Welcome to our weekly recap of DC Comics’ latest releases. Ray Goldfield is the proto-typical DC reader, while I’m the lapsed DC reader who needs to be pulled back in.
This week, when the stories were good, they were excellent but when they were bad, they were awful. The Batman line, of course, remains strong, but The Omega Men and DC Bombshells pull their weight. And we split on book of the week, with Ray going for Robin, Son of Batman while Superman: Lois & Clark is my favorite.
As for the worst, it’s good that Superman has the book mentioned above and that Wonder Woman has DC Bombshells because and the less said about their regular weekly books, the better.
Oh, and yet another sequel to the great Dark Night Returns came out. How doe sit stack up to the original? See below.
Robin, Son of Batman #6 – Patrick Gleason, script and pencils, Mick Gray and Tom Nguyen, inks,
Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Not Book of the Week For Me But I Still Recommend It for the ‘Aww..”
Ray: The end of the first arc, before Damian heads back to Gotham to take part in the upcoming Robin War (which gets teased in another book this week as well). Surprisingly, the arrival of new Big Bad Den Darga actually takes a backseat this issue, with the villain fleeing to put his plan into motion, and the focus being on Damian and his odd supporting cast.
The opening segment shows one of Damian’s missions in the Year of Blood, which leads to him slaughtering a colony of Man-Bats. However, one young Man-Bat (who is sure to get all the fan art on Tumblr) survives, and Damian can’t bring himself to kill it. So he takes it back to his mother and gets approval to keep it as a warrior companion. It grows up into Goliath, natch. The powerful heart of the issue, though, is in Damian’s reunion with his mother now that they actually have time to talk.
Can I say how much I love that Gleason basically has Talia say “Yeah, I was acting out of character and as soon as that storyline was over I realized that.”. It’s almost like a meta acknowledgment of the fact that Talia’s behavior through the entirety of the Batman Inc. story was grossly out of character. Damian and Talia don’t exactly make amends here – which is understandable, given that she murdered him, but Damian seems willing to cautiously let Talia prove herself to him again, and I’m looking forward to seeing that explored. The book also explores Damian’s conflicted feelings about Bruce’s supposed death – it sort of takes the sting out of it when you’ve come back from the dead yourself. There’s a more warm and fuzzy resolution to Maya’s hatred for Damian, as she decides to follow her mother’s example rather than her father’s and forgive him. I’ve really loved what Gleason has done with Maya, and I’m hoping she plays a major role in upcoming story lines. And that she’s put in the Birds of Prey reboot when it happens! Overall, an excellent issue that leaves Damian in a great place for his first crossover as a solo hero.
Corrina: There so much good about this title, from the sequence with bloodthirsty Damian and adorable Goliath, to Maya forgiving Damian and deciding to let go of vengeance, to Damian deciding to follow his father’s methods and give his mother a second chance to be…well, whatever Talia Al Ghul wants to be, I suppose.
I love the sentiment and Gleason’s art is by turns epic and intimate, seen in the fight scenes and the close-ups with Damian/Goliath and Damian/Maya. But there’s also the narrative problem I’ve noticed with this title previously. Talia asks her son to give her a second chance, that she no longer remembers why she might have wanted to kill him, and then the narrative jumps to the decision Damian makes, and, then, at the end, the reader gets Damian’s letter to his mother giving her what she asked for but threatening vengeance if she goes down the wrong road. I understand writers want to play with narrative structure and that’s fine but I also don’t want to be flipping back in the book to see if I’ve missed pages, either.
Batman and Robin Eternal #8 – James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Genevieve Valentine, script, Alvaros Martinez and Scott Eaton, pencils, Raul Fernandez and Wayne Faucher, inks
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Aside from a few tiny hiccups, this book has been excellent from beginning to end, and this action-packed issue continues that pattern. When we last left off, Cass and Harper found themselves under attack by an assassin ballet company all working for Mother, while Dick confronted the woman behind the evil.
