Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. Ray is the long-time DC reader and I’m the more skeptical, lapsed DC reader. As the last week of the month, it’s a relatively light week but the shining stars for me and Ray are twofold.
One, Detective Comics #44, which manages to be darkly funny and handles the cast of Gotham’s police officers better than any story since the late, great Gotham Central. This is what the Gotham show could be, if it focused on the right elements, instead of attempting to be an over-the-top villain fest.
Two, DC Comics Bombshells, which features a Wonder Woman we can get behind. Heck, the story in this issue would make a great start to a Wonder Woman movie.
But we part ways on Omega Men, a slow boiling SF story about terrorism, rebellion, and how far those oppressed are willing to go.
Detective Comics #44, Brian Buccellato, writers and colors, Fernando Blanco, art
Ray: Book of the Week. 9.5/10
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Buccellato brings his run to a close this month, making way for Pete Tomasi next month, and he closes it out in style.
This story could have easily gotten ridiculous, pitting Jim Gordon against a giant Joker Robot made from the power core of his own suit and piloted by the Joker’s Daughter, but the creative team has a deft touch that makes it work really well. The story doesn’t lose sight of the fact that Jim is very out of his element here, and his commentary on the absurdity of the situation is very welcome, as his practical, military-minded approach to taking out the threat.
I’ve never been a big fan of the character of Joker’s Daughter, finding her to be simply a more unhinged, less likable Harley Quinn. Here, however, in the aftermath of Joker’s apparent death, she works as a deranged heir to his legacy, a true believer in his cause of chaos. The giant Joker robot is just part of the plan, worked out with the Falcone clan and the La Muerta gang that has been plaguing Gordon since this run began, and their big plan is to assassinate the remaining hold-out officers who have not signed on to work for Falcone.
The big plot is balanced nicely with the suspenseful plot involving Bullock and his partner Yip, who has been playing double-agent the whole time. After making a final deal with Falcone, she doubles back and calls Harvey for help – only for him to attempt to kill her when the opportunity presents itself. This, of course, is a feint as we find out in the finale when Bullock and Gordon talk after the crisis has passed. They faked her death and send her into witness protection.
It’s a shame that this creative team is only lasting four issues into the new status quo, because the interaction between the two old cops is fantastic. I’m also really enjoying the newly returned Renee Montoya, and hopefully she’ll either keep a big role in this book or find a place in another one. A very strong issue, and probably the best one featuring the new Batman outside of Snyder’s title.
Corrina: Can I hope this creative team goes onto work on Gotham? Ah, pipe dreams.
No, this isn’t quite the rewriting of the Batman mythos that’s going on in Batman but it’s a fine story of how the GCPD is handling life now that Robot Batman aka Jim Gordon is controlling the streets. This is Gordon’s story but it’s also the story of Harvey Bullock, desperate to save his corrupt partner; of Renee Montoya, finding her way back into the GCPD and her renewed partnership with Bullock, all within a story that showcases the corrupt and the noble portions of the GCPD in conflict.
This is what the show Gotham could be. Well, minus the robot Batman. They would do well to borrow some of Gordon’s snark in this issue. Instead the show’s a hot mess. Read this arc instead.
Midnighter #4 by Steve Orlando, writer, Stephen Mooney, artist
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray:Another strong outing from Orlando, this time with guest artist Mooney, as we take a bit of a break from the main plot and follow Midnighter and his fellow super-spy Agent Grayson on a creepy supernatural caper.
The issue opens with some Russian dudebros entering an exclusive club and paying a hefty fee for the chance to kill a vampire. They’re ushered in where they find a weak, sick vampire chained to the wall – and promptly stake him. We then cut to a bar, where Midnighter has kidnapped Dick and is currently briefing him on the mission he needs him for. Dick is less than pleased, and the hilarious banter between these two is the highlight of the issue.
You won’t see many hero team-ups where the two leads have less in common, and that’s what makes it work. Many people are going to love the scene where they infiltrate a Turkish bath to get information from the last “hunters”. The issue takes a much more disturbing turn, though, when we find out how the villain is getting his vampires – he’s the sire, and they’re homeless people that he turns and keeps captive until they’re weak enough to be hunted. He’s not a true vampire, as it’s caused by some of the technology that Midnighter’s been chasing down in the series, but close enough.
I don’t think the villain and the main plot are quite as strong or inventive as the last few issues, but there’s nothing wrong with that exactly. This is still a great action-packed buddy comedy rampage through Russia with the trademark excellent Midnighter dialogue.
