Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comic’s new releases where Ray Goldfield, long time DC reader and fan, and myself, more cynical and lapsed DC reader, give our thoughts. This week, we’re nearly 100 percent in agreement but where we disagree, we seriously disagree.
For instance, we both love Secret Six and Black Canary, but Ray believes that Prez is an absolute failure and I love it for its brilliant satire of the political world. He also thinks the current run of Wonder Woman is getting better.
Secret Six #6 – Gail Simone, writer, Tom Derenick, artist
Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Now that Secret Six has hit its groove, it is quickly resuming its place as one of DC’s best books.
Gail Simone has set up a new version of the team that is at once grittier and more ruthless than previous versions, as well as more of a family. I’ve also got to give her major props for undoing one of the big mistakes of the New 52, which was turning Riddler into less of an eccentric crime boss and more of a mass-murdering lunatic. While Zero Year (the only misfire in Snyder’s run, in my opinion) is still in continuity, this Riddler is much more similar to the one we all know and love from Paul Dini’s run.
He’s cornered the team, obsessed with getting his diamond back so he can use it to propose to Ralph Dibny’s wife. Hey, no one said the guy was totally stable. Obviously, it’s Ralph and Sue that are the focus of most people’s attention here, and Ralph is definitely recognizable, albeit a slightly skewed version given what he’s been forced to do. I can see him evolving into a more recognizable version eventually, and even in his new guise Gail manages to make him very likable.
Sue appears to be under Riddler’s brainwashing at this point, so I can’t say for sure what Gail’s characterization of her will be, but I have faith she’ll do her justice. The issue is packed full of great moments, including Strix killing off an army of Riddler’s goons in a balletic fashion, and even Scarface gets up to some amusing antics (Ventriloquist is still mainly missing in action). It’s Black Alice, though, who pulls an epic move at the end that saves the day and gives them time to get away, but not without a cost. And it’s her fate at the end of the issue that seems likely to drive the next arc. This title has been through more drastic changes (and more art changes, with Tom Derenick jumping on here) than most titles do in a year, but it’s found its groove and we’re in for a hell of a ride.
Corrina: Just hitting its stride? After the two issues with them moving in together and trying to sorta be friends/family, to sad and hilarious effect? Nah, it’s been good the entire run, but what I love is that this issue ties together many disparate plot threads. We know why the Six were kidnapped, we know who, we know who gave Catman the kitten who saved his sanity, and we know about Ralph and Sue. All these revelations make the previous issues even more interesting.
Ralph and Sue being back is probably not a big deal to the average comic reader but for those of us who hated Identity Crisis with the passion of a thousand suns, especially with Sue being killed and then retroactively raped, it is a huge deal. This series ditches that in the past once and for all. Applause!
However, watching Sue brainwashed and under Riddler’s control is creepy. It’s meant to be creepy so her eventual reunion with Ralph (I hope) will be that much sweeter. As I was reading this, my mind went all sorts of places about Sue being a captive, especially whenever Riddler touched Sue in any manner. Brainwashed by someone obsessed with them usually equals rape for women in fiction. This was concerning, so I reached out to Simone via Twitter and she assured me that Sue has *not* been raped. So for those who went there, like me, that’s a relief.
Prez #4 – Mark Russell, writer, Dominki “Domo” Stanton, pencils, Mark Morales and Sean Parsons, inkers.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: The more I think about it, the more shocked I am that DC put this comic out at all.
It’s easily the most directly partisan comic I have ever seen come out of the Big Two in the longest time. The future that Russell envisions is a twisted combination of The Hunger Games and the worst fears of a Donald Trump Presidency, with drone warfare completely out of control and killing kids left and right (those kids are then demonized on a straw-man news station) and migrants being gunned down in cold blood on the Mexican border by guys playing drones like video games.
The issue has some attempts at humor, such as references to a Social Media war that left ten million dead, but overall the future it shows us is so supremely cynical that it’s hard to swallow. My biggest issue with this book, though, is that it’s essentially turned the titular “Prez” into a side story in her own book. We’re four issues in, and it seems like most of the time Beth Ross’ role in the story is to react with horror at what the world’s begun, and make statements about wanting to change it which raise the ire of the corporations and military powers that run this world. It’s one part broad political satire, one part sci-fi horror comic with killer robots, and one part teen book, and none of them really work.
