DC This Week – Super-Son & Daughters

Trinity #3 cover by Clay Mann, copyright DC Comics
Trinity #3 cover by Clay Mann, copyright DC Comics

Parents and children take center stage in our two favorite comics this week, Superman #11, with Batman and Superman and their Super-Sons, and Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2, where Cave and his daughter, Chloe, must work together against nefarious forces.

There’s also a trippy element in several of the comics, with either dream or nightmare sequences, as in the Poison-Ivy induced coma in Trinity #3, or the villain-induced landscape in Nightwing #9, and the seriously trippy and Ditko-like panels in the final issue of Doctor Fate.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THIS WEEK’S DC COMICS BELOW.

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DC Rebirth Reviews:

Batman #11 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Artist; Hugo Petrus, Inker; June Chung, Colorist

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: The art is great, the story well-written, but it’s problematic when it comes to Selina and Bruce.

Ray: This continues to be a brilliantly tense arc with fantastic arc and some spectacular action scenes, but at the same time I’m starting to worry that Tom King is ringing some bells here that are going to be very hard to unring when it comes to Catwoman. The character’s been an anti-hero for the past twenty years and has never been more than a femme-fatale sort of villain rather than one of Batman’s hard-boiled rogues. The idea of seeing how far she could go when pushed is intriguing, but I’m not sold it’s a good idea. The issue opens with a flashback to Selina being apprehended after her massacre of the terrorists who blew up the orphanage, and the tension and pain between her and Batman is done incredibly well. I’m still dubious that any jury would give the death penalty to someone who massacred a group that blew up a group of orphans, though. More likely a medal.

Meanwhile, in the present day, Bruce, Selina, and Ventriloquist are infiltrating Bane’s base, and I’m really curious exactly what Arnold Wesker’s role here is. Batman seems to believe he’s the only person who can get them out of there alive, and I have a feeling that’s going to be a pretty big twist when revealed. The cat-and-mouse game between the seemingly harmless Wesker and Selina as she escorts him is intriguing and is done in the best two-page spread of the series. Again, can’t say enough about how good Janin’s art is here. I’m not quite as sold on the other members of the squad. Bronze Tiger is always good, but I wish he had a bit more to do, and Punch and Jewlee seem to exist to annoy people. The betrayal at the end of the issue, and the two deaths it causes…this is what worries me. This is making for a very good, dramatic Batman story, but I’m not sure what the long-term consequences will be and if they’ll be good for the Bat-verse

Corrina: There’s never any problem with King’s writing. It’s stellar and the artwork by Janin shows off another level past his bright and airy previous work. This time, the setting is dark, damp, and menacing and feels that way. Credit should also be given to the inker and especially the colorist for the terrific work. No, it’s that I’m still pondering the story logic of breaking supervillains out of prison to save Gotham Girl. Batman’s twisty plan to get to Psycho Pirate was inevitably going to cause a large amount of carnage and that bothers me more than a bit.

But this issue features Selina Kyle more than anyone else. She’s an iconic Bat-character and, indeed, there are call-outs to her presence in the Dark Knight Rises .  But Selina has never been prone to murder. Pick your pocket, yes, in every way possible. Set someone up as poetic justice for their sins, yes. Kill to defend herself and the few she cares about, of course, But right now, King has her as an out and out murderer who killed over 200 people out of revenge. That’s never been in Selina’s character. She would be more likely to rob them blind and somehow make it look like they stole from each other, and smile if they killed each other. In other words, it’s not that I object to a Selina who can kill in revenge, it’s that I object to a Selina who simply murders in revenge. That has all the subtlety of the Punisher. That is not who she is and it’s a fundamental misreading of her character, at least to my eyes.

As for her actions here, while I want to believe that Batman and Selina are working a long con, the deaths bother me. Batman put these people in harm’s way and they died as a result of his actions. Has he become that callous? That makes him, too, like the Punisher. King is a mega-talented writer but I’m wincing at aspects of this plotline.

Superman #11 – Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Writers; Patrick Gleason, Penciller; Mick Gray, Mark Morales, Christian Alamy, Inkers; John Kalisz, Colorist

Ray – 9.5/10

Corrina: D’aww…Super-Sons!