The story is briefly split between Bruce’s first encounter with Mother and the current day, as Bruce seeks out Mother’s services so he can go deep undercover and find out exactly what she’s up to. The bulk of the issue splits between the action and Dick’s standoff with Mother. Mother’s only appeared a few times, but I am already fascinated with this uniquely evil character. Unlike most Batman villains, she seems to pose no physical threat, but her every word drips with cruelty and seems targeted to cut right to the bone of the character she’s talking to. I’m reminded a bit of Dolores Umbridge in places. There’s the ongoing mystery of which, if any Robins she had a hand in creating. Dick doesn’t take Mother’s bait and jumps back into the fray to help Harper and Cass beat off the assassins. They escape, but before they can get to the Batcave in Prague, a playful gesture from Harper triggers some horrific memories from Cass and sends her fleeing in terror. I actually think so far, this book is doing a better job exploring Cass’ trauma and fears than her solo book usually did. It’s a distinct part of what makes her unique, not just her silent nature. The brief Jason and Tim segment hints more at the secondary villain of the series, and the two have a strong banter. Overall, the series continues to hit on all cylinders and looks to be strong into act two.
Corrina: Overall this has been a strong series and benefits a great deal from moving the action to Prague rather than being stuck in Gotham. My one qualm is that Dick is so self-adjusted to his life that I wonder why he’d even be worried about what Mother says to him. I never had any question in my mind that he’d join her and leave Harper and Cass to their own fight. I’m also not thrilled with the backstory interruptions and you may consider flashbacks my personal pet peeve of the week.
Can’t anyone write a story with a simple beginning to end anymore? That’s probably too much to expect from a title juggling multiple characters, multiple plotlines, and multiple venues, however, so I’ll try to enjoy the ride more.
Superman: Lois and Clark #2 – Dan Jurgens, writer, Lee Weeks, penciller, Scott Hanna, inker
Corrina: Buy It. So Much Win. My Book of the Week
Ray: The first issue of this series was a complete game-changer, revealing that the pre-52 Superman was living on the new Earth with his wife and son since the beginning. It’s a fantastic status quo to explore, and it remains incredibly strong going into the second issue. This issue actually focuses more on Lois Lane – which is very welcome, as it’s the best she’s been written in the New 52. It also explores some of the complications of arriving in a different universe, such as your history being wiped out and leaving you with no credentials. Thus, Lois was left with no history to draw on (with another Lois Lane around, to boot) and was reduced at first to writing about Flower shows for the local paper. That led her to do her anonymous intergang exposes, which lead to her being targeted by mysterious hit men with her son in the car.
There are a number of interesting subplots running around the series, such as Superman’s efforts to stop a man-made Earthquake in Chicago – I’ve missed the lighthearted way pre-Flashpoint Superman dealt with villains – and Jon’s ongoing struggles to fit in at school. It reminds me a lot of the first issue of American Alien in places, actually. There’s also the mysterious disappearance of Hank Henshaw from the shuttle Superman rescued last issue, and a mysterious new figure, “Mr. Chambers”, is investigating. The issue has a bit too much of a 90’s vibe in a few places, such as the last scene introducing a new alien villain, but every scene involving the family at the core of this series is note-perfect. It’s great to finally have Superman and Lois Lane back.
Corrina: I’ve missed a great deal about the pre-Flashpoint Superman, primarily the more optimistic and open Clark Kent/Superman and the Lois & Clark marriage, and I’m getting both from this book and that makes me so happy.
What makes me happier is not just the strength of characterization but that the plotting is also strong. Lois and Clark are in hiding, in both their secret identities. That Clark would have to hide who he is is obvious but that Lois would also have to hide her skills as an investigative reporter is an excellent touch and shows that this creative team gets Lois in way a creative team hasn’t in a long, long time. It also does a nice job of showing the Super-team as parents and partners-in-crimefighting.
We Are Robin #6 – Lee Bermejo, story and cover, Jorge Corona, art
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: On the surface, I would have expected the rookie Robins vs. the Court of Owls to be a bit more of a curb-stomp battle, but there’s something interesting about the Talon that the Robins find themselves pitted against this issue. It almost seems like the assassin is testing the kids more than anything else – but that doesn’t mean that he’s not playing for keeps. The issue opens with Duke marveling at the fact that he just survived getting shot, which sort of sets up the daredevil tone of the series – these aren’t trained kids fighting a war like the regular Robins, they’re ordinary kids who are still amazed and slightly shell-shocked by the dangers they face.
