Action Comics #957
The first issue of the rebirthed Action Comics starts with full force.
When Lex Luthor proclaims himself to be the new defender of Metropolis, the not-dead Superman confronts him, revealing himself to the world. Confusing things even more is the appearance of yet another Clark Kent, and the return of one of Superman’s most dangerous foes.
It feels almost too big a first issue, throwing all sorts of big plot questions up front. If this was my first Superman book, I’d have absolutely no clue what was going on with all these Supermen. I also have a problem with the rashness of our new-old Superman, who goes right onto the offense with this Lex Luthor because of his experiences with his own Lex. He’s probably right in the long run, but it feels wrong in the moment – even Jon has his misgiving about his dad’s behavior.
Detective Comics #934
Doppelgangers appear to be a running motif in rebirth, as this issue begins with someone impersonating Batman and spying on Gotham’s new vigilantes. To protect these vigilantes – Spoiler, Red Robin, Orphan, and reformed villain Clayface – Bruce recruits Batwoman to help him train them and track down whoever is hunting them.
This first issue is largely a building-the-band montage as Batman introduces us, and Batwoman to the other characters of the book. We get to see a little bit of everyone in action, a quick recap of their backstories, and a hint at some of their relationships to the rest of the group.
As a first issue, accomplishes everything it needed to do, and does it well.
The Flash: Rebirth #1
This issue catches us up with Barry Allen from a little bit before the events of DC Universe: Rebirth #1, and takes us through his reunion with Wally, and the beginnings of his investigations into the nature of Rebirth with Batman. We also learn that Barry has been having visions from the Speed Force, but whether there from the future, alternate dimensions, or something else, is left ambiguous.
This issue does a fine enough job introducing new readers to Barry Allen with a quick recap of the origin and some of his enemies; and traces its steps towards the first arc of the series to makes sure that readers of all backgrounds are on the same page. Like Superman: Rebirth #1, if you’ve been keeping up with the comics, this issue is skippable, unless you have a real craving for a little more of the Barry/Wally reunion.
Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1
Wonder Woman confronts her two origin stories (Pre and Post-Flashpoint), and when her Lasso of Truth tells her she’s been lied to, decides to finally find the truth about who she is and where she came from.
Like The Flash: Rebirth, this issue deals directly with how reboots effect the diegetic lives of their characters, with Wonder Woman essentially asking about her continuity. This book is entirely expositional monologue to inform readers about both of WW’s origin stories, and nutshells the events of the New 52 run. It feels a little too introspective, with no external conflict introduced until the last few pages; but I’ve been giving all of these Rebirth #1’s the benefit of the doubt so far, and this one isn’t anywhere near bad enough to change that.
Howard the Duck #8
This issue is another emotionally heavy turn for Howard as he reunites with his old companion Beverly, and the two talk about why they separated.
It’s hard not to read this issue as two exes trying to find out where their relationship fell apart, and despite one half of this particular relationship being a 3ft anthropomorphic duck, both characters are deeply relatable. Howard is pegged as the less sympathetic of the two, as Beverly left him because of the danger they always found themselves in together, but his wanting her back in his life still hits hard.
And despite the high emotions in this issue, there are still plenty of humorous beats ranging from Howard’s not paying attention to Bev over their years of adventures to an existential Sentinel robot.
Matt Murdoch takes a page out of James Bond’s book, and enters into a poker tournament in Macau to track down something Black Cat has stolen. But because this is the Marvel universe, and not James Bond, this game also involves a battle with a telepath inside of Matt’s head – some literal mind games to compliment the expected bluffing.
Both Matt and the book ooze cool, and it’s fun to watch Matt lean into his roguish swashbuckling side a bit.
The Vision #8
A new member joins the Vision’s family for a while, The Vision’s “brother,” Victor Mancha. Like Vision, Victor has fought his own demons and programmed identity in the past, and as relative outsider, hopes to share his wisdom with his sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. For Virginia he’s a peer and confidant, for Vin he’s another role model (and they have a great euphemistic conversation about what Vin does in his room all night), and for Viv he’s a shoulder to lean on.
Victor’s attempts to bring the story back to normalcy after the events of the first arc help close the uncanny valley between Vision’s family and a “normal” human family, because despite them being robots, they’re still struggling with very relatable ideas of identity and purpose. It takes Tolstoy’s quote about happy and unhappy families one step further – that while each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, they are all still alike in their unhappiness.
Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1
Spider-Man takes the precog Inhuman Ulysses under his wing to teach him how to use his powers responsibly, and find a way he might be able to help people without becoming a superhero.
Pete being a mentor to a younger hero feels natural, as he famously had to learn how to live with powers and the responsibilities that come with them during his own childhood. With only one real action beat; this issue is pretty breezy, filled mainly with conversations between Spidey and Ulysses talking about powers and futures.
We finally get to the end of this arc’s mystery with the classic drawing room scene where our detective, Headland, gathers everyone in a room to explain what happened.
It’s hard to say whether the reveal makes any sense considering the book is about a magical computer program, and the mystery started months ago and I can’t remember all the details at the moment; but it’s an exciting and fun conclusion to the arc nonetheless. It’s fun watching Headland be in total control of a situation, and even with a gun to his head, handle himself with cheek.
And the set-up for the next arc is, in a word, bonkers. I can’t wait.
The Wicked + The Divine #20
The one where we find out how Laura survived getting her head blown off, and basically everything that happened between then and the beginning of this arc. It’s heavy on Laura and Baphomet, and his origin story gets expanded on too.
There’s a fun scene in this one where Baphomet tries to explain something by using The Avengers as an analogue, and almost nerds out trying to explain why Superman isn’t part of them to Laura. The colors in this issue are also something else, giving us a look into the experience of Laura’s god song. If you have one of those old pairs of red-blue 3D glasses, give this book a look and tell me if anything cool happens.