Welcome to our reviews of this week’s DC Comics. As always, Ray Goldfied handles the plot recaps, while I riff on the highlights and lowlights.
DC Bombshells is spectacular this week, as is the final issue of Gotham by Midnight, Ray and myself are in love with the Titans Hunt series (the less said of the regular Titans series, the better), The Robin War zooms toward an ending, Bryan Hitch gives us spectacular splash pages in Justice League of America, and Dark Knight III: The Master Race goes in an unexpected direction.
Warning: Total Spoilers for this week’s issues.
DC Bombshells #7, Marguerite Bennett, writer, Mirka Andolfo, artist.
Ray: 10/10 BOOK OF THE WEEK
Corrina: So Much Fun To Read.
Ray: This is a full-length adventure and I can’t say enough about how excellent this book is. It’s not just the best issue of the series, it’s one of the very best single issues DC has put out this year. I don’t know the last time I’ve seen a comic that tackles so many serious issues – many of which are still very relevant today – while remaining a fun, breezy read that’s incredibly accessible to young readers. The issue opens with a Jewish family in Gotham being robbed and evicted by their cruel landlord and his thugs for hiding refugee family members in their apartment. The daughter, Felicity, speaks up – yes, it’s that Felicity Smoak! – but the landlord boasts that he has the law in his pocket – until the team of Harper, Kathy, and Nell show up, in full Batgirl costumes, and give him a much-deserved beating. He calls on a corrupt officer friend of his – who turns out to be the same officer who rounded up Harper and Cullen years ago and dragged Cullen off to an orphanage.
After escaping, this chance encounter leads the girls to plan a break-in at the Orphanage, which has gone from a decent place for kids with nowhere else to go to a mysterious hellhole run by a cruel headmistress. To get in, they recruit a new ally who has history in the place – Alysia Yeoh, who is more than ready to strike back at the place that stole years of her childhood. In the institution, a boy named Tim Drake is starting up a rebellion, as the Headmistress is making the children build war machines which she plans to send abroad to help enemies of the US. One thing that impressed me here is the realistic way this book portrays Nazi sympathizers in the US – most of them didn’t actually see themselves as enemies of the US, but rather as “patriots” who were helping what they saw as the US’ true ally. That sort of twisted disconnect from reality is very accurate and rare to see. Pretty much every character in this issue gets a shining moment, from Bette Kane rising up in her cousin’s absence and using the power of her family name to make a difference, to Cullen Row being the tiniest one there and yet just as brave as everyone else. This issue has Alysia Yeoh finally getting to be the costumed hero she was meant to be in Gail Simone’s original plans, and her energy just lights up every scene she’s in. We get Nell and Kathy, two obscure characters who never really got to shine like they should have, making a perfect team. And Harper. Oh, Harper. Every line out of her mouth is a blast. Even this title’s Tim Drake is more likable than he often is in the main line!
My only quibble? Would have loved to have Steph and Cass added, but there’s still time! By the time I got to the last page of this issue, I was grinning from ear to ear. DC, there needs to be an ongoing title featuring these characters, in the main line in the present day. And it needs to be by this exact creative team. This may only be a one-off story in an alternate universe book, but there’s something special about this issue. This is the Bat-kids book I’ve been wanting to read for years.
Corrina: There’s not much add to Ray’s superlatives because this was an awesome issue from start to finish. This would be a great one-shot issue to give kids to get them into comics. It has the perfect blend of action and dialogue, plus protagonists to love and an antagonist to hate.
This is the perfect stocking stuffer for the kids. Get ’em hooked.
But the reason my inner fangirl was tap-dancing isn’t just the inclusion of Felicity Smoak but also the addition of Nell from Bryan Q. Miller late and lamented run on Batgirl featuring Stephanie Brown, Kathy Duquesne from the Batman: The Animated Series movie, Batman: The Mystery of the Batwoman, and even Alysia Yeoh from Gail Simone’s Batgirl run. They’re all used well, as Ray said, and can we talk about how the artwork is perfect for all ages, portrays the action perfectly and never once sexualizes the girls? (This last will not be the case in the Teen Titans issue this week.) It’s just great art. Period.