The Talon seems oddly talkative for a Court of Owls member, but in between hinting cryptically at future dangers, he’s brutally attacking the cops who surround them looking to take down both the Talon and the Robins. Not all the Robins are present at the fight, though, and we get an interesting new look at Dre’s background as he and Dax return home briefly. But a few interludes and looks at the media coverage aside, this issue is pretty much wall to wall action. After the kids refuse the Talon’s offer to join them and it looks like he may actually be ready to kill them, a giant tank courtesy of the Nest shows up to help them escape, and Alfred – in disguise in his hilarious beard and glasses – warns them to be more careful as the threats escalate. This is one of three books this week leading into next week’s Robin War, and it looks to be the title most directly affected. Looking forward to learning more about these characters and seeing them grow into their role as heroes.
Corrina: I love the concept of a gang of Robins and I have enjoyed meeting some of the Robins but the non-stop action is not letting the characters breathe enough. I know pacing is the name of the game to keep readers involved but so is character and it still feels like we’ve barely skimmed the surface of all our Robins.
This is not meant to say you shouldn’t be reading the title. Instead, it’s a request for more from the title. I have some reservations in that Alfred is the one putting kids in danger this time and that the series already killed off one of their heroes. But it’s a damn entertaining read, nonetheless. I’ve no idea what’s coming with the Robin War but I hope this title stays around after to flesh out all of its concepts and characters.
DC Comics Bombshells #5 – Marguerite Bennett, writer, Ming Doyle, Mirka Andolpho and Bilquis Everly, artists
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Another three strong stories this month, as the various chess pieces move around the board and a major new threat emerges. In the opening story, Kate Kane arrives in Berlin under deep cover to meet with her liaison – Alexander Luthor – as they head to a gala hosted by this world’s version of Selina Kyle, a powerful Italian countess. These connections allow them entry into a secret meeting of Nazi elites who transform a soldier into some sort of possessed Zombie via dark magic.
The second story is a lot lighter, as Harley Quinn continues tearing through the countryside, winding up crashing in Poison Ivy’s greenhouse. It’s great to see Harley and Ivy reunited in any version, and even better to see them take out some Nazis in violent fashion. That’s the great thing about this book – it’s always satisfying to see Nazis meet horrible fates! But as they escape with Harley singing off-key carols, we see that the new Nazi zombie army is following.
The third segment turns the story to a different enemy – the corrupt Russian regime – as Stargirl and Supergirl break from the Night Witches and try to free the prison camp they were ordered to destroy. But before they can, they wind up having to save their parents from their former military leaders, forcing the girls to make a heartbreaking choice as they defect. This world takes interesting turns every issue, and I’m hoping it goes on for a long time.
Corrina: Who can object to Harley Quinn hammering Nazis to death? I cannot and I’m willing to bet no reader could either. This is a story that could only occur in Bombshells, just like Supergirl and Stargirl as agents of Soviet propoganda who come to mean far more than that, as avatars of the good people of the Soviet Union as they try to save themselves from enemies within and without.
However, my favorite segment is Kate Kane undercover in Nazi Germany with Selina Kyle as her contact. That spy saga has all sorts of interesting implications, and it seems a natural use of both Gotham-characters. I’m less sure whether this Luthor is on the side of the U.S., the Nazis, or just out for himself, as usual, but we’ll see. This is a title I recommend every month and it hasn’t stumbled yet.
Justice League of America #5 – Matt Kindt and Rob Williams, writers, Philip Tan, pencils and inker, Jason Paz, inker
Corrina: Buy It if You’ve Been Reading Martian Manhunter.
Ray: This is an odd issue, as it’s a last-second fill in that feels like it came from another series – which it sort of did. It’s co-written by Kindt, but it feels very much like an issue of Williams’ Martian Manhunter series. A bit of bait and switch when it comes to this series, but the good news is that it’s actually a pretty good issue. It takes place during J’onn J’onnz’ previous tenure with the Justice League, which we know from the early issues of the series ended badly. J’onn is still having a hard time adjusting to Earth and fitting in among humans. His unease grows much greater when a series of mysterious deaths begin happening around him, with the attacks attributed to Thoth, one of J’onn’s old arch-nemeses. To investigate the killing, J’onn takes on other identities and investigates using police contacts, and it leads him to the truth – it’s not Thoth, but rather a parasitic alien life form that has been living on Earth for ages and consuming the bodies of those it inhabits. Kudos to Tan on delivering a genuinely creepy monster for this issue, as some of the visuals are great. I wouldn’t say it’s a true must-read, but it is an issue that will be satisfying for Martian Manhunter fans. I hope too many people don’t get ticked off thinking they’re buying the next chapter of Hitch’s story, though.
