It was an excellent week for female heroes at DC, with new issues of The Legend of Wonder Woman, the best thing to happen to the character in years, a new issue of DC Comics Bombshells, and a team-up story with Vixen and Black Canary that delves into Canary’s past and the mystery surrounding her missing mother.
Oh, yeah, and this guy named Bruce Wayne took back the mantle of Batman. Plus, Constantine continues to be a magnificent bastard and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have fun in the Batcave.
As always, we review all the DC titles published this week. I’ve put them in order my preference, rather than Ray’s ratings, so you may note that I’ve pushed the latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal down a bit. Mind-controlled teammate fights are not my thing.
The Legend of Wonder Woman #2, creators: Renae De Liz and Ray Dillion
Corrina: Fantastic Story.
Ray: This reinvention of the Wonder Woman origin continues to be the best thing to happen to the character in years. It’s two oversized issues in, and we’re still on Themysrica, which is very refreshing. I’ve never seen more than a few pages devoted to the formative years of Diana’s character.
That’s not to say there’s not a lot of action and suspense in this issue, though. The first segment focuses on a young Diana’s training with the mercurial Aclippe, as Diana struggles under her teacher and demands to know where Aclippe’s hostility comes from. The answer lifts the curtain on a lot of the political intrigue in Themysrica, something that only continues after a time jump. Diana is about eighteen in the second segment, and danger is starting to build as forces begin to plot against Queen Hippolyta. Antiope and Melanippe, the high priestesses of Ares and Hades, are planning to oust the Queen in their favor, and make for compelling new villains – something Diana is very much in need of.
As Hippolyta faces this uprising, she prepares Diana for the possibility that she may need to step up as queen – something that will include petitioning the Gods for infinite life. The arrival of Steve Trevor on the island only complicates things, and gives the evil Antiope her opening to put Aclippe in a coma and move her plan to depose Hippolyta up. The classic elements of Diana’s origin are starting to slip in, but unlike so many other origin retellings, I don’t feel like I know where things are going. Highly recommended.
Corrina: Absolutely agreed, this is the Diana that Wonder Woman fans have been wanting for years. Now, I can only cross my fingers that it sells. However, while De Liz’s story is obviously original, I see echoes of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman: The Circle arc in some of the concepts, especially that of Amazons who resent Diana’s creation. But the best part of both stories is, like The Circle, it focuses on individual Amazons, instead of making them some faceless horde behind Queen Hippolyta.
I’m going to venture a guess and say Ares, through his priestess, is behind this darkening of the Amazon world. I also love that Steve Trevor is drawn to the island to be part of the plot, instead of having him randomly crash on the island. It adds layers to young Diana’s care of him.
Black Canary #9, Brenden Fletcher, writer, Sandy Jarrell, art
Corrina: Love the Focus on Dinah. Plus, Vixen!
Ray: The Battle of the Bands is over, and this title takes a massive change in direction and tone as we start to peel back the mystery of who exactly Dinah is. The band is being interrogated by the police over the mysterious disappearance of Ditto and Kurt Lance, although they know exactly where they are and BS their way out of it. Meanwhile, Dinah is in a whole different kind of trouble, finding herself in some ancient fight club/temple where she’s pitted against masked cultists in between being locked up in a cell with a character we haven’t seen in a while – Vixen!
It’s great to see Mari McCabe again, especially since the last time we saw her in a significant role she was in a coma in the short-lived JLI relaunch. She’s more concerned with getting out of there, while Dinah is intrigued by exactly what White Canary wants with her and what her connection to the mysterious blonde woman running the place is. White Canary is unmasked as Dinah’s aunt, who knows a good deal about the secrets of her mother, and Dinah and Vixen stage a daring escape with the help of Vixen’s animal powers. Meanwhile, the band heads abroad to track her down, only to possibly walk into a trap themselves. Jarrell is on art this issue, replacing Annie Wu, and it’s a smooth transition that isn’t easy to notice at first glance. Another great issue from one of DC’s most underrated books at the moment. Can’t wait to see where it goes next.
Corrina: Dinah seems to be, once again, a legacy hero, where the mantle of Canary was passed down from mother to daughter, something unusual in superhero comics and something I always enjoyed about the character. I’m at a loss to figure out where this mysterious aunt fits in or why this ninja army seems bent on testing our Canary. I found Canary’s “well, I’ll just keep beating them up like they want me to until they tell me what I want” attitude amusing, but I’m glad she ditched that rather than let Vixen stay behind bars.
The team-up itself was refreshing because it was all business. No posturing or sniping, just “you got that part? Good, I got this,” right down to the method of escape. I’m not sure what Vixen was doing captured by this group but it didn’t matter so much because she added so much to the story.
