Review – DC Power: A Celebration #1 – Black History and Heroes

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DC Power: A Celebration #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

DC Power: A Celebration #1 – Evan Narcisse, Lamont Magee, Stephanie Williams, Brandon Thomas, Dorado Quick/Jordan Clark, Morgan Hampton, Chuck Brown, John Ridley, N.K. Jemisin, Writers; Darryl Banks, ChrisCross/Juan Castro, Alitha Martinez/Mark Morales, Natacha Bustos, Clayton Henry, Valentine De Landro, Petterson Oliveira, Olivier Coipel, Jamal Campbell, Artist; Hi-Fi, Wil Quintana, Alex Guimaraes, Marcelo Maiolo, Marissa Louise, DJ Chavis, Colorists

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Given how many focused anthologies DC has done and how acclaimed they’ve been, it’s a little surprising this is their first Black History Month anthology. Unlike last year’s Milestones in History, this one focuses on the elite Black heroes of DC Comics, with nine stories mostly from well-known creators. So how do they deliver?

Credits. Via DC Comics.

Evan Narcisse and Darryl Banks kick things off with “Black Paradise,” reinventing the character of Amazing Man. DC’s first Black Hero, the JSA member is now a retired man living in 1950s Detroit as gentrification ramps up and a white supremacist vigilante starts terrorizing the community. This is a really smart story, fusing elements of real history with one of the more forgotten heroes in DC’s lore. This has some shades of the excellent Watchmen TV series, and I’m hoping it’s a preview of Narcisse getting to write more of this character.

Back to the future. Via DC Comics.

“Separate But Equal” by Lamont Magee and ChrisCross is a Black Lightning story that introduces the issue of anti-meta bias to the DCU. A southern school district wants to kick meta students out of the district due to them being a danger, and Jefferson Pierce is testifying against it—when a duo claiming to be meta radicals attacks the school board. Jefferson, along with his daughters, springs into action. A clever twist and some fun secret identity switcheroos make this a very engaging story, even if I don’t want to see the universe go down the Marvel path.

The Nubia creative team of Williams and Martinez take on “The Queen, the Bee, and the Symphony,” featuring Nubia and Bumblebee as they prepare to attend a concert given by Mal Duncan. There’s just one problem—Monsieur Mallah has promised to ensure Brain gets to see the concert, even if he has to kidnap Mal. Compared to the first two stories, this is a funny, breezy tale that pays tribute to some of the wackier comics of DC’s history, even if the villains do sort of steal the show here.

“Keeping the Peace” by Brandon Thomas and Natacha Bustos is a John Stewart story (with a surprising guest-star), as John tries to convince two bitter alien enemies to make peace in a territorial conflict as they face a much bigger invasion. This is spliced in with a very interesting device that flashes back to Stewart’s childhood from “memory archives” that he apparently keeps organized—an architect to the core. Visually inventive and thematically powerful, it’s another excellent story in this book that could stand the test of time.

“Own Your Name” by Dorado Quick, Jordan Clark, and Clayton Henry focuses on Wallace West and Jackson Hyde. Wallace is attending an event as a representative of the Flash Family, but has doubts about his place in the legacy—doubts the Thinker is all too willing to exploit with psychic manipulation. When Jackson shows up, old wounds about the dissolution of the Teen Titans and Jackson’s “promotion” to Aquaman lead to a brawl between the heroes. These two make a good team, but the story tries to cram a lot into ten pages and I’m not sure it has enough space.

“Booyah!” by Morgan Hampton and Valentine De Landro is a Cyborg story, and given the title I was expecting a meta take on the expression that caused SO much controversy. Instead, this story aims to reclaim the catchphrase by giving it more meaning via a link to Vic’s mother. As Cyborg transfers a new dwarf star engine, he comes under attack by an always-hungry Livewire who wants it for herself. There’s some good action here, but it’s also a great character-driven story that calls back to one of the most powerful scenes from the original Teen Titans cartoon. Another excellent story from a writer I’m not too familiar with. The ending also reveals that Hampton is the writer for Cyborg’s new title—a very pleasant surprise.

“Vixen & Batwing” by Chuck Brown and Peterson Oliveira has the two very different heroes working together to foil an assassination attempt on an African king—and it’s not a surprise that the culprit is Brown’s favorite antihero, Black Manta. It mostly feels like a spotlight for Manta, but the banter between Mari and Luke Fox is fun—even if their passionate romance sort of feels like it comes out of nowhere. This is a fun, fast-paced action comic that will apparently continue in Dawn of DC, and given Brown’s past DC work, I’m pretty excited for it.

“The Cavalry” by acclaimed author John Ridley and superstar artist Olivier Coipel focuses on Jace Fox, and is a reprint from Batman: Black and White. When Jace, as Batman in the future, gets captured by a gang, it’s up to his protege Tiff to save the day. It’s fun to see the banter between the siblings, and the art is brilliant.

The short preview of Far Sector in the back nicely hooks people for the inventive sci-fi series, and overall this is a great anthology without any weak links. The creative teams do justice to this excellent bans of heroes.

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

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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