Ray: Last issue’s beginning of the team-up between Damian Wayne and Jon Kent was maybe my favorite single issue released in Rebirth. This second issue doesn’t quite reach the same highs, but it’s still an incredibly funny, energetic comic that bodes extremely well for the coming Super-Sons title. In the aftermath of Damian and Jon’s fight that destroyed half the Batcave and nearly turned Alfred into a Butlersicle, Batman and Superman have decided their boys need a crash course in teamwork. They’ve stripped them of their costumes and gear, and the only way they can get them back is by learning to work together to pass a series of trials that have been set up for them – and their dads aren’t above using their friends against them.

The issue begins with them climbing a mountain where some of their gear – and Nobody – is waiting for them. While Damian and Jon are the stars here, Maya has been the sleeper character in this arc and I’m really hoping Tomasi keeps her around as a major player in the upcoming series. The action scenes are great, and there’s a surprise around every corner – such as when Damian jumps a train only to be ambushed by Goliath. Although the two of them are capable as heroes, they keep failing the key test, which is to work together – until they get back to the Batcave and find that a chemical test in the Batcave has gone wrong, trapping Batman, Superman, and Alfred in a mutated hybrid villain. They manage to work together, save the day, and get their capes back – but it doesn’t last long before they get into another fight. The last scene, with Bruce and Clark as dads bonding over tree-shopping, shows that the Batman/Superman friendship is back and that probably makes me happier than anything else here. Another fantastic issue.

Superman #11, cover copyright DC Comics
Superman #11, cover copyright DC Comics

Corrina: The world needs more of comics like these, as the two super-sons simultaneously clash and work together. Damian is, of course, Damian, the arrogant little snot who needs no help from anyone. As Ray says, the action scenes are terrific and they incorporate many of the same elements from Damian’s solo series, especially Goliath. I love that Jon can also bond with Goliath, a fact that disconcerts Damian.

The only niggle I have is that Damian seems to get the better of Jon much more often. Yes, Jon is new at the hero/battle thing and Damian has been trained since birth, but I would expect Jon to be an out-of-the-box thinker, given who his mother is. Let’s see him display another side other than physical prowess with powers that aren’t quite under his control yet. I hope that will be coming. Or maybe it could be just me, wanting to wipe that smug expression off Damian’s face.

For those looking for fun or for a comic to give their kids, this may be the best choice from DC right now.

Trinity #3 – Francis Manapul, Writer; Clay Mann, Artist; Seth Mann, Inker; Brad Anderson, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Holy Dystopia Dream Sequence, Batman!

Ray: The reveal that Poison Ivy was behind the strange illusions that the Trinity have been experiencing last issue cast a new light on the first two issues. Superman experienced his flashback, and now it’s Batman’s turn. Unfortunately, Manapul can’t do a full issue a month, so Clay Mann takes over on art. He does a more than capable job, but Manapul’s brilliantly vivid art is in a class by itself and was a big part of the appeal of the first two issues. A bigger problem, for me, is that while Superman’s past has a lot of mileage to explore, we’ve seen the defining moment of Batman’s childhood, over and over again, in almost every comic run he’s ever had. So when we start once again in Crime Alley, there’s a bit of a familiarity there that lacks any real freshness or hook.

As Bruce finds himself visiting his past the same way Clark did, the issue does have some strong moments when it comes to exploring the guilt a child would feel when it comes to his parents’ murder, especially since it was Bruce who wanted them to go out and see the movie that night. It’s clear, though, that all in this world is not as it seems, given the presence of Harley Quinn as Bruce’s therapist. This is definitely a far more traumatic trap than the one Clark found himself in, but Superman and Wonder Woman are able to get through to Bruce and break him out of it before it’s too late. We get some glimpses of what Wonder Woman’s trial will be next issue, and that looks intriguing, but what I enjoyed most this issue was the framing segments of Lois Lane getting ready to take on Poison Ivy when she finds out her family’s been trapped in this dream world. Solid issue, although the weakest of the run so far. I’m hoping it gets its momentum back when it’s on less-familiar territory next month.

