Welcome to our weekly recap of DC comics’ new releases. Ray is the protoypical DC reader, while I’m always searching for that comic that will appeal to new readers and might make them a comic fan for life.
This week has a strong candidate in that vein in the Darkseid War Green Lantern book, with a story that Ray and I loved unequivocally. There’s also the debut of a Hollywood-connected origin story for Superman, American Alien, which focuses on Clark’s childhood and struggle to control his new abilities. Ray feels it treads familiar ground but I loved the optimism in the book. Too bad Max Landis’ take on Jonathan Kent wasn’t on the big screen.
Also, more fun with DC Bombshells, the Bat-kids, and Starfire, while Gordon Batman looks to be in over his head again, and we take a walk with Constantine through his daily life, which is as weird as you might guess.
Justice League Darkseid War: Green Lantern #1 – script by Tom King, art by Doc Shaner
Corrina: Buy It. Brilliant Hal Jordan story.
Ray: King is riding an incredible hot streak right now, with a popular run on Grayson, Omega Men being critically acclaimed, and Vision getting the best reviews of the Marvel relaunch.
Now he can add the best Green Lantern comic since Geoff Johns bid his farewell to that list. This one-shot focuses on Hal Jordan as he prepares to take on the mantle of the former New God of Light, Lightray. However, where it even outdoes the excellent Batman issue is in its compelling portrayal of the psychological toll that this kind of power would take on a man – especially a man, like Hal Jordan, who has been tempted by unlimited power before. It’s not mentioned explicitly in the book, but it’s impossible to read without remembering Hal’s fall from grace with Parallax.
The story is split between two segments. The first focuses on Hal fighting a losing battle against the forces of Darkseid, who are killing and converting his fellow Lanterns into Parademons. Hal gives it his all, but is quickly outnumbered – until he agrees to give in to the Mother Box, taking the power of Light on and becoming a God. He’s able to reverse the Parademon invasion and restore the Corps, but is quickly tempted to do more.
The second segment, and the heart of the issue is a young Hal Jordan at his father’s Church, lighting a candle for him and trying to find answers in his father’s fate as he talks to a mysterious stranger in a flight jacket. We clue in pretty quickly that this is the older Hal with the powers of a God paying a visit to his child self, but the mystery isn’t the point. The dialogue here, and the discussion over faith that they have, is one of the finest pieces of writing in a DC book I’ve seen in some time. This, unlike the other one-shots, isn’t a story of how Hal embraces the power of a God – it’s the story of how he embraces his humanity over it.
Doc Shaner’s art, as always, is pitch perfect with a vibe that reminds me a lot of Darwyn Cooke in places. And can I say how happy it makes me that this issue reveals that Hal is half-Jewish? That was unexpected, and he’s now probably the most prominent Jewish character DC has ever had! It’s been a while since we had an issue that reminded us just how great a character Hal is, and I predict this will be an all-time classic for the character. And when Venditti leaves, Tom King should be the first draft pick to take over GL.
Corrina: I should hate this issue. Instead, I love it. Ray said this was the best GL story since Geoff Johns’ work on the title, but he doesn’t go far enough, especially since Johns’ run produced nothing but indifference in me.
This is the best Hal Jordan story since DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. I’ve been hard on these Darkseid War one-shots, insisting that they should be a complete tale worth their $3.99 price tag. This more than meets that standard and, bonus, it doesn’t require the reader to buy the main series or any other tie-ins.
This issue could be picked up by someone who’s never read a Green Lantern story and make them an instant fan. It’s that definitive a take on the concept of Green Lanterns and on Hal as a person. Usually splitting a story in two like this, especially with one as a flashback, seems like a cheap trick, but here it’s clearly part of a larger whole. This is not just a story about a hero with a magic ring but a story about a hero with all the powers in the world who’s able to hold onto his humanity and give free will to all those who might worship him, instead of imposing his will.
Yes, DC should definitely give King a run on Green Lantern.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #6 – James Tynion IV and Ming Doyle, writers, Riley Rossmo, art and cover.
Corrina: Buy It. Great jumping on point.
