Yawn. Sorry, not a lot going on this week. There’s nothing bad here, but nothing great either. I was all revved up by part one of “The Button,” but this week, we’re back to running on cruise control. So here’s what we read:
Action Comics #978 (Jurgens/Churchill/Hi-Fi): Continuing from last issue, this wraps up the consolidated threads of Superman’s life and basically gives a number of nods to still-in-print Superman collected editions, conveniently saying: yes, they’re still in continuity, more or less. Action #978 is essentially saying: everything you read still counts except for John Byrne’s issues, now let’s move on with the story. Sure enough, the mystery guy assembled a new Superman Revenge Squad, and no, he’s not Doctor Manhattan. This is readable, but it does feel like we’ve been sold an advertisement. Rating: Three capes out of five.
Batman Beyond #7 (Jurgens/Chang/Maiolo): Can you be Batman too much, or not enough? Batman Beyond goes back and forth on this—maybe intentionally—as Bruce ponders that the life of the Bat consumed him and it might consume Terry…except, of course, Terry chooses that moment to ignore the Bat-signal and take care of personal issues. Shoot or get off the pot, Bruce. This is a decent issue which chews on some bat-food-for-thought, although the computer coloring over Chang’s pencils is a bit overdone at times. Rating: Three batarangs out of five.
Blue Beetle #8 (Giffen/Kollins/Fajardo Jr.): I’ve been hard on Blue Beetle, but this is one of the better issues of the series to date. Plot threads are coming together, and it all boils down to giant bad guy is taking over the world and the hero is powerless but goes forth anyway. Well, Jamie’s not totally powerless, as the last page does something that surprisingly has never been done in the decade he’s been around. The only problem with this issue is an unexpected, gratuitous appearance by another hero who’s had a problematic history at DC for over ten years as well. Rating: Three scarabs out of five.
Detective Comics #955 (Tynion/Takara/Maiolo): Eh, this story is still kind of dull, despite ridiculously stacked odds that see the entire cast impossibly captured. This issue tries to get into Cassandra’s head and give her a pivotal moment, but it’s done through the clichéd “one good speech” from a stranger to get her there. It’s not like she wasn’t going to get there anyway. Meanwhile, the art is still kind of muddy, and Shiva’s main weapon is—probably unintentionally—straight out of The Lego Batman Movie. Dammit. Rating: Two and a half bats out of five.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #19 (Venditti/Marion/Vines/Ribeiro): This issue reintroduces Rip Hunter—again—who’s here to warn that the Green and Yellow Corps will cease to exist in 30 years unless a critical event today is changed. If you think this is a “Rebirth” tie-in…well, it doesn’t seem to be, which is astonishing given that time travel is involved. Maybe that’ll change next issue. Anyway, they can’t all be, and it’s a decent, high-action issue where Marion really crams a lot onto the page. Rating: Three and a half rings out of five.
Justice League America #5 (Orlando/MacDonald/Hi-Fi): This book’s initial arc was about a villain who preyed on human weakness and the League intervening to show them a better way was possible. This arc…appears to be doing the same thing, but with weaker artwork and a focus on Lobo as a good guy. I get that the “newer, kinder Justice League” is the theme, but hopefully the “we’re nice and we’re help” theme doesn’t wear out too fast. Because it is. Rating: Two and a half leagues out of five.
Kamandi Challenge #4 (Tynion/D’Anda): I figured these Kamandi Challenge issues couldn’t all be winners, and this appears to be that point. There’s nothing technically off about it, but the pattern of climax, new weird encounter, and climax again is getting a little tiresome…and we’ve got eight more issues of this. Tynion at least forces the story to take a much-needed pause, but that just goes back to leaving Kamandi and his new plant-friend in yet another predicament. Rating: Two and a half kangarats out of five.
Suicide Squad #16 (Williamson/Daniel/Florea/Morey): Waller and Luthor play mind games with each other while the Squad goes through a series of indignities on Waller’s behalf. That’s the thing about being on the Squad: the job expects you to debase yourself. The Enchantress steals the show this round, and while her new, looney persona leaves something to be desired, you won’t be able to help but smile at the results of her magic. Rating: Three squads out of five.
Teen Titans #7 (Percey/Pham/Von Grawbadger/Charalampidis): Aqualad is re-re-introduced to the DCU (we just went through this back in 2010) and joins the Titans as their newest member. “Teamwork” is the watchword here as the kids learn to work together as a unit instead of as individuals…although, in effect, this really comes down to Robin and Aqualad doing one thing and Raven and Kid Flash doing another, and Starfire and Beast Boy are…off…somewhere. Percy is trying to balance out the characters across 20 pages, but not quite doing it. Rating: Three titans out of five.
The Flash #21 (Williamson/Porter/Hi-Fi): Crossovers between unlike titles require a bit of balancing, because they need to work together to tell a complete story while still respecting the book they’re in. Last week’s Batman had a bit of a harder time with that, because other than being an excellent issue, it did get incredibly cosmic for a detective title. Thankfully, “The Button’s” continuation in this week’s Flash makes a little more sense—it gets very cosmic and time-travel heavy, but in a Flash title, that makes sense. Batman’s just along for the ride. Porter’s art just isn’t as strong as Fabok’s, though, and don’t expect any meaningful Watchmen clues here. Rating: Three bolts out of five.
The Winner: No, seriously, I don’t have one this week. I don’t have a loser either. Hal Jordan was pretty good, but nothing was so bad or so good this week to make it to either side of the pile. Everything was certainly very readable, but let’s face it: we’ve been at this for a year now. The juice was going to wear off at some point.