Corrina: This is more of a prequel to the Martian Manhunter series than anything else, as it recaps his arrival on Earth, his origin in trying to become a hero, and talks about those repressed memories that come into play with his new series. It’s a good story for that and for those who haven’t picked up MM, this is a chance to see where the story is headed, but I doubt anyone else will be interested in this tale.
Agreed on Tan’s genuinely creepy monster.
The Omega Men #6 – Tom King, writer, Barnaby Bagenda, artist
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This series took a few issues to really get going, but it’s turning into the closest thing DC has to a Guardians of the Galaxy series – a scrappy, outlaw adventure set in the far reaches of space. Tom King, one of the fastest-rising writers in comics right now, has really doubled down on the ambitious, experimental style of this book, intersplicing intense, action-packed segments of space battles with rather intimate scenes focusing on individual characters. Kyle Rayner is the focus of this issue more than anyone else, as it starts with him being tortured by one of the key villains.
However, by the end of the issue he’s broken free, regained his strength, and seems to be well on his way to reclaiming his power as the White Lantern. The interrogation theme actually plays heavily into this issue, as several major characters get the chance to express their thoughts on what ties them to the Omega Men in the aftermath of last issue’s major death. This still feels much more like an Image title akin to Fuse or Descender than it does like a main-line DC book, but that’s a plus in my book. This title’s expansion to 12 after cancellation should hopefully give King a chance to give it a strong conclusion so it sells well in collections. The property’s likely way too obscure to ever sell in singles, but I’m glad it’s being published. More originality in DC’s stable, the better.
Corrina: I’ve been wondering exactly what role Kyle might play in the conclusion of this series or if we would see the narrative hint that the Omega Men are trying wrong in what they’re trying to accomplish. But I suspect the overall point of this series might be hinted at this week, in the form of a character,who says that whatever side Kyle is on, they both likely want him dead.
I wrote a long review of The Omega Men this week for Barnes and Noble, comparing it to another revolution-based galatic series, The Invisible Republic which happens to be published by Image, which only underlines the indie sensibilities of this book. Complicated storytelling, layered and sometimes opaque characterization, all building to something fascinating.
The only niggle: I would like to read the whole story at once. Soon, once it’s collected.
Grayson #14 – script, Tim Seeley, plot, Tim Seeley & Tom King, art, Stephen Mooney.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Sort of a mixed bag this month, as the title was a bit too much of the technobabble and Wildstorm-light material that characterized the awkward first issues of this run. The issue starts with Dick, Agent Tiger, and Ladytron battling against an army of tech-eating Nanospiders. The action is great as always, and the guest art by Stephen Mooney is strong in the action segments, plus I enjoyed seeing Midnighter make a cameo. The behind the scenes villain, Doctor Daedelus, narrates the story as he introduces a pair of “Daughters” of his who seem to be set up as the next major threats. I’m not really sure it was necessary to have Dick be forced into a situation where he had to pretend to betray Agent Tiger for the second time in six months, but it is amusing that it’s essentially become a running gag. And points for a flashback to Ladytron’s “childhood” that actually gave me a bit of interest in the Wildstorm castoff. The issue ends with Agent Tiger looking to get his revenge on Dick for his betrayal, only for Dick to drop the bomb that they have to take the fight to SPYRAL and destroy it. I don’t think this was the smoothest issue, but it’s got a great cast and I’m looking forward to seeing how Agent Grayson plays into Robin War.
Corrina: There’s a little too much, well, too much in this issue, from the nanotech spiders to Grayson and Agent Tiger’s argument, to the explanation behind the mess that is Spyral, in that it’s run by two halves of its founder, and is destined to be basically chasing its own tale to make things, um, interesting, I guess. I’m with Agent Tiger, in that I’m a bit tired of the confusing spy stuff.
