Action Comics #962
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Action Comics #962 sees the epic fight between Superman and Doomsday come to its inevitable conclusion. Luckily this time it did not lead to another dead Superman. Obviously it is far from over as the mysterious Mr. Oz appears to have nefarious plans still up his sleeve. What his true agenda is has yet to be made clear, but we do see with this issue his hope was to use Doomsday to test the limits of this new/old Superman.
This first arc has been heavy on action and light on story. Pieces are certainly being planted and this issue does offer some moments of reprieve from all the face punching.Wonder Woman shines here as her frustration with being sidelined is clearly demonstrated, and then in a glorious moment she returns to action as we knew she would. When the action is moving Stephen Segovia’s is beautiful to look at as he can draw one engaging action sequence.
Going forward I hope more attention is given to this new status quo considering Wonder Woman’s relationship with the recently deceased new 52 Superman. I hope it is not something that is brushed over and quickly forgotten. The same can be said for Superman’s relationship with reformed Lex Luthor. I was happy to see that once again addressed in this issue and the fact that Superman is still leery of trusting his greatest nemesis.
When I saw this new relaunch was already going down the Doomsday well I was concerned we would have another gimmick story that leans heavily on nostalgia. Instead it used Doomsday as a vehicle to remind us what is great about Superman yet at the same time letting us know this will not simply be a retelling of what came before. There are tons of story breadcrumbs to follow from who is this human Clark Kent to how will Lex Luthor and Superman coincide to who is Mr. Oz and what does he actually want. Within the laying of those breadcrumbs we got an exciting fight that demonstrated Superman’s tactical mind as much as his bulging muscles. This along with the Superman series have brought the character back from the dead in more ways than one. Simply put it feels awesome to be excited for a Superman comic once again.
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
With the Bat family growing larger and larger in the pages of Batman and Detective Comics I love the choice of making both Nightwing and now Batgirl a destination books. It has allowed Batgirl to step out of the imitating shadows of the Dark Knight, which helps on both a tonal and character standpoint.
Writer Hope Larson shows she is continuing where the previous Batgirl pre-rebirth series left off by keeping the same light atmosphere. Unlike the other Bat books this isn’t dealing with world ending events or underground cults that secretly run the world. In this issue Batgirl’s biggest problem is determining if she is going to start a relationship or not. Not that Larson is making Barbara Gordon into a boy crazy Batgirl as the other part of the story sees her trying to improve her fighting skills in some intense MMA training.
Larson has done a solid job juggling all the different aspects for the Barbara character from her photographic memory to her kickass fight skills to the uncertainty of what she wants out of her personal life. This issue is part romantic comedy, part detective story, and part old fashioned sports training montage. Personally I hope more attention given to the latter stories as the romantic angle is not something I have yet to invest in. It works as an angle to show who Barbara is under the cowl, but I have yet to see a reason why I should route for this relationship to fail or succeed.
Overall for those look for a refreshing comic that can lighten the load of the seriousness of other superhero books will find this an ideal choice.
Blue Beetle Rebirth #1
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Scott Kolins
Blue Beetle Rebirth #1 embodies a lot of the confusion I still have regarding the purpose of these rebirth issues. Some seem to be just random stories that alter very little that came before. Then you have an issue like Blue Beetle Rebirth #1 that is attempting to be a new beginning yet it still heavily hinged upon everything that came before. As someone not super familiar with the character I was somewhat lost with what I reading. It’s not ideal to read the first book of a new series and already feel like you already missed an issue.
Now the overall concept of the book is clear enough. Jaime Reyes is a teenager who has bonded with a mysterious scarab that has given him superpowers as tends to be the case. The new wrinkle with this series is the reintroduction of Ted Kord, who was also Blue Beetle once upon another continuity ago. The dynamic between Kord and Reyes is the best thing going for the series. Reyes simply wants the scarab removed while Kord is giddy about using the scarab and all its potential. Going so far to create their very own ‘batcave’ including a Blue Beetle plan. Their interaction is the highlight of this issue providing some humor as Reyes is more interested in getting to school on time than stopping a hostage situation.
