In this week’s reviews of DC Comics releases, Lois and Clark return in a sweet and satisfying story, a Jewish lesbian beats up Nazis, and Stephanie Brown says what we’re all thinking about the sexy Dick Grayson.
Ray is the prototypical DC reader and long-time fan while Corrina is the lapsed and more cynical comic reader who loves new and different takes on the familiar. This week, we have a first: a split decision on the book of the week. Not because one of us disliked the other’s choice but because both books were so good, emblematic of an excellent reading week overall.
Superman: Lois & Clark #1, Dan Jurgens, writer, Lee Weeks, penciler, Scott Hanna, inker,
Corrina: Buy It!
Ray: The old-school creative team is a perfect choice to bring us this post-Convergence spin-off title that takes the older Superman, Lois, and their son and places them on the main Earth.
It’s implied that they were sent by Brainiac at the end of Convergence to the beginning of the New Earth timeline, arriving roughly at the time of Justice League’s first arc. Since then, Superman and Lois have been living incognito on a rural farm where they’ve been raising their son Jon, now a grade-school-age boy who is starting to ask questions about his father’s mysterious actions. The fact that there’s been a second Superman on the planet the whole time, underground and serving as a guardian angel for the entire world, is incredibly fascinating.
Jurgens is the one who wrote most of the wedding of Superman and Lois and wrote the characters for over ten years in the 90s, so it’s no surprise that he has an amazing grasp on them and their relationship. In a time when the two characters are barely recognizable in the main line, it’s great to get a title like this, and it really shows just how far DC has moved away from the “there can only be one” BS that dragged down the New 52 for the longest time. Between Jon’s questions, Lois’ activity as an undercover reporter secretly investigating Intergang, and Superman trying to track down his old villains and prevent history from repeating itself, this title has more than enough to sustain a strong run. All Superman fans who have felt burned by the direction the character’s gone in – this is the book for you. Make sure DC sees that this is what we want.
Corrina: Is it the current DC Earth or one simply close to it? DC left some wiggle room in the interpretation, but I’m okay with that. I’m simply glad for two things. One, that this comic exists, and, two, that it’s good.
In some ways, Clark and Lois’ situation reminds me a bit of them in Kurt Busiek’s Superman: Secret Identity, in which that alternate Earth Superman acted mostly in secret while living a happy life with Lois and raising their children. I’m thrilled at the way Lois and Clark’s relationship is portrayed in this book, that Jon has been so well integrated into the story and, most of all, that Lois has continued to do her work. That seems like it would be a given but with DC’s treatment of Lois lately, it wasn’t.
As Ray said, this also reminded me why I like Superman, the good guy helping people, rather than the angsty guy running around now telling people that he can no longer trust them.
I read this twice because I liked the warm fuzzies, so it’s my book of the week. Ray’s is down below.
DC Comics Bombshells #3, Marguerite Bennett, writer, Marguerite Bennet, Garry Brown and Laura Braga, artists.
Corrina: Buy It!
Ray: This continues to be one of the most interesting alternate worlds I’ve ever seen out of DC. The story lines are still split up, and my interest varies a bit based on which one, but they’re all solid to great.
My favorite is the opening featuring Batwoman, where she beats up some Nazi sympathizers, inspires a young Harper Row to recruit her friends Kathy and Nell into a Batwoman-inspired girl gang, and has one last night with Maggie before going off to enlist with Waller’s team.
The second segment focuses on Zatanna, as she’s pulled into Joker’s Daughter’s insane scheme to summon an ancient demon to assist Hitler in winning the war. The segment is creepy, but it lacks the charm of the others. Although…is that smoking, talking bunny Zatanna owns Constantine after he ticked her off once too many times? Awesome, if so.
The third segment focuses on Wonder Woman and Mera as they help Steve Trevor escape – only to run into a platoon of Nazis. After taking out the enemy, they encounter Sam Lane, who welcomes back his soldier and promises to put Wonder Woman and Mera in touch with Waller. A great team is forming here, although I sort of missed the presence of Kara and Courtney this issue as Night Witches! Bring on the next issue!