However, I’m looking forward to the dismantling of Spyral, finally, and seeing what the result of this might be.
Sinestro #17 – Cullen Bunn, writer, pencils, Brad Walker, Neil Edwards, Szymon Kudranski, inks, Drew Hennessy, Trevor Scott, Szymon Kudranksi,
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: Sinestro and Black Adam’s team-up in Khandaq continues, as the true nature of the threat of the Paling has been revealed – it’s a former member of the Guardians of the Universe, long presumed dead but actually still kicking and obsessed with purging all emotion from the universe. Cullen Bunn is great with villains and anti-heroes, so as always Sinestro’s characterization is top-notch and Black Adam is written strongly as well. However, a bit too much of the issue is devoted to them fighting the evil Guardian and finding out that it’s nigh-unkillable.
Things pick up a lot, however, once Black Adam starts weakening under the Paling’s influence, and Sinestro plays the one card he has to strengthen him – giving him a Sinestro Corps ring. One of the most interesting parts of this run has been the way Sinestro unconventionally recruits from outside the corps, with Soranik, Bekka, and now Black Adam. If he’s seeking to make the Corps powerful enough to replace the GLC, he’s off to a good start. Wonder Woman makes an unannounced cameo (and is written far better than she is in her own titles), but she doesn’t get to play a big role before the Paling’s ships arrive on Earth, gearing up for a final assault on Earth. It’s sort of a bridge issue before the big battle, but I enjoyed it. And good on Bunn for making a villain-led title last this long! It’s rare to see that, and Sinestro’s one of the few characters who could make it work.
Corrina: So there’s a Guardian (the group behind the Green Lantern corp) buried on Earth and he’s mean, and he wants to get rid of Black Adam for..reasons, while Wonder Woman makes an appearance to ask the super-villains what they’re doing in Earth-space.
Sinestro assures her that they’re trying to protect Earth and I’m raising my eyebrow and being as skeptical as Wonder Woman. I still see nothing in this series that interests me at all. I will note the plethora of art credits on the issue and wonder if that’s because this issue was rushed? Not a priority?
Aquaman #46 – Cullen Bunn, writer, Vicente Cifuentes, penciller, John Dell, John Livesay & Marc Deering, inkers
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: As we know, Bunn is stepping off this book after January and being replaced with a back-to-basics run by Dan Abnett. So there’s only three issues left to wrap up the Thule plotline, and while there’s nothing really wrong with this issue per se, I’m kind of surprised that it feels as low-key as it does. Maybe it was written before Bunn knew his run would end soon?
This is also the issue that was supposed to feature Ocean Master, so it’s likely that a lot of behind the scenes reworking went on here. Arthur returns to Thule and struggles with the decision to save Mera from Siren or focus on saving the innocents of Thule, when Wonder Woman shows up to investigate on behalf of the League. She and Arthur discuss his moral quandary, and then engage in battle side by side when the assassins from Atlantis show up again. Charybdis nearly gets to bite of Arthur’s hand for the second time, but is foiled by another creature thrown by Diana. As they fend off the villains, a new tower from the realm of Thule, bigger than ever, emerges – in Arthur’s old hometown. Wonder Woman is written well (again, better than her title) and I’m hoping this storyline finishes strong as Bunn’s run wraps up.
Corrina: I found the issue confusing too as I thought last issue set up stuff that somehow is glossed over in this one or maybe contradicted? At least Aquaman seems interested in finding the real Mera, and it’s good that Wonder Woman isn’t instantly hostile, but otherwise, I’m confused. I like the idea of another dimension coming into ours and Aquaman wanting to save its citizens but this story seems to have churned up muck rather than clarity. Again, I’ll note the myriad art team credits and conclude that something went on behind the scenes, as Ray guesses.
Deathstroke #12 – plot by Tony S. Daniel and James Bonny, script by James Bonny, art by Tyler Kirkham
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: After the terrible previous arc, I’m surprised that I’m actually enjoying this one quite a bit. It’s really more of a Suicide Squad story than a Deathstroke one, which is probably good because I don’t really think Slade is a character who carries his own book well. I’m a little dubious about the whole “Slade’s daughter is kidnapped” plot, and I sort of have a suspicion she set up the whole kidnapping to get even with him – which would be preferable to having her turned into a generic kidnapped damsel.