Titans Hunt #3, Dan Abnett, writer, Paulo Siqueira, Geraldo Borges and Jackson Herbert, artists
Corrina: Inner Fangirl Squee. I Know. Again.
Ray: I did not know I needed a Teen Titans horror comic until I got it! Okay, this isn’t quite a horror book, but there’s a distinctly creepy vibe hovering over the whole thing. Mister Twister, the villain, is like an eerie specter of children’s nightmares, rarely seen and always hiding where you’re not looking. The scene where he torments Lilith Clay this issue has all the hallmarks of one of DC’s best new villains. The rest of the issue is distinctly less intense, but no less well-written. You’ve got Agent Grayson caught in between Garth and Donna, as the two angry young warriors waste no time turning on each other and turning the area into a brawl site between two powerful, confused metas. Donna’s confusion when the twine she’s holding didn’t actually work like a lasso of truth amused me. This is definitely a more likable version of Donna, even if I’m a bit puzzled by how she fits into this secret history given that we saw her only be created by the evil Amazons months ago. Still, a better origin for her is always welcome! Garth is written a bit too one-note angry, but I’m sure he’ll develop. The other characters play a smaller role, but we see Gnaark break Roy out of prison, and Mal and Karen are haunted by Mister Twister’s image. The end of the issue brings Hawk and Dove into the picture to complete the team. There’s a lot of unanswered questions, but this is a Titans book with likable characters, a fascinating mystery, and an excellent villain. I just wish more people were reading this – both this and Lois and Clark, spinning out of Convergence, are really scratching the itch for the pre-Flashpoint DCU.
Corrina: Did you reference that new, horrible origin for Donna over in Wonder Woman? Lalalalalala, I can’t hear you. That does not exist. This is our Donna. That’s my headcanon and I’m sticking with it.
Is Abnett a secret 1970s Titan fanboy? Because not only does he pull in characters from the famed Marv Wolfman/George Perez run but he’s pulling people like Gnaark and Mal Duncan’s Hornblower out and using them so well, too. Great panel with Roy catching the arrow shot at him, surprising himself but not Gnaark. (By the way, if Abnett is, note this is not a complaint.)
As for the villain? Hah. Easy. Let’s go back to the guy who helped support the Titans who we haven’t heard from in decades: Mister Jupiter. He was also supposed to be Lilith’s biological dad. Or, let’s go out on a limb and pick Danny Chase/Phantasm.
Gotham by Midnight #12, Ray Fawkes, writer, Juan Ferreyra, artist
Corrina: Buy It.
Corrina: Why is this book finished and yet the awful current version of the regular Titans and the Deathstroke comic continue to exist? I don’t know. I guess that Gotham readers aren’t interested in horror? But this isn’t gory horror, it’s pure psychological suspense with a does of religious philosophy and free will tossed in.
In what other story would have a lost demon confronted by a dead Catholic Nun? Oh, and they’re both as tall as skyscrapers. Ferreyra pulls off this impressive visual and makes it real and emotional, as we want to see Jim Corrigan get ahold of whatever demon/vengeful spirit is inside him. I’d have loved to see more of these characters–Detective Drake especially—but I suppose I will have to be satisfied with this epic, and yet personal, finale.
Ray: A really strong finish to the most underrated Bat-title, as the Midnight Squad faces their biggest threat ever. An ancient demon has risen, and summoned the unjust dead of Gotham back for revenge. And one of those unjust dead is Jim Corrigan, aka the Spectre. Demonic-controlled Spectre…very bad news. However, last issue added a new wrinkle – a second Spectre of sorts, one powered by mercy – and the soul of the team’s lost member, Sister Justine. I was a bit shocked by the fact that one of the team’s most intriguing members was unceremoniously killed off at the end of the first arc, so it makes sense that Fawkes had a plan for her all along, and it’s great to see her make her return in epic style. What ensues is an epic battle for the fate of Gotham and for the souls of all involved, but what I love here is how unconventional the ending was. In pretty much any story about demons, the restless dead, etc., the goal is to defeat the threat and banish the dead. This isn’t about that. Justine serves as a contrast to Corrigan’s Spectre, which has always been about vengeance, and she reveals that what the restless dead actually want more than anything is to be remembered, to have their loss not be ignored. That leads to a conclusion that feels like it comes from a much lighter book than this one, and yet still makes perfect sense for this title. It’s a damn shame that this title didn’t catch on like it deserved, because it’s pretty much a perfect blend of concept and creative team. I wouldn’t mind seeing the creative team and some of the characters migrating over to a bigger-name Bat-book, as there was some greatness at work here. Of all the recent ending DC books, this is the one I’m most sorry to see go.