Corrina: A Jewish lesbian opens the issue beating up Nazis. I didn’t know I needed this scene until I read it and that could go for the rest of this comic. I interviewed Marguerite Bennett at New York Comic Con and she was so enthused about creating this alternate world. As she said, for a series on this alternate timeline in World War II based on a series of alternate covers, it’s really something else.
It’s also not playing safe, not with elements such as Maggie and Kate’s (tasteful) love scene, and Zatanna being undercover in Nazi Germany. Yes, that is Constantine as the rabbit, I’m certain.
Bennett said that she deliberately kept most of Wonder Woman’s origin from her first appearances, using Princess Diana as her anchor to this alternate universe. Wonder Woman’s encounter and fight with the tanks is perfect and I wish the DC official who once dubbed Wonder Woman “tricky” to write would read this. Now.
Batman and Robin Eternal #2, James Tynion IV & Scott Synder, story, Tim Seeley, script, Paul Pelletier, pencils, Tony Kordos, inks
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Buy It!
Ray: Unlike the first Eternal, this isn’t a slow-burn mystery, it’s a no-holds-barred action thriller where the threats build quickly, and a lot of the entertainment comes from the interaction of the Bat-proteges.
When we last left off, the evil, mysterious Orphan had targeted Harper Row, and as this issue opens we see that Harper has been stabbed and is on the brink of death. By the way, there was a pretty big clue to Orphan’s identity on the Bat-computer last issue. Let’s just say Cass may not be the only long-lost Bat-family member returning.
Anyway, before Orphan can finish Harper off for his mysterious reasons, Cassandra Cain enters the fray and proceeds to deliver an epic butt-kicking to the larger, older Orphan – who it’s revealed knows her from their past. Stephanie Brown gets into the action and steals the issue in her few scenes, each of which contains a pretty fantastic one-liner.
With Bruce gone, Dick has to step up as the leader of the Bat-family, and I’m amused by how he feels about the sudden surge in Bat-kids. There’s a flashback sequence to Bruce and Dick’s earlier battle with Scarecrow, and Dick picks up that Orphan is connected to a constant supply of the gas, but I must say the flashback was the only slightly weak link in this issue. I’m a bit tired of Scarecrow hallucination segments. The end of the issue promises a long-awaited meeting between Jason and Cassandra. And oh, yeah, Jason’s going to get his butt kicked next issue. If you’re any sort of fan of the Bat-kids, this comic is fantastic. Can we just get all these characters in a team once this is over?
Corrina: Stephanie indeed gets all the best lines. On seeing Dick perform an acrobatic sequence to scale a building, Stephanie drops her groceries and speaks for all of us so inclined by saying “Kiss me, sexy Batman.” (That should be a book, “Sexy Batman.” I’d buy it.)
I was leery of this series since the setup depends on some shameful secret of Batman but this issue won me over with the interplay between all the Bat-kids, old and new, and by Cassandra’s triumphant return to form. It’s hard to juggle so many characters and make them distinctive, but the cast is all well-handled and engaging.
I must give a shout out to Pelletier, especially for the faces and the action sequences. While I wouldn’t wish for him to replace Mikal Janin on the Grayson book, I hope he’s doing more in this series.
Batman #45, Scott Snyder, writer, Greg Capullo, pencils, Danny Miki, inks
Ray- 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: It’s no secret that I’ve been loving this run from minute one, and I’ve figured out one of the reasons why. Jim Gordon is such a different hero from Bruce Wayne, and more than anything, he reminds me of the DC version of Steve Rogers. As opposed to the larger-than-life leader and crusader that Bruce Wayne became, Gordon is the man on the ground. The soldier, the cop, who even in his new guise never sees himself as anything more than another fighter in the war. He’s a lot more mortal than Bruce Wayne ever was, and just as gritty.
The opening scene of this issue finds him trapped in an incinerator, minutes away from death with a malfunctioning weapon, and nothing but his wits to get him out. It’s one of the tensest action scenes I’ve read in a long time. Despite Gordon’s hesitance to take on a sidekick of any kind, he is a cop and that lends itself to working with partners – which pays off here as he splits from the remote-controlled Bat-suit and takes on Mr. Bloom’s henchman with a giant robotic partner. There’s a really fun cyberpunk vibe to the whole thing.