Ray: The first five issues of Constantine were excellent, but they were caught up in a dark, dense mystery with a horrible enemy and ties to Constantine’s less than savory past. While there’s definitely a place for that, I am really happy to see this issue dial it back and do a day in the life, as Constantine tries to earn a living by taking on D-list exorcisms and demon-hunts.
The issue is alternately hilarious and horrific, as Constantine fights one small threat after another for pay. A creepy basement demon named Mr. Gobble. A greek-literature loving demon possessing a child who is an old friend of Constantine’s. A karaoke-singing ghost-dragon. An angry raccoon who has convinced people it’s possessed. A possessed dryer. It’s all incredibly bizarre and classic Constantine, like something out of an HBO version of Supernatural. But under it all, there’s an interesting undercurrent of Constantine being haunted by the events of the last arc, and most of this simply being an attempt to distract himself. He gets personal advice from a cranky old gargoyle before going on a few new jobs, but when an old friend of his comes back to town looking to talk to him about an important matter, John reluctantly lets him back in his life.
This issue serves both as a great done-in-one and an excellent teaser to the next arc in a run that looks like it could be Constantine’s best in a long time.
Corrina: I enjoyed the first four issues of this title but there’s no denying that they were dense with the weight of Constantine’s past deeds and more difficult to read for someone unfamiliar with all the background. This, however, is the perfect jumping on point for new readers, especially fans of Constantine’s television show. The story would serve as a great pilot for an HBO series, and not just because John sits around naked, contemplating his life while surrounded by various pieces of mail though that is a great metaphor for his inability to connect with people except at a distance.
My favorite monster? The gargoyle at the end who points out that John isn’t a good dude but, nevertheless, the city needs him to do what he can to prevent the coming storm.
Batman #46 – written by Scott Snyder, art by Danny Miki, Greg Capullo
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Jim Gordon’s first mission as Batman continues to reach critical mass as Mr. Bloom declares open war on Gotham. Bloom is easily one of the visually creepiest villains we’ve seen in DC in a long time, something like a cross between Doctor Death from Zero Year (who I still think is involved here somehow), and Slender Man. When the issue opens, he’s crashed Geri Powers’ press conference where she was set to fire Gordon as Batman, and he proceeds to kill most of the surrounding people with his spike-like fingers before delivering a mission to Powers.
Gordon jumps into the fray and is able to trap Bloom using the Bat-Zeppelin temporarily, but Bloom gets away after revealing that he knows exactly who Gordon is. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne and Julie Madison have a conversation where he reveals that he knows exactly who her father is – the gun-runner who likely sold a weapon to Joe Chill – and that he doesn’t care. I would be a lot more interested in this plot involving Bruce finding happiness and walking away from his past if it didn’t so closely mirror the terrible plot in Batman: The Dark Knight a few years back. We’ve been down this road one too many times.
As Duke Thomas infiltrates the Iceberg Lounge looking for clues as to his parents’ location, Geri Powers reveals her plan to expand the Batman “franchise” by giving each city its own civilian hero controlled by her corporation. This is something that could very easily turn bad, but we haven’t really seen any hard evidence that Powers is corrupt yet. Gordon convinces Powers to give him one more shot at Bloom in the narrows before she fires him, and he heads into a one-on-one showdown in one of the worst areas of Gotham – that Bloom seems set to win as he turns Gordon’s “partner” – the Bat-suit, against him.
This issue might not have quite the same incredibly memorable scenes that some previous issues did, but it’s still a great installment in the most consistently excellent book DC has put out in years.
Corrina: The creepiness of the villain and Gordon’s insistence on handling things his own way push this comic above a basic “villain terrorizes city” plot that, in lesser hands, would elicit a mere shrug from me. Gordon may not be the world’s greatest detective but he can tell when he’s being set up to fail and when a trap is a trap.
As for Powers Corporation, given the revelation that Mr. Bloom can somehow control Gordon’s armor (his “rookie” as Gordon calls it), I’m guessing that Powers Corporation has a connection to Mr. Bloom and that’s why he busted into their press conference at the beginning, so Powers could clear the decks. Is it Geri Powers, who seems to want to take back the streets with an army of Robot Batman, behind this? (Aside: hasn’t Geri been reading Prez to know what a bad idea remote-controlled police robots are?)
