Black Canary's Space-Time Sound Warp

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Topping the list of our DC Comic reviews this week is an issue of Black Canary that utterly belongs to Annie Wu, as she draws a wordless battle of sound, a concept that reminded me of Superman singing the world back to life in Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, though this is more coherent than that meandering book. Still, being in the same room as Morrison is always good.

The stories starring lesser known DC heroes this week are also of high quality, including the soon-to-be-classic Omega Men, couple-crime fighting in Superman: Lois & Clark,  Dick Grayson back to his punny self in Grayson, and Vic reevaluating his life in Cyborg. For a change of pace, check out the Scooby-Doo review at the bottom.

Alas, with change coming to DC comics yet again, Ray and I will likely lose most of these books or have already lost them. (Lois & Clark! Sob!) Read them while they’re here because word is that the new focus will be only on the movie/television characters.

As always, Ray handles the plot recaps, giving me a chance to praise, snark or bury the issue.

Black Canary #7, Brenden Fletcher, writer, Annie Wu, artist.

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Fantastic.

Ray: What started out as a quirky, entertaining road trip/band comic giving us a new take on Black Canary has quickly morphed into one of the most mind-bending – and arguably important – comics in the DCU as we peel back the layers of the post-Convergence DCU. When we last left off, an epic battle of the bands between Black Canary and Bo Maeve ended with a sonic effect that resulted in Ditto and Kurt Lance disappearing into the ether. They were then found, with Kurt mysteriously 50 years older. This issue answers a lot of the mysteries surrounding Ditto, revealing her as a mysterious sound-based creature, from the same world as the mysterious monsters who have been chasing the band for the entire run. And to make matters worse, a giant beast made from the same material is now bearing down on their location. Annie Wu’s art is absolutely fantastic in this issue, and there’s several interesting segments that give us sneak peeks at possible alternate versions, pasts, and futures of Canary’s life.

Between Bo Maeve returning (and maybe taking a few more steps towards redemption), Amanda Waller still trying to claim Ditto, and the giant sound monster, things don’t slow down for a second in this issue. Eventually, the monster is defeated by two Canary cries, but Dinah winds up unconscious and rescued by our mysterious White Canary – who hints strongly that she may just be Dinah’s mother. Are a lot of the things people didn’t like about the post-Flashpoint Black Canary being subtly retconned away? I hope so – just in time for another reboot? Excellent issue that wraps up most of the main plots in a satisfying fashion while opening the door for some interesting future adventures. Bring it on.

Corrina: Time, space and dimensions are relative in this stand-off that is a showcase for Wu’s art. The final confrontation is wordless and it’s perfect. I didn’t think Wu could top herself but she does and if I ever find her at a Con, I am going to scrape all my savings together for a Black Canary commission.

Fletcher deserves credit as well with the way he ties all the various plot threads together and, especially for the way he made me actually like Kurt Lance, which I didn’t think possible. I never expected to love this book, it was such a different take on Canary, but I do. I hope those secrets of her origin teased at the end come out soon before DC does something stupid and cancels this.

Tom King
Omega Men #3, cover via DC Comics.

The Omega Men #8, Tom King, writer, Barnaby Bagenda, artist

Ray: 9/10

Corrina: Perhaps the Best Issue Yet.

Ray: Reading this book, I’m reminded that Citizen Kane lost Best Picture to a little-known movie about a Welsh mining community. That explains how a brilliant sci-fi noir like this title could be sinking into the four-digit range in sales despite a fast-rising writer in Tom King and one of the best new artist finds in years in Barnaby Bagenda. This book is still a very odd fit for the DCU, having far more in line with cerebral Image or Vertigo sci-fi, but that just goes to show how ambitious it is. This issue might be the best of the lot, finally revealing the painful origin of Scrapps, and how geopolitical shuffling through several generations impacted the team and made them who they are today.

