This week sees two legendary artists returning to the characters they cut their teeth on, one of which was a complete surprise. We are also halfway through James Robinson’s Wonder Woman run, thankfully; and near the end of Superwoman, less thankfully. Rebirth Royalty this week goes to the surprising return of my favorite Superman writer of all time, who is also my favorite Superman artist of all time. Dan Jurgens does double duty in this week’s Action Comics, and I am very excited for this. As always, there will be some spoilers in the reviews.
Action Comics #993
Dan Jurgens (Writer and Artist), Joe Prado and Cam Smith (Inkers), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
Seeing Dan Jurgens on interior pencils was a very welcome surprise, especially since Brett Booth was the artist solicited for this issue. I have missed Jurgens’ pencils greatly, as he’s one of my all-time favorite artists. It took me longer to read this issue than it usually does because I was savoring every page. I’ve missed his Superman in particular; his Clark will always be the Clark I see in my head, in part because his Clark was my first Clark. With this issue he also returns to a character he created: Booster Gold. His Booster had me laughing out loud, while his Superman and Lois moments kept the story grounded. Don’t think I missed the callback to the “Death of Superman” either; Superman being shocked to see Booster mimicked Booster’s own shock at seeing Superman in that story. The main plot deals with Clark and Booster on Krypton before its explosion, but the subplot of Lois having to do something to save her father is just as intriguing, especially since it seems like the only help she’ll be able to get is from Jon. This was probably my favorite Superman comic in the last ten years, and that’s saying something with how good the line has been since Rebirth.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #17
Julie and Shawna Benson (Writers), Roge Antonio (Artist), Marcelo Maiolo (Colorist), Dezi Sienty (Letterer)
This comic definitely rubbed me the wrong way. For most of this issue we have villains who come off very much as TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or ‘feminists’ who don’t believe trans women are women). As someone who has to deal with TERFs on a daily basis, it’s not something I particularly enjoy seeing in my escapism. While it’s nice that they’re the villains, they’re rather one-note, and not fleshed out. I also take issue with the cure presented in this issue, in that estrogen is what fixes the disease. There is a lot more to the side effects of estrogen, especially a high dose (and if that’s the only factor in determining who the disease effects, it’’d have to be really high) than fatigue and bloating. Hormone therapy is something that has to be carefully monitored, and if done wrong can cause things such as liver failure. The one thing I did appreciate in this story was the slight nod at the end that the virus did effect trans women, but that did not outweigh the drawbacks of the issue and the arc as a whole. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey has been one of my favorite books, but this arc just misses the mark for me.
Detective Comics #970
James Tynion IV (Writer), Joe Bennett (Artist), Salvador Regla, Ricardo Jaime and Marcio Loerzer (Inkers), Jason Wright (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer)\
The art in this issue was not great. It was inconsistent and many of the faces looked disproportional to their bodies. I don’t know if this was just Bennett having an off issue, or the result of multiple inkers, but the art actually distracted from how the story flowed. This issue was dark and depressing, for both the Tim story and the Clayface story. While the Tim story shows us how deep a spiral he is in, and its effect on his relationship with Steph, it also illustrates his dedication to an ideal. Meanwhile, the Clayface story got our hopes up for Basil, and made us believe his happy ending was coming, only to rip the rug from under our feet at the last minute.
Gotham City Garage #5
Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing (Writers), Carmen Carnero (Artist), Trish Mulvihill (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
This was a heartwarming issue. I really liked the framing at the beginning with the sisters writing each other unsent letters. Aside from a few clearly eye candy poses, the art in this issue worked well for the story. The Gordon sister reunion warmed my heart, as did the backup that the rest of the Garage gang provided to help them get back out of the Garden. It also left us with a good, though somewhat predictable, cliffhanger.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #34
Robert Vendetti (Writer), Tom Derenick and Jack Herbert (Artists), Jason Wright (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
First off, Francis Manapul delivers an absolutely stunning cover. I loved the captions under each of the four Earth Lanterns names, equating them to the fist (Guy), brain (John), gut (Hal) and heart (Kyle) of the Corps. Each is absolutely perfect in describing the characters in question. The methods that Hal, Kyle and Guy use to uncover information also fits each character, and because of that each is successful. There’s a bit of horror thrown in at the end, with the Controllers using the life essence of the remaining Guardians to form new Controllers. The art in this issue was very clean, and worked really well for a Green Lantern book.
