Action Comics #964
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Patrick Zircher
In Action Comics #964 the who is Clark Kent question gets even murkier. In of hope of catching this impostor Clark Kent in his lies Superman brings Kent to the Fortress of Solitude in order to use the Globe of Revelations. Things do not go as planned as the Globe revels Kent’s memories are real.
You have to give a story points when it is consistently able to keep you guessing. I do hope this stories resolves itself relatively soon because it wreaks of a mystery that will quickly be forgotten about once it is over. I do not see a DC world where Clark Kent and Superman are in fact two different people lasting very long. Considering the additional mystery going in the background with Oz and the hatted bearded man many shenanigans are a foot.
After a first arc that was heavy on the action and asked a lot of questions things needed to slow down. These last two issues have let us catch our breath without slowing the story progression. Many threads are being woven and so far the plotline has not gotten too convoluted. With some of the background mysteries now coming to the forefront I have some concern major confusion is on its way.
All-Star Batman #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: John Romita Jr., Declan Shalvey
All-Star Batman feels like DC gave Scott Snyder a Batman book and told him to go as nuts as he wants. Consider some of the plot reveals in this title I have a hard time understanding how this fits into the regular Batman continuity, because something like the way Alfred behaves in this should rock some characters to their core. As someone who cares little about continuity this bothers me little, but for those who like to have everything connected it could induce some headaches.
What has been enjoyable about this series so far is the edge of your seat excitement it has maintained through this first two books. Challenge after challenge and character after character have come after Batman in hopes of rescuing Two Face and claiming his reward.
Here we also see Snyder’s expand upon the mythos of Two Face by bringing in the idea of him truly having a bipolar personality. Not only that but the fact that the Harvey Dent side would often subconsciously try to force Two Face to get himself captured before Dent fully took over. There is no doubt that Joker will always be Batman’s greatest foe, but it is ideas like this one that shows how Two Face may be his most underrated. There is an emotional element to the Batman and Harvey Dent relationship that does not exist anywhere else.
There are a lot of varying opinions when it comes to John Romita Jr.’s art. Some people love it, some people hate it, and some people really hate it. Personally I think it can work when it is placed with the right story. Here works due it to the creative ways Romita was able to craft his layouts to keep the action fluid while injecting a bit of style. The panel introductions to characters gives it a movie feel. As if this story was being the directed by the likes of someone like Edgar Wright with the quick ways information is dumped on you.
Shifting to this All-Star title has given Snyder’s take on the character of Batman and his world a new life. If it was not for the name on the cover I could see even the most devoted fans not realizing this book was done by him. Well except for the way he treats Alfred. That’s a little bit of a dead giveaway. Still this book has been a chaotic enjoyable ride and the partnership between Snyder and Romita has worked better than expected.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher
Aquaman #7 is your traditional transition issue where story pieces that were being established in the first arc are expanded upon further. In a way this issue came off as Game of Thrones Atlantis edition as Aquaman had to play the political game on multiple fronts in order to keep the peace and control over his kingdom.
Aquaman has grown quite a great deal over these past few issues. His idyllic desire to see absolute peace with the surface world and Atlantis has been challenged to the point he had to adapt. It shows he is capable enough to know his desires may not always fall inline with what is needed at the moment. Often with stories like this you would get the stubborn leader he doubles down in order to make some sort of political point. So why this issue is more dense and not as fun as some of the past books it does do wonders for Aquaman on a character standpoint.
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
With all the crazy monster madness going on with all the other Bat titles an issue like Batgirl #3 works as a refreshing pallet cleanser. The story picks up right after last issue where Barbara got knocked out during her MMA debut. For those concerned a moment like that will make Batgirl look weak don’t worry as Hope Larson uses it as a learning experience. With these first issues Larson has demonstrated that her Batgirl is the type of person to purposely place herself into situations will failure is most likely, but in that failure she grows stronger.
One problem with though was the quick way she turned on her friend Kai. Based on their relationship to this point it seemed rushed to have her give him so little benefit of the doubt. Yes this is a person who has been trained by Batman not to trust anyone, but part of what makes her different than her mentor is her faith in humanity. Similar with the knockout this could easily be another learning opportunity for Barbara. We will have to wait and see.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2
Writer: Julie Benson, Shawna Benson
Artist: Claire Roe
Batgirl and Birds of Prey #2 suffered from the curse of not following the classic rule of show do not tell. In this issue Batgirl has some key moments with both Batman and her father James Gordon. They were conversations that had potential to be something special but devolved into cliché remarks and overly expository storytelling. No subtext was left as dialog boxes filled up the page. I am not a person who minds a comic that gives me a lot to read, but when the conversations are so clinical it is hard not to lose interest.