However, inside the Belle Reve prison, the action comes fast and intense. First Slade is battling off Black Manta deep underwater, and then he’s teaming up with Harley Quinn in a rampage through the prison to get to Waller before the rioting inmates kill her first. Waller, meanwhile, finds herself at the mercy of a D-list villain named Snakebite, who is hilariously over the top and has a pretty cool design. Overwhelmed and with the feds about to charge in and take over. So Harley and Slade call in backup – in the form of Catwoman. It’s a decent issue if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced comic where Deathstroke and the Squad blow up a lot of stuff.
Corrina: Ray has a suspicion that Rose set up her own kidnapping to send Slade off to fight his friends/enemies and, hey, that’s all right with me because Slade deserves it. This is more like a Suicide Squad issue, as Ray says, but that doesn’t improve it for me at all, just makes me wonder why this title exists in the first place. There has been no compelling character hook and a lot of plot weirdness in general. Looks like there was a creative change at the last minute too and that might indicate the eventual death of this title.
The Flash #46 – Robert Venditti and Van Jensen, writers, Brett Booth, penciller, Norm Rapmund, inker
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: Well, at least this issue doesn’t really waste any time and throws us right into the action, pitting Flash against Eobard Thawne and his army of speed-force powered goons. When we last left off, Thawne had drained Magali’s powers along with her youth when she rebelled against him, and left her to die in the room with Henry Allen. The two manage to escape and help Barry, who is able to get the various henchmen alone and convince them that their loyalty is misplaced. They begin switching sides one by one once they find out Thawne is going to betray them, and are able to stop Thawne’s plan to kill the Flash using the glove Henry designed.
However, Barry isn’t able to land a blow on Thawne thanks to his time powers, and Thawne kidnaps Henry, reveals Barry’s identity, and drags them both back to the site of Nora Allen’s murder. The issue’s fast-paced, but it has two problems – one, Darrel Frye turning into a raging anti-Flash jackass, and two – this story was done in a lot of ways by the TV show, and it was better in every way. This version of Thawne is just way too moustache-twirly, compared to Tom Cavanaugh’s masterful performance. This title isn’t terrible, it’s just not doing anything a lot of other people haven’t done better.
Corrina: Oh, look, Thawne’s hand-picked evil team turns on him. What a surprise. Not. Oh, look, Barry’s secret ID is spilled to his father. What a surprise, not. Oh, look, Nora Allen’s death. Again. At this rate, she’s going to be killed more times than Barbara Gordon’s been shot by the Joker.
I was skeptical about giving the Flash mantle back to Barry Allen in the first place when the title was rebooted and, so far, the creative teams haven’t won me over to the concept. Any Flash fans should be watching the television show at this point, rather than reading the book.
DKIII: The Master Race #1 – story by Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello, pencils by Andy Kubert, inks by Klaus Janson
Corrina: Better Than Expected, Might be Worth Reading in Trade.
Ray: This is an odd comic, to say the least. When we think the Dark Knight Rises, we think of Miller’s militaristic, ruthless, grizzled old Batman taking a harsh stand against crime in Gotham. So it’s jarring to say the least to open this book and see Batman taking on…the police? Sure to be a controversial scene, given how heated all things police are in politics nowadays.
However, it certainly raises some interesting questions about just what is up with this Batman. I don’t know if Miller actually wrote any of this book, but if not, it’s very clear that Brian Azzarello is trying to ape his style. All of Miller’s hallmarks – the film-noir inspired narration, the talking heads discussing the events of the comic on TV – are all present, making this a very clear homage to the original. The Batman segments may be controversial, but I also think they’re the strongest of the issue. Azz definitely has a good handle on the world of Gotham. It gets much weaker when he’s dealing with other characters, though. I don’t think anyone really wanted to see Superman’s daughter from The Dark Knight Strikes Back again, and Atom’s mini-comic doesn’t really add much to the story. By and large, most of the rest of the JL is quite unlikable in this story, but things pick up at the end when the police corner Batman, and unmask the Bat to reveal – Carrie Kelly? Okay, I’m intrigued. It’s a rough first issue that feels more like an oddball trivia comic that in some ways subverts Miller’s worldview, but that last-page swerve takes things into a different territory that has promise.