Corrina: I have to agree, the framing segments with Lois were my favorite, though this second issue continues the strong start for this comic. However, with the revelation that Poison Ivy is behind the “delusions” for the heroes, the mystery is gone from the flashback sequences,  some of the plot tension vanishes. While it’s a great visual to see young Bruce being rescued from jumping off a high building by a grown Superman, the reader knows it’s a fake-out. Plus, as Ray said, we’ve seen Bruce feeling guilty about his role in his parents’ murders previously. (I suppose if whatever poison that Ivy is using takes the victim to their childhood, there wasn’t much of a choice here.) Still, I understand the need to spotlight each member of the Trinity at the beginning of this book.

Next issue promises Wonder Woman and it will have to be twisty as heck to seem different from WW’s own nightmares and worry about what is true and what’s false from her own book, and even some of the sequences from Legend of Wonder Woman. Let’s hope Lois is the one that breaks through to her.

Nightwing #9 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Marcio Takara, Artist; Marcello Maiolo, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: It’s a quite a week for dream sequences.

Ray: It’s a done-in-one issue bridging the Raptor storyline with the upcoming Bludhaven plot, as one of the DCU’s deadliest villains makes its return. Doctor Destiny is one of the first DC villains I ever read, and this new version of him has some incredibly creepy visuals, but at its core, this isn’t a story about the villain – it’s a story about the often-forgotten relationship between Nightwing and Superman. After all, it’s Superman that Nightwing got his new superhero name from. The issue begins with Nightwing having a disturbing dream in which he teams up with the Titans, only to see them all massacred by a horde of killer robots that look oddly like crash test dummies. He wakes up with a start and finds Superman hovering outside his window. Superman’s picked up Doctor Destiny’s signature, and traced his energy to Dick’s mind as well.

It turns out that Doctor Destiny has infiltrated Dick’s mind and has been causing the incredibly vivid dreams he’s been having, which leads to Inception in the DCU, as we see the strange sort of dreams Dick has. Playing volleyball with his old teammates from Spyral? Okay, but it feels sort of right for Dick. And in every dream, it always ends the same way – with the robots showing up and everything going to hell. At its core, though, this story is about the tight circle of friends that Dick surrounds himself with, and the way this new (old) Superman is slowly re-establishing himself among the heroes of the DCU. There’s also a great tribute to Red Robin – most heroes who actually die don’t get this level of tribute. While the issue is lacking in stakes a bit compared to the first arc, it’s a solid character-driven issue and sets up Nightwing for the next arc in Bludhaven nicely.

Nightwing and friends in the dream sequence, images via DC Comics
Nightwing and friends in the dream sequence, images via DC Comics

Corrina: Doctor Destiny! Now there’s a villain I haven’t seen in some time! Given how scary he is and how his power could affect any hero, whatever their abilities or superpowers, he should be used more often. For once, it feels like a story that could have gone three to four issues was stuff into one issue instead. But that’s good because it makes for a fast-paced, intense story.

Now, I bow to no one in my admiration for Dick Grayson as a hero but in this issue, I almost felt the creative team overdid it, almost turning this issue into a hagiography, a case for Dick Grayson as St. Richard. Careful, DC, Dick might start believing his own press and become over-confident. But that sounds like I hated the team-up with Superman and, instead, I loved it. I loved Tim Drake showing up in the dreamscape and Dick’s line of “I have a lot of friends!” with the accompanying splash pages of heroes was one of those moments in comics that have to make you smile. So, okay, fine. I’m good with St. Richard of DC.

Green Arrow #11 – Ben Percy, Writer; Juan Ferreyra, Artist

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: Great action with the art as the star.

Ray: The story in Green Arrow has been vastly improved since Rebirth started, with it turning into a pulpy action-adventure thriller that never slows down, but the real heroes of this book are the artists. Juan Ferreyra gets another turn at bat this issue, and he’s lucky enough to get to draw the most spectacular action scene of the series. Last issue saw Ollie, Dinah, and Diggle hitch a ride on the Queen Industries Trans-Pacific super-train that was hosting a prominent peace conference. When long-time Green Arrow foil Eddie Fyers assassinated the Arab diplomat who was behind the conference, things quickly went to hell as the heroes were blamed. This issue, an already bad situation turns into a nightmarish one as the train itself is threatened as it speeds under the pacific ocean.