What makes that failure so challenging to understand is how great the back and forth between Black Canary and Huntress has become. Their lack of trust and one-upmanship attitude has lead to a lot of great moments between the two. Writer Julie Benson needs to shift more focus to the dynamic between these characters because when she does that is when the book shines.
Artwise the book was pretty standard except for the way Claire Roe drew Jim Gordon. He looks rather young and nearly the same age as his daughter. That along with the questionable dialog took a lot of the oomph out of their interaction.
Writer: Tom King, Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Of all the titles that have come out in the Rebirth launch the one that felt the least effected has been Batman. I have greatly enjoyed what Tom King has been doing, but overall the direction was not vastly different from what Scott Snyder was doing. Part of that is the, “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality I am sure.
So considering that this ‘Nights of the Monster Men’ story already feels like a Batman story we have not gotten in a long time or perhaps forever. Seeing the Batman team take on deformed creatures that belong in a late night low budget horror movie was a invigorating experience.
What adds another level to this story is how the ‘death’ of Tim Drake looms over many of the decisions Batman is making. The guilt is certainly there as he is reluctant to put his fellow team members and friends into dangerous situations. I am curious to see how that plays out in other books.
Curiosity really describes my overall thoughts about this first entry into this multipart crossover. I feel like a little kid looking at something I have never quite seen before no knowing if I should be excited, scared, or just plain indifferent. One issue in and they have my curiosity but time will tell if their will also capture my attention.
Blue Beetle #1
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Scott Kolins
Reading Blue Beetle #1 I could not help but think I was reading what was basically an early draft of the Rebirth issue. The details may have been different but the story pattern was nearly identical. Oddly as someone who was dismissive of that issue I found myself enjoying this version of events much more. To be fair a big part of that could be my growing familiarity with these characters.
Similar to the Rebirth issue not a great deal happens. We start off seeing the dreams Jaime Reyes has been having where he or some form of Blue Beetle fights off Dr. Fate. Considering the final reveal of the Rebirth issue that makes a great deal of sense, but what does not seem to line up is the surprise Reyes has for these visions.
We soon find out that surprise is due to the fact that Ted Kord has failed to mention Dr. Fate’s pop in visit to Jamie. Making the decisions raises questions of its own. Unquestionably what this book has going for it so far is the dynamic of Tim and Jaime. It’s like seeing a father who is so into a hobby he is dragging his reluctant super powered son into it despite his objections—a fun little twist on the common mentor relationship.
Despite that highlight overall this series is lacking something that I cannot put my finger no quite yet. Part of the problem is failure by comparison. If this book came out as early as six month ago it would be one of DC’s better titles. However, Rebirth has raised the bar for what we now expect for DC so when you have a title like this relatively mediocre it is challenging to stick with. Looking at all the current Rebirth books I can easily see this as being one of the first casualties if things do not improve.
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Scott Kolins
Wow this was a massive improvement from the Rebirth issue. In that book we got an uninspiring retelling of Cyborg’s origin mixed in with some pretty dull action. This takes a much simpler approach by focusing on the character of Cyborg in an attempt to make him more relatable. Last issue the question was raised to whether Cyborg was nothing more than a machine who thought he was a man. Here we see him attempt to regain some of his humanity by seeking friendship and interacting with the public by done the mundane human task of going out for coffee. Although the main villain of this arc leaves a lot to be desired, there is something to the personal stakes this conflict addresses. It is that age old discovering if the man in the machine actually has a sole. As someone who has never been super interested in the character of Cyborg this concept is helping me slowly get over that barrier.
Doom Patrol #1
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
What did I just read? That was the question that plagued my mind when I finished this issue. As a newb to the world of Doom Patrol this issue gave me a lot of questions but not much to enjoy. Much if it felt like random humor for random sake, and my confusion only grew as the pages were turned. The only redeeming factor for me was the character of Casey Brinke. In a book of absurdity she provided something to grasp onto and have emotion towards. Things may become clearer as you read on, or if I was inspired to go back and read past Doom Patrol stories. However, based on this book nothing was strong enough to inspire me to carry on past this issue. There are people out there that will surely love this book. I am simply not one of those people.