Corrina: We’ve always parted ways on this title and we have again. This, to me, is fantastic political satire, with events such as the killing of kids by drones or building a wall at the Mexican border guarded by killer robots. We’re not at these solutions yet but we’re close. And drones aren’t just a concern of the left–the libertarian right has been worried about their abuse from the beginning. As for the game in which people compete and possibly die…have you seen reality television lately? It’s brutal.
Yes, Beth Ross so far has been sidelined but that’s because the scope of what she’s up against is slowly unfolding, but until we see how far-reaching the problem is, it’s hard to solve it. She takes steps to change things this issue but it’s not easy nor is it going to be.
If one could deduce Russell’s politics from Prez, I’d say he’s of the opinion that the entire system is broken and corrupted, a view which is shared across many parties of politics at a national level. Not to mention that the people controlling the murderous robots seem to be an indictment of the GamerGate mentality.
I’m glad DC approved this title. It won’t likely last long but it’s going to be remembered for a long time.
Martian Manhunter #4 – written by Rob Williams, art by Eber Ferreira, Eddy Barrows
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: A lot has been made of DC’s more experimental titles struggling in recent months, with several being cancelled already. Hopefully that won’t be the case for this compelling spy thriller.
Last issue threw the entire concept for a loop as it revealed that the collection of lead characters, ranging from a federal agent to a young thief to the monstrous “Mr. Biscuits”, were all fragments of the Martian Manhunter, split off from his main form in preparation for the martian invasion. This issue does its best to grapple with this reveal, jumping all over the place into these characters’ heads as they flee their monstrous pursuers and try to master their new powers.
As always, it’s Mr. Biscuits that steals the show, with his strange Tim Burton-esque design and almost casual manner as horrific things happen, but I’m very intrigued by all these facets of J’onn’s being and hope they stick around. The action is fast-paced and a tiny bit hard to follow in places, but Barrows has taken his art up to a new level with some of these creepy visuals. He really manages to get the monstrous nature of the White Martians across here, making them the closest thing to Lovecraftian beasts we’ve seen in the DCU. The last page, involving some random sky-watchers observing one of Mars’ moons start moving on its own, is easily the most memorable page in any book this week. This book’s sales are decent but slipping, so if you’re looking to take a chance on any unusual DC book, this is one you should definitely consider.
Corrina: I would say this is classic SF alien invasion stuff rather than horror but then when you have a scene where Mr. Biscuits loses his arm and says “that was my favorite arm!” perhaps it’s not time to mince words.
The fight with the evil Martian atop the speeding ambulance is a great piece of writing and art, with Mr. Biscuits supplying the crazy commentary as another aspect of J’onn J’onnz discovers his newfound powers and manages to save the ambulance and the little girl inside. That was possibly the most amazing art sequence this week, if not this year.
If you’re not reading this, you should be, and you don’t have to be a DC fan to enjoy it. It stands alone.
Black Canary #4 – Brenden Fletcher, writer, Pia Guerra, artist
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: I’ve been enjoying this book from the start, but I don’t think it quite hit its groove 100% until this issue, which takes the focus off Dinah and puts it on her new arch-nemesis, Bo Maeve. Last issue saw Ditto, Dinah’s tiny mute guitarist, taken by Maeve so she can use her in her new solo act, setting off a massive chase. As Dinah, Kurt, and the band pursue them through the open road, Maeve takes center stage as we learn her backstory. The thing I absolutely love about her villain story is that there’s no tragic past, no motivating event, no cheap excuse about insanity or motivation. She’s a villain driven purely by self-interest and entitlement.
Watching the actual events that drove her here combined with her interpretation of them is sort of hilarious, as it gives us a view inside her incredibly deluded and self-centered mind. Oddly, though, her interaction with Ditto is sort of sweet, making her seem more like a wannabe villain in way over her head. Also refreshing. ARGUS wants to get their hands on Ditto too, so Maeve tries to cut a deal with them – but before she can, a mysterious ninja swoops down, takes out the agents, and kidnaps Ditto, dropping her back off with Dinah. White Canary, perhaps? That character’s about to get big. The ending has Maeve undergoing a procedure to get her own canary cry. It occurs to me that this crazy martial arts rock comic is the best Jem and the Holograms book that never was. Consider me addicted.