As strong are the Bruce Wayne segments, as Bruce e and Julie Madison struggle with bringing a sense of safety back to the children of a city still scarred by Joker’s most recent attack. There’s some hints about Julie’s past and who her father might be, and Bruce’s solution to the problem of the remnants of Joker’s attack is the most un-Batman thing I could think of, though I love it.
Meanwhile, Geri Powers is looking to replace Jim due to the bad PR of several of his recent battles. But at the press conference where she expects his resignation, the businessmen present come under attack by a giant gunship, and Mr. Bloom steps out of the shadows to make his move. Great character work on both ends and a fabulously creepy last page make this another smash hit from the ace creative team of Snyder and Capullo.
Corrina: No one had to sell me on Jim Gordon, as he’s been one of my favorites since the mid-1980s, but I had no idea how well he would work as Batman. Jim has always been one of the city’s protectors and the creative team took that essence and poured it into his time as Batman.
What’s missing from Gordon is Bruce’s arrogance. Gordon is confident, but he knows it’s always possible that he could lose while Bruce would never admit the possibility. That makes Gordon a more human Batman, someone who I worry about and root for more than Bruce Wayne in the Batsuit. We know Bruce is going to be okay. Gordon is our everyman, the epitome of the meme “Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. Then be Batman.”
The use of the robot Bat-suit as Gordon’s partner is brilliant, as is having Gordon call the suit “rookie,” and the ending is genuinely shocking and a terrific cliffhanger. I hope it doesn’t mean the end of the focus on Gordon, however. Maybe he should get a series again, simply titled Gordon.
As for Bruce, his new self-continues to amaze. He is the same guy, as resourceful as ever but more centered, more mellow, and more thoughtful. I guess that won’t last either. Too bad.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #5, Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, writers, Scott Kowalchuk and Riley Rossmo, layouts, Riley Rossmo, finishes
Ray: – 8/10
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: The mystery that’s been building since issue one reaches its conclusion, as Constantine is confronted with the vengeful spirit of his ex-girlfriend Veronica, who has become a wraith of some sort that is capable of destroying the ghosts surrounding Constantine. The design of what Veronica’s become is genuinely creepy, which is always essential for a story like this, and Constantine’s inner monolog is strange, combining his guilt with his machiavellian nature.
I do think the story drags a little bit in the middle, as Constantine researches the nature of what Veronica’s become and flashes back to how she transformed into this monster. However, it picks up in a huge way when Constantine convinces Georgia to join him in taking the fight to Veronica and banishing her spirit. It almost seems like Constantine is ready to make up for his past mistakes – until the story takes a turn and Georgia is forced to make a horrible decision that forever severs her connection to Constantine. Although I think both Veronica and Georgia lacked a bit of character development that would have taken this story from good to great, it’s an effective, creepy tale that does what any good Hellblazer story should do – bring back Constantine’s past mistakes to haunt him.
Corrina: I’d never read a Constantine comic before this series and now I’m fascinated by the character. Ideally, that’s what a series should do: bring new fans to the character.
I wondered if Constantine would consider himself fully responsible for Veronica’s fate and that her own decisions helped lead her down that path as well is a more layered touch. The art adds another level of horror and depicts Georgia’s horror at being tricked into sealing Veronica’s fate well.
This first arc introduced the reader to kind of person Constantine is. I wonder what the next arc will show us?
Catwoman #45, Genevieve Valentine, David Messina, pencils, Gaetano Carlucci, inks.
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: As Valentine’s run on Catwoman – and Catwoman’s time in the mob world – draws to a close, the conflict heats up as Eiko Hasigawa lays her father to rest.
The ruthless Black Mask even pays a visit to the funeral despite everyone knowing exactly what he did, offering fake condolences. Things are clearly tense between Catwoman and Eiko, as Eiko plans to declare war on Black Mask’s empire and plunge the city’s crime scene into chaos. With no choice, Catwoman chooses to take matters into her own hands. She cuts a deal with Penguin, and gets him to trick Black Mask into falling into her clutches – where she then makes him pay in no uncertain terms, leaving him to bleed to death in Penguin’s tunnels.