Robin, Son of Batman #7, Patrick Gleason, plot, Ray Fawkes, dialogue, Scott McDaniel, pencils, Andy Owens, inks.
Corrina: Robin War Readers Need This.
Ray: The penultimate chapter of the Robin War crossover is here, as the Court of Owls tightens their grip on Gotham and targets the Robins. When we open, the Robins – both official and unofficial – are surrounded by the Talons, and are barely managing to make it out alive, until they get an unexpected assist from Jim Gordon. I continue to like Jim’s attitude to the whole thing, which can best be summed up as “I really should arrest you. Yep, I really should.”
After sending the rookie Robins home, the official ones team up with the leaders of the We Are Robin crew against the Elite Talons, while Dick Grayson continues to infiltrate the Owls’ headquarters for a face-to-face with the man pulling the strings – who is revealed here as none other than Lincoln March. A bit puzzled here, since it seemed like the Court was done with Lincoln and put him back into suspended animation at the end of Eternal, being tired of him working on his own against their interests. But hey, he’s back, and Dick assumes that he wants to recruit him again. Nope, Lincoln just wants to kill him for rejecting the Court – because they have a new, better recruit, who is…Damian? Looks like it at the end of the issue, but in the history of fake-outs, this is one of the clearest. Damian’s faced temptation before and always rejects it. It’s all building to a showdown at Gotham Academy in the conclusion, in two weeks. This book is a strong read with a lot of exciting action, but much like We Are Robin last week, the title loses its identity as part of a crossover. It doesn’t feel like Damian’s story so much as a chapter of the crossover that could be any book.
Corrina: Lincoln was the guy Batman beat-down at the end of Batman Eternal? I missed that because I’ve tried to block most everything about the supposedly super-secret society that talks openly about itself and lets it’s assassins get filmed while recruiting Robins.
This has been a well-paced story and has made excellent use of all the Robins in existence and hopefully brought some much-needed readers to Gotham Academy. Plus, I do love Gordon’s attitude and the Gordon/Grayson team-up was everything I could have wished for. But given Damian has supposedly defected (yeah, fake-out), it’s pretty clear how this will end. I hope the regular Robins train the others. It would give Tim some direction, at least.
Still, I hold out for the climatic sequence being Alfred and Gordon Batman teaming up to save all the Robins. Because that would be awesome.
Batman & Robin Eternal, #12, James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder, story, Ed Brisson, script, Javier Pina and Goran Sudzuka, artistsRay: 8/10
Corrina: Eternal readers, buy it.
Ray: Batman and Robin Eternal has yet to put out anything close to a bad issue, but I found myself a tiny bit let down by this one after last week’s high-water mark. We pick up directly from the cliffhanger where Dick forced Sculptor to meld with his mind and show him exactly what Batman had to do with Mother. We don’t find out the exact truth this issue…but let’s just say it doesn’t look good. Which still makes me suspect that this is an epic fake-out, but the fact that we’re going this long with the idea that Batman bought custom assassin children is making me a bit uncomfortable.