Corrina: Dick Grayson and Midnighter team-up!
They had me at that. But, as Ray said, it’s the banter between these two characters that makes it worth it, as Orlando has remembered that Dick Grayson is often a wiseass. Their fighting styles mesh only insofar as they fight to survive but Midnighter is an out-and-out killer, something Dick can’t condone. Still, the two give each other grudging respect and Dick knows when to put differences aside and do the job.
I love this series, as it’s made Midnighter, for the first time, into a distinct character rather than a Batman clone. The character development is great but I’m never quite certain as to why external plot events happen. But in the case of the Grayson/Midnighter team-up, I have no complaints.
DC Comics Bombshells #2, Marguerite Bennett, writer, Laura Braga, Stephen Mooney, and Ted Naifeh, artists
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: A second great issue of the most promising new digital-first DC book in years, as the world expands and we learn more about some of the heroes and meet a few new ones – plus a truly evil villain.
The issue opens with Wonder Woman trying to spare the life of Steve Trevor, who has been held captive by the Amazons as a result of one of the airfights he was in dropping bombs on Themysrica. Hippolyta plans to execute him, but Diana schemes to break him free and join the war in man’s world – and recruits her old friend Mera to help her lead the escape. I’m already liking the dynamic between these two heroines, and I thought the Amazons were written well as well.
The second segment turns the focus on Kara and Kortni, the Russian sisters whose quest to join the Night Witches was derailed when Kara’s powers were discovered. Their origin is explained here, and it’s a nice merging of both their stories. We also get our first peek at their costumes. I’m liking all the stories in this series, but this is probably my favorite. The third segment takes us to a very different place – the heart of Nazi Germany, where war criminals are entertained by a cabaret show overseen by the twisted Joker’s daughter and led by Zatanna. This segment can get a bit uncomfortable at times, watching a heroic character like Zatanna entertain Nazis, but the reveal at the end about who she really is and what she’s hiding makes things fit a lot better. There is a ton of potential in this series. A bit disappointed we didn’t see more of Kate Kane this issue, though!
Corrina: Wonder Woman’s origin! The Amazons are written well. ::muppet flail:::
Sorry, it’s just every treatment of the Amazons lately has them either bloodthirsty warriors or disconnected man-haters. These Amazons are foreign to the rest of the world, yes, with their own traditions, but they also possess nobility, Diana most of all. I want this Wonder Woman and these Amazons in the regular DC books.
I want them all in a movie.
The Night Witch segment continues but it lacks some of the depth in the Amazon segment. I know, Joseph Stalin is evil but I could wish that some of the sisters’ friends who are only trying to defend their homes would be more supportive and more open. The Nazi segment caught me off-guard but, as Ray said, things may work out in the end. Though it begs the questions as to why Zatanna can’t simply say “Eid reltih.”
The Omega Man #4, Tom King, writer, Toby Cypress, guest artist Toby Cypress
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: After a strong third issue that expanded the world in an interesting way, this issue dials it back to the major detriment of the story. It’s essentially a bottle episode, taking place entirely in the sleeping quarters of Kyle Rayner and the Omega Men’s new captive Princess Kalista – who is secretly the team’s leader. She and Kyle talk, sharing their stories.
This means an extended, not-very-necessary recap of Kyle Rayner’s origin, followed by Kalista expanding on what we saw of her story last issue without giving us all that much interesting information. It turns out that the Omega Men are watching, all as part of her plan to seduce Kyle by sharing her story and ease him over to being a true believer in the Omega Men cause. Besides the creepy, voyeuristic elements of the issue, Kalista’s origin doesn’t do much to ingratiate her to the readers, and overall this issue feels like suddenly being stuck in traffic after the wild, slightly confusing freeway ride of the first three issues.
Corrina: Finally, the big picture takes shape in this storyverse, as the reader is given the full scope of the intergalactic crisis via Kyle Rayner, the former Green Lantern who came to the quadrant to broker piece and instead became a captive.
Or has he? I need to pull up the previous issues to find out if Kyle is playing the Omega Men as much as they’re playing him. Ray didn’t like the recapping in this issue but I thought it provided much needed context for the actions in the first three issues.
Serious negative points, however, for revisiting the original Women in Refrigerators moment in Kyle’s origin. We have a new DC and a slightly rebooted universe and we had to keep that? :sigh:
Green Arrow #44, storytellers: Benjamin Percy, script, Patrick Zircher & Fabrizio Fiorentino, art
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: First up, instantly this issue is going to be a bit lower for me due to the complete absence of Emiko Queen. I love that snarky little archer, and her interaction with Ollie is the highlight of the book for me. DC, consider this a petition to relaunch TT with her on the team.