The issue focuses on the dead world of Voorl, a world hidden behind a massive shield and concealing nothing but a giant, carefully tended graveyard. The story of how this came to be starts with a brilliant take-off – planets around the universe desperate to prevent their cores from exploding like Krypton. It’s so simple and obvious that I’m amazed no one tackled that before. The story of Voorl intersects with the lives of several different Omega Men, not just Scrapps, and at its core it’s a story of how people become radicalized. How an innocent farm girl can be transformed into an interstellar scourge by the “greater good” decisions of powerful people. Frankly, this is how you political comic, not by putting nasty internet commentary in the mouths of villains. Kudos to Tom King. I’m sure this comic is going to be a classic in trade for years to come. When this reaches its end at 12, I can’t wait to see what King and Bagenda move on to next.

Corrina: I’ve given so much praise to this book but it’s not without flaws, the main one being that I sometimes I feel removed from the characters. Then this issue came out, and it’s a punch to the gut, providing all the feels one could want.What struck me most is the theme of how much evil people can do behind the cover of darkness.

What struck me most is the theme of how much evil people can do behind the cover of darkness. Voorl’s shield is a stand-in to the modern-day secrecy that permeates various governments, including, sometimes, our own. I’m not sure how DC found King or how they had the nerve to greenlight this book but it’s complicated, intense, brilliant and when I finally have all the issues together, I’m going to read it again to see what I’ve not managed to catch yet.

Superman: Lois & Clark #4, Dan Jurgens, writers, Lee Weeks and Marco Santucci, pencillers, Sergio Cariello & Scott Hanna, inker

superman- lois & clark #4

Ray: 8.5/10

Corrina: Can I Please Have S’More?

Ray: So as we all know, the best Superman comic on the stands has been cut down to only eight issues. That’s a damn shame, because this is the Superman we deserve. The most compelling segment in the issue is the start, with Clark and Lois on vacation in Metropolis. There’s no action here, just the two of them interacting and getting used to their new world – which includes dodging meet-ups with people who will recognize the other Clark Kent. This issue once again reminded me just how much I miss the Clark/Lois interaction of the old DCU.

From there, we flash forward to the present day, where Superman is going up against the team of the evil Blanque and the mind-controlled Hank Henshaw. This Superman is not as strong as classic Superman, although still more powerful than the current version, and I like the idea of Superman slowly getting weaker as he gets older. Meanwhile, Lois’ investigation into Intergang has put her and her son on the run, eventually bringing them face to face with Bruno Mannheim. Pretty much everyone in this story is written perfectly, a callback to an era of Superman that I think lots of us miss. It’s very old-school, but in a good way. I’m hoping that whatever’s to come in Rebirth, DC remembers the critical and fan response to this book. I think the sales suffered because of the lack of hype and the ties to Convergence, but there’s definitely a market for a Superman like this out there.

Corrina: I would read a whole comic of just Lois & Clark on vacation, talking about life. This being superhero comics and not literary fiction, I’ll have to settle for the beginning of this issue. This pair, in so many ways, is the moral center of the DC universe and the Superman titles have not been right since their partnership ended and Superman was tossed into his alienated loner and “only date superheroes” stage. Like Ray, I’m hoping that this relationship will be at the center of Rebirth and given that Lois and Clark are at the center of the Superman of the movies, I’m cautiously optimistic.

I could quibble about Lois walking int a trap but Lois always hated to see people hurt, so it makes sense she’d try to make contact with a friend. As for Clark, of course, he’d still be Superman. What I love most in this book is their practical attitude to being stranded on an entirely new world. That comes through in Clark’s fight this issue. He’s not worried, he’s too busy figuring out how to solve the problem.

cover copyright DC Comics.
cover copyright DC Comics.

Cyborg #7, David F. Walker, writer, Claude St. Aubin, penciller, Andy Owens, inks

Ray: 7/10

Corrina: Excellent Place to Begin This Series.

