DC This Week: Reunion Time. Batgirls! Apollo & Midnighter! Gordon & the Marines

Reading Time: 20 minutes
The gang's all here! Batgirl cover copyright DC Comics
The gang’s all here! Everybody smile! Batgirl cover copyright DC Comics

It was one of those weeks where there was a clear divide in quality between the top titles and the ones you’ll find near the bottom of this review, with the Darkseid Special #1 being the one stuck somewhere in the middle.

This week, Batgirl hits 50, Peter J. Tomasi hit two runs this week with his work on Superman and Batman: Detective Comics, and I became distracted by Mikel Janin‘s art on Superman. So pretty.

Batgirl #50, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, writers, Babs Tarr, Roger Robinson, John Timms, Eleanora Carlini, and James Harvey, artists, Cameron Stewart, breakdowns,

Ray – 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)

Corrina: Fine Conclusion!

Ray: One of two #50 issues that slipped out of the big anniversary month, this issue serves as the conclusion to Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr’s critically acclaimed Batgirl run. Tarr and a team of artists handle the art on this issue. Now that Batgirl knows exactly who is behind all her recent troubles and why, she brings her entire team together to take the fight to The Fugue. Of course, the Fugue isn’t holding back either, and he’s brought back every single one of Batgirl’s villains from this run – Velvet Tiger, the Jawbreakers, Killer Moth, and even the ever-controversial Dagger Type (sans Batgirl costume, thankfully), as he unleashes a plan to brainwash all of Burnside and frame Barbara Gordon and her new energy corporation for a massive terrorist attack.

The main enjoyment in this issue comes from the hilariously over the top battles between Barbara’s allies – Bluebird, Spoiler, Canary, and Frankie remotely piloting a Bat-robot – against the D-list villains, and Tarr’s kinetic and detailed art. However, the series turns very dark and very intense when Barbara finally takes on Fugue one-on-one, in a twisty battle that involves her making a very painful sacrifice that likely sets things up for Hope Larson’s run. I did like that the “blame the hero” thing seemed to be resolved by issue’s end, as a gullible public is one of my pet peeves with superhero books. Overall, this issue is the perfect, extra-sized conclusion to an amazing run. This team will be missed on this book, but I can’t wait to see what their mystery Image book is.

It’s really hard to review this series as a whole, because it doesn’t feel like there is a “series as a whole”. The two runs couldn’t be more different. Gail Simone’s run was a dark, compelling story that was essentially about PTSD, with great use of villains like Jim Gordon Jr. and Knightfall, although it existed in a strange limbo between Oracle and Batgirl and suffered from never being able to explore the transition the way Gail wanted to. This run doesn’t feel like a continuation, but almost like a new New 52 Batgirl, a candy-coated cyberpunk adventure with a completely new cast, turning Batgirl into a young techno-heroine with a unique hook. Both runs were great, but I don’t blame people who couldn’t get into one or the other. I can’t wait for Larson’s run and hope it’s able to thread the needle and find its own identity.

Corrina: The end of the Stewart/Fletcher/Tarr run on this series was one of their most enjoyable issues, with none of the problems I’ve had sometimes with it in the past. This was basically a “all hands on deck, get the job done” team-up with Barbara’s new and old friends standing by her side and I didn’t even mind the villains, who I felt weren’t that memorable as a whole. As Ray said, it sets up the next run well. I still don’t like how Babs has lost some of her maturity but that’s an old grumble, and a personal preference, not a complaint.

Yes, this comic has basically been two different comics. Babs being Batgirl again, rather than Oracle, was a decision made by editorial fiat and caused a great deal of controversy when the new 52 launched. I suspect (only a guess) that Gail Simone chose to tackle the issue head-on with Babs’ recovery, physically and mentally, from Joker’s attack to stay true to the spirit of Oracle as a symbol to the disabled community.That focus made Simone’s run darker than the one that followed but I still prefer it, as it had more depth to me.

The soft “reboot/not a reboot” of Babs as the Batgirl of Burnside, however, energized a number of new readers, brought in some great characters as Batgirl’s supporting cast, such as Frankie and Luke Fox, and led to some awesome cosplays. It’s beloved by some readers and deservedly so. Fun in superhero comics is a rare thing.

cover to Batman: Detective Comics #51, copyright DC Comics
cover to Batman: Detective Comics #51, copyright DC Comics

Batman: Detective Comics #51, story and words, Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin, pencils, Matt Ryan, inks

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: There’s No Such Thing As An Ex-Marine.