Kind of a foolish move in retrospect, as Penguin promptly cuts a deal with a wounded Mask for all his territory in exchange for help and escapes. However, Eiko isn’t quite done and is planning one last big move against her rivals. The scene where Catwoman takes out Mask is very reminiscent of some of the scenes in the Brubaker/Cooke run where Mask became Selina’s nemesis, although obviously nothing in this title is quite as memorable as that masterpiece. Still, Selina’s time as a mob boss is coming to a close with a pretty exciting story, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the last act is like.
Corrina: While I’ve enjoyed Selina’s time as a mob boss and her intentions into giving Gotham the leadership it probably deserves, I can’t help feeling that it should have served a better purpose than to almost kill Black Mask, to almost give Selina a family she could count on, to almost provide Selina with a stable lover.
Instead, it’s obviously back to the familiar status quo, save for what happens next month. I’m assuming Eiko will assume the status as Gotham’s head crime boss. That’s somewhat intriguing, considering Selina’s two closest ex-lovers could be the crime boss and the city’s protector (Batman/Bruce Wayne.)
I wish Black Mask would stay dead. I was rooting for Stephanie Brown to kill him this issue along with Selina, but I suppose that was wishful thinking. (Black Mask’s torture and murder of Stephanie Brown some years ago in another storyline led to an incredible fan backlash that eventually ended up in Steph’s resurrection and then her stint as Batgirl before the latest reboot.)
Starfire #5, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, Emanuela Lupacchino, pencils, Ray McCarthy, inks
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This book is a mixed bag. What works, really works. However, when it steps outside of that, it falls completely flat. The mood whiplash in this title is its biggest problem, and it needs to decide what it is post-haste.
I’m hoping that eventually they completely commit to the comedy vibe that makes the book at its best. Starfire’s attempts to acclimate to life on Earth are complete gold, and this issue finds her attempting to get a job at an aquarium. This leads to her trying to learn dolphin language and reunite a lonely dolphin with its mate. However, everyone will only remember this comic as “the one where Starfire made out with a dolphin”. The issue also makes good use of Starfire’s cute thought balloons. Some of these idioms she doesn’t get lead to unfortunate visuals! However, the villain, Soren Hook, continues to be completely out of step with the title. His origin is almost laughable – a brilliant oncologist with the ability to heal cancer who is being killed by a brain tumor that’s driving him insane – and every time he shows up he brings a grim, gory tone to the title. I’m hoping that the cliffhanger at the end of the issue isn’t what it looks like, because if it is, it’ll be hard for the book to recover from.
Corrina: The tone doesn’t have to be the same all the time. Good storytelling can vary and no one mixed comedy and drama better than, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.
The problem is more with Soren, specifically, as the villain as his origin is a bit over-the-top for the gore left in his wake. It’s a grim-serious origin with a trail of bodies and it doesn’t work to win him any kind of sympathy, whatever his original intentions. Perhaps there’s another revelation to come in which it makes sense.
In any case, that doesn’t dim my enjoyment of this book and, in some ways, it reminds me of Sleepy Hollow: the outsider (in this case, an alien) adjusting to a strange new world with the help of the local police and with the ability to protect everyone as well. Except Ichabod can’t speak to dolphins, I suppose. That we know of. (What a great scene by Lupacchino.)
Justice League United #14, Jeff Parker, writer, Paul Pelletier, pencils, Rob Hunter, inks
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Buy It if You Love Old School DC.
Ray: This title is ending in December, despite decent sales. I suppose there wasn’t room for three Justice League titles in DC’s lineup, and it’s a shame. This “Strike Force” title which pairs specialized teams of heroes on unique missions is a fun, original book that brings in tons of obscure characters from DC’s history.
It was intriguing enough last issue when Parker and Pelletier took a team of tech-based heroes (plus unwilling member Vandal Savage) and put them in a time bubble containing soldiers from all different wars including Enemy Ace and Sgt. Rock, and revealed that Rock and Savage have a rivalry going back 70 years to when Savage betrayed Rock.
