Oh, gosh, this is actually a pretty level week where most of the books were pretty good and none of them were so poor as to get a scolding.
Aquaman #15 (Abnett/Briones): The war with Black Manta and N.E.M.O. comes to an end with, weirdly enough, Arthur telling off Obama in his final week in office. Pure coincidence, I’m sure, but the timing is pretty amusing even if comics tend to just use whatever President is in office at the time of publication. The wrapup to the storyline is OK, but really comes down to a basic slobberknocker between Arthur and Manta. The storyline with Mera remains unresolved, but as I’ve said before, the “Rebirth” mystery may be making a statement on DC’s relationships in general. Rating: Three tuna out of five.
Batman #15 (King/Gerads): We’ll never get a proper Batman/Catwoman relationship. It’s been teased for almost 80 years, and we’ve at least had one alternate Earth where they ended up happily married. But in the main comics, it’s always been a dance that never finishes. King metatextually explores that relationship by having the current incarnations of Bruce and Selina reflect on themselves, with flashbacks to both Bob Kane and Frank Miller’s versions of how they met and Gerads literally imitating their respective art styles. (Is this some “Rebirth” timeline weirdness, or just a bit of fun?) King finally and fittingly explains away the notion that Selina’s a mass-murderer, and while it saves her character, it also emphasizes why she and Bruce are never going to work, much as they should. Rating: Four and a half meows out of five.
Green Arrow #15 (Percy/Ferreyra): Oliver’s just a guy who wants to do good with a bow and arrow, but it seems like the world doesn’t want his kind of heroism. Green Arrow has usually tended towards being political, and Percy’s made this no exception, but he’s also willing to explore the toll it’s taking on Oliver’s spirit. Fortunately, he’s got people backing him up, and a touching moment with Dinah drives that home. (Why isn’t this book called Green Arrow and Black Canary?) Otherwise, this issue has a lot of high-octane action and a twist ending which makes the current arc very worthwhile compared to earlier issues. Rating: Three and a half quivers out of five.
Green Lanterns #15 (Humprhies/Derenick/Mendoncka/Hanna): Humphries seems to have figured out how to write a standalone that feeds into a larger story, because Green Lanterns #15 once again has an issue that can easily be read either on its own or not. This issue focuses on Jessica and her anxiety, and how every day is a fight with her own brain. Humphries challenge is to get inside the head of someone with mental illness (I have no idea if he has anxiety itself), but it’s a decent effort at showing that issues like anxiety can’t just be “fixed” easily. Disability in superhero comics is rare; mental disability treated with sensitivity is even rarer. The comic is serviceable, but the subject matter is very needed. Rating: Three and a half rings out of five.
Harley Quinn #12 (Palmiotti/Conner/Timms): Hey, how is the Joker running around here when his fate was never resolved at the end of Snyder’s Batman run? Harley Quinn is openly loose on continuity, but one has to wonder if her connection to “Rebirth” is connected to the “three Jokers” mystery. Anyway, Harley has to deal with the Joker’s return, and Conner & Palmiotti avoid the gaping hole her getting suckered by him again. This issue skirts between being comedy and revenge porn, but…well, it’s the Joker, so nobody will care if he gets his ass creatively kicked. Rating: Three clowns out of five.
Justice League #13 (Seely/Eaton): Read JLvSS #5 first. This issue of Justice League runs concurrent with the big event issue, showing what Steve Trevor’s doing while the Eclipso event runs rampant across the country. It’s not quite a “man on the street” story—Steve is in too deep with the League for him to be “normal”—but it makes for a nice distraction as we get the ground-level view of a major event. It’s not a necessary issue, but it’s readable. Rating: Three and a half black diamonds out of five.
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #5 (Williamson/Rocha): With one issue to go, JLvSS finally has a plausible reason for these two teams to fight—the League is possessed by Eclipso—and now a team of second-rate losers (and Batman) has to bring them down. In the Suicide Squad film, the notion of mostly powerless villains taking on a cosmic threat felt ridiculous; here, it feels epic, and Rocha’s art gives the story a cinematic style that makes it truly epic. This is a good little distraction of an event that’s actually worth your money. Rating: Four Gratuitous Crossovers Out of Five.
Nightwing #13 (Seely/To): Like Green Arrow, Nightwing is leaning political, although it’s running a bit more grounded than Green Arrow’s broad statements. Seely’s book is focused more on political corruption and local politics, and like Ollie, Dick is just a good guy getting caught up in a bigger world that doesn’t want him. Unlike Green Arrow, Dick is forming his own little team of ex-convicts who aren’t sure if they can live up to him. It’s standard hard-boiled superhero fare, but Nightwing fans should enjoy it. Rating: Three Orcas out of five.
Raven #5 (Wolfman/Neves/Jose): I hate to throw around the term “filler,” but this issue of Raven reminds me of episodes of Attack on Titan which were essentially 30 minutes of internal monologue and very little of the story progressed. This issue of Raven kind of feels that way, where there’s a lot of dialogue but very little progression of the story. It is a turning point issue as many of Raven’s family and friends come to accept her, and that helps the content of the story, but still, this issue ends mostly where it started and the overall story will probably read better in trade. Rating: Two and a half shadows out of five.
Superman #15 (Tomasi/Gleason/Benes/Sook/Mann/Jimenez): Too bad this issue didn’t continue to use The Multiversity’s Reis and Prado, but since the book is jumping universes, I guess it’s acceptable. Also, Tomasi and Gleason make the decision to reveal one of Morrison’s “seven unknown worlds”—Earth-14—and the result may ruffle a few feathers among readers, as the end product—while neat—doesn’t necessarily explain why Morrison hid that world in the first place or how it fits in his multiversal scheme. But artistic and continuity questions aside, “Multiplicity” remains a fun story with Clark teaming up with his counterparts, including one that DC Animated fans will delight at seeing. That, and even with his identity in question, Clark continues to show that he’s the true Superman at heart even if the writers are making us doubt it on purpose. Rating: Four capes out of five.
Trinity #5 (Manapul): Turns out this story has become a bit of a replay of “For the Man Who Has Everything,” right down to Mongul and the heroes being caught up in a dream state. Readers will have to judge for themselves whether this issue of Trinity lives up to Alan Moore’s classic. At the moment, this specific issue is tremendously focused on Mongul and, for some reason, Poison Ivy, so it’s much less focused on the eponymous trinity than earlier issues. This is readable, but not critical when so many other team-up titles are out there. Rating: Two and a half dreams out of five.
This week’s winner: Based on scoring, I’d give it to Batman, but I’m throwing a special bone to Green Lanterns. Batman is the more technically competent book and is indeed praiseworthy for deconstructing the Batman-Catwoman relationship, but Green Lanterns tackles mental illness respectfully and gets bonus points just for that.
This week’s loser: Trinity is not a bad issue–nothing was overtly offensive this week–but the change in art (which isn’t bad) and the focus on a pair of villains detracts from a book that’s supposed to be about DC’s big three.