Ray: The Jim Gordon era of Batman is sadly over, but he’s got one last adventure in him. I wasn’t sure when this story was taking place given solicits, but it seems to be a side adventure during his time in Batman – given the presence of Darryl on his team, which seems unlikely given Batman #50’s events. It turns the focus back on a little-seen period of Jim Gordon’s life – his time in the marines. His old marine buddies are being picked off one by one, and a survivor comes to contact him, only to be cut down by a mysterious assassin who then proceeds to commit suicide. After Jim can’t find any clues in Gotham, he heads off to Afghanistan, Bat-suit in tow. And that’s where this comic essentially transforms into Batman meets the Sheriff of Babylon.

Definitely not the usual Batman comic, and while the villains are a bit vague this issue and suffer from the “generic shady middle eastern assassin” stereotype, there’s a lot of interesting beats. Jim’s got a treacherous former army buddy looking to stay alive at all costs, military officers surrounding him looking for answers, and a mysterious and implacable enemy looking to finish the job. Looking forward to finding out just what they found in that bunker years ago, and to a fitting farewell to Jim’s time as Batman.

Corrina: Jim Gordon’s time as Batman officially ended last week but he gets one last hurrah (or is it hoo-rah!) in this story, which takes him back to his days as a Marine. That Gordon was a sergeant fits his personality perfectly. I also liked the small touches here and there, like Jim sneaking a smoke now and then but still proclaiming that he’s given it up.

Sheriff of Babylon meets Batman. Hah. That’s a perfect way to view this story, Ray, as it is somehow grittier than any story set in Gotham, which is not easy to do. Perhaps it’s the military angle, perhaps it’s the desperation and alienation of the individuals involved. I’m hopeful that the villains aren’t completely a stereotype in the concluding chapter, as that would definitely downgrade the quality of this story.

Superman #51, Peter J. Tomasi, story and words, Mikel Janin, art and color

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Enjoyed It Unequivocally.

Ray: You know, in this day of internet spoilers and a certain website breaking anything that remotely looks like a scoop, it’s good to know we can still be surprised. Super-League was hyped as a globe-trotting adventure as Superman attempts to assemble a team of heroes with powers like his to help the world. But what the solicits didn’t mention was why.

This crossover isn’t called “Super-League”, it’s called “The Last Days of Superman”. So all those who guessed that New 52 Superman wasn’t making into Rebirth, looks like you were right. I was expecting a big, explosive death in the one-shot, though. Not Superman simply…dying. He finds out that the combination of the fire pits of Apokalips, the Kryptonite exposure in Truth, and the battle with Rao have fatally damaged his cells, giving him an undisclosed amount of time left to sort things out and determine the legacy he leaves. Pete Tomasi is helming this crossover, and has the gorgeous art of Mikel Janin to back him up here.

Where the issue excels is the little things, such as the statues of Jonathan and Martha he’s got up in the Fortress next to Jor-El and Lara, and his conversations with Lana (who he shares his illness with) and Lois (who he doesn’t). Amid that, there’s some plot-heavy stuff, such as a recent prison escapee who manifests superpowers and some action in China that may be setting up Yang’s title. So, suffice it to say, this is a much bigger story than was advertised. It’s also a great one. It seems like Pete Tomasi is going to make us care about New 52 Superman at the last possible moment.

Janin's splash page for Superman #51, copyright DC Comics
Janin’s splash page for Superman #51, copyright DC Comics

Corrina: Yes, there’s a story this issue and it’s poignant and sad and Tomasi shows he can handle the human moments so well in the scenes with Lana and Lois. (I suspect Superman will tell Lois soon.) It is a bummer that this is the first time I’ve cared about the new 52 Superman in ages.

But the star of this issue has to be Janin’s art. Never has Superman looked so handsome. I haven’t fallen completely in love with an artist in a long time. The last time was Darwyn Cooke. But this is the first time since maybe Mike Grell that I’ve fallen in love with art because not only does it tell a story so well, it contains such gorgeous people. Superman, Lana, Lois, and, well, everyone looks so good this.

