DC This Week – It’s Hanna-Barbera Team-Up Time

Reading Time: 21 minutes
Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1, image via DC Comics

Heavens to Murgatroyd!

In team-ups that we certainly didn’t anticipate, DC comics superheroes interact with Hanna-Barbera characters, some old enough that we had to look them up, as they weren’t on during either of our childhood. (Corrina had only heard of Top Cat, for instance, and had never seen the cartoon) But, yay for Space Ghost, Flintstones, and Jonny Quest!

Another surprise? At least three of these stories are entertaining and stand on their own, even if you’re not familiar with the characters. The other? Well, if the idea of the Banana Splits teaming up with the Suicide Squad makes you smile, you might like it. Plus, it contains the Snagglepuss story.

As this was an extra week in the publishing cycle, the regular line-up is somewhat thin, but the Batgirl Annual and the new Justice League of America feature strong stories. We had a split decision on Harley Quinn’s adventures with Lobo. (If you hate Lobo, you’ll hate this. If you like classic Lobo, you may like this.)

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

Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1 – Mark Andreyko, Jeff Parker, Dan Didio, Writers; Steve Lieber, Phil Winslade, Artists; Veronica Gandini, Chris Chuckry, Colorists

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Continues Future Quest’s Quality Streak

Ray: So here’s the interesting thing I didn’t expect – this mash-up between one of DC’s popular space heroes and the breakout hit of the Hanna-Barbera line isn’t some random trifle. It’s actually in-continuity with not one but both properties. It picks up a few months after the end of Future Quest – without revealing exactly what goes down in the finale – but it also spins directly out of the end of Death of Hawkman, with a time-displaced, space-added Adam Strange landing in the lost valley with no memory but haunted by disturbing flashbacks of the bloody war he and Hawkman fought in. Although the Future Quest crew, especially Race, is suspicious of anyone coming through a portal after the monster they recently faced, they eventually team up with Adam to help Todd and his neanderthal friend escape dinosaurs and search for his parents.

Looks like Doctor Zin’s truce with the Quests is over, as he’s the mastermind of the dinosaur attacks, As Adam’s memories slowly come back, he proves himself to be a fearsome fighter as he scares off the dinosaurs and quickly dispatches them. There’s a lot of great dinosaur scenes here, especially Hadji fending off a Titanoboa (maybe a tiny bit stereotypical, but still badass!). The story is a bit slight at points, but full of great, random scenes that provide classic Future Quest fun. The addition of Spanish soldiers confused me briefly, but the main story has a great twist ending with the fate of the villains.

The backup, focusing on Top Cat by way of Dan Didio is…strange. It starts as a noir-inspired Batman comic with Batman chasing Catwoman, only to try to interrogate a random observer, who turns out to be a large, sarcastic talking cat. This leads to Top Cat sharing his tale of woe with Batman, which involves going from street crime to white collar crime, and having a Bernie Madoff-like fall from grace, which lands him in prison, where he meets a mad scientist in jail for causing a horrible disaster with a dark matter projector. He uses that to escape his dimension. And his whole story was just an attempt to distract Batman to help Catwoman get away. I can’t say it doesn’t work at all, but it’s a very odd comic, that seems to be a teaser for a series? Points for ambition and originality, at least.

Adam Strange meets the Future Quest team, image via DC Comics

Corrina: Yes, the main story is a lot of fun and definitely continues my enjoyment of the treatment of all the Hanna-Barbera adventure characters that DC has put together.  I do wonder at times whether readers who never watched the original television cartoons are having the same amount of fun, however. I think so, as I’ve enjoyed properties I never watched, like Frankenstein Jr., and I’ve never watched the show on which this lost valley in this comic is based, and it still worked for me. Besides, how can you not love a story with a Titan Boa?

The second tale is odd. One, Top Cat is a character who wasn’t in re-runs when I was a kid, just occasional appearances, and I’m older than most comic readers, so have to assume most readers today have no idea who he is. That leaves me to ask: can this story stand alone? Well, sorta, I guess. It’s odd, with Batman accepting a talking cat (sorta) but I do like the idea that Batman handles it with kinda a shrug, and that Catwoman would just view it as one other weird thing in Gotham. It was interesting but not much fun, however.

Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special #1 – James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela, Howard Chaykin, Writers; Ariel Olivetti, Howard Chaykin, Artists; Wil Quintana, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Fine SF Story

Ray: Unlike the Future Quest/Adam Strange story, this issue doesn’t waste all that long setting up its story. Hal Jordan is off in space on a mission to a far-off sector, where a top-secret powerful weapon is waiting. Larfleeze got there first, and Hal and the crazy Orange Lantern fight – until a mysterious shadowy being takes out Larfleeze and then trains his fire on Hal. Before Hal and Space Ghost can get acquainted and put away their weapons, alien bugs sent by Space Ghost’s arch-nemesis Zorak arrive. The two are still battling as the attack comes, which doesn’t really seem like a good idea, and they soon crash on an alien planet.

That planet would be Perterra, a militaristic world that is suspicious of anything that comes from above and deeply protective of their weapon. Olivetti’s art is pretty great in this segment, and what Hal pulls out of his ring to scare off the killer robots is fantastic. Soon, Hal and Space Ghost meet again, and their next meeting isn’t any friendlier than the last. These two just do not like each other. They’re soon captured by Perterra soldiers, and proceed to try to sell out the other to a young peacekeeper – who is oddly protective of the idea that they are the only people in the universe. Stripped of their powers, Hal and the Ghost are finally forced to work together. Through a series of miscalculations, Hal and Space Ghost wind up with each other’s weapons for a big final battle with these aliens. There’s a surprisingly touching ending with the fate of the good scientist who helps them, and overall it comes through as a very strong space adventure.

GL/Space Ghost, page 7, image via DC Comics

Corrina: The art is a stand-out here, a sort-of photo-realistic style that definitely gives this story a more science fiction feel rather than a comic book feel. That makes sense because this could be easily translated into an original science fiction story, with Hal and Space Ghost replaced as original space travelers. It’s a good story, too. Again, Hal Jordan is my least favorite Lantern, so I braced myself to deal with him in the story, but he was tolerable, probably because the story played him as sort of a self-knowing jerk. He wants to help but he’s not exactly a deep thinker.

The point of view of the story is all Hal, too, allowing Space Ghost to stay in the shadows and, as a result, that character becomes more mysterious and dangerous, and adds to the problems Hal encounters in the story. It’s an interesting use of SF as commentary on the human condition, though the main character seemed to have entirely too much faith in his fellow man. Or maybe he just felt that was irrelevant. In any case, the story has more emotional punch that I expected and it’s well worth reading.

Ray: Howard Chaykin’s Ruff and Reddy reboot is very much its own thing, as one would expect from an acquired taste like Chaykin. It’s not every comic that opens with a history of the creation of TV combined with talking animals doing vaudeville on TV. Really, this story isn’t so much a story as a series of vignettes focusing on the classic cat and dog comedy team moving through various acts on their failing comedy hour. Well, the cat is on the failing comedy show. The dog is an indie comic at a hip club, and his solo act is bombing. When they find out that a new act is stealing their old bits, and former partners team up again to deliver a graphic, unfunny beating to the ripoff act. This, unfortunately, feels more in the vein of the “edgy” Wacky Races/Scooby Doo reboots than the more appealing ones.

Corrina: Again, DC seems to have given creators a green light to do odd things with these back-up stories. Imagining talking animals as the Pioneers of Television? Um, okay, though if everyone else is human, what does that say about the mostly Jewish comedians who were part of the real  Golden Age of Television? Though, admittedly, a lot of these cartoon characters were originally based on real-life figures. (The Flintstones are a cartoon version of the Honeymooners, for example.) It’s not an essential story and it left me cold but I appreciate the artistry in the attempt.

Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special #1 – Mark Russell, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Writers; Rick Leonardi, Penciller; Scott Hanna, Inker; Pier Brito, Artist; Steve Buccellato, Alex Sinclair, Colorists

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Another Perfect Team-Up

Ray: It’s been a while since we saw Booster Gold, hasn’t it? Since the early years of the New 52. So of all the places for him to make his triumphant return, a Flintstones crossover is both unlikely and yet somehow perfect for this offbeat character. He’s currently hanging out in the year 2472, in a Gotham City that is both very safe and very boring. An alien invasion interrupts his date, and he hops into his timesphere to track the aliens back to when they previously appeared on Earth – which would be in Bedrock twenty-two thousand years ago. He accidentally kills the then-peaceful aliens, which is probably why they attacked Earth later, and seeks out the help of one Fred Flintstone.

Booster gets his timesphere fixed at Barney’s shop and proceeds to dial around the timeline, looking for someone to meet up with, only for them to all meet unfortunate ends. I have to say, though, this doesn’t feel all that much like a Flintstones comic. That’s surprising since it’s written by the writer of the ongoing Flintstones title who has never written Booster before. The bulk of the issue is about Booster screwing up and causing the alien invasion he’s trying to stop and then trying to stop that. That’s not to say it’s not good – it’s a very funny comic with some great visual gags. The Flintstones get taken to the future at one point for battle with the aliens, but they still seem like guest-stars in their comic. At its core, it’s a pretty great Booster comic, though. I’ve missed this time-hopping screw-up.

Booster Gold heads to the Flintstones’ age, image via DC Comics

Corrina: I had no idea where this comic was going to go but with Russell writing, it would certainly proceed in odd directions and become political. I expected what happened with the Flintstones section of the story but what I didn’t expect was how well Booster Gold fit into it. This may be one of my favorite Booster stories, though, granted, it has been a couple of decades since he’s had a proper spotlight. He’s played for laughs and parody here but it’s completely in keeping with who he is.

It makes me wonder what Russell could do with a regular Booster Gold comic.

The religious and political commentary is, of course, here, with the lesson being that it’s probably a bad idea to seek vengeance for a prophet whose message was non-violence. A good skewering of some contemporary religions, though obvious. I enjoyed the jokes as well, with the “Batman police” and rat tails being a delicacy.

Ray: The Jetsons backup is undoubtedly the most buzz-worthy of them, due to the Harley Quinn writing team of Palmiotti and Conner being on board. From the start, it’s clear that this isn’t your standard Jetsons by any stretch, as it opens with Judy entering a strange, advanced tech company where something secret is going on, something she doesn’t want her family to know. Her parents are wondering where she is, and Elroy is seemingly too involved with his tinkering to care. Ultimately, this is a story about mortality, as it becomes clear. The world of the Jetsons has some strange, dark things lurking just outside the realm of sight, and the comparisons to Black Mirror aren’t entirely off. However, it feels like here the darkness is just an accent to a story that’s ultimately about hope and family – and ends with the introduction of a classic Jetsons character. Out of all the backups, this feels like the first one that I could see as a series.

Corrina: Like the GL/Space Ghost team-up, this felt like the existing characters were used in the service of an excellent SF story that could also be told with original characters. I admit, I had no idea where the story was going with Judy and her grandmother, though it sounded much more ominous than it turned out to be at the end, enough so that I wondered if this would become a horror tale. I suppose it does have an element of horror, as the ending is taken seriously. I would be up for more on this series from this creative team.

Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Special #1 – Tony Bedard, Mark Russell, Writers; Ben Caldwell, Penciller; Mark Morales, Inker; Howard Porter, Artist, Jeremy Lawson, Steve Buccellato, Colorists

Ray – 6/10

Ray: This is the only one of the four specials that’s not based on an existing Hanna-Barbera comic, instead turning the classic HB/Kroft funny animal band into a band of mutant animals who are drafted into the Suicide Squad. Or at least I think they’re mutants? They could still be wearing costumes? It’s that type of book. After a high-speed car chase and a mistake that nearly gets them shot, the band winds up in Belle Reve. With the Suicide Squad currently on the run, Amanda Waller decides it’s time to start fresh with some new convicts – and sure enough, our funny animals are first on the docket.