Corrina: There is an actual Jem and the Holograms book right now and it’s pretty great. Otherwise, I agree, this has been the issue that pulled together the rock band threads and the secret government threads and melded them seamlessly.
This Dinah is the one I read and grew to love in Birds of Prey for the last 20 years. She protects the people she cares about, and there’s even an echo of pre-new 52 Dinah and her foster daughter, Sin, in this Dinah’s concern and care for Ditto.
Annie Wu’s art is distinctive and incredible but so is Pia Guerra’s. Why isn’t Guerra on a monthly comic again? I need to find her at a comic con and commission a sketch of Black Canary. Or perhaps even White Canary, though the previous White Canary was a villain, and not blond and American, as this White Canary seems to be. I had a silly hope that maybe this is a time-lost/alternate Earth Dinah Laurel Lance but that’s likely wishful thinking. Still, the fight in the woods reminded me of the fight in the forest when that Dinah was at Shiva’s village in the Birds of Prey series. That village is where she found Sin. So that’s two parallels to the previous Canary in this book.
No doubt that’s part of why I loved it so much.
Robin, Son of Batman #3 – Patrick Gleason, script and pencils, Mick Gray, inks
Corrina: Still just for Damian fans.
Ray: It occurs to me that this is essentially the superhero version of My Name is Earl. A former ne’er-do-well gets a wake-up-call and decides to start atoning for his horrible past. Of course, Damian’s is far worse than Jason Lee’s. This issue’s flashback segment shows the latest deed he’s atoning for – allowing his teacher to be blinded for looking at Ra’s Al Ghul’s secret chamber, and refusing to pardon him so as not to appear weak. That’s a pretty bad one.
What that has to do with Damian and Nobody’s trip into a deep hidden temple in the sunken city of Alexandria isn’t immediately clear, but it makes an excellent set piece for the issue. As Damian descends into the pit alone in search of his quarry, Nobody and Goliath find themselves facing a much more pressing threat – Deathstroke, who has been working with Nobody’s late father and thought that she was him when he contracted with her for a job. She wants out, and Deathstroke aims to collect her life as payment. This is a very action-driven issue, both in Damian’s mission through the tomb and Nobody’s battle, but I really liked the ending, which shows how Damian differs from most heroes. He understands what Deathstroke is – a professional – and he understands that he’ll go away for the right price. Clever.
The ending shows what Damian was searching for – maybe the last Lazarus pit in existence, which he finds. Planning to cure his teacher’s sight, or something bigger? Either way, Gleason continues to show a great grasp of both action and character as this evolves into one of the most fun books in DC’s slate.
Corrina: This is the most coherent issue of this run, where the flashbacks and current events are more clearly defined, and made for a better reading experience for me. Since the pacing wasn’t so frenetic, I was more able to emotionally absorb the flashback story and feel Damian’s shame, as well as his tutor’s tragedy.
However, this was marred for me by Deathstroke. There hasn’t been an interesting take on this mercenary killer for years, not since Geoff Johns rebooted the Teen Titans, killed off Deathstroke’s aide Wintergreen, and made Slade Wilson more remorseless than ever. He’s your basic deadly killer in his own book, and he’s even worse here, portrayed with no depth. As we can see from Black Canary, having a worthy antagonist is important to stories, and while Slade is physically imposing, he almost seems dumb in this. This overall characterization isn’t Gleason’s fault but it did bring down the back half of this issue for me.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #4 – Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, writers, Vanesa Del Rey and Chris Visions, artists
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: There are few comics out there that can plumb the depths of despair the way Constantine does. But then there’s very few characters out there who can screw up their lives to the level that Constantine does. That makes this book truly unique, but it also makes it a tough read at points. This issue continues to bounce back and forth between the past and the present, showing us how Constantine’s influence destroyed Veronica’s life, causing her to become addicted to magic to the extent that she literally erased herself from existence, fading into another realm where no one can see her. When she expressed her worries, Constantine essentially told her she needed to be in or out, contributing to her self-destruction. Kind of explains why Georgie hates him so much.