Constantine The Hellblazer #9, Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, writers, Riley Rossmo, art and cover
Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Ray: I’ve got to say, the thing I enjoy most about this take on Constantine is the way his entire life is a never-ending series of backstabs, being backstabbed, and past backstabs coming back to haunt him. The guy is like a walking bad life decision. Last issue, his boyfriend was kidnapped and poisoned by Papa Midnite as a way to get Constantine in on a mission with him, and their efforts to break into Midnite’s old club – now run by Neron – ended very badly. Now they’re in hell. Literally.
Neron attempts to torture them into submitting their souls to him, but both Constantine and Midnite are stubborn. Neron, meanwhile, has been reinterpreted as a crude demon capitalist, who intends to sell magic to the highest bidder and break down the separations between our world and magic. It occurs to me that he may have been influenced by a real-world figure with giant hair and a taste for conspicuous consumption? It’s only through the intervention of John’s old demon associate Blythe – who he backstabbed and sent back to hell in the first issue – that they’re able to mount a daring escape. Riley Rossmo draws a great hell, and the constant twists and turns are always entertaining. It’s almost like a game of cat and mouse between John and the villains, waiting to see who will turn on the other first. And next issue? John vs. Fairyland? Consider me sold. This is the best the character’s been written since he entered the DCU again.
Corrina: “A never-ending series of backstabs,” is a perfect motto for Constantine, Ray! He’s a genuine anti-hero in that he’d rather something good happened than not but he approaches his problems from such a messed-up angle that it’s unclear if he’s ever really helping anyone. It’s fun to see him matched with demons as equally backstabbing as he is because you’re always wondering who is going to betray who and when.
Papa Midnite is an interesting character who makes a nice foil for Constantine. He’s too evil for us to want him to win, even over Constantine, but he’s entertaining when he’s on-stage. As for Neron’s new haircut? No, that’s not a coincidence.
Batman #49, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, writers, Yanick Paquette, artist
Corrina: Fine Writing, Depressing Ending.
Ray: Much like with the fantastic Batman #44, this is a fill-in of sorts with a guest artist and a co-writer for Snyder before a big issue by the main team. The difference is, this time the story plays a very key role in the overall story. It’s finally time for Bruce Wayne to step into the spotlight. James Gordon takes a break this issue, still in the clutches of Mr. Bloom, as Bruce returns to his home, horrified by Mr. Bloom hitting the shelter, and demands that Alfred show him his cave so he can take back his role as Gotham’s protector.
It’s really Alfred who is the star of this issue, once he figures out Bruce’s plan. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone besides Tomasi years ago who grasps quite so well the toll this is taking on Alfred. He very much views Bruce as his son, and the “death” of Batman has returned his son to him. The pain he feels when he hears that Bruce intends to use the extremely risky Batman-duplication process to overwrite his new mind with Batman’s is palpable, and those early segments are easily the most powerful of the issue. Throughout the issue, he and Bruce’s conversations as Bruce intends to push his mind and body past the point of no return are note-perfect. Julie Madison eventually finds her way there, playing a key role as we get some nice closure to her relationship with Bruce (and hopefully, pave the way for her to exit the book un-fridged). The story is inter-spliced with fantasy segments involving Bruce as a futuristic Batman overseeing a near-utopian Gotham, that look gorgeous but occasionally take me out of the story, interrupting the flow. On their own, they’re a fascinating alternate universe, but combined with the story I kept feeling pulled away from the fantastic main narrative. It ends where we expect it to – Batman is back, ready to rejoin the fight against Mr. Bloom – but the journey we take to get there is excellent.
Corrina: ::deep sigh:: Yes, I’m old guard. I’m the person who loved the “Batman as Gotham’s guardian” O’Neil/Adams Batman, that guy who had something of a normal personality, not this driven, haunted Dark Knight who can never know any peace, not for a moment. This issue is well-written and well-done but I hated the ending, I hate the idea that Batman has to basically be insane for him to do what he does.
In other words, I felt like Alfred hanging onto Bruce this issue, pleading with him not to do what he does. I’m glad Alfred refused. I don’t know what to think of having Julie flip the switch. It definitely puts that romance to bed in an unusual way but I’m not sure she knew enough about the man Bruce/Batman was before his death/rebirth for that to have as much plot resonance as it should.
So, I guess Batman’s back. I’m depressed. I’m going to read some classic O’Neil stories until I feel better.
Gotham Academy #15, creators: Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Zac Gorman, Eduardo Medeiros and Rafael Albuquerque, Mingjue Helen Chen
Corrina: Cute Stories.