What does work in this issue? The backstory of Mother, Sculptor, and David Cain. Sculptor is revealed to be one of Mother’s first “children”, taken after her parents were killed and raised alongside David as her first experiments. Mother doesn’t say much this issue, but her presence continues to make every scene creepy. I’ve long felt that all great villains are about perverting something innocent, and what fits that better than a mother’s love? And David Cain, while not technically the big bad of the series, continues to establish himself as a total monster. Once Dick hones in on exactly what Batman did, though, things get a bit murky and we’re left with no real additional answers except for the fact that Batman was ready and willing to sell Dick down the river due to Mother’s manipulations. The thing that worries me the most, though, is the cliffhanger, as we finally catch up to Cassandra Cain – and she’s covered in blood and cowering near the bodies of countless of Mother’s other “Children”. It’s key to Cass’ character that she killed one person and has fought to atone for it ever since, so I’m hoping she doesn’t have a whole lot more sins on her ledger now. Overall, a decent chapter, but I’m hoping a lot of things turn out to be mind-screws next week.
Corrina: I’ve been uncomfortable with the whole “Batman orders a Robin” setup from the beginning and I remain so with that. If it’s not a fake-out, it’ll be disappointing. If it is a fake-out, I won’t be surprised. So I guess that plot element isn’t working for me at all and hasn’t been. It’s a tribute to the strength of the writing that I’ve been enjoying the issues anyway.
I hope Cass surrounded by blood is either a memory from before she pushed back against her brainwashing or that she’s cowering because Cain killed those people and she was too afraid to help.
Needs more Stephanie Brown! Where did she go?
Justice League of America #6 by Bryan Hitch, inks by Daniel Henriques
Corrina: On The Fence
Ray: After a one-issue hiatus for a Martian Manhunter tie-in, Bryan Hitch is back on board to continue his epic Rao storyline. When we last left off, Rao was finally exposed as the big bad of the arc, using his power and minions to brainwash Earth and establish himself as the one true God of the planet. In Atlantis, Rao’s acolytes attack and quickly take control of the city, converting its citizens. At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman manages to fight off Rao’s soldiers and take the fight to the man himself – only for Rao to very quickly prove himself far more powerful than Superman and beat him into unconsciousness in a series of splash pages. This battle segment took up a little too much of the book for my tastes. Flash, meanwhile, wakes up in the headquarters of the Infinity Corporation in the year 1961 and makes plans with the mysterious agents of the company to travel back to the future and rescue his teammates. Wonder Woman converses with Ares in the ruins of Olympus, and finds herself joined by Aquaman as the war spreads there, but their combined forces aren’t enough as Rao’s priests sacrifice themselves to destroy the ancient city of the Gods. And in the ancient past of Krypton, Hal continues his journey with the still very human Rao and begins to find out the dark truth about him as they make their way to his shrine – which happens to be the headquarters of the modern day Infinity Corp. There’s a lot of twisty, intriguing elements here, but the story is a bit slow and it doesn’t come out quite often enough. I’m hoping it can maintain its momentum over the next few months.
Corrina: This is a step above the regular Justice League title for the simple fact that these characters seem more like the classic JLA than the emo/angry heroes in the Justice League book. That makes me forgive a great deal because characterization means that much.
However, the Rao storyline is starting to go on a little too long for my taste, especially since it was obvious from the beginning that he would be evil in some form. Still, there’s originality in the time travel team and with Green Lantern on Krypton, so it’s a pleasant read overall.
It will absolutely look great when collected in trade. I can’t begrudge that splash page that Ray talks about because Hitch’s art is the best we’re going to see on Justice League for a long while. He’s that good.
Dark Knight III: The Master Race, story by Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello, pencils by Andy Kubert, inks by Klaus Janson
Corrina: Alternate DC Universe readers. buy It.
Ray: After a first issue that left me sort of confused but intrigued, I thought this sophomore outing from Azzarello, Miller, and Kubert (with Risso on the mini-comic) was much stronger and could go a long way towards winning over skeptics. When we last left, Carrie Kelly was unmasked as Batman and taken into custody. She’s now being held in one of the GCPD’s holding facilities, being interrogated by Commissioner Yindel about her war on cops, and what happened to the original Batman. The story Carrie tells is one that’s pretty unusual for Batman. Essentially, his body just broke down. After his last battle, which he won, he never quite recovered, until he was eventually bedridden, dying slowly in the Batcave. These scenes of his last days with Carrie are surprisingly emotional and the least Miller-esque scenes in the series so far – which is why I was briefly disappointed when it turned out that he’s very much alive in the cliffhanger, if still limited to walking with a cane. But of course he is. He’s Batman.
