This is an odd week for DC. First, an alternate universe story featuring classic Lois & Clark is our favorite, Frank Miller seems to have a more hopeful view of superheroes than many of DC’s current comics, Neal Adams goes back to 1970s style storytelling and the big Darkseid War saga is falling flat, even for Ray, who loves his Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern.
Perhaps some of it is the creative teams being shuffled before DC goes into its Rebirth event. We don’t know that much as this event, save for the continued statements that it’s a not a reboot. Methinks DC doth protest too much?
In any case, pick up Superman: Lois & Clark. You won’t be sorry.
Superman: Lois and Clark #5 – Dan Jurgens, writer, Neil Edwards, penciller, Scott Hanna and Edwards, inkers.
Ray: 9/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Love This Couple.
Ray: This is Superman. This is the purest Superman comic I’ve seen since the Johns/Frank run, and it does an amazing job of reminding everyone who reads it exactly why this guy is DC’s greatest hero.
So why didn’t it catch on? I blame Convergence, the “AU stigma” of the book not really mattering (although that certainly didn’t hurt Spider-Gwen), and the relative lack of hype. Well, let’s just hope that this is simply a low-selling teaser for a big presence for the real Superman in Rebirth. This issue continues its interesting format of showing us both snapshots of the older Superman’s early days on this world, as well as his adventures in the present day. A segment where he watches this world’s Batman (who is still beginning his career) and rescues him from a dangerous situation without ever being seen is great for people who like these two heroes acting like friends and respecting each other, rather than being at each other’s throats.
As always, every scene involving Clark and Lois and their relationship is top-notch and makes me hopeful that DC will realize this is the only relationship Superman fans really want to see. In the present day, Blanque and his unwilling partner Hank Henshaw continue to hunt Superman, but make the mistake of taking the fight to Lois and Jon – something that Superman will not tolerate. After defeating Blanque, we see a nice display of Superman’s compassion – both towards Henshaw and some of his other residents in his fortress. And the last issue brings a big but sort of expected status quo change for the family. This reminds me a lot of the weekly Superman era, much of which was by Jurgens, and that’s an excellent model to build on. I hope Jurgens gets a shot on Action Comics come Rebirth. Shouldn’t it be vintage Superman who crosses that 1K barrier?
Corrina: How do you write Superman? Like this! Just like this. Quick, someone shove these comics into Zach Snyder’s hands. Okay, that’s probably not going to happen but could we force the Superman Group Editor for DC comics to admit that this is the kind of Superman that works, not that crazy-angsty hero over in the other books? I would say maybe it’s just old-school me but it’s not like the regular Superman titles have been setting the sales world on fire.
Why isn’t this title doing better? My guesses: Anyone who likes Lois & Clark has already checked out of regular Superman comics because of how they’ve botched it up, plus the reviews for Convergence were universally negative, save for one or two titles. There was no driving need for fans to check this out. But, hey, wouldn’t it be nice if this ended with this Lois & Clark taking back the regular title? P.S. There’s some Batman butt in this, if that’s your thing. Just saying.
Justice League #48 – Geoff Johns, writer, Jason Fabok, artist
Corrina: More of the Same.
Ray: This is one of the two titles with its original writer left standing, and now we know both this and Batman are ending their runs in only a few issues pre-Rebirth. Knowing this arc is the finale to Johns’ run changes the way I feel about it a bit, and, unfortunately, it’s not for the better.
Because the thing that’s the most appealing about this arc is all the crazy things it establishes, and how they could play out in the future. Now we know that any follow-up will take place under someone else’s writing, if at all. Still, amid all the craziness is a pretty exciting blockbuster story as Johns throws pretty much everything up against the wall. The Crime Syndicate has joined forces with the Justice League to take on the evil Mobius. As the two sides try not to kill each other and Ultraman repowers himself via Kryptonite, Black Racer (Flash) predicts that not everyone is going to come out of this story alive. Meanwhile, Mobius unleashes a powerful energy attack on Gotham City and the League rushes to the rescue. These smaller scenes of the heroes attempting to rescue individual people are the best of the issue, and there were a few nice touches such as Shazam figuring out his new intergalactic God powers and Hal Jordan trying to help Jessica Cruz get her mind back from Volthoom. Is this the same Volthoom who Hal faced in the finale of the Johns GL run, the first lantern? Or the Earth-3 Volthoom? And as maybe the biggest fan of Johns’ GL run, seeing Hal bring in the cavalry was epic.
