Action Comics #968 (Jurgens/Kirkham): Worried about people becoming despots in the future? Action feels surprisingly relevant given how worried people get every election cycle. Two generic bad guys are out to kill Luthor because he might conquer the universe in the future, and Superman finds himself having to defend him for crimes he hasn’t committed yet. This book has at least three Supermen in it—four if you count the still unexplained Clark Kent—but none of it feels overdone, even if, as we said, the villains are a bit simple. Rating: Three capes out of five.
Batgirl #5 (Larson/Albuquerque): Babs’ Asian adventure wraps up with her fighting the teacher. The only way to defeat her superior opponent is for Babs to do something which I’m pretty sure is impossible…but then, this is comics, and also, Grant Morrison did something pretty darn similar a few years ago in Batman. Fans will either really take to this “power,” or they’ll just acknowledge that it’s a very goofy thing that just happened. A decent “girl power” comic, but let’s see where it goes when Babs gets back to the states. Rating: Three fruit bats out of five.
Batman Beyond #2 (Jurgens/Chang): On the other hand, Jurgens may have a great handle on the Superman mythos, but he still doesn’t have a solid grip on Batman’s. Batman Beyond takes the risky and unnecessary step of revealing Batman’s “final” battle with the Joker in BB’s past (DC’s future?), and we all know that futures past never come to happen in comics. The issue’s tolerable with a cute twist at the end, but really—“near” future books should avoid locking in their pasts like this, especially when a major event turns out to have been kind of “meh.” Rating: Two and a half schways out of five.
Blue Beetle #3 (Giffen/Kollins/Fajardo): This book still isn’t great. Jamie is apparently being possessed by his own scarab, and there’s a growing dispute between Ted Kord and Doctor Fate as to whether the scarab can be reined in by science or needs to be annihilated by magic. Despite the interesting science vs. magic angle centered around Jamie, it’s all kind of ho-hum with our hero not actually doing much this issue. Rating: Two and a half scarabs out of five.
Detective Comics #945 (Tynion/Barrionueveo/Carnero/Hanna): Damn, another mid-story art change, with split artists, to boot. Neither art is awful, but doing this repeatedly can really hurt the integrity of the story in the long run if there’s no reason for the art change besides “the artist wasn’t available.” Which is a shame, because this issue begins to delve into exactly why Batman takes so many people under his wing. The Robins, Spoiler, Clayface—there’s a pattern here, and if the issue’s reason is correct, it doesn’t exactly make Batman a saint. Is everyone in Gotham City a victim to the Batman? This issue asks uneasy questions about how we should feel about him. Rating: Three belfries out of five.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #11 (Venditti/Sandoval): Credit to this book—for all the redundancies of bringing back Brainiac for the umpteenth time, this particular attack seems fresh and new. Maybe it’s because, for once, Brainiac isn’t targeting planets, but peoples—in this case, he’s bottled the Green and Yellow Lantern corps together, and now rival corps are going to have to think their way out of this one. The mystery of Hal’s transformation and disappearance also continues, and a pleasant surprise awaits us on the last page. Like many other Rebirth books, Hal Jordan is doing so much better in its second arc. Rating: Four rings out of five.
Harley Quinn #8 (Palmiotti/Conner/Hardin/Robinson): This issue gives us a vacation-themed interlude with Harley and Ivy taking a break in the Carribean. It’s light on action and heavy on comedy, with the fact that it’s set at a nudist club requiring artist Chad Hardin to be incredibly clever for a lot of the issue. It’s issues like these that remind us that Harley is at her best when she stays close to her bat-roots, seen here with her relationship with Ivy and disturbing flashbacks to when she met the Joker. Sadly, vacations end, and this issue reminds us that Harley is moving away from her roots, not towards them. Rating: Three and a half puddings out of five.
Hellblazer #4 (Oliver/Montat): I’m not really sure what happened in this issue. With the thick British slang, the interludes with Swamp Thing doing something, and the fact that the font looks wrong, I really just couldn’t get into this issue of Hellblazer. John is captured by some insane Brexiters and has to trick his way out of their efforts, and you just know he’ll win, so otherwise, this wasn’t very exciting. Rating: Two blokes out of five.
Teen Titans #2 (Percy/Neves): Turns out there’s a more specific reason that the Titans are getting drawn into the Bat-mythos than simply “Damian.” The League of Assassins has a team of counter-Titans who’ve been assigned to kill each of the kids; hence, Damian assembled the team to save them. This issue’s a little too Damian-centric as a result (yeah, Raven and Kid Flash appear elsewhere, but Starfire and Beast Boy could stand to be expanded a little), but it works as an impetus to the story. Let’s hope the focus shifts to other cast members going forward, because this book does have potential. Rating: Three Titans out of five.
The Flash #11 (Williamson/Gianfelice): As one of the lead books in the “Rebirth” mystery, The Flash continues to suggest that there’s a war between optimism and pessimism fighting for the soul of the DC Universe, and love seems to be at the heart of that. In this specific issue, it’s the Shade trying to retrieve his lost love with the Flashes being the only people optimistic enough to fight back the darkness. It’s an interesting idea, and one that seems to be a common theme in other titles right now (i.e., Aquaman, Titans). Conceptually, The Flash seems to be the book to watch…but geeze, it needs a consistent artist right now. Gianfelice isn’t awful, but it’s yet another changeup in only three issues and this is going to suck in trade form. Rating: Two and a half bunions out of five.
Titans #5 (Abnett/Booth): Darnit, I miss combinations like Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo on Wally West. Those two had a capacity to tell a story where “Wally runs around really fast” and your perception of the story isn’t affected by it. In this issue of Titans, we’re made to understand that Wally has only six seconds to run around the country and rescue his friends. Somehow, Abnett and Booth just don’t properly convey that Wally is acting in the amount of time it’s taking you to read this writeup. Maybe there’s just too much exposition, but the wordiness and length exceeds our ability to understand the tension of the issue. The ending compensates a little, but getting there isn’t as fun as it should be. Rating: Two lightning bolts out of five.
The winner of this week: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #9, which continues to be fun. I just can’t stay mad at this book even though, by all rights, we should be done with Brainiac. The loser: Hellblazer, which is just incomprehensible. Honorable Mention: Harley Quinn. I’ve dumped on this book a lot, but this week’s issue is representative of how the book should be and it’d be nice to get more of it.