I find the Bruce Wayne story sweet in that it’s a wonderful glimpse of the kind of man Bruce might have become without tragedy. Usually, the take is that Bruce would be a wastrel or not appreciate life if Joe Chill hadn’t murdered his parents before his eyes. Instead, this Bruce without tragedy is a good man, capable of love, and dedicated to helping others improve their lives. I appreciate that.
That said, Bruce Wayne proposing marriage to someone is usually the kiss of death for that character. Watch out for the fridge, lady, before you get stuffed into it.
Batman and Robin Eternal #6 – James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, James Tynion IV, writer, Tony S. Daniel, pencils, Sandu Florea with Mark Morales and Tony S. Daniel, inks.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This issue mainly takes place in the past segment, but it illuminates a lot when it comes to the threat facing the heroes in this series, and sets up one of the creepiest villains Batman has ever encountered. The issue opens with a great action segment as Dick Grayson, still feeling the effects of his encounter with fear gas, is desperate to prove himself to Batman and winds up seriously endangering himself while chasing Scarecrow’s plane which turns out to be booby-trapped.
I really like the way Bruce is portrayed here, with just the right mix of Batman’s sternness and a more compassionate side that’s genuinely concerned with his son’s mental health. However, the plot really starts moving when Bruce encounters an old colleague of his. The man, a bit drunk, shares with him a disturbing story of how he purchased his wife, her mind customized to his specifications, from a secret broker that creates designer humans.
However, the man then sees a mysterious observer and clams up, claiming to just be joking. Bruce investigates the case and finds evidence that the woman was an Eastern European orphan of gun violence who then resurfaced as this new American socialite years later. But before he can investigate further, both her and her husband are killed by Orphan. In the framing sequence, as Dick and Jason plan their next move and pick up Harper and Cass, we get our first glimpse of the mysterious Mother, who is confirmed to still be alive and looking to make her move. It’s a bit of a breather issue, but an excellent one that sheds some much-needed light on the threat involved. This series hasn’t had anything close to a bad issue yet.
Corrina: Mother is creepy but I had the same problem with this plot idea as I did the concept behind Dollhouse: if you have the power to completely remake and control human beings, why the heck are you using it provide sex toys for rich men? There’s so much more than can be done with this concept. I hope we see more of it than this aspect.
My guess about Tim Drake and this big secret hidden by Batman? Tim Drake was originally one of Mother’s creations and Batman was able to rescue him at a fairly young age, wipe his mind, and set him up with a seemingly normal home life. But then Mother’s training manifested and Bruce decided that, instead of telling the boy the truth, to counter-train him and influence Tim into becoming a Robin, believing that was the best fate for the boy.
Glad to see less sniping with each other this issue. I could wish for more Stephanie but I’m glad Harper and Cass were included on the Bat-kid road trip.
DC Comics: Bombshells #4 – Marguerite Bennett, writer, Bilquis Evely, Mirka Andolfo, and Laura Braga, artists
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: After three issues of surprisingly compelling origin stories, things pick up in a big way as two of the three stories this month deal with our heroes dealing with tricky moral quandaries.
The first and best of the stories focuses on Stargirl and Kara, now working as super-powered agents of the Night Witches, leading a bombing raid on what they’re told is a Nazi encampment. However, closer investigation reveals that it is, in fact, a prison camp for Russian dissenters and political prisoners, placed there in the way of bombers by a General whose name sounds a lot like an iconic Swamp Thing villain.
Facing the choice of betraying their country or participating in a massacre of their own countrymen, Kara and Kortni divert the bombs and prepare to go on the run. The second story introduces the Bombshells version of Harley Quinn, here a young doctor at a British mental hospital with rumored ties to a mysterious killer back in the states. While I was glad to see Shondra Kinsloving make another appearance, I didn’t think her origin here was unique enough compared to the other heroines. Still, her taking advantage of Hal Jordan was hilarious.
The third story has Diana’s alliance with the US military being sorely tested when a group of Nazi prisoners are brought in, and the US soldiers want to execute them in payback for what’s been done to their soldiers. Overall, the characterization is strong all around, especially in the first segment, and while Harley isn’t going to be the breakout character here, she’s fun in almost every version.
Corrina: When I spoke to Bennett at New York Comic Con, she said that while she basically had the ability to introduce any DC character, that she was being careful about adding each one. Once you pick one off the shelf, she said, then that character is set in stone.