My biggest problem with this arc, though? Mobius is mostly a blank slate as a villain, no way near as intimidating as Darkseid could be at his best. And Grail isn’t much better. There is a death this issue, but it’s of a character I doubt anyone had real attachment to. Lex Luthor – the new Darkseid – shows up at the end, ready to raise hell, and that makes me very excited for next issue. This was more of a breather issue, but I have no doubt that Johns is going to end this run in epic fashion.
Corrina: My biggest problem with this arc is the biggest problem I have with Johns’ work overall. He is excellent at cool character moments and big action sequences that make fans go “OOOoooo!!” The problem is that’s all his work is.
Once you get past the cool reveals, everything else is paper thin. Worse, his cool reveals, like the show of force made by the GL corps in this issue relies on basically knowing as much DC history as Johns does himself. This is a callback to his Green Lantern run and I’m sure GL fans (like Ray) are pleased but in the context of this story? They come out of nowhere.
Incidentally, this is a fault that can be seen in the television shows, The Flash and Arrow, in which Geoff Johns is involved: cool moments, no follow through. Maddening. So, while Ray is bummed that the ideas from this big saga won’t play out, I’m not, because the pattern is that these big ideas never play out well–they just move onto the next big reveal which won’t be followed up either.
That could serve as a metaphor for DC’s current direction too.
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3 – story by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello, pencils by Andy Kubert, inks by Klaus Janson.
Corrina: You Have My Attention.
Ray: Now that the big threat of this series has been revealed, things are very much kicking into high gear. I think the best thing that Azzarello and Kubert are doing here is not trying too hard to copy the dark, cynical style of theoriginals. This is a dark story, to be sure, but it’s also very much a DC superhero story, with a surprisingly optimistic take on Batman and Robin. The dual cliffhangers of last issue – revealing that Bruce Wayne is still alive, old and hobbled but running mission control, and unveiling deranged Kryptonian cult leader Quar as the big bad – have kicked off act two of the story. We’ve seen old Bruce in many versions before, and there’s distinct shades of Batman Beyond in his relationship with Carrie.
But this version has a sarcastic edge to him that I really enjoy in a few scenes, and the insight into why and how he chose to pass the costume on to Carrie is great. Quar makes an intimidating villain, posing an ultimatum to Earth like the religious fanatic he is and launching Kryptonian strikes around the globe. Reminds me a little of Man of Steel in some places, in terms of the scale. Carrie and Bruce are in search of Superman, who vanished and froze himself in ice at the fortress years ago, but Quar has a Kryptonian plan of his own – recruiting Superman’s erstwhile daughter to join his forces. The mini-comic involved focuses on Green Lantern, as he encounters a trio of Kryptonians in Egypt who prey on his weaknesses and remove him from the table.
None of the three mini-comics have really worked for me, and the Romita Jr./Miller art is a bit scratchy for my tastes – it reminds me a bit of both their styles, but somewhere in a middle ground that doesn’t quite work. Still, this series as a whole is pretty compelling and feels like a genuine stand-alone event comic. Much better than I feared when it was announced, give the reception of the first sequel.
Corrina: Cranky old Bruce Wayne is always interesting to me, especially given the odds against him ever growing old. I give the story full points for that, as that’s part of why I enjoyed the original Dark Knight Returns. That’s something many people don’t understand about the original: it is not as dark as it’s perceived. The superhero world overall became darker because of the original and now, by comparison, Miller’s take is hopeful. But it was always that.
This is a broken-down Batman but it’s not a defeated Batman, and not a Batman who has lost hope in the world. He’s also a great deal less angry than some writers make him even in the regular universe, and I appreciate that too. Agreed that Carrie is great.
My problem begins with the characterization of Superman as so uncaring that he sits in his throne and turns to ice. Or, if that’s the case, I need a recap of what happened for him to do that. I’m pretty sure something happened in the lightly read Dark Knight Strikes Again but I have no idea what it was. Sure, I can look that up in Wikipedia but that means I have to put down the book, which breaks my bond with the story. A few simple lines would have done it. Plus, with Bruce cranky, Superman isolated and WW not in the story, I would have hoped for some sort of lighter character here for contrast. Carrie’s great but that’s not her. Lara could have been it but, instead, we have yet another angry Kryptonian.