I need a Lois Lane commission from Janin. Or maybe Superman. Or maybe them together. Or maybe Black Canary. Or, heck, a Janin commission for each one of my favorite heroes. Now, I doubt I can afford it but, heck, I can dream. (Only a dream, however, as Janin’s website says he closed for commissions.)

My favorite part of this issue? Though he’s facing death, Superman smiles a great deal in this issue and the final page with Superman and Lois taking flight together is wonderful. I’ve been a serious critic of the recent Superman comics. If Rebirth is of a similar quality as this, I’ll have to change my mind.

Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad #1, April Fool’s Special, Rob Williams, writer, Jim Lee, artist (1-10, 21-30) Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, art and color (11-20), Scot Williams, Sandra Hope, Richard Friend, inkers (1-10, 21-30).

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Love the Art. Not Thrilled With the Concept.

Ray: What is it with DC and mislabeling huge events so that they slip under the radar this week? This was advertised like yet another of those Harley one-shots that worked alongside her series, but in fact it’s the unofficial first issue of Suicide Squad: Rebirth. Written by that series’ writer, Williams, and drawn partially by Lee and partially by fan favorite artist Sean “Cheeks” Galloway. The issue starts out with Harley getting a mysterious message that gives her a new purpose in life – psychologist to supervillains. It’s a strong and unique debut for them in advance of the main series. After a hilarious segment where she attempts to counsel Man-Bat while riding on his back through Gotham, she starts getting regular clients and seems to be turning her life around – until, of course, Poison Ivy finds out and quickly serves as a bad influence on her, leading her to turn her new enterprise to crime.

That eventually leads to a showdown with the Justice League as drawn by Lee for the first time since that series’ second arc – followed by a huge twist ending that throws the entire issue for a loop and sets up a new, darker status quo for Harley. I assume this issue will be completely out of continuity with the Harley series, which is as it should be – that series exists in its own little world. But why is this an April-fools issue? The only joke is on people who skip this issue and are at a loss when Suicide Squad kicks off! Strong issue all around, but fans of Palmiotti/Conner Harley may be a bit put off by the ending.

Corrina: Williams is the guy that Ray and I have been praising for months for his work on Martian Manhunter. His ability to juggle the various personalities of J’onn J’onzz translated well here, since Harley has a similar sense of humor to Mr. Biscuits. The whole concept of Harley wanting to start a “Super Villians Anonymous” while still remaining a super villain (she still robs banks) is priceless and fits in perfectly with the Harley as written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner in Harley’s regular title. Galloway’s more cartoonish style is used well to show off what might be a dream sequence and I  have to love Obama’s guest appearance in Harley’s fantasy. In her mind, she’s the good guy. Always.

The only bummer is the framing sequence which, as Ray points out, proves that this isn’t so much as a special as a kick-off for a new Suicide Squad comic. Now, I know Amanda Waller is ruthless but, previously, had she wanted to kill al the superheroes? Because that seems new and slightly…dumb? As much as I love Williams’s storytelling, I hate this trope in equal measure. A character even points out that making Harley crazier is not a good thing. I agree.

I also have to wonder why Lee, whose time is so overbooked, decided to provide art for much of this issue. That’s a head-scratcher. Perhaps this is a priority for DC, given the upcoming movie?

Page 2, Midnighter #11, copyright DC Comics
Page 2, Midnighter #11, copyright DC Comics

Midnighter #11, Steve Orlando, writer, Aco and Hugo Petrus, art

Ray – 9/10

One of the reasons I didn’t take it too seriously when Midnighter’s new boyfriend turned out to be Prometheus was because, really, any new love interest is just a stumbling block on the way to Midnighter reuniting with Apollo. These two have been together for twenty years in some form or another, and while the characters’ breakup at the start of the run felt necessary, I never thought it would be forever. So after Midnighter’s near-death experience at the end of last issue, I’m not surprised that he called the only person he could count on to get him out of a mid-air disaster. The comic flashes back and forth between the rescue and their reunion in Midnighter’s apartment, and Steve Orlando once again gets to the core of what makes Midnighter so great. He was able to turn “Gay Batman” into a fully fleshed-out character, and he makes a good start at doing the same for “Gay Superman” as well. Both of these characters have had great runs in the past, but too often they become stock characters. Not here.