Well, she certainly picked up characters off the shelf this issue, with the most prominent being Harley Quinn and the most obscure being Shondra Kinsloving. Who is that latter, you ask? She’s the doctor who treated Bruce Wayne after Bane broke his back. She’s also the one who was given a magical ability to heal Bruce, though doing so put her into a coma and she was hardly ever heard from again. Whether her backstory matches up with backstory in Bombshells isn’t really the point. The point is that Bennett and the creative team are obviously having fun with all aspects of the DC universe.
And, as Kara and Stargirl’s story shows, she’s using every piece to good effect. I’m going to be smiling at naive Hal Jordan for a long time.
Catwoman #46 – Genevieve Valentine, writer, David Messina, penciller, Gaetano Carlucci, inker
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Valentine wraps up her unique mob-themed Catwoman run as Selina Kyle returns to status quo as a vigilante next issue. While the run was a bit slow in places, it was easily the smartest Catwoman run we’ve gotten in a long time and it ends with a bang as Eiko Hasigawa seeks to avenge her family in blood.
Selina’s tragic sort-of-romance with Eiko ended with Black Mask killing Eiko’s father due to believing he was associated with Catwoman, and Black Mask got his last issue, but Eiko aims to take out her rage on all the crime families of Gotham. Things are complicated when Antonia pays a visit to Eiko to offer her condolences on the night Eiko plans to pull off her attack on the crime families, and barely escapes with her life due to Eiko’s small remaining bits of compassion.
There’s a great scene between Selina and Stephanie, as the issue clears up one of the darker elements of Stephanie’s role in this run and sets her up well to return to the Bat-family in Eternal. However, the core of this run is the showdown between Selina and Eiko, in a scene where very few words are needed but the point gets across perfectly. Everything is tied up very nicely in this issue, and while I’m not quite sure if Valentine chose to leave or was pushed, I’m satisfied by the way this run ended and I’m looking forward to Valentine’s work on Eternal.
Corrina: Smart is a good word for this run, a breath of fresh air after what came before, as the original creative team promised a dirty, sexy Catwoman and that went about as well as can be expected. Yes, Selina has always been a sexy character but that’s hardly all she is. Valentine emphasized her intelligence, her amorality and, sometimes, even her compassion.
And yet…the end game of all this is that it seems to have simply pushed a reset button at the end. Selina’s aim was to clean up Gotham’s crime families from the inside and she fails, spectacularly, because it all ends in Eiko’s massacre of competing families. Sure, figuratively speaking, this might make the trains run on time in Gotham instead of more blood flowing in the streets, but it’s obvious that, in Gotham, violence always begets violence.
Selina knows that. Maybe that’s why she’s taking a break from the city. And it’s entirely possible that Valentine intended to end her run slightly differently. But at least she brought Selina out of the mess she was stuffed into several years ago.
Batman/Superman #26 – Greg Pak, writer, Ardian Syaf & Cliff Richards, pencils, Vicente Cifuentes and Cliff Richards, inks
Corrina: Good if you’re a “love the Bat-kids” fan.
Ray: A strong issue as Superman and his new allies work to unite a small mining village into a threat against Vandal Savage’s coming invasion. Last issue saw Grayson, Batgirl, and Red Hood all joining with Superman to assist him in protecting the Russian village that Savage has turned into slaves, and the best part of this issue is the scenes where Superman interacts with the locals and struggles to inspire them the same way he did when he was fully powered.
However, Pak does a great job of showing how Superman always gives his all in these situations. His characterization of Barbara and Dick is strong as well, although I wonder about the casual way that Jason’s past as a known killer is treated. I mean, this is a guy who has a history as a villain, and yet pretty much everyone treats it as “Ha ha, no killing, Jason.”
The group comes up against a horde of shadow monsters and tries to fend them off, but they’re quickly overwhelmed – at least until Gordon shows up, ready to join the fight. He still doesn’t trust Superman and isn’t really working with his predecessor’s allies, but he sees people who need protecting. And then it becomes clear what Savage is digging for in this town – as they unearth a massive Nazi cruiser of some kind. It’s a solid issue that is at its best when dealing with the quieter moments.