Ray: Now that the Technosapiens plot line is over, we’re back down to Earth and we are finally able to explore Victor and his life and family in more depths. The world is still dealing with the fallout from the otherworldly invasion, and the government is cracking down on cybernetics.

Against this backdrop, Victor is trying to figure out more about his new abilities and how human he still is, and this leads him to poke around the STAR Labs records – and discover what is essentially a computer program containing his mother’s mind. She has no memory of anything since the accident and thinks she last saw Victor only hours ago. This segment is fairly great, as their conversation forces Victor to look at the directions his life has gone since the accident, and to sort out his complicated feelings about his transformation.

So why only 7/10? Simple – the villains. How many times have we seen the officious government officials come in and declare certain metas/mutants/aliens/cyborgs to be property of the government? Too many. The sinister feds coming in and threatening everyone with cybernetics, including the long-time JLA member, feel like a refugee from a Marvel comic where the public turns on superheroes for the 85th time this year. The pattern of this book continues – David Walker does a fantastic job of writing Victor Stone and I hope he gets to do that for a while, but the plots surrounding him aren’t as compelling.

Corrina: The book’s first arc suffered from being overly ambitious but the aftermath in this issue is a great jumping-on point because the focus is squarely on Victor. This might have been an origin issue in another series but I’m thinking of it as the “Who is Victor?” issue. He’s confused at his new abilities and given what he saw in the things he’s been fighting, wondering if he’s even human anymore, then along comes his Mom inside the AI and…it’s heartbreaking for him. Yes, the government thugs are basic but, still, this is a character I’m excited to read about. Given Cyborg is also in the movie universe, hopefully, this comic will last.

Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot/Katana #1, Deadshot: Brian Buccellato, story and words, Viktor Bogdanovic, pencils, Richard Friend, inks. Katana: Mike W. Barr, writer, Diogenes Neves, artist

No, not a team-up. Separate stories. Cover copyright DC Comics.
No, not a team-up. Separate stories. Cover copyright DC Comics.

Ray: 7/10

Corrina: Squad readers will like it.

Ray: There’s going to be a number of odd projects in the coming months, as DC combines several announced but canceled miniseries into anthology projects. This is the first, combining an unannounced Deadshot story with a cancelled Katana miniseries by her creator, Barr.

It’s been a long time since Katana was on the Suicide Squad, but she is in the movie, so the inclusion here sort of makes sense. Both stories are what I would call serviceable, delivering action-packed narratives that flow smoothly. Deadshot’s is very much in the vein of his current Suicide Squad run, as he chafes under his masters at Task Force X, especially when he finds out his father is dying in hospice care and wants to pay him one more visit. Of course, being Deadshot there’s a nasty twist to that story. But to get to his father, he has to break loose from his current mission, which involves working with a new rookie sharpshooter on Task Force X to track down a notorious drug lord.

If you’re a fan of Suicide Squad, you’ll probably enjoy this, but I felt it to be fairly forgettable until the intriguing cliffhanger. I was actually a bigger fan of the Katana story, which finds her parachuting into Markovia after a plane crash and finding that the country has been taken over by the ruthless husband-wife team of Kobra. Barr has always written a good espionage story, and this is a huge step up from Katana’s last solo series in quality. It has a nice human touch in Katana getting pulled into the stories of the ordinary people suffering under Kobra in Markovia, but I felt like Kobra came off as a bit too “stock villain”, but that’s a recurring problem for them. Overall, not a bad combo for $4.99 for 40 pages of story. I think I enjoyed these two stories more than I have Suicide Squad in a while.

Corrina: It was a pleasant surprise to see Barr’s name in the credits and an equally pleasant surprise to read his Katana story. Sometimes, classic storytelling is the best, especially when it’s a break from all those fractured narrative structures and flashbacks and flash-forwards. Katana’s trying to help, she’s in the middle of a war, and she’s doing the best she can to be as much of a hero as she can. Thank you, Mr. Barr.

