell, words, Dexter Soy, art, Veronica Gandini, colors,
Corrina: Enter Bizarro!
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: When the book centers on Jason’s internal monologue, I like it. When the book moves past that to Jason’s current role as a mobster’s informant, my mind meanders. Even the presence of Artemis isn’t helping, as she’s basically another version of how Lobdell wrote Starfire. However, Jason’s concern for Bizarro and determination to reach the warped clone of Superman, works. At the least, we can guess how Artemis, Jason, and Bizarro ended up as teammates, as promised for the book.
Ray: Four issues into this series, I think I have to admit this series is…good? Scott Lobdell’s take on Jason Todd is at the core of the book, and it’s always been the one thing he does fairly well for DC. His Jason is damaged, angry, but still inherently heroic, and you never lose sight of the fact that this is a kid whose childhood was abruptly and violently ended. The issue addresses Tim’s death and Jason’s complex feelings about his family. Then, of course, there’s the main plot, as Black Mask’s plans for the Bizarro clone are revealed.
Black Mask continues to be creepy, and not entirely in a good way – who thought it was a good idea for Black Mask to knock Jason out and then undress him to put him in bed? It’s not really implied anything was done, but it’s still an awkward scene. From there, Jason’s interactions with Bizarro make up the bulk of the issue. It’s clear Lobdell is going from the “gentle giant” take on Bizarro, where he’s extremely impressionable and somewhat childlike, as opposed to being over-the-top goofy. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but I continue to find it the most entertaining work Lobdell’s done for DC in a while.
Doom Patrol #2 – Gerard Way, Writer; Nick Derington, Artist; Tamra Bonvillian, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Ray: Two issues in…it doesn’t seem like a clearer narrative is going to happen, at least not this quickly. Much like Robotman was featured prominently last issue, this month it’s Negative Man’s turn in the spotlight. Or rather, Larry Trainor, here just a man with weird eyes who has a bizarre freak-out on the streets and Casey and her partner called to the scene. There’s still a lot of characters floating around, not all of them connecting (Niles Caulder’s bucolic scenes of country life seem almost like non-sequiters so far), but there is a lot to like. The art by Nick Derington is brilliant, and there’s a certain anarchic fun to all of Robotman’s scenes.
And then can we talk about the appearance at the end of the issue? Given the legal issues with this character (who I won’t spoil here), seeing him again is roughly up there with ROM returning to the Marvel Universe. I can see this universe trying my patience fairly quickly, and I don’t think that it’s quite as compelling as Shade, the other Young Animal title yet, but it’s an odd experiment that I’m excited to see play out.
Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #5 – Chynna Clugston-Flores, Writer; Kelly and Nichole Matthews, Pencillers; Jenna Ayoub, Inker; Whitney Cogar, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Ray: I was surprised to see a different art team on this issue, although it’s not as noticeable as all that. The story continues as Louise turns against her “guests” over a misunderstanding with Olive and Kyle, and the horrific “Chaperones turn from merely intimidating to genuinely dangerous on her orders. It’s still a lot of fun to see the two casts interact, although the action is going too fast and furious for there to be too much humor. There is some very creative use of the setting in the action, though, especially when Ripley turns the tables on the chaperones with a move right out of a ’90s video game. However, things turn deadly serious at the end with one character injured and both heroes and villains upgrading the threat level – courtesy of Olive’s little secret. Looking forward to the grand finale.
Scooby Apocalypse #6 – Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Writers; Howard Porter, Artist; Wellington Alves, Penciller; Scott Hanna, Inker
Ray – 5/10
Ray: After five issue of monster antics, the story flashes back to Velma’s origin, and it’s…as weird as the rest of the series. Velma was raised by a cold father, an absent mother, and had four aggressive, highly ambitious older brothers who dominated their father’s attention. She was a genius, but was so socially awkward that she was never able to connect with anyone. After blowing up on her only friend, she chose to seclude herself at home and home-school herself, becoming a PHD by 17. Her brothers then brought her into their secret organization where they planned to take over the world – and that leads to the current status quo. Velma’s brothers being evil tyrants behind the apocalypse is one of those concepts that’s just…odd. But hey, in the backup, Scrappy Doo bulks up to the extreme and sets out for revenge! This was probably the best issue of the series, but as a whole this feels like a wholly misguided reboot.
Corrina: Giving depth and a backstory to Velma is probably part of why I don’t like this series. Yes, it can be well-written but the entire property is based on the fun of the gang investigating ridiculous mystery. We don’t need a deep dive into the characters, especially not a deep dive that reveals that Velma is sort of a sociopath, in the sense she has difficulty feeling emotions and reacting properly to emotions. She’s still having the same problems and now seems more responsible than ever for the zombie plague.