This issue, as Courtney and Enemy Ace try to get out alive without her staff and his plane, it becomes clear they’re not the only soldiers in this place, and some are…less than human. That’s right, the Creature Commandoes are back!
Frankenstein, GI Zombie, and the rest. These characters were briefly rebooted in the New 52 but didn’t quite catch on, and it’s great to see the originals back here. And then there’s the cliffhanger, which brings back OMAC! In the middle of all this craziness, there’s some solid characterization,, especially for Enemy Ace. It’s a bit overstuffed and definitely reliant on nostalgia for these obscure characters, but if you get into it, it’s a blast.
Corrina: Bring on the nostalgia! I loved this comic. In another week, it could have easily been my favorite. More than anything, it reminded me of the 1970s Justice League/Justice Society team-ups which not only threw in heroes from parallel worlds but from different times. That’s where I originally encountered Enemy Ace, for instance, and many of the other war heroes. (No Viking Prince here, though. Oh well.)
The best thing that the story doesn’t drown in all this but manages to convey the scope of the problem and a solid focus on the characters. I care about what happens to many of them, though perhaps not the Creature Commandoes because I was too busy laughing at them, in a good way.
This is the second book this week in which Pelletier juggled a huge cast and huge action sequences and did it well. Hat’s off to you, sir.
Harley Quinn #21, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, John Timms, artist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Buy It if You’re Enjoying the Series
Ray: The “Harleywood” storyline comes to a close as Deadshot and Harley are forced into an uneasy truce (after Deadshot killed Harley’s cowboy criminal fling last issue) to go after mutual criminal targets. Harley is still on the trail of her friend’s daughter, who has gone native in Hollywood with drug dealers and users, but trying to find her leads the two assassins deep into a nest of muscle-head dealers and gyms that are secretly fronts for criminal activity. The supporting characters are actually even more over the top than Harley in this issue, which can make it a little much sometimes, but overall, if you like Harley Quinn killing people while making quips, you’re going to enjoy this comic.
Personally, I think it suffered a bit from not having the normal supporting cast around, but Harley and Deadshot have a pretty good interplay and it’s always fun to see Harley randomly slip into psychologist mode when you’d expect her to kill something. Not a standout, but it’s a fun issue for Harley fans.
Corrina: Not an issue to start with this series but it’s a satisfying ending to the arc, and Ray summed it up nicely about who would enjoy it. There’s also the satire about the way Hollywood works built into the story and Harley once again that while she’s murderous, impulsive and impetuous, she’s not even close to stupid.
Note: The Cowboy from the first part of the storyline came from a movie. Now, which one? (Palmiotti told me on Twitter, but I won’t spoil the surprise.)
Justice League of America #4 by Bryan Hitch inks by Daniel Henriques
Corrina: Buy It
Ray: It feels like it’s been ages since the last issue of this book, and I suppose that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with an artist on Bryan Hitch’s level. Still, when it comes out, it’s a huge-scale, entertaining read. Rao’s hold on Earth is growing, as more and more people become converted by his prophets, and these conversions start to take on a creepier tone.
In one scene, a little girl is forced into the arms of a prophet by her parents despite her terror, only to become overcome with euphoria as soon as she’s touched. Batman begins to investigate the psychic effects of conversion, bringing in a career criminal to STAR Labs to investigate his sudden reformation.
What he finds out is that the people’s minds are literally being rewired by contact with Rao’s power. On Krypton in the distant past, Hal Jordan meets with Rao, a king embroiled in a brutal civil war with the leader of Argo – who restores his youth by draining the energy of his acolytes, going from a harmless-looking old man to the imposing figure we see today. As Batman tries to communicate what he knows, he comes under attack by Rao’s prophets. And as Superman discovers that he may have a vulnerability to Rao’s powers programmed into his brain from birth, Rao himself comes to confront him. It was obvious from minute one that Rao, like Wraith and Ulysses before him, would turn out to be evil, but there are some interesting twists here that lift this story well above average.
