Comic Reviews 8/24/16 – DC and Clean Room

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Detective Comics #939

Team Batman has time enough for a quick breather before having to take down The Colony’s drone army.

Tim and his personal arc – him deciding to leave Gotham to pursue school – are the primary focus of this issue, but Bruce and Kate get room to talk about what being family means to them, and every character gets at least a page in the spotlight. It’s commendable how well Tynion has juggled this book’s ensemble these past few months, as well as control the pacing of the plot and action beats. Finding out who’s on the other end of Batman’s “black line” is a great moment, as is Clayface’s attempt to get people away from a danger-zone.

The art gets a bit weird at times, with some panels and backgrounds having a more painterly quality to them that nudges against the otherwise solid linework of a majority of the book, but it occasionally comes together really well, like when Batman is put into relief by a bolt of lightning.

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Action Comics #962

Superman finds a way to stop Doomsday, all he needs is enough time to set it up.

This arc – which could maybe have been an issue or two shorter, in retrospect – concludes in a quite satisfying way. Granted, the cliffhanger from last issue doesn’t exactly pay off, but everything else does. Wonder Woman gets back into the fray, and after Doomsday is taken care of, Superman checks back in with Lex in Metropolis.

Overall, a stronger than expected first arc for this reborn Action Comics.

 

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Wonder Woman #5

Etta Candy goes to a third party to discuss Steve and Wonder Woman as WW and Cheetah make their way through the forest, unknowingly, towards Steve. Meanwhile, Steve and his men, captured, learn more about Cadulo and Urzkartaga.

The conversation between Diana and Cheetah in this issue is very well written, capturing that these two women were once friends, but are now on much less solid ground. For better or worse, Rucka has Steve bring up the subtext of his conversation with Cadulo outright, which at least helps characterize Steve in a positive way. And Etta Candy is written like Amanda Waller, albeit,  capable of friendship. But my favorite part of the issue was the small moment at the very end between Diana and the rest of Steve’s troops – there’s just something very *nice* about it.

While overall, this arc isn’t as solid as the year one arc, it is telling a story we haven’t read before, and doing a well enough job at it. And even if the plot is a bit slow, it’s hard as ever to find fault in Rucka’s dialogue.

 

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The Flash #5

With Black Hole defeated, and Meena and August taking care of the new Speedsters, Barry takes a day off and catches up with Iris. And, outside STAR Labs, Meena meets up with Wally West, and decides to train him personally.

We start off with a healthy recap of the past four issues before this deliberately low-stakes issue starts its own stories. The meat of this comic is Meena’s training Wally, and then this issue connects back to the arc’s plot in the last few pages. What happens in those pages is a bit too heavily foreshadowed, which takes away some of its punch.

 

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Batgirl #2

Barbara goes to Singapore to find an MMA gym to train in, and things go in an unexpected direction between her and Kai.

This issue feels unfocused, and more directionless than it has a right to be considering we’re only two issues in. Neither of Barbara’s motivations in this issue – finding a gym to train in, and finding the schoolgirl-assassin from the last issue – make any sense considering she’s 1. Spending less than a week, 2. In an entirely different city than the schoolgirl. And what happens between Barbara and Kai feels forced – so much so that Barbara can’t even rationalize it to herself.

 

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Titans #2

The Titans face their first challenge as a team – a mirror match against their younger selves created by Kadabra!

An issue long fight sequence. It’s a risky move considering this is only the second issue, but it does do us the benefit of showing us the Titans working in tandem. We get a good look at everyone’s powers and how they fight separately, and as a team. But other than that, not much going on.

 

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Deathstroke #1

This is a very busy first issue, full of double-crosses upon double-crosses, a story split between the past and the present, and hallucinations.

The plot is…honestly quite complicated given everything involved, especially for a #1. Deathstroke was hired to kill the Clock King by an African despot who Deathstroke was also hired to kill, but someone was double-crossing another person…in any case, Deathstroke seems to have untangled all the strings by the end, well, except for one that’s not very well explained at all, and only really brought up at the end. I almost feel like I’ve missed an issue, which is not a good thing for a #1. Also, the parts of this book that take place in the past don’t seem to connect much to anything at all besides introducing one character and their relationship to Deathstroke, and revealing that Deathstroke is a deadbeat father and husband.

What saves this book, and the reason I’ll be picking up the next issue, is the excellent dialogue. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d probably say Metal Gear Solid, with Deathstroke as the career soldier of fortune, naturally. One exchange near the end of the issue between Slade and his partner practically made the book worth it on its own. If anything, Deathstroke feels like nothing else DC is putting out, and not in a bad way.

 

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Six Pack and Dog Welder #1

All-Star Section Eight was one of the most bizarre, surreal, and hilarious comics I’ve ever read, and this follow up is, so far, upping the game.

Six-Pack is once again trying to legitimize the Section Eight, his team of weirdly powered “heroes” that operate out of a dive bar. But the plot takes a back seat to Section Eight being the butt of the cosmic joke that is the DC Universe. The jabs come fast and furious, targeting Green Arrow and Green Lantern’s themes of tackling racism, the recent Convergence cross-over event, and John Constantine’s accent.

I don’t want to call this a satire, but I’m really not sure what to call it otherwise. Regardless, it’s funny and weird, and very enjoyable.

 

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Clean Room #11

Killian asks Capone to do anything in her power to bring Astrid back before her Board gives up the company to Reston Wenuka. And Chloe returns to the Clean Room to rescue Spark and prevent the end of the world.

This has got to be the least disturbing issue of Clean Room yet, with the only bodily harm being a few gunshots and a severed hand, which says something about this book. And some of the scenes with Capone and Astrid are actually kind of…cute, which I’m attributing mostly to Astrid’s mittens.

The dialogue is tight as it’s ever been. Wenuka comes off as a total sleaze, and we’re seeing Killian really begin to take charge of the company in Astrid’s stead.

Overall, probably the most refreshing Clean Room is ever going to get.

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