Compared to the train wreck of DK2 this is a masterpiece. Compared to the original, this is merely okay.
Superman: Coming of the Supermen #1 – Story/Artist: Neal Adams, words: Adams and Tony Bedard
Corrina: Reads like a 1970s Superman Tale
Ray: Adams is a brilliant artist and his art is still pretty top-notch here. As a writer, though…well, there’s nothing else quite like his comics. There’s nothing in this comic as bizarre as Batman: Odyssey, where Batman traveled to Hollow Earth and teamed up with Caveman Batman and Dino-Robin, but it’s close. Kalibak attacks Earth with an army of Parademons, and is quickly met with three new Supermen from another world. They all look like Superman, except they have different hair colors and are clearly more inexperienced.
Our Superman, meanwhile, is in the Middle East helping refugees fleeing a war, when he encounters a young boy who lost his family and his pet dog. After being encouraged to take responsibility for the boy’s safety by a mysterious green-winged being, he takes the child back to Metropolis as he joins the battle against Kalibak. We don’t learn too much about the mystery new Supermen this issue, as they fight against Kalibak and then search for our Superman, but our Superman then encounters the mysterious being again, who takes him back in time to ancient Egypt and shows him that Darkseid’s father was the ruler of Egypt and built the Sphinx. What is it with Adams and the villains having even worse fathers who the hero never knew about? It’s mostly wacky, old school fun with some good art and a few bizarre touches. Is it a good Superman comic? Not particularly. But it definitely has the potential to be an entertaining one.
Corrina: This reminded me of the Superman comics I read growing up in the 1970s, complete with the use of Lois Lane as an anchor on WGBS. I’m sure this is deliberate in some form or perhaps it’s just Adams’ style, as that was a productive era for him.
Does that make the story good? It’s not bad, it’s fun if you take it for what it is, which seems to be throwback story that 1970s Superman would have wrapped up in two issues and, then, ten years later, Geoff Johns would have written a 10-part epic about.
Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot/Katana #2 – Katana story: writer, Mike W. Barr, artist, Diogenes Neves. Deadshot: Brian Buccellato, story and words, Viktor Bogdanovic, pencils, Richard Friend, inks.
Corrina: Katana is Great. Deadshot? Eww….
Ray: The order of the comics is switched this month, with Katana coming first, and I also think that Katana was definitely the better of the two installments. It’s a simple story, with Katana abroad and fighting against the forces of Kobra, but one of my biggest problems with most Katana stories is that she comes off as cold and emotionless. This story does a good job of throwing her off balance and complicating her escape with a stowaway kid of a friend of hers, and a troubled young woman who Katana rescues from a jail before Kobra gets her. The story’s fast-paced and exciting, although Kobra remains a bit too much of a stock villain. This is much better than most of Katana’s recent solo stories, though. And next issue pits her against the full Suicide Squad!
The Deadshot installment turns out to be a massive retcon for Floyd Lawton’s origin, throwing out his past and introducing a terribly dark new tale involving severely abusive parents and him accidentally killing his beloved older brother while trying to assassinate his dad. The comic takes Deadshot from being a cool, emotionless hitman into being a crazed, vengeance-driven maniac, and that’s not how I like my Deadshot. Far partial to the Deadshot we saw in the Seeley Suicide Squad launch. With the addition of a new African-American sharpshooter in the same story, I almost wonder if this comic is about showing Floyd self-destruct and exit the story, so the character can look more like the movie version.
Superman: Lois and Clark #5 – 9/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: As a long time comic fan, I like it when creators write characters with some emotional consistency, especially lower tier character like Katana who is going to be written by multiple creators over many titles. And, hey, who better to provide emotional consistency for Katana in this story than her co-creator, Barr? Katana’s always been the widow with the sword haunted by her husband and a special interest in protecting children. She’s not just another character with a sword to fight people. She’s unique, and her blade, containing the spirit of her dead husband, is also unique. Putting her as a protector in this story for a child and a teen girl works to the character’s strengths. Sure, I guess Kobra is a stock villain but no more so than anywhere. This Katana? I could read about her for a long time.
