This week has several books that look back at the long history of the DC Universe. Detective Comics gives us a look back at Tim Drake’s past and into his future. Ragman brings back a long missing character. And our Rebirth Royalty, New Super-Man, takes us back to the very beginning.
New Super-Man #16
Gene Luen Yang (Writer), Brent Peeples, Richard Friend and Hi-Fi (Artists)
A year before they collaborated on Action Comics #1, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster contributed to the first issue of Detective Comics. This contribution would be far more infamous than the one that would appear a year later. Along with detective Slam Bradley, they introduced his “yellow peril” rival, Fui Onyui. Onyui would only make two appearances, but his depiction on the cover of the first issue of the comic for which the company is named has always been problematic. This issue of New Super-Man tackles that past head on, in a very impressive way. It shows Onyui’s stereotypical yellow-faced henchmen as mere illusions to perpetuate fear and justify violence against Chinese Americans, which was very much what they were. Onyui himself is portrayed as an aspect of All-Yang, the rival to I-Ching. Brent Peeples does a great job homaging the work of Joe Shuster. I also appreciated the lampshade that Gene hung on the visual similarities of Shuster’s male leads. The fact that an Asian American writer was able to deconstruct the comic at the foundation of this company in such a powerful manner is something to applaud. This issue also continued the “Death and Return of New Super-Man” arc, complete with Kenan coming back from the dead in a black and silver suit.
Action Comics #989
Dan Jurgens (Writer), Dan Jurgens, Victor Bogdanovic, Trevor Scott and Mike Spicer (Artists)
This was the first of two times this week when just reading the credits got me extremely pumped for the story. When I saw that Dan Jurgens had done the breakdowns for the issue, I was very excited. While the pencils are very much Bogdanovic’s, there are moments you can see the Jurgens influence. Dan has hinted that he may be working on some actual pencils for Action Comics #1000, so I’m hoping that’s going to work out. Coupled with the art, this issue’s plot was a very good Superman story, one that felt very needed after the last several months in the real world. It’s times like these that I wish we really did have a Superman, one who would never give up on us.
Batgirl & the Birds of Prey #15
Julie Benson and Shawna Benson (Writer), Roge Antonio and Marcelo Maiolo (Artists)
This story is already giving me Y: the Last Man vibes, and that is both a good and bad thing. The good is that both are well structured, and reminding me of a classic is never a bad thing. The bad is that as a trans woman, I’m a little worried at representation. Does the disease target trans women based on biology? Will we see this addressed? We should, because Batgirl has a trans supporting cast member. I’m excited for the huge all women team up, but I still have hesitation on the potential trans identity issues.
Bombshells United #3
Marguerite Bennett (Writer), Sia Oum and J. Nanjan (Artists)
Heroes are for everyone. We should all be able to find something to aspire to when we look at heroes. They should teach us how to be better for ourselves and for others. If you can’t find something within a hero to make yourself a better person, you’re not looking hard enough. That’s what this issue of Bombshells United is about. Diana tries to inspire Clayface and bring him back to the light, but he can’t look within himself deep enough to do so. In turn, she does inspire the Wonder Girls to pick up her call, and to be the heroes they know themselves to be. Nanjan’s colors are incredible, especially the channeling of the lightning in the last few pages.
Detective Comics #966
James Tynion IV (Writer), Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas (Artists)
I flipped my lid when I saw the credits. Seeing a credit for Superman could only mean one of two things in this book, and it actually wound up meaning both. My hope was that the Superman we’d see would be future Tim’s. And it is. We see Conner Kent. And I lost it. We see him for all of one panel, and I still lost it. Tim’s desperation that this could never happen to him is familiar and painful. I loved the updated Dick Grayson Batman suit. But the ending of the issue gutted me. Our Tim asking “Who’s Conner?” was heartbreaking for me. I miss Conner Kent a lot, guys. Eddy Barrows is at his best this issue, especially the scenes with Doomsday.
Gotham City Garage #1
Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing (Writers), Brian Ching and Kelly Fitzpatrick (Artists)
For a series based on a statue line, you’d think they’d have art that better represented it. The art in Gotham City Garage has the same problems that Brian Ching’s art usually does, in that it is both overly sketchy and over simplified. He doesn’t tend to draw any amount of detail on characters and figures that aren’t in the immediate foreground. I’d love to see these character designs with a more detailed artist at the helm. The first half of this issue was covered several weeks ago, when that half was released digitally. For the second half we just get more exposition, though we do get a mention of Barbara Gordon, so looks like I’ll get that wish.
Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps #30
Robert Vendetti (Writer), Patrick Zircher and Jason Wright (Artists)
This was a fun issue, tying back into the recent Superman arc with Parallax and Sinestro. It was a wonderful touch to have Action Comics artist Patrick Zircher come on to do a guest spot. His Superman is one of my recent favorites, and it was nice to see him have a crack at the Earth Lanterns. Also a bonus is that I enjoyed Zircher’s take on Parallax Superman more than I did Mahnke’s. Mahnke’s faces just never sit right with me. I was not expecting this story to actually be about Hector Hammond, so that was a fun surprise.
Justice League of America #16
Steve Orlando (Writer), Felipe Wantanabe, Ruy Jose and Marcelo Maiolo (Artists)
So the Microverse has the same educational levels as the Macroverse? That seems weird. This issue mostly covered the flashback of what happened to get Ray Palmer to where he is right now. He was betrayed by the Null, and tried to warn Ryan of the same. The arc is still not doing much for me, but seems like we’re about to hit the end. Some of the art in this issue seemed a little more rough than previous issues. There also wasn’t as much room for Marcelo Maiolo to flex his colorist muscles, which has been a highlight of this arc.
Mister Miracle #3
Tom King (Writer), Mitch Gerads (Artist)
This book continues to be terrifying and mysterious. The way Gerads plays with images and filters drives up the intensity of this book in a way that needs to be seen to be understood. Scott opening the issue by telling Granny’s “Christmas Story” was chilling to the bone. King and Gerads continue to play with our sense of reality, much in the same way they are playing with Scott’s. Neither he, nor we, can tell what is real and what is not in this book, and it makes it an intriguing read every month.
Ray Fawkes (Writer), Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz (Artists)
All of my experience with Ragman comes from an issue of The Brave and the Bold I had as a kid, and his time with the Shadowpact. This is a very different animal from either of those. This series is much darker and horror-inspired than the previous incarnations I’ve seen. The powers of the character seem to remain the same, the look is different, and more appropriate to the darker tone of this book. I’m positive the sigils on the chests of Ragman and his enemies mean something, but I’m unsure what. I thought since the tomb where they were encountered was in Israel, it might be Hebrew, but none of the sigils match any Hebrew letters.
Red Hood & the Outlaws #15
Scott Lobdell (Writer), Dexter Soy and Veronica Gandini (Artists)
Why would a kitten in a tree even be listed in crime reports? Was it a malicious treeing? I’m not quiet about my distaste for Lobdell’s writing in general, but for the most part I’ve enjoyed this series. This issue really serves as an example of why I don’t like Lobdell. He has a tendency to write characters very differently from their normal portrayals. He’s written Jason so much that it’s become his norm, and Artemis and Bizarro were mostly blank slates. Team Belfry, on the other hand, were all written very out of character in this issue.
Scooby Apocalypse #18
Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (Writers), Ron Wagner, Andy Owens, Hi-Fi, Ben Caldwell and Jeremy Lawson (Artists)
It seems like living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland is finally starting to really wear on the gang. Daphne comes off as heartless when talking to Cliff. Velma seems to be close to her breaking point. And Shaggy seems like he’s dealing with some post-traumatic stress. Based around these breakdowns, the first half of this issue is really interesting. And then we get the post-apocalyptic trope of the “Untouched Idyllic Town.” This trope is boring and over used, but let’s see how it plays out. The secret Squirrel back-up remains a lot of fun, and I really want to see what their version of Morocco Mole looks like.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #86
Ivan Cohen and Paul Kupperberg (Writers), Randy Ellliott, Silvana Brys, Fabio Lagana and Heroic Age (Artists)
I’m a bit surprised that the October issue of Scooby-Doo wasn’t more Halloween themed. For a book that always deals with “ghosts” and “monsters,” a Halloween themed issue would be right up their alley. The thing I love most about this issue is seeing the name of one of my favorite writers back in the credits of a DC book. Paul Kupperberg was a DC staple in the 1980’s with notable runs on a few different Superman and family books. Lately he’s been doing a lot more all ages fare, so Scooby-Doo is a perfect fit for him. Both stories are fun Velma-centric stories in which she solves mysteries by using her favorite pop-fiction.