Ray: It’s the second issue of the “Yearbook” anthology arc, and I thought the quality of the stories this issue was a bit superior to the first issue. There’s some really talented indie creators in here, as well as an a-list artist contributing. The framing device is the same, with the kids reminiscing about all the crazy adventures they got into off-panel all year. The first story, “Staff Party” by Zac Gorman, is definitely the most indie-like of the three and focuses on Colton and Maps spying on the Academy faculty party, which mainly seems like an excuse to show just how many obscure Batman ’66 villains teach at the school! The second story, “Serpents and Secrets”, starts with a segment with cartoony art by Eduardo Medeiros where Maps and Olive play and Dungeons and Dragons-like game – only to then segue into spectacular Rafael Albuquerque art when they get sucked into the game proper courtesy of the Scarecrow. Some creepy monsters and fun interaction in this segment. The third segment, “Hammin’ Around” by Mingjue Helen Chen, focuses on the adventures of the school dog, Ham. The story’s slim but cute, and makes me wonder why Chen isn’t getting more comic work! Her art is gorgeous. Any fans of GA are going to enjoy this issue, I think.
Corrina: I enjoyed these two issues and the glimpses into the little hideaways of the Academy. It’s like getting a tour of Hogwarts with Hermione and some friends from Ravenclaw. But I wonder if these stories are a good jumping-on point for new readers. They show the breadth of the story possibilities in this story, but not much of the depth.
My favorite was the middle story, with the LARPing angle via Scarecrow’s fear gas. That’s the type of concept this title can do so well.
Starfire #9, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, Elsa Charretier, art
Corrina: Animated Starfire Lives.
Ray: This series seems to be leaning pretty hard into turning Starfire into the grown-up version of the cartoon Starfire. Not a big surprise, since it’s the most popular version of the character ever, but even I didn’t expect a certain character to make their debut that issue. That’s right…it’s New 52 Silkie!
Starfire’s weird little caterpillar pet! Here it’s a fuzzy pink thing that has somehow imprinted on both her and Sol, leaving the poor guy in charge of an alien life form while Starfire and her friends Atlee and Stella head on a field trip to Atlee’s underground kingdom. The story takes a little too long to get going, with lots of discussion before the three of them head on their way in a bubble traveling underground, but once they do, things start getting interesting. The conversations between them on the way are a lot of fun, but things take a sinister turn when they arrive, as it seems that an evil former king has decided to take back Atlee’s kingdom – and he’s got agents on Earth controlling the way back. It’s a pretty slight comic, but I’m always a sucker for underground monsters, and I like the three lead characters a lot. Plus, Silkie! I can see old-school Starfire fans having a bit of a problem with this interpretation, but it works for me. Now, maybe give this same kind of treatment to Raven?
Corrina: Oh, that’s where the pet came from? I’d forgotten as I haven’t watched much of the Teen Titans cartoon save for the original’s first couple of seasons. (“Evil Beware, we have waffles!”) I do hear the voice of Cartoon Starfire whenever I read this Starfire’s lines, however. It’s a good take on the character but it was more of a teenage take and sometimes that seems off-kilter from the adult sensibility in the book. No, not the nudity, but the violence, which has been a bit much, even for me.
Who knew the road trip to Atlee’s kingdom would be so rife with peril? Oh, everyone, of course, but this promises to be a great fight.
Harley’s Little Black Book #2, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, John Timms, Mauricet, artists
Corrina: Harley Gets Away with Mayhem.
Ray: This bi-monthly series teaming Harley with other DC heroes seems to be going for a done-in-one style with some minor serialized elements creeping in among the edges. To my eye, the former works really well while the latter isn’t quite clicking yet. This issue pairs Harley with Hal Jordan in an epic battle of rings. That’s right, Harley gets a ring. Or rather, two, when two dumbasses sell some Black Lantern and Red Lantern rings they find from an alien spaceship on EBay, allowing Harley to get the combined product. If you thought combining a ring based around death and one based around rage might be a bad idea, you’d be right!
Sure enough, it sends her into a crazed villainous rage, terrorizing the city and drawing the attention of Hal Jordan. The issue is big, ridiculous action, culminating in one of my favorite action scenes in any comic in a while – two gigantic arms arm-wrestling over a city. Naturally, there’s a real villain at work, trying to get his hands on this fused super-evil ring, and soon enough Harley and Hal find themselves teaming up against an alien warlord. But the issue works best when it’s focusing on the sheer absurdity of Harley with an alien ring of destruction. I was a little less interested in Harley’s friends from the UK and their misadventures in trying to visit her in New York. This group were sort of amusing in their first issue, but here they’re more of a distraction. Still, this series is two-for-two so far, and next issue’s team-up with Zatanna should be a lot of fun.