Once Eddie Fyers takes out the conductor, an already tense issue hits high gear, as he sets bombs that threaten to bury them all at the bottom of the ocean and escapes in a car that he smuggled on board. It’s ridiculous – it really is, feeling like it comes out of a less-subtle version of the Fast and Furious series – but it also works. It’s impossible not to grin when Green Arrow and Black Canary outrun a tidal wave of seawater containing a large throng of hungry sharks on Dinah’s motorcycle, and are followed by an out-of-control but mostly safe train as it arrives in Seattle in the least graceful way possible. Ferreyra’s art is best known for his work on horror comics like Gotham By Midnight, but it’s surprisingly well-suited for this bright, energetic story. Was that Hillary Clinton guest-starring at the end, BTW? Either way, a fun and exciting comic, and the next arc will have a hard time topping it as GA returns to Seattle a fugitive.

Corrina: Seemed like Hillary Clinton at the end to me. It was amusing, as the entire plot of “let’s kill this good guy to mess up peace talks” is basically dismissed with the Clinton look-alike’s statement of “Eh, whatever, this just makes me more determined to talk peace!” That’s a lot of damage and money and carnage spent on the  “kill one guy to scuttle peace talks” by our villains.  Perhaps Percy just needed the plot to be over.

I do find this entire plot somewhat ridiculous, from the bit on the island (how did Canary get there again?) to the hijacking of the undersea supertrain, to the whole chase sequence with the cars and the motorcycles but it’s the kind of ridiculous that superhero comic books can do so well, especially in the hands of an artist like Ferreyra. I’m not as high on the series in general as Ray–I still feel the character decisions are too abrupt–but this was one of the better issues.

Green Lanterns #11 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Robson Rocha, Penciller; Jay Leisten, Cam Smith, Inkers; Blond, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Warning to this villain.

Ray: The second major arc of Green Lanterns is a lot smarter than the initial battle with Atrocitus, and while it maintains its strong focus on the two lead Green Lanterns and their differing insecurities and inner tensions, it also splits the narrative by letting us in on the inner workings of the arc’s villain, Frank Laminiski. Laminski is an intriguing villain in that he’s completely driven by self-confidence and ego. Everything wrong in his life has been someone else’s fault, and it’s all been leading up to him getting the ring like he deserves. He doesn’t go mad with power right away, instead engaging in petty acts like vandalizing the side of a mountain with his name. He soon gets his chance to be a hero when a tornado threatens a little boy and his dog. This scene does a great job of capturing the deadly scope of the tornado.

Frank does the right thing saving the boy and dog, but his oiliness, ego, and short temper come through and make the scene more than a bit unsettling. Soon, though, Simon and Jessica narrow in on the emotional spectrum energy he’s releasing and are able to track him down. Frank is wasting no time selling himself to the media as a hero, and sure enough, they take his side against the two “scary suspicious brown-skinned Lanterns”. This scene is great, but it lost me a bit when Frank seemed to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation and turn into an insane Orange Lantern. It did feel a bit too much like a switch was flipped and they went “Well, it’s time for a fight scene now”. This series is by far at its best when it’s dealing with the inner turmoil of both its heroes and villains, and I hope that continues to play a major role.

Corrina: I wasn’t impressed with Laminski’s origin story in the previous issues but this issue convinced me that he can make a perfect villain, especially for our new Green Lanterns. He’s the overconfident oaf to their tentative heroics, the one who wants to soak in all the glory, whereas our Lanterns would rather hide in the shadows, if they could.

The scene where the family and the media seemingly takes Laminski’s side against the Lanterns is perfect, a commentary on current events, yes, but also effective for these characters. What we’re getting from these series, overall, is a commentary on the nature of heroism, and why the best heroes may be the ones who never see themselves as heroes.

