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Its the lightest week we’ve had from DC in some time, with only eighteen books this week. This week we have two seventies heroes returning, some immensely fun meetings, and lots of political commentary. As always there are some spoilers in the reviews below. Rebirth Royalty this week goes to one of the most needed heroes of our time, Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1.
Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1
Tony Isabella (Writer), Clayton Henry and Pete Pantazis (Artists)
I’m glad DC learned from the Supergirl debacle two years ago. When Supergirl premiered on CBS two years ago, the character was nowhere to be found in comics. Her own series had been cancelled for months, and there was not even an announcement of anything coming. Now with Black Lightning set to debut in the coming months on the CW, DC is making the smart move and getting the character out in front of readers eyes. They brought back one of the creators of the character, Tony Isabella, and are letting him work magic with his creation. This issue was both a great introduction to the character, and politically relevant. Black Lightning is a hero that is in desperate need in today’s world, and this book looks to tackle issues relevant to black Americans head on.
Bane Conquest #7
Chuck Dixon (Writer), Graham Nolan and Gregory Wright (Artists)
If you ever want a perfect example of decompressed storytelling, this series would be it. The story continues to slog along at a snail’s pace, doing little to nothing to keep my attention. The art is mostly serviceable. but there are some pretty bad panels. Specifically there’s a panel of Bane lifting a car where he’s as wide as the vehicle he’s lifting, while the Cobra agent on the hood of the car is also much too large for the car. I still say this book would have been better as a six part series than a twelve, because right now I’m just bored with it.
Tom King (Writer), Joëlle Jones and Jordie Bellaire (Artists)
I absolutely love Joëlle Jones’s art, so I’m really baffled by the idea of Catwoman wearing a swimsuit version of her costume under low-rise khakis. Why? That’s a character design that went out of style in 2005. Aside from the bizarre costume choice, Jones’s art is as beautiful as it usually is. Her Selina and Talia are both gorgeous, but the masterpiece is her bratty Damian. Damian matter of factly threatening Superman with magic, and then deciding to sit down like a good little boy was great. And King nailed the Dick and Damian relationship with just a few panels. I love those boys.
Batman: The Devastator #1
Frank Tieri and James Tynion (Writers), Tony S. Daniel, Danni Miki and Tomeu Morey (Artists)
Things are looking bleak in the DC Universe. Six cities have fallen, and soon it will be seven. This might actually be the darkest of the one-shots thus far, because Devastator infects all those around him with the same enhanced Doomsday virus that he infected himself with. Off panel we hear that even Kara has fallen prey to the virus, and on panel we get to see Lois succumb to it. I’m not always a fan of Daniel’s art, but in this one-shot it looked fantastic. His Devastator looks brutal, and his Kara looked fierce, for all the three panels we saw her. We have one more one-shot coming, and its the one that’s most important to the overall story.
Batman: White Knight #2
Sean Murphy (Writer), Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth (Artists)
Once again, I’d like to stress how dangerous the concept behind this comic is. You can not cure mental illness. You can treat mental illness. Sometimes with medication, sometimes with therapy. Often times with both. But it’s not something you can cure. And the fact that this comic keeps using that term tells me that Sean Murphy doesn’t have a grasp on either psychology or psychiatry, but likes to pretend he does. Aside from the dangerous ideas that this comic is using as its story basis, the actual issue was better than the first. I enjoyed the way that Murphy drew the rest of the Batman Rogues, and appreciated the call back to the “Almost Got ‘Im” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. “It was a big rock.” Indeed Mr. Croc, indeed.
Bombshells United #5
Marguerite Bennett (Writer), Siya Oum, Marcelo DiChiara and J. Nanjan (Artists)
This opening arc of Bombshells United was both a good history lesson and an excellent parable for the modern day. We once said, “Never again.” But those words have no meaning when we don’t see what is happening right before our eyes. We have people like General Ulysses Hardin right now. One wishes that the power of truth and hope would do for those people what it did for the ones in this story. It was nice that the real heroes of this story weren’t Wonder Woman or the other established Bombshells, but the oppressed Americans fighting for their right to live.
John Semper Jr. (Writer), Will Conrad, Cliff Richards and Ivan Nunes (Artists)
First thought upon opening the issue: The End? Really? For real this time? Is this arc finally over? And by the end of the issue I was very happy that this is indeed the end of this overly long and drawn out arc, and in fact it seems the end of Semper’s run on the book. This issue was told entirely through narration boxes, with nary a single dialogue balloon to be found. What very little dialogue there is is also told in narration. While that’s a choice that might be able to work in a very specific story, it does not work here. Part of it is that the pages are absolutely cluttered with narration. It gives the art no room to do it’s part of telling the story.
Dastardly and Muttley #3
Garth Ennis (Writer), Mauricet and John Kalisz (Artists)
This series continues to not know what it really wants to be. It keeps trying to embrace zaniness and slapstick, but also trying to add realism. The book is the textbook definition of tonal whiplash. Things that could be funny usually aren’t because they’re instead played for realistic grossness. Really the only real enjoyment I took from this issue was the realistic coyote and roadrunner chase through the oval office. Otherwise most everything else continued to be too over the top and “edgy” for me to enjoy. It is a little cathartic to see a president face consequences for being a horrible person though.
Neal Adams (Writer), Neal Adams (Artists)
“What in God’s name is going on here?” Alfred said it best, I think. Honestly, I’m utterly confused by everything going on in this book. I get that it’s a mystery book, but it’s really not easy to follow at all. What is Gordon the ambassador of exactly? And why? I mean, other than to have him drag Batman into the story. Makes me wonder if we’re going to have Green Arrow show up at some point too. The art was what we have come to expect out of Neal Adams, always masterful. I hope the rest of the series is easier to follow.