Corrina: My favorite part of this issue? The two losers who receive the Lantern rings from the dying alien woman. Their dialogue is priceless. On alien babes: “It’s isn’t like Star Trek. You can’t just meet them and Kirk out on them.” On debating whether to wear a Green Lantern ring: “Don’t put it on. I think once you do, a boatload of aliens come after your or something.” “Yeah, better just list it and sell it.”
Harley receiving a rage ring is predictable but I worry again about all the murder & mayhem she gets away with in this title. She wrecked the GW Bridge! Who knows how many civilians she killed? I know, it was the ring, so she gets a pass, but still, perhaps she should have been forced to make some sort of amends? I found it much funnier when she lost the ring, realized the aliens had stolen it from her and decided to get revenge. I’m not familiar with the artists but after this issue, I’d be in favor of them receiving a regular DC book. So much of Harley relies on her facial expressions and they killed it.
And, hey, this issue had a tolerable Hal Jordan. Always a plus.
Earth-2 Society #9, Dan Abnett, writer, Jorge Jimenez, artist
Corrina: Wish This Creative Team Had Been On the Series From the Start
Ray: Abnett has definitely given this title a bit of a new lease on life, as he’s delving into the new world the characters are inhabiting and letting the geopolitical issues take the lead. While the first arc on this title was dominated by over-the-top supervillains, the main threats here seem to come from warring city-states with egomaniacal governors and the barren landscape.
As two rival cities are preparing to go to war, each seeking oil-rich areas and blaming the other for the attack of rampaging mutant beasts, Val-Zod is working to search the globe for evidence of natural resources, only to come up empty. It seems the planet they’re living on isn’t really a natural planet at all, but rather a facsimile of one created out of barren rock. That adds an interesting new wrinkle to the story. I’m not sure how I feel about Fury and her secret colony of Amazons, especially since it raises the specter of yet another group of evil killer Amazons in the DCU, though. Long story short, the world is still a lot more interesting than it was in the first arc, but it’s suffering from a lack of compelling characters to care about. It feels like it’s been ages since the original run that reintroduced these characters, and the universe has suffered as a result.
Corrina: If only we hadn’t gotten that ridiculous, confusing and depressing opening to the start of this series and begun at this point, with the survivors settling down enough to get into territorial disputes, with the heroes attempting to gently shepherd humanity to some sort of peace, and with the heroes exploring their world, this title might have caught on. Abnett’s take is interesting and it catches my attention, from Alan’s realization that he’s somewhat less than human to the attempt to play peacemaker, and the reintroduction of Fury. What a lost chance.
I’m hoping that this team will at least be able to give the book a satisfying conclusion.
Batman/Superman #29, writer, Tom Taylor, art, Robson Rocha & Julio Ferreira
Corrina: Classic Team-Up
Ray: This arc is only three parts, but it’s packing a lot into that time, giving us a great combination of intriguing mystery with big-scale space action. When we last left off, a dying space giant was found with a message for Superman, pointing to the existence of other living Kryptonians. This just as Lobo was deputized to assassinate Batman before they got to the truth. One of the things I really enjoy about the dynamic in this issue is the humor Taylor puts into Batman and Superman’s relationship. It doesn’t work when they’re overly hostile, or overly friendly.
This combination of Batman’s grim silence with Superman’s amusing quips is really fun to read. They spend most of the issue apart after the opening, though, with Superman in deep space in search of his missing kin, and Batman fending off both Lobo and the father of the dead alien that kicked off this whole thing. I know it’s Batman, but the fact that he survives this attack stretches belief a little bit. He’s human. Superman, meanwhile, finds an old Kryptonian being used as a power battery by alien warlords – only to be backstabbed at the last second in a shocking last page. It’s not any sort of groundbreaking issue, but it’s a fun old-school adventure that fans of the two characters should really enjoy.
Corrina: Not groundbreaking, no, but it’s refreshing to read a straightforward hero team-up with humor that doesn’t consist of snide remarks. Instead, they’re a team, and even with obvious disadvantage Batman has in space, it’s his detective skills and his ability to see through to the truth that become the key to his survival.
And this Superman? Can we put Superman back the way he was before he became the alienated loner and assign Taylor to a Superman book, please?
Batman & Robin Eternal #19, James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder, story, Tim Seeley, script, Paul Pelletier, pencils, Tony Kordos, inks
Corrina: All Action But Not My Favorite Trope.
Ray: As we enter the final act, with only seven issues to go, things are hitting a fever pitch and this issue is pretty much a full-on action blowout. Icthys has been unleashed on Saint Hadrian’s, turning all the child assassins on site into crazed soldiers loyal to Mother. And it’s not just Helena Bertinelli’s “girls” – the other teenagers on site are vulnerable as well, including Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, and Harper Row. Tim and Cass promptly turn on Dick and Helena, forcing them to fight off their own allies as the younger heroes rage against invisible enemies. While Dick is doing his best to bring his friends back to sanity, Helena is more concerned with taking them out by any means necessary.