The issue’s got a bunch of great set-pieces, such as Carrie’s escape from police custody in an epic Batmobile chase that would put most action movies to shame. And the title starts to make a bit more sense, as Ray Palmer succeeds in his mission to re-enlarge Kandor – only to unleash a genocidal cult of Kandorians who view their leader as a God, who quickly kill Atom and prepare to turn their sights on Earth. And in the backup, we get an intriguing look at the complex relationship between Wonder Woman and her daughter with Superman. This is a very dark book in a lot of ways, and definitely not for everyone, but after an iffy start, I’m hooked. I want to see what Azz has up his sleeve.
Corrina: I thought this miniseries would focus mainly on Batman and Gotham City. If it did that, it would likely fail as trying to top Dark Knight Returns is a futile effort. I’m sure there are great Batman stories waiting to be written but I’m equally sure imitating Frank Miller, even if he’s part of the project, isn’t going to help.
The creative team avoided that pitfall by instead giving Bruce, Carrie and Gotham an overwhelming opponent: a thousand Kandorians freed from their bottle city at last. The mini-comic inside the issue with Wonder Woman and daughter also hints that they will be part of this conflict. I hope it also doesn’t mean the scion of Wonder Woman and Superman will be on the Kandorian side.
I do love this artwork. It’s like the original DKR artwork but with cleaner brushwork. Not surprising, given Klaus Janson is still doing inks. I expected little from this book. I’m receiving quite a bit more than that.
Cyborg #6, David F. Walker, writer, Ivan Reis, layouts, Felipe Watanabe, Daniel Hor and Cliff Richards, pencillers, Albert O’Clair, Julio Ferreira and Cliff Richards, inks
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This book was losing me for a little bit, as it seemed to lose the plot on the incredibly intriguing take it had on Vic Stone’s character in favor of a seemingly endless battle between two rival armies of tech-based villains and a time-traveling version of Cyborg’s love interest. But lo and behold, at just the right time, it pulls back and shows us what makes David Walker’s take on this character so unique. The issue shows the final battle between Cyborg and the villainous Technosapiens, as he willingly allows himself to be taken into their base, and then surprises them by essentially hacking their hive mind with his technology, severing their connection to each other and leaving the army helpless. However, this essentially burns out his tech and leaves him powerless. We get a brief disturbing image of what his body looks like without any tech attached – and that’s when things get interesting. He starts to regenerate, and what he regenerates as is Vic Stone. The original one, before his accident. His tech is all internal now, and he can look fully human – but chooses not to. This is a really interesting wrinkle, and provides some great scenes later in the issue. The idea of someone who has been an outsider for so long, with a unique appearance he can’t hide, being uncomfortable with the idea he could be “normal” again is interesting, and raises some really interesting questions. There’s hints that the Technosapiens may not be all gone, as they’re still affecting the people they gave prosthetics to, but I’m much more interested in Vic’s development with this new status quo. Looking forward to the next arc!
Corrina: This series has had way too much plot for its own good but this issue wraps up the alternate history/evil machinery arc just fine, resetting much of the cast and no one more so than Vic Stone, who ends up with what he always wanted in his original appearances in Teen Titans: a normal-seeming look.
That’s a happy ending for Vic but I can’t help thinking that another openly disabled person has been made normal. (The first was Barbara Gordon’s shift from Oracle back to Batgirl.) Part of Vic’s original character arc was accepting who he was, fully, even with all the cybernetic enhancement. He was the most human one of all the Titans of his period, and his work with disabled kids a nice touch. So where we go from here? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll see if the series continues.
Justice League 3001 #7, Keith Giffen, plot and breakdowns, J.M. DeMatteis, script, Chris Batista, guest penciller, Wayne Faucher and Andy Owens, inkers.
Corrina: Best Issue of This Series.