The Suicide Squad and Henry Bendix’s plot factor heavily into this issue as well, as Bendix prepares to unleash a genetically engineered Superhuman on the world. As usual, the action is top-notch, with one particularly great scene involving a rematch between Midnighter and his telepathic opponent – bringing new meaning to the term prep-time. If I have one quibble with this issue, it’s the occasional art shifts, which can be a tiny bit distracting, but the issue is great and the series seems to be heading towards a strong conclusion. Here’s hoping Orlando can continue to use them in the future somehow.

Corrina: Waller again plays the bad guy and in a gullible way, as she’s tricked basically into creating a superbeing that’s an amalgam of Apollo and Midnighter. Now, I loved this issue to pieces and, especially, Aco’s inventive use of panels, and the ticking clock that shows up on the opening pages. But I believe I’m tired of Waller and her department being the bad guys, over and over and over. Waller should be three-dimensional, not a two-dimensional Thunderbolt Ross “get the freak” type. Rant over.

Now that that’s out of my system, I believe this may be my favorite issue of this comic so far, between Apollo and Midnighter’s reunion, the fact that Midnighter would call Apollo to save him, and that they two of them would actually talk for a change. Yet, I’m making it sound like a character study but it’s an issue packed with action and fight sequences, with the character moments mixed in perfectly.

I’m still confused as to how Spyral fits into things, whether it’s worth preserving or not or whether it does the world any good, but clearly, they’re not busy creating superbeings to police the world, and that’s good. (Although there is that Spyral school of teenage assassins…)

The Darkseid War Special #1, written by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, Oscar Jimenez, Paul Pelletier and Tony Kordos, artists

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Meh. New Green Lantern Looks Interesting, Though.

Ray: A side story as we wait for the final two parts of Darkseid War to come out, this issue brings us Johns backed up by an all-star team of artists including Reis and Jiminez to tell some of the side stories going on in the final battle. While the main League members don’t appear, this is still essential reading for the full story. The first and stronger of two stories in this issue focuses on Jessica Cruz, who as we know is about to become a Green Lantern in Rebirth. She’s trapped inside the Power Ring while Volthoom uses her body like a puppet, and her attempts to escape are complicated by the former victims of Volthoom, who aim to keep her trapped with them.

The cowardly Harold Jordan is the worst of them all, serving as a millstone around her neck, but she perseveres and gets closer to salvation – where we learn the identity of the mysterious voice guiding her. The other story, focusing on Myrina Black and Grail, has promise, but doesn’t do much to really explain Grail. Her mother seems to have done the best she can to keep her from becoming a monster, but Grail’s Darkseid blood is winning out – kind of a boring villain origin. I’m not really sure what the transformation they’ve put Steve Trevor through amounts to, but it puts the pieces in place for an exciting final two issues. Still, this issue suffered from the lack of Luthorseid.

Corrina: It’s essential if you’re following the Darkseid War saga. Not so essential if you want to skip the entire thing.

I picked up this issue in the hopes that this would be the final chapter of all this mess. Alas, nope. It’s yet another piece of the puzzle, this time being the origin of Grail, the daughter of a lost Amazon and Darkseid himself. Once again, one of Johns’ plot is basically “if the parent is evil, it will eventually come out in the child.” That’s seriously depressing to me, even if it’s basically well told. That Grail is basically a mirror image of Wonder Woman, being born on the same day save cursed by the gods instead sets her up as Wonder Woman’s enemy, I suppose. Can I hope that this makes Wonder Woman the final hero to save the day in this story? I guess it’s good she’ll be rescuing Steve Trevor but I suspect first, Diana and Steve will be fighting as he’ll be temporarily turned evil. :yawn:

Ray and I are agreed that the Jessica Cruz story is the strongest. There’s nothing like seeing the moment a person becomes a hero and this seems to be the one for her. However, if I never hear the word Volthoom ever again, I will be a happy camper.