Dick and Spyral were never a great match, and this issue shows that pretty clearly. Harper, meanwhile, is trapped down below, in the throes of trauma, making her especially vulnerable to Mother’s control. This does not bode well for Red Hood when he comes to retrieve her, and her heel turn allows David Cain and Poppy Ashmore to escape. Dr. Netz is able to clear Tim’s mind using the antidote he synthesized, clearing his mind – but still leaving anyone who is given the antidote with terrifying hallucinations. They clear Cass’ mind and go after Harper, but clearing Harper’s mind doesn’t help much – as she still sees Cass as an inhuman monster standing over her mother’s body, and tries to kill her. It’s a fast-paced issue without much room for character development, but damn if it doesn’t make me want to read the next one.
Corrina: Diverting for a bit here to the Grayson title, I’ve never heard a good reason as to why Spyral is allowed to do so much evil. They seem to be just one of many spy agencies and this training of girls from a young age is..squicky. At first, I thought Dick was supposed to take them down but now I don’t know what’s going on with them. Similarly, though I like the concept of the new Helena, she’s so mysterious as to be impenetrable. So it should mean something that she’s worried about her girls but it doesn’t.
However, back to this title. Yes, it’s all action, but it’s all action with the heroes fighting each other, which is the worst kind of action in my book, even if they’re all hypnotized by whatever Mother sent off. Harper and Cass fighting should have a powerful emotional impact but given the chaos in the rest of the issue, I’m not feeling it. If this is the book’s final act, I’m starting to worry whether the end will match the promise of the first few issue.
New Suicide Squad #17, writer, Tim Seeley, art and color, Juan Ferreyra
Corrina: Good Introduction to the Squad.
Ray: It’s a new creative team and a huge jump in quality for Suicide Squad, just in time for the buzz for the movie to start building. There’s no real huge status quo changes or shake-ups in the new run, because the general concept and cast has always worked very well, but the new team is bringing a whole new sense of energy to the title. It’s a very good jumping-on point, as we’re introduced to the concept and characters via an outside perspective – a cowardly representative of the British government is brought to Belle Reve to discuss the UK’s desire to start their own version of Task Force X, thanks to a supervillain boom in their territory. Harley Quinn, Black Manta, Deadshot, Cheetah, and Captain Boomerang are all back and terrorizing our unfortunate Brit during his tour, but we also get a glimpse of some new possible villains with names like Lamplighter, Mudslide, Crow Wild, and New Wave. Some cool designs in there.
El Diablo also makes a comeback with an increased role, just in time for the movie. I’m also really liking the way Seeley writes Amanda Waller. The primary team is dispatched to Hong Kong to protect a controversial politician from assassination during a local festival, and this leads to some pretty spectacular action scenes, including a two-page spread involving Harley taking on an army of masked goons. The ending…bizarre, and definitely a fake-out, but probably tied into the odd segment in the opening set in Moscow. It’s kind of a shame this run wasn’t given a new #1 and might be interrupted by Rebirth in a few months, because this is the Suicide Squad book we deserve.
Corrina: It’s a set-up issue for the new creative team and designed for new readers as a place to start learning about the Suicide Squad. (Especially if you want to check into the team after seeing the upcoming movie.) But since I’m familiar with the Squad, the issue felt a little dull for me and the British guy’s continued need to mention having to pee became annoying. I thought that joke was going to be some sort of fake-out but I guess not. (Or perhaps it is, we’ll see next issue and, if so, I’ll owe the creative team an apology.)
I’ve never seen El Diablo before, so I’m interested to see what role he plays in the Squad, since he’s chosen to stay.
Catwoman #49, Frank Tieri, writer, Inaki Miranda, art
Corrina: Not Bad.
Ray: You know, if you asked me which 12 DC titles would get to #50 next month, I probably would not have guessed Catwoman as one of them. Especially with all of the creative shifts along the way, but here we are. This current run got off to a slow start, putting Catwoman in a fairly generic frame-up plot line, and this issue starts the same way.
Every villain in Gotham is after her, to say nothing of the cops, and even her friend Killer Croc is ready to turn her in for a million dollars. After a close escape (with Croc making yet another switch in sides) and an encounter with the Riddler, Selina heads to her hideout and finds exactly why everyone is so hot to get their hands on this mysterious diamond – it’s not a diamond at all. It’s a case for a USB drive containing all of Penguin’s blackmail files on the entire city. Selina tries to get help from Bruce Wayne, but of course, he doesn’t recognize her and quickly turns her into the police. The story feels like it’s taken a bit more of an original turn this issue, and Miranda’s art continues to be the highlight here. It’s not a patch on Valentine’s run, but it’ll do as we head into the anniversary.