Justice League #9 – Bryan Hitch, Writer; Neil Edwards, Penciller; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Tony Avina, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: A Little Too Much Destruction

Ray: This title is really committing to being a big showcase for explosive, action-packed stories. When it left off last issue, a mysterious hacker – tied potentially to the one victim of the chaos in the first arc – had targeted the Justice League. Cyborg was hacked (again) and the League’s Watchtower was sent crashing down to Earth and nearly wiped out San Francisco. Before the Justice League could regroup, Simon Baz’s ring was hacked as well and the League found themselves up against one of their own. Batman and Alfred are safe in the Batcave (although the tech there turned against them as well), but the rest of the League is finding out exactly how deadly a power ring can be when divorced from its owner.

The bulk of the issue is essentially a high-speed chase segment as the various Leaguers try to outwit or outrun the deadly constructs. Neil Edwards’ art does a capable job of showing this battle, although he doesn’t quite have the flair Hitch himself would bring to these scenes. The way the League finally breaks the virus’ hold over Simon’s ring is fairly clever, but what makes this issue work better than it otherwise would have is the reveal of the villain’s identity and what surrounds him. A grieving villain with his children surrounding him trying to pull off his scheme while protecting his kids? Intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the heroes deal with him.

Corrina: Yikes! Satellite is down already, Simon is out of control, and poor San Francisco. It’s a wonder anyone builds skyscrapers in the DC universe. But it’s a JL comic, so the stakes must be high and that means a big battle, in this case against the light constructs of the Green Lantern ring. It’s fun but it feels a little too on the side of “obligatory fight sequence.”

As for the villain, it was a given he’d been grieving after someone killed in one of those inevitable attacks by villains. The addition of his children is an original touch, and I would imagine at some point, the JL appeals to his compassion. But until then, they’re all stuck in the anger portion of his grieving.

Aquaman #11 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Philippe Briones, Artist; Gabe Eltaeb, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Everyone Saw That Coming

Ray: A prelude issue before the next main storyline, this story mainly catches the characters up on each other’s storylines before setting off a big explosion at the end that promises to dominate the character’s status quo for the foreseeable future. It amuses me that the story is titled “Condition Critical” and builds up Aquaman’s fate at length before revealing that he’s bruised but otherwise conscious and fine. The people of Amnesty Bay seem to be back on his side, and once Mera shows up they quickly reconnect and Arthur makes clear he doesn’t care about the Widowhood’s prophecy. The Justice League then shows up and makes clear that they trust Aquaman and are willing to give him the time he needs to expose the true culprits behind the attack.

Black Manta and NEMO have other plans, though, and Manta proceeds to go on a long-winded rant about pulling off a false flag operation against the US and turning the world against Atlantis. Whatever NEMO’s actual agenda is, it’s kind of obscured by the fact that Manta has such a single-minded focus on revenge against Aquaman. He’s a villain that I really think could use a rest for a while because he only really seems to do one story. It doesn’t help that the plan he has here is very similar to Geoff Johns’ JL/Aquaman crossover early in the New 52. The issue ends with a big-scale attack on the surface world by what seems like Atlantean ships (including some giant Scorpion-ships). It’s dramatic and I hope the upcoming storyline manages to put some new twists on the slightly tired Atlantis vs. the World plot.

Corrina: In some comics, so much happens from issue to issue that to miss one would be to miss essential information. But I feel as if one could have skipped from the initial Rebirth issue of this comic to this issue and not miss anything at all. Yep, someone still wants Atlantis to look like bad guys, Mera and Aquaman reaffirm their relationship, and Aquaman has new allies, and now we’re back to “war on the surface world.” It’s easy enough reading but I wish for more depth.

Suicide Squad #6 – Rob Williams, Writer; Carlos D’Anda, Jim Lee, Artists; Scott Williams, Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, Inkers; Alex Sinclair, Gabe Eltaeb, Colorists

Ray – 7/10

Corrina: Harley Saves the Day

Ray: The two-story format of this series continues to keep the main story from really clicking, but I did think this issue was one of the best of the run so far. When we last left off, the presence of General Zod was having strange and dangerous effects on the Squad, seemingly driving them to insanity one by one. Rick Flag tries to shoot Amanda Waller (although the shot is blocked by Katana), and Waller herself proceeds to go feral soon after. Killer Croc’s morality pet in June Moone soon finds that her scaly protector no longer sees her as anything but prey. And Harley goes…sane? Apparently, it has the opposite effect on her, and Dr. Quinzel is on the case, just in time to nearly get decapitated by a crazed Katana.