As for the Deadshot story, given that it introduces an African-American character who’s been groomed to take over Floyd’s role in the Squad, I predict that this new Deadshot will be part of the new DC, given his resemblance to Will Smith’s movie Deadshot. Not a bad idea. I have no special fondness for Deadshot except for his appearances in the Secret Six. Perhaps he can go back to them once he’s replaced.

We Are Robin #8, Lee Bermejo, story and cover, Jorge Corona, artBatman & Robin Eternal #17, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Ed Brisson script, Scot Eaton, pencils, Wayne Faucher, inks

Ray: 8/10

Corrina: More Joker. But It’s Well Done.

Ray: Now that Robin War is over, the kids of Robin War have gone their separate ways and the team seems to have fallen apart. Of course, that’s not going to last long, as new threats are emerging – and the Robins may just have their new arch-nemesis. Johnny Bender, a teenage Joker-obsessed petty criminal who was born with a condition that kept him from smiling, and underwent botched plastic surgery at his parents’ urging that left him with a twisted permanent grin. He mauls someone in juvie the day he gets out, and then immediately clashes with his cold, self-obsessed parents as soon as he gets home. But the question of whether he’s simply a poser or actually a dangerous threat is quickly answered when he decides to answer his parents dismissiveness with two bullets to the head. It’s well known that Bender is going to great the modern-day version of the Jokerz, and he’s a strong villain to kick it off.

It’s kind of inevitable that the Joker would have a fanbase among sick people in the DCU. Meanwhile, while Dax, Riko, and Izzy deal with their own personal lives, Duke is checking at hospitals, desperately trying to find his parents. That search eventually leads him to a psychiatric ward, where he finally discovers them in a disturbing segment. This is one of the darker books in the Bat-line, even with its young cast, and it shows in the fact that Duke may not get his happy ending. I’m hoping the team finds its way back together soon – if this issue is any indication, they’ll need it to take on Bender and his crew.

Corrina: My problem with this issue? We knew that it was likely Bender would go Joker, making everything that happened after he was released inevitable and lacking suspense. For once, I feel like this title over-indulged in gore. Now, my traditional dislike for the Joker could have much to do with it but I had hopes this could be more of a tween/teen/adult book going in, something that would appeal to all kinds of young people and get them excited about comics, because it’s a great concept and it’s been well done so far.

But, as Ray said, it has gone quite dark. I’m not talking about Duke finding his parents. That’s rough but it’s also nothing I haven’t seen before in young adult or even tween works, many of which deal with kids having absent/sick/dead parents. (I assume that focus is because kids at that stage are questioning whether they can make it alone in the world.)  But the friendship that the Robins offered to each other did provide some hope, so fingers crossed the rest of the cast returns soon.

Batman & Robin Eternal #17, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Ed Brisson script, Scot Eaton, pencils, Wayne Faucher, inks

Ray: 8.5/10

Corrina: Fake Out!

Ray: Brisson takes the helm for his second arc, as we head back to the main narrative of the Bat-kids vs. Mother and Orphan. I’m not quite positive where this is set in the timeline, as we have Dick Grayson and Helena Bertinelli working together to interrogate David Cain, something they would most definitely not be doing in the current Grayson comic. They try everything, from the use of SPYRAL Hypnos to manipulation, and Orphan remains loyal to the cause and refuses to talk.

In the meantime, we finally find out what happened that night in Cairo, where we opened by seeing Batman kill a family for Mother. Sure enough, Bruce didn’t actually kill anyone, using squibs to simulate the murder. Only problem is – Mother was prepared for this. The child Bruce was supposed to recruit is actually one of her soldiers, and is able to detect that the “parents” are still alive. Bruce is set upon by Orphan and the rest of Mother’s soldiers, and before he can get away, she taunts him that the actual child that was hand-picked for his new Robin is being orphaned in Gotham as we speak. As for who that child is, we get some big clues this issue – as Harper Row goes to confront Orphan in the present day, and Orphan taunts her about a secret involving who Cassandra killed on her secret mission. And I’m pretty sure this is the gut punch we were all fearing – it’s going to come out that Cass killed Harper’s mother, destroying that friendship (and the new foundation of the Birds of Prey, most likely). This is a really strong issue, but I was hoping not to see more grim and pain loaded on these characters. I’m still hoping for a swerve next week.