The Squad reports back and it seems they’re in hot water, so Waller drafts the Splits – who are currently delivering a curb-stomp to some bullying prison inmates – to bring them home. They soon wind up in the wilderness, against both the Squad and a group of creepy little robot girls with psychic powers who Katana quickly decapitates. The action is sort of slapsticky, with lots of violence that is not taken remotely seriously. Caldwell’s cartoony art does a good job of selling the absurdity of this comic, but overall, this is pretty clearly the weakest of the four main stories. It’s just pure cartoon violence all the way through, without any real characters to care about. The Splits are a footnote in Hanna-Barbera history, and they’re one-note jokes here. And they wind up as gansta-rappers by the end of the story. This is a real comic, released by DC in the year 2017.

This does not go well. Image via DC Comics

Corrina: I’m not as down on this as Ray is, particularly since I feel this is the best Suicide Squad comic I’ve read in a few years, one that pokes at the absurdity of the concept, and of how things can go so very wrong with Waller’s off-the-book missions. Though if you take the Squad seriously, this is not the comic book for you.

I also laughed more than a few times at the Splits encounter with the police officers. One could see that also as political commentary too, though having talking animals represent/comment on how police interaction with people of color is maybe problematic?

Ray: Then there’s Snagglepuss. This was probably the story here that got the most advanced hype because of its political subject matter, and Mark Russell, the author of Prez and Flintstones, is on board here. Watching Snagglepuss sass HUAC is an amusing spectacle in the first few pages, and his backstory is an interesting look back at Vaudeville theater – a theme it shares with Ruff and Reddy, but it’s executed much better. In the end, it’s kind of a sad, morbid comic with a message to writers that they may not change anything because people don’t always listen, but that doesn’t mean to stop creating. I salute what this comic was going for, but I’m not sure eight pages was enough to tell it effectively.

Corrina: Once again, the back-ups indicate that DC gave creative freedom to their creative team. This obviously doesn’t relate to the old Snagglepuss cartoon of yesteryear, but it does tell a nice message to other creators. I’m not sure eight pages was needed for it, however, as it’s something that could have been done in four, so I’m the opposite of Ray, there.

Batgirl Annual #1 – Hope Larson, Vita Ayala, Writers; Inaki Miranda, Eleonora Carlini, Artists; Eva De La Cruz, Mat Lopes, Colorists

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: Fun! A Home Run

Ray: The first of this week’s two annuals, this one pairs the main series writer with a relative newcomer in a pair of full-length stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. The first story, by regular series writer Hope Larson, reunites the classic team of Batgirl and Supergirl in a plot that finds them teaming up to break into DEO headquarters and rescue what they think is a trapped Kryptonian. While Larson is obviously experienced with writing Batgirl, it takes a bit of getting used to her take on Kara. This Supergirl is definitely a teenager, and clearly rather naive and still getting used to life on Earth. There are shades of Miss Martian in her characterization that I enjoyed, although it’s a bit jarring compared to her characterization in Orlando’s series, where she’s a lot more put-together. This issue essentially serves as a big prequel to the next major Supergirl arc, which will take them into the Phantom Zone.

The second story, by DC Writers’ Workshop graduate Vita Ayala, is equally strong, pulling back to the beginning of the Batgirl of Burnside era as Batgirl faces off against one of her first villains, Riot Black. This obnoxious punk rock biker was never a favorite of mine, and that doesn’t change here. Fortunately, he’s only a minor part of the issue, and the focus is on Barbara’s friendship with Alysia. It’s their “Friend-a-versary”, which apparently is a thing now, but as usual, Barbara’s Batgirl duties are interfering. This time, through Alysia won’t let Barbara ditch her and winds up tagging along on a disguised mission. Ayala manages to get into the characterization of the entire Burnside crew really well, and it serves as a fun caper comic. I imagine both these stories will be popular with Batgirl fans.

Corrina: Once upon a time in DC history, Supergirl and Batgirl were best friends, and Barbara Gordon was left bereft when Kara died in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Babs hasn’t interacted much with the various version of Supergirl that have shown up over the years since then, which is too bad.