There’s some great scenes this issue paralleling Constantine then with Constantine now, particularly in his trolling of low-rent magic stage shows, as well as his drunken, depressed bender through a record store. However, the end of the issue caused me a bit of a problem, simply because it’s a big dramatic reveal to a mystery that had only one suspect. You’re telling me that the demon with a blood grudge against Constantine is actually related to the character who we’ve been shown at length that Constantine utterly destroyed? No way! Not every mystery is going to be Christie, though, and both the writing and art remain strong. Not my favorite issue of the series, but still easily the best take on Constantine since his Vertigo series ended.
Corrina: The band scenes, especially the punk scene, almost reminded me of the club scenes in Black Canary, though the era is different. I’ve never read a Constantine series before but it seems to me that he works best when he’s a right bastard with bits and pieces of humanity, rather than someone who only seems evil but has a heart of gold.
I’m not sure Constantine was ever a good guy but the bad choices he makes eventually haunt him and that’s what this series has been about—his past literally haunting him, showing him how often he’s screwed up his life and everyone else’s. The reveal of who’s shredding the ghosts at the end of this issue has poignancy because of that.
I suspect that his former girlfriend’s vengeance won’t be satisfying.
Bizarro #4 – Heath Corson, writer, Gustavo Duarte, artist
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This continues to be my favorite of the new DC comedy books, balancing an anarchic sense of humor with a deep knowledge of DC lore. This issue finds Bizarro and Jimmy attending Zatanna’s magic show, which leads to Bizarro falling into a magic portal and visiting every magical realm the DCU has to offer. Gemworld, Skartaris, the House of Mystery, etc. And when he comes out of it, he has magic powers of his own. Which he then uses to almost off-handedly take Zatanna’s powers away when she angers him. Another misunderstanding winds up turning Jimmy into a Bizarro – and Bizarro into a normal human.
While Bizarro Jimmy rampages through the city causing all sorts of messes, Not-Bizarro bumbles around trying to fix the mess he made and runs into a woman who he befriends. There’s been a couple of stories involving Bizarro getting his intellect back, and this is obviously a lighter take on the concept than “Flowers for Bizarro” was, but it still has a nice emotional punch to it.
In the craziness, Jimmy lets slip about the book that he’s writing about his trip with Bizarro, and it threatens to create a rift between the two buddies – but not before ARGUS agents show up to take Bizarro into custody. I’m always impressed with just how much is packed into each of these issues. It’s very Silver Age in that vein.
Corrina: Ray’s right, it has a great Silver Age feel to it, between powers being switched, Zatanna lamenting that he can do magic better than he can, and having to read Bizarro-speak backwards, this was cracky enough to be from the Silver Age.
Yet the core here, which we haven’t seen before, is the bond between Jimmy and Bizarro, which is is threatened when Bizarro realizes he’s being used. Most of this series, we’ve just seen them get into trouble, with Bizarro being a super-powered child. Here, Bizarro catches onto the fact Jimmy might only be pretending to be his friend, and Jimmy begins to feel guilty. Even in humor comics, it’s good to have depth to characters.
Harley Quinn #20 – Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, John Timms, artist
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: A new, Popeye-free arc finds Harley going solo again and taking a trip to Hollywood in pursuit of her co-worker’s daughter, who has apparently been kidnapped. One thing I notice is that Harley, unhitched from her supporting cast and her team of Harleys, seems to be a bit harder-edged than she is in the rest of the series. From brutally murdering a rude airline baggage clerk to shooting a rescue/hostage, she seems much more akin to Deadpool than she has over the last arc or so. Still, in some ways that’s Vintage Harley.
The main plot this issue sort of wanders all over the place, as Harley follows clues to her target and winds up in all sorts of odd situations, from dealing with a creepy cosplayer of herself to interrogating a naked fat hollywood executive while eating a sandwich. She teams up with a cowboy with criminal past and rescues her target – only to find out that the girl has been running a kidnap scheme. Hence the shooting, albeit non-fatally. As she attempts to deprogram the girl before sending her home, she’s rudely interrupted by an old affiliate – Deadshot, who has his own designs on the girl. The issue’s a bit scattered, but it’s got a lot of promise and I always enjoy Harley going a bit off the deep end.