Corrina: I expected Hal to discover that the warlord opposing Rao would end up taking his place, thus corrupting the cult of Rao in the past. But, no, Rao the nice older dude that talks to Hal politely eventually becomes transformed into the one who seems to exist in the present. Nice twist.
Yes, it’s a plot similar to what we’ve seen before but between the scientists pulling dead Supermen from the multiverse, the creepiness of Rao’s takeover of Earth, and the weirdness of how worship of Rao might be genetically inherited, it’s an excellent take. And, of course, there’s Hitch’s art.
It’s a measure of the quality of the week that this book is so far down even though we both liked it.
Batman/Superman #25, writer, Greg Pak, artist, Cliff Richards
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Don’t Buy It unless you want it for Batgirl.
Ray: Last arc made it clear that there wouldn’t be any team-ups between Superman and the new Batman anytime soon, as they have very different views towards crime fighting. Gordon only appears in a brief segment this issue, dealing with Clark stealing one of his gliders to take to the skies again. The issue soon seems like it’s becoming a Superman solo story, as he tracks down some Subterranean soldiers only to encounter their boss – Vandal Savage.
Although Savage has been more of a wild card in the books in recent years, here he’s definitely a full-on villain, and much more powerful than he ever used to be. He quickly beats Superman within an inch of his life – and would have, if Superman wasn’t spirited away by none other than Batgirl, who’s been tracking him. Even with Bruce gone, his proteges and partners still know that Superman is someone who can be trusted.
As Batgirl helps Superman collect and analyze the evidence about those targeting him, Vandal Savage takes over a mining town and forces them to collect Uranium for him from old nuclear warheads. And knowing that they won’t be able to take him on alone, Batgirl brings in some of her allies – Grayson and Red Hood. I’m a bit amused that Red Hood is enough of a good guy now for team-ups with Superman, but all the characters in this issue are written really well and it’s a fast-paced, entertaining read. Pak’s continuing to spin gold out of a story that’s usually hit and miss.
Corrina: Now we get to the first book this week that didn’t completely enthuse me. The appearance of Batgirl definitely raised my interest and it’s great to see the revamped Barbara Gordon make an appearance in the wider DCU, and that she simply helps rather than asking permission. (Very Oracle-like).
No, it’s the characterization of Superman, who still seems far from my favorite version, and the frustrating plot that has him still without a secret identity and separated from his usual allies that frustrated me.
I’m not sure it’s gold, as Ray does, but it’s certainly writing that is better than it has any right to be with these plot elements.
Bat-Mite #5, Dan Jurgens, writer, Corin Howell, artist
Corrina: Buy It For DC inside references
Ray: Bat-Mite’s quest to recreate the heroes of the DCU in his image continues, as he targets the lowest rung on the totem pole – the Inferior Five. This hapless group of wannabe crime fighters is out of their league against a pair of Gridlock’s minions(the same hapless workaday goons who worked for Doc Trauma), there to steal the most precious treasure in existence – a copy of the lost pilot episode of a fan-favorite sci-fi show.
Well, we’re all comic geeks here. We can sort of relate to Gridlock. With the Inferior Five consisting of a woman with super strength who can’t control her own strength, a human zeppelin, a cowardly archer, and a guy who trips a lot, it’s no surprise they struggle, so Bat-Mite gives them total makeovers, giving them stronger powers and cool new costumes for the mission against Gridlock. And for once, it seems it’s actually working out, as the I5 (now six, since Bat-Mite declared himself their leader) are actually posing a threat to villains. The problem is, they’re starting to enjoy it a little too much, especially when they have the chance to hurt a villain. It’s a bit heavy-handed with its approach to 90s anti-heroes being inherently cruel and ultraviolent, but there are a lot of really funny scenes and Bat-Mite himself is always entertaining.
Next issue will bring Gridlock’s origin and the return of Bat-Mite’s home dimension. Lots to cover in only one issue! I’m going to miss this book, and hopefully we get a sequel to this and Bizarro eventually.
Corrina: If you liked that episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where Bat-Mite guest-starred, this would be a comic for you, as Bat-Mite’s insistence on helping and even giving powers to those who would seem to want them, will remind you of that episode.