The backup this issue is definitely the superior story, focusing on Killer Croc. His origin has always been a little vague, but this story really brings his past as a young black boy with a terrible skin condition to life. In many ways, Croc was one of the few Bat-rogues who genuinely did start out as a good person before being twisted into a monster by the world around him. Carlos D’Anda’s stylized art here is perfectly suited to the backwoods tragedy of Croc’s life, and this is the one backup story where it actually does feel like Waller’s psychoanalysis of the Squad member shines some new light on the character. I said this before about Tim Seeley’s version of the character, but I would probably read a Croc ongoing if it had this kind of handle on the character.

Corrina: Who knew grabbing a Kryptonian from the Russians could have had such bad results? Just everyone but Amanda Waller, apparently. Seeing the Squad give into evil almost seems redundant, though major points to Waller for the head-butt. And I have to feel for June Moon, who lost her only friend, at least temporarily. I imagine Enchantress is due to be let out of her human cage. But the real fun of all this is to see Harley grow sane, and start working on the problem.

The back-up is short and sweet and excellent if you like Killer Croc but it’s not any more affecting than the classic Batman: The Animated Series episode featuring Croc on the run.

Cyborg #5 – John Semper Jr., Writer; Derec Donovan, Artist; Allan Jefferson, Penciller; Scott Hanna, Inker; Guy Major, Colorist

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: Great Characterization, Weak Plot

Ray: This is one issue, but it really feels like two in one for a variety of reasons. One is a rather dramatic art change midway through the issue that really doesn’t work at all, as the effective realistic art quickly shifts to a cartoony style that stands out very clearly. Second is that the story drastically shifts as well, taking the focus away from the strength of the series and refocusing it on the techno-thriller themes where it’s at its weakest. The story starts in Iraq, with a government agent being critically injured in a terror attack. We then head back to Detroit, where Cyborg is escorting his new friend Blue, the blind Jazzman, to an appointment at the VA. This leads to some great scenes where we see how Cyborg does “threat assessments” of people on sight, and how the disabled view him compared to other people. An encounter with violent policemen kind of falls flat compared to other sequences dealing with these themes, though.

Then the story shifts drastically, as the government comes in with its critically injured agent, and they want STAR Labs to recreate the experiment that created Cyborg. Although Sarah and Dr. Morrow find this to be suspicious, the fake Silas Stone goes ahead with the experiment. Meanwhile, the real Silas Stone is forced to watch in his prison by a sadistic robot. This appears to lead to the creation of a female Cyborg, which will no doubt go horribly wrong. This issue is a pretty good example of the comic’s struggles. Semper Jr. is actually hitting on something good here with his characterization of Cyborg and the use of Detroit as a character, but it’s still lacking a compelling rogues’ gallery and the overall plot sort of lacks dramatic momentum.

Corrina: The art shift is abrupt and disconcerting and I’m not sure of the reasoning behind it. Did DC lose the artist or is it a deliberate editorial choice? If it was a choice, it’s not a good one, as it tossed me out of the story. The cartoony style seems ill-suited to what’s going on as the injured spy is transformed into another cyborg. I would guess our villain, the evil Silas, wants to know how to do this procedure so he can either create himself into flesh (though he already has done that) or how to change all humans into some version of this.

But the pleasure of this issue is in the first half, with Cyborg talking a walk through Detroit with his friend Blue and ending up at the Disabled Veterans meeting. The camaraderie there and Cyborg’s almost tearful acceptance of the support hits home. Vic’s search for humanity has been the strength of this run.

Additional Reviews:

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2 – Gerard Way, Jon Rivera, Writers; Michael Avon Oeming, Artist

Ray – 9.5/10

Corrina: Solid Characters Plus Cool Weirdness!

Ray: Not missing a single beat since its fantastic first issue, this pulp adventure looks to be very clearly establishing itself as the crown jewel of the Young Animal line. The issue starts with a rather graphic depiction of exactly how Cave got his titular cybernetic eye. We then cut to Chloe Carson, on a date with her boyfriend. She seems to be enjoying her thoroughly normal, kind of boring life – although that’s about to be rudely interrupted. Cave is brought in by his boss, Paul Borstein, and Cave tries to inform him of exactly what has been going on with the mutated Muldroogan he encountered last issue. Cave has questions, but Paul is more interested in manipulating him for his purposes – and quickly dispatches his goons to capture Chloe as well. They attack Chloe’s boyfriend with darts and send her on the run at the same time Cave escapes from the corporate offices in spectacular fashion.

