Comic Reviews 6/1/16 – DC Rebirths to Civil War II

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Superman Rebirth #1

Having already gone through this whole dying thing with Doomsday, Pre-Flashpoint Clark waits for Superman to come back to life. He goes to Superman’s memorial in order to get his body to stick it in a regeneration matrix when he runs into Lana Lang, who had made a promise to the dead Clark about his remains before he died. Together, both of them try to get this world’s Superman back.

I understand that all of these Rebirth issues are essentially prologues for new people coming aboard; and judged as that, this book provides a helpful recap of everything leading up to this point, and a lead-in to what’s gonna happen when this book really restarts. But for someone that’s already read all the books before this one, it does nothing to introduce a new plot and move it forward.
There are a couple of good emotional beats, but if you were hoping to jump into a new Superman story, you’ve gotta wait another week (maybe two).

 

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Green Arrow Rebirth #1

The Green Arrow has the beard. This Green Arrow is friends with Black Canary. This Green Arrow proudly calls himself a Social Justice Warrior. The Justice League calls this Green Arrow sanctimonious. I like this Green Arrow.

It doesn’t hurt that besides all that, this is a great issue that introduces its two leads, Green Arrow and Black Canary; and gives them something interesting to do: track down the Shadow People snatching up Seattle’s homeless.

The best part of this book is the chemistry between Arrow and Canary, from their meet-cute to learning to work together. This Green Arrow is a liberal loudmouth, and Canary keeps the billionaire true to his Bernie Sanders approved message. Canary has reasons beyond politics for wanting to help out the poor, and struggles to see how someone as rich as Oliver can truly sympathize.

 

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Batman Rebirth #1

Batman begins to train Duke Thomas to be his new sidekick, and their first mission is to stop Calendar Man and his weather machine from unleashing bad spores on Gotham City.

This run on Batman is starting off with a good infusion of silly, which I enjoy. One of the first scenes of the book is a sweaty, mostly naked Bruce Wayne doing pull-ups off the side of a helipad, and the story, and the plot concerns a villain who sheds his skin because of the effects of his weather changing machine. The book doesn’t quite dip into camp, but this turn away from the character drama of Snyder’s run is a welcome respite. And having a new side-kick aboard softens up Bruce, and the tone, a welcome amount too.

I’ve enjoyed Tom King’s work on Grayson, The Omega Men, and The Vision; and his Batman is off to a great start.

 

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Will Eisner’s The Spirit #11

Ellen Dolan discovers Councilman Palmer’s involvement in the conspiracy; and The Spirit, Strunk, and White finally catch up to Sachet Spice who won’t be brought in without one last chase.

The way this book continues to perfectly balance its sunny pulp sensibilities with its noir plotting and style always amazes me.

One of the most fun series at the moment, and still a good read for all ages.

 

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Strange Attractors #1

Originally written by Charles Soule and published a few years ago; this republishing is about one thing I hate, Math; and two things I love, New York City and College Professors.

Heller Wilson is a grad student seeking the help of disgraced former professor, Spencer Brownfield, with his thesis about Complexity Theory, that everything is effected by everything else interacting with each-other, and it’s relation to New York’s resilience after disasters. And while Spencer might be a madman who releases rats in restaurants, he might also know the key to saving the city from entropy.

This was a very entertaining first issue, but it also squarely hits two of my favorite things. If you have an appreciation for the complexity of the city and/or crazy college professors, it’ll hit your sweet spot too.

 

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Paper Girls #6
The girls arrive in the fut- today, actually (exactly today, 6/1/2016) and meet up with the present day Erin, who still lives in the same small suburb. The girls convince Erin to help them find TJ, and try to acclimate to the present.

For a the first issue of a new arc, there doesn’t seem to be much exposition. In fact, a lot of the enjoyment I got from this issue is from the girls trying to understand how the world’s changed in the past 30 years; like tiny smart cars and huge flatscreens. The dig at the new TMNT movie had me guffaw in the middle of a subway car, as did the Twitter nod.
Also, I love what BKV is doing with the fan interaction using the postal service.