This Deadshot, though? Floyd has always been one of those villains that have enough shades of gray to be interesting. Readers know he’ll never be a hero but, sometimes, he does something unpredictable that will help people or reveals that he actually gives a damn about someone, especially in his appearances in Secret Six. This Floyd? Remember that emotional continuity I was talking about? It’s not here at all. As Ray said, the backstory is a retcon, and this tale is less about Floyd and far more about shifting him off the table so DC can focus on the Deadshot in the movie. That’s their right, and I hope the new character becomes interesting in his own right, but I’m annoyed in what’s likely to be his last story for some time, that the interesting elements of Floyd Lawton are being tossed aside.
Teen Titans #17 – writer, Greg Pak, penciller, Ian Churchill, inker, Norm Rapmund
Corrina: Ray is Generous In His Grading.
Ray: Pak’s run on TT is now revealed to be a grand total of three issues, which is disappointing (unless he’s writing the relaunched version come Rebirth). That’s disappointing, because while there’s a lot of work to be done on this title, Pak’s first issue is immediately better than Teen Titans has been in years. Dropping several of the most problematic characters (Teen Doomsday, the homicidal versions of both Kid Flash and Superboy) from the title already resolves a big part of the problem, and pares the team down to where every character can get some decent moments.
Power Girl and Bunker still feel like the weak links, simply because they’ve been given very little character development in this title (I still don’t know how PG’s new powers work) while Beast Boy and Raven feel like the most improved. Their banter and BB’s antics feel very much taken out of the cartoon in places. It’s Wonder Girl who’s the star here, though. With the team on the run, Pak takes her right back to her origin teased way back early in Lobdell’s run and sends her on a search for her real father – the Demigod Lennox, who was killed in the Azzarello WW run. Cassie still has some unlikable streaks in her compared to her pre-Flashpoint versions, but it’s very much “sarcastic rogue” as opposed to “violent antihero”. The ending seems to be turning this book into a big crossover with WW for this arc, and I’m looking forward to this. It’s only going to be one arc, but it seems like we’re getting a good TT arc for the first time since the New 52.
Corrina: Poor Pak and his work with DC. He’s been absolutely killing it, writing-wise, but he can only do so much with the ridiculous storylines given him by editorial, from the mess of the Superman comics and now to his short run on this comic that is full of misfit characters with no emotional consistency.
No character has suffered more bad storylines in the new 52 than Cassie and while I applaud Pak’s efforts into remolding her into a hero, he’s basically working with only a few issues and there’s only so much he can do. That Wonder Woman shows up at the end just made me twitch because which Wonder Woman is this? The cranky, kinda dumb goddess or her current book or Johns’ Princess McStabby Sword version? I’m sure it’s not The Legend of Wonder Woman version and that makes me sad.
This whole title makes me sad. Also, Churchill’s art is not helping. It’s a bad fit for this book.
Aquaman #49 – Dan Abnett, writer, Vicente Cifuentes, penciller, John Dell & Cifuentes, inkers
Corrina: It’s Okay, I Guess?
Ray: The second of two books getting new creative teams – although maybe only for one arc – this book has Abnett taking over for Cullen Bunn. It’s definitely a much lighter take than Bunn’s high-fantasy take, but there’s some distinct mood whiplash going on in this issue that kept me from totally getting into it.
The main plot of this issue is a great idea – in the aftermath of the war with Thule, Aquaman has decided that his next mission is to expand ties between Atlantis and Earth. This is something I like to see when it comes to these secret cities and cultures, and the idea of Aquaman bringing Garth, Tula, and Murk to an Amnesty Bay carnival is great. Garth, in particular, was pretty hilarious in this scene. The idea of Mera becoming an ambassador to the surface world is interesting, but I thought her “Aquawoman” costume was a bit ridiculous.
The other subplot, though, was right out of a horror movie. Around the world, various people are doing random things involving water – drinking a glass, watering the lawn, taking a bath – only to have mysterious monster hands reach out of the small pools of water and drag them in, ripping them apart. It’s definitely striking visuals, but seems out of place in a comic that’s mainly about carnivals and public relations. There’s promise here, but I think the monsters should have waited another issue or two before we got a better grasp on Abnett’s take on Aquaman.