Corrina: All right, I have a pet peeve: I hate heroes torturing or considering torturing people. Okay, yes, Batman does threaten to throw people off roofs or beat them up but the situation presented here seems much more systematic and matter-of-fact than Batman desperately racing to save someone and needing information to do it. (Besides, I have a feeling Gotham’s criminal minions get together and draw straws on who will take the beating and give out information the next time the Bat shows up.)

In any case, Dick Grayson involving himself in torture is just so wrong, and it’s wrong that he can’t think of any other ideas, either. Be a detective, sir! Use your brains, use your strategy.

Now that that’s out of my system, it was a decent issue, with the obvious Batman fake-out. I’m still missing Stephanie Brown, who would add some much needed levity, but I could do without the plot twist Ray sees coming.

Justice League of America #7, by Bryan Hitch, inks by Daniel Henriques, with Andrew Currie

Ray: 8/10

Corrina: Best Justice League Book on the Stands

Ray: Both Justice League titles have been delivering no-holds-barred epic stories with huge-scale villains, and I think I’m slightly in favor of Hitch’s take. His villain, Rao, at first glimpse appears to be an all-powerful cosmic deity, but he’s actually anything but. He’s a small-time con-man from Krypton who has been running an epic racket for thousands of years. He gains a cult of supporters, then uses his abilities to drain their life-force, extending his lifespan at the cost of theirs. This has essentially turned him into an immortal, with near-unlimited power. And now he’s set his eyes on Earth. He’s captured Superman, and is still attempting to convert him as he reveals his plot – he intends to use his power to recreate Krypton on Earth, thus giving him an even greater source of power under a yellow sun.

The thing that I like about Rao as a villain is that he doesn’t really seem to fit into either of the key categories of villains – he’s neither a megalomaniac villain who boasts about his evil, or someone who thinks he’s the hero. He’s at his core a simple opportunist whose scheme has worked out brilliantly. However, he didn’t quite account for Superman’s will, and the way Superman finds a way around his “unbreakable” trap is genuinely epic. I was less interested in the other heroes’ segments, although Wonder Woman and Aquaman stocking up on the ancient weapons of the Greek Gods was fun.

I’m glad this comic has stayed relatively on schedule, one barely-announced fill-in aside, because it’s quite the entertaining read.

Corrina: I liked this title from the start, thought I worried as Rao seemed like yet another god who wanted to show man the better way. But Rao’s origin flipped that script, making the earlier stories more interesting in retrospect and making Green Lantern’s seemingly random trip back in time absolutely central to the conclusion of this story.

Isn’t is crazy that with a Bryan Hitch JLA book on the stands, we’re talking about the plot rather than the art? If there was a question about whether he could plot, this certainly answers that. It’s also crazy that his art is probably comes in third of the three great issues of art this week. I hope we get more written and drawn from Hitch, whether it’s Marvel, DC or independent work.

Grayson #16, Tim Seeley & Tom King, story, Tom King, dialogue, Mikel Janin, artSuperman #48, Gene Luen Yang, writer, Howard Porter and Ardian

Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: What a Showcase for Janin’s art.