Corrina: Selina’s confrontation and conversation with Killer Croc is what makes the issue interesting, especially by pointing out that she’s the only friend he has and he’s about to sell her out to his worst enemy for money. That seems to get through. But there are so many plot holes. One, Selina already knew Bruce had lost his memory. Even if she thought that was a pose, she wouldn’t risk everything on Bruce admitting that to her during this kind of setup. Two, Selina is a thief. She’s THE THIEF. And she can’t tell a real diamond from a fake?
This Selina feels like the classic Selina. But the plot is terrible.
Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #2, Tom Taylor, writer, Ethan Van Sciver, artist
Corrina: Eye-Popping Art
Ray: Taylor’s next chapter in the GLC’s journey through an ancient past universe continues to find its groove, and this issue makes pretty clear that it’s mainly interested in full, no-holds-barred space action. The Corps have found their way to another living planet, where they’ve forged an uneasy alliance with a pair of giants to protect the refugees there. Guy is uneasy with risking their lives to protect beings they barely know, but Kilowog is insistent that it’s their duty – an argument guy becomes more suspicious of when they find the body of Mukmuk, the carp-like GL. It soon becomes clear that this is the work of Marinel, an ancient, evil enemy of the City.
However, both sides of this war wind up facing a common threat – a massive rift torn in time and space that threatens to suck all life into it. The Lanterns try to keep the planets away from it and save the civilians, but this is complicated by the arrival of Marinel’s forces, who seem to care more about killing their enemies than preserving any life. In the process of the battle, Bd’g and Arisia are sucked into the void and seemingly lost for good (Arisia’s second likely fake-out death in these miniseries, and I’m not buying it here either), causing guy to turn on Kilowog. We’ve seen stories like this before, but the real highlight is Ethan Van Sciver’s huge-scale art. No one draws big space action like him, and seeing him doing GL stories is worth the purchase alone.
Corrina: Van Sciver’s art is so impressive, especially his depiction of the void and the panels where the GLs construct brand new engines to replace those destroyed by the enemy that made good use of John Stewart’s architect background. I can’t believe Van Sciver’s not on one of the major books because I would love to see him do something this epic with Superman. Again and again, his art makes this thin concept better than it should be. We’ve been in this void a long, long time with no forward momentum and so the story feels stale but every page draws me back in with the visuals.
The new planet of survivors is a good idea or would be a good idea if we met anyone but the two giant guardians and the evil mastermind who seems to want to toss the planet in the void. And, no, I hope Arisia isn’t dead. I also hope Guy loses his attitude or did her forget he’s a hero who’s supposed to help people?
Flash #48, Robert Venditti and Van Jensen, writers, Jesus Merino, penciller and inker
Corrina: Art is Better.
Ray: Well, it appears we’ve taken a detour into the Marvel Universe. In the wake of Barry’s battle with Zoom, Barry’s father is free from prison – but the Flash is now public enemy #1 in Central City, being targeted by none other than Barry’s foster father, Captain Frye. And in a twist that really defies logic, Frye is willing to work with the Rogues in order to bring him in. This leads to the awkward situation of Barry being deputized to help track down…himself. A chemical explosion brings Flash out of hiding, and the Rogues use their new drones to track him down and attempt to arrest him in the middle of the disaster. There’s very little in the way of major stakes this issue, with no obvious villain save the Rogues (on the side of the law for now) and whoever sabotaged the chemical plant, although the knowledge that Frye now has the Flash’s DNA (which is being sent to Barry for analysis) is ominous.
We finally start getting hints that Wally is getting powers of his own, which is intriguing, but overall this issue is dragged down by the fact that it’s yet another “Public turns on superhero story”, and I have very little patience for those these days.
Corrina: Everything moves so fast (no pun intended) in this title that there’s no time for any character to have a true emotional moment. Even the scene between Barry and his Dad seemed rushed and confused. I also hate this plot, like Ray, because what city, when it’s terrified of one guy with a superpower, hires known villains with superpowers as an arm of the law? That never makes sense and it doesn’t here.
However, I liked the artwork this time. It’s just cleaner and easier on the eyes than it was previously.
Red Hood/Arsenal #9, Scott Lobdell, writer, Javier Fernandez, artist
Corrina: What’s Going On Again?