 

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The Punisher #2

Unfortunately, this couldn’t hold my interest through a second issue.

Once again villains make plans, and the Punisher comes to kill them all, only this time one of them gets away. Frank’s investigation isn’t interesting because he just grabs people and yells at them until he gets pointed in the next direction. There’s just not enough drama or pathos for a character like Punisher to ground a book – at least not this one.

 

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Moon Knight #3

I’m really liking how this series is leaning into Marc’s psychosis. In the first issue it seemed like a story with one true reality and one false. In the second it became a story with multiple true realities all scrambled together. And in this issue Khonshu tells Marc to let his insanity guide him; his madness is the truth. It’s insane and I love it.

Depending on which reality you want to believe, Marc guides his fellow escaping patients through the New York Subway system/Egyptian tombs, fights some mummies/orderlies, and eventually reaches a train/Anubis that helps them escape. What really sells everything is that we’re following four characters who each have their own grasp on the reality of the situation, from characters who see the world as Marc does, to one seeing everything as we might.

Moon Knight is a smart book that keeps on playing with its reality, and also what its audience expects to be true of it on a meta level. And it’s also a fun escape story.

 

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Invincible Iron Man #10

No two ways about it, this issue is over padded. Tony, in disguise, is kidnapped by Tomoe, the Techno Golem who destroyed his suit however many issues again, and recruited into her gang. Rhodey recruits a special team to rescue him. Mary Jane continues to be pressured into working for Tony (and also is reminded of her feelings for Spider-Man maybe?).

Everything takes too many pages to happen; dragged out by wordy dialogue, overly-long beats that don’t really play as comedic or dramatic, and one unnecessary yet show-off-y fight scene. Meanwhile, the best part of the book, the Iron Girl is restricted to a single page spread. And, despite the cover, this has nothing to do with Civil War.

 

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Amazing Spider-Man #13

Regent has made himself to be New York’s newest hero, and judging from his dialogue while saving the harbor from Orka, has gone full Golden Age. Meanwhile Peter dodges yet another Parker Industries billion dollar meeting to spend a day mentoring Miles Morales…or intends to before Iron Man beats him to it, which brings their rivalry to a head.

This issue is one of the best Slott’s ever written, if only because he spends a good chunk of it taking the piss out of hero vs. hero fights. I don’t want to spoil any of it for anyone planning to pick it up, but this book says basically everything I’ve felt about the recent uptick in hero fights in the most hilarious way possible. That, plus this issue gets some good plot development in around the fight involving its side characters cutting straight to the middle of a mystery.

Amazing Spider-Man once again proves itself to be a smart book with some whip-smart characters as well.

 

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Civil War II #1

Ugggh. This was a bad issue.

We open with Ulysses, the precog Inhuman, being rescued by the Inhuman royal family. Then we skip to all the heroes of Earth uniting to defeat a world-ending threat, something they were able to organize and accomplish thanks to a tip from Ulysses, who the Inhumans introduce to all the other heroes at the “we saved the world” wrap-party. This sparks a sub-Socratic dialogue between Tony and some of the other heroes about whether they can trust Ulysses that seems to end friendly enough at the party. Then, suddenly, following a fight with Thanos that happens ENTIRELY OFF PANEL, we and Tony find out that Rhodey is dead, and that She-Hulk is dying; all because Captain Marvel attacked Thanos because of a tip from Ulysses. Then Tony gets mad and flies off.

This issue feels disjointed and uneven. The presentation of the philosophical core of the fight is sudden, ham-fisted, and wrapped up in a single act of this book, which feels like the creative team wanted to just get it out of the way so the heroes can choose sides and start the fight; instead of making those differing philosophies the backbone of the entire event. It seems like the entire reason for the heroes fighting is moved to prologue rather than becoming a constant motivation for each side. It’s simply bad storytelling.

And that’s not even mentioning an entire part of the plot happening off panel and told to us in a quick recap instead of, you know, shown, like a proper story would do. Plus, in issue one this book manages to fridge a woman and a black character.

There is some snippy Bendis dialogue here, but it doesn’t do anywhere near enough to save this issue. Civil War II #1 is shameful.

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