Corrina: It’s lighter, with a more human Arthur, and that’s good. I found the art weird, though, as both Mera and Arthur look too young, more early twentysomethings than the king and queen they are. I also thought Mera dressing in a version of Aquaman’s classic costume was silly, given that Mera’s own green costume is perfect. (I’ve have bought it better if she said she wanted a new look because of the impersonator who stole her life in Bunn’s run.) But, mainly, this issue is setup with a lot of talking about what happened before and what will happen now. I suspect this is because Abnett, like Pak with
I found the horror stuff less than compelling. I’m glad Aquaman’s title has lasted this long, as he’s always been a favorite but I’d rather, at this point, that DC put its money behind finally collecting The Atlantis Chronicles into trade.
Batman and Robin Eternal #21 – James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder, story, James Tynion IV, script, Tony S. Daniel, pencils, Sandu Florea, inks.
Corrina: WHAT? A SINGLE STORY? I Like It.
Ray: This issue is devoted entirely to a flashback segment as we finally find out exactly who Mother is and what drives her to her twisted program based on trauma. It picks up in the immediate aftermath of Cass’ murder of Harper Row’s mother as part of Batman’s gambit, and the apparent death of Mother. Bruce is consumed with guilt and keeping tabs on Harper, but decides to leave Dick in charge of Gotham briefly so he can head to Europe and find out more about Mother. His journey takes him to an isolated inn located in the Eastern European countryside, where he finds an old woman who is one of the few people left alive who knows Mother’s secret.
The story she tells is easily one of the most disturbing segments I can remember in a mainstream Bat-book, the story of a villain who feels more like she belongs in Punisher MAX than the DCU. It’s rooted in the cold war, in the brutality of the Russian army, and while a few of the scenes feel like a stretch, it’s definitely grim and compelling. And while we already know Mother is still alive, her reappearance is still pretty disturbing. My one issue with this story? Batman’s reasoning for why he essentially left Harper to her own devices falls sort of flat, and his attempt to intimidate Marcus Row into being a decent father – well, that seems like something Batman would have known better about. You can’t make someone a decent person by dangling them off a rooftop. Batman’s interaction with Harper has basically been a series of terrible decisions. Still, as a setup for the final showdown with Mother, this is a damn good issue.
Corrina: I know, flashbacks are all the rage. But I would have far, far preferred this issue at the very beginning of this series, rather than at the end. Can’t anyone tell a story linearly anymore?I like knowing about characters. I don’t like having my chain jerked around wondering why someone does something and having the narrative making me beg for it.
My crankiness aside, this is a compelling issue that also is an old-school Batman detective story. It was also a refreshing break from all the infighting of the last few issues, it was also a fine one-and-done story, and I enjoyed it.
The only quibble I had was that there’s no way Batman wouldn’t check to make sure Mother wasn’t in that house after he left. He’d have put in listening devices in some form, even if he thought Mother was dead. As for Harper, I feel as if Batman decided to not interfere with her life, which is not the same thing as forgetting about her.
Grayson #17 – Tim Seeley, writer, plot by Tim Seeley and Tom King, artist, Carmine Di Giandomenico
Corrina: Fun Comic But Opaque.
Ray: I think this is one of Seeley/King’s last issues on this title, and it seems Mikel Janin has already moved on and it seems they’re ready to go out with a bang. Several different forces are converging on Dick and Agent Tyger as their battle to take down Spyral continues. The issue opens with the two of them battling Frankenstein and an army of possessed demon monkeys, in a segment that typifies just how bizarrely awesome this title can be. There’s an encounter with Maxwell Lord, who is just as slimy as always, playing both sides against each other.
However, it’s the Wildstorm characters that really get the chance to shine this issue, with Grifter entering the fray to take out the rogue agents on behalf of Spyral – and taking advice from the imprisoned Tao, one of the most notorious Wildstorm villains. It’s been years since these two were used in any prominent way, so it took me a little to remind myself who they were, but I think Seeley and King do a good job of not bogging this down too much with continuity. Seeley and King have delivered a non-stop spy thriller with this title, one of the strangest and most unique books in the DC stables. I’m going to be sorry to see the status quo go when Nightwing comes back, actually. I’m hoping this team and Lanzing/Kelly take this book out in style.