But this version of Supergirl is a good match for this version of Batgirl. They’re both young, inclined to not ask for help, and there’s a nice contrast between how Kara and Babs can both be stubborn but in different ways. I found this Kara close to the characterization in her own series, naive but also smart on other levels, reminding us that Kara finds Earth technology primitive. What this adventure left me wondering is…when did these two meet before? And can we have that story too? Pretty please?

The second tale continues the preservation of the supporting cast created by Gail Simone, especially Alysia, whose wedding was also featured in a Batgirl issue. Usually, I hate stories where the superhero is all “yeah, we’re friends but I gotta go,” but it worked well in this story because, one, they are friends and approached the problem maturely, and, two, the story itself is fun.

Titans Annual #1 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Minkyu Jung, Artist; Adriano Lucas, Colorist

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: Decent, Not Outstanding

Ray: Unlike the Batgirl Annual, this one is a full-length story of 38 pages. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have the story to make it flow smoothly. The story is essentially a locked-room mystery as four sets of Titans and their JL mentors – Batman and Nightwing, Flash and Flash, Wonder Woman and Donna Troy, and Aquaman and Garth – find themselves locked in a mysterious metal maze with no memory of how they got there. The culprit is soon revealed to be the Key, working behind the scenes to manipulate the two teams of heroes into falling apart, in order to harness some sort of emotional energy that he’ll use to open a portal to…some mysterious villain. The bulk of the issue, though, is just a way to explore the various emotional dynamics of the pairs.

The problem is, this issue seems to have a rather cynical view of all the hero/protege pairs, besides the Flashes. Barry and Wally are seen as having a healthy, supportive friendship, but Batman is unusually harsh to Nightwing, Aquaman treats Garth like a royal servant rather than a friend, and Wonder Woman and Donna Troy have some unpleasantness going on. There’s a tension between them that is never fully explained until the end of the issue. There are some battles with random supervillain simulacrums, but not much seems to happen until it’s revealed that Donna Troy’s origin isn’t what it appears to be. This issue has a decent saving throw when it comes to reconciling the characterization of Donna here and in the Finch WW run, but overall, this issue just didn’t grab me or set up much for the ongoing series.

Corrina: This is an odd issue because while there’s a great deal to like about the characterization, there is also a great deal to dislike about it. I liked Nightwing’s calm and careful vibe, and how he and Batman managed to work together despite their suspicions. On the other hand, even though Diana has good reason to distrust Donna, she’s shrill, over-the-top, and without any sign of compassion that should be a hallmark of her personality. That this issue also confirms the terrible original story given Donna Troy in the Wonder Woman run by Meredith and David Finch is a huge black mark against it as well. Because if that happened, then how did Wonder Girl get to know the other Titans originally? How does that work if she was only recently brought back in the Finch run?

Donna Troy’s origin was always one of the most convoluted in the DC Universe. Looks like that is going to remain the case. Boo!

The rest of the heroes are fine. My other problem is with the villain, The Key. I barely remember the Key and I’ve been reading DC comics since the 1970s. In this story, I have questions about how and why he was so capable of capturing all these heroes, especially  Wonder Woman.

Split Decision

Justice League of America #3 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Diogenes Neves, Penciller; Ruy Jose, Marc Deering, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Ambitious But Not Quite Jelling 

Ray: Coming on the heels of the character-driven one-shots and zero issue, it’s a bit of a surprise that this first arc is a no-holds-barred geopolitical action thriller. However, it works surprisingly well. Lord Havok and the Extremists on the surface seem like generic 90s villains, but Havok has a much different plan in mind. Having taken over a failed state where he ruled in his dimension, he has pacified the citizenry and used force to gain recognition from the world at large. Now he seeks to reassemble his larger empire and begins intimidating surrounding nations, most of them poor and troubled, into surrendering and joining him without ever firing a shot. Although most citizens of Kravia have accepted his rule, there is still a resistance, led by a young revolutionary, Bogna Budusheva. That’s where the JLA comes in.