Ray: After several issues where this title was involved in rather dense story lines and then a crossover, a new arc and a new status quo begins – and it’s the biggest shot in the arm for any title that I can remember. There’s no mention this issue of Dick’s new role as a mole for the Court of Owls, except possibly one hint at the end. Rather, we’re thrown right into Dick and Agent Tiger as they attempt to take down SPYRAL one agent at a time. So how’s that partnership going, given that Dick has a tendency to sucker-punch Agent Tiger and infuriate him several times on a mission? About as well as you’d expect. He calls him Tony the Tiger repeatedly and is threatened with violence. The important thing to know about this comic is that it is absolutely hilarious. The banter is top-notch throughout, the action is great and coupled with excellent dialogue, and Mikel Janin’s art is incredibly vivid and well-suited to the wide-screen spy action. This comic is probably the closest thing to a movie James Bond comic we’ll ever get, with gadgets, spy tricks, etc. And then we have what’s likely to be the breakout scene in any comic this month – Dick’s epic musical number about spy work.

He decides he needs a theme song, and what ensues is a hilarious multi-page segment as the two agents fight their way around the world while Dick narrates the proceedings in song. DC, please get Neil Patrick Harris to actually record this song and put it on YouTube. He voiced Dick at one point! The interaction between Dick and Tiger reminds me a lot of Spider-Man and Wolverine at their best, and the team of assassins that Helena Bertinelli puts together to bring in the rogue agents – including Frankenstein, Bronze Tiger, and Grifter – looks to be really interesting. Cannot wait to see where this title goes now that it’s raised the bar.

Corrina: He flies through the air with the greatest of ease, the daring young man on the flying trapeze….

Perhaps the creative team heard the complaints that Spyral Dick Grayson didn’t seem like Nightwing or Robin Dick Grayson. If so, that’s answered spectacularly this issue, which is a showcase for Janin’s art. (He’s #2 this week, behind Wu.) Dick remains the sexiest man in the DCU one of the most appealing, and the issue is everything Ray said it is.

However, I didn’t like it as much as Ray and that’s because Dick’s partner, Tony the Tiger, comes across as bland to me, simply a sounding board rather than a character. I’m looking forward to Spyral being wrecked and Janin drawing a Dick Grayson book forever and ever.

Superman #48, Gene Luen Yang, writer, Howard Porter and Ardian Syrf, art

Ray: 7/10

Corrina: Uh, More  Relationship Talk.

Ray: We’re getting closer to the inevitable return of Superman’s full powers, but before that he’s getting closer and closer to rock bottom. This picks up right after the end of last week’s Superman/Wonder Woman, where he was restored to health…but fully mortal. I don’t know what that means in context, exactly, because it seems like his low-grade powers are still active, but he states that a direct hit from a high-powered gun would kill him. After foiling an attempt on a Presidential candidate (who is written as an incredibly blatant take-off on Donald Trump, in a scene that felt more like it belonged in Prez) with the help of Steve Trevor, he comes up with an insane last-ditch attempt to get his full powers back – via burning off the mutated cells in his body keeping him from absorbing solar energy with Kryptonite. Essentially super-chemotherapy, which is an interesting concept.

That leads to a rather tense issue where Superman essentially poisons himself to the point of near-death to attempt to get his powers back, as one of Savage’s evil sons, in collaboration with Hordr-Root, invades the ARGUS base and attempts to finish the job while he’s weak. This is probably the best issue this title has had in a while, as there’s a good sense of excitement to everything, although I felt it sort of crashed when Steve Trevor and Superman have an extended conversation over Superman’s relationship with Wonder Woman. Much like with last week’s S/WW, it stands out even more in a good issue that this relationship doesn’t work. But as we head to the conclusion of this crossover, I feel like this book is starting to hit its groove a bit.

Corrina: That final panel, with Superman lying on a bed of Kryptonite in the hope of curing his condition, is perhaps the best panel in a year or so of this book. It also hints that this Superman is desperate to be himself again and, if he can’t, he doesn’t want to live anymore. That’s dark for a Superman book.

