Another week, and more DC books needing our tender touch. But don’t worry fair reader, we have plenty of things to say this week.
Deathstroke #2 (Priest/Hama/Pagulayan/Paz/Cox)
The stated function of DC Rebirth has been largely to reopen the boundaries back to the built up history that was jettisoned with the New 52 five years ago, and while this book has been doing that, it also has very rapidly built up a very different version of Deathstroke.
The most recent version of Deathstroke was built for a very violent and loud show, in keeping with some of the worst treatment DC has given its characters, and while Priest has been vocal about moving away from that: the execution has been very key. While obviously Priest uses the stylistic transitions that made Black Panther along with Quantum and Woody famous, it’s very much devoid of any traditional humor. What makes the comic work is efficiency, both in terms of how the art is deployed, how transitions operate, the characters themselves, and perhaps the unrelenting and unfeeling life that Slade Wilson has built around himself. Larry Hama and Carlo Pagulayan do a great job in that regard creating a very emotionally distant Slade, as well as a very angry Adeline Kane who are both the best and worst match for each other, and the action scenes are a far cry from the big sword slashing action from the previous book. Definitely worth a buy.
5 out of 5 Ikon Suits
All-Star Batman #2 (Snyder/Romita/Shalvey/Miki/White/Bellaire)
I have to admit, compared to the prospect of a Batman written by Tom King that basically became a twisted parody of All-Star Superman, I wasn’t sure what to make of All-Star Batman, especially considering I think the best Batman Snyder wrote were either Dick Grayson or Jim Gordon. Heck, I’ll admit not to even liking Two-Face, I’ve always seen him as an outlier and kind of lame in the grand villain scheme, but being surprised is part of the fun in comics. So far, the best descriptor for this comic is grindhouse Batman with a side of 90’s era protege training. I was, at first, a bit baffled by John Romita Jr as an artistic lead for this title, but he brings the good along with Dean White’s typically fascinating colors to the insanity of Batman leading Two-Face on an unwilling road trip against a host of villains. It also helps that Snyder and JRJR bring back some quite gonzo Batman villains from Amygdala to KGBeast, minus the KG. Declan Shalvey also does a similarly great job in the Duke-centered backup story. Jordie Bellaire, as usual, does a fantastic job with the colors. While there’s nothing quite yet as outlandish as Moon Knight, both stories are complementary in dealing with Batman’s mark on other people, as well as simply being great action-heavy tales.
4 out of 5 Trixies
New Super-Man #3 (Yang/Bogdanovic/Friend/Hi-Fi)
New Super-Man has been an interesting case of how to handle a legacy character without having too much in the way of overlap with the previously existing hero. While the Superman line has existed in a strange place these last few months, this was a great way of reintroducing the character, and moreover in a way that benefits from the universality of the Superman concept. While Kong Kenan and his surrounding world are a clear inversion of the familiar, its strength is in running with the very different environment in China. Even on a surface level it’s not a typical American comic, for one it is from a Chinese point of view, and treating American concepts and characters as the foreigners. Jon Bogdanovic does a fantastic job of rendering the Justice League and Super-man in a more down-to-earth fashion. They’re kids, and Bat-Man in particular is not the epitome of physical fitness that his American counterpart is, it makes the book feel more grounded even in the midst of the insanity that unfolds. The Superman books have largely been in a strange place, but when they try reaching out towards something new, the results are interesting.
4 out of 5 Sunbeams
Superwoman #2 (Jimenez/Santorelli)
Superwoman was off to a great start till that cliffhanger. It’s kind of hard to ignore the elephant in the room with Lois dying last issue and it ultimately ends up coloring the rest of the issue. What the issue has going for it in spades is the use of built up continuity over the last five years. The rest of the Superman line has largely ignored the New 52 but Jimenez does a smart job with using those pre-built relationships, especially with Lana and Steel, to make the world feel more lived in amidst the chaos. Jimenez, as usual, does some extremely good work, and with the assist from Santorelli it is gratifying to see him back on a monthly book. I do question the decision to kill off Lois, even temporarily, however thus far the book is fantastic. It is steeped in the Superman mythos and uses several underappreciated characters in a thrilling capacity, certainly one worth getting.
3 out of 5 Helicopters