Justice League of America #20
Steve Orlando (Writer), Hugo Petrus (Artist), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
Why is it that Justice League of America gets its own separate cover logo from Justice League, while Supergirl and Nightwing get saddled with Superman and Batman logos respectively on their books? This issue did a good job of showing us both Prometheus’s strengths and ultimate weaknesses. He’s best when he singles out members of a team, but a team working together can get the upper hand on him. And while he’s a master strategist, the unexpected can provide his downfall. In his first story, it was Catwoman with a whip. In this one? The idea that anybody can be in the Justice League. And can we talk about what looks to be a lady version of Aztek at the end?
Mister Miracle #5
Tom King (Writer), Mitch Gerards (Artist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
There’s a panel of Funky Flashman tugging on his shirt, but it really looks like he’s rubbing his nipples, and I’m both heavily amused and greatly disturbed by this idea. For those that don’t know, and weren’t able to glean it from dialogue, Flashman has always been a caricature of Jack Kirby’s former creative partner, Stan Lee. This series continues to be excellent, in both writing and art. The Christ homage page in particular was disturbing and gorgeous, and it leading to a kinky sex scene is perfectly fitting for this book.
New Super-Man #18
Gene Luen Yang (Writer), Brent Peeples (Artist), Scott Hanna and Richard Friend (Inkers), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
This is the penultimate issue of New Super-Man, but hold your tears, because the title isn’t going away. Starting with issue #20, the book will be retitled New Super-Man and the Justice League of China. This issue obviously takes place before last week’s issue of Superman, because Lex is still wearing the S. Speaking of chest S’s, I absolutely love Kenan’s new one. I saw it in the solicit for February’s issue, but seeing it take shape here and learning its origin was fantastic. New Super-Man remains one of my absolute favorite books, month in and month out.
Ray Fawkes (Writer), Inaki Miranda (Artist), Eve De La Cruz (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer)
This book is doing an excellent job of wrapping up a tale of Post Traumatic Stress in the trappings of a superhero book. Some of the best superhero stories tend to just use the idea of superheroes as set dressing while exploring other genres. There are parts of this book that are a war book and parts that are a horror book. Its a harrowing and insightful comic. Miranda’s art does a great job of adding to the atmosphere and distinguishing between the different parts of the story. And unlike his appearances in his own recent book, the Demon who showed up here did speak in his standard rhymes.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #17
Scott Lobdell (Writer), Dexter Soy (Artist), Veronica Gandini (Colorist), Taylor Esposito (Letterer)
Once again, this book uses alliterative “fun” credits, and once again they completely discredit the letterer as “lazy”. That’s rude and uncalled for, and not at all “witty”, Scott. Also, cool way of ignoring what Titans is doing to fix Roy after you broke him. Gonna insult what they’re doing in Teen Titans with Starfire next? If anything in this book was lazy, it was the writing, not the lettering. I’ve mostly been pleasantly surprised by this turn of Red Hood, but this issue reminded me of everything I disliked about the previous run. At least Soy’s art was still great, as usual.
Suicide Squad #31
Rob Williams (Writer), Barnaby Bagenda (Penciller), Jay Leisten (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Pat Brosseau (Letterer)
This cover reminded me a lot of one of my favorite Superman covers, from back during the “Panic In The Sky” arc in the 1990s. On that cover were the skeletons of several heroes floating on the page, and this cover has the skeletons of several Squad members doing the same. I care much more about Harley Quinn in the pages of this book than I do in the pages of her own book. Likewise, I care about most of this team, which I never expected. I still think its a shame though that we’re now 31 issues into the series and now the only two members who’ve died have come right back. I want the book to live up to its name.