The story here got the job done but not much more. Some nasty figures try to lore Blue Beetle out by taking hostages and literally writing ‘Blue Beetle’ in giant letters. Say what you will that will get the job done. A fight occurs and Jaime appears to still be having trouble fully controlling the scarab. Some hints to why that is the case occur when Dr. Fate appears to Konrad after the battle to warn him about the magic that is actually powering the scarab.
Comparing this to the other rebirth books it is overall mediocre. It struggled to reintroduce this character to new readers as well as give a story that can get you excited for what is to come. Gigantic Blue Beetle fans may find something here to enjoy, but if that is not you its not really worth your time.
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan
After reading the Deathstroke Rebirth #1 I was not super excited for this series. Deathstroke to me tends to be a character that is much more dynamic than the series he is in, and the Rebirth issue appeared to be more of the same. Perhaps I did not give that issue enough credit because issue number one of Deathstroke might finally be the comic to do the character justice.
Christopher Priest takes full advantage of Deathstroke’s ambiguity by laying out a narrative that makes you unsure how you feel about him from panel to panel. In one moment he is saving lives and in the next he is ignoring his kids while fighting with his assassin wife. Part of what makes the book work so far is that it is absent of heroes. Deathstroke is dealing with African Warlords and the super villain Clock King, all of which have their own evil agenda. It makes sense to place Deathstroke in a situation where everyone is so awful he looks like a hero by proxy.
Outside of the present day conflict we see a number of flashbacks with Slade working with his partner Billy Wintergreen. At times it did become confusing as we moved from time period to time period. A slight adjustment to the art style would have done wonders to emphasize what was occurring.
Priest humor is a big part of what makes the book work, and much of that humor comes out in the character of Billy Wintergreen. The story in this issue is really his, and how that element plays out in the final climax was by far my favorite part of the book.
Detective Coimcs #939
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows
In a book that includes Batman, Batwomen, and Clayface the one character that has quickly become the standout is Red Robin aka Tim Drake. Many Drake fans expressed frustration with what happen to Drake during the New 52 relaunch, and those fans will be happy with what James Tynion IV has done with the character in his first arc of Detective Comics.
This is not just a Tim Drake issue as we get an opening flash back of what occurred shortly after the Wayne’s death. We see how not only this impacted Bruce but also his Uncle Jacob Kane. Tynion has woven a tale that has expanded upon the death of comics most famous parents. Not only was it the event that gave us Batman but also led Kane to take matters in his own hands to revenge his sister. We see how Kane places the largest amount of blame not on the shooter but on Thomas Wayne. In Kane’s mind Wayne’s naivety led him down a dangerous alley in the dead of night.
At first the Jacob Kane twist seemed like a silly choice that made no real sense. I judge too quickly as Tynion is strongly building his case on why Kane would not approve of Batman. Beyond the idea of a man taking the law into his own hands is the residual feelings Kane has for the Waynes. In his eyes Thomas Wayne killed his sister and now Bruce will do the same to his daughter.
No question this is the best issue of this arc so far. There is a solid mix of action and character building while setting up for a thrilling finale. Just to top things off we also get Clayface as effective comic relief. What more can you ask for?
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Neil Googe
What happens when a supehero takes the day off? Flash #5 tries to answer that question as Barry Allen takes a break from the action. With all the work he is down with his new Speedster army it is certainty well deserved.
The book is true to its word as Barry is barely in this book. Dhawan, now with the superhero code name Fast Track, takes the lead of this story as she fights crime, trains speedsters, and takes Wally West under her wing.
This book continues to succeed when it shouldn’t. If you simply told me about aspects of this story like the speed storm or the crazy amount of people that can now control the speed force I would tell you Flash is already in need of another rebirth. Joshua Williams has made it work, and goes one step further this issue by bringing back Wally West into the fold. No, not that Wally West…the other one.
