Less than a review, more than a blurb. It's time for DCBA, a loose collection of thoughts on last week's DC Comics books masquerading as a search of the...
If you've been following my previous DCBA posts in the Grawlix Podcast Facebook Group (yep, this all started there) you know this series has blown me away. For the first time in my short time reading comics Superman has become my favorite book. I reached for this title BEFORE Batman this week and, for me, that is crazy. Was it worth snatching this issue up first?
Yeah, this is a satisfying and action packed issue. The Eradicator plot in this first arc of the series initially left me a little cold but it became obvious it tied into themes that were important to the characters. It deals heavily with Superman's connection with his Kryptonian heritage and, more importantly, what it means for his and Lois's son Jon to share both Kryptonian and human genetics.
This issue continues the battle with the Eradicator. Despite the fact that this fight has been going for 3 issues now it doesn't feel stale. Each ish takes the fight to a different setting and this issue in particular highlights what I feel is one of the creative team's real strengths. Throughout the non-stop action the story still retains an emotional core that is important to the characters that keeps us, the readers, invested. The characters continue to learn things about themselves. It is interesting to see how the trio, Lois, Jon, and Superman, deal with this threat as a family unit.
You might expect Lois or Jon to be relegated to simple "damsels in distress". Instead EACH one of the three need help at different times and each one of the three (including the regular ol' un-superpowered human Lois) pull their weight and kick @ss to save their family. This issue even puts Lois in a position to go toe to toe with Eradicator. Strong DCBA nod to Hell Bat-Lois! It's great to see any two of the family team up to rescue the third.
Three issues in a row of one battle could get tedious but with the end now in sight and each issue better than the last (after issue 3 that is, issues 1 and 2 where very strong) I have enjoyed this arc. There is a very odd supernatural (or spiritual?) element here and some very over-the-top moments but it is all working for me. Gleason took a break from the art duties on this issue handing them over to Jaime Mendoza and Doug Mahnke. The art is solid but it's not Gleason (whose art I have been loving in this series) so a minor disappointment there.
Tom King's first arc of Batman has taken some getting use to. It's good but very different. Bats is often written more coldly methodical than he has been in a while. He is not a Batman without hope though. On one hand he has dryly told Duke and Alfred he trusts no one including Alfred but on the other hand has put hope and a level of trust in these new superheros, Gotham and Gotham Girl. This issue draws the first arc revolving primarily around these new characters to a close.
Psycho-Pirate has wrecked havoc on the emotional states of these new heroes, disappointingly between issues #3 and #4, leaving Gotham Girl a frightened mess and Gotham (the man, not the city) full of rage. The murder of those close to G and GG have pushed him over the edge and he decides the only way to save the city of Gotham is to destroy it.
The first half to two thirds of this issue is pure awesomeness squared. As demonstrated back in ish #1 Tom King has a great way of injecting character moments and weight into huge, set piece action beats. In the first issue King references The Dark Knight Returns with a heartfelt conversation between Batman and Alfred leading up to the question of "Is this a good death?" while Bats surfs an out of control 747 over the skies of Gotham. Here we get a similarly silly but touching moment with Alfred as he recounts a conversation he had with Thomas Wayne to himself while wearing a Batsuit and slamming the Batmobile into Gotham (the man) at 200+ miles per hour. As I said, it's a silly moment but also touching, insightful, and totally badass. Is it THE badass moment of the issue? Not yet, more on that later.
There are two points that this issue trips over itself however. For one the Justice League come into play and initially I thought, wow, this seems like a first... but it is ultimately disappointing. I'm being intentionally vague. It seems like a questionable decision on Batman's part. Even Alfred (or Duke) question it but when Bats explains his motivation it makes sense in a very Batman way. Also, Bats is a jerk but we all know that.
The other thing that really didn't gel with me is a new thread the issue drops on you at the very end. The primary Gotham/Gotham Girl plot has concluded in a satisfying way but some narration on the final page hints at future things that, at this moment anyhow, don't thrill me. We will definitely be seeing more Gotham Girl which I do like. She could be an interesting character and the 'Girl' in her superhero name help avoid confusion when writing these reviews unlike 'Gotham', her brother.
The art all throughout this new Batman series is fantastic. I really like the look of David Finch and Matt Banning's work. Pencils and inks are very clean and on point and the color palette is consistent and appropriately dark for a Batman book. A few story beats that rubbed me the wrong way aside this was a highly enjoyable issue!
Justice League #3
This series I'm having trouble with. I want to like this but between following the Darkseid War which I enjoyed very much and hoping for the series to touch on something (anything) from the DC Universe Rebirth events I can't help but feel disappointed.
The character work is fine for the most part, I particularly enjoy Wonder Woman in this series (she took the DCBA of the week when Justice League #1 came out), but I feel like it is hitting the same beat over and over each issue in terms of Superman. "He's different, he's not our Superman. Should we trust him?" over and over. If you are also reading the Superman series it feels like a step back every time this book involves Superman, Lois, and Jon. I'm fairly sure Superman has "joined the fight" three separate times over these three different issues. Each time with trepidation despite the fact that it is still the same fight he's joining!
Story-wise it is an interesting concept that we get a much bigger glimpse of this issue. Something about this series is losing me though and I can't quite place my finger on it. I was totally on board with ish #1 but now I've found I don't really care. It's almost TOO big of a threat. Justice League is totally the book for these big, world threatening stories but I feel a little like I did when I read the first arc of the New 52 Justice League run. That opened with Darkseid and I thought, "already? You're going to jump right to Darkseid?" At this point many of the world's major cities are destroyed and the planet itself is about to come apart and we are three issues into this new volume.
On the upside the threat seems new and the concept is fairly strange (if not a bit nonsensical) which makes for some very cool looking art. The art is solid and looks like a slick Justice League book should, no complaints there... well, except this panel. I can't help but laugh at the "durrr" expression on Jon's face. It just doesn't fit the emotion of the scene.
This is certainly not the worst book out there but my interest died out on issue #2 and this issue hasn't really pulled me back. Moving on.
Supergirl: Rebirth #1
This was an random pick up. I don't read Supergirl but thought this Rebirth issue might be worth checking out. It wasn't. Not for me, anyhow. I tempered expectations knowing I was jumping in on characters I don't really know. The Rebirth books have overall been good but hit or miss in terms of "new reader" accessibility. I get the sense that they are hitting the restart button on some things here from the previous run. It also feels like they are pulling some influence over from the TV series.
The story here is kind of cliche which is my main problem with the book. It's not offensively cliche but I found it bland and uninteresting. I guessed how the threat would be resolved and was right, no surprises to be had. I don't want to trash this book because it's not terrible and the art looks nice but none of the characters grabbed me and the story elements were uninspired and predictable.
If you like Supergirl or have been following her previous adventures this might be a fine read that establishes (or re-establishes) the forward going status quo but as a new reader I didn't find anything here to bring me back. So... finally on to the end of this article.
DCBA of the Week
I swear I try not to pick Batman every week. Last week Bats took the title with his chainsaw wielding badassery in All-Star Batman #1 and this week it was too hard to deny how awesome this move was from Batman #5. After having Alfred drive the Batmobile into the über powerful Gotham (again, the man not the city) Bats naturally escalates the attack with, what else, the Batplane.
I don't read all the DC Comics that come out each week, generally only four to six titles, so I'm sure I missed tons of great moments. This article only covers DC because that is what I'm reading but if there is great badass moment or a standout character from something you read we'd love to hear about it. There are lots of ways to talk to us about your favorite badasses. Hit us in the comments here, on Twitter @GrawlixPodcast or in the Facebook group.