Corrina: Harley does Hollywood, in her own way, and there are many in-jokes about how the movie business works (or doesn’t work.).
I put a preview of this up on GeekDad, and the last panel was the murdered baggage clerk stuffed in a suitcase. As they say, that escalated quickly, and shows a more homicidal side of Harley than we’ve seen lately, even in her road trip issue. Definitely not for kids. This book is a careful balance of humor and villainy and this issue might just have tipped a bit too much over into homicide.
Deadshot’s appearance’s is welcome, though I hope that doesn’t mean an even higher body count than previously.
Doctor Fate #4 – Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew, storytellers
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This book is still one of the slower-moving titles in DC’s stable, but it works. There’s a sense of creeping doom hovering over Khalid – and the world – at all times in this book, as the floodwaters that nearly killed his father continue to rise. However, life goes on as he begins medical school, meets a challenging Professor, and continues to attempt to master his new powers. His father is having prophetic visions from his hospital bed, and attempts to try to send a message to his son warning him. Khalid, meanwhile, decides to break into the Brooklyn Museum with Nabu’s help and get some answers from the Egyptian temple within. This leads to an impressive segment involving him having a visual of the Sphinx, who gives him a new riddle to solve.
Although there’s one artist on this title, it’s very impressive how the style shifts from the dour outside world to the vividness of Khalid’s vision. By the end of this issue, he has a better grasp of his powers and is able to use them to help people, but Bastet warns him that a threat is getting closer. Overall, I’m really liking where this book is going, and we get a little more insight into Khalid’s family and their history this issue. Much like Martian Manhunter, critical acclaim is saving this book right now, but it could really use more readers. Give it a try!
Corrina: Liew is a true find as an artist and storyteller and I hope that if this series doesn’t last, he works on other prominent books. This is basically a breather issue, as we see Khalid in his normal life again, as a medical student, and accepting that he needs help using the helmet.
Such help is not forthcoming, however, because the being haunting the helmet is basically a jerk of the “find your own strength” mentor school. Khalid’s confusion, his guilt over not being able to save a plane in an earlier issue, and his joy at finding out that, yes, some powers are cool, make him a hero to root for.
As Ray said, the book needs more readers. Support it.
Green Lantern: Lost Army #4 – Cullen Bunn, writer, Javier Pina, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: First up, I’d just like to say I called it that Arisia’s death last issue was a fake-out. I’ve seen so many issues end like this, with a character facing “certain” but not conclusive death, and they’re almost always okay. I’m glad, because I’ve always loved Arisia, and would love to see more done with her. This title has been downgraded to a six-issue miniseries, surprisingly – the sales weren’t great, but they were far from cancellation level. That gives this issue a greater sense of urgency, as we know this plot line is going to be resolved shortly.
Although John Stewart is able to preserve Arisia in a stasis pod before she dies, the other Lanterns soon find themselves falling as well, as the Light Pirates drain their rings. Before they can get to the ship, Krona and Relic flee to save themselves. Soon even John himself is overcome as everything fades to black – and he wakes up in a cell with his fellow Lanterns. It seems that the Light Pirates, desperate to keep their weapons running as Relic’s universe runs out of light energy, have taken to draining the captives themselves of their energy, killing them, as happens to one unfortunate red shirt Lantern. John is reunited with Salaak, the survivor of a fellow group of Lanterns that wound up in this same dimension, and – despite a new language barrier due to their lack of rings – they prepare to mount a prison break. This book isn’t the best Lantern title, but it’s an entertaining run and I’ll be sorry to see it go.
Corrina: I like the way this team has tried to integrate more of the personality of the John Stewart many television watchers know from the Justice League animated series. I’d love to say that this is a book is a chance for those television fans to read one of their favorites but the storyline is so weighted down by continuity that they’d even need a scorecard to tell the lost Lanterns from each other.
Plus, the plot about “Lanterns using all the energy in the universe” lacks a central antagonist, so it seems like our guys just meander around and get into trouble. The prison break promises to be fun, as they always are, but unlike Ray, I can’t say I’ll miss it. This is definitely for hardcore Lantern fans only. A lost chance, as I would have normally loved a series focused on Stewart.
