A quiet week for a lot of books, but a big one for Superman. Let’s see what we’ve got…
Action Comics #975 (Jurgens/Mahnke/Mendoza/Quintana/Atiyeh/Dini/Churchill): Oh, man. I gave the top award to a different book below, and then DC sent us this preview really late. Had this come in with the rest of DC’s previews, it would have been a strong contender for top book.
Anyway, spoilers are all over the place on this one, but we’ll keep quiet and let you either Google or buy the issue for yourself. Suffice it to say, the mystery of Creepy Clark pays off here. It’s a slight let-down to the extent that a number of people have guessed this identity…but then you read why this character turned themselves into Clark Kent, and it makes sense. And then you read why this character removed Jon Kent from the board, and it’s even worse. Absent one very specific DC story, this character has never been this nasty since, oh, John Byrne’s days, but they do something unthinkable and it’s going to change Superman’s relationship with them forever. The only downside to this issue is that Manhke and Jurgens fill a lot of space with meaningless splash pages of Superman fighting pseudo-versions of his greatest enemies–eye candy, certainly, but not very substantive. Oh, and there’s a nice backup by Paul Dini which adds an amazing level of metatextual complexity to this character, and it’s not cheesy in the least. Rating: Four and a half capes out of five.
Detective Comics #952 (Tynion/Duce/Sinclar): This is mostly good as Detective continues to ramp up the “oh shit” factor and Lady Shiva’s plan is revealed, as well as one other fact which isn’t too surprising to anyone who followed her pre-New 52. On the plus side, this book remains very tense, and there’s also a very cool Clayface moment and it’s apparent that Tynion is enjoying using him. Two downsides: one, the art isn’t bad, but just isn’t as strong as previous ‘Tec arcs. Two, Shiva’s plot is scary, but it does reduce her to Joker levels of superficiality—scary, dangerous, but really lacking in purpose beyond “chaos.” Rating: Three and a half bats out of five.
Earth-2 Society #22 (Abnett/Ciufuentes/Lokus): SERIES FINALE. All indications are that the “real” JSA is coming back, so in addition to low sales, there’s a sense that this series no longer fits at DC. And it was a mess to begin with, with a decent start but a spotty serious of plots afterward that made the title unrecognizable. Abnett at least gives the book a decent final issue—it’s really a series of montages, but it gives you the feeling that this Earth-2 mattered and wasn’t just a wasted spot on the publishing schedule. We may never see these characters again, or if we do, someone will wipe them from existence as a bad joke. So it’s nice to see the series end on a positive vibe at a familiar, if skewed, look at DC’s premiere superheroes. Rating: Four roundtables out of five.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #16 (Venditti/Sandoval/Tarragona/Morey): Guy gets into a punching match with Arkillo, and it’s ugly. I suppose this issue is remarkably consistent with Guy Gardner, a character who thinks with his emotions and his fists before he does with his head. This is quintessentially Guy, but it’s also a very brutal, ugly issue where he both gives licks and takes them, and you wonder what the point of the whole thing is other than for Guy to be inexplicably stupid, because it’s Guy. Rating: Three rings out of five.
Justice League America #2 (Orlando/Wantanabe/Hanna/Hi-Fi): What a weird book. Much of this issue is spent in battle with an open parody of Doctor Doom and a few not-quite-recognizable Marvel villains, and things turn out…unexpectedly for “Doom.” And Batman’s solution is to not exactly fight back. We get a little more sense of what Orlando is doing with this Justice League, as they come off a lot friendlier than their more godlike counterparts on the main book. But still, the purpose of this book hasn’t come together yet. It’s eye candy, but a puzzling one. Rating: Three leagues out of five.
New Super-Man #8 (Yang/Bogdanovic/Glapion/Spicer): This issue is worth it for I-Ching’s witty dialogue, serving as a comical translator between Kenan’s Mandarin and Lex Luthor’s English. On the serious side, Kenan learns the hard way that a Superman never trusts a Luthor. Also, what’s with that creepy, familiar-looking skeleton? This isn’t a tie-in to “Superman Reborn,” but maybe it should be. Rating: Three and a half capes out of five.