Fast Track and Wally form a charming friendship. I somewhat assumed the New 52 Wally would be forgotten with the original returning. Williams is finding a purpose to keep him around and was excited to see that continue. Fast Track and Wally had quite the fun friendship which made the ending of this issue all the more surprising.
Writer: Simon Oliver
Hellblazer Rebirth was one of the most mediocre books I read in some time. So I was not super excited to pick up this issue. What had me intrigued was knowing Swamp Thing was making a special appearance. Hellblazer #1 is an improvement of the rebirth issue yet it still leaves a bland taste in your mouth. After the failed New 52 John Constantine series and disappointing start to this series one wonders if there is a place for the character in the DC universe.
This issue is not void of appeal. Swamp Thing’s appearance does bring life to the series and his interaction with Constantine made for some great laughs. Including Swamp Thing ensuring that he did not need Constantine’s help to have sex once again. For a first issue there is not much setup to get excited about. Hopefully with Simon Oliver getting more time with the character he can better develop what this series is going to be about. If things don’t improve soon I can see this being another forgotten installment for the character of Hellblazer.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brett Booth
Titans has been the main book to continue on the plot elements that started in the Rebirth one-shot. There has been a lot of speculation over who is responsible for the lost ten years and this issue may give us the best hint yet.
As a series Titans feels very old school in the way it embraces its own ridiculousness up to and including many of the wacky costume designs. I still cannot get over how 90’s Arsenal looks. Why again does he need a backwards hat? Is that still something people are doing?
With that ridiculousness is a lot of old fashioned good times. In this issue Kadabra makes an appearance and writer Dan Abnett uses him to fill the book with countless magic puns. Most of the time is dedicated to a large fight sequences as the Titans faced off against versions of themselves in perhaps the best visual representation of what DC has been attempting to do with these Rebirth titles.
Abnett answers a lot of questions with more questions keeping the intrigue going. Brett Booth draws some kinetic action sequences that are a joy to look at. Still many of his character designs leave a lot to be desired. Something this old curmudgeon will need to get over I guess.
Wacky Racers #3
Writer: Ken Pontac
Artist: Leonardo Manco
I remain confused by this series. Confused by what’s happening, confused by who many of these characters are, and confused over who this book is exactly for. Of all the issues so far this was the most clear as we got some backstory on Penelope. It is told via a twisted fairy tale and I do have to give artist Leonardo Manco major credit. The juxtaposition between the twisted apocalyptic world and the flashback was rather glorious.
Overall Manco art is a style that is well drawn but lacks structure. I become lost in nearly action sequences as the panels are too overfilled with pure chaos. I appreciate this issues literally and figuratively putting on the breaks to focus more on character building. I just worry it is too little too late.
Wonder Woman #5
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Liam Sharp
When it was announced Wonder Woman would be a bi-monthly series that altered stories each issue I thought it was a huge mistake. To me it was a recipe for disaster that would unnecessarily convolute the series. I freely admit to being wrong as so far this structure has work to an astounding success. These two arcs have fully complemented one another. With one retelling the origin and another focusing on the present this series has work to bring in new readers while not alienating the old.
In this issue we are back in the present as Steve Trevor and crew are captured by Warlord Cadulo. This is inter cut nicely with Etta informing Sasha they lost Steve’s signal, but not to worry because of her faith in Wonder Woman. Etta gives her take on Steve and Wonder Woman’s relationship and how destiny always seems to play a part. This again works well with last issue that saw the beginning of this iconic couple.
No question the star of this issue is Liam Sharp’s art. Man can that man draw a comic. There is a seriousness about his character designs that makes these feel more important. It just does not look like a superhero comic, which is not a bad thing at all. One of the best pages was of Wonder Woman just about to break out a jail cell. Some great use of negative space as we mainly see the faces of the beaten soliders with a charging Wonder Woman positioned in the corner ready to strike. This is accidentally greatly by the next page that comes to life in glorious color. It was like turning the lights on in darken room to reveal Wonder Woman in all her glory. The only downside is I have to wait two more issues to see this story continue.