This week had many great books from DC, but also several that left a lot to be desired. We have the return of Tim Drake, the further revelations of Mr. Oz, and the end of a couple of crossover miniseries this week. Rebirth Royalty goes to a man most well known for his wildly successful independent comics. Without further ado, but with a spoiler warning, I give you this week’s reviews.
The Kamandi Challenge #9
Tom King (Writer), Kevin Eastman and Freddie Williams II (Artists)
First things first, Mark Buckingham is one of the most perfect choices for Kirby tribute work, so it was very nice to see him do the cover to this book. And the cover pales in comparison to what was found inside. Kevin Eastman is best known for co-creating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I can’t think of a DC book better suited to his strengths than Kamandi. His details are incredible, and with Freddie Williams II finishing the work, the book has a perfect atmosphere. King’s resolution to the previous cliffhanger is satisfying, in that Kamandi didn’t technically get out of it. He got eaten by the giant sea beast, and this issue is what occurs within. Of course, a Kevin Eastman-drawn story featuring anthropomorphic animals had to include at least one turtle, and Merle the old turtle was fantastic. The choice to leave this issue black and white to better show off Eastman’s line work was absolutely brilliant, because Eastman is one of the few comic artists that thrives in black and white. My only complaint about Eastman and Williams’s art is that Kamandi looks more like a man and less like a boy, but still the issue was absolutely stunning and detailed. King’s cliffhanger was also well set up, and even though we could really see where he was going the whole issue, it never lost its impact. I also applaud King’s choice to open on and close with quotes. Specifically, closing with a quote from Kirby himself was a perfect way to end this brilliant tribute to the King.
Action Comics #988
Dan Jurgens (Writer), Ryan Sook and Hi-Fi (Artists)
One mystery has been revealed, but another one yet persists. It turns out that Mr. Oz (or Jor-El) isn’t the one controlling everything, he’s just another pawn like Tim Drake. It’s obvious that Dr. Manhattan is the one actually taking these pieces off the board, but who knows when we’ll see that revealed. I’m also not sold on the fact that this is our universe’s Jor-El.
Hope Larson (Writer), Chris Wildgoose, Jose Marzan Jr. and Mat Lopes (Artists)
Despite the continuing lie of Dick Grayson wearing pants, I really do enjoy the flashbacks with him and young Babs. I’m also really intrigued by the new villain, and have my theories on who it may be. I’m glad that it seems like Nightwing is not really open to restarting his relationship with Batgirl, too, because I’d prefer him with Starfire or with Shawn from his own book.
Batman Beyond #12
Vita Ayala and Steve Orlando (Writers), Siya Oum, Dexter Vines and Tony Aviña (Artists)
This was a fairly good fill-in issue, if a bit inconsistent on the art front. While Barbara Gordon in the Batman Beyond universe typically looks much older with gray hair, Babs in this book still has red hair. Batman Beyond is one of the few Rebirth titles that draws a lot from previous runs, which since it’s set in the future works for it all right. That said, this issue didn’t have much impact on me. I never read the previous Batgirl Beyond story, but once I’m caught up on Rebirth-related back issues it’s another one that I’m going to go back and read. Look for a more detailed review coming from our own Ardo soon!
Batman/The Shadow #6
Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando (Writers), Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia (Artists)
This issue was a great conclusion to the miniseries. Bruce rejecting the identity of the Shadow to make sure the legacy of Batman lives forever is perfectly in line with his character. As is seeing such a task as a responsibility, not a curse or a burden. I liked the idea of there being one mystery that even the world’s greatest detective can’t solve: the Shadow’s true identity. Only the Shadow knows.
Batman: The Murder Machine #1
Frank Tieri and James Tynion IV (Writers), Riccardo Federici and Rain Beredo (Artists)
Riccardo Federici and Rain Beredo made a beautiful book. This time Batman’s fear is what happens when he loses Alfred. What actually happens is similar to an Ultron-type situation, with the Alfred AI going to too far to protect Bruce. It kills all the Arkham inmates over the course of the night, and then takes over Bruce’s brain. It erases his fear and sadness, and eventually his humanity as a whole. We see this Batman destroy his own Justice League and take down our Cyborg, and get a hint that Cyborg may be one of the keys to stopping the Dark Knights.