I’m going to take a minute to marvel that DC hired Gene Luen Yang, the newly appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and yet provided him with a crossover plotline that’s ill-suited to Superman. You can see traces of Yang’s talent here and there, and especially in Superman’s desperation to regain his old self. It’s also too bad some of this issue has to be spent on the Wonder Woman/Superman romance but that’s DC for you. I hope Yang has plans to write more at DC, perhaps without being hampered by a bad overall idea.

Justice League 3001 #8, a Keith Giffen–J.M. DeMatteis-Scott Kolins production.

Ray: 6/10

Corrina: Improving Book!

Ray: The new all-female JL3K has been a definite step up for the book. For the first time, it feels we’re actually following real characters, not crude facsimiles/clones of heroes from the 20th century. Since Lady Styx has taken over the galaxy, the heroines are deep cover, taking menial jobs to survive while they try to figure out the best way to take back the planet. Some of these are dealing with the new status quo better than others. Wonder Woman, in particular, is not taking well to her new factory job, while Supergirl is becoming more and more hardened as she tries to lead the team. The star of the issue, though, is Tina, the new “Batman”. This pint-sized vigilante is not willing to sit back and stay quiet while they plot the rebellion, instead choosing to go out and fight Scullions. This has been a golden era for new Bat-kids being introduced, and I hope to see a team-up between Tina and Damian one day. I just wish there was less of a tone of all-encompassing darkness over the title, with the post-apocalyptic wasteland surrounding them. This cast of characters could be a lot of fun if the status quo would let them.

Corrina: I don’t like this cast because it’s all-female, I like this cast because they finally seem like heroes. Sure, flawed, confused, and, in Guy’s case, slowly slipping away, but heroes who are trying to fight against overwhelming odds and who wouldn’t want that in a superhero comic?

I fear, however, that this book has taken too late to provide quality and while Ray hopes for more of Tina and I’m unexpectedly affected by Guy’s struggle to remain herself, I doubt we’ll see them again.

Aquaman #48, Cullen Bunn, writer, Vicente Cifuentes, penciller, John Dell, Juan Castro, and Vicente Cifuentes, inkers

Ray: 7/10

Corrina: A Decent Ending

Ray: It’s the end of Bunn’s run on Aquaman, before Dan Abnett comes on next month, and much like another comic this week, this issue feels like it’s mainly here to clean house and reset things back to the status quo. Now that Arthur and Mera are back together, they team up to take the fight to Siren and Thule. Arthur wins back the loyalty of his former knights Garth and Tula, while Mera easily handles Siren and takes back her crown, and then Atlantis invades the kingdom of Thule before it can do the same to them. The bulk of this issue is essentially just a big, no-holds-barred battle of Atlanteans vs. ogres and other magical monsters, and there’s definitely worse things to read. At the same time, though, it really feels like the conclusion to this arc is sort of rushed. Arthur struggled to keep Thule in check via complex magical techniques for months, and then suddenly it’s just “Let’s get in there and kick that evil magic kingdom’s butts”. By the end, most things are back to the baseline for Aquaman, with one change – several thousand refugees from Thule, seeking a home in Atlantis. Very timely. I’m hoping that Abnett picks up on these threads in his run. I’m usually a huge fan of Cullen Bunn’s writing, but I don’t think he quite clicked on this property. Johns and Parker were a very tough act to follow.

Corrina: They really skipped over the whole “rape by deception” angle, didn’t they? I suppose the title was never going to tackle that issue but it was cool to see Mera take out her impersonator in no time flat, though I know that part was likely dictated by not having a lot of space to wrap up the plot.

Yes, agreeing with Ray that given how formidable Thule seemed, their defeat comes way too easy, pointing out this arc could easily have been one or two issues instead of a long-running saga. The refugees from Thule in Atlantis provide a nice plot bunny for the next time. We’ll see what they do with it. No more Mera imposters, though, okay?

Deathstroke #14, written by James Bonny, art, Tyler Kirkham

Ray: 6/10

Corrina: Just Not Interested.