I’ve enjoyed this mini-series, but it’s been more fun for me when it’s madcap and less heavy-handed as in this issue. Still, for a character that should have been buried in obscurity years ago, Bat-Mite pulled off his biggest trick yet: still entertaining readers. Too bad it’s too late to request him to break the fourth wall and acknowledge his fans before the series ends.
Earth-2 Society #5, Daniel H. Wilson, writer, Jorge Jimenez, artist
Ray – 3/10
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: Well, it seems like the main goal of this title currently is to make every single character as unlikable as possible. This issue turns the focus on Flash, and the main thing we’re supposed to get from it is that he’s whiny and resents being forced to do anything he considers beneath him. You know, like working to create infrastructure on their new planet, instead of “saving people”. Eventually, after having enough of the hard work, he settled down in a small town and tried to go incognito until his identity was blown by a visit from Hawkgirl.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen has become an insane cult leader of a New God, attempting to recruit Flash into his cult and vowing to kill anyone who doesn’t follow him. With the onset of other alternate versions of characters, such as the married Superman from Lois and Clark, I find it hard to see this title keeping any sort of audience for long. There’s just no one likable here, and nothing for the audience to connect with.
Corrina: Hah! No one to root for here, that’s true, especially with Red Tornado/Lois missing. I don’t understand why DC gave the go-ahead for this series and then made it so depressing and grim.
Added to that, the flashbacks are not helping, just confusing the matter. Sometimes, it’s just better to tell us the story instead of jumping around in time to “tease” us about what we missed. There’s nothing wrong with things in the right order. And there’s a lot wrong with the out-of-order scenes in this book. What a waste of a title.
Red Hood/Arsenal #5, Scott Lobdell, writer, Denis Meori, artist
Ray: I will always be slightly confused by this series. So much of it is terrible. So, so terrible. But mixed in there, there are hints that Lobdell gets Jason Todd like he gets very few other characters, and a great scene or two slips in there in the middle of the awful.
But first, the awful. This new villain, Underbelly, is laughable and is revealed to apparently have dozens of clones of himself around the country. He’s got a ridiculous origin involving him being the living version of psychic hate waves created by Gotham’s criminals, spreading around the country. Despite his ability to regenerate, Roy is able to defeat him for good (read: kill him) by some ill-defined tech he happens to have mounted on an arrow.
There’s also the ongoing problem of the way Lobdell writes Gordon. While Gordon may be more by-the-book than Bruce ever was, he’s certainly not as rude and nasty as he comes across in this issue. However, the scene where Jason pays a visit to the shelter where he grew up and where Bruce currently works is one of the best scenes Lobdell has written in his time at DC. If only Lobdell could only write Jason Todd and none of the rest of this crew, there might be a strong book here.
Corrina: Yes, the one scene at the end with Jason is good. But the villain is not believable and the way he’s defeated isn’t believable either. It’s as if some elements of the story are well-thought out and the others just built around those small number of moments.
I thought, perhaps, since Jim is a favorite, that I was being too hard on the creative team for how Jim’s Batman is portrayed. But Ray agrees with me. Bad characterization it is.
Bonus Review by Ray:
Star Trek/Green Lantern #4 – story by Mike Johnson, art by Angel Hernandez, 7/10
After three great issues, I thought this issue flagged a bit by essentially being one long slug-fest. All the darker rings have found their way to villains from the Star Trek Universe, and they’ve been found and “mentored” by villains from the Green Lantern universe. As the Green Lanterns and Starfleet crew investigate the source of the Lantern invasion, Larfleeze and his Romulan partner plan to take on the Federation.
Meanwhile, Atrocitus and Glocon attack the federation, only to be met by Sinestro and his allies from the Klingon empire. They soon draw the attention of the heroes, and Hal hits Sinestro with a giant Starfleet ship made out of green energy. It’s got some fantastic visuals, but it doesn’t really advance the plot in any way. In fact, at the end of the issue, Nekron is still climbing out of the dirt like he was last issue. Not a bad issue, but it definitely feels a bit like filler.