Blue Beetle #13
Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (Writers), Scott Kolins and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Artists)
Why? Was it in Giffen’s contract that he had to shoehorn just about every DC property he’s worked on in the last ten years into this series? I didn’t care to read Justice League 3000 or 3001 the first two times they were tried, and I really didn’t care to read it in an issue of Blue Beetle. I’m very glad that this was Giffen and DeMatteis’s last issue, because I never really felt like they were the right team for Jaime. With the right creative team, I think he could be DC’s Miles Morales. Hopefully we can get back on the right track with him next month when Christopher Sebela and Thony Silas take over the title.
Bombshells United #2
Marguerite Bennett (Writer), Marguerite Sauvage (Artist)
First off, this book is absolutely stunningly gorgeous. Which is what we’ve come to expect out of Marguerite Sauvage. It’s also incredibly hard hitting on the social commentary. Bombshells United is giving us a look at one of the darkest times in American history, and something that many fear may happen again. Using Clayface as the villain while playing with the “American Soil” motto is absolutely an inspired choice. As was using him to sow paranoia between all the heroes. In times like those, trusting your neighbors was not something that came easy.
Detective Comics #965
James Tynion IV (Writer), Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas (Artists)
I have been waiting for this issue for months. Tim Drake is my second favorite Robin, and “A Lonely Place of Dying” is one of those stories that will always stick with me. This issue focuses on the history and spirit of Tim Drake. It shows that his faith in people and the world as a whole is the threat he poses to Mr. Oz. It’s a similar vein to how Nightwing was a target in Infinite Crisis. Both of Bruce’s sidekicks represent hope to an extent Bruce will never be able to match. This is counter pointed by Tynion bringing in the Titans of Tomorrow version of Tim Drake, a Tim that has lost that optimism and embraced cynicism. The art is a little bit inconsistent at times, with young Tim looking older than he should. But those little inconsistencies don’t detract from what was a good issue, with a very surprising cliffhanger.
Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps #29
Robert Vendetti (Writer), Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarrasona and Tomeu Morey (Artists)
I say it about every two weeks, but Tomeu Morey’s colors are incredible. With his work on this book, he’s fast become one of my favorite colorists, and one that I think deserves mention alongside names like Matt Wilson and Kelly Fitzpatrick. This was a rollicking end to this arc, and did a good job to showcase the various personalities of the different Earth Lanterns.
Justice League of America #15
Steve Orlando (Writer), Felipe Wantanabe, Ruy Jose and Marcelo Maiolo (Artists)
I still can’t really get into this arc. I just have no real connection one way or the other to the Atom. The art was still fantastic, especially the colors. Much like Tomeu Morey, Marcelo Maiolo is a colorist whose name I look forward to seeing every time it shows up.
Justice League/Power Rangers #6
Tom Taylor (Writer), Stephen Byrne (Artist)
This book was absolutely delightful. This is a series I’m going to definitely go back to when I have a bad day and need a pick me up. Ten year old me would be absolutely jazzed by everything that happened in this book. From the knock down drag out Megazord and Zedd fight to Kim laying out Zedd with a boxing glove arrow. From Bruce Wayne giving Bulk and Skull the stink eye to Billy putting a check on Brainiac’s ego, there was not a moment in this issue that I was not smiling. And I am delighted by the sequel hook, hopefully Power Rangers/Justice League happens sooner rather than later.
Looney Tunes #239
Ivan Cohen and Frank Strom (Writers), Robert Pope, Scott McRae, Candace Schinzler-Bell, Pablo Zamboni, Horacio Ottolini (Artists)
I really enjoyed the parody of The Wrath of Khan in the first story. In particular, the “FUUUUUUUDDDDDDD” moment was inspired.
Mother Panic #11
Jody Houser and Jim Krueger (Writers), Shawn Crystal, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, and Trish Mulvihill (Artists)
This book is wonderful, but it’s really not what I expect out of Young Animal. The colors aren’t wild, they’re very subdued. And while parts of the story are surreal, it’s not built around that. It’s really about a queer lady Batman who doesn’t have problems with killing, which is 100% a thing I am here for. This issue ended with a great cliffhanger and I’m excited for the next issue. Also, it’s very intense to literally paint with the innards of your fallen enemies. That is a level of spiteful I can only aspire to.