This is an old-school pulp comic at its core and probably has the most in common with a darker-edged Future Quest than anything else DC is putting out at the moment. Cave quickly makes a call to Wild Dog, and the unhinged vigilante (in the process of dispatching some particularly scummy criminals) rides to the aid of his old friend. The highway chase scene is like a sci-fi version of Fast and Furious, until things take a very bizarre turn towards the end and we’re reminded that this is, in fact, a surreal sci-fi comic at its core. The issue maybe ends a tiny bit abruptly, but I for one cannot wait to see where it goes from here. The backup, focusing on the Wonder Twins as they try to return Gleek to his “people” is certainly weird and beautifully drawn, but none of these backups have totally clicked for me compared to the main story.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2, copyright DC Comics
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2, copyright DC Comics

Corrina: All the comics in the Young Animal line have great concepts and solid art but they’ve often felt like they’re missing the heart. While I intellectually appreciate them, they haven’t engaged my emotions. This comic, however, has the oddball weirdness plus heart, which makes all the difference in how much I enjoy it. Drill down past all the weird science, cave exploring, and the cybernetic eye, and it’s about a grieving man trying to reconnect with his daughter and, in the meantime, save her life.

That Chloe is also a princess came as a surprise (though maybe someone with a better grasp on Cave’s history would have known that) and the moment where the minions come for her has some unexpected bursts of humor, as her boyfriend quickly proves willing to sell her out to save his own life.

Oeming should be an Eisner nominee just for that chase sequences, which then goes weird SF, but the reason why we care about the action? Because we care if Cave saves his daughter.

Raven #3 – Marv Wolfman, Writer; Alisson Borges, Artist; Blond, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Way to Raise the Stakes

Ray: Raven’s a character who’s been through so many permutations and status quos over the decade that she’s almost as difficult to write as Donna Troy. So bringing back her creator, Marv Wolfman, to do a new definitive take on her, is probably a good move. So far, this miniseries has provided some much needed character development and fleshing out of Raven’s world, and a visually spectacular supernatural threat, although the villain suffers a bit much from an overly vague nature. When we left off, Raven was fighting a massive dome of light that was slowly taking over the city and absorbing the people it took control of into its mass, allowing it to grow. The victims include some of Raven’s new friends at school.

Before Raven can get to the source of the threat, though, she’s knocked out and deposited back in her room at her aunt’s home. This new family that Raven’s staying with really helps a lot to make her relatable, as the awkwardness of a new family situation is something many people can understand. There’s something about her Aunt that I can’t put my finger on, but I’m expecting there to be a twist here at some point. It’s not long before the mysterious light being comes to grab Raven again, and it almost seems like it’s toying with her. The issue ends with her life in danger – and because of the nature of her powers, the entire world with it. Raven seems like she’s going to be a major player in the new TT title, so giving her this spotlight was a good idea, and it’s off to a strong start so far.

Corrina: It seemed at first that Raven would deal with localized magic threats or something coming solely for her. But, nope, in this first arc, it’s clear that what’s at stake may be a dome of light that could absorb the entire world. That’s a lot for one teenager to handle and poor Raven without much of a Scooby Gang yet, too.

Raven’s family and budding friendships keep the main character grounded and make me care about those high stakes but I’d like to have a better handle on her aunt that I do already. I hope Mom isn’t revealed as evil. That would be obvious and disappointing.

Doctor Fate #18 – Paul Levitz, Writer; Brendan McCarthy, Artist; Mark Harrison, Colorist

Ray – 7/10

Corrina: Whoa!