Corrina: This is the best and worst of this title, all in one issue. The best, because watching this Grayson work is a joy, especially with the dialogue and the art. (Though I miss Janin, this was a fine fill-in.)
But it’s also the the worse because it suffers from the same problem I’ve noticed previously: sometimes the plotting is so opaque as to be inscrutable. What did having Maxwell Lord helping Grayson and defeating Frankenstein mean? I’m not sure? Similarly, there’s no explanation for the appearance of Cole Cash/Grifter and Tao. My only familiarity with these two is because I read Ed Brubaker’s brilliant Sleeper graphic novels.
But pages are spent on these two and it’s simply assumed I know what they are and what they’re capable of. If you’re not a Wildstorm reader, this is going to make you feel completely lost, especially they’re introduced out of left field and at such a late date.
We Are Robin #9 – Lee Bermejo, story and cover, Jorge Corona, art
Corrina: Love Duke.
Ray: The Robins are still in disarray, having broken up in Robin War, but another team is starting to form with far worse intentions. The deranged Smiley, who killed his own parents last issue, is forming the gang that will become the Jokerz, and they seem to be determined to cause chaos in Gotham everywhere they go. Smiley’s a creepy villain, but his mayhem this issue is almost a little laid back. He pulls a gun on a trio of thugs, only to instead recruit them into his gang, and then they all ambush a family (in a scene that will remind everyone of that other famous Crime Alley attack) and brutalize the husband until they’re broken up by Dax, who is attempting to become a solo vigilante. He’s the one who seems to take the hero thing the most seriously, heading into the field with self-made gear. Riko is trying to settle into a normal life, but finds her instincts are hard to put away – like when she beats up a racist goon at a convenience store.
Meanwhile, Duke and Izzy, who are facing the biggest problems in their personal lives at the moment, reunite and bond over what they’ve been doing since the team broke up. It’s an entertaining enough issue, but very much a laid back one even with the new big bad making his presence known. With only three issues left in this unusual title, I’m hoping Bermejo delivers a strong conclusion. This is definitely one of the newer DC titles I’m going to miss come Rebirth.
Corrina: I’ve said before that I adore this comic for the added layers it brings to Gotham and the Batman mythos, to say nothing of introducing a whole slew of characters who could become fascinating. DC needs this fresh blood.
But I’m beginning to think this title should have always belonged to Duke Thomas, with the characters revolving around him, rather than everyone having equal billing. That would have given the series more focus. Duke’s search for his parents was a compelling plot, especially with the heartbreak of discovering their current state after being dosed with Joker venom. It’s great that Duke and this new Smiley guy are natural opposites, as one worships the Joker, and one holds the Joker responsible for the loss of the two people he loves most in the world.
That’s why I liked this issue because there was more of Duke, and Izzy too, and their budding romance. I could have done without Smiley completely. Dax is fine but adding in his story may just be reader overload.
Superman/Wonder Woman #26 – Peter J. Tomasi, story and words, Doug Mahnke, penciller, Jaime Mendoza & Mahnke, inkers.
Corrina: Are They Broken Up Yet?
Ray: This title is at its worst when it focuses on the relationship between the two title characters. Fortunately, the two actually share very little page time this issue, instead doing their own thing as they fight. When we last left off, Savage had combined Superman’s fortress, the JLA satellite, and his own ship into one mega-ship, primarily as a way to insult Superman and take away what he values most. For a global villain, Savage often seems a bit petty. However, he has a bigger plan at work too – to pull the comet that gave him his powers back to Earth, giving him more power and charging his children up with it as well. Superman and Wonder Woman break into the ship with no small amount of difficulty and then engage in a massive battle with an army of Savage’s children until Superman manages to derail the ship and crash it to the ground. It’s essentially non-stop action from beginning to end, and it doesn’t leave enough time for the story to drag. Unfortunately, nothing all that interesting happens either.
Corrina: You know how you can tell Wonder Woman and Superman care about each other? They tell each other that. A lot. Yep, they really care about each other. It says so on the page.
Nope, not convinced.
So, yes, great visuals on the crashing and the fighting, but Vandal’s kids are uninteresting and uninspired, and I’m just so bored with all of this mess. Kudos to the art team for the big crash.