Ray: Slade’s quest to find his daughter takes him to his next target – LexCorp. We, of course, know that Rose isn’t quite a hostage and may be in on her kidnapping, but Slade doesn’t know that, so he’s just as desperate as ever. The entire issue is pretty much nothing but Slade battling his way first through an army of drone robots, then against Luthor’s bodyguard Mercy Graves, and then finally against a Luthor battle suit with the evil genius’ brain patterns operating it. There isn’t all that much in the way of plot here, although there’s an interesting twist at the end when Slade accidentally unleashes an army of Bizarros. I was glad to see not much in the way of excessive violence this issue, and overall now that James Bonny has gone solo on writing in this title, it feels like things are turning up. This is far from one of my favorite titles, but if you like seeing assassins blowing things up, you could find worse reads.

Corrina: I would like this title more if it’s very standards storytelling wasn’t selling better than many of my favorites. This gets to stay but not Lois & Clark or the Titans revamp? ARGH. I admit, that is unfair to the book.

What is fair is that I don’t find this Slade at all compelling, even if he’s searching for his daughter. I like the world-weary mercenary Slade but this one isn’t world-weary and questioning his nature, he’s just a generic superpowered assassin.

Teen Titans #16, written by Will Pfeifer, art by Miguel Mendonca, inker by Dexter Vines

Ray: 6/10

Corrina: It’s Readable, Which Is an Improvement.

Ray: It’s the final issue of Pfeifer’s run, and I was surprised by how readable it was. To be clear, this is essentially a clearinghouse issue on a run that doesn’t really work. Pfeifer has been sandbagged since the start by a disaster of a team set up in the Scott Lobdell run, and then the situation only got worse when Lobdell started co-writing the title again, bringing in a pet character from Doomed and reintroducing the terrible war criminal calling himself Kid Flash. We know Greg Pak is coming on next issue, and this issue mainly seems to set up the new status quo. Red Robin returns to the team, and they’re quickly swept up in a battle over the fate of their alien member Chimera, when soldiers from Durla show up to arrest her. There’s an extended battle with some fairly creative use of powers on Beast Boy’s part, but then Chimera says she’ll go back with them to protect her team. One character on the bus. Then, in a scene that made me laugh out loud, Bar Tor disappears, leaving only a note that he’s decided to go rescue Solstice. Just get him out of there as soon as possible. Reiser leaves to go back to college, and no more Doomed. Still wanted by the authorities, the Titans pack up and head to a small city in Pennsylvania terrorized by super thugs, where they can stay under the radar. I’m kind of excited to see this smaller group of Titans fighting street-level crime. So even though this run was far from great, it ended on a decent note and did what it needed to do – set up the new run nicely.

Corrina: Pfeiffer is a good writer and that he’s managed to make this readable given what a mess it was, deserves a round of applause. (As does the art team, doing service in such circumstances.) But it’s readers who are at the short end of the stick as a title that should be one of DC’s staples, especially given its popularly in television, is, at worst, awful and, at best, ‘meh.’

There is no excuse for this book being this bad for so long. I fear not even Pak will save it or make it interesting.

Ray’s Out-of-Continuity Reviews:

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #14 – 7.5/10

This continues to be one of the best all-ages books DC has put out. It’s a perfect combination of obscure DC continuity with accessible stories that anyone can pick up off the stands with no prior knowledge. This issue takes us to Atlantis, as the Mystery Machine crew’s relaxing cruise is interrupted by creatures from the black lagoon robbing the ship, complete with a giant hologram of Poseidon.

They join forces with Aquaman and get pulled into a plot involving Black Manta and Ocean Master, and pulling in all of Aquaman’s allies from Garth and Tula to even Topo the Octopus. Will say that most kids will not get the disturbing implications of Black Manta kidnapping Aquababy, but I definitely did. Glad to see a less grim take on that story here. This isn’t quite as dense and exciting as the recent magic-based issue, but it’s definitely a fun read.

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.

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