Nine issues in. We’re almost at a year’s worth of stories, so this double-shipping thing actually hasn’t shaped up to be a disaster. Here’s where we’re at.
Aquaman #9 (Abnett/Eaton/Faucher): Poor Aquaman. Abnett’s current take on the character presents him as a combination Superman and Spider-Man for the DC Universe: a powerful figure with a heart of gold who goes completely unappreciated by the people he saves. In a fight highly reminiscent of “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut,” Arthur gives his all to defeat the unbeatable Shaggy Man. Arthur’s one weakness may be his own pride, but even that doesn’t stop him. Seriously, this is a good read, and if you’re avoiding it because “it’s Aquaman,” get over it. Downside: still not enough Mera. Rating: Three and a half tuna out of five.
Batman #9 (King/Janin): This is where you pick up if you decided to skip over “Monster Men.” “I Am Suicide” is a tremendously creepy name to attach to a mainstream comic, so to put you at ease: it’s because Batman is putting together his own version of the Suicide Squad in his quest to find the Psycho-Pirate and cure Gotham Girl’s insanity. Not a lot happens in this issue, but Batman makes some interesting picks which parallel the current lineup of the real Squad. This could be fun going forward. Also, there’s a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it nod to the “Rebirth” conspiracy, and it’s not Watchmen related. Rating: Three bats out of five.
Cyborg #3 (Semper/Conrad): Cyborg continues to straddle the line between traditional superheroics and disturbing body horror. Vic’s been dealing with the prospect of not being “real,” and now he has to overcome the fact that some of his memories were rendered inert during his transformation. Being part machine, he’s no longer sure what’s real and what’s not, and it’s giving him a real identity crisis. Good stuff, although a little too dependent on Vic’s status as a Justice Leaguer—he needs to grow on his own. Rating: Three and a half microchips out of five.
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #6 (Miller/Azzarello/Kubert/Janson): Not a “Rebirth” title. It’s just worth mentioning that there’s a major death in this issue. Was it worth the months of delays? Who knows. Also, we’ve been faked out in this book before, so one can’t help but walk away from this issue thinking: nah. Rating: Three Millers out of five.
Green Arrow #9 (Percy/Byrne): I’m not sure what Green Arrow is doing wrong. Ollie and Dinah are a couple again, the story is heavy on action, and Stephen Byrne’s art is at a minimum competent. But all this international spy stuff isn’t doing much. Our heroes end up on an island, fighting a feuding husband and wife who just happen to be building a massive train across the Pacific for no reason. This is OK, but not DC’s hottest book right now. Rating: Two and a half quivers out of five.
Green Lanterns #9 (Humphries/Rocha/Leistein): Sam Humphries drives home just how much it could suck to live in a comic book universe, where everyone’s got powers except you. This prologue to “The Phantom Ring” introduces a poor schlub who’s always been second-best in life and worked hard to no results. When it seems like everyone in the world except him gets a power ring (giving us a nice rapid overview of the history of Green Lantern and a depressingly comical sequence where he’s not good enough for a ring), the poor guy is about to lose it—until a surprise villain offers him something else. Rating: Four rings out of five.
Harley Quinn #6 (Palmiotti/Conner/Timms): Harley’s in a punk band, trying to solve last issue’s mystery. Or something. It’s really hard to convey sound, let alone music, in a comic book, and this issue continues to fail where so many other comics have done so as well. Still divorced from the rest of the DCU, Harley Quinn continues to be a book than only diehard fans of the main character could love. I want to love this book in light of her film prominence, bit it just isn’t happening. Rating: Two sledgehammers out of five.
Justice League #7 (Hitch/Merino): A book with a big ensemble can be tough to write, because the creators have to convincingly explore the whole team while not letting any single member dominate. Hitch conducts that balancing act nicely this week as the fear plague infects each member of the League and they process it in different ways, revealing their biggest worries. Wonder Woman’s and Aquaman’s are among the most shocking, and the latter can easily tie back to the main Aquaman title at some point. The one oddity in this issue is Jessica Cruz, who’s mutually attracted to a Leaguer, and makes an even bigger decision about her place on the team. Rating: Four leagues out of four.
Superman #9 (Tomasi/Gleason/Mahnke): The two-part homage to New Frontier wraps up with Clark and Jon meeting a lone survivor of the Losers’ final fate. It’s got one of those “old soldier returns for one last fight” endings which you know can only end a certain way. In other words: it’s been done, but it’s still sweet when you see it. The ending is annoyingly ambiguous, though: it might be another Rebirth/Watchmen clue, or it could be something else. Rating: Three and a half capes out of five.
This week’s winner: I want to say Superman, but Green Lantern edges it out for being just a little more fun. The loser: Harley Quinn. The solicits suggest there’s an actual plot building, but at the moment, this is just silly.