Anyway, on to this issue, it’s a well-done creepy issue that serves both as a done-in-one focusing on Ollie’s new wolf-dog George (and once again, I must laugh at the fact that GA now has both a snarky teen girl partner and an injury-prone dog like another archer), as well as the kick-off to a new arc.
Ollie’s on a date with a woman who says she doesn’t understand him, and they visit the disturbed homeless lady from the previous arc so she can “read” him. Instead, she reads George’s past. It’s a rather disturbing and bloody story, involving a plague of wolves that descended on an Alaskan village, a Native man who slew them with a cursed axe but befriended the last wolf standing, and the mysterious cult that killed the man for the axe. The wolf then fathered a litter with a husky dog, resulting in George. The old woman warns Ollie that a fight is coming, with something called “the Bone Hunters”, and they leave. Ollie’s date breaks up, and he heads home, only to be attacked by the same cultists from the story. He and George are bailed out by the arrival of Catalina Flores, aka Tarantula, who warns him that they want his dog’s bones. Kudos to Ben Percy for daring to bring back the most controversial female character of all time, and hopefully she won’t be used in any creepy ways like she was in Nightwing.
Overall, a solid, creepy issue, but not quite up to the level of the fantastic first arc.
Corrina: I agree it’s a solid, creepy issue but I can’t see how, other than the great artwork featuring the Pike Market in Seattle, that it’s a Green Arrow story. Yes, he now has a dog like Hawkeye’s Pizza Dog but instead of an ordinary dog, it’s a dog with magic bones, perhaps. I’m not sure how that relates to Oliver or makes him more interesting as a character. Instead, it strikes me as utterly random.
I guess it’s nice Tarantula is back. Someone obviously read Devin Grayson’s Nightwing run, but her inclusion into the story seems utterly random as well. Meanwhile, all we know about Oliver is from the too-ponderous narration is how he can’t commit. This is not news.
Bat-Mite #4, Dan Jurgens, writer, Corin Howell, artist
Ray: – 8/10
Corrina: Buy it if you’re a Booster Gold fan.
Ray: This series continues to do a great job of balancing offbeat comedy with some interesting superhero plots. We open with Bat-Mite causing another disaster for his new roommates, including burning a priceless photo album belonging to one of them.
While trying to figure out how to make amends, he is approached by Skeets, who needs his help with a mission for Booster Gold. I should point out that the writer here is Booster’s creator and the writer of both of his solo series for extended periods, so he has a great handle on the character, much better than he did on either Hawkman or Robin.
He has a lot of fun with the fact that no one knows who Booster is, and before they can hunt down Gridlock – who Booster says intends to mess with the time stream to keep history from advancing – Bat-Mite insists on giving Booster a grim-and-gritty makeover. They head into Gridlock’s lair, which it turns out is full of collectibles from his youth that he’s obsessed with preserving. Gridlock is essentially the world’s biggest angry fanboy, which is funny, and more subtly done than some of the recent comics who have literally put the words of angry online commenters in the mouths of characters. In the end, Gridlock gets away and Bat-Mite convinces Booster to use his time-travel powers to fix the photo album. It’s a light comic, but a lot of fun and sets up some interesting things for the last two issues.
Corrina: Heh. Black Gold, the grittier version of Booster Gold. It shouldn’t work as a joke but it does, since Bat-Mite is oblivious to the connotations. This is a great issue for long-time comic fans because it’s so meta about the history of comics.
So much so that it seemed odd coming from the same creator who also penned the grim n’ gritty Batman Beyond this week. Perhaps Jurgens is also tweaking himself a bit, or at least the storylines handed to him.
However, I wish Bat-Mite would stop messing with his roommates stuff. Perhaps I’m too close to household disasters but all I can think of while watching him wreck their kitchen is how much it’ll cost. That’s not funny, Bat-Mite!
Green Lantern #44, writer, Robert Venditti, pencils, Bill Tan and Martin Coccolo, inks, Mark Irwin and Martin Coccolo
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: The intergalactic road trip takes a breather this issue, in the wake of last month’s big confrontation, as Virgo still remains comatose from his attempt to use Hal’s gauntlet. With a major member of the crew down indefinitely, Hal takes the ship to a nearby way station planet for medical assistance. He outfits the criminal Trapper with a shock gauntlet to keep him in line and makes him his backup.
