Review – The Other History of the DC Universe #5 – Anissa’s Turn

Comic Books DC This Week
TOHotDCU #5 variant cover, via DC Comics.

The Other History of the DC Universe #5 – John Ridley, Writer; Giuseppe Camuncoli, Layouts, Andrea Cucchi, Finishes, Jose Villarrubia, Colorist

Ray – 7/10

Ray: From the start, this series was positioned as a take on the DC Universe that showed some of the secrets that got swept under the rug of the original comics, through the eyes of heroes of color. And in that way, it’s succeeded—but it may have succeeded a little too well, exposing not just the racism and homophobia under the surface, but the darkness lurking in some of the heroes it aimed to spotlight. This final issue brings things full circle, focusing on Black Lightning’s eldest daughter Anissa as she comes into her own as a hero. And it turns its ire not just on the society as a whole (and it definitely does that) but on Black Lightning, often portraying him as a distant father and even a homophobe.

In his shadow. Via DC Comics.

This series has always struggled a bit with balancing the recap of DC history with telling a narrative for its heroes, and that continues here. Much of this story is a recap of Anissa’s time as a member of the Outsiders—a run that didn’t really get much buzz and is mostly known for her and Grace’s introduction. The slow development of that relationship is easily the best part of this issue, with Anissa’s coming of age as a young lesbian working beautifully. But it’s surrounded by a caustic look at the rest of the DCU, particularly of Batman—who comes off like an emotionally abusive bully. And Cassandra Cain’s only real appearance in this series being a brief appearance where Anissa refers to her as a demon? Not great.

The series is at its most affecting when we see how real-world issues affect Anissa. There’s a blistering one-page splash where she addresses the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment, although the DCU’s timeline and Jefferson’s role in it raises some unanswered questions. John Ridley chose an extremely ambitious path with this series, addressing comic book history, real history, and character spotlights all in one go. Sometimes it works. Other times it collapses under its own weight and leaves us with an imperfect shot at a masterpiece.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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