Aquaman #13 (Abnett/Eaton): This ongoing forced war between the United States and Atlantis is intriguing, though it is running a little long. Still, there’s lots of nice touches here—namely in Abnett bringing the entire Justice League into the story, and still finding a clever way of sidelining them so Arthur isn’t lost in his own book. Eaton also includes some clever details—most of the League needs oxygen tanks underwater, but the Green Lanterns and Cyborg don’t. Aquaman remains a surprisingly fun book. Best to enjoy it now before DC turns him into Jason Momoa. Rating: Three and a half tuna out of five.
Batman #13 (King/Janin): This is the second time Tom King has done this. As with his previous arc, “I Am Gotham,” his “I Am Suicide” follow-on started weakly and morphed into something much better with a strong finish. The pieces of the story come together, and the reason why Batman picked this version of the “Suicide Squad,” including, brilliantly, the Ventriloquist, all make sense. Janin’s artwork is still a bit bleak compared to David Finch’s, but it’ll do…but let’s hope a more optimistic style returns for the next arc. Rating: Four bats out of five.
Cyborg #7 (Semper/Pelletier): Cyborg has raised some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of personhood and the rights of artificial people. This issue doesn’t really explore them, despite having the grand opportunity to do so with the new “she-Cyborg,” Variant. It’s an OK issue, but one that doesn’t go as deep as it could. At least Pelletier is back on as artist, but this is going to look goofy in collected form. Note to DC: have your artists commit to a whole arc before swapping them. Rating: Three microchips out of five.
Green Arrow #13 (Percy/Schmidt): Green Arrow has always been a political character, and this latest storyline continues that theme, but also turns it on its head a little. Ollie’s back in Seattle and facing police brutality and vigilantism gone wild…but suddenly, he needs some due process himself. Somebody’s impersonating Ollie and killing people, and he’s working against the clock to clear his name before it happens again. Funny, this is happening over in Aquaman, too—this could be fun, but another note to DC: watch out for these redundancies. Rating: Three shafts out of five.
Green Lanterns #13 (Humphries/Cliquet): Green Lanterns works well when it focuses on the interpersonal, like Simon’s anger and Jessica’s anxieties. It gets a little repetitive when it keeps dipping back into the GL mythos. Issue #13 is about half of each, becoming exciting when Simon, Jessica, and even Frank have to deal with their emotions before they get the better of them. The sci-fi element, though, is a little overdone. Still not a bad book, but this Phantom Lantern thing probably needs to wrap up. Rating: Three rings out of five.
Harley Quinn #10 (Palmiotti/Conner/Moritat/Linser/Miranda): If you like superhero Christmas specials, well…we’ve had better. Harley Quinn gives us a completely oddball story about Harley having to shrink to microscopic size to enter Santa’s body and save him from his own pessimism. It’s a very “meh” story and we got a superior version in last week’s Gwenpool special that made better use of comic book physics. This one is very skippable unless you’re a diehard Harley fan. Rating: Two mallets out of five.
Justice League #11 (Hitch/Edwards): Hitch’s Justice League continues to be a fun book that’s set in but not dependent on the larger “Rebirth” story. This action-heavy issue has an ad-hoc villain group trying to out-team the heroes for control of the chaos program that’s been causing trouble for the last few issues. Maybe it’s cheesy and cliché, but the “power of friendship” coming through in the end works well in a book like this, particularly since earlier issues of Justice League were a little downbeat. This book is classic fun, so why aren’t you reading it? Rating: Four silver ages out of five.
Nightwing #11 (Seely/To): Are we still rebuilding the DCU? I guess so, because Dick moves to Bludhaven in this issue of Nightwing, famously his home in the late 1990s and onward. I’d had no idea it was removed from the picture, much less needed reintroducing. But this issue takes further steps to re-introduce Dick to his own new (old) setting with a new cast. This series already had a jumping-on point, but…well, he’s another, and it works. Rating: Three nightsticks out of five.
Raven #4 (Wolfman/Neves): Eh. This is one of those “believe in yourself” issues where Raven—again—struggles against her own, literal, inner demons. It’s OK, but it’s also caught in the backdrop of a larger six-issue series, so it’s a little hard to jump into this book at the midpoint. Rating: Two birds out of five.
Superman #13 (Tomasi/Gleason/Mankhe): A team-up between Superman and Lois and Frankenstein and his bride show that not everyone’s got it as lucky as the Kents. This issue’s a little drier than previous Superman issues, but it drives the point home that Lois and Clark are a couple whose love produced Jon, and they’re happy. Other comic book couples just haven’t worked out that well, no matter how much we hope it’ll be otherwise. The issue’s not perfect, as Lois and Clark don’t do much together until the last few pages, but then awwwwwwwwwww. The Superman titles are due to get crazy in March, so enjoy these sweet spots when we get them. Rating: Three and a half capes out of five.
Trinity #4 (Manapul/Luppachino): The trip through the heroes’ memories continues as we take our turn exploring Wonder Woman’s past. It’s really a Diana-centric issue—and we’re getting lots of her past in Rucka’s comic anyway, so it doesn’t offer much that we’re not getting elsewhere, except Clark and Bruce are along for the ride. Their perspective doesn’t offer much, though. On the plus side, Luppachino’s art sure is pretty. Rating: Two and a half out of three trinities.
The winner: Eh, no severe standouts this week, so I’ll say Batman. The loser: Harley Quinn, who’s back on my list as “the book that’s still trying too hard.” Everything else is pretty serviceable and continues to show how DC has returned to form.