After forming plans with the revolutionaries, the JLA takes on the Extremists one by one. These segments are typically the weakest, as the majority of the Extremists are essentially just generic 90s villains with the vibe of a Marvel pastiche. However, there is one segment that stands out, and that’s a creepy showdown between the Ray and Dreamslayer. This psychic villain has frozen the city he’s administering in time, and seems to be very disturbed, fearing his own power and coming off as the only truly original villain in this set. Lord Havok, meanwhile, is a clear Doctor Doom archetype, but he’s consistently one step ahead of the JLA, and that’s enough to make him a strong villain for this first arc. Overall, even in this busy arc, the team is jelling and this looks to be the strongest Justice League title.

The JLA defer to the local rebels. Image via DC Comics

Corrina: There is a split decision here as I’m not as entertained by this story as Ray is. It has a number of things going for it. First, I do like Black Canary’s characterization and role on the team. I also like the ambition of what I can’t help but see as political commentary on how dictators come to power and how difficult it can be to defeat them, even with the powers of the JLA on your side.

The artwork is also top-notch. Crowd scenes, multiple characters, multiple types of fight scenes are vivid on the page.

But I feel the emphasis the last two issues has been on villains that I consider unmemorable or, at least, they’re not grabbing my attention, to the detriment of our heroes. Dreamslayer is interesting, as Ray says, but he reminds me too much of Dr. Manhattan. Lord Havok has done nothing to make his so interesting as Dr. Doom can be (and I’m not sure he’s supposed to be an archetype), and his reasons of “bringing order” aren’t drawing me into his story. I admire the ambition in this plot but it’s not jelling fo rme as much as it is for Ray.

Kamandi Challenge #3 – Jimmy Palmiotti, Writer; Amanda Conner, Artist; Paul Mounts, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Great Adventure

Ray: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are one of DC’s most renowned creative teams, best known for runs on Harley Quinn, Starfire, and Power Girl. Their style is usually bright and jokey, and that’s what I was expecting out of this issue of Kamandi. Hoooooooo boy, did I not see this coming. The issue picks up where the last left off, with Kamandi discovering a new civilization and falling off a cliff. He’s picked up by what looks like a merchant ship that is piloted by a talking turtle. After being briefly attacked by armored bat soldiers, he’s welcomed to this society by a group that believes him to be a God. Nice and cheery, huh? Cute talking animals abound and no one seems to want to kill Kamandi for a change!

It doesn’t take long, however, for disturbing facts about this realm to emerge. Small insect-like spies are everywhere, listening in on their conversations. Kamandi is greeted with a slave-girl custom-made for him. The bat soldiers are revealed to be captured slaves. And then there’s the disturbing reveal of what this society eats. However, before Kamandi can escape, the island comes under attack by an army of monster bats, setting off a tense chase segment. This issue’s got a lot of dark humor in it, and quite a bit of gore, although Conner’s bright and vivid art style keeps anything from being taken too seriously. Before this issue is over, though, a new threat is introduced in the form of a fearsome jaguar cult, and some of Kamandi’s allies meet an unfortunate fate. This series continues to be a brilliant visual feast and a compelling read to boot.

Kamandi #3, page one, image via DC Comics

Corrina: This is a straight-out adventure quest story and fits in great with the weird future vibe of Kamandi’s world, and that makes this series three for three for entertainment value. What I enjoy most is how Kamandi himself is still filled with a sense of wonder but also naive enough about the world that when something is wrong, he can’t even pretend that it is, even to potentially save his life. He’s still very much the last “boy” on Earth. This reminds me of something right out of a pulp novel and that’s illustrated by Conner is a treat.

Harley’s Little Black Book #6 – Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Writers; Simon Bisley, Artist; Paul Mounts, Colorist

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: Not For Me

Ray: With anthologies, every issue is completely a new ballgame, and a great series can be terrible the next or vice versa. So far, this has been the best Harley Quinn book, teaming the wacky character up with more straight-laced heroes for elaborate double-sized adventures that call back to some classic DC stories. Unfortunately, this Lobo team-up doesn’t quite have that appeal and spends far too much time on the classic ultraviolence that makes Lobo what he is and has also characterized Harley’s book for too long. The main draw here for a lot of people is the return of classic Lobo artist Simon Bisley, and his skill at drawing bloody carnage hasn’t lagged at all. The plot is simple – Harley’s been kidnapped and is heading into deep space on a bounty ship. A misadventure (featuring Space Pope) leads to her being stranded on an alien planet with Lobo.