Wonder Woman #44 – Meredith Finch, writer, David Finch, penciller, Jonathan Glapion, inker
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: It took a while to get here, but I think Meredith Finch is finally finding her groove on this title. The action is split between Diana’s search for Donna and her battle with Aegeus, and Donna’s journey through London as she seeks redemption. The issue opens with Diana pulling the mystical arrow out of her shoulder and investigating it, finding that it’s no mere weapon. In flashbacks, we see Aegeus’ story as a petty crook whose life was falling apart before he decided to take a chance on the coin his mother gave him and gained the power he has now.
Diana contacts Hephaestus about the arrow, which seems to have been made in his forge, and he confirms that he never made it and someone has been using his forge to create their own god-killers. Meanwhile, Donna’s story finds her trying to fit in in London, playing hero to a girl who really didn’t want her help, and nearly walking in front of a bus. It’s all pretty charming and kind of what I imagine the CW “Amazon” series would have been like if it had gotten off the ground. So I’ll say it again – I have a feeling I would like this Donna Troy a lot by now if the series hadn’t introduced her as a mass murderer. Next issue promises a death as Diana faces off with Aegeus once again. It’s not perfect, but the difference between the first arc and this one is night and day.
Corrina: Once again, I notice that issues Ray gives a ‘7’ are the ones I invariably dislike. It’s likely because they’re okay issues for those with pull lists. They’re not so awful that you’ll toss them against the wall but they’re not interesting enough to hold one’s attention.
Donna ends up playing a hero to a girl who’s probably the proverbial streek kid with the heart of gold, which makes me roll my eyes. The entire return of Donna does that when I’m not sighing that one of the most hopeful characters in the DC universe was brought back as a hateful mass murderer. And, no, the costume with colors similar to her classic Wonder Girl costume but with a belly window isn’t an improvement.
Also, Aegues may rank up there as worst villain ever in a Wonder Woman title. He’s not scary or interesting. He’s simply angry.
Superman/Wonder Woman #21 – Peter J. Tomasi, story and words, Doug Mahnke, pencils, Jamie Mendoza, Mark Irwin, Sean Parsons, Scott Hanna, inkers.
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: Still easily the weak link of the new Superman story, this title mainly seems to be working to dismantle the relationship that it’s based around. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except that it won’t stick, and it mainly relies on both characters being as stubborn as possible. So Diana has agreed to use her lasso to interrogate Superman’s friends, making clear to the government that they’re not part of any conspiracy. Superman does not take kindly to this when he arrives in the base and finds Lois Lane tied up in WW’s Lasso. Meanwhile, a mysterious new villain controlled by the White House Chief of Staff Mr. Bend is collecting energy from energy-powered heroes and villains, starting with Firestorm.
After Clark frees his other friends, and gets support from most of them but the cold shoulder from Perry, the super villain prison in the base is opened and the shadow-beings drains several villains like Atomic Skull and Major Disaster. Superman fights them off with the help of his friends, but decides that it’s time to get his powers back one way or the other, and makes it clear that he doesn’t want help from either Diana or Lois. Meanwhile, Mr. Bend gets fired for his sabotage – and promptly goes to join his allies Wrath and Vandal Savage in a pocket dimension. This book isn’t terrible, but right now both leads are rather unlikable and driven by poor decisions.
Corrina: This book is terrible and it’s veered in that direction since it’s launch, with an untenable core relationship between two character who have no spark, despite the efforts of several talented creative teams. That the “the government grabbed all the people Superman cares about and put them in an underground bunker” plot even exists is ridiculous. The only saving grace in this episode is a little bit of Lois snark while under questioning but that the plot has Diana questioning everyone with her Lasso of Truth is another ridiculous element.
Then Superman acts like a jerk again. It makes me appreciate the care that he’s been written in the books that Greg Pak is headlining.
Doomed #4 – Scott Lobdell, writer, Javier Fernandez, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: I wish I could say I was surprised by the fact that this is the first new book out of DC to officially be cancelled, but I’m not. At all. Teen Doomsday by Scott Lobdell? Who greenlit this?