New Suicide Squad #19, writer, Tim Seeley, art and color, Juan Ferreyra

Ray – 7.5/10

This issue, the third by the current Seeley/Ferreyra team, is pretty much non-stop action from start to finish as the Squad finds themselves in a twisted high-stakes game of murder orchestrated by the Fist of Cain, a cult dedicated to serving a long-dead Saint of Murder. Ferreyra’s art is dark and creepy as always, and the banter between the characters, particularly Harley and Deadshot, is amusing.

However, my favorite part of the issue is the reveal that Dorian Ashemore, the nebbishy British liaison with the Squad, is actually a retired british gargoyle-themed Supervillain named “The Hunky Punk”. Just tell me that’s not your new favorite supervillain name ever. This subplot lends a touch of absurdity to an issue that’s essentially deadly serious for most of the Squad’s story. It’s not a breakout story by any stretch, but it’s entertaining Squad action to tide us over until the a-list relaunch.

Corrina: If mayhem is what you want from a comic, this is the one for you, as the Squad, separately and sometimes together, fights a seemingly endless supply of crazy assassination cult members.

Damn, the DC Universe is seriously crowded with assassination groups. There’s the League of Assassins, the assassins trained by Mother, the Spyral school for assassins, the Court of Owls and their Talons, and now this crew. I wonder if that’s a choice in high school. Engineer, doctor, lawyer, game developer, super-assassin?

There are some fun lines in this, with Harley annoyed she’s worth fewer points than Deadshot in the killing game, and Deadshot and his new BFF, who also wants to kill him. (That’s typical of Floyd’s friends.) It’s not my thing but it’s well done. If it’s yours, buy the issue. Special mention for Ferreyra’s art, last seen in Gotham By Midnight, which gives the old castle, now a killing ground, a seriously eerie edge.

Green Arrow #51, Benjamin Percy, script, Szymon Kudranski, art

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: Still Doesn’t Feel Like Oliver Queen. At Least the Beard is Back!

Ray: Much like GL, this title is continuing into Rebirth with the same writer, so this issue feels more like a standard storyline than a conclusion. Ollie and Emiko are in Africa on the trail of a mysterious healer who may just have the power to cure the Warg disease taking over Ollie. However, Ollie’s not the only one after this “Doctor Miracle” – an African crime boss whose gang is named “The Whites” has captured him.

The concept behind the “Whites” is amusing – an African crime-lord who patterned his business after the white robber barons who have been dominating Africa for centuries – if a bit too on the nose in his explanations. Oh, and Deathstroke is on his trail too, for his evil ancient owner who wants to live forever. Once all the players are introduced, the issue turns into a fast-paced action fest as Ollie embraces the beast within and fights Deathstroke to a standstill – until Deathstroke turns the tables and stabs Ollie, seemingly fatally. My biggest problem with this issue is that Emiko, usually the best part of a Green Arrow issue, has little to do here besides get captured. Hoping for a strong conclusion, but I’m ready for this whole Warg story to be over.

Corrina: Deathstroke fights a gang of corrupt bad guys in Africa. The art was good enough for me to seriously enjoy that fight. And, finally, Ollie seems more himself, even as he fights the warg within. It’s not enough for him to win the fight with Deathstroke, however (why not?) and he’s stabbed and left for dead. Of course, Dr. Miracle will revive him next issue, I’m sure, and perhaps that will also be the cure for the Warg infection inside him.

Unfortunately, I found the villains two-dimensional, though the art did it’s best to make them distinctive and weird. Probably why I didn’t mind Deathstroke taking them all out. Ray also has a serious point about Emiko basically being useless.

Batman Beyond #11, Dan Jurgens, writer, Bernard Chang, artist

Ray – 6.5/10

Corrina: The Future League is Back.

Ray – I think it’s safe to say that this run on Batman Beyond has been a bit of a misfire, what with the overly dark tone and the ill-fated replacement of Terry McGinnis with future Tim Drake. However, we now know that this is essentially one big prequel before Terry returns in the new series, restoring the classic status quo. That being said, this issue is one of the decent ones, as the majority focuses on Tim and Matt teaming up to free the Justice League from the control of Dr. Cuvier and returning them to the side of good.