Ray: The final issue of this series – one of the hidden gems of DC You – has some brilliantly surreal art courtesy of Brendan McCarthy. I have to say, though, I’m a bit disappointed that the series ends without us really seeing any of Khalid’s family again or resolving any of the dangling subplots. It feels a bit abrupt, which is surprising given that this series got an additional six issues past the end of the DC You era in May. The story opens with Khalid traveling through cosmic space and encountering the wise old God Thoth, who gives him the wisdom he needs to go back and confront the monstrous bug-monster Clothorus and her army of carnivorous cosmic bugs.

The bugs are still preying on the life-forces of the people on Earth, so it’s up to Khalid to destroy them before they kill these people, his friend Akila included. A lot of this issue feels like a video game battle more than anything, with some great visuals of the bugs and the monster behind them. But then, when it’s over, Khalid is just deposited back on Earth and that’s the ballgame for the series. Khalid was one of the more promising new legacy heroes in a while, so I’m hoping DC has some future plans for him. This entire series was a nice surprise in a line that had a lot of gems that didn’t really have a chance sales-wise.

Corrina: McCarthy seriously went to town on this issue and so did Harrison as the colorist. I haven’t seen an entire issue this psychedelic since Ditko’s Dr. Strange panels, though McCarthy’s style is more like a barrage of watercolors reflected in the timestream. Khalid literally choosing his own fate makes for a nice symbolic ending for this title but I wish we’d seen more of his girlfriend  and his family and, well, his real life, because that was the charm of this version of Fate. I’m glad Khalid survives and I hope he’ll be used in other comics down the line. It would be fascinating to see him interact with Constantine, for instance, because while he looks like a naive kid, he’s come a long way since the beginning, having defeated gods and those claiming to “order” the universe for humans.

He-Man/Thundercats #2 – Rob David, Lloyd Goldfine, Writers; Freddie E. Williams II, Artist; Jeremy Colwell, Colorist

Ray – 3/10

Ray: A crossover without any momentum or intriguing dynamic, this comic really isn’t much different from a kid putting on a fight between action figures from two different toylines. When we last left off, Skeletor had used the remains of the defeated Mumm-Ra to perform a spell to obtain immortality. As he’s often prone to doing, Skeletor monologues and rants a lot while speaking to Mumm-Ra’s remains as he essentially performs a chemistry experiment. Meanwhile, He-Man gets into an extended battle against an assortment of his enemies and some of the Thundercats beasts. He-Man battles tend to lack internal logic, as was a recurring problem in the character’s series a while back. He seems to get out of sticky situations mainly by yelling “I have the power” and charging up. The Thundercats finally enter the fray in the final page, so the actual crossover seems to be beginning next issue.

Suicide Squad Most Wated: El Diablo/Killer Croc #4 – Jai Nitz, Christopher Sebela, Writers; Cliff Richards, Brian Level, Artists; Hi-Fi, Beth Sotelo, Colorist

Ray – 6/10

Ray: This miniseries continues to unravel the solo adventures of some of the lesser-known members of the Suicide Squad, and like it has been since the start, the backup (by graduates of the DC writers’ class) is consistently stronger than the main El Diablo story. That main story, by his creator Jai Nitz, mainly seems to consist of El Diablo and his new ally Azucar, battling one wave of goons after another. The new villain, Sin Tzu, is beaten with the help of Batman, and then El Diablo goes on the run and is pursued by a group of government-sponsored snake-men. The lead character is interesting, but this story doesn’t really have any room to explore him in between fights.

The second story, featuring Killer Croc, is the height of absurdity, but I mean that in a good way. The main plot, involving Croc hunting down the mad scientists behind a preserve of genetically engineered monsters, doesn’t really have much to it, but it serves as a showpiece for Croc to tame said monsters, ride them into battle, and later grow to monster-size himself for a giant Kaiju battle. There’s a few weird moments – I’m not sure why Croc briefly sees himself as a blond white man in a “What if”, because the fact that he’s black has always factored heavily into the character’s story – but overall it’s a strange, entertaining story that is the best one this series has had so far.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received these comics for review purposes.

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Reviewer, comic book writer, and the author of Alex Actonn, Son of Two Seas - novel available on Amazon now! DC superfan who is loving everything about Rebirth. Feels very strongly about Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and Young Justice. Can also be found on Graphic Policy doing sales analysis with Glenn Matchett, and on the Rabbitt Stew Podcast with Glenn and Brandon James.