Corrina: I barely remember the Dark Knight Strikes Again, as it seemed to devolve into incoherence near the last issue, though I remember that Superman and Wonder Woman made love and kinda broke a mountain. Therefore, my expectations for this title were low, to say the least.
Instead, I read a decent future alternative history of the DC Universe and Batman, which, surprisingly, didn’t end up featuring Bruce Wayne at all and instead, Carrie Kelly. So…yay?
The art reminded me of Paul Pope’s excellent Batman 100 (which you all should go read) and that’s a compliment to Kubert and Janson. Overall, maybe this could turn out to be an interesting story. We’ll see.
Superman/Wonder Woman #23 – Peter J. Tomasi, story and words, Doug Mahnke, penciller, Jamie Mendoza, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Mahnke, inkers.
Corrina: Um, no.
Ray: You know what I think of this title by now. It’s a complete misfire under both creative teams. A book without a real concept, featuring a couple without any real charisma or connection. It barely feels like they’re a couple at all anymore, which may be the point – they’re on the rocks because of the events surrounding Superman’s new status quo.
This issue is mostly a generic fight comic with a few mildly interesting reveals. The duo cuts a deal with Parasite to help them track Firestorm’s energy to the source of the villains, allowing Parasite to briefly feed off Diana to get his strength back. Meanwhile, it’s revealed that evil politician Angelo, who was recently fired from his role of Chief of Staff, is in fact the son of Vandal Savage, and it’s implied, the man behind Hordr. Clark, Diana, and Parasite track Firestorm to the secret base, where they’re set upon by some mind-controlled villains and shadow creatures. But before they can win, Wonder Woman gets snapped up in some sort of robot armor that turns on Superman, making it seem like we’ll have the inevitable hero vs hero fight next month. Like I said, nothing terrible, but still the weakest corner of the Superman universe right now.
Corrina: I have little to say about this title that Ray didn’t say except reading it makes me hate both lead characters right now, and this issue was a more confusing one than most as I’m not sure how Wonder Woman got snagged into the weapon, even.
DC, please put this title out of its misery, as fetch is never going to happen.
Wonder Woman #46 – Meredith Finch, writer, David Finch, penciller, Scott Hanna, inker
Ray: I’ll say this much for this issue – a lot of stuff happens. It’s easily the weirdest issue of Wonder Woman I’ve read in a long time, but it’s not boring! When we last left off, Donna had been struck dead by one of Aegeus’ arrows, and Irene the goddess of peace was revealed as the mastermind behind the plot to depose Diana as Goddess of War. Why? We learn about this in the most bizarre take-off on “It’s a Wonderful Life” ever, as Diana is swept through visions of the future so Irene can show her how war is truly necessary and her hesitance to embrace her role will lead to the doom of humanity. We see a world where the downtrodden have no will to fight back, and evil dictators have the run of a world with no more war. I’m not 100% sure if we’re supposed to agree with this or not, but I assume not because Diana is typically an agent of peace?
It’s an odd, confused story device, though. Meanwhile, Zeke is mysteriously teleported to the site of the battle and keeps trying to reach for Donna, but is prevented from it until the end – when he touches her and brings back not just her but the deceased Ares and Apollo as well. I’m personally glad to see two of the most compelling characters from Azzarello’s run back, but the way we got here didn’t really work as well. And having the Goddess of Peace teach Wonder Woman of the importance of war has got to be the single oddest plotline I’ve read in a while.
Corrina: What I learned? That war is good to have around otherwise bad guys will do bad things and the good guys will stand around and do nothing. I guess wanting to make sure the bad guys are stopped isn’t an intrinsic part of humanity and needs the god of War to inspire such actions, whereas being evil and dictator-like is an intrinsic part of humanity?
Uh, that’s an odd view of humanity but, basically, it’s logic twisted into pretzels that makes no sense, especially when the goddess of peace is yelling it all out at the same time calling for her love and insulting Wonder Woman.