Green Arrow #7
Writer: Ben Percy
Artist: Stephen Byrne
The benefit of these last few issues is that Emiko has been better defined as a character. We are coming to understand both her motivations and the struggles she is facing. The story itself is becoming more and more all over the place. The consistent changing of character perspective and time periods is getting to become a little much.
Also what was disappointing with this issue was the matter of fact way Clock King was defeated. He appeared to have potential to be a new compelling villain but that potential was extremely short lived.
While the stories inconsistencies have been problematic the artwork has remained pristine. Every time I get frustrated with the words on the page I take a step back to appreciate gorgeous pages. I am happy to see this story arc end. The downside to that is Bryne will not be on the next book. Otto Schmidt is going to have a lot to live up to after these past few issues.
Green Lanterns #6
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Jackson Herbert
You would think a story revolved around making cookies would be too silly to take seriously. You would be wrong. A pattern with a lot of the Rebirth titles so far has been to start with an arc full of action and light on story. Then with the second arc slow things down, let the dust settle, and have an issue or two that is primarily focused on character development.
That is what is happening here and this series really needed to take a breath to let the relationship between Simon Baz and Jessica grow into something meaningful. Now that they have both helped save the world they are embarking on something truly stressful–spending time with family. There have been a lot of common tropes associated with the Buddy Cop genre inserted into this series .This is just another example of that, and to the books credit it continues to work well.
Here Jessica joins Simon’s family for a traditional dinner, however the stress of keeping his mother happy and proud is getting to Simon. This opens up the opportunity for Jessica to come through for Simon and help him through his concerns.
One of the benefits of bringing in more diverse characters is a story like this one. We are able to become exposed to customs and cultures that are not normally featured in our media. At the same time we learn about who these superheroes are as people. Jessica and Simon may have had force partnership but their friendship is being earned bit by bit.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #5
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
This series started off strong but was running the risk of losing a great deal of that momentum. The story was stuck in this limbo as Guy Gardner remained lost, Hal Jordan heeled, and the rest of The Lanterns pondered their next move. Issue five suffers some from that stagnation to start but halfway through begins to reclaim the energy that was slipping away. Finally it appears all these pieces will be coming together next issue.
You know a comic book is working well when it can make you care about Guy Gardner. Last issue Gardner’s interaction with Sinestro brought some humor, but here he is getting flatout tortured. To his credit we are seeing the will power that got him selected as a Green Lantern on dispaly, and it is through that sacrifice I am really begining to care about him as a character.
Ethan Van Sciver’s artwork needs to be pointed out as well. He has a very distinct line that is best displayed within the variety of the Green Lanterns power. His panel work also does a great deal to keep the story moving at a steady pace. An issue like this that is mostly buildup could easily feel bogged down or stale. He gives it a lot of life.
Justice League #5
Writer: Bryan Hitch
Artist: Sandu Florea
It is official Justice League is the most disappointing series to come out of Rebirth. Thankfully ‘The Extinction Machine’ has come to its whimpering conclusion. Reading this book has been like walking into a theater playing a cliché disaster movie that is half over. Every actions sequence is equal parts dull and uninspired. A bunch of uninteresting questions are unsatisfying answers. Every issue has felt the same as the last and that’s a major problem when you are five issues into a book. Luckily a new arc is beginning as this story is already better left forgotten.
New Super-Man #3
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Richard Friend
New Super-Man’s mantra has basically been take the normal aspects we get with a superhero comic and change them ever so slightly. Here we see the fallout of Kenan Kong giving up his secret identity. Right when you think he is about to redeem himself he does something else stupid simply out of habit.
I did not expect Chinese Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man to last past the second issue. Honestly thought their inclusion was just a cheap joke and they would quickly get out of the way. Here we get to see both in their dressed down personas. It is making them more than a cheap knockoffs.
There has been a novelty aspect of this book that has made it work for these first few issues. As this story continues it is going to need to step up its game in a major way. It is already suffering from a case of diminishing returns as each issue becomes less memorable.
Writer: Tim Seeley, Steve Orlando
Artist: Roge Antonia
‘Night of the Monster Men’ continues in Nightwing #5. When it comes to these multi part cross-overs the biggest question is do you need to read each issue to understand what is happening. For Nightwing fans not reading Batman (if those exist) would you at all understand what is going on in this book? The answer to that question is clearly no because this is a straight continuation of the events of Batman #7.