Nightwing: The New Order #2
Kyle Higgins (Writer), Trevor McCarthy (Artist)
The first thing I’ll say about this comic is that the inconsistency with costumes drew me right out of the story. Superman was in his first Rebirth costume. Flash was in his Rebirth costume. Shazam was in his Captain Marvel look from back when he was called that. Wonder Woman was in her New 52 costume. Please be consistent guys! Its not hard, and its important. I did like this issue more than the last, though I’m still not okay with Nightwing being the main character. These are not steps I can ever see Dick take. I really liked the layout of the opening pages, with the scene on the left and the caption on the right.
Scooby-Doo Team-Up #30
Sholly Fisch (Writer), Dario Brizuela and Franco Riesco (Artists)
What a fun and insightful issue! Seems like even the kid’s line of DC books wanted to get in on the Kirby love this year, and what better way to do that than to have an issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up with the original four person (later five) adventuring team. As this issue showed, the Challengers of the Unknown inspired countless other teams both within and outside of the DC Universe. While Cave Carson, the Sea Devils, the original Secret Six and the Time Masters all show up here as obvious successors to the Challengers, the most successful and well known of these was also co-created by Kirby at the Marvelous competition. It’s a shame that nothing has been done with them this year. I really enjoyed the cybernetic eye reference from Fred too.
Suicide Squad #26
Rob Williams (Writer), Stjepan Sejic (Artists)
I wasn’t expecting an extra Stjepan Sejic-drawn book this month, so that was an incredibly welcome surprise. As always, his art was absolutely stunning. It was nice to learn more about the Batman Who Laughs and his Joker Robins. As was learning more about the potential final fate of Batman. Though it shouldn’t have, the cameo at the end of the book came as a complete surprise to me.
The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #3
John Ridley (Writer), Georges Jeanty, John Livesay and Nick Filardi (Artists)
While it’s technically possible to read this series without reading the first The American Way series, I don’t recommend it. Both books are set in the past, but both do a great job shining a light on deep divides still prevalent in our society. While Missy is campaigning in the 1070s, the people she’s speaking to and the signs they hold can still be found in political rallies today. While Amber is leading a revolution in the Bay Area, she could easily be a Black Bloc member in today’s Berkeley. One thing I am confused about is the change in Tannis Darling. In the first series she was blonde and very white. In the new series she seems to be a woman of color. I love the change, but I’m wondering if it will be explained or just hand-waved.
The Flash #31
Joshua Williamson (Writer), Neil Googe, Gus Vazquez, and Ivan Plascencia (Artists)
Most of the issue was just alright, but I did like the very end. The comment about “other Wally” hit me a little harder than I expected, even if I don’t expect “other Wally” to stay dead. The art was not up to what I’ve come to expect from Flash, so I’m hoping that slides back to normal next issue.
The Hellblazer #14
Tim Seeley (Writer), Jesus Merino and Carrie Strachan (Artists)
I thought that this was supposed to be the end of the arc, so I’m glad I was wrong, because this would have been a bizarre way to end it. Though the last arc ended pretty bizarrely too, so I wouldn’t be surprised. I do like Jesus Merino’s art more than most of the previous artists on this book, but Tim Seeley’s dialect is a bit too forced for me. Also, it’s not from this current arc, but I can’t be the only one annoyed by Mercury’s constantly changing hair, can I? It went from dark undercut to red undercut to dark full head to red full head. Have some consistency, guys!
Wonder Woman #31
James Robinson (Writer) Carlo Pagulayan, Sean Parsons, Jason Paz, Scott Hanna and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Artists)
Really? Twelve people listed in the credits of this book and only the letterer (Saida Temofonte) and variant cover artist (Jenny Frison) are women? That’s a really bad look, DC. Also, I was under the impression that this book starred Wonder Woman. In fact, I believe Robinson told us to not worry about the fact that he was going to be telling a story about her brother, because he was still “going to treat Diana right”. But guess who doesn’t appear in this comic until two thirds of the way through? Of course the answer to that question is Wonder Woman! And then she was only on four pages of her own book. She was on more pages of Justice League/Power Rangers, despite that book having thirteen main characters. The story also has to take place after Metal because Baby Darkseid is no longer a baby after absorbing Hercules’s god energy, so I guess we know Diana makes it out of that story unscathed. Not a great start to Robinson’s run, but I’ll be honest, it’s about what I expected.