Lobo and Harley’s team-up adventures are kind of amusing, although the entire thing really relies a bit too heavily on one gag – the fact that Harley has an unhealthy attraction to violent men with pale white skin. The Harley/Lobo relationship that results this issue is just sort of gross, even as it feels like an ultraviolent comic book version of “Overboard”. They fight monsters, kill monsters, share secrets from their past, and eventually make out. It’s sort of strange, but certainly entertaining in an offbeat way. The biggest problem is that this issue tries to cram in a bit too much, with several Lobo villains appearing over the course of the issue. If you’ve been reading Lobo comics since the 90s, this issue will probably be a blast for you. Otherwise, the better Lobo can be found in JLoA.

Harley and Lobo Team-up, image via DC Comics

Corrina: I hated the Lobo comics of the 90s. So I pretty much hate the idea of a team-up with Harley on principle. In execution? I kinda hated it as well but, again, Lobo is basically my least favorite character from the 90s. As Ray points out, the Harley/Lobo relationship is kinda gross, and this comic goes for extreme violence right off the bat.

I do love Harley’s shrugging off the reasons why she was transported into space, her need to always press the red button, and how her intelligence is sometimes canceled out by her impulsivity.

In the end, I guess Ray is right. If Lobo is your thing, here you go.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #8 – Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Writers; Andy Kubert, Penciller; Klaus Janson, Inker; Brad Anderson, Colorist

Ray – 7/10

Corrina: Visually? Not Attractive

Ray: It’s been so long since the last issue of this series was released that it’s hard to keep track of exactly what went down, but when the series picks up, Batman is dead. Again. He’s apparently been killed by the evil Kryptonian army that’s been unleashed, and his death was broadcast live on TV. As Batgirl and Flash discuss the possibility of his death, it’s revealed that he’s still alive, as Superman brings him back to the Batcave – young and restored again, thanks to the Lazarus Pit. I’m guessing this is truly the end of the franchise, then, because you can’t have an Old Man Batman series with young man Batman! Meanwhile, the Kryptonians have declared war on Themysrica in an attempt to get their hands on the infant son of Superman and Wonder Woman.

The bulk of this issue, really, is a showpiece segment showing Wonder Woman in full battle. It’s partially minimalist, partially inspired by the work of Frank Miller in 300, but it’s easily the best action segment of the entire series so far. We’re often told that the Amazons are the most fearsome fighters in the world, but we rarely get to see them go to war. Kubert delivers with this segment in a big way. And Wonder Woman does it all with a baby strapped to her back. The problem is, the rest of the issue doesn’t quite live up to that. The dialogue is just so-so, the characters aren’t really anything special, and the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship rears its head once again. With only one issue to go, this series hasn’t really worked as a whole, but has some great highlights.

Corrina: The Wonder Woman sequence is an excellent action scene but, unlike Ray, I’m not sure it showed the Amazons or Wonder Woman’s best side. Yes, they are fearsome warriors but, in this comic, there’s nothing unique about their stand, It could be the Spartans or Vikings or Roman soldiers standing firm, just the same. As for Wonder Woman, her fighting while having a baby strapped to her back looks as cool, and it’s an obvious homage to Lone Wolf and Cub, but I’m not sure it suits the character either.

Then there’s the artwork. I admire Kubert for trying to do this in the style of Miller but the art actually pushes me away from enjoying the comic, rather than help me since into it. Ideally, the art should pull me into the story and this kept stopping me from any immersion.

Overall, I’m with Ray. This series hasn’t been nearly as bad as I anticipate but it’s certainly been nowhere near good, overall. It’s made of excellent sequences interspersed with head-scratching ones, though the concepts have been good.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received these comics for review purposes. 

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