We’re introduced to a new Superman this issue, Jon – the son of Superman. We don’t know what happened to the original, but man, Jon Kent is getting around a lot lately. The story has some interesting bits and pieces, such as the involvement of Prince Tuftan and the riots in Gotham, but overall it still feels hamstrung by the ties to the woeful Future’s End event. I’m hoping the new run brings us a proper Batman Beyond book free of cyborg-hell futures.

Corrina: Hey, remember when I said a few issues ago that Matt went to the ruins of Metropolis not because he was angry and rebellious but to look for the Justice League? Aha, I was right. ::pats self on back:: Whew, they’re out from under evil control quickly and, even more interesting, this Superman turns out to be Jon Kent, the son of the Superman and Lois from the alternate Earth that Jurgens wrote in Superman: Lois & Clark and will be writing in Rebirth too. Huh.

What that means, I don’t know, but I bet eventually we’ll be getting Terry McGuinness back. That’s good because Tim still doesn’t seem like a distinct personality in the Beyond suit.

Swamp Thing #4, Len Wein, writer, Kelley Jones, illustrator

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: Predictable. 

Ray: Well, after the end of last issue, I predicted that Matt Cable had intentionally stolen the power of Swamp Thing from Alec Holland for nefarious purposes, but we agreed that it would have been more interesting if his intentions were pure. Well, it starts out looking that way, as Matt assures Alec that his plan was always to give Alec his humanity back and take the burden on himself. Alec offers to stay with Matt and teach him the ways of Swamp Thing, and the training seems to be going well at first – until Matt loses his temper with a poacher and kills him. Alec tries to teach him to control himself, and it seems to be going well – until it very much isn’t.

Matt leads them into a small town, starts killing people, and declares himself to be the new ruler of the world, planning to use his powers for evil. It’s all a very abrupt and bland heel turn for the new Swamp Thing, and we all know it’s going to come down to Alec meeting with the Parliament and reclaiming his power. The Kelley Jones art is wonderfully creepy, but this plot is really just a pale shadow of the Seeder plotline in Soule’s run, and nowhere near as nuanced. This is a case where a property probably should have stayed on the shelf a little longer so soon after an iconic run.

Corrina: You know, it never ever goes well when the cursed hero is cured. We all know it. At least Alec Holland doesn’t know all the implications of being cured when he agrees to a plan by his buddy. The audience, however, is only nodding when it turns out that Cable is going to misuse the Swamp Things powers. Yeah, we all knew what would happen.

Also, I’m not sure what was up with Zatanna disrobing for Alec (giving him her robe.) That seems odd and out of place in this issue. Maybe she wanted to make Alec think about something more than pancakes?. In any case, after a good start, this was my least favorite issue of this series.

Green Lantern #51, writer, Robert Venditti, penciller, Rafa Sandoval, inker, Jordi Tarragona

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: Meh.

Ray: If it wasn’t for the fact that Venditti was one of the few writers continuing on their title into Rebirth, I would think that this current storyarc was definitely ending the run with a whimper rather than a bang. After fighting off Parallax last issue, Hal tapped into a new level of power and transcended his physical body into an energy form of pure will. As he tries to figure out his new powers, his brother attempts to calm him down and bring him back down to earth. It works, with relatively little fanfare, and Hal says goodbye to his family and heads back to space, where Virgo and Trapper have gotten themselves into a mess themselves.

Marshall Rankk and the Gray Wardens have cornered their ship in space and are boarding it, taking the outlaws on board into custody. I was amused by Darlene the AI selling them out at a moment’s notice, but overall the issue is just sort of forgettable. Rankk is a generic villain, and by the time Hal shows up to save the day we don’t know any more about him than when we started. I kind of like the idea of Hal in space with a band of outlaws, but his ship’s crewmates just aren’t interesting enough to sell the concept. Looking forward to seeing Hal back with the GLC in Rebirth.

Corrina: Hal’s having power issues. Doesn’t he always? At this point, between becoming Parallax, dying, having the Gauntlet, and such, Hal is all about having power issues. I wonder if Hal’s good-bye to his family seems abrupt because this storyline was truncated by coming Rebirth stories? The writer is the same, so perhaps not, but it feels that way.

As Ray said, the peril on the ship isn’t interesting enough to sell the comic. I’m not invested in the characters or the villains. Granted, I have a higher bar when it comes to Green Lantern stories than Ray, as it’s my least favorite part of the DC Universe, but I thought I should feel something for the poor schlubs.