Ray: Well, that’s one way to revamp your title. It’s no secret that I didn’t think this title was clicking since the beginning. It was bogged down by unlikable characters and weak plotting. Well, to a degree, one of those has been resolved. Last issue saw Superman get decapitated by evil robots. This issue, we find out that Hal and Barry followed quickly, and then Batman sacrificed himself to let everyone else escape. That includes Wonder Woman, Terri!Flash, the female Guy Gardner, and Fire and Ice – plus the new young “Batman” and her giant robot suit. That’s an interesting team, and it’s all female to boot! Beetle and Booster are still around somewhere, but they don’t appear in this issue. I’ve got to say, this team does have a good deal more promise than the last one, but there’s still a good number of problems here. For one thing, Wonder Woman – who gets the most page-time this issue – is still a very unlikable, overly aggressive caricature of what Corinna dubs “Princess Stabby Sword”. And there’s far too much talk of death this issue. This could be a fun team – but this book will only turn around if they’re allowed to be fun.
Corrina: For the first time, I fully enjoyed an issue of this series. That’s saying quite a bit after so many subpar issues and so many unlikeable moments with all our supposed protagonists. This time, the team’s losses actually hurt, and, for the first time, everyone seems like a real person instead of a parody of the long ago-heroes. Guy Gardner even tossed off a few good, snarky lines. The series has obviously been tossed to a new generation and that’s an improvement.
Superman #47, writer, Gene Luen Yang, artists, Howard Porter, Raymund Bermudez, Tom Derenick
Ray: First up, this is the second time in a few months I can remember when the art situation on an issue was so scattered that it was hard to believe. Much like that recent issue of Teen Titans, this comic has three artists on a 20-page book – Howard Porter, Tom Derenick, and Raymund Bermudez. The style shift towards the end of the book is really dramatic, taking me out of the book at several points. Bermudez’ style in particular is dark and very unexpected for the final scenes. As for the plot…well, we’re still wrapping up the Hordr-Root and Old Gods Fight Club plot line. When we last left off, Jimmy Olsen had seemingly been mortally wounded by the evil sand-clone of Superman, but this issue reveals that he’ll be fine. Superman attempts to get the sand-clone to recharge him via solar flare, but the energy won’t flow into him, indicating his DNA has been changed. Superman returns to the fight club to get the help of his new allies, and Hordr’s minions find themselves up against a small army of demigods. This scene was sort of fun, but the scene where Hordr was revealed as a mind-controlled Jimmy in an attempt by the villain to bait Superman into killing his oldest friend felt like a cheap shock.
The ending reveals the origin of Hordr – Vandal Savage’s disabled son who uploaded his consciousness into an artificial being to gain his father’s approval – and leads directly into next week’s conclusion in the Superman annual. I’m hoping for a new direction next month as we head towards 50 and the return of Superman classic. The writer here is incredibly talented, but I think bringing him on and immediately plunging him into this crossover-heavy storyline was a mistake.
Corrina: I can see hints in this issue of a good concept, the demigod fight club, in which the gods gain strength from their supporters, and the characters introduced as part of that have potential. Yang clearly has some writing chops. But the story’s been rushed. I almost wonder if the creative team was forced to end things sooner. Perhaps the overall storyline isn’t doing well, sales-wise, or perhaps the Superman office is simply going in another direction after all this.
So, there you go. The artificially intelligent mastermind was also part of Savage’s big plan. Wake me when it’s all over, please.
Aquaman #47, Cullen Bunn, writer, Vicente Cifuentes, penciller, John Dell, Don Ho, Mark Irwin and Vicente Cifuentes, inkers
Corrina: Don’t Buy.
Ray: It’s the penultimate issue of Cullen Bunn’s run on Aquaman, and it feels like there’s a LOT still to be dealt with before the run wraps up. So I was a bit disappointed that this issue seems to be primarily setup for next issue’s final battle. The issue opens with the forces of Thule attacking Amnesty Bay, Arthur’s adopted home, and the Justice League stepping in to help him handle the crisis. After the battle, he meets with the League, asks for their help, and summons his ally Ertriax to help him search for Mera. Meanwhile, Garth and Tula’s mission to take down Arthur hits a snag when the young soldiers begin to wonder if they’re taking orders from the wrong source. As the League takes the fight to Thule, Arthur returns to Atlantis and goes up against Siren’s evil army. The issue takes a big step up in the last few pages, as Arthur summons a giant Anglerfish to turn the tide of battle in the best scene of the issue. Then, Mera turns the environment itself against her captors in the final pages, as she takes out her sorcerer captors and frees herself, ready to join Arthur for the final battle. I’m glad to see Arthur and Mera finally reunited and not at each others’ throats next issue, and I’m hoping for a strong finale.