However, the planet is very different from the last time he was there, as all the citizens now cower in fear whenever anyone arrives and the place seems deserted. He manages to convince the reluctant local doctor to treat Virgo, but it soon becomes clear what they’re afraid of – vicious Thanagarian raiders who attack anyone who arrives on the planet. These Thanagarians appear to be some sort of patchwork beings and not very smart, but dangerous none the less as Trapper and Hal are forced to rely on each other to get out alive. This issue has a very intriguing “High Noon in space” vibe, as it dials back the cast to just a few and puts them up against the wall to develop their working relationship.
By and large, it works. The villains are stock characters, but Hal’s motley crew of space heroes is turning out to be pretty interesting. It’s a nice change of pace from the huge-scale, plot-heavy stories we’ve gotten in this book for a long time.
Corrina: Yes, this works as a one-and-done story and I’ll be contrary and say that unlike in Green Arrow, this diversion from a main story works. First, because it relates to the job Hal used to do, intergalactic police officer, and showcases just why the Lanterns are needed and how much they’re missed.
That adds a real urgency to Hal’s overall quest and provides some depth to the story other than “Hal Jordan angsting,” which I could do without. Still, it’s not enough to sell me on the series.
Batman Beyond #4, Dan Jurgens, writer, Bernard Chang, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: This issue has pretty much all of the same problems of the rest of the series, albeit with a little bit more humor and decent character interaction, and a fairly cool twist on the last page that shows this series may have a bit of life left in it.
When we left off, Tim had managed to rescue Max and Barbara from Brother Eye’s base camp, and brought them back to Gotham, but Brother Eye piggybacked onto his signal and followed him, ending New Gotham’s long reign as the last safe place in the world. And you know what that means – lots and lots of fight scenes as Tim battles evil cyborgs. He’s not alone, though – Justice Leaguer Micron is on hand, despite his distrust of the new Batman, and Inque has switched sides as the good guys have promised to help her rescue her daughter.
Speaking of her daughter, we get a few scenes of her and Brother Eye watching the carnage, as Eye promises her that she’ll be assimilated soon while her mother watches. Eye somehow manages the feat of being a villain that is both creepy and boring. This has mostly been his character trait for his entire existence, not just here. The heroes overwhelmed and his suit damaged, Tim retreats into the Batcave looking for a new suit – only to find Jim Gordon’s robot suit. That in and of itself makes me a bit more excited for next month, but as a whole this series doesn’t seem like it’s finding its footing.
Corrina: “A villain both creepy and boring.” Perfect, Ray. Brother Eye and his weird, unoriginal robot spider-beings freak me out without having any interesting element about them. I was bored with this storyline when it was the apostrophe-less Futures End and I’m bored with it now.
I also hoped this series would lead, somehow, with the return of Terry McGuinness. It seems so odd to launch a title called Batman Beyond and not use him. I don’t understand the rationale, though I suppose if the story intrigued, it would be all right. But the story is more “grr…darkness.” Not even the presence of cranky older Barbara Gordon, channelling her dad, is enough to arouse my interest. Advice: buy some back issues featuring Jurgens writing Booster Gold.
Lobo #10, written by Cullen Bunn and Frank Barbiere, penciled by Robson Rocha, Insk by Matt Banning, Daniel Henriques, Cam Smith
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: Barbiere seems to have officially joined Bunn on writing duties on this book, probably a wise decision given how many other higher-tier titles Bunn is writing for every company under the sun. Still, it’s kind of unfortunate given that this arc is where Sinestro essentially becomes a co-lead and Lobo’s mission shifts to hunting the rival Lantern Corps.
The issue opens with Lobo hunting the Indigo Lanterns, nearly becoming one of them in the process before biting off his own finger to sever the ring. He wipes out most of them, but Indigo-1 escapes. From there, it’s on to the Red Lantern Corps, where on Sinestro’s orders, he lures Rankorr into a trap and kills him. This sends Bleez to Atrocitus, who vows revenge. Lots of problems with this – namely, Bleez and Rankorr don’t work for Atrocitus, who tried to destroy Earth and was locked up in the Sciencells the last time we looked. That’s a major continuity glitch. In addition, Rankorr is a fairly well developed character who was just thrown under the bus here (and unlike the possible death in GL: TLA last month, this one is very conclusive). It’s a shame, because this issue does have some high points.