Christopher Priest (Writer), Carlo Pagulayan, Norm Rapmund, Trevor Scott, Jason Paz and Jeromy Cox (Artists)
The shade that Priest threw at the competition with one line in this issue could provide a cool spot for an entire summer. “A blonde-haired, blue-eyed, invincible star-spangled warrior. Show me the evil in that!” The idea of the Society having a hearing because too many of its members are switching sides is an interesting one. The inclusion of Killer Frost really hammered that point home, and I wonder if Steve Orlando will reference this in upcoming issues of JLA. I’m disappointed that Riddler has started wearing shirts again. Show us his scar, artists!
Green Arrow #34
Benjamin Percy (Writer), Stephen Byrne (Artist)
One recent trend in coloring that I really love is using color holds on hair. It makes the hair so much more vibrant than having black lines throughout. Having Moira reveal herself to Ollie makes for an interesting story, especially with her ideology conflicting so much with his. This issue had a lot of action, and not a lot that really moved the plot forward much. The Merlyn and Diggle side plot really doesn’t grab me much either. Where this series really lives and dies are the moments between Dinah and Ollie. I love that its just as much her book as it is his.
Green Lanterns #34
Tim Seeley (Writer), Ronan Cliquet and Hi-Fi (Artists)
I continue to love the personality of Jess’s ring more than anything else in this book. I am however, terrified that it’s giving itself a body to look over Jess while she sleeps. Please don’t be evil, ring. Full of cheese as it was, it’s not hard to imagine Jess’s speech having the impact that it did. If working in the kitchen doesn’t pan out, maybe she should try motivational speaking. Aside from the crowds that is. I love that one of the “slot cars” that Simon made was the 1989 Batmobile. Simon bunking in the Sector House makes me sad and I hope we see a happier resolution for him down the line.
Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #2
Paul Dini and Mark Andreyko (Writers), Laura Braga and Arif Prianto (Artists)
This issue is a lot closer to what I wanted out of this mini-series. The whole issue was a lot of fun, with cameos from faces I did not expect to see in this series. Seeing Sabrina and Zatanna interact was a highlight to a wonderful issue. I do hope we get to see more Sabrina in upcoming issues. Selina being a Josie and the Pussycats groupie was hilarious. I’m very intrigued to watch this body swap plot play out. The two pairs of characters interacting with each other’s supporting casts should lead to some great comedy.
Injustice 2 #13
Tom Taylor (Writer), Mike S. Miller and J. Nanjan (Artists)
As this is a prequel, and I’ve already played the game, I know that Kara eventually sees that she’s been manipulated, but its really disheartening to see it happening. Seeing her work so hard to save people, to be a hero, just to know how she’s going to be used by Damian, Diana and Adam is painful. Some of the faces in this issue didn’t work well for me, they seemed elongated and thin. Seeing Kara wear a mask was a little weird too, especially a Nightwing style mask.
Justice League #32
Robert Venditti (Writer), Liam Sharp and Adam Brown (Artists)
“Bats Out of Hell” continues to be an awesome thrill ride. The Justice League is on the ropes, each member being outplayed by their respective Dark Knight. Liam Sharp coming in as the guest artist for this story makes it even better, because Liam’s art is always so amazingly detailed. The lettering is also excellent in this issue, especially the choice made with the Red Death’s dialogue. In fact, the Flash and Red Death bits of the book were my favorite parts, including the idea that that Bruce made several speed force powered evil Batmobiles.
Tim Seeley (Writer), Scot Eaton, Miguel Mendonça, Wayne Faucher, Diana Egea and Chris Sotomayer (Artists)
Despite the issue having two penciller and inker teams, the art was seamless. The art styles were both visually similar enough to not be jarring when they switched. The art in this issue was top notch, especially when capturing emotions. Most of the issue was exposition, but not so that it seemed boring or padded. The story of how Raptor failed the Flying Graysons fits his character perfectly and adds depth to this plot. It was also great seeing the Run-Offs coming together in support of Nightwing. Now please kick Helena to the curb and go back to Shawn, Dick.
Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason (Writers), Ed Benes, Doug Mahnke, Jack Herbert and Dinei Ribeiro (Artists)
Kidnapping Superman and his family was not really a good guy move, Lex. I think this is the arc that might lead us back to a villainous Lex, and I’m kind of sad to see hero Lex go away. The disjointed art team on this issue led to a little bit of inconsistency. Mostly because Mahnke and Benes have such visually different faces. I will say that while Mahnke’s faces usually don’t appeal to me, he draws a great Granny Goodness. It was great to see Lois hold her own against the Female Furies, and I continue to pine for a Superman’s Wife: Lois Lane series.
The Jetsons #1
Jimmy Palmiotti (Writer), Pier Brito and Alex Sinclair (Artists)
One thing I wasn’t expecting from The Jetsons was the political commentary. Of course we’re set in the future, but it’s a future where Earth has been all but destroyed by climate change. And now a new meteor is on the way to finish the job, while Jane Jetson plays the Jor-El of this story trying to warn her fellow citizens. The other intriguing thing about this book was the idea that Rosie the Robot is in fact the consciousness of George’s mom, transferred to a robot body to continue living forever. They played a bit with the themes of robot ethics here, and I hope we see more of that as the series progresses.
That’s a wrap on this week’s books. Join us next week as we find out where Batman’s disappeared to during Metal, and continue the lead up to Doomsday Clock. And who knows, maybe Wonder Woman will show up in her own book!