In a way Night of the Monster Men feels like a separate mini-series that was just forced into these Batman books to allow writers and artists some time to catch their breath with this new Bi-monthly shipping process. That’s not to say it is a story without merit. To the story’s credit even with a massive cast of characters everyone appears to have some sort of important role. Also enjoy the fact we see Nightwing dismiss the orders of Batman straight out. Perhaps his time as a special agent has made him feel more independent as ever.
Two issues into this story and Night of the Monster Men and so far it has been fine. Fine is a weak word to describe anything which is why it fits. Besides the odd looking characters not much has stood out in one way or another. It is way to soon to say Rebirth is running out of steam, but if this storyline does not pick up soon that complaint will only begin to grow.
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Alisson Borges
Raven #1 succeeds for both massive fans of the character and those completely unfamiliar. A emo driven teenage witch living with a suburban family does smell like a bad 90’s sitcom plot I grant you. By making Raven’s resident family more than a joke it avoids that awful pitfall. We see them truly care for Raven and her reluctantly reciprocate the same feelings.
There are a lot of comics about teenagers trying to deal with the duality of being a superhero and being in high school. So seeing Raven placed in that same situation also raises some concerns. Those concerns are not completely quelled quite yet. Luckily we have not dealt with the common problem of trying to do homework while making time to fight crime, but that does not mean it won’t happen eventually.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #2
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 takes the mold of one extended action sequences that adds in some major story developments. Still undercover Red Hood travels to rob a train of a powerful artifact. Things get a little messy when a mysterious and powerful women named Artemis is also looking to claim that same prize.
As the title of the series suggest this book is about Red Hood and his outlaws and now those outlaws are starting to be formed. In true superhero cliché fashion Artemis and Red Hood Team up and in order to ensure their survival. It was disappointing to see them abandoned the undercover angle so quickly, but on the bright side Artemis and Red Hood are a lot of fun together up to and including an impromptu use of the fastball special.
Despite the limited plot the dynamic of this book has already changed. Artemis has quickly made an impression as a character worth your time, and hopefully the rest of the Outlaws will be do the same.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Wow, this was one great comic. It starts off with a tremendous splash page that demonstrates the massive scope of the character of Superman and his powers. How the entire world holds him up as the idyllic standard due to his ability to be all things for all people. So what happens after that? Well a trip to the carnival of course!
I loved how we started so big and quickly shifted focus to smaller more intimate story. After saving the world Clark takes Lois and Jonathan to the local carnival for some quality family time. He wants to show he can put on his dad hat without wearing his cape at the same time—literally as he promises to Lois to leave the cap at home.
So why does this work? Well because this trio of characters is so delightful together. Yes we see that Superman is basically a god. At the same time to his family he is a father and a husband first and foremost, and it is within that dynamic drama ensues. The drama may be small scale as having to choose between stopping a low level robbery or riding a Ferris wheel, but when that ride means so much to Jonathan your story could not be bigger. A series could not survive on issues like this I am sure, but when they placed at the right moment you get master work. I have loved every issue of this series so far so it is saying something when I say this is by far my favorite.
Writer: Francis Manapul
Artist: Francis Manapul
Trinity #1 represents everything that has been great about Rebirth thus far. Characters getting back to their basics as they become the heroes we once knew. Now that idea is moving one step further as Trinity looks to relaunch the most iconic trio in all of comics.
So considering a book stars the likes of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman the story of course will center around some sort of world changing event. Not so much. Instead we are treated to a story about a dinner date between the biggest names in the Justice League.
As odd as it sounds this glorified brunch tale had a lot of hart intriguing conversations. One of the best was between Wonder Woman and Lois Lane. Wonder Women who was in a relationship with this universes Superman has to deal with the fact that not only is there another Superman around but also he is married to another women. Seeing both these characters converse about this issue directly was highly dramatic. It demonstrates that despite all their powers these people are still human in one way or another.
Part of me wonders if I have enjoyed Rebirth so much because it is directed towards people of my age. Not only do these characters resemble ones I once knew they are dealing with the type of challenges I face at my age. Of course I know nothing about fighting crime, but I do know the challenges of raising a child so reading Bruce Wayne and Clark bond over being fathers puts a smile on my face ear to ear. So far that has been a major side effect while reading much of Rebirth these first few months.