Suicide Squad #27
Rob Williams (Writer), Barnaby Bagenda, Jay Leistein, Wilfredo Torres and Adriano Lucas (Artists)
The art in this issue is not good, especially when you contrast it with the cover. Going from Stjepan Sejic to Barnaby Begenda is quite jarring. Many of the faces are not proportioned correctly, leaving oddly set eyes and misshapen noses. There’s also a panel of Killer Croc that looks more like Frankenstein’s monster. It continues to elude me how bad the continuity is between this book and Harley Quinn. I tend to put more faith in this book being canon than Harley, but it’s still frustrating, especially when continuity is so strong with the rest of Rebirth.
Steve Orlando (Writer), Jose Luis, Norm Rapmund and Michael Atiyeh (Artists)
As Steve Orlando gets further into his run on Supergirl, it continues to get better. This issue showed Supergirl using her compassion and words to deescalate a situation, preventing needless destruction. Jose Luis and Norm Rapmund drew an incredible issue, with several panels that made me stop and admire them. In particular, Kara petting Krypto is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. I like that in this crossover issue with Kenan Kong’s Super-Man, they continue to use his book’s technique of distinguishing language by color, and even more that they up the game by adding two more languages to the fold.
K. Perkins (Writer), Sami Basai and Hi-Fi (Artists)
One of the things I think Rebirth has done exceedingly well is give the books a chance to succeed. It has been all too common in recent years to not give a book time to find its audience, canceling it early in its run. We’re a year and a half into Rebirth and not a single book has been cancelled. Kat Perkins has absolutely made the best of her chance to fix the Superwoman book. The book was mired in continuity that has been changed, and Kat has taken that idea and made a great story out of it. I also love how unabashedly queer the supporting cast of this book is. The art in this book is good. Things are done with the coloring that I’d love to see done on Teen Titans with Starfire, specifically some of the amazing highlights from this issue.
The Flash #32
Joshua Williamson (Writer), Christian Duce and Ivan Plascencia (Artists)
I was really surprised to see a Kelly Jones cover on The Flash, because it’s not really a character that fits his style. But then, this isn’t a typical cover for this series. Just like the character featured within isn’t your typical portrayal of Barry Allen. Gone is the Barry Allen who was a Blue Lantern in Blackest Night. I’m guessing the change in personality is related to the the Negative Speed force, but it is a really jarring portrayal of Barry. I really like Meena’s costume as she shows up on the last page. Not sure if I appreciate breaking up a story with a crossover issue next, but what can you do.
Wildstorm: Michael Cray #1
Bryan Hill (Writer), N. Steven Harris, Dexter Vines and Steve Buccellato (Artists)
I said before that lettering often goes unnoticed unless it’s bad. This is an example of a comic where I don’t think the lettering style is a good fit. It is mostly the placement within the balloons and the negative space left over that makes it unpalatable to my eye. This is absolutely not how I expected DC characters to be brought into the new Wildstorm universe, but it works exceedingly well. This dark and twisted version of Oliver Queen is terrifying. I also really enjoy comics set in the Bay Area, hopefully we’ll see some locations I recognize. I definitely recognize the dumb kids doing wheelies down residential streets on crotch rockets.
Wonder Woman #32
James Robinson (Writer), Sergio Davilla, Scott Hanna, Mark Morales and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Artists)
On the plus side, Wonder Woman actually stars in her own book this week. That’s about the nicest thing I have to say about the comic. It is unremarkably sexist, and disparaging to the character of Wonder Woman. She’s referred to as “Angel” not only by Steve Trevor and his performative feminism (“A lesser man might feel threatened by how often you pull my fat out of the fire”) but also by his colleagues. We’re still telling a story focused on the men in Diana’s life, even if this issue had more of her. Honestly, save your money for Wonder Woman/Conan.
Dark Nights: Metal #3 also came out this week, and as always will get its own longer breakdown. Then come back next week for corgis, kids and barbarians, or three almost equally destructive forces at work.