Corrina: Monster Nazi tank! Or something. Savage is an interesting villain because he can plot for decades, centuries even, and has the patience to wait until the right time to strike. Though, as with most villains, his weakness is his arrogance.
This comic has done well without Bruce Wayne, adding in Gordon Batman and now the rest of the Bat-crew in this issue, so it feels like a team-up. However, those not reading this and the myriad other issues dealing with Superman’s depowering are going to be hopelessly lost.
Justice League United #15 – Jeff Parker, writer, Paul Pelletier, pencils, Rob Hunter, inks
Corrina: My Inner Fangirl Loves It.
Ray: This oddball series is ending next issue, likely partially due to not having any sort of steady team with A-list characters. It’s a shame, because this book is actually a lot of fun and often pulls from obscure corners of the DCU.
Namely, when will you ever see Vandal Savage, Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, OMAC, and the Creature Commandoes sharing a comic? The actual tech-heavy team including Robotman, Steel, and Batgirl almost seems incidental this issue, as only Stargirl really stands out in her team-up with the honorable Enemy Ace.
Caught in the middle of a time bubble pitting soldiers from many different wars against each other, the threat is often the various confused armies as much as anything – such as when Rock attempts to shoot down Ace’s plane, mistaking him for a Nazi rather than a WWI pilot. The resolution is a tiny bit abrupt as everyone is sent back to their initial times, but the story is a fun throwback to an era of DC that hasn’t gotten any long-lived revivals. I’ll be sorry to see this title go, and hopefully it’ll tie things up with a bang next issue.
Corrina: This is exactly the kind of tale that got me hooked all those years ago on the DC Universe. I believe it was a Justice League/Justice Society team-up that also featured a bunch of time-lost heroes, including Viking Prince and Enemy Ace. That was such a cheerful mash-up of good against evil that I searched out every single character in that book. (Though there wasn’t much Viking Prince to be found.)
This is the same. Sgt. Rock is used as the morale touchstone for the heroes, while the Creature Commandos and various other characters from other times hint at the depth and breadth of the DC universe. But, for a story to be interesting, it needs characters with some depth and that is provided, as Ray said, by the weird but wonderful team-up between Enemy Ace and Stargirl.
I’m sorry this comic won’t survive but I wonder if Parker & Pelletier should be given a new Brave & the Bold team-up book.
Justice League Darkseid War: Shazam #1 – Steve Orlando, writer, Scott Kolins, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: The second of this week’s tie-ins to Darkseid War, this one by Orlando and Kolins focuses on one of the JL’s most underused heroes as he deals with a massive change to his powers. It seems that Darkseid’s death broke the connections that Shazam held with the old Gods, and they’ve been overwritten by connections to an assortment of New Gods from various pantheons – some much less friendly than others.
Confused by the new voices in his head, he says the magic word and finds himself teleported inside his own mindscape, where he learns that one of the Gods inside there is a ruthless villain determined to kill the others and take his power. That God, Zonuz, makes for an imposing threat but in general a generic villain. The other Gods, including the Martian God H’ronmeer, guide Billy along his path to face the biggest threat he’s encountered yet and rescue the wizard from Zonuz’s clutches. There’s a few interesting scenes, and the reveal that the Wizard is to become the final God in the pantheon himself is interesting, but there’s a bit too much information in this comic to really work in one book, and Billy continues to be a bit too snarky and rude at points. I’m wondering if this will be reversed at the end of the event because unlike the other power changes, it feels like this one could stick.
Corrina: This comic features killer concepts of the other gods from the art team and that can’t even bring me to recommend it.
Why not? Because this story basically features Billy Batman being a smart-ass, screaming brat to all the new gods. Yes, Billy’s being manipulated by the gods and there’s something interesting of the element that gods aren’t the powerful ones, their worshippers are.
But reading this is like being stuck on am amusement park ride with a kid complaining at the top of their lungs. Pass.
Starfire #6 – Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, Emanuela Lupacchino, pencils, Ray McCarthy, inks
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: I must say, I’m losing patience with this title a little bit. There’s a lot to like about it, especially all of Kory’s endearing cutaways and her attempts to fit in on Earth, but it feels like the book’s narrative issues are becoming more and more significant every issue.