Corrina: There’s a lot to be dealt with but it seems that issue after issue, more of the same. Aquaman wants to save the other dimension, Earth and Atlantis. Mera has been replaced and that’s been sitting around for a few issues. (And Aquaman’s rape by deception hasn’t been addressed at all.)
What started as something with promise is now muddled. Years ago, when I sorted out all my comics, I found, to my surprise, that I had bought issues of every incarnation of Aquaman. I’d have bought the first few issues of this one, too. But I would have stopped by now.
Deathstroke #13, plot by Tony S. Daniel and James Bonny, script by James Bonny, art by Paolo Pantalena
Corrina: Don’t Buy.
Ray: Tony Daniel seems to be moving further and further away from this title, as he’s off art and now is only on co-plot, with Daniel Bonny writing the actual script. As with the last few issues of this arc, it’s a definite step up from the previous one, although it feels more like a warmed-over Suicide Squad plot line. Deathstroke’s daughter Rose has been kidnapped, and his hunt has led him to Belle Reve, where he teams up with Catwoman and Harley to fight off the forces of a break-out. The main villain is Snakebite, a mutated poison-weilding snake-man who has captured Amanda Waller. He’s got a pretty cool design, but his characterization is sort of weak. Deathstroke gets poisoned, and we get hints that there’s a secret mastermind behind everything that’s happened to Deathstroke – and Rose is in league with him. This is just not my Rose Wilson, so frankly everything that’s happened with her in the New 52, including this book, tends to disappoint me. Overall, it’s a decent comic if you like fast-paced violent action, but Slade remains a less-than-compelling lead.
Corrina: So Harley lied to Slade all along. Oh, and Rose’s “kidnapping” is sort of a fakeout. I wish I could say I cared. I don’t. There’s nothing outstanding about this comic that says it deserves a place in DC’s line.
Sinestro #18, writer, Cullen Bunn, pencils, Brad Walker and Neil Edwards, inks, Drew Hennessy, Jonathan Glapion, and Robin Riggs
Corrina: Don’t Buy.
Ray: You know, I wasn’t sure what the Paling reminded me of, but now I get it – they’re space zombies. Think about it – an interstellar plague that purges beings of their identity and leaves them lobotomized and compelled to spread their sickness. Just a bit less…gooshy than most zombies are. It’s a pretty compelling concept for a GL villain, and I think they actually make a better use of this trope than the Third Army did in the penultimate Johns GL story – if not anywhere near as creepy as the Black Lanterns. They’re strong, creepy villains, and this issue does a good job of developing their threat. My only ongoing problem with this series is that as Bunn has gone bigger and bigger with his stories, bringing in guest stars from around the DCU, it feels like the Sinestro Corps themselves are a bit out of focus. When this series began, a lot of his new members were intriguing, but aside from Soranik Natu, most of them seem to have faded into the background. The bulk of the action this issue focuses on Sinestro working with Black Adam and Wonder Woman to turn away the Paling’s attack on Earth, and in the finale he drafts an army of heroes and villains into the Sinestro Corps, from Scarecrow to Superman. This story is certainly going big, although I’d be happy if the following story pulled back a little and let us see how the Sinestro Corps really operates.
Corrina: Oh, look, it’s yet another plotline in which the whole world is in peril. I think that’s the fourth one this month. (Darkseid War, Justice League of America, Martian Manhunter.) Why is this comic set on Earth at all? If we’re going to do a space corps story, I would like it to be set in space. (In fairness, I didn’t like this series before it came to Earth.) In any case, Sinestro has to try and save Earth from an army of his enemies, so he enlist Superman as a Yellow Lantern.
Oh-kay? Seems like Superman wouldn’t be the person to instill fear but, then again, Superman hasn’t been himself lately.