The Coming of the Superman #3, writer/artist, Neal Adama, ink assists, Buzz and Josh Adams

Ray – 4/10

Corrina: Well, then.

Ray: Neal Adams continues to deliver the insanity, although nowhere near as much as last month. Superman heads into space in search of his foster son, who was kidnapped by Kalibak. There’s a fairly amusing scene with Lois Lane stowing away on his ship, but overall, most of the issue is fairly generic space battles as Superman arrives on New Krypton to take on the invading forces of Apokalips. The plotline is pretty basic overall, as there’s no real reveals this issue, but where it really falls down on the job is, once again, the dialogue.

There’s no truly ridiculous lines (besides Luthor yelling “I hate your hair” at Superman), but it’s generally histrionic and over the top. The pacing is off as well, with the issue ending on a non-cliffhanger of Orion showing up and calmly telling Superman to come with him. Artist Adams certainly still has it. Writer Adams, sadly not so much.

Corrina: As a friend from the old Comic Book Resources forums used to say, that was certainly a comic with Superman in it. Yes, it was.

It is notable for a classic Silver Age sequence in which Lois stows away on a spaceship and banters with Superman about whether she could come or not. The rest of it? Well, that was certainly a comic with Superman in it and one in which Lex complains about Superman’s hair. Oh, yes, it was.

Bloodlines #1, JT Krul, Writer, V. Ken Marion, Penciller, Sean Parsons, Inker, Andrew Dalhouse, Colorist

Ray- 6/10

Corrina: What Were They Thinking?

Ray: Sometimes I would love to be a fly on the wall at DC headquarters. When they were discussing the ideas for which properties to relaunch, who exactly brought up “Hey, how about those 1993 superheroes who got their powers from alien spinal taps? You know, Hitman and…those other guys! But Hitman won’t be in this one.”

So yeah, Bloodlines is back and I’m confused. This is JT Krul’s first DC work since his short-lived run on Green Arrow at the start of the New 52, which makes it even more puzzling, but the comic itself isn’t bad. Krul and artist Ken Marion double down on the horror elements of the concept, showing how the still unseen aliens transform their victims into Lovecraftian horror-beasts, starting with an ill-fated deer that begins infecting people around it.

The bigger problem with the issue is that unlike the previous event, which found its new heroes from all corners of DC civilians, the new characters are all fairly stock high school archetypes from a small town. The lead character, a disabled former athlete, reminds me a lot of Freddy Freeman or the lead from Superior – handicapped kid whose alter-ego is massive and super-strong – only with a touch of horror to his origin, as his best friend dies in the initial attack. This feels like it could be a decent original property, although all the pieces just feel a little too close to other memorable properties. There’s room to grow here, but I don’t know where the nostalgia for Bloodlines is coming from. Well, maybe if Razorsharpe comes back.

Corrina: I’m still stuck at Ray’s original question: why the heck did DC decide on a Bloodlines comic? Yes, I often like it when DC thinks outside the box. That’s produced some of my favorite books of the past two years. It’s also produced the Telos series. This comic isn’t nearly as awful as Telos but I basically forgot about it minutes after I read it. I can’t imagine anything interesting will come of it.

Out-Of-Continuity Review:

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five #7 – Brian Buccellato, Writer, Mike Miller, Artist, J. Nanjan, Colorist

Ray – 7/10

A strong issue, as Damian Wayne takes the focus. The character’s been sort of out of focus, on the fringes of Injustice ever since he accidentally killed Dick Grayson as a boy. The issue does a good job of capturing the self-destructive nature of his behavior ever since, taking on larger and larger groups of villains until it finally catches up with him, leaving him beaten and endangered – until a mystery hero rescues him, leaving him safe in the Regime’s headquarters with a Nightwing costume gift-wrapped for him.

This is, of course, a gift from Deadwing. Even though Dick is never seen in the issue, his presence is felt strongly, as he was always – and remains – maybe the purest and most decent person in this crapsack universe. My biggest issue with this universe is the incredibly cynical take it has on most of DC’s heroes, so this was a nice break from that.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received these comics for review purposes.

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