Superman #49 – Gene Luen Yang, writer, Jack Herbert, artist.
Corrina: Almost Over.
Ray: Another massive, non-stop action issue as Superman crashes to Earth and Savage wastes no time in bringing the fight to him. Metallo and Lois join up with Superman, and Yang manages to give us some good scenes bringing Clark and Lois back together as friends and reminding us of why they work so much better than any other pairing. Not certain about this version of Metallo, as he seems to go between hero and villain at a moment’s notice, but his connection to Lois does ground the character. Savage’s plan to use the comet to power up himself and his children works, and the army of evil children descends on Superman – but he’s got backup of his own, as every ally he’s picked up in any Super-book over the last year, from Baka to Haemosu, shows up to lend a hand. The battle is huge-scale and fierce, but they’re still outmatched, until a sacrifice from Metallo gives Superman the edge – and Kryptonite – he needs to power up and turn the tables.
This entire story has been a bit ridiculous and gone on way too long, but this chapter gives it some momentum going into the final act. Pak and Yang each have oversized issues next month to bring this to a satisfying conclusion.
Corrina: Who stole the story this issue? Metallo, the guy who should be a villain, who manages to be more heroic and inspiring in his limited panels than Superman has been in the past three years. Dammit, at this point, I was hoping Superman was dead and Metallo saved the day.
I don’t want that to be the case, but there you go. That’s how much I hate this Superman, even when Lois is well-written. (Loved that Metallo wouldn’t go help Superman because he’s supposed to protect Lois, so Lois simply wades into the danger herself, forcing him to follow.) Awesome on the big splash page of the various gods from the God Fight Club. It was an odd idea but I’ve decided if it had more space, I’d have liked it a ton.
Way too long, Ray? This has been interminable. DC deserves extra demerits for sticking such a talented writer with this mess.
The Flash #49 – Robert Venditti & Van Jensen, writers, Philippe Briones, artist
Ray: The ridiculous “Flash: Wanted” story seems to be leading towards a conclusion in #50, but unfortunately, its entire plot seems to be dependent on J. Jonah Jameson making his way into the DCU and hijacking the minds of everyone in Central City. Yeah, there was some public destruction in the city during the battle with Reverse Flash. But it’s not like Flash hasn’t saved the city countless times before – suddenly some buildings blow up, and everyone wants Flash arrested so much they’re willing to work with the Rogues? Barry is now between a rock and a hard place, as his foster father and boss Darrel Frye has put him in charge of the investigation into the Flash’s DNA. Meanwhile, the Rogues are tracking speed anomalies, and pick one up – but not from Barry.
Wally’s speed powers are kicking in, and his first burst of speed results in the Rogues invading his middle school and putting the entire population at risk. Barry shows up and protects the kids, and the Rogues take advantage of that and capture him. Like I said, absurd that the city and Flash’s former allies would put up with this. There’s some interesting bits involving a mysterious mastermind orchestrating all of this, but really, Flash deserves better than this. On a lot of levels.
Corrina: Every bit as dumb as Ray says it is. Even worse, Barry’s personality seems to simply consist of yelling at people and wondering what he can do. Uh, guys, is Donald Trump running this town? Hey, Rogues, attacking a middle school? That’s low, even for you.
Pass on this. If this title is in your pull list, you’re wasting the purchase. Whoever decided to make Barry Allen the Flash because he was more interesting than Wally West, perhaps you should have let the creative teams on this book know why.
Cyborg #8 -David F. Walker, writer, Felipe Watanabe, Daniel Hor and Julio Ferreira, pencilers, Oclair Albert and Ferreira, inks.