Ray: We’re back to Subterranea, so I was really not expecting much out of this issue. This bizarre kingdom of mole people under Gotham has been arguably the worst running plot lin the entire DCnU over the years, and I was hoping it would be gone for good after Nocenti’s Catwoman run. No such luck. While Joker’s Daughter is being held captive by big bad Charon, who she previously deposed in that run, Jason and Roy are fighting their way through armies of generic villains to rescue her. I will say that Joker’s Daughter, who I was incredibly skeptical of until this point, had a few good scenes this issue as her bizarre delusions start to wear off and she realizes what she’s become, even trying to commit suicide to take Charon with her. I was surprised to see her unmasked sort of off-handedly – her face is completely normal, although previous runs sort of indicated that she had scarred herself.
But the ending of the issue makes me think there’s some hope she could evolve into a decent character under Jason’s mentorship. Meanwhile, it’s revealed that Roy was a member of another top-secret team at one point – but not the Titans, which, you know, is another plot that’s going on right now. Some random team called Iron Rule. That’s weird. There’s a few flashes of promise in this issue, but it’s overall swamped by the weirdness of Subterranea.
Corrina: Stop the presses, I disagree with Ray and say that I like Lobdell using Subterranea. Maybe I just love hidden cities. (Hey, it was good enough for Suzanne Collins and Edgar Rice Burroughs!). But setting that aside, I’m not sure what’s going on. Jason and Ray fight people and encounter Charon who’s so generic that I kinda forgot who he is.
Joker’s Daughter is (gasp!) the only character who held my attention this issues as she begins to have a glimmer of a clue that she’s a very bad person who’s done terrible things. I don’t get Roy and Jason’s devotion to her in the least but, at least, she was well done this issue.
Telos #5, Jeff King, writer, pencils, Igor Vitorino, inks, Jason Paz, Marc Deering & Jose Marzan Jr.
Corrina: A Baffling Book
Ray: It’s the penultimate issue of this misguided series, as the big bad of Convergence has been turned into an incompetent cosmic road-tripper. The first twelve pages of this issue fly by in a flash, simply pitting Telos in a space battle against a bunch of generic alien villains including the Dominators, providing some space pyrotechnics but little else. Things pick up briefly in the second half, when Parallax – fresh from Convergence – shows up and seems ready to make a deal with Telos, asking him to share the time crystal in his chest in exchange for helping Telos finding his family. Then he backstabs him at the first opportunity, natch. The big problem is, this Parallax doesn’t act like Parallax. At all. He acts like a juvenile frat boy, taunting people with immature insults. If anything, he feels more like a rookie pilot Hal Jordan than the steely anti-hero that Parallax became. The character is being used very well in GL at this point. That makes this series completely unnecessary, even for GL fans.
Corrina: You know how bad this is? Telos has been fighting legions of spaceships for so many issues straight that the art of half the spaceflight being defeated is totally lost on me. And it’s good art! I want to give it new captions and maybe stick it into a Green Lantern book.
Yeah, Parallax is here too, in full Hal Jordan is a horrible person mode. It’s not needed, he’s just another person to tell Telos he won’t get what he wants. I’ve no idea what DC thought they were doing with this comic.
Out of Continuity Reviews:
DC Comics Bombshells #9 – written by Marguerite Bennett, art by
Maria Laura Sanapo, Elizabeth Torque, Sandy Jarrell
Ray: This continues to be the best alternate universe DC has done in many years, creating a compelling WW2 AU that gives a much-needed spotlight to some of DC’s characters who rarely get the starring role. Case in point, Mera, here the Queen of Atlantis, who finds her domain under attack by the Tenebrae, zombies of dark magic that are turning the very sea life against her. We start to get a picture of who the villains are in her story – her former betrothed Nereus and her evil sister Siren – but the real highlight here is here battle with a possessed giant squid, a creature she pays a terrible price for vanquishing.
There’s a segment involving Wonder Woman battling the Baroness and her army of zombies, as well as giving us a creepy origin for the supernatural creatures, but I have to say this is the least interesting segment of the three. The best, by a mile, is Kortni Starikov’s solo story. When we last left off, she had found her birth father, but that reunion turns sinister in a hurry when it becomes clear that Charles Whitmore sees her not as a heroine but as a little girl who needs to be protected – and he is willing to do anything to do so, even have his valet Nygma drug her and lock her in her room. Kortni’s battle with Nygma and her epic verbal take-down of her father is one of the best segments this series has given us. My only request? May we have some more Kate and the Batgirls soon, please?
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3, script, James Tynion IV, art and cover, Freddie Williams II
Corrina: Battle Royale with the Turtles!