So…WW is no longer Goddess of War anymore and Zeke the baby is okay, and Donna is alive. I guess that’s a nice result but I’m still confused as to the how and why of it all. Wonder Woman and readers need a better quality of story on this book.
Justice League 3001 #6 – Keith Giffen, plot and breakdowns, J.M. DeMatteis, script, Colleen Doran, guest artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It but Doran’s art deserves some love.
Ray: This title is one of the most frustrating in the entire DC stable, because once in a while there’s a kernel of something fun or interesting here – and then it gets submerged in a tidal wave of nasty, grim and dark storytelling and unlikable characters that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. That’s the case with this issue. Last issue set up an intriguing new character, in the form of a teenage girl who’s been playing the role of a more ruthless Batman.
As Batman and Supergirl try to take custody of her, she continues to annoy them, although Supergirl’s belligerent attitude put me off a bit. Then we find out she has a friend who plays the role of Harley Quinn in their games – only for her to be killed pages later by some evil androids who are after the girl. They come after the League, fight them, and then brutally kill Superman, blasting off his head in the final page. This is the kind of book we’re getting out of the writers behind JLI? Why can’t an out-of-continuity book like this just be fun instead of coating everything in blood? And was killing Harley 3000 in her first appearance the best bet? She’s kind of popular, you may have noticed.
Corrina: Look, Collen Doran is drawing Harley Quinn & Batman and Superman and a whole bunch of Silver Surfer-type dudes. It all looks great. Sure, the story makes no sense and this series makes even less, but it sure does look pretty.
Superman #46 – writer, Gene Luen Yang, artist, Howard Porter
Ray: Oh, wow. I don’t even know where to begin with this issue. While Greg Pak’s take on this new Superman is giving us mostly a compelling story, this run seems to be making everyone act as out of character as possible. First up, Superman is beating up low-level Gods in some sort of bizarre luchadore fight club that keeps their powers active, and he’s actually starting to enjoy it. He’s going to seedy clubs with his new friend/rival in the ring, interrogating small-scale supernatural beings about where to get his powers back. I think the thing that bugged me the most, though, was the reveal that Perry White has essentially become J. Jonah Jameson, pumping out relentless anti-Superman propaganda and even going so far as to fire Jimmy when he finds out that Jimmy knew Clark’s secret for a short time before it went public.
Then Superman tracks Hordr down and confronts an evil sand clone of himself – that manages to fry Jimmy with heat vision, seriously injuring him. The ending makes it look like Jimmy’s dead, but come on – Jimmy’s not dead. Which just makes this a weak cliffhanger designed to set Superman off on the roaring rampage of revenge he promised a few months ago. The good news is, there is a great Superman book out this week – but it’s definitely NOT this one.
Corrina: I dunno even what to say. Superman fights in this arena because he needs to be, uh, worshipped? Or something? And it fuels his powers and…then Jimmy finds him and he’s a jerk, and now the Big Bad computer guy is gloating.
I think I’ll go read Lois & Clark again.
Batman: Arkham Knight Robin Special #1 – Peter J. Tomasi, story and words, Robson Rocha, pencils, Daniel Henriques, inks
One of the most ambiguous figures in the Arkham verse has been Tim Drake’s Robin, who comes off as very different from the usual portrayals of Tim Drake. He’s older, seemingly dating Barbara Gordon, and we haven’t seen him much out of costume until now. This issue finally gives him a spotlight, and actually makes him seem more like Peter Parker than anything else. He’s a science teacher at a prominent Gotham private school, and the few scenes we see of him in class show a lighthearted, geeky approach to teaching that make him very likable. However, the scenes of him in the Batcave show an ambitious vigilante desperate to live up to the legacies of the previous Robins. The main plot of the issue has him taking his students on a field trip to a laboratory that has the last sample of Titan, only for it to come under attack by Killer Croc and some other villains who want to get their hands on the material. Via the time-honored technique of playing dead and then changing costumes, Tim is able to get the drop on the villains, save the day, and get back to his class unnoticed. It’s not groundbreaking in any way, but we’ve sort of been short on good Tim Drake stories in the New 52. This is a breath of fresh air for a character who could use it.
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.