Jody Houser and Steve Orlando (Writer), Robson Rocha (Penciller), Daniel Henriques (Inker), Michael Atiyeh (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer)
I did not expect an editor’s note for something that happened with a different version of Supergirl, so that was a fun reference. It seems like that version of Supergirl’s history has been folded into this Supergirl’s, so I’m a bit interested to see if anything else has. I felt personally attacked by Kara’s choice of civilian clothes and hairstyle this issue, especially with it coming out the day before the new Star Wars movie. If you didn’t catch the reference, she was wearing her hair like Leia on Bespin, and added a puffy vest to complete the look and it was just rude, to be honest. (Note: I actually loved it with all my heart.) I love that Steve and Jody are pulling bits of history from everywhere in Supergirl’s nearly sixty years of existence. Also, Artgem provided an absolutely iconic and beautiful variant cover, that I’d be remiss not to also show you all.
K. Perkins (Writer), Federico Dallocchio (Artist), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer)
This is the penultimate issue of Superwoman, and I’ll be sad to see it go. While the series had a rocky start, it’s recently found its footing, and has been a strong book for several months. Perkins has shown a talent for salvaging titles that were in rough shape, its a shame that it always seems to be too late. This entire issue felt exactly like the penultimate build to a climax. The tension built and built, and everything will end next issue, one way or another. I have a feeling that Lana won’t make it out of this in one piece.
The Flash #36
Joshua Williamson (Writer), Howard Porter (Artist), Hi-Fi (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer)
Its nice seeing Howard Porter back on The Flash, because to me his name is synonymous with the character. It’s also nice to see how his art has evolved over time. It used to be pretty standard superhero fare, and now it seems a bit more like Francis Manapul. It’s getting to be a real treat to watch Barry and young Wally teaming up, and especially connecting afterwards. The twist that the Rogues are operating from within Iron Heights is a good one, and I look forward to seeing where this story goes. Also… Is J’onn dead?!
The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #3
Bryan Hill (Writer), N. Steven Harris (Penciller), Dexter Vines (Inker), Dearbhla Kelly (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
Harris likes playing with angles that he doesn’t quite get, and the result is often ill proportions and misplaced facial features. I still don’t know how I feel about using the Justice League as the villains of this story. The change to Barry Allen’s history in particular seems weird. Why is Barry afraid of Artificial Intelligence? That’s not really something that’s ever been part of Barry’s story. Michael Cray pales in comparison to the book its spun out of. If you want the full The Wild Storm experience, go for it, but otherwise, you can probably just read the main book.
Dan Abnett (Writer), Brett Booth (Penciller), Norm Rapmund (Inker), Andrew Dalhouse (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer)
This was a satisfying conclusion to the “Titans traitor” arc. I think the idea of immortal Donna Troy slowly losing her humanity as her friends die is a good one, and I like the idea that the Titans are what keeps her human. Sadly, unlike Action Comics, this issue keeps its solicited art team. I’d love if Brett Booth got removed from every comic in favor of better artists, and ones that are less abrasive to readers who critique his art. I do love that Dan Abnett is paying off one of my favorite ships in Donna and Roy.
Wonder Woman #36
James Robinson (Writer), Carlo Pagulayan (Artist), Jason Paz and Sean Parsons (Inkers), Romulo Fajardo (Colorist), Saida Temofonte (Letterer)
Once again, we have ten men in the credits to just two women, so yippee. That said, its an even issue number, so Diana is actually on more than half the pages this issue. She’s on fourteen pages of twenty this time. That brings us to 63/120 for the run thus far, so congrats James, you have written slightly more Wonder Woman than everyone else in the book. The dialogue was very out of character and stilted. And of course, Darkseid’s Omega beams have the ability to age Wonder Woman up, so that she can again take the back seat to the male characters in the story. Because guess what? Next issue is Zeus versus Darkseid! Because who wants to read a Wonder Woman story in the Wonder Woman comic?
That’s it for this week. Dark Nights: Metal returns next week, as does the Wonder Woman book that actually features Diana. Also, just in time for Christmas, the Batgirl: Bronze Age Omnibus comes out.