Teen Titans #15, written by Scott Lobdell and Will Pfeifer, pencilled by Ian Churchill and Miguel Mendonca, inked by Norm Rapmund and Dexter Vines
Ray: This issue is a Robin War tie-in, although that tie-in is mainly contained to a few pages of the issue dealing with Tim and Jason in Gotham, and the rest of the issue dealing with the rest of the team on a Robinless adventure. First the good news! The segments involving Gotham are pretty decent. Scott Lobdell’s handle on Red Hood has always been among his best, and his banter with Tim in this issue is fun. The bad news is, much like the recent Red Hood/Arsenal issue, every time the story shifts away from Jason, it grinds to a screeching halt. I mean, did we really need another appearance from the star of Doomed? The issue has him crashing at Wonder Girl’s mansion from her thief days, and the dialogue implies he might have become a regular if this run continued. The A-plot has the rest of the Teen Titans investigating a weird vibe Raven got about a theater, and finding that it’s now the headquarters of Professor Pyg, who has kidnapped the cast of a show based on School of Rock and turned them into his Doll-o-Trons. He then captures the Titans with ease and uses Beast Boy’s blood to mutate one of the actresses into a Chimera. I’ve got to say, I find Pyg’s schtick to be fairly boring in the best-written books, so this plot lost me pretty quickly. He’s one of the villains I could never get into at all, and his alliance with Brother Blood – another villain who hasn’t had a decent story in a very long time – left me cold. This title is getting a creative change in two issues, as Greg Pak comes on board, and it’ll be very welcome. It’s never a good sign when you’re happy when they cut away from the majority of the team.
Corrina: Ray gave a longer rundown than this book deserves, as reading it sometimes actively repulses me. Like Ray, I’ve always hated Professor Pyg but he takes the team down like chumps, and now he steals their blood, so he can create mutants versions? Comic book science! Blood doesn’t work like that! (But, yes, that’s a time-honored tradition in comics, see Spitfire, She-Hulk, etc.)
Anyway, a creative change is coming. Yay. Also, will someone tell the art team not to oversexualize underage teenage girls? Thanks.
Bonus Reviews: Batman ’66 meets the Man from U.N.C.L.E. #1
It was only a week ago that I mourned the end of Batman ’66, and here are the characters again with original writer Jeff Parker! However, I have to admit that the other half of the equation in this crossover means very little to me. I never watched the original show and missed the recent movie, but from what I can glean, it’s basically a show where James Bond teams up with Russian James Bond against various cold war enemies. The idea of a team of rival spies working together has a lot of promise, and I did enjoy their dynamic this issue. I actually thought the segments featuring Napoleon and Ilya were the stronger ones this issue, as the two of them are brought into Batman’s orbit via a battle with Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, an obscure Batman ’66 villain who makes for the perfect choice to introduce these characters. The Batman and Robin segment was a bit more standard, as the Dynamic Duo has to make their way out of a trap set by Penguin, and later in the issue contend with an Arkham breakout. It’s another crossover where the crossing-over heroes don’t actually meet in the first issue, but the two segments are both entertaining and it does a good job of introducing us to a more obscure property. I’d be just fine if this series continued with a series of crossover minis.
Corrina: Ray said much of it but I have to add: slash ficcers, yes, Ilya and Napolean’s chemistry remains intact in this miniseries.
Batman: Arkham Knight #12 –
It’s the final issue of this tie-in comic, although the series briefly continues in the final issue of Genesis next month. There’s a lot of action in this 40-page comic (for only $3.99!) as Batman fights the insane Bane, who sees him as a demonic Bat due to the influence of fear gas, and Arkham Knight consolidates his hold on Gotham’s underworld and intimidates his fellow villains into joining his side. I’ve always liked this version of Jason Todd, and I’m wondering if other people see the parallels between him and Kylo Ren in this series? No spoilers, but there’s something that seems similar to me. The issue’s a bit too talky, and it definitely has the feeling of a prequel rather than a complete story, but I did like the wrap-up story in the final segment. There’s some good characterization overall in this series, although the fact that it can’t technically have a conclusion in the story hurts 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.