DC Comic Reviews – 9/28/16

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Action Comics #964

Superman brings Clark Kent to the not-fortress of solitude in order to find out more about him. Meanwhile, the mysteries involving Geneticron multiply.

What’s great about the main conceit of this arc is that everything we learn about this new Clark Kent opens up questions about the dead Superman. Unfortunately, once the half of this issue that’s about that mystery is over, there’s a massive dip in quality.

There’s a problem with a lot of journalism in comic book universes – it’s never that good. Besides not following any real journalism style guides, they’re rarely even good prose, and the example that eats up a good chunk of the back half of this issue is not an exception. Adding to that is confusing art. The art of the article looks like it was written on the same paper as the Constitution rather than printed in a paper; and besides that, everyone shown reading it is doing so digitally! And above all that, it doesn’t even serve the plot, instead just repeating things that happened in the beginning of the issue and saying some general “Superman is a good guy” stuff.

And then the ending of this issue comes pretty much out of nowhere, making it a tease of nothing in particular besides the fact that this isn’t the final issue of Action Comics.

 

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The Flash #7

One problem with superhero comics is that they tend to repeat themselves. After some 50+ years with most of these characters it can feel like everything’s already been done. I get that. It’s hard to find wrinkles when so many other elements are the same.

All this is to say that this arc has pretty firmly become just another hero vs himself, but gone too far story.

It’s fine, but it’s also been done in pretty much the exact same way many times before. The villain confusing vengeance for justice and blaming continued crime on the hero’s reluctance to use lethal force, and the hero trying to teach the virtue of due process. And it even erases the much more interesting storyline this book had involving Flash becoming a mentor to all the other speedsters. Also, how is this arc still not finished?

 

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Wonder Woman #7

I can’t help but feel that this arc switched plots somewhere down the line – what happened to Diana trying to figure out her past? – but I enjoyed the ending to this arc well enough not to make a big thing of it.

Diana and Barbara Ann rescue the girls kidnapped by Cadulo for Urzkartaga, and the girls play a part in rescuing Diana and Barbara Ann.

It’s the small things that make this issue really shine, like how Diana never calls Barbara “Cheetah,” Cadulo getting annoyed by Steve’s interruptions during the ritual, or the tiny moment Diana shares with Steve right after rescuing him.
That isn’t to take away anything from the big finale, either. Given that, following the themes from last issue, Urzkartaga is the patron deity of MRAs, the way he’s defeated is incredibly satisfying. It’s more than just getting beaten up by Wonder Woman, trust me.

 

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Deathstroke #3

Priest finally structures this story in a legible way, and now that I can completely make sense of things, I can tell you that Deathstroke is one of DC’s better written books right now.

Slade catches up with his daughter, Rose Wilson – The Ravager, and track down whoever took out a hit on her. Slade and Rose’s relationship is clearly influenced by Batman and Nightwing’s, but with Slade playing the tough love shtick harder than Bruce ever had outside ASBAR.

The book’s art plays up the similarities between the duos. One scene involving Slade and Rose on a rooftop could easily be of Batman and Nightwing when it comes to each character’s posture, and I may have even spied a slight nod to Year One. It’s also astonishing how much emotion Bennett can squeeze out of Slade’s masked face.

Dialogue has been the strongest part of this book so far, and in this issue Priest shows that he can write young adult women just as well as grizzled older men. And all the incidental dialogue is great too. The difference between Wintergreen complimenting Rose and the overheard chatter of goons “complimenting” her body is one really well done example.

If the book’s overall structure keeps up, this series could easily be one of the standouts of DC Rebirth.

 

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Titans #3

Can books with speedsters please stop opening with “My name is ____. I’m the fastest ____ alive.”? This is the second book this week to do it, and I feel like every speedster book this year has opened with some variation on it. I get it, it’s how every episode of The Flash tv show begins. The comics don’t also have to do it. Thank you.

After a bit more fighting, Kadabra flees, and the Titans regroup over pizza. There are already the early signs of upcoming relationship drama, kind of a prerequisite for this team, and Wally is still stuck on Linda. A scene at Kadabra’s lair also drops a few more hints towards Rebirth’s big Watchmen storyline thing.

Already, this series has built a great rapport among the Titans; there’s not really any awkward getting to know each-other moments, which I like. One question though: what’s with them using their first names in public, did Dan Abnett forget about secret identies? These Titans read maybe a little too young for their ages – the difference between Teen and YA Titans is subtle but you can tell when it’s done wrong – but it’s not a deal-breaker. Titans is a fun little team book that’s seemingly a key player in Rebirth’s big plans.

 

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Batgirl #3

After a kind of rocky last issue, Batgirl lands on its feet.

And after her knock-out at the end of last issue, so does Barbara. She quickly connects Wen Lu on the same thread as the ninja schoolgirl from issue #1, and as Batgirl, rushes back to stop her from getting to Kai in the nick of time. From there she finds a clue that takes her to Seoul.

Unlike last issue, every plot beat in this one is very well explained and connected to one another. The issue has a nice, zippy pace, but doesn’t rush through small character moments, like Barbara getting dinner in Seoul, either. The wonderfully expressive face Albuquerque gives Barbara is still my favorite part of this series, though I do feel a little weird about how super cute Barbara is, even when she’s pissed.

 

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Detective Comics #941 (Night of the Monster Men #3)

The Bat-family is stretched thin. Batman and Batwoman are failing to stop the dragon rampaging through Gotham, Clayface is barely holding himself together across his many bodies, the evacuated citizens that Spoiler and Orphan are looking after in the caves are starting to get restless, and Nightwing is chasing Gotham Girl to Blackgate to try and prevent her from hurting anyone.

That this single issue manages to balance all of these stories at all is a feat, and that it does so well is to be congratulated. While the Bat-family may be overwhelmed, as a reader, I never was. Each plot tells its own story, expertly segues to and from the others, manages to feel like a distinct part of a larger story, and – barring the Batman and Batwoman segment, where the point is that they aren’t making progress – each plot is moved forward.

So far, Night of the Monster Men is one of DC’s better handled crossovers in recent memory, with the main Batman vs. Kaiju story really expanding into something interesting for every member of the Bat-family to deal with.

 

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Teen Titans: Rebirth #1

An interesting first issue that kind of confuses the timeline a bit, but what else is new for DC?

We catch up with the to-be members of this Teen Titans team, some of whom have previously been on teams with Dick Grayson and Tim Drake. Starfire has already been in a relationship with Dick, who’s an adult; and Beast Boy reminisces about Tim, who was college age last time we saw him.

Anyway, we catch up with them slice-of-life fashion: Beast Boy is throwing a Hollywood party, Starfire is heading up a human trafficking task-force in the Caribbean, Raven breaking into an art museum to meditate, and the new Wally West still learning how to control his speed; before each of them is taken down by a mysterious cloaked figure.

This structure allows this issue to neatly introduce each member of the team, their goals, personalities, and powers, even if we don’t really get to see them work together yet. I’m really enjoying this issue’s art, with its super-saturated colors and manga flavored character designs.  It definitely looks like a book aimed at younger readers, but I’ll see if, like comparable Marvel titles, it has something for me, too.

 

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Six Pack and Dog Welder #2

This book takes the complete piss out of DC and it’s amazing.

From John Constantine complaining about how his comics used to be prestige to The Spectre becoming so confused by the various reboots and retcons that he can no longer effectively do his job, to an amazing recreation of the finale of Spartacus; Garth Ennis is roasting all of DC to perfection. A must read for any fan who’s stuck with DC over the past five years.

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