Concept aside, this issue pits him against Wonder Girl as he tries to get control of his powers and keep from hurting her, while she shows no such restraint. I will say one good thing for this issue – once Wonder Girl figures out that Reiser is not a villain, she actually shows more compassion and decency than she usually does in Teen Titans. If this character had been the one who appeared in that book, it might have been a bit more tolerable.
The bigger problem is that this is still a d-list hodgepodge of Spider-man and Hulk tropes thrown in a blender with a healthy dose of ’90s XXXtreme, and it’s just not working. There’s no reason for anyone to care about the character, because he spends most of his time rampaging around in confusion. It’s possible that a longer run could have fleshed him out, but that’s not going to happen. Unlike books like Midnighter and Martian Manhunter, this title proves that “different” is not always better.
Corrina: This book isn’t different, though, it’s a rehash of every “boy gets unexpected powers that screws up his life” plot ever, and a bad rehash at that. An appearance by the ‘new’ Wonder Girl who’s mostly been an angry fighter with no depth, doesn’t help, though, as Ray says, she’s not terrible here.
But the series is bad. Tired concept, tired execution, annoying characters. I will mourn Omega Men, a hugely creative series that hasn’t caught on, but not this mess.
Digital First and Comic Tie-Ins for the Week:
Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis #2 –
This origin story for Jason Todd continues to unravel slowly, as we see the beginning of Jason Todd’s descent from hopeful young hero to the bitter, ruthless vigilante he becomes. The issue opens with him and Deathstroke fighting against his “brothers”, as the Arkham Knight lures them in so he can observe their fighting style and test himself against them.
However, the present-day segments are fairly brief, and the heart of the issue is in the flashback. This is where a lot of the major moments in Jason’s time as Robin happen. We seem him get formally taken in as Bruce’s ward, and we see the first time he discovers the Batcave. This Bruce seems much warmer than the one from the main comics did at this point, which makes the shift to a harsh taskmaster as Batman all the more jarring. Jason is frustrated by Bruce’s inability to trust him, and bristles under his orders – all leading to his decision to jump into the fray to confront Joker directly, which leads to him being presumed dead in an explosion. What happens next in this version is yet to be revealed, but it’s pretty clear it’s nothing good. This book doesn’t break much new ground, but it’s a strong read for Jason Todd fans.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four #10 –
A new setting emerges and gives this title a bit of new life, as the trio of Harley, Billy Batson, and Hippolyta find themselves trapped in Tartarus plotting an escape attempt. After battling their way through an army of greek mythical beasts and eventually Ares himself, Harley activates her Mother Box and they find themselves…somewhere. Somewhere that one look makes Harley want to be taken back to Tartarus.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the war comes to a close as Poseidon floods Themysrica and Zeus forces a cease-fire, compelling Superman to leave Earth. With no other weapons at his disposal, Superman agrees – just as Batman gets a message indicating that a bigger villain has been playing everyone this whole time. Darkseid? That’s my guess. Either way, after a long time going downhill, this comic feels like it might be heading in an interesting direction. Two issues left in this year before a brief hiatus.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #14 –
Corrina’s note: This series has been canceled and that’s a shame because it’s featured a Wonder Woman far more interesting than in any of her regular titles.
Ray: A full-length story this month by Karen Traviss and Andres Guinaldo, focusing on Diana’s role in global politics. She’s attempting to solve a long-running dispute between two Latin American nations, one a communist dictatorship, the other a repressive military regime. However, she’s accompanied by her half-sister Strife, who has an even more evil side, Eris, that is starting to come out.
Strife/Eris decides to derail the peace talks by creating an oil deposit on the border between the two countries, making both hesitant to cede an inch and setting them on the path to full-on war. As the situation deteriorates, the two sides start turning on Diana and – using information given to them by Eris – confront Diana on her own country’s failings when it comes to human rights.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Diana in the role of ambassador of peace, so this issue is refreshing, but I must say that I was a bit surprised that the moral of the issue was “sometimes force must be used in the name of peace”. The resolution seemed to come down on that side, at least. Not a perfect issue in execution, but an intriguing one.
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.