Ray: Walker is wrapping up his run on Cyborg next issue, and his run has been fairly scattershot but filled with some interesting bits. It’s pretty clear that Walker has a good grasp on Victor Stone himself, but his world? That’s something that not too many writers have really established, and it left Walker with a lot of work to do. In the aftermath of the war with the Technosapiens, the government is coming for all people with Cybernetics, and Dr. Stone has done all he can to hold them off. The issue focuses rather heavily on Cyborg having a team-up with his best friend from the Justice League, Shazam. The two banter and take on a fairly weak animal-themed villain who is backed up by an army of mutated beast-men. This is a really funny segment that proves Walker is at his best when he can have fun with dialogue. I think the story is weakest, though, when it deals with the government targeting Cyborg, and their team of cybernetics-hunters – including the guy who had an implant early on in the series – are pretty generic as adversaries. There’s a lot of flashback segments mixed in the issue, which makes it jump around a little too much. Overall, this title has a lot going for it, but it never felt like it truly clicked. I think Walker’s found the proper title that he’ll excel on in Power Man and Iron Fist, but it makes me wonder what’s next for the biweekly Cyborg come summer. If Walker couldn’t fully sell this title, who can?
Corrina: I suspect the problem with this run is that it was over-ambitious. We never had a chance to get settled with the characters before we had a world-spanning invasion from an alternate world, complete with the doppelganger of a character we hardly knew. I can sympathize with wanting to start with a bang but that made the pacing off on later issues, and the emotional stakes weren’t as strong as they could have been because we didn’t know the people whose lives were threatened well.
When reading this issue, I wished it could’ve been the first issue of the series. There’s a great deal to love here, from Vic’s jokes while fighting the bad guys, to his camaraderie with Captain Marvel, his talks with his father, and the “ghost” of his mother. All showcase his personality and the peopel who mean the most to time. That’s what will hook me on a series, not mega-action starts.
If Walker sticks to this level of quality in his Marvel run, it’ll be fine. As for Cyborg the book, I guess I assumed it might be ending especially with how many different artists they needed to finish this issue, but, hey, good for DC for keeping it.
Deathstroke #15 – written by James Bonny, art, Tyler Kirkham
Ray: Pretty much a non-stop action issue, as Deathstroke finds himself up against an army of Bizarros deep within Lexcorp. Last issue’s break-in where he went up against Mercy and a remote-controlled Luthor armor was pretty entertaining, but this is essentially just big dumb action from minute one. Deathstroke winds up having to release more of them to create the conditions needed to destroy them, which makes sense in context. What I found more interesting was the subplot involving Rose, who has been held by the mysterious “kidnapper” who offered her an opportunity to get back at her father. It’s revealed to be Lawman, a skull-faced vigilante whose presence is not really explained yet. I’m a huge Rose fan, but she’s sort of been a blank slate in this issue. Decent for those who like Deathstroke blowing things up, but not much beyond that. I am looking forward to Slade vs. Red Hood next issue.
Corrina: Once I discovered this title was selling better than the many of my favorite (and better written) comics, I illogically decided I hate it, more than it deserves. It’s a standard anti-hero action comic with Slade fighting various famous robots/villains of the DC universe. It’s not horrible, it’s simply unexceptional.
Rose. Well, she’s there, and so is a guy with a scarred face, so I guess once Deathstroke is busy fighting everyone in the DCU, we’ll get answers on that front.
Justice League 3001 #9 – Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis & Scott Kolins.
Corrina: Cautious Optimism Destroyed.
Ray: I was a bit optimistic about this series after the last few issues, as the pared-down cast seemed to be gelling a bit. This issue, though, is a major step back. Now that Lady Styx and Eclipso have emerged as the new big bads, the series is very focused on space action and buildup to a coming war. The villains are mostly without much characterization, and the attempts at comedy mostly fall flat. Wonder Woman ,in particular, comes off as very unlikable, using physical force to intimidate Tina when the teen Bat mouths off to her. The main story is only 14 pages, with a backup drawn by Colleen Doran, focusing on Ariel Masters and the evil Lois Lane. I’m still completely puzzled by the idea that Lois Lane is a supervillain who killed Superman over some strange betrayal, but okay. This whole alternate future really doesn’t work for me, and I doubt it’ll be revisited past #12.
Corrina: What is with the evil Lois Lane? Is that supposed to be funny at the end because it’s just weird on so many levels. I guess in a comic starring all women, it’s inevitable there are some that are evil but, jeez, guys, Lois Lane and Wonder Woman are just horrible in this. They’re your marquee characters. At least Colleen Doran got a paycheck from this for her work and that’s a good thing.
Meantime, Supergirl just seems to shrug and go “what you gonna do, I’m in a bad book,” and get on with her life. Move on. Nothing to see here.
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.