Scooby Apocalypse #11 (Giffen/DeMatteis/Eaglesham/Duursema/Hi-Fi): Eleven issues in, and the characters are finally starting to understand each other. Fred gets some insight into just how dumb he is compared to Scooby, and Daphne finally comes to grips with Velma and her mistakes. Come to think of it, this is giving a certain depth to the characters that never existed on the cartoon, giving these characters a reason to be with each other. Not bad, although the explanation for the story’s mystery continues to drag on, even with insight into one of Velma’s brothers. Rating: Three and a half Scooby Snacks out of five.
Suicide Squad #13 (Williams/Romita Jr./Barrows/Friend/Ferreira/White/Skipper/Lucas): That’s a lot of creators. Anyway, this issue is better than past ones, enough to overlook the goofy Romita art. The team faces multiple betrayals and then are gifted with an open front door to the prison. The Suicide Squad film gave these thugs and murderers a reason to care about each other; the comic is reflecting the reality that they’re probably all in for themselves only. And just when you think that there’s a moment that there’s some good on this team, Williams’ last page rips a heart out literally. Rating: Three squads out of five.
Supergirl #7 (Orlando/Bergara/Atiyeh): Supergirl isn’t a great book—it’s very steeped in unfamiliar parts of Kryptonian mythology, and it’s riding the coattails of the show a little too hard. But the show does a great job of making Supergirl an all-around inspirational character, somebody you can believe in to bring out the best in you. This issue starts out slow and weird (a Kryptonian werewolf? Really?), but then crosses the finish line with a powerful sense of why Kara wears the “S.” It’s not great, but it’s getting there. Rating: Three capes out of five.
Superwoman #8 (Jimenez/Hibert/Hi-Fi): Ostensibly a “Superman Reborn” tie-in…but if it is, it’s not clear how, as we don’t see anything of Clark, Lois, Jon, or creepy Clark. We do get appearances by ghost-Lois, and she’s joined by—spoilers!—the ghost of New 52 Clark as well. Or maybe she’s not. Ghost-Lois has never been clearly explained, and we get no clear answers on her or Ghost-Clark either. This issue gets all metatextual and metaphysical on the grand meaning of Lana to Lois and Clark in Superman’s 80-year history…but we don’t walk away with a clear answer on what that is. This issue reads like a final issue, but it’s not—just a confusing one. Rating: Two and a half reds out of five.
Titans #8 (Abnett/Booth/Rapmund/Dahlhouse): Do bad guys ever become good? Like Homer Simpson once said about Mr. Burns: “Some people never change, or else they change and then quickly change back.” The Fearsome Five appears to have gone good, but the Titans don’t believe it, and we shouldn’t be surprised at the result. So…this issue’s kind of meh, not really developing the team much, other than maybe giving us a little more Bumblebee. Rating: Three titans out of five.
The Flash #18 (Williamson/Merino/Owens/Sotomayor): The continuity curse strikes again, with this book paying a visit to Belle Reve yet none of Suicide Squad’s major breakout being reflected here. (But it does reference the Justice League crossover in the punniest way possible.) We do get a decent mystery here, with the Reverse-Flash being missing and Barry and Wally on the hunt to find out where he went…with the very human motive of Wally wanting to understand his dad. Rating: Three lightning bolts out of five.
The Winner: It’s kind of a meh week, but Earth-2 Society actually stands out. Maybe I’m just being sentimental, but it’s a nice sendoff for a book that couldn’t figure out what its purpose was, so in the end, it just decided to be decent. And yeah, Action Comics got a higher numerical rating, but I already pegged Earth-2 Society as the winner, and I want that book to get a little pat on the back on its way out the door. Everybody else will be talking about Action this week; somebody should talk about Earth-2.
The Loser: No loser this week–nothing was so bad as to be unreadable. Superwoman was its weakest issue yet, but not horrifying. Everyone’s a winner. Hooray!