For one thing, the villains are fairly terrible – giant subterranean monster aside – and they tend to add a tone of grimness to the book that doesn’t really work. The issue opens after Soren’s attacked Kory’s friend and left him bleeding on the floor. At least he’s revealed to be okay quickly, with the book not needing any random casualties. However, Kory manages to knock out Soren quickly and leaves him restrained in the hospital, with his plot either still not resolved or resolved in a way that just doesn’t have any impact. It’s only a few pages of light-hearted dialogue before a new threat emerges – a generic alien bounty hunter looking to collect money on Kory’s head.
He beats an airport worker to death and then throws the dying man into the cafe where Kory is eating. This, naturally, sends Kory into a rage and she’s tempted to kill the villain, but instead puts him in stasis in his ship and sends him back into space. There’s still flashes of the great book this started out as, but they’re getting less and less frequent.
Corrina: It can be hard to mix humor and action, and especially violence, all in one story. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the gold standard for that and while this comic hasn’t always been that effective in mixing genres, it’s mostly been successful. Ray has problems overall. I only had niggles with one issue.
If I have a problem, it would be that there’s too much going on this issue. There’s the love story at the beginning, the threat of Soren, the alien bounty hunter, and an oncoming storm. Mix that with Kory’s problems in fitting into human society, and it can be hard to juggle. But I’m still enjoying the comic.
Plus, next week, Dick Grayson arrives. (For someone who is supposed to remain secret and hidden, Dick sure gets around lately.)
Superman: American Alien #1 – Max Landis, writer, Nick Dragotta, art.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: We’ve had no shortage of Superman origins, by everyone from Mark Waid to Geoff Johns, so I was a bit skeptical when Landis and Dragotta announced their own take on Superman’s younger years. I will say that this first issue at least has a unique hook – we haven’t seen many takes on Clark Kent’s childhood as his powers were just first emerging.
This issue is almost as much a spotlight for Jonathan and Martha Kent as they were trying to help their son adjust to his unique abilities. There’s some very creative scenes as they try to help Clark get his flying under control – and in one scene, literally use a plane to drag him back down to Earth. I think the Kents are written pretty well here, especially the plain-spoken, somewhat blunt Jonathan as he tries to instill morals in his son.
The biggest problem is the characterization of Clark, which calls back way too much to the angsty, self-pitying characterization of Clark in the early seasons of Smallville.
I also have a bone to pick with the “scrapbook” epilogue in the back of the comic, which shows what happened to the Kents before they found Clark. The kind old couple who struggled with infertility in the original comics is now replaced with a young couple that was the victim of a brutal drunk driving crash that caused their child to be stillborn and apparently left Martha infertile, an unnecessary addition that reminds me a lot of the New 52 Supergirl origin that added a dead little brother. On the merits, it’s not a bad comic, at least until it gets to the fight club issues later on, but right now it just feels unnecessary and a bit cynical.
Corrina: Now here’s our biggest disagreement of the week. I found this story a breath of fresh air after the angsty, depressed Superman of the new 52 and the alienated underpowered loner currently starring in DC’s regular Superman line.
This is a Clark who’s a good kid, a kid who likes to have fun, dealing with the superhero equivalent of having special needs, powers that could kill him and others. Not only that, it shows a Jonathan and Martha Kent who don’t try to push Clark into being normal but learn to celebrate his differences. (This also would be a good road map for parents dealing with kids on the autism spectrum.) It’s also a terrific change from the awful portrayal of Jonathan in the Man of Steel movie, where Jon suggests Clark might want to let people die rather than reveal he’s different.
I loved the artwork, which managed to convey the emotions of everyone involved and yet also the vastness of the sky. If I had an issue, it’s that once again, Martha is the less important parent in Superman’s origins. It’s not that I want her to take center stage but it’s be nice if she earned equal time, for once.
The only thing I didn’t like about this comic was the title.
Batman Beyond #6 – Dan Jurgens, writer, Bernard Chang, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: I mean, we pretty much know what’s going on in this issue, right? Tim Drake in a Bat-suit – in this case, Gordon’s robo-bat suit – takes on an army of Brother Eye goons alongside some leftover cast members from the old Batman Beyond comics. The issue is pretty much non-stop action from start to finish, and while it’s a bit more readable than some of the previous issues, it leaves essentially no emotional impact even when a prominent character from the Batman Beyond cartoon makes a heroic sacrifice and seemingly dies.