It’s fun to watch Lobo go up against some higher-tier opponents, and his interaction with Sinestro is written pretty well. I think this might have been better served by just adding Lobo to the cast of Sinestro’s solo title, though.
Corrina: I still have no interest in this title and that’s compounded by my dislike of the Red Lanterns, who are all just “Grr…angry, mean!” types save for the Rage Kitty. He’s fun. I have no idea of the continuity glitch Ray mentioned but I do have a problem with being bored. Lobo isn’t someone to root for. Neither is Sinestro and this series doesn’t pull off the trick that Secret Six does by making bad guys somehow sympathetic.
Aside: I want to put in a good word for Barbieri, even if I’m not fond of this issue. Several years back, we were at New York Comic Con and my younger son, about nine at the time, went around Artist’s Alley asking questions about how to study art. Barbieri not only was gracious and spent time talking to my son, he gave him a free signed print. A belated thank you, sir!
Out of continuity titles, which Ray tries out but were not in my review stack this week:
Batman: Arkham Knight #8 – written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Julio Ferreira and Ig Guara
An action-packed issue this month, as Bruce Wayne escapes from the Suicide Squad’s attempt on his life and gets the drop on them as Batman. The trio of Harley, Deadshot, and Boomerang puts up a good fight, but when Boomerang takes it too far, Deadshot takes him out.
After a fight with Killer Croc (who comes off much dumber here than he does in most recent comics, unfortunately), they broker an uneasy alliance to take on the much bigger threat of Penguin. There’s some good side stories involving Commissioner Gordon, as well as Alfred and Nightwing, but the first two thirds of the issue keep the focus firmly on Batman’s uneasy alliance with Deadshot.
In the third part, as Arkham Knight watches and plots, Batman and Lawton infiltrate the headquarters of Stagg industries and come up against a dangerous experiment made from Clayface’s DNA – one named Meta Morph-0x. Doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going, and next month should have some creepy monster effects if the last page is any indication. Got to say, though, I like this title much better when there’s more interaction and less fighting. Nothing as good this issue as Jim Gordon’s debate prep.
The Flash: Season Zero #12 – written by Sterling Gates, art by Ibrahim Moustafa
As this series wraps up and we all get ready for the season premiere of this show, final issue writer Gates makes the surprising decision to take the focus off the main character and give Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon a solo issue.
Caitlin’s been deeply affected by the death of her college mentor, a brilliant but harsh professor obsessed with creating a perpetual motion machine. Cisco helps her investigate, and they identify one of her fellow students who disappeared off the map as a prime suspect. The break into the professor’s mansion and find their suspect there – only he tries to warn them off. Seems the professor isn’t as dead as all that. The explosion transformed her into a being of half flesh, half energy, and she’s attempting to finish her machine by stealing the life force of her former students. Flashbacks reveal more of Caitlin’s complex relationship with this abusive woman, and I got Umbridge flashbacks in one scene.
This is a fast-paced issue, and even though the twists are a bit obvious, there’s some great scenes. I really liked seeing Caitlin get a moment in the spotlight as a civilian before her likely transformation next season.
Not a great issue, but definitely one of the more entertaining ones of the series.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four #9 -written by Brian Buccellato, art by Juan Albarran and Bruno Redondo
This comic has essentially devolved to the point where I’m not even sure who’s on whose side at any given moment.
Ever since the Gods entered the fray with their own agenda, the central conflict of the series has seemingly gone out the window in exchange for everyone essentially collecting the biggest name they can to fight for them at this moment. The issue opens fairly interestingly, with Harley and Billy Batson being ferried down to the underworld, indicating that their murders at Zeus’ hands may not entirely stick.
On Earth, Zeus’ victory banquet on Themysrica is interrupted by a giant tidal wave brought by his brother Poseidon – who was recruited by Superman. As Wonder Woman and Superman argue over this latest development, Aquaman enters the fray to try to broker peace now that the seas are involved. I’m also a bit puzzled by how actual Gods are seemingly mortally wounded by mortal weapons. Doesn’t seem to make sense.
This volume of the comic is ending in a few issues, and it may be time to pack it in like most of the other long-runners have.
Disclaimer: Corrina received the DC Comics for review purposes.
Ray Goldfield is a writer/editor for Grayhaven Comics, as well as the author of two novels currently in editing. He’s a comic fan for over 20 years, particularly of DC and Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans in particular. Now that Cassandra Cain is coming back, he will not rest until DC greenlights a Young Justice: Season Three comic.