Nightwing #4 (Seeley/Fernandez)
It may seem a bit strange given my declarations for Deathstroke not too long ago, but Nightwing is one of the best titles coming out of Rebirth, and perhaps the best in the already excelling Batman line. It’s a best of all worlds situation for the title and status quo. Dick Grayson is back in classic Nightwing togs, but not in the Batman-lite situation of the New 52, while also packing some of the double agent action that made Grayson such a joy to read. The status quo of the series also allowed it to carve up a very nice slice of the DC Universe for itself, compared to the rampant overlap that made the New 52 Batman titles such a chore. It’s simple and very effective: Dick Grayson infiltrating the Parliament of Owls in order to bring it down from the inside. While Batman would never sully himself as a hired hand to bring the house down, Dick will do whatever it takes to save a life, even if the possibility of compromise has to be explored. It helps that Ravi Fernandez has helped give the book a very murky and athletic feel, compared to the teasing picture-esque version of Dick Grayson that Mikel Janin defined. Overall, Rebirth has helped raise an already ascending book to newer heights, definitely a highlight of the entire line.
5 out of 5 Owl Monsters
Superman #6 (Tomasi/Gleason/Gray)
It goes without saying that the Superman line has been in a weird place since Rebirth as a whole began. While the idea of a married Superman and Lois Lane dealing with a kid superhero is a very interesting one. But the elephant in the room with the previous younger Superman being dead obviously is a barrier towards the “back to basics” feel that the books are gunning for, especially with four other people using some variation of the Superman identity. While the Superman book hasn’t been able to completely shed the weird continuity that’s accumulated around the books, it does a fantastic job focusing on what it has been doing best: the Super-Family created by a strange family trying to make their way in new country. In a way, it’s a neat loop back to Superman’s own origins, just extended to the entire family of immigrants trying to fit in and doing their best to make a difference. While there have been some eyebrow raising decisions like the repeated pet focused violence, but the Tomasi/Gleason strikes again in making a wonderful book about parents and children. While the Superman books haven’t been perfect, this one in particular is definitely coming from the heart, and trying to reclaim the wonder of family in comics.
4 out of 5 Super-Dogs
Aquaman #6 (Abnett/Walker/Hennessey/Eltaeb)
It seems to be a continual problem, but Aquaman just isn’t working for me. The creative team is one I normally enjoy, but Rebirth is one of the few books that just doesn’t really work. The art is awesome, Brad Walker has done well under the bi-weekly strain, but the story is just not delivering. While I’m all for no-nonsense Aquaman as someone who grew up with the hook-handed Aquaman that showed up in the Peter David run and the Morrison JLA book, the execution here is more sad than anything else. While Aquaman and Mera vs Superman is an interesting question, it honestly brings up answers to questions I doubt anyone wanted answered. How Aquaman perceives how people see him feels like a constant apology for Superfriends which for obvious reasons shouldn’t be a factor here. And yet simultaneously, it also wants to have Aquaman as the feared figure who engineered the Throne of Atlantis events, the constant attempting to have the cake and eat it too kills any emotional tension, much less any real fun the fisticuffs could provide.
2 out of 5 Black Mantas
Justice League #4 (Hitch/Merino/Morey/Tomey)
Justice League has this going for it: if nothing else, it cannot be accused of being uninteresting. The closest relative to this comic would be the Morrison/Porter JLA in that it’s all about big heroics, with a dash of characterization to lend some weight. While the comic isn’t necessarily what I’m looking for in a Justice League comic, it definitely has way more going on than the previous run, and for that matter it deals with the Old Superman question in a way I have to admire for the sheer audacity in confronting it. While the comic is among other Rebirth books without a consistent hand behind it, Jesus Merino steps up to the challenge really well and channels that Hitch-esque feel while retaining his own style. Considering how difficult it seems to be for superhero books to really be fun nowadays, I give a lot of credit to this comic for throwing the continuity flab out the window and just throwing bigger guns at the characters. A popcorn experience shouldn’t be devoid of tension, but it also doesn’t need to ditch its ability to enjoy itself either. This is definitely a book that knows what it wants to be.
3 out of 5 Old Supermen.
Green Arrow #6 (Percy/Byrne)
Interestingly enough, Green Arrow has managed to make a comeback of late. While the previous run by Ben Percy tended to defer towards weird horror mixed with social politics, the current run has been… well pretty much the same actually, but to greater success. A large part of that has to do with grounding it somewhat by pushing Ollie back to the more popular characterization of him as a gruff liberal, as opposed to the Batman-lite that’s been propped up thanks to Arrow, and of course bringing Emiko back to the fore. Emiko in some ways is a slightly older version of Damian, but giving Ollie someone to bounce off of, as well as to bring a lighter touch to the book. Dealing with the recent events of Emiko’s betrayal of Ollie, as well as a flashback story putting her in a Mean Girls by way of Spider-man spin, the book continues to push it’s way towards being unlike most of its counterparts in the DCU. Stephanie Byrne’s art is also a great fit for the tone of Emiko’s story here, and honestly it’s hard not to hope she sticks around for the long-term, a brighter Green Arrow is a fun Green Arrow.
4 out of 5 Arrows