The bulk of the issue has Tim taking on Brother Eye in his physical form. He’s beaten pretty quickly, but thanks to a last-minute assist from Inque he’s able to turn the tide. The issue wraps up the first storyline pretty solidly and seems like it’ll bench Brother Eye, which might bode well for the ongoing health of the series, but we’ll see. A new arc featuring the Justice League begins next issue. Let’s hope it’s an improvement.
Corrina: There’s a new arc coming? I thought maybe the comic was canceled. Though this issue is readable, it can’t rise above the horrible concept of Terry being replaced by a time-lost Tim Drake or cover over the fact that Brother Eye is a horrible, horrible villain.
I hope the next arc results in bringing Terry back and providing a better end for this future other than the remains of dead cyborg Justice League members.
Red Hood/Arsenal #6 – Scott Lobdell, writer, Denis Meori, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy.
Ray: Man, Lobdell’s characters have really bad judgment when it comes to team members, don’t they? Last issue the Teen Titans let a mass-murdering terrorist from the future back on their team, and this issue, Jason suddenly wants to recruit a psychopath who is obsessed with his killer into his squad? Anyway, dialing back briefly, last issue had Arsenal apparently being shot by Joker’s Daughter.
This issue reveals that he’s not actually dead, but captured and she’s trying to trade him to an assassin’s alliance of the various D-list villains from over the run. Jason eventually captures Joker’s Daughter, exposes her for the poser she is and gets information on Arsenal from her, and then lets her escape through incompetence. After rescuing Arsenal and beating back the likes of Susie Su and the mimes, Jason extends an inexplicable offer to Joker’s Daughter to join them. I’ve never liked the character, and I can’t imagine this being the title to win me over on her, but I’m sure the disaster that unfolds from this incredibly out-of-character decision will be somewhat entertaining.
Corrina: Every now and then, there’s a glimmer of interesting characterization, especially with Jason Todd, in this comic. And then something absolutely ridiculous and stupid happens, like the Joker’s Daughter showing up, plus a bunch of assassins paid to get rid of our heroes because their hero consulting business has been too successful.
What? Nevermind, it’s all okay because Jason seems something of himself in Joker’s Daughter and decides he can reform her and no one else. How about taking that awful skin mask off her first, Jason? No? Okay, then, I’m sure traipsing around the world with the two most irresponsible DC characters will definitely cure her of being murderously crazy. Skip this comic, by all means.
Teen Titans #13 – writer, Will Pfeifer, pencilled by Ricken, Paolo Pantalena and Noel Rodriguez, inked by Trevor Scott
Corrina: ::deep sigh::
Ray: I know I beat up on this title a lot, but usually the writing is at fault. This issue, the art is almost equally to blame! There’s really no excuse for a single issue of a regular comic to have three different pencilers on one issue, and the art shifts are really glaring. The proportions are glaringly bad in some pages, and the backgrounds can be almost entirely lacking. The story isn’t much better, as we have the team split into different segments to handle the prison break, and the big threats set up in previous issues turns out to be essentially Doctor Psycho trolling everyone.
Manchester Black is exposed for his treachery in a rather lazy way, which causes Power Girl to gain new powers and grow to giant size while pummeling him. And the issue ends with a cliffhanger featuring…Alpha Centurion, the guy last seen in Doomed? That’ll drive those sales. And oh, yeah, everyone’s just fine with Bar Tor, intergalactic terrorist being back on the team. In every way with this book, it feels like DC has just given up on this franchise. Let’s hope the strong first issue of Titans Hunt will help to get it back on track eventually.
Corrina: What the heck is this comic? Not even the writers seem to know and that’s likely because while Pfeifer is listed in the credits on the comic as the writer, Lobdell is listed as the writer on the DC website. This tells me some last minute replacements happened, with the art team too (as Ray noted) and that accounts for how much of a mess it is.
Skip, by all means. And DC, stop futzing around with last minute creative changes, put a stake through this book, and find a better home for promising characters like Bunker and Power Girl.
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.
Disclaimer: GeekMom received these comics for review purposes.