Ray: We’re halfway through the most buzz-worthy inter-company crossover in years, and Tynion and Williams have set us up with a compelling ticking-clock element to the story and a fun dynamic between the main characters. It’s kind of obvious when you think about it – Batman can barely handle one teenager working with him at any given time. Four hyperactive ones are going to be a challenge! The best segment of the issue is the infiltration of the Batcave by Splinter and the Turtles. So many characters get great lines, including all the Turtles and Alfred. However, it’s Splinter who is able to defuse the situation and form an alliance with Batman through mutual respect. We also get a bit more information on just how the Turtles got here and who is responsible.
A good deal of the issue is devoted to a massive battle with Shredder and the Foot clan, as Shredder continues to slowly take over the Gotham crime scene. The Turtles hold their own, but Shredder is able to sabotage the portal and kill Dr. Khan before he can repair it, leaving the Turtles stranded and facing a slow reversion to their pre-mutation selves. Meanwhile, Shredder’s escape is complicated by the arrival of a new element that wants to bring him under his control – Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins. The plot is a bit thin overall, but the story is a lot of fun, and does justice to both parties involved. Batman feels a bit more like a guest-star in a TMNT story at times, but I have no problem with that.
Corrina: I so wanted a big Shredder/Batman battle. That didn’t materialize but the Ra’s appearance was enough of a swerve that I’ll wait for it to happen somewhere down the line. For me, this is a fine Batman story that’s basically an audition for Tyrion to take over Batman when Scott Snyder leaves in a few months. For TMNT fans, it’s a chance to see how the group holds up against the hero of heroes. The answer is quite well, and I loved that they want to ride Batman’s dinosaur. I could have used more of them exploring the Batcave but this was fun enough.
Poor Alfred. Robot British Butler indeed.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five #3 -written by Brian Buccellato, art by
Juan Albarran, Mike S. Miller, Bruno Redondo
Ray: The lines between the regime and the resistance start to blur this issue, as Catwoman’s kidnapping sends shockwaves through both sides. Superman’s decision to align with Bane and other villains is turning even his closest allies against him in some cases, and the clock is ticking as Bane seems determined to torture Catwoman to death if she doesn’t give him information.
While the fracturing of Superman’s alliance is interesting, I was more intrigued by the various subplots in the issue. The confused Bizarro trying to reinvent himself as Superman was a fun, light twist in the story, and Damian’s past finally comes calling for him as the League of Assassins comes to claim their wayward son. There aren’t really any big shocking moments this issue, but overall this volume seems to have brought the focus back to where it should be and seems to be heading to an exciting conclusion.
Batman ’66/The Man from UNCLE #3 – written by Jeff Parker, art by
Karl Kesel, David Hahn
Ray: It’s not getting the hype of the biggest crossover in years, Batman/TMNT, but I think this crossover between two fan-favorite 60’s TV shows is also doing a great job of showing how to combine two properties in a way that serves the fans of both.
Although Batman and the agents foil the attack on Wayne Enterprises and stop the satellite from being taken, it soon becomes clear that this was merely a first play, as the iconic Batman villains – now organized and given their marching orders by Corvid, the mysterious leader of THRUSH – strike around the globe against high-profile targets, more effective than ever before. I was glad to see Batgirl take a larger role this issue, and Batman’s surprising move at the end of the issue actually indicates a much-overdue status quo change for the Batman ’66 verse. Fun stuff, and a perfect continuation for the Batman ’66 comic.
Arkham Knight: Batgirl/Harley Quinn #1, Tim Seeley, script, Matthew Clark, pencils, Wade Von Grawbadger, inks,
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Nice Batgirl story.
Ray: These Arkham Knight one-shots are always pretty high-quality, and Tim Seeley and Matthew Clark do a good job with this installment featuring Gotham’s two most popular female characters. It’s really Batgirl who is the star here in this flashback tale, showing how she first put on the costume to fight Killer Moth. The idea of an exhibit modeling what Batman’s gear might be is clever as a way to give her her costume without her needed to prepare, although it feels a bit like a coincidence.
Then, defying Batman’s orders, she continues to try to fight the city’s crime infestation, taking on Killer Croc, until she finally gets her own arch-enemy in the form of Harley Quinn. Harley doesn’t show up until midway through the issue, but I found her story to be a fairly generic rehash of her Batman: The Animated Series audience, except for her and Joker essentially creating her as a replacement while she’s locked up. Still, her battle with Batgirl is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting a look at the early points in the careers of these characters. If you’re a big Batgirl or Harley fan, you’ll enjoy this issue.
Corrina: If you’re a Batgirl fan, you’ll find this issue interesting, as this is classic Silver-Age Barbara Gordon, even to her confrontation with the Killer Moth. I also enjoyed the father-daughter sequences though, at this rate, Poor Jim is going to rack up more kidnappings than Lois Lane.
Batgirl and Harley fighting each